My Top 10 Griswoldian Adventures!
By Greg Budell
The first time I watched "National Lampoon’s Vacation" I laughed ‘til it hurt. It was like watching my family vacations, and Clark Griswold was my Dad.
Any man that would bypass the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine as Clark did in the movie, is worthy of that status.
CLARK KNOWS KITSCHY.
Pops took the gang camping out west. I remember the magnificence of the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I remember several days at Yellowstone Park, where I learned how to chop wood for a campfire, albeit after my first Bunyanesque swipe ended embedded in my shin, followed by a short trip to the Park Hospital.
Since I just mentioned big Paul, let me initiate my Top 10 List of Griswoldian Tourist Stops with him as he welcomes visitors to …
10 - Scenic Brainerd, Minnesota! A gigantic statue of a man in a flannel shirt and jeans greets visitors as they enter the town. Is Brawny Paper Towels headquartered here? No, it‘s the legendary ax-man, who has likely fallen out of favor since he cleared forests and would be labeled today as a threat by the EPA. Families posing in front of Paul’s statue is as Griswoldian as it gets.
9 - Four Corners USA! Like the Griswolds, we skipped the Gateway Arch but did make it to this location; the one spot in America where you can stand in four states at one time. If placing your toes in Arizona and Colorado, with your heels in New Mexico and Utah in one fell swoop is your idea of fun, check it out. They may have finally paved the roads to this location.
8 - World’s Smallest City Block, Dothan, Alabama. Once you’ve stood in four states at once, you must see the Guiness Book of Records-recognized World’s Smallest City Block, a tiny triangle of grass with a tombstone proclaiming its proud status.
7 - Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota. Before we saw the breathtaking Mt. Rushmore, we stopped here — a building made from 275,000 ears of corn (redecorated annually).
6 - The SPAM Museum, Austin, Minnesota. Our stop here was brief. “SPAM won the war,” Dad said. I’m not sure if it’s because it fed the troops or we dropped it on Japan.
5 - World’s Largest Basket, Newark, Ohio. I found this building accidentally while driving through Ohio. It is startling, and the people who work in it make … BASKETS! I’d be embarrassed to work in this building, but it’s quite the sight in person.
4 - Jimmy Carter Peanut, Plains, Georgia. It may be the most appropriate Presidential tribute, ever.
3 - Museum of Hoaxes, San Diego, California. I checked this place out when I was the PR guy for Styx. They actually offer a test on your personal gullibility! No, the “jack-a-lope” is not a real creature. Americans love hoaxes and a tour through this building will tell you how much crap you actually believed!
2 - Abe Lincoln’s Home, Springfield, ILlinois. When you walk through Abe’s home, you notice something in the back yard—an outhouse! And it’s just weird to think of someone as revered as Lincoln to have to do his business in a splintery old thing like that!
1 - World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas. You thought Clark Griswold was kidding? Here’s nine tons of twine, baby! Anyone can tour the White House. Wait. No, you can’t. But the real road warriors know how to find the goober stops. Perhaps you can squeeze one in before school starts!