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

Archive for Maryland

The Go BIG “B” List

Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” “The Sweetest Thing” by U2. What do these tunes have in common? They were all “B” side hits. For those of you who remember records (those vinyl discs that music was stored on back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), you’ll recall that the popular songs were on the “A” side, and the secondary tracks were relegated to the “B” side.

We’ve had some “B” sides in our travels, too, so I’m giving them their due in today’s post. In our (okay, my) overzealous quest to seek out BIG attractions, we sometimes visited places solely because of their size. Some have been less than a BIG hit with the kids. Still, I contend that there’s something interesting in all of these large sites, and not just because of their size!

World’s Longest Bridge Tunnel

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, also known as the Lucius J, Kellam Bridge Tunnel, connects the eastern tip of Virginia at Fisherman’s Island to Virginia Beach.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

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BIG Finds at Ripley’s Believe it or Not: Ocean City, MD

Robert Wadlow

World’s tallest man!

You can find a lot of superlative stuff inside the 32 Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums around the world; each location has more than 300 exhibits and artifacts. We’ve never been inside one of these “odditoriums” before, but we finally took the plunge last week while in Ocean City, Maryland. We discovered that this beachy destination is very seasonal, so there wasn’t a lot to do yet in mid-April. The 2.25-mile Boardwalk was hopping, however, and Ripley’s is in a prime location at the southern end.

Robert Ripley, a cartoonist and adventurer, traveled to 201 countries over the course of his life, and collected a vast, eclectic collection of oddities. Many of these (originals and reproductions) are on display here, alongside newer pieces collected in recent decades.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the only place you’ll ever see an authentic concrete section of the Berlin Wall displayed near a model oil rig constructed of match sticks, and a mural of Rihanna depicted in Lite Bright pegs. A whole lot of weird. We liked it!

As you walk through different rooms, you’ll find the exhibits fit into themes, like animals, space, and human extremes. Of course, we had to take a photo with a statue of Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. Wadlow (1918-1940) reached a height of 8’, 11”, and weighed 440 lbs. His arm span was 9½ feet! Only 17 people have been recorded in medical history to reach the height of eight feet.

In another room, a replica of the world’s largest Great White Shark ever caught with a rod and reel was hanging from the ceiling, near an iron cage you could step into. It’s 16’, 8” long, 3,427 lbs, and was caught off the shores of Montauk, New York in 1986 by Donnie Braddick.

Great White Shark

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BIG Finds in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

World Trade Center Baltimore

In front of the world’s tallest pentagonal building

Over Columbus Day weekend, we attended the Digital Family Summit in Baltimore. This annual kid-friendly conference is geared toward tweens and teens who are digital content creators, meaning they’re writing blogs or producing videos for the web. I thought it would be a great experience for The Boy, who took workshops in video game design and WordPress. I would recommend it if your kids are out there navigating their way through the world wide web.

Our hotel was an easy ten-minute walk to the Inner Harbor district, one of the top tourist destinations in “Charm City,” so we took advantage of our down time to do a little exploring for BIG stuff. We were also able to meet up with one of Matt’s high school friends, Kim, who lives nearby with her five kids.

It was one of those five kids who actually tipped us off to our first find. Upon learning what we blog about, 12-year old Danny said, “You know, the tallest pentagonal building in the world is here in the Inner Harbor.”

What?!? My crackerjack advance research techniques had obviously failed me, because that was news.

World Trade Center, Baltimore

The 405-foot tall building is actually the World Trade Center, and was designed by the firm founded by renowned architect I.M. Pei. You can take the elevators to the “Top of the World” observation level on the 27th floor for 360° views of the city. Now that I’ve actually done my homework, I’ve found out that it’s technically the world’s tallest “regular” pentagonal building, meaning that all sides are the same length. There is a taller irregular pentagonal building in Houston; the JPMorgan Chase building, which is 1,002-feet tall.

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Go BIG or Go Home Road Trip; Day One

December 26, 2010

paint can

Can we get back in the warm car now?!

It was an Armageddon-like scene: packing the car with clothing and food, setting out in the dark of night, and racing against time to get out of state. We were escaping the blizzard, of course, which would have put an end to our Go BIG or Go Home road trip to FL.

We made it out just in time, as the northeast got socked in. Our miserly (cheap) decision to drive to FL rather than drive worked to our advantage, as the airports closed or canceled the flights we would have been taking.

The satisfying, if deceptive, thing about the southbound drive is that you get through the smaller states relatively fast, giving you a false sense of advancement. We were checking off BIG stops quickly…and then we hit VA, NC, and SC. That’s when your skin starts to crawl.

Keeping it interesting was the snowfall in the south, which is both a novelty for the locals and an emergency situation, as roads become treacherous from lack of plows and lack of seasoned winter drivers.


We're not even getting out of the car this time...

Used to much worse, we shrugged our shoulders at the dusting. With front wheel drive, we looked quizzically at the cars which spun off the roads. And we were just plain irritated upon finding out that the Cracker Barrel in Jonesville, NC wouldn’t be open for dinner because the employees couldn’t make it in for work due to the two inches of snow. Matt’s mouth was set for chicken-fried…something.

Despite the surreal weather situations bringing down the worlds around us, we managed to see three BIG attractions on Day 1 of the Go BIG or Go Home Road Trip:

The huge Benjamin Moore paint can in Shippensburg, PA; a huge storage tank pained blue, standing in front of a paint store. It’s IMMENSE. There’s not much more to look at or do there, so we stopped, jumped out and took the photos. It was fuh-reezing that morning, so a quick stop was all we were willing to tolerate anyway. Even The Girl, who will brave freezing temps to play in the playground, yelled “yee-OWW,” and jumped back in the car asap.


World's Largest Apple!

We were all so disenchanted with the weather that Matt was the only one willing to exit the car to get a photo of the large Coke bottle in Hagerstown, MD, which is perched on the roof of a bottling company a minute from I-81. I don’t think the kids even looked up from watching Bolt on the DVD player.

We had to drive off the highway several miles to see the world’s largest apple in Winchester, VA. It’s in front of an upscale gift shop which called my name so loudly I almost succumbed. (“Christmas décor, 50% off.”) Again, we were too cold to linger, so we took a few photos and drove around the town to enjoy the historic architecture.

Then we began to notice more large apples in front of other businesses, painted in different themes. We discovered three more, plus the world’s largest apple storage facility. Call it a hunch, but I think the town has a history as an apple producer.

apple apple apple
Tomorrow: Day Two!


Love the fine print on this sign. Classic "C.Y.A."

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