Spring Break: Weird Shit is the Best Shit
1. I just got a text that Central Ohio is under a Winter Weather Warning and will potentially be under 3-5 inches of snow soon (Update: This has now officially happened). Happy Spring. This is why Punxsutawney Phil has been getting death threats.
2. It is really important that you wear pants when trimming your pets’ claws. I can’t emphasize this enough. Wear pants.
It’s not like a I had major spring break travel plans. My impossible dream was that it might get close to 50 degrees with sunshine and minimal wind chill; I just wanted to start working in my yard without dressing like a dog sled expedition. I wanted to do exciting things like re-locate my compost pile, trim the butterfly bushes, maybe pull some weeds. You know, thrill a minute girls gone wild level craziness. Yow!
(Plus I have no money so yard work was within the spring break planning budget.)
In an attempt to counteract the epic suckage of a spring break blizzard, I will revisit places that don’t suck. The question is how to organize: by moments, chronologically, by road trip or vacation? So many variables.
I will start here:
Weird Shit is the Best Shit
Nothing leads you directly to weird shit better than the website http://www.roadsideamerica.com/. Search it by desired attraction, by state, by city…whatever. It is a road trip must have.
There is no end to bizarre things starting with “The World’s Largest….” or “Giant….” in their name. For example: Salem Sue, The World’s Largest Holstein in Salem, North Dakota followed the Giant Whooping Crane in Steele, North Dakota and then the World’s Largest Buffalo off on a rise in Jamestown, North Dakota. There’s also the Giant Red Wagon in Spokane, Washington, right next to the Garbage Eating Goat in Riverfront Park.
On a road trip out West with my mom and sister it made perfectly good sense to divert to Cawker City, Kansas, to visit the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. There is seriously nothing else in Kansas. Dorothy was secretly thankful for that tornado just for something to do.
If you’ve never undertaken the drive, it takes at least two days to get across Kansas and the highway features only billboards advertising God’s watchful eye and XXX “adult stores.” In at least one instance these two things were combined. The circular drive of one adult store exited under a billboard reminding the visitor that they were probably on the road to Hell.
The route to Cawker City was through “Post Rock Country” referring to the fence posts made of tall thin slabs of rock rather than wood, skinny branching sunflowers and grain silos. We arrived in the Cawker City right before noon. We could hear voices and noises from inside some of the buildings but the town was otherwise deserted. Shops had signs that said, “Call this number, and I’ll come down to open the store.” We did not see another person or another car during our visit with the ball of twine. At noon a screeching siren went off, frightening all of us. Lunch and dry pants anyone? If this were a movie setting, we would have found the mummified remains of the townsfolk or been led off by the Children of the Corn.
A more populated destination was Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, the Troll Capital of the World. Jill, my ultimate travel companion, and I diverted to this part of Wisconsin on a quest for the far end of North Dakota. Unfortunately, we underestimated the drive time and summer time construction, arriving late in the afternoon right before most of the shops along the “Trollway” (Main Street) shut down for the day. Many establishments and some of the spaces in between had large wooden carvings of trolls. Norwegian legend says that the trolls are good luck, protect the crops and ward off evil spirits. Possibly we’ve really misjudged those bridge dwelling trolls. Maybe they were just there to preserve the structural integrity of the bridge and protect it from billy goats intent on fucking it up with their clicky clacky hooves. Damn goats.
We wandered around town, killing time until dinner at The Grumpy Troll which promised deep-fried cheese curds – Holla, Wisconsin!- and their own selection of on-site brewed beer. In the wandering, we found an open artist’s studio featuring ceramics created by a pair of brothers. (Don’t cue porn music. They were married, had kids, and thought we were the weirdos.) In the course of conversation, it turned out that we would be driving right past their parent’s house in Bellefield, North Dakota, right before we hit Medora, North Dakota, our final destination. They didn’t get to visit much with their elderly parents due to the distance, but in an artistic fancy of complete trust, the brothers quickly put together a care package of notes and their kids’ artwork for us to deliver to their parents.
About three days later, we made the delivery to a very confused Dr. Arenson at his home in Bellefield. Unfortunately, his wife Shirley was visiting her sister in Dickinson.
Before making our stop at the very trusting doctor’s house, we had spent the afternoon hanging out at one of the best places that http://www.roadsideamerica.com has to offer The Enchanted Highway.
Once upon a time a retired school teacher decided that something need to be done to revitalize tourism and show that North Dakota had something to say. So he built some of the world’s largest “yard art” along a 32 mile expanse of road through rolling fields from I-94 to Regent, North Dakota. At the time we visited there were six giant sculptures plus the smaller one beside the gift shop in tiny Regent.
The sculptures were truly amazing, whimsical fun. We were able to park, walk around them, touch them and cavort amongst them. They were gigantic. My head barely grazed the bottom of one of the giant pheasants. The down side: no bathrooms. I may have peed by my car because it would have been disrespectful to pee on the art.
To wrap up the theme of giant-ism (?), I offer you the at once amazing and disappointing Corn Palace of Mitchell, South Dakota. My mom, sister and I stopped there on the return leg of our Western road trip. It would be our last tourist stop before just driving FOREVER back to Ohio.
The amazing part of the Corn Palace is that every year, they pick a theme and cover the entire exterior of the building with mosaics made only from native grasses and grains of the Dakotas. Somehow the entire exterior of the building is not then covered by birds and squirrels eating it.
The disappointing part of the Corn Palace is that inside it’s the local gymnasium.
Of course, there are so many other items that qualify as “weird shit.” Columbus has almost a dozen entries on the website. Circleville’s pumpkin obsession has made the site. Sure, the weird is not always weird enough, but it makes for a good postcard home and handy bragging rights. I have touched the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.
(Sigh. It’s projects like these that make me realize I need a scanner to deal with my pre-digital photos.)