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

Archive for West Coast

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (10) Trackbacks / Pingbacks (2)

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!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)

World’s Largest Collection of ABC Gum, Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo, CA

At this point, the Go BIG family has seen some pretty quirky, offbeat, and strange things. Like a 27-ft wide pancake griddle. Animatronic milk cartons. Underground poutine. A giant bacon cheeseburger sandwiched inside a glazed doughnut. And don’t even get me started about South of the Border. I still haven’t found the words to write about our evening there.

Still, as someone with OCD in her gene pool — and two packs of antibacterial wipes in her purse at all times — it was difficult for me to process the idea of Bubblegum Alley. This month’s guest post features the world’s largest collection of “ABC” (already been chewed) gum, which is stuck to the walls of Bubblegum Alley , a 70-foot long, 15-foot high landmark in San Luis Obispo, CA.

bubblegum alley

That's not paint, folks. It's gum. That's been chewed.

Still, Sandra Foyt’s report manages to intrigue me! Sandra writes about fun and educational family travel at Albany Kid. And, apparently, loves her daughter very much to be talked into visiting this place. Her story:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Wall Drug: World’s Largest Drug Store

Sure, you could go see Mount Rushmore on your next trip to South Dakota. It’s BIG, so why not? But if you’re going to “The Coyote State,” you need to visit the Wall Drug, the World’s Largest Drug Store!

And we will. As soon as we get to South Dakota.

In the meantime, I am grateful that Anne at 500 Places With Kids DID go there, and has shared her photos with us! You can read a full report of her family’s visit on her blog.

Wall drug

One of America's top roadside attractions!

At 76,000 square feet, Wall Drug is not only a drug store. The space also contains a gift shop, pharmacy museum, art gallery, chapel, restaurants and other shops.

Wall Drug is an iconic American roadside attraction. I love the history of this place. It opened in 1931, and struggled to stay afloat, until the couple who owned it started advertising “free ice water” on small roadside signs. Now they get up to 20,000 visitors a day in the summer!

Check Anne’s site for a smile-inducing photo of the wall of jackalope heads for sale! Who doesn’t love a jackalope? There’s also this BIG one outside, and of course I had to have a pic on my blog:


World's largest jackalope? Actually, no. That one's in Wyoming.


Comments (4)

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8)

BIGGISH – Billboard People of AZ and CA

We don’t get out to the west coast as often as we’d like. Our last trip was to Anaheim and Carlsbad, CA in 2008 to visit Disneyland and LEGOLAND. Our last post featuring the west coast was over the summer, when my very own Dad reported “from the field.” My parents went to several BIG sites: San Francisco’s Chinatown; the tallest waterfall in North America at Yosemite National Park; and the world’s largest tree in Sequoia National Park.

This month’s guest post brings us back out to California, as well as Arizona. Tiffany and her hubby are a young, adventurous couple traveling full-time in their little painted Airstream, “eddie.” (p.s. Did you know that “Eddie” is also the name of the World’s Largest Kid? And that I like to insert shameless links to other posts on this blog to increase page visits?)

Their blog, WanderingAirstream.com, chronicles their journeys in their beloved 1973 Argosy Airstream. I just love that they’ve lovingly restored and renovated eddie. I’m a sucker for before-and-afters (too much time watching HGTV!)

This is what eddie looks like inside.


The "Go BIG" family would last about an hour together in this space.

I take issue with them for removing the avocado oven, but otherwise, COOL! And compact. I think Tiffany and her husband must have a VERY healthy relationship to spend all their time together in this vehicle!

Here’s Tiffany’s report about two larger-than-life billboard installations they found during their travels:

Traci invited me over today to share a couple of BIG roadside attractions that my husband and I found on our travels. We love the biggest, tiniest, quirkiest of just about anything, and as we are traveling the country full-time in our vintage airstream,  we are always on the lookout for the unusual.

But these caught us out-of-the-blue. We had no idea of their existence, and were just lucky to have stumbled across them.


The first is a giant cut-out family outside of Temecula, CA. It is very close to Diamond Valley Lake, off of Hwy 74 East towards Hemet, CA. Turn right on Winchester Road, South towards Temecula, go about 10 miles and you’ll run right into them!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (8) Trackback / Pingback (1)

World’s Largest Gift Shop, Las Vegas, NV

A few years ago, the Las Vegas tourism board launched a campaign to promote Sin City as a family destination. I think it was before the whole “What happens in Vegas…” concept became a regrettably overused part of the vernacular, along the lines of “Got milk?”  I’m not sure how successful the family branding was, but I might consider bringing the kids there if I found enough for them to do. Have you been there with kids? If so, I would love to hear your comments below. I put the question out there on Twitter, and @dgcampagna told me she likes bringing her kids to the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum and the Ethel M Chocolates factory tour, among other places.

