I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it certainly bears repeating: It doesn’t matter if your family name is blazed across some enormous building at an institution of higher learning or if it is blazed across a WANTED poster in the post office: Every family has to get a little tacky at one point or another in their lives. Yep, stop giving a crap, let your hair down and have fun.
My poor husband. (I know for certain I’ve said that before.) After 18 years, he knows me pretty darn well, but he still gets shocked at the things that occasionally come out of my mouth. For example, my darling dear was quite nonplussed a couple of years ago when I told him that one of my dream vacations has always been to go cross-country in a travel trailer...well, I might as well have told him that I was pregnant with quadruplets.
Granted, Scott had a right to be shocked. I’ve told you myself that I am a gal who likes my creature comforts. Up to that point, Scott knew very well that I wasn’t receptive to vacation plans that didn’t include the words “spa,” “room service,” “first class,” or “Ritz.” Still, a trailer with running water, power, durable walls and furniture isn’t exactly roughing it and I think the Baby Belles would love it.
Actually, Scott was so shocked at my declaration, that I kind of let the second part of my plan drop. Yes, I want to load the family up in the trailer and proceed across the country whilst stopping at some of America’s tackiest and weirdest tourist traps. There are so many options that it’s impossible to hit them all, but here’s a little snippet of what I picture:
It’s only right that we pay homage to home-grown North Carolina tackiness before we proceed out of state. Of course, our first stop isn’t without a little bit of controversy. Rose Hill, North Carolina claims to have the largest frying pan in the world. The problem is that Brandon, Iowa also claims to have the world’s largest frying pan. Hmm...but can Brandon, Iowa claim that Godforsaken smell that wafts from the a poultry plant while you take in the sight of the massive piece of kitchen ware? When I was on tennis team in high school, our bus had to travel through Rose Hill in order to get to several of our away games and I swear to you that every trip nearly converted me to the vegetarian lifestyle. Naming the town “Rose” Hill is ironic to say the very least.
I am sorry to report that we will have to drive right on by South of the Border as we make our tacky way. I know what you’re thinking, “How in the world can you claim that you want to go to the tackiest places in America and not see Pedro?” Well, I agree that bypassing SOB might be troubling to the purist, but have you seen the place lately? It looks like you could get tetanus from nothing more than taking the exit off of I-95. We haven’t had our shots.
I must admit that I’m not too surprised to learn that Texas has cornered the market on tacky tourist traps. Everything is bigger in Texas, you know. There are so many mindboggling things to choose from, but I don’t think you can go a-tackying through the Lone Star State and bypass Cadillac Ranch. Cadillac Ranch is out in the middle of the vast Texas nowhere and it consists of lots of Caddy’s buried vertically and hood-first in the dirt. The cars are painted very colorfully in a style reminiscent of the Breaking 2: Electric Boogaloo Genre. (Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)
After that, you simply must see the the Barbed Wire Museum in Devil’s Rope. Gee, between the name of the town and the museum, it just sounds so cheerful I could die. On a genuinely interesting note, the museum was built for and located on the old Route 66 and was there for the glory days. Apparently, the museum features its own holdings and the items of private collectors. I’ll just let the fact that there are people in this world who collect barbed wire sink in for a moment. La di la da da...you back? Okay. They also claim to have a rousing “Dust Bowl Exhibit.” There’s not enough Prozac in the world.
So, you’re probably bored to death at this point, allow me to recommend the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston where their motto is “Every day above the ground is a good one.” Their exhibits include: The Papal Exhibition, Day of the Dead, 1900’s Casket Facts, Civil War Embalming, 1921 Rock Falls Hearse and Fantasy Coffins. Yes, Fantasy Coffins “designed to capture the essence of you.” You may select from an airplane, a Mercedes Benz, a fish, a canoe, a leopard, a chicken (I would haunt the shit out of whoever put me in a chicken for all eternity), a bull, a crab, an eagle, a lobster, a shallot (yes, an onion) or a Yamaha outdoor motor. I have all ideas that they can be challenged to come up with something original and exciting for visitors...I plan to ask about Diet Sun Drop bottles.
You’re probably more than ready to get out of the Lone Star State by this point, so go on up to Nebraska and take a gander at the Cornhusker State’s answer to Cadillac Ranch: Carhenge. Yep, in an homage to Stonehenge and Caddy Ranch, junk cars are painted gray and stacked out on a field in an exact copy of the Druids’ original work. What more can you say? Well, nothing.
Since you’re out that way, you might as well swing on up to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. As I am sure you have been able to brilliantly deduce by this point, the Corn Palace is an enormous structure (with turrets and such so as to look castle-ish) made entirely of...corn. My husband and my father have already seen this particular wonder of the world since Mitchell is one of the towns they drive through to get to their hunting ranch each year. On a personal note, I need to be positively vigilant with Baby Belle 2 when it comes to this particular destination: The kid loves to eat corn—she still tries to gnaw on those dried colored corn displays folks do up for Thanksgiving.
After that? Well, I’m gutted to inform you that the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas closed. Thankfully, I was one of the fortunate souls able to visit the museum before its untimely demise and it was breathtaking. The gold lame and the rhinestones shone so bright that I nearly had to put on my sunglasses just to look at several of the exhibit items. Just to clarify: I am more or less ignorant of Liberace’s music and I don’t really have the desire to educate myself on the subject, but, good Lord have mercy, that man had flare. They had all of his bedazzled cars, clothes and jewelry and pianos...I simply don’t have words sufficient to convey the splendor.
In spite of the loss of Liberace, I feel fairly confident that we can find something in Vegas tacky enough to serve as a substitute.
Where to end? Well the Mecca of tacky, of course: Hollywood!
Heaven knows, this certainly isn’t a definitive list. There’s more than enough tacky to go around. One day, I’m gonna do it. Look out for the Southern Belle in the Winnebago!