Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

A Slingshot Trip

Taking a break from my blog about Hawaii, the Big Island, Kona conclusion – onlyMichigan because I’ve run out of time for now, and because I’m going to be without wi-fi for … who-knows-how-long – I am diverting temporarily to our upcoming trip.

We are “sling-shotting” to Michigan to visit friends (Richard, Shannan, Evan & Jack), and, for the most part, travelling a road we’ve already gone AND I’ve already talked about in my blog at some point.

Which is good, because we don’t have time to stop anywhere, so I won’t be pouty that I can’t stop to see the Roadside Attractions.

AirstreamThe plan is – get to Michigan as quickly as possible, by the most direct route, according to Google Maps. (The most direct route is approximately 3,000 kms/close to 1900 miles.)

The “adventure” part of it is that I’ve decided that, rather than hotel-ing, we are going to bring the Airstream, so that we have our own “home away from home” while visiting Richard and Shannan. Since it’s off-season, most campgrounds are already closed, so we plan to stay at Rest Areas, parking lots of places like Wal-mart, and truck stops.

We’ve never done that before (rest-stops, truck-stops and parking lots.) Makes me nervous. And, a little excited. Normally, I have the route carefully planned, campgrounds or hotels booked well in advance. A book with confirmation numbers, addresses, and phone numbers.

This time, I have a “hope for the best” mentality and a website (www.allstays.com) which lists every truck stop (including which have showers, restaurants and lounges), rest stops (including whether they are East/West or North/South bound), and parking lot that allows overnight stays, for every interstate in the United States.

Here’s what we’ll be passing:

1) We will be going through Medicine Hat, Alberta, which is home of the World’s Largest TeePee. This I haven’t seen AND we will be stopping for pictures.

2) Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, home of the World’s Largest Moose, and a townWorld's Largest Moose which actually has a few things I do want to do that I missed last time (the Al Capone tour and the Underground Tunnel tours), but we don’t have time. I will eventually be back there for those tours.

3) Dog River/Rouleau, Saskatchewan, filming location of “Corner Gas”.

3) Weyburn, Saskatchewan, home of what could be the World’s Tallest Wheat. (Same link as #3, Dog River)

The World's Largest Buffalo4) Minot, North Dakota, whose motto is “Why-not Minot”….

5) Jamestown, North Dakota, home of the World’s Largest Buffalo AND albino buffalos. (Same link as #3, Dog River) I might try to stop there for a better picture of the Albino Buffalo, actually.. Which reminds me. I should bring the big camera….

6) Fargo, North Dakota, home of the Infamous Wood Chipper, and the Fargo Walk of Fame.

7) A Continental Divide, not THE Continental Divide.Alexandria's Runestone

8) Alexandria’s Runestone. (I did say if we were ever there again, expecting we never would be, I’d stop and see the real one in the museum, instead of the replica… but that won’t be this trip…)

Skimming passed Minneapolis and St. Paul (tons more I need to see there, too, but I didn’t even get that all done last time I was there, and I was there for … 2 days, not 3 minutes…or probably an hour? that it’ll take us to “skim passed”?

Once we get to Wisconsin, though, we will be on a part of the highway we haven’t been before.

Here’s what I’ll be missing (maybe):

1) In or around Eau Claire: Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum, a Ship-shaped CarPaul Bunyan Wash, and a Transmission Man.

2) At Mauston, the Kwik Trip sign is apparently a hanging semi-truck… Might be able to see that from the road if I’m looking!

3) Wisconsin Dells – now the home of the Russian MIR Space Station… hmmmm… maybe we can stop on the way back… Looks like there’s also an Upside-down Whitehouse, Storybook Gardens (more research required to see if this still exists), a Muffler Man that looks alot like Burt Reynolds, Paul Bunyan restaurants (might need to stop there), and the World’s Possible Largest Flamingo….

4) DeForest – home of Sissy the Cow and Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet. … Actually, now that I know there’s an all-things-cheese place, might need to stop there for sure. (I mean – at some point, we have to stop at a Cheese Tourist thing – it IS, after all, Wisconsin!)

5) A bunch of sites in Madison, including Otis Redding’s Plane Crash site…

6) An Apple Water Tower at Edgerton.

