Go BIG or Go Home
What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

Archive for Holidays

Halloween: These Tricks are Treats!

We’re celebrating Halloween more indoors than out this year, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Our treat for you is a showcase of “trick” photos – not just ours, but a fun selection of images submitted from fellow traveling families from all over the world! Since putting out the call for photos last week, we’ve received a lot of imaginative shots. We’ll spread them out over two days, so check back tomorrow for more!

Here’s our contribution! While we loved the Board Game Art Park in Philadelphia, PA, Matt nearly set off a nasty chain of events.


Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, the editor of FamilyTravel.com, sent us this one to show off her super strength. She and her sister-in-law Betsy are holding up this stone arch in Kentucky!

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PHOTO FRIDAY — Gettin’ tricky with it!

We love trying to take trick photos like this, and so much of what we see — like BIG roadside attractions — work perfectly! We re-visited the Unisphere a few weeks ago in Queens (NY). At 140 feet, it’s the world’s largest globe, but yet…nothing The Girl can’t handle!

Do you have a great trick photo you would like to share with us? (Come on, we know you tried to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!) Next week, in honor of Halloween, we’re choosing tricks instead of treats. We’ll show you our favorite trick photos…and we hope you’ll let us show off yours!

If you’re game, please email your photo to traci (at) gobigorgohomeblog (dot) com. We’ll only use your first name, if you want, or we’ll give you full credit and link to your blog, if you have one. Thanks!

Unisphere globe

Poor girl has the weight of the world on her little shoulders…

See more images at the Photo Friday link-up on DeliciousBaby.com!

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Pocono Raceway: A Stock Car Ride-Along Experience

Pocono Raceway

Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA

When I was approached by Cloud 9 Living to try one of the experiences they offer, I saw the words “stock car ride along” and immediately thought of Matt. He has suffered gallantly since the kids came along, curtailing his lead foot and following speed limits, but in his heart, he loves driving fast. Then I realized that the ride-along adventures are offered at the Pocono Raceway, the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility. It was a match made in GBOGH heaven, so we checked it out last weekend!

If you’re looking to give an original, unique gift this holiday season, you should take a look at what Cloud 9 Living offers. Besides the ride-alongs, they offer experiences throughout the U.S., like sky diving, learning to golf with a PGA pro, and chocolate-making classes (My personal favorite!). Cloud 9 is running a “9 Days of Christmas Contest”, where you can win your own experience, so it’s a good time to check it out.

After suiting up, Matt climbed through the window of #8. They clipped on a neck roll, positioned him in his seat, fastened his seat belt, then chained his neck roll and helmet to the back of his seat so his head was immobile. He couldn’t turn to see his driver, Bruce, but he did introduce himself. A transplant of Charlotte, NC, Bruce has been driving professionally for 20 years; the last nine at Pocono. Bruce didn’t give him much instruction, but he did tell him that if he felt nauseous at any point, he should give him the “thumbs down” sign, and he would slow down.

Stock car

Wait, where’s your life insurance policy paperwork?

Before he reached the end of the pit row, Bruce had the car in fourth gear. Matt felt the force pull him back. He didn’t realize until he felt sore later that he was clenching muscles in his shoulders and back. He didn’t feel scared, but at one point in turn two, he saw skid marks along the wall, and thought, “ouch.”

Don’t blink, but this is how fast he was going:


As Matt tells it: “The second Bruce takes his foot off the gas, you feel a difference. There’s only four speeds, and he really never even used the brakes. At the end of the third lap, he coasted and downshifted and cut the engine. He told me we were going approximately 165 miles per hour at top speed, which was when we drove the front straight away in front of the grandstand. We went slower during the turns.” (The track is a triangle, so there were three turns.)

This is what we got out of him as he was taking off his gear:


Bruce told Matt that the cars get checked after every six laps, particularly for tire wear. After Matt got out, they jacked up #8 on the left side, because Bruce said he “felt something,” which may have been nothing more than a pavement seam.

Matt’s ride-along experience was three laps, and lasted about ten minutes. You can also choose a six lap ride. Each lap is approx. 2.5 miles. I didn’t realize that some races are 500 miles; that’s a lot of time in a rattling car!

In our own car on the way home, I pointed out that the speed we were driving was only half of what he was driving on that track.

Matt thought it was “totally wicked,” but wished he would have been able to bring his phone along for the ride to take video. (He has a hard time separating from his technology.)

Since we were at the world’s largest solar powered sports facility, I should point out that we saw the 25 acres where the Pocono Raceway operates 40,000 photovoltaic modules, which will produce more than 72 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. The system offsets more than 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Not only do they generate enough power for the Raceway, but also for close to 1,000 homes in the area!

Disclaimer: Cloud 9 Living provided us with this experience free of charge, in exchange for our honest review.

Pocono Raceway

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We Have Winners!

A BIG thanks to everyone who entered our two “stocking stuffer” giveaways!  Special “props” to those of you who spilled your guts and told us who you’re least looking forward to seeing over the holidays. There now, don’t you feel better? I know I will…on December 26th.

I used Randomized.com to select the winners. Megan won the $50 Gift Certificate for Appalachian Outdoors, and Kerry won the BTB Sunglasses!

Thanks again, and stay tuned for more giveaways in the new year!


World’s Largest Santa and other BIG Christmas Fun!

Let’s talk about Christmas! Primarily, let’s talk about what I want for Christmas {sheepish grin}. Then we’ll get to you.

