By the time you finish reading this you will be a) sending me flowers, and b) trolling the internet desperate to buy/rent/steal an RV/airstream/Vespa so that you too can experience the joys of cross country driving. If you’d rather not live in the teetering world of wanting something so badly you’re willing to walk out on your job, your dog, and your fridge full of Pabst then I suggest you either stop reading now or call your boss with a warning. Because I am pretty freaking convincing. Commence story:
When I was 20 and innocent (baahahah) I lived in New York City for a summer with my then boyfriend of 2 years, now husband of ouch my head hurts numbers suck. Once we tired of our “adorable” 600 square foot apartment and the “efficiency” of public transportation we loaded our dog and overpriced mattress into a U-Haul and hit the pavement back to LA.
Along the way we learned almost everything anyone would ever want to know about America from the window of our love-truck. And now I bestow these gifts upon you, because you’re my friend. With no further ado, a list.
Top 10: Most awesome things to see in America:
1) The world’s largest McDonald’s. The folks in Oklahoma claim that their “Glass House” McDonald’s is the biggest in the world, herein duping us newbies and our dog into the most depressing lunch of our lives. And yes, it was that bad. Because although the building’s really big, it’s not all taken up by McDonald’s. Au contraire, the McDonald’s itself is totally average sized, and the rest of the space is occupied by a lame gift shop and a bunch of eerily hollow empty space. Wanna’ know why? Because it used to be a freaking Howard Johnson’s Hotel, yo! How creepy is that?! You can almost feel the spirits of truckers past gawking at your double cheeseburger. It’s not okay. In a hundred ways. Not. O. Kay. So why the F is this line item #1 in the list of “Most awesome things to see in America”? Because I had to suffer through it, obviously! It’s only right that you experience the disappointment for yourself firsthand so we can be bitter about it together. It’s way more fun that way.
Bonus useless yet interesting fact: When I was 7 I sang in a McDonald’s radio jingle. It never aired but I can’t get that effing tune out of my head.
2) Dog farts. Okay, this is not something to see, necessarily, but it’s an essential part of the cross country experience. First, you need a dog, or some kids, or any dude that will fart in front of a girl (which rules out my husband). Then you need to feed the dog/kids/intimate partner some chow fortified with horse bits (forgive us, we were young and careless). Next make sure to pull over every 30 miles to let your animal pee. After 24 hours, notice that despite heavy consumption of horse parts he/she/it has still yet to take a dump. Anticipate eye burning ass gas. When it arrives on day 3, resist the urge to abandon your vehicle and walk the last 1400 miles in fresh air. Good luck with this one.
3) Cadillac Ranch. Potter Texas is where it’s at, yo, and I’m serious about this one. I don’t have any idea how we found out about this place but this Cadillac graveyard was crazy amounts of cool.
We didn’t come prepared with spray cans, but some good Samaritans had left a few empties behind so we went gangster on everyone’s ass with what was left of them. If all else fails I’m going to become a graffiti artist and gift whole parking lots of cars with my talents. Like a random act of kindness, but more flashy. I think it could be big.
4) Bedrock City. Yup, as in the Flintstone stomping ground. I gotta’ admit, I was expecting a lot from this place since Wilma is totally hot and my hero, and I’ll admit that it’s held up pretty damned well over the last 200 million years. There’s a campground, a restaurant, and a gift shop, obviously, because all anyone wants out of roadside gems like this is a meal and a snow globe. The next time you’re near the Grand Canyon just F that natural wonder and instead make a beeline for Williams, Arizona. Grab a Bronto Burger and a photo and I’ll be your friend forever.
5) Roadkill. The I-70 through Indiana is like a game of Bambi Frogger. How in hell woodland creatures find their way onto the interstate is a mystery to me, but sadly, they don’t stand a chance against the grills of a thousand big rigs.
6) The world’s largest cheese wheel. I didn’t actually have the privilege of beholding this sight with my own two eyes, and was devastated by it. I had so many burning and unanswered questions like, can you touch it? Lick it? Help yourself a bite? Is it a free love herpe machine or is it surrounded by barbed wire and pit bulls? Do you want to know why my Make-a-wish moment was left unfulfilled? Because, fellow Americans, we do not own the worlds largest piece of cheese. WTF Wisconsin? I’m about to petition your ass out of the union. If the state whose claim to fame lies in cheese isn’t even able to whip up a batch large enough for me to gawk at then it may be time for you to secede. Cast down your eyes in shame, cheese heads, it’s been a dark eleven years for me too.
7) Eighteen wheelers. Right now you’re either like, “Dude, that is so not a landmark”, or else you’re all ,”OMG, totally! I’ve seen one of those before!” Either way, I’m here to assure you that there are a shit ton of these in middle America. I also had to put this one here as proof that I am artsy and deep, since I sketched about a hundred graphite drawings of these babies which I now have displayed on every square inch of wall around my house. People find it unnerving, which I totally don’t get since in black and white the deer blood totally doesn’t show. Plus, eighteen wheelers are romantic, and I’ll challenge anyone who disagrees to a drink off.
8) Meramek caverns. Stanton, Missouri is a cozy and private American town that boasts a post office, two consignment shops, the Jesse James wax museum, and a combination gas station & fireworks store. Oh, right, and also the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri.
Now here’s the thing about this place. If you’re going to take the time to trek out to Missouri, be sure to bring $19.50 along with you so you can treat yourself to the cave tour. As a starving 20 year old I found this price tag a bit weighty, but after witnessing the single most magical spectacle of my life I’m pretty sure it’s my job to convince you the twenty bucks was worth it. The caves are beautiful blah blah blah, mother nature is miraculous yada yada yada. But in addition to all that, there’s this guy, let’s call him a “tour guide”. More respectfully, though, one should refer to him as “the man behind the curtain”, “happy-maker”, or simply “Jesus”.
The goal of the walking tour is to end in an underground amphitheater of sorts where viewers are seated in front of a wall of rock, then gifted with a spectacular musical interlude complete with dramatic lighting effects. Think water show at the Bellagio in Vegas, but without the distraction of all that pretty moving water. Because you’re in a cave, that’s made out of rock. Right.
But there are colored lights, and also plenty of heavy breathing from the vivacious elderly tour guide, er Jesus, whose job it is to operate – by hand – the over one hundred light switches that orchestrate the magical light show. Perhaps 80 years ago when the caves were discovered they forgot to automate this process because no one could find an extension cord. So, lucky us, for the last 80 years they’ve left it to the poor sweating tour guides to magically dash about flipping switches to the melodies of show tunes. Did I mention that caves are really loud and echo-y? But that only adds to the magic, of course.
Damn it, see what I’ve gone and done? The entire point of a Top 10 list is to be brief. Succinct. To the point. And I’ve just puked a hundred words all over line item #8. Squirrel!
Sooooooo, here’s an assignment. I need a number 9 and 10, stat! Make it interesting, and make it snappy because people don’t like reading, especially Americans. And since this post says “America” in the title I know it’s getting extra search traffic today!
I’ll be forever grateful to you, and plan an honorary road trip in your name to the location I deem most deserving, as long as it’s within a 6 mile radius of my house. Have at it, kids!
Apple pie and baseball,