7) Janesville – Bessie the Cow (apparently in a Fruitopia commercial?) and a 2-story outhouse,

SPAM Museumm8) Beloit – A Giant Bulldog and a Giant Hormel Can…

Speaking of Hormel – last time we were here, we visited the SPAM Museum, (SPAM being a Hormel product). This time, I am in search of La Victoria Chunky Jalapeno Hot Sauce – apparently this is the best hot sauce on the planet – if anyone knows where to find it… Originally, we found it at a little store in Sandpoint, ID (future blog topic), but can’t find it again. I did email to MegaMex Foods (which is “a joint venture between…Hormel Foods and Herdez del Fuerte“) and they are searching. (It IS available on-line, if I can’t find it any other place.)

ENTER Illinois. Still on a “fresh road”.

Oh too bad. I’m out of time.  See you later!

Thank you to our wonderful friends for house-sitting for us, too! Mwah!

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The World’s Largest Buffalo

 

I just looked down for maybe a minute
(doing a puzzle – Hidato),
and almost missed –

DOG RIVER, Saskatchewan!

I didn’t know it was there!  If you don’t know Dog River, you must not have seen  “Corner Gas“, which is a funny, happy, quirky Canadian sit-com…try to find it on re-runs! (The real town is Rouleau, SK, but the sign on the grain silo is “Dog River”. Google map)

OK – on to the Tallest Stalks of Wheat!

I’m not totally sure these are the record holding Tallest Stalks of Wheat, but, even if they aren’t, they  are really pretty, and make driving through Weyburn, SK that much nicer. (Google map).

It’s amazing what qualifies  for a roadside attraction! What I love is that some of the “attractions” are so  crazy, you have to really admire the person who said, “Let’s build the World’s  Largest Mosquito so people will stop in our little town.” And it works. (“Mossy  the Mosquito” is in Rainbow Lake, Alberta. I don’t know where that is, but if  I’m ever there, I will be sure to stop.)I’m browsing the  roadsideattraction.ca site and am finding out that, in Calgary, I should be able  to see: King Kong climbing a building, a giant rooster, tulips and beetle, and  an upside down church… I haven’t seen these things… I might need to go on a  local field trip…

Which is totally off the subject- we’re on a roadtrip!

We didn’t go through Weyburn  to see the Wheat – we went there because it’s enroute to Fargo ND…Yeah, that’s  right! You heard me – Fargo ND.

Jamestown ND is also enroute, and home to the World’s Largest Buffalo.

There isn’t a sign (or if  there is, we missed it) for “World’s Largest Buffalo”, so we took a guess that  it was at the National Buffalo Museum. (It’s actually just passed there at the  Frontier Village http://goo.gl/maps/j1ZdB).

First of all, the Village is  a cute little old-west street, with stores and buildings rescued from various  places around North Dakota. There, you can take a stagecoach ride (we didn’t – we usually travel with two little dogs, Daisy & Coco, who don’t love  horses), visit the little house dedicated to the works of Louis L’Amour (who is  apparently from Jamestown), and go for a drink at the local  saloon.

We didn’t do any of that – I  just wanted to see the World’s Largest Buffalo. And it was HUGE!! Gigantic!  Totally worth it! I thought it’d be a plastic looking thing, but it looks just  like a giant buffalo! (That’s Peter, Daisy & Coco standing in the buffalo’s  shade.)

From there, you can  see a couple albino buffalo, too. (In fact, that’s how I convinced Peter to go  visit.) They were far away, and at first I thought one was a white rock, but  THEN! It got up and started walking. My pictures aren’t great (I didn’t have  “the big camera” with me at the time), and by “not great”, I mean “terrible”,  but here they are anyway. (You can Google for better picture OR, even better, go  there and take your own!

Next time, I’ll bring the big camera.

There was more to do, more  to see – we could’ve stayed longer, but we had to get to Fargo… to be  continued Sunday.

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Moose Jaw SK…home of Mac, the World’s Largest Moose

You don’t really get a name like “Big Ball of String Girl” if  you aren’t interested in roadside attractions. Also, HAVING the label actually  makes me feel entitled to stop and see every little thing. Like, it’s my  responsibility to stop and see if it’s worth a picture. 

Which is why  between Outlook and Fargo ND we saw the World’s Tallest Wheat, the World’s Largest Moose and the World’s Largest Buffalo.

