Man hits the highway with his stuffed walrus
Tammy Jaycox - Staff Writer
A local man loaded up his car after his college graduation to cover 17 states in 17 days.
With his walrus!
Hornell High School alumnus Andy Allison lived out his life-long dream to drive west and see all the national parks and museums. He had hoped to take this venture with his fiance, but instead, traveled with his stuffed walrus.
"When I was going to school at SUNY-Fredonia, I found the walrus at the Salvation Army and the owner gave it to me." said Allison. "After that, it was a running joke that any picture I took had to have my walrus in it somewhere." Allison graduated from Fredonia in 1996 with his bachelor's in English and came home to Hornell to prepare for his trip.
"I left around June 20 in my good old beat up 1987 Camaro and headed west," said Allison. He's always been a fan of John Ford movies and wanted to see the countryside. "I purchased a $50 National Park pass that would allow me into any national parks and monuments for the month. I visited seven national parks and seven national monuments, so I ended up getting a real deal with that pass," said Allison. He also visited zoos and museums, his favorite being the wood carving museum. " I was surprised how fascinating it was," he said.
Allison took pictures at every site containing his stuffed walrus. "I started photographing the walrus with random people along the way. It made for a lot of fun," said Allison. When he reached the long awaited Mount Rushmore, he was surprised at how small it was. "I expected it to be much larger, that was really the only let down of the trip," he said.
"Also, another disappointment was the car breaking down in the middle of South Dakota. A man pulled over, hit the hood with a big stick and started up the car," giggled Allison. For the rest of the trip, Allison drove straight through to Indiana without turning off his car, not even to fill his gas tank. " So, I was very lucky the old beater got me back to Hornell safely. A little while later I sold the car to a local pizza delivery guy for $200," said Allison.
"I have pictures of celebrities like Jim Kelly with my walrus. But, I need a picture of Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan and actor Bill Pullman to complete my walrus collection," said Allison. The walrus has been all over the country from Myrtle Beach to Maine. Allison told the Tribune that the walrus's next venture is going to Israel. "A friend of mine is going and offered to take the walrus and some pictures. It's a great opportunity," said Allison.
He is now working at Rochester Institute of Technology as a prospect researcher in development. Anyone can see the pictures of the trip on Allison's website at picturetrail.com/allison5000. (when going to this site, click on "more album pics")