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Archive for Roadside Attractions

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.

Domino

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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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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PHOTO FRIDAY — Holy Macaroni!

The Girl was really using her noodle when she found this sculpture outside Faneuil Hall in Boston during our August visit!

Macaroni and cheese

Yes, in fact we DO love it. It’s one of her main food groups.

The enormous elbow was created as part of a 2010 Kraft public art project, the Homestyle Tour, to promote a new variety of macaroni and cheese. Identical sculptures — 20 feet long x 9 feet high — showed up in a number of other cities as well, including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

One of our favorite road trip travel blogs — Roadside Wonders — was way ahead of us in finding these magnified macaronis!

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Gatorland: World’s Largest Collection of White Alligators, Orlando, FL

Gatorland“Family travel” is a term conjuring images of theme parks and children’s museums, in between stops at local ice cream parlors. As a helicopter parent, I’m all for that safe, reliable model of away-from-home entertainment. So I’m still trying to figure out what came over me when we visited Gatorland in Orlando, FL this summer.  I brought my two kids into a pen containing a white, ten-foot alligator.

Of course, Gatorland — one of Florida’s oldest attractions – is a wholesome family outing; one which I highly recommend to get off the beaten theme park track. And we could have stayed along the sidewalks to passively view the gator habitats and the “wrestlin’” shows with their campy yet endearing theatrics. But on this day, we met Trezo Je. And I loosened my death grip on the apron strings, more than a little.

Here’s how it happened: I contacted the local tourism office, which I normally do before we travel, to request assistance in planning our visits to the area’s attractions. They’re always willing to help travel writers and bloggers find great adventures, so they arranged for us to meet Tim Williams, the “Dean of Gator Wrestling,” when we arrived at Gatorland.

Tim immediately put all of us at ease with his obvious experience and knowledge about all of Gatorland’s residents, which include all manner of reptilians, as well as birds, zebu, deer, and emus. Before we even left his office, our kids were wearing baby alligators on their heads. And not freaking out.

Alligator

We were there expressly to see the world’s largest collection of the extremely rare Leucistic alligators. Only 15 are known to exist in the world, and four of them live at Gatorland. They have white skin, but unlike the more common albino alligator, have some color variations, as well as steely blue eyes instead of pink. While albino gators have other genetic mutations and tend not to survive to adulthood, Leucistic gators are strong, healthy… and mean.

Leucistic alligator

Tim brought us to their pens. Trezo Je lives alone, because apparently he doesn’t warm to company. (Get it, warm? Cold-blooded? Still with me?) He and the other white gators were relocated from Louisiana bayous, so his name honors his Cajun Creole “roots.” Trezo Je means “Treasure’s Eye.”

Tim introduced us to the animal trainer who works with these gators, and asked him to bring us in to the small space surrounded by wood and plexiglass walls. The trainer opened the door, Tim waved me in, and I …just…went. No dramatic protests, no time to wish my husband farewell. Then he sent my kids in behind me, and those chickens from my own gene pool followed me blindly.

Trezo Je

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World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab, Blanchester, OH

CrabWe missed this one when we went to Ohio over Memorial Day! This month’s guest post – about the world’s largest horseshoe crab — comes from Terri Weeks, a family travel writer in the Cincinnati area and mom of three. I love her family’s mission — to visit all 50 states by the time her kids graduate from high school! She blogs about their adventures at Travel 50 States With Kids.

And, all you Twilight fans, take note — this crab has a small cameo in the movie, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse! Terri was intrepid in her research; read on:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

I took my husband and three kids, along with my daughter’s friend and her mom, to the World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab, in Blanchester, OH, which is about 35 minutes northeast of Cincinnati, OH. It is owned and maintained by the Freedom Worship Baptist Church. It was originally built for the Baltimore Columbus Center Maritime Museum, then obtained by the Creation Museum and donated to the church.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Who doesn’t love roadside attractions? We fell in love with giant roadside attractions on a trip out west a few years ago. North Dakota boasts the world’s largest Holstein cow, sandhill crane, and buffalo, and we stopped at all of them.  So why not check out a horseshoe crab and see how it measured up? This giant was a mere 20-minute jaunt from my house, but I’d never seen it before.

World's Largest Horseshoe Crab

World's Largest Horseshoe Crab!

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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World’s Largest Rubber Stamp, Cleveland, OH

This is a story of love and loss. Well, it’s not really a story; more of an outline. And it’s about The Boy’s love for… his cell phone. And it is – very tenuously – connected to the world’s largest rubber stamp in Cleveland, OH. Still with me?

The Boy turned 12 over Memorial Day weekend, when we took a road trip to Cleveland, OH. We gave up the fight and got him his first cell phone. It was simple model. It was supposed to just be able to make calls and send texts, and yet he tricked it out to the point where I thought he could use it to launch a rocket.

