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"I Was Just So Overwhelmed by Its Sheer Immensity ... I Had to Pop Myself a Beer."
July 8, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Greetings from the Twine Ball, wish you were here: "But you can't see out of the side of the car, because the windows are completely covered with the decals of all the places where we've already been: there's Elvis-O-Rama, the Tupperware Museum, the Boll Weevil Monument, and Cranberry World, the Shuffleboard Hall Of Fame, Poodle Dog Rock, and the Mecca of Albino Squirrels. We've been to ghost towns, theme parks, wax museums, and a place where you can drive through the middle of a tree ... "

(A final link for all of those who are 'WTF?'-ing – plus the inspiration for the song's structure and chords.)
posted by WCityMike (41 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
destination: Darwin, Minnesota
posted by seagull.apollo at 7:38 AM on July 8, 2010


It seems not a week goes by without a Metafilter post referencing Weird Al, Tim & Eric or the Muppets.

This must be why I love it so.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 7:44 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is this a post about Sam and Max?
posted by edgeways at 7:47 AM on July 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I ate ice cream not a block from the Boll Weevil monument a few years ago. It was pretty surreal.

I've always said that someday I'll take my hypothetical kids to see all of these places. As long as we also hit the Little House on the Prairie house, too, the mrs will probably go along with it.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:51 AM on July 8, 2010


My wife's family is from near Darwin. They've never been able to understand why I would bother to drive the two hours from Minneapolis just for Twine Ball Days.

It's the only parade I've ever seen where they do two laps because the route is so short. And the handcarved pliers are even more impressive than the twine ball.
posted by nickmark at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


omigod those are real places?
posted by harriet vane at 8:00 AM on July 8, 2010


Also, a virtual museum of kitsch: House on the Rock
posted by cottoncandybeard at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2010


Gopher Hole Museum, Torrington, Alberta. Pics speak for themselves, I think.
posted by gompa at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2010


It always amazes me that there are still more Weird Al songs I haven't heard.

I love that man.
posted by 256 at 8:12 AM on July 8, 2010


I thought it was just a good rhyme, but it really is under a makeshift pagoda.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:20 AM on July 8, 2010


I recently realized that I can still sing the entirety of that song from memory, after listening to it innumerable times as a child. What a prodigy I was! SUCK IT, JOHN STUART MILL!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:25 AM on July 8, 2010


I grew up in Plymouth, so Cranberry World was an inevitable field trip destination. I've also driven through the drive-through tree.

Now I live in the home of the world's only Umbrella Cover Museum.
posted by rusty at 8:31 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, for people who ever consider driving a long distance in the US, I can recommend two ironclad rules:

1. Two-lane roads only except where absolutely impossible.

2. Stop and tour all caves.

You will have a good trip, with only these two simple rules. Guideline 2a would be "stop and tour as many other odd attractions as you can."
posted by rusty at 8:34 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually Cranberry World in Plymouth has been closed for a few years now. :( (That link was from 2000.) They sometimes make noises about reopening it (it was popular, but free admission doesn't make money), but nothing has become of it yet.
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on July 8, 2010


A few of the places I went on a 3 week long road trip down the west coast: We bought a car just for the trip. It got covered in bumper stickers. One of the best vacations I've ever had.
posted by joelf at 8:54 AM on July 8, 2010


Wild Blueberry Land, in Maine, is along Highway 1 west of Machias. En route to P.E.I. last year my brother and I drove past this sight, stopped, turned around and posed for pics. Who doesn't like wild blueberries?
posted by Jubal Kessler at 9:00 AM on July 8, 2010


joelf, I do hope you just forgot to mention the Madonna Inn.
posted by Zed at 9:10 AM on July 8, 2010


I saw the twine ball a few years ago while passing through. That town is pretty much nothing but the gazebo and a three-block main street.

It also looks like rats are living in it.
posted by clarknova at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2010


Also, a virtual museum of kitsch: House on the Rock

The same featured in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, of course.
posted by digitaldraco at 9:21 AM on July 8, 2010


The same featured in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, of course.

Indeed.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 9:30 AM on July 8, 2010


I stopped off at the potato museum to see a potato signed by Dan Quayle and I'm glad I did. I can not explain why.
posted by cccorlew at 9:33 AM on July 8, 2010


I love love love this song - I start every road trip with it.

I've always been bothered by the math, though. Near the end of the song, Al says he covers the last 50 miles in about an hour. He also says he "drove straight thru for three whole days and nights" (of course they stopped for more pickled wieners now and then).

3 days * 24 hours * 50 miles = 3600 miles. Where do you start from to drive 3600 miles to end up in Minnesota? Alaska? Mexico City?
posted by trueger at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2010


I'm so pleased Jubal mentioned Wild Blueberry Land. Washington County, FTW!
posted by pentagoet at 9:44 AM on July 8, 2010


Melismata: Actually Cranberry World in Plymouth has been closed for a few years now. :( (That link was from 2000.) They sometimes make noises about reopening it (it was popular, but free admission doesn't make money), but nothing has become of it yet.

So's Elvis-A-Rama and the Tupperware Museum, according to Wikipedia.
posted by WCityMike at 10:09 AM on July 8, 2010


trueger, give a little space for artistic license. There's also nowhere that you could cross the state line into Minnesota and be 50 miles from the "twine ball exit." And the Twine Ball Inn isn't a hotel. But that's OK.

Or, if it makes you feel better, remember that they stopped for more pickled wieners now and then, so your math might be a little off.
posted by nickmark at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll be at the Sea Lion Caves in a couple of weeks. Been going since I was a kid & never tire of it. Back in the 70s, they used to go out into the parking lot & put a bumper sticker on every car out there several times a day, but they stopped that after a while. You could stop anywhere just north or south of the place on 101 (I highly recommend the Devil's Churn) and there would be a veritable parade of cars with Sea Lion Cave bumper stickers going past.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2010


Hey, wait a minute - I thought the world's largest ball of twine was in Cawker City, Kansas.

