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

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Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend at The New York Botanical Garden, New York City

Today was a glorious, picture-perfect fall day in New York. The ideal day, in fact, to go see artists with saws and knives hack away at the flesh inside 2,000-lb. pumpkins. It’s the Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend at the New York Botanical Garden, part of The Haunted Pumpkin Garden event going on all month.

NOTE: I’m posting this tonight in case you want to make last-minute plans to check out this event on Sunday. Totally worth re-scheduling your day of leaf-raking.

giant pumpkin

At 1,813 lbs., this carved pumpkin at the entrance was one of the smaller ones we saw!

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World’s Biggest Bookstore and World’s Longest Street, Toronto, Ontario

Two debatable world records didn’t keep me from checking out a “world’s largest” and a “world’s longest” while I was in Toronto last month for the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) conference!

Yonge Street

Yonge Street, Toronto, ON

Yonge Street

Until 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Yonge (pronounced “Young”) Street as the world’s longest street, because at the time, Yonge Street proper was considered part of Highway 11. The entire length of that configuration is nearly 1,200 miles end-to-end, beginning at Queen’s Quay in downtown Toronto to Rainy River, near the Minnesota and Ontario border. The world record for longest motorable road is now held by the Pan-American Highway.

I still took a stroll up Yonge Street, about a mile from the intersections of Wellington Street and Edward Street. It was such a lively thoroughfare in this section of the city, with great shopping and dining. Along the way, I resisted the pull of the tractor beams drawing me toward the Eaton Centre, Toronto’s largest mall. I had a bookstore to see.

Yonge Street

On a mission to find the “WBB.”

World’s Biggest Bookstore

It’s becoming a habit for us to visit world’s largests which are in peril of losing their title, or being lost forever. Last year, we visited the World’s Largest McDonald’s in Orlando, knowing that it would soon be oversized by a new London restaurant. In this case, the lease on the building housing the World’s Biggest Bookstore is set to expire at the end of 2013. Indigo Books and Music, the Canadian national chain which owns the “WBB,” has said it doesn’t plan to renew the lease.

World's Biggest Bookstore

Found it!

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Another World Record Attempt!

Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Good: we were joined by 1,300 other people on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in the world record attempt today to form the world’s longest chorus line. Bad: we were about 300 people short of breaking the record.

chorus line

Not quite the world’s longest chorus line.

But we had FUN!! Not only did we score these awesome “I ♥NY” T-shirts, we got to dance to the tune from those “I Love New York” TV commercials from the 70’s. (Some of us are actually old enough to remember those.)

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Route 6: Longest Contiguous Highway in the United States

Stay on Route 6Sure, I hear the call of the open road every once in a while. It usually gets drowned out by other calls, like, “Mom, what’s for dinner?,” and “Mom, where’s my Princess Aurora dress…you know, the one that lights up?”

So it was with great envy that I learned that writer Malerie Y. Cohen, who I met at the ASJA conference this spring, took an extended road trip by herself. What’s more, she drove the longest continuous highway in the country. Her book, Stay on Route 6; Your Guide To all 3,652 Miles of Transcontinental US Route 6, provides both narrative and information on the points of interest she discovered.

Weeks alone with just my thoughts, enjoying the scenery. Pinch me.

We invited Malerie to share her story:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

I drove solo for 1 1/2 months (six weeks) across the country; 3,652 miles from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA completely on US Route 6 – the longest contiguous highway in the United States. Why solo? No one can stand my snoring.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

As a travel writer, I was eager to follow one route complete across the USA and write a guidebook to this historic road. Initially, I typed “Longest Road In the USA” into Google, and up popped “US Route 6” as second only to US Route 20. Route 6 was truncated in 1964 – it now officially ends in Bishop, CA and is currently 3,205 miles long. But it was once the longest American highway, and is still the longest CONTIGUOUS highway, as Route 20 breaks up through Yellowstone National Park.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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Utah Olympic Park: Longest Slide in the United States

I should have just done it. I let fear get the better of me, and now I really regret not riding the Alpine Slide at the Utah Olympic Park. It is, after all, the longest slide in the United States. This is as close as I got to it:

Alpine Slide

What was I doing in Utah, you ask?

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Greater Cleveland Aquarium: World’s Longest Underwater “Sea Tube”

Cleveland Aquarium

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Over Memorial Day, we drove to Cleveland, and remarkably, only had to separate the kids once during the drive. The invisible line I painted down the middle of the back seat lasted nearly 8 hours before it was infiltrated. I consider that time frame a good ROI on the invisible paint.

We were pleasantly surprised by all there is to do in Cleveland. We visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course, and the delightfully quirky world’s largest rubber stamp. Another stop on our itinerary was the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, a new attraction and home to the World’s Longest Underwater “Sea Tube.”

Okay, what was so cool about it?

The Sea Tube is the main attraction in this aquarium, which itself is relatively small (the world’s largest aquarium is in Atlanta, GA).  There is only one floor of exhibits, and it took us less than two hours to make our way through the themed galleries, including: Ohio Lakes & Rivers; Exotic Freshwater; Florida Keys; Tropical Reef, and Weird & Wonderful.