It quickly became an appendage. And just as quickly, was broken after he sat on it while it was in his pocket. Such a sad boy.

The upside was that his hands were then free to take this trick photo “gripping” the world’s largest rubber stamp. (Remember that tenuous connection I mentioned earlier?)

Rubber stamp

Getting a grip on the world’s largest rubber stamp in Cleveland.

This is called Free Stamp, created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in 1991. It’s installed in Willard Park outside Cleveland’s City Hall, and a block away from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s made of steel and aluminum, and painted with polyurethane enamel. It’s over 28 feet tall, and 49 feet long!

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A BIG Journey Through Australia

We start the month with a fun guest post from Ben West, who writes the Living Vicariously blog. This is exciting for me for several reasons. 1) It’s our first contribution from Australia, a country high on my bucket list for all its BIG roadside attractions. 2) It’s our first travelogue about an adventure on a motorcycle. 3) It’s an adventure being enjoyed by someone SO outside my demographic – a young, unmarried, carefree couple – which is why the name of his blog really resonates with me!

Ben is currently exploring his own country with his girlfriend Jette. Some of the BIG highlights of his trip include the world’s largest Tasmanian Devil! Here’s his report:

“Since I started to follow the Go BIG or Go Home blog, I have been noticing just how many big things we have here in Australia. Australia is a big place, so big that if all Australians had an argument and spread out evenly over the continent, every person would have 213 square miles to themselves — that’s only 4.6 people in every square mile.

Submarine:

Holbrook is a perfectly charming little town on the road from Sydney to Melbourne. It has bright cafes with reasonable prices, and parks full of play equipment where parents can air out their children. Holbrook not only has the sole set of traffic lights between Melbourne and Sydney, it also boasts a massive submarine sitting proudly right in the middle of town.

Submarine

Holbrook is named after Commander Norman Holbrook, a decorated WWI veteran. Commander Holbrook spent the war hiding underwater and driving his Oberon class submarine around, occasionally popping up to shoot at the surprised baddies then disappear in a stream of bubbles. Lt. Holbrook won the Victoria Cross, our highest pat on the back for military people.

Jette was amazed to sight this big black submarine shell (sadly they took out all the bombs and fun stuff) almost 400 kilometers inland from Melbourne. Despite my best efforts, she would not climb aboard for a photo.

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BIG stuff in Philadelphia, PA

Claes Oldenburg

The world’s largest clothespin! The Girl couldn’t wait to get out of the car. The Boy thinks we’re crazy.

There are roadside attractions in Philadelphia, although most of them are best enjoyed on foot. The public outdoor art installations we saw in Philadelphia thoroughly charmed me, because there are quite a few BIG pieces!

 

Claes Oldenburg sculpture in Philadelphia, PA

I’ve become a fan of Swedish American sculptor Claes Oldenburg, best known for his public art installations worldwide which feature immense replicas of familiar objects. He thinks BIG!

Of course, our first order of business in Philadelphia was seeing Clothespin — the world’s largest clothespin — created by Oldenburg in 1976. It’s located in Centre Square Plaza on Market Street across from the City Hall, which happens to be the largest municipal building in the U.S. The 45-ft. tall clothespin was made from 10 tons of Cor-Ten and stainless steel.

The Paint Torch is Oldenburg’s most recent work in Philly, and was just installed on Cherry Street last year. This four-ton brush is five stories tall! It looks like an artist has jammed it at a 60 degree angle into the sidewalk, leaving a blob of paint on the ground. We didn’t get to see it at night, but the paint on the brush and the paint blob are lit from within by synchronized LEDs.

We also didn’t get to see the other oversized Oldenburg piece in Philadelphia — the 16-foot Split Button in Levy Park on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Next time!

Claes Oldenburg

The Paint Torch by Claes Oldenburg

The Board Game Art Park, Philadelphia, PA

We had no choice but to visit Municipal Services Building Plaza at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard on a rainy morning. But we still enjoyed visiting the Board Game Art Park, home to the multi-piece installation, “Your Move,” created in 1997 by artists Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White.

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PHOTO FRIDAY – Dino Trio, Pittsburgh, PA

“Dino Trio.” Sounds like a smooth crooner group from the ‘50’s. “Singing live tonight at the Starlight Lounge…it’s the Dino Trio!”

Last week, on our post about the Jurassic dinosaur collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I mentioned DinoMite Days, a 2004 public art project which resulted in 100 uniquely decorated dinosaurs, made of fiberglass and weighing 200 lbs each. They were temporarily installed throughout the city, but most have since been sold to private collectors.

However, several can still be found on public display. We found these BIG beauties in front the “Wintergarden” building at PPG Place!

DinoMite Days Pittsburgh

They are, from left to right:

Philiposaurus. Artist: Gary Mesa Gaido

Ketchupsaurus. Artist: Kristina Martinez

Mr. Dig. Artist: Glennis McClellan

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