Roadside attractions don't get more WTF than Fields of the Wood in Murphy, NC. It's not just super-religous... it looks like it was landscaped with tweezers and nail clippers and they have a big sign out front saying that they sell cheeseburgers.

This thread isn't complete without a mention of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It turns out that roadside attractions are places of extraordinary spiritual and supernatural power, but Americans don't know how to build shrines, so we build The Thing? instead. The novel's climax includes an epic battle atop Rock City.
posted by workerant at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2010


I had a pretty surreal experience under that tree you can drive through.

I'd seen pictures before I went there and expected it to be packed with tourists, but when I got there on my motorbike the place was deserted.

I drove up this little road to the tree and sort of sat under it on my motorbike for a while in total silence thinking, "What am I doing here?"

You know?
posted by HELLOWORLD at 10:28 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The link to the Tupperware Museum is not a photo from the museum but of "happyhappy!" by Choi Jheong-Hwa. It was one of the works included in "Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea" at the LACMA last year.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:29 AM on July 8, 2010


How has Wall Drug not been mentioned yet? Truly a staple of family road trips.
posted by clockbound at 10:54 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Darwin vs. Cawker City giant ball of twine battle has been going on for years.

I noticed when I visited that Cawker City now bills their string as "The World's Largest Ball of Sisal Twine". The ball has pride of place under a gazebo in the middle of town. Unlike the ball in Darwin, which is behind plexiglass, you can touch the Cawker City ball.

The Darwin ball is the largest ball made by a single person. Twine is added to the Cawker City ball at the twine-a-thon (third Friday and Saturday in August). Cawker City is tiny but the Garden of Eden in Lucas is only an hour away and the geographic center of the contiguous U.S. is only a half-hour north near Lebanon, KS.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:56 AM on July 8, 2010


I saw the twine ball a few years ago while passing through. That town is pretty much nothing but the gazebo and a three-block main street.

Which makes it more of a metropolis than Cawker City, KS where the actual largest ball of twine resides (the Darwin one being the largest ball of twine rolled by one person).

However, if you visit the "antique" stores of Cawker City, I recommend visiting the nearby "Geographic center of the contiguous United States".
There's a plaque.
posted by madajb at 10:57 AM on July 8, 2010


I've been to the Boll Weevil monument, too. That's an interesting place, historically speaking.

Another Weird Maine spot is the Desert of Maine.

How has Wall Drug not been mentioned yet?

I'll mention it! On a XC road trip about 10 years ago, I insisted we stop there (as well as the Corn Palace). As we were leaving, my travel buddy said "ugh - it's just a super cheesy tourist trap," to which I responded "I know! Ain't it great?"

We stopped at a lot of these kinds of places on our many Texas-New Jersey road trips growing up. About the caves: an evergreen family joke is my Dad's response to our request to stop at Endless Caverns -- a fully deadpan "we don't have time." One of our favorite repeat spots was Dinosaurland, where fiberglass dinosaurs roam in a scrub forest. But it's no secret that Rock City is my hallowed ground.

The go-to website for finding this kind of stuff is the excellent Roadside America.
posted by Miko at 11:02 AM on July 8, 2010


plastic_animals: The link to the Tupperware Museum is not a photo from the museum but of "happyhappy!" by Choi Jheong-Hwa. It was one of the works included in "Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea" at the LACMA last year.

Ah, damn it. It was a last-minute substitution. I had an Internet Archive link up there (I prepped the post yesterday), but as I was previewing the FPP before hitting submit, I noticed that this morning the Internet Archive server couldn't retrieve the page any longer. Had to go shopping for a new link ...
posted by WCityMike at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2010


Nothing better than Roadside Americana! Excellent post!!
posted by Mael Oui at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2010


sigh. I wish I lived near the biggest ball of twine, and not within spitting distance of Cranberry World. I got gypped on the roadside attraction lottery.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 8:01 PM on July 8, 2010


I'm with you, mrgoldenbrown. They took away Ralph the Swimming Pig when the state bought Aquarena Springs, and the ol' Snake Farm has practically gone legit. Sigh endeed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 PM on July 8, 2010


And south of Tacoma WA, visible from I-5, was that roadside diner/used-book-library where the walls inside were full bookcases where customers drop off books or take a few for free. Ancient hardcover texts which upon opening release the mustiness of university basements.

Long gone now, I think.

Hey, when we retire we should all buy run down abandoned buildings just off the interstate, then dedicate our remaining sunset years to producing scads of bumpersticker-worthy roadside curiousities analogous to Florida's acid-carved limestone monolithic "Coral Castle." Sell pecan logs, and t-shirts which are both fluorescent AND glow in the dark.

Dibs on the "Nikola Tesla's Sex Life" museum with working megawatt x-ray pulser exhibit and Sarah Bernhardt silica-encapsulated handkerchief shrine, lit by a thousand wireless high frequency discharge electric candles. (Gimme a couple of decades, and the dilapidated building will contain far more dangerous attractions that those.)
posted by billb at 12:13 AM on July 9, 2010


Ten plus years of MeFi and there hasn't been a FPP about weird roadside attractions until now? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
posted by wheelieman at 7:25 AM on July 9, 2010


This thread isn't complete without a mention of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

Or three! Also, Tom Robbins.
posted by malocchio at 7:59 AM on July 9, 2010


@Zed Well, crap. Now I'll have to do that whole thing again.
posted by joelf at 6:49 PM on July 9, 2010


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