For young children, the manageable size is a definite advantage. Many of the tanks were positioned low to the ground, as well, so little ones get a great view. I can imagine they go through a lot of window cleaner with all those wee noses pressed up against the glass!

Cleveland aquarium

Bet they purchase their Windex at Costco!

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World’s Longest Line Dance; the Hokey Pokey in Poughkeepsie, NY

We’ve broken a world record! On Saturday, we were part of the world’s longest line dance, the Hokey Pokey, across the Walkway Over the Hudson bridge in Poughkeepsie and Highland, NY.  This bridge, by the way, is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge!

Hokey Pokey

Limbering up!

There were 2,569 people stretched across the pedestrian bridge for a 9:30am kick-off.

world record

People as far as the eye could see...

Our “Go BIG” Hokey Pokey team consisted of the four of us, and two other families. I’m so grateful they came out to participate with us, but I think everyone was pretty stoked to be a part of a new world record.

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We’re Going to Break a World Record! Join us!

We’re going to break a world record! Well, us, and 2,996 other people. We’ve registered to participate in the world’s longest Hokey Pokey line! This event is taking place on Saturday, June 9th, across the Walkway Over the Hudson bridging Poughkeepsie to Highland, NY. We want you to come and join us!

The organizers are hoping for 3,000 people, since the current record, set in June 2008, involved 2,350 people. The Guinness World Records organization will be there to authenticate the feat!

We LOVE the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park – the views are phenomenal, and it’s practically in our own backyard!

Walkway over the Hudson

The View Southward from the Walkway Over the Hudson

At 6,768 feet (or 1.28 miles) it’s the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. At 212 feet high, it’s also one of the highest. {gulp} We’ve written about our first visit. The Boy and I have become braver since then.

Won’t you join us? We’re organizing a “Go BIG or Go Home” Team to meet up and do the Hokey Pokey together! We’ll outfit you in nifty “Go BIG” buttons, and ply you with snacks.

If you’re interested in registering (and WHY wouldn’t you be??? You can tell your grandkids you broke a world record!!), you can do so online at the Walkway Over the Hudson site.  It’s $15 / person, which is a tax-deductible donation to help fund the Walkway’s operating costs.

The Guinness World Record organization will only count participants seven years or older. You don’t have to register and pay for people younger than that, although they can still do the H.P. with us! The Girl is working on her left foot / right foot differentiation skills as we speak.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re “in!”

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World’s longest freestanding escalator, Atlanta, GA

Krofft Supershow

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl first appeared on the Krofft Supershow in 1976. I may have wanted to be one or both of them. Photo credit: Sidandmartykrofft.com

While I don’t broadcast my age, my frequent references to 70’s pop culture should leave little doubt that I’ve been here a while. Today I learned something I didn’t know about Sid and Marty Krofft. Do you remember watching The Krofft Supershow on Saturday mornings, anywhere from 1976-78? Well, in 1976, they masterminded the world’s first entirely indoor theme park – The World of Sid and Marty Krofft – inside the Omni Center in Atlanta, GA.

Leading up to the entrance was the world’s longest freestanding escalator. That escalator is all which remains of the attraction, which closed after only six months. This part of the complex is now the headquarters of CNN, and the escalator leads you from the lobby of the CNN Center up to the public tour.

Many thanks to Jen at Two Kids and a Map for the trip down Memory Lane. And for this month’s guest post! Jen and her family just got back from Atlanta, where they took the long ride up the world’s longest escalator which led them to the start of the CNN tour.

Here’s her escalator experience:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going: 

We went to the global headquarters of CNN for their Inside CNN Studio Tour while spending a long weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the largest of the network’s 48 bureaus worldwide.  Besides being the largest CNN  bureau, it also houses the world’s longest unsupported escalator.

world's longest escalator

World's longest freestanding escalator

WHY did you go there, exactly?

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World’s Longest Highway; Cycling from Alaska to Argentina

When I tell you that today’s post is about bicycling the world’s longest highway, you will be correct in assuming I’m not talking about me and my brood. This month’s guest post is from Nancy Sathre-Vogel of Family on Bikes, who – along with her husband and two sons – traversed the western hemisphere on bicycles! Their unforgettable 17,300-mile journey took them three years (I’m tired just typing those words). Her twin sons, now 13, are Guinness World Record holders as the youngest people to cycle the length of the Americas.

The End of the World!

Almost unbelievable, right?! Here’s what Nancy told us about their journey:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

We cycled the length of the Pan American Highway – the longest road in the world. It stretches from the northern edge of Alaska all the way down to the tip of South America. As far as being coerced??? Ummm… you can’t really coerce someone to pedal a bike 17,000 miles!

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Now THAT is a good question. Because we’re crazy, perhaps? Or because it’s there? Or maybe it was because we wanted time together as a family before the kids grew up and flew the coop and no longer wanted to travel with ol’ ma and pa.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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