world’s largest roadside attractions

It’s Always Sunny in Seattle & Canada (At Least When We’re There): Spring Break Day 1

Similar to our last trip to Seattle, this one started early. After waking up to a 3:50 a.m. alarm, my sister and I made our way through the doors at LAX by 5:15. Lucky for us, the Virgin America check-in desk was there to welcome us with the soothing alarmingly loud sounds of Beyoncé and Sean Paul. I tried to be mad, but I couldn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure I tapped my foot at one point, bringing incredible shame to my fellow non-morning people.

Once we boarded our plane, Natalee and I were excited to find a wide selection of movies and television shows available to enjoy during our three-hour flight. We were also excited to see the Virgin America safety video, which is known for its fun and outlandish choreography. Three hours later however, when I woke up with my mouth slightly open and a crick in my neck, I realized I’d missed everything, including takeoff, landing and snacks. I was both bummed and impressed.

After grabbing our luggage, Natalee and I took a seat to wait for our friend Mel who was flying in on a later plane from Utah. We made use of our time by playing the Washington lottery, where Natalee won $7 and I started our trip $5 in the hole. Once Mel landed, we picked up our first rental car and officially started our adventure.

First on the list of sights to see: The World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots. (Obviously.)

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As some of you may know, I have a weird fascination with the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions, and one of my goals for this year was to see three. So after pulling up to a park in Georgetown and Vanna White-ing the hell out of this bad boy, I officially checked one off the list.

gold pigFrom there we made our way to Pike’s Place Market, where we did our due diligence and pet the golden pig. We also aggressively hovered around the flying fish booth, munching on free samples of dried fruit as we waited for a headless halibut to go airborne.

We then did a few loops of the market, popping in here and there, smelling and tasting and touching all of the things. Some impulse important purchases here included apple chips (which are made of magic and dreams), ghost pepper garlic salt, and jalapeño raspberry jelly (both of which may or may not make you breathe fire).

For lunch we ate at Le Panier, a French café where we each ordered a macaroon and a sandwich on a baguette, and the only words we pronounced correctly were “water” and “yum.” Afterwards, as we walked back through the market, we took note of all the blooming daffodils and the undeniably sunny weather—the latter of which we tried not to mention in fear of jinxing it.

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Our next stop was the gum wall, which after seeing it I can now say is really more of a gum hallway. Once you turn the corner you are literally surrounded by half chewed pieces of gum in every color. Some are simply stuck to the wall while others are pulled and warped, trying their best to emulate art. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little grossed out, but that didn’t stop me, or any of us, from immediately making our own fruity (and minty) contributions.

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From there we made our way through the gum hall and down the hill to the boardwalk. We walked along the water and rode the Great Wheel, again marveling at the untraditionally dry weather we were being blessed with. Then, after making our way back up to our car, we officially wished Pike’s goodbye and headed outside the city to stay with our ever generous Seattle hosts: the Beliel’s.

For our first night in Washington, they truly went above and beyond the call of duty. After treating us to an incredible dinner—which may or may not have been a strategy to convert us to Seahawks fans—they joined us for a green beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and challenged us to some shuffleboard. (Kim + Dee Dee = shuffleboard champs)

When we got in bed that night, Mel, Natalee and I could safely agree on three things:

  1. We were happy.
  2. We were blessed.
  3. We couldn’t wait to see what tomorrow would bring.

Spring Break Road Trip (Day 6: Bend to Park City)

It was another early morning to start another long day of driving, and with the events of Saturday still looming in the far back corner of our minds, we figured it was only logical to start our day with Starbucks.

Unlike Friday’s departure from Vegas, the drive out of Bend didn’t involve buildings shrinking out of sight in the rearview mirror. It was more of a peek-a-boo. A now you see it, now you’re back in the middle of nowhere type deal.

Fortunately, the drive out was beautiful. The highway cut through a lake, thus sandwiching us between still, glassy surfaces that reflected the slow moving clouds overhead. Green surrounded us. I almost felt out of place amongst the flourishing trees and plants and seemingly endless grass.

About three hours into the drive, we made our first stop for gas, figuring you could never be too safe. And while I won’t bore you with the details of what made getting gas at this station a minor struggle, I’ll share with you the accidental lesson we took from it.

Amongst the frustration, my sister, who was doing most of the grunt work (i.e. getting out to pay for the gas), made the statement, “I hate this 10 minutes!” I, of course, started laughing, so much that I nearly honked the horn with my face. When my sister returned however, she clarified the statement, making it less hilarious and more meaningful.

“You hate this 10 minutes?” I said between laughs.

“Well yeah, I don’t want to say, ‘I hate today’, because it’s really only these 10 minutes that have been bad, the rest of the day could be great!”

Resulting tip: if you have a bad part of your day, don’t assume the whole thing is a wash.

Over the next few hours, we made a new friend in the form of the Snake River. As we made our way through Oregon towards Idaho, the Snake River ran alongside us, constantly making us “ooh” and “awe.” When we started nearing the border (which is also known as “Onion Country”) the land got flat. Trees became rare and mountains ran out into the distance. Seemingly every patch of land was freckled with cattle, some of which moved so slow (or not at all) we thought the Idaho-ians may have planted them there for good looks.

