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The imaginary newsroom road trip

August 5, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

Every once in a while, we come up with some interesting conversations in the newsroom during what little down time we have.

Friday night was such an occasion where a few of us -?myself, Fred and Mike - started talking about some of our various trips and experiences.

I mentioned my stop at the Grand Canyon, which, of course, brought up a reference to the movie "National Lampoon's Vacation," and a question from Fred if I had ever seen the World's Biggest Ball of Twine.

For the record, I have not, although I?also found out there are four different balls of twine; one in Minnesota is the biggest built by a single person; one in Kansas is the biggest built by a community; the heaviest is in Wisconsin and the largest plastic twine ball is in Missouri.

Fred then mentioned, to our great dismay, he had never seen the World's Largest Teapot in Chester.

Mike and I encouraged Fred to take his family up to Chester on a free day, and even stop by a nearby restaurant for lunch.

From there, Mike began naming a few other unusual roadside stops and the idea for an office road trip began.

Now, we know it would be impossible for a group of us from this newspaper to get our vacations at the same time, so it will have to remain imaginary for the time being. But, I think we have the makings for an interesting adventure.

I suggested visiting Springfield, Mass. to see the Dr. Seuss museum, despite the revelation by my sister a couple of years ago that she couldn't find a gift shop anywhere in the city. (or at least none that sold shot glasses)

The museum, I'm told, features statues of many of Dr. Seuss' memorable characters, from the Cat and the Hat to Horton.

I also suggested the idea of a stop in Birnamwood, Wisc. to see the World's Largest Badger. It's not a real badger, but a large sculpture which previously stood near a gas station. Parts of the once 40-foot-tall badger are still around, and I'm sure would make for some interesting photographs. Maybe I could convince someone to put their head in its mouth.

Mike's suggestion was to visit O'Donnell, Texas and see the Dan Blocker Memorial. For those who remember, Blocker played the character of Hoss Cartwright on the show "Bonanza," and O'Donnell was his hometown.

Apparently, there is a small park, located across from the town's museum, with a bronzed sculpture of Blocker's head, and there are people who visit O'Donnell specifically to visit the memorial.

We figured if we each took turns driving, then with a few food, gas and restroom stops, we could probably make it in just under a day's time.

I don't know many people who don't enjoy the movie "A Christmas Story," even if it does play for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

While at the Pittsburgh Comic Con in April, I got to meet Ian Petrella, who played Randy, and got my picture taken with him and a leg lamp. Well, now we can add an attraction for that movie onto our little journey. A few years ago, someone bought the house from the movie, which is in Cleveland, and turned it into a museum.

That could be an interesting little stop fairly close by. Maybe something to do on the way home.

Another nearby stop is in Findlay, Ohio where the bathtub from the U.S.S. Maine is kept. Apparently, when the Maine was raised in 1911, Congressman Frank Willis got his hands on the captain's bathtub and brought it back to Ohio. Not sure how many people stop to see it each year, but it's one of those weird conversation starters.

There's also the Mystery Hole in Ansted, W.Va. It's hard to describe it because you're not allowed to take pictures inside, and they tell you you can't talk about it.

I figure at some point on this imaginary road trip, we'll have to hit the West Coast.

There's a wooden statue of Charlie the Tuna in Charleston, Ore., for example. It's actually the second statue that's been built there as the first was stolen a couple of years ago and turned into firewood by a couple of teenagers.

For film buffs, Aurora, Ore. is where the movie "Goonies" was filmed, and several locations are still there.

Heading south, there's a Giant Fire Helmet in Barstow, Calif. and the World's Largest Yo-yo in Chico.

Then, just to be nice, we can loop into Arizona and make a stop at the Grand Canyon. Yes, we can stay longer than the Griswalds did. It is an amazing view after all.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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