 In fact, we had to reroute  just to go to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to see the World’s Largest Moose – “Mac”. Mac is 32 feet tall, and is still (at the moment) the Tallest/Largest. (There seems to be something in the works in Sweden, but nothing completed as far as I could confirm…) (Google maps).

I assumed that that was about all Moose Jaw had to offer.

HOWEVER, it turns out that it has a fascinating history  which we didn’t get to explore, so NEXT time (might as well accept the  fact that we will be coming back to Saskatchewan) we come visit our friends in  Outlook, we plan to take a field trip to Moose Jaw. 

The kids in Outlook were very excited to tell us that: There are  underground tunnels in Moose Jaw which you can tour. I don’t know much about it  yet – but if you Google it, one of the tours is called, “Passage to Fortune” which  is about the Chinese immigration, when the Chinese people were forced to live,  work and sleep in the tunnels, 100 or so years ago..and how they made that  lifestyle work for them, and prospered.

The other tour is “The Chicago  Connection” which is all about smuggling during the Prohibition, bootlegging and  gangsters – and specifically their lives in the “underground”…literally…At a  time when Al Capone was running the show in Chicago, it seems that he was  frequenting Moose Jaw SK… It seems that the train ran directly from Moose Jaw,  to Minneapolis, to Chicago. I don’t know anything – that’s just what I’ve  heard…

The quote on Moose Jaw’s tourist website says

“A wise man once said, “Everything a man could possibly want,
he will find it  in Moose Jaw” (Anonymous)”

…. I’m not completely convinced of that, BUT it is far more  interesting than I originally imagined, and I am curious enough to come  back…

Cliffhanger: I think I’ll wait till Wednesday to talk about the Biggest  Stalks of Wheat and the World’s Largest Buffalo…
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Outlook, SK (or as Peter calls it “Look Out!”)

I don’t know how many of you have ever been to Saskatchewan  (again – Sas-KATCH-ewan, not Saska-CHEW-an), but Peter told me years ago that we  would never, ever go. Not even to cross it off “the list”.

This is  because his grandparents were from there, and they had had to drive that long, straight, road, back and forth, back and forth, year after year, to visit. And, while I’m  completely entertained by long straight stretches with nothing in them but grass and the occasional cloud, it’s probably much more boring to 3 little boys, trapped in the car.

But then! Friends moved there – and not to the thriving metropolis of Saskatoon, but to a little town an hour or so south, called Outlook (Google map). So, despite the “never, ever going”, we’ve been there now – let  me see – this time was our third time! (once to Saskatoon, and twice, so far, to  Outlook.)

Outlook is a comfortable, friendly little town, where  they keep a list beside the till at the local grocery store so you can sign up  to attend the latest wedding shower, of the latest someone that everyone knows!

Instead of car dealerships, mainstreet is packed with farm  equipment dealerships, and it’s not unusual to share the road with (or more  accurately – to be run off the road by) massive combiner or the machines that  haul the irrigation sprinklers…

It’s ok, though, to be run off the road in Saskatchewan.  Except for the rolling hills, here and there, it’s completely and totally flat.  (Apparently, the highest point in Saskatchewan is 1467 feet and the lowest is  699 feet…)

THIS is a picture of (or was it from?) one of the highest points in  Saskatchewan.

Really! I’m not kidding!

 

There’s lots to see and do in Outlook and we actually ran  out of time, but one of the things is walking the Skytrail Bridge. It’s an old  railway bridge, converted to a pedestrian bridge, that goes over the South Saskatchewan River, and is over ½ mile long.

The River is a beautiful, lazy (at least at this point)  river, and the weirdest thing about it is that it’s running North – my brain  really wanted it to be running South and had a hard time wrapping itself around the northern flow.

It turns out that “Saskatchewan” is  taken from a Cree word for “Swift Flowing River”… I don’t get it – I guess  there’s probably rapids somewhere…? (Probably someone who’s been there more  than 3 times, or someone who lives there, could answer that…?)

Below the bridge is a nice, full  hook-up campground with a public pool, at the Outlook & District Regional  Park (just in case you decide to visit and don’t know anyone).

And, if all of that doesn’t entice  you, THERE ARE FIREFLIES!!!

(See you Sunday – we’ll be enroute to North Dakota.)  

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