After officially crossing the border, our (no longer lonely) highway turned into an actual freeway, which brought me more joy than I would have expected. There were speed limit signs, there were billboards, there were the occasional brake checks from surrounding cars, it felt like home.

We stopped for lunch at Subway, then stopped for gas, where we met arguably the nicest man in the world. He pumped our gas for us, which is not uncommon outside of California as we’d come to find out, and asked us about our day and our trip. My sister and I were both in agreement that he was, as stated previously, the nicest man in the world, but it was hard to tell if this was true or if we were just so used the cold attitudes in Southern California that any motiveless kindness seemed unfathomable.

Side-Tip: If you’re passing through a town you think might offer a good souvenir, but don’t know where to look/what to get. Find the town’s Wal-Mart and grab yourself a hat. Not only will it make you fit in for a low price, it will also hide the fact that you’ve been sitting in the car for 8 hours and your hair is greasier than a fried Twinkie.

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As a whole, Idaho looked mostly the same. We sped down its highways gawking at the (real or fake?) cows and horses and the snowy mountains far in the distance. If I were to describe it in two words, I would probably have to say its “unmistakably Idaho”, meaning that if you blindfolded me, put me on a plane, drove me out into the middle of Ida-nowhere, I’d probably be able to identify the state. If you’ve been to Idaho, maybe you know what I mean. It just feels like one of those girls in high school that knows who they are now and who they’re going to be later. Idaho is Idaho, and I’m a fan.

Upon entering Utah, we did what anyone (and by anyone I mean only us) would do: we took a side trip to see the World’s Largest Fishing Fly!

If you’ve seen this post, you’ll know that I’ve made it a mission of mine to see all of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions (or as I call them: WRLA’s), so when I heard we’d be passing right by the only WRLA in Utah en route to our 3rd stop, there was no other option but to pay it a visit.

 

Some tips if you ever decide to visit a WRLA:

  • It will probably be in a very strange, very random and not-always-easy-to-stop-in-front-of location
  • You will undoubtedly receive strange looks from people while you’re taking a picture in front of it
  • You should definitely ignore all those looks
  • Always buy a souvenir when available.

 

The World’s Largest Fishing Fly is in the parking lot of a flea market. There is no sign, or souvenirs, and my sister and I got the attention of a number of passing cars as we took pictures in front of it.

Here I am totally caring what they think:

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After our 5 minute, yet totally worth it stop at the Fishing Fly, my sister and I cranked out the last hour and a half of the trip to reach our friend Mel in Park City. It was just about sunset when we pulled up to her house, so we spent the next few hours talking, laughing, eating Taco Bell, and watching Friends. And like our two stops before this, Mel’s house instantly became a haven for us. We felt welcome and loved and thankful to be there, but most of all, we were excited to see what adventure this next leg of the trip would bring us.

World’s Largest Roadside Attractions

In my July/August Favorites I made mention of loving the Netflix Original film The Fundamentals of Caring. In it a boy suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, who has made a list of America’s “worst” roadside attractions, gets the opportunity to take a road trip with his caretaker to see a few.

Inspired by this list, I researched every roadside attraction in America that has been deemed the “World’s Largest” and made it a goal of mine to see them all.

(I also took note of those outside the US, but I figure my chances of seeing those are much slimmer, so I won’t count it against my list if I don’t, but rather mark them as bonus points, because who doesn’t love a little extra credit?!)

This past week, while my family and I were en route to a glorious weekend in Lake Tahoe, we were able to see two of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions (WRLA’s) (pronounced Wool-Rahs) on my list, and let me tell you, the excitement. Was. Real.

First off, the World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Pot.

Even as someone who hates coffee, I had quite the time of containing my excitement wiggles as we came up Highway 99 and saw this beauty:

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And while I know this was our first one, so you’ll probably take the next thing I say as a result of the novelty but…THIS WAS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN. It was so cute. It was so quaint. It was so THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN. Not to mention the fact that the town of Kingsburg, CA (where it is located) is about the cutest place I’ve ever been to. It was one of those towns you see in a feel good family sitcom that probably has citywide garage sales and a guy at the bank that gives you a lollypop. My brother almost moved there on the spot.

Next on our list of WRLA’s, which also happened to be located in Kingsburg—only adding to my brother’s obsession—was the World’s Largest Raisin Box:

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And while yes, the Raisin Box was only our second WRLA, thus is still had novelty status, and yes, aside from the Swedish Coffee Pot I’d seen only 30 minutes prior, I might consider it THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN, I think the real treat, not only for us but for Kingsburg, came in the way of us going HAM in and around the Sun-Maid Raisin gift shop.

I’m not joking.

We bought t-shirts, we bought snacks, we bought postcards, we took a picture with Mrs. Sun-Maid herself:

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My brother became Mrs. Sun-Maid herself:

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If I were to venture a guess, I’d say we spent 40 minutes on the Sun-Maid property, which has to be a record for anyone that doesn’t work there.

That being said, I cannot emphasize enough how much these two side trips were worth it. When we got to Tahoe, I already began plotting when I could visit my next WLRA, and believe me, there will be a next one, and a next one, and a next one.

For anyone who is interested in following my quest or seeking out the attractions yourself, I’m going to paste the full list as well as pictures of those I’ve been to on this page.

Here’s to a life full of WRLA’s!

 

 

**In other exciting news, I was published on The Mighty today, check that post out here.