Vegas is on my bucket list. I’m not much of a gambler, but Matt likes a poker game. His dream is to enter a tournament and become the next World Poker Tour champion. Sorry, we don’t have an extra $10K lying around for the buy-in. Regardless, we hope to get there someday.

This month’s guest post was written by someone who did get there recently. I met Lexy at the 2010 BlogHer conference. She’s a super-friendly, travel-savvy blogger over at KissMyCountry.com. During a girlfriends’ weekend, she discovered Bonanza Gifts, the World’s Largest Gift Shop. I can only imagine the delightful, large-scale cheesiness of this Vegas souvenir store, but she experienced it firsthand! Lucky.

Gift ShopWhere we went, and who was coerced into going:
During our recent Girl’s Weekend in Las Vegas, my friend Ursula and I visited Bonanza Gifts, located on The Strip across the street from The Sahara hotel and casino.  Ursula actually volunteered to come along to buy gifts for her children– no coercing.  I was glad for the company.  We took a cab and arrived pretty quickly – the Strip was empty on the Saturday morning we’d earmarked for our visit.

Why did you go there, exactly?
I know Traci from BlogHer ’10, love her blog, and since I was headed to Vegas I asked if there was any “largest whatever” in Vegas that I could visit on her behalf.  Traci came up with the gift shop and the World’s Largest Gold Nugget at the Golden Nugget Casino.  I chose the gift shop because I’m a gift shop fanatic, leaving the Nugget for another fan.

Slot machine

What kid doesn't need a slot machine squirt toy?

Okay, what was so cool about it?
Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3) Trackback / Pingback (1)

BIG Stuff on the West Coast!

Sometimes, I’m a social animal, fun and carefree. When I plan trips to the world’s largest bowling pin, that’s when I know mom’s genes are there somewhere. “Serious me”– the one who recycles the tiny plastic tray in the printer ink cartridge box – is more meticulous and by-the-book. That’s my dad’s DNA.

Frank is a serious traveler. He knows everything about a destination before he ever steps foot on its soil. He’s responsible for my first trans-Atlantic voyage, at the age of seven. (More about that in The Prequel.)

San Francisco Chinatown

Credit: SanFranciscoChinatown.com

So to have him embrace this quirky little blog, and even do reconnaissance for me while on his current trip to the west coast, is very flattering. But as you can see in the e-mail he sent me this week, he’s struggling to make peace with the “Go BIG” qualifications of seeing the “world’s largest” stuff.

I channeled my mom’s relaxed whimsy as I tried to let him off the hook.

To: Traci

From: Dad
RE: Report from the field

Halfway through our trip to see really BIG things, we’ve hit a few snags. Moreover, this trip has me thinking about our English language and the way we define our words.  The word “big” is presenting me with some perplexing questions to ponder.

During our weekend in San Francisco, we visited the Chinatown deemed to contain the largest concentration of Chinese outside of Asia. Does this make it the “biggest” Chinatown? How should we measure “big”? By the number of Chinese living there? By the geographical area? By the population density? Your word “biggish,” even though I really like it, sometimes does not work.

We then visited Yosemite National Park to view the waterfall considered to be the tallest in North America. But, does the tallest waterfall still qualify as truly BIG when there is no water falling? Not a drop!

General Sherman Tree

General Sherman Tree. Credit: National Park Service

Yesterday we visited Sequoia National Park and the General Sherman tree (in the rain), thought to be the biggest tree in the world.  However, sequoia trees are generally not as tall as California’s coastal redwoods, so height is not the criterion of bigness used here. Also troubling was the fact that the General Grant tree (the third biggest sequoia) is, at 40+feet, about five feet wider at its base than the General Sherman tree, which would make it the “biggest” tree if width was used as the qualifying criterion.  So, what makes the General Sherman tree “big” is its volume and weight, not its height or width (or its age, I might add).

Coming up, Hearst Castle. Is it the biggest private mansion ever built? If so, by what criteria?  And, why is Big Sur “big” and Little Sur “little”?  What the heck is a “SUR” anyway?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)