Tag: roadtrip

Serendipity is a… Giant Rocking Chair?

Serendipity is a… Giant Rocking Chair?

“Babe! You’re never going to believe where I’m standing right now!”
“Where?”
“In front of the world’s largest rocking chair!”
“Why am I not surprised?”
“Actually, I ended up here completely by accident.”
“Of course you did.”

My husband Kenny’s sarcasm came through loud and clear, even in text. It’s one of those things you learn to interpret after you’ve been partnered for a while. But, for all his disbelief that I hadn’t sought out the giant rocker – it was true.

While bumbling along The National Road in Illinois, I saw a sign for the World’s Largest Wind Chimes. Look… when something like that is advertised on a road sign? You visit it. It could go one of two ways: A fantastic triumph of roadsidery -or- a letdown of epic proportions. Both scenarios could be a win.

When I pulled in to Casey, Illinois following the signs for the chimes I was treated to a fantastic display of roadside Americana. Not only were there giant wind chimes (which you can ring), but sweet holy moly, there was a giant rocking chair, a mailbox, a pencil, a metal cactus. Holy crap, this place was awesome!

Big things, small town.

Casey wasn’t on my radar to visit, I’d just been passing through. Perhaps the universe tugged me there.

Seen, Unseen and the Route 66 Encyclopedia

Seen, Unseen and the Route 66 Encyclopedia

Route 66 holds sway over my imagination. I know, it’s just a road. And yet, for me something about it transcends that. I can’t be alone in this thinking because it has evolved in to a cultural icon. Maybe it has something to do with being built on ideas, hope and possibility.

Though I’ve traveled parts of 66 in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma – in many ways I am more sure than ever that so much was unseen. There is a feeling of a secret beyond the veil and a need to look closer, look longer. Coming home from those stretches of road, I am more curious about what I saw than when I left. Now I know there is a story to be told about what I saw versus going in search of answers about a story that I’d already known. It may seem semantic, but to me there is a difference.

A few months ago, I bought a book called The Route 66 Encyclopedia by Jim Hinckley. The book does a great job of intertwining history, photographs, references to old travel guides and materials. It is.. encyclopedic, really. Peppered all throughout the pages are delicious bites of history for the 66-curious.

When I first got the book, I thought it might inspire me to seek out the things in its pages. But when it arrived and I gave it a cursory look-over, I put it aside and there it stayed for a month or so. For some reason, I didn’t want to know about what I was going to be looking at prior to my trip out to Oklahoma.

When I returned home from my road trip, it was only then that I’ve been able to turn my attention back to the book. Now I want to know about what I’ve seen. What was that crumbling facade? What was in that blank space? How did that town spring up in the middle of nowhere? Now those blank spaces have shape, line and form and I can learn about them. If I did it in reverse the ideas would have been too abstract to appreciate. Or maybe too overwhelming. There is so much to feel in a couple thousand miles. Maybe pre-programming myself was subconsciously too much? I dunno. I’m just riding the wave.

Oh, Hello, Blue Whale of Catoosa!

Oh, Hello, Blue Whale of Catoosa!

In my last post where I rambled on about daydreams, I did have a specific daydream that was the catalyst.Β Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma. Whale? Meet these fine people.

I’d been trying to remember how I first became aware of the Blue Whale. If my memory serves me, it was in a hotel elevator in Leeds, Alabama across from the Barber Museum. My hubs Kenny was just finishing up the Kevin Schwantz school at the track and I flew down to visit the museum. Inside the elevator was a poster that featured the whale and some information about the Hampton Hotel’s Save-a-Landmark program. That was 2010. If I had to guess, that is when the seed was planted.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh…

“Kenny, did you know that the blue whale was an anniv…”

“No. You can’t have a blue whale.”

Route 66 is an important experience for many people.

As I said previously, maybe the “thing” that pulls you out to the far flung edges of the universe doesn’t make sense to anyone else. As a matter of fact, I’m certain that some people will read this post and say “you rode all the way to Oklahoma to look at some dumb whale?” And the answer would be, yes. But of course that is the most simplified truth. The bigger story is that I rode to Oklahoma to live my life.

On the most direct route, there are 1,400 miles between my house and that whale. When you think of all of the sights, smells, experiences, interactions with the world, the thoughts that float through like clouds between here and there? It makes perfect sense to go all that way.

Earlier in 2016, I was Daydreaming of Route 66 and Blue Whales. In 2015, I included the whale on my Roadside Stop Wishlist for the year. Did I really think I would ride halfway across the country to achieve that goal? Did I really think I wouldn’t?

Live your life.

 

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