Whenever I see this sign, I always think of the story about P.T. Barnum trying to get his visitors out of an exhibit so that new customers could come in. He eventually put up a sign saying “This way to the egress,” figuring most people wouldn’t know the word just meant “exit.” According to the legend, it worked.

Freeway sign: Egress

Now, given that every other freeway sign I’ve seen says “exit,” I have to wonder why they phrased this one the way they did. My best guess is that it’s because it’s marking an exit from the carpool lane (it’s on the Santa Ana Freeway, heading north between the 55 and 22) instead of an exit to surface streets or directly to another freeway—but even that doesn’t make sense, because every place where you’re allowed to leave a carpool lane is marked as “exit!”

Up at the visitor’s center for the Mauna Kea observatories, there’s a sign that says, “Beware of Invisible Cows.” It was dark when we were there, and I tried to get this picture without using the flash since there were people with portable telescopes ten feet away, so it’s really blurry:

The actual invisible cows sign (blurry)

Fortunately someone in charge recognized the humor value, and the visitor’s center sells bumper stickers:

Beware of Invisible Cows
Why invisible cows?  It's dark and foggy.

Of course, it turns out other people, visiting during the day, have snapped better pictures of the sign.

Note: Our visit to Mauna Kea was on Saturday, April 9, 2005.

Nene XingThe Nene (roughly nay-nay), a.k.a. the Hawaiian Goose, is Hawaii’s state bird. It’s also endangered. There’s supposed to be a (comparatively) large population in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, but we didn’t see a single one all week. All we saw were a zillion of these signs warning us to avoid hitting them. Maybe it was the wrong time of year, the wrong time of day, or they’re all hiding away from the road.

They warn you not to feed the Nenes either. The concern is that it will encourage them to hang out near roads where they’re more likely to be killed. This reminds me of another bird we did see a lot of. Whatever it was, they were either very stupid or very confident in drivers’ abilities to avoid them, because they would just amble across the road, pausing occasionally, making no effort to dodge the cars zooming at them at 35, 45, or 55 MPH. It was several days before we saw one actually bother to fly a few feet!

Driving through the lava fields of North Kona, you’ll see signs like these:

Donkey Xing Donkey crossings at dawn and dusk

After coffee companies stopped using donkeys for transportation, they turned them loose, and a herd of wild donkeys roamed the fields. They apparently picked up the nickname “Kona nightingales” from their, uh, “singing.” They’ve since been moved up to greener—and less traveled— pastures on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea, but the signs remain.

One can only assume the Kona nightingales were the inspiration for Surfin’ Ass Coffee Company and their signature island confection:

Surfin' Ass Coffee Company: Donkey Balls Factory Outlet

For the record: 1-inch macadamia nuts dipped in chocolate.