I would like your vote! Go BIG or Go Home has made Christopher Elliott’s list of nominees for favorite travel bloggers! He’s a consumer travel advocate who publishes this annual list, and it would mean significant exposure for us. We’re included in a list of 25 blogs, from which 12 will make the cut for “Top 12 Favorite Travel Bloggers.” The final list will be posted this Friday. Thanks in advance for voting for Go BIG or Go Home!

Moving on…have you entered our giveaway yet for some fun stocking stuffers? You could win a $50 gift certificate to Appalachian Outdoors or a pair of BTB Sunglasses. Winners will be chosen tonight and announced tomorrow, so enter now!

On to the fun part! We like BIG expressions of holiday spirit, so we thought we would share a few with you.  Like…

The world’s largest Santa Claus! You can find this sizable St. Nick at the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK. Our friend Erin writes about family fun in the 49th state at AK on the GO. She tells us that the 42-ft, 900 lb. fiberglass statue has stood in front of this attraction since 1983, although he was originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

The world's largest Santa lives in...where else? North Pole, Alaska!

There’s a live Santa here all year with whom you can share your wish list. You can also have a letter delivered from the Big Guy, see reindeer, shop and grab a snack. Erin says, “It’s pretty fun to visit, a little kitschy, but a worthwhile place to stop, especially since it’s the North Pole, for goodness sake!”

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Stocking Stuffers Giveaway!

Okay, so I’m off topic. No BIG stuff to talk about today, other than huge amounts of pre-holiday stress. I’ll be wearing a harried, slightly crazed, Calgon-can’t-even-begin-to-touch-this look on my face until December 26th. Get used to it.

But I did want to spread some holiday cheer with “Go BIG” readers…with some fun giveaways which are great stocking stuffers. Read on, and enter below to possibly win one!

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PHOTO FRIDAY – Easter edition

So, I was going to color Easter eggs with a “Go BIG or Go Home” message, similar to what I did with the Christmas cookies and the Jack O’Lanterns. I would like partial credit for the idea. The wrinkle in that plan is that the eggs would be colored on Thursday, and they would have to stay fresh until Sunday.

I’m happy and relieved to have found something MUCH better to share with you for our Easter post! A really BIG basket! This is the Lorain Easter Basket in Ohio.

Many thanks to Dominique King for sharing her photo with us! Dominique is the blogger behind Midwest Guest. A travel writer at heart, Midwest Guest allows her to share stories about the often underappreciated Heartland region of the U.S.

Dominque reports that Lorain’s big Easter Basket draws scores of visitors to the park on Ohio’s Lake Erie shore each spring to take photos of their families in their Easter finery. City parks employee David Shukait created the 7-foot-tall concrete sculpture, and the City of Lorain installed it as part of a public works project in 1941.

See more photos and get more info on her blog today.

Happy Easter!!


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What-To-Avoid Wednesday / Santa’s Enchanted Forest

When you’re looking for a “world’s largest” to visit, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you come across an experience which is overpriced, over-hyped, and an overall disappointment. Then again, that’s just your opinion. Your kids could love it, and you just have to suck it up and keep the cash flowing. (Selfless parenthood, blah blah blah.)

Santa's Enchanted Forest

Probably more "enchanting" at night, I'm guessing.

My friend Sandra was not feeling the warm-and-fuzzies for Santa’s Enchanted Forest, the world’s largest Christmas theme park in Miami, FL. Alas, her daughter found it delightful, so she may just find herself there again this December!

Her review is our first installment of our oh-so-cleverly-titled series, What-To-Avoid Wednesday!

Santa’s Enchanted Forest may be the world’s largest Christmas theme park, but is it worth the trip? That depends on what you’re expecting. If you’re looking for a magical place to stir your childhood dreams of Christmas with beautiful light displays, fancy rides, and food that will thrill your senses, go to Disney. If you love carnivals, rides which creak and give you whiplash, and enjoy being conned by carnies trying to fast talk you out of your money, then you’ve found the right place!

For a mere $24 per adult and $16 per child, you get to ride a handful of rides for free and continue to drain your wallet for the rest.  The food is standard carnival fare — elephant ears, pizza, corn on the cob, fries, cotton candy, deep fried just about anything, and mystery meat on a stick. Oh, and you can even get your picture taken on top of a huge, nearly five-foot high toilet! I must say, I was tempted…

(Editor’s note; But was it larger than the world’s largest toilet in Indiana?!)

Santa's Enchanted Forest

She's got a ticket to ride...

With that said, my five-year old loved it. She saw the beautiful Christmas lights and creative electric train displays, and did not notice the rickety wood holding them up or the rusty scaffolding in the background.  From her perspective, the guy balancing on chairs and the man climbing up a really high pole were amazing feats of strength. She didn’t mind the dirt, the grime, the other clientele, or the quality of the prizes.

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Merry BIG Christmas!

Starting this blog has been one of the best things about 2010…thanks to you for reading it, commenting, and assuring me that we’re not the only ones with an incurable obsession for BIG sites and roadside attractions!


Christmas Cookies

What? Don’t you also have a set of 100 assorted cookie cutters?!

We set out on our “Go BIG” road trip Sunday morning. Stay tuned for updates on this adventure. If anyone is placing bets on who arrives to FL in one piece — and who gets left at the World’s Largest Peanut in GA — let me know.  I may want “in” on that action.

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Jack O' Lantern

Yes, in fact I did teach Martha everything she knows.

Read about the world’s largest Jack O’Lantern displays here.

Blog O' Lantern

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