Sleeping on steaming leather in an apartment whose temperature rivals that of even the hottest of God’s solar bodies was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life, but amidst such a fine and vast road trip, I look at the discomfort as a minor setback. It’s a small disappointment in a journey that has promised to bring nothing but novelty pleasure. The only other speed bump we hit on Day 1 was our nixing of the Funeral Home Mini Golf in Palatine. Turns out they had three wakes that day and couldn’t host us for a quick nine holes after all. Stupid dead people.
But, Day 2 brought us to Indiana, land of… corn… This state would have a lot to live up to if it hoped to hold a candle to the amazing places we visited in Illinois. And honestly, once it was all said and done, the state faired pretty well.
The RV Hall of Fame and Museum, Elkhart, Indiana
I can honestly say that I think most of us expected this particular attraction to epitomize lame, but it ended up providing us with some of the heartiest chuckles of the entire trip. It proved itself a hotbed for humorous photo opportunities, and we got tremendous kicks out of the 32 vintage recreational vehicles on display in the showroom. We were a little put off by the fact that there was only one car in the parking lot besides our own, but it turned out that it was better to have the place all to ourselves anyway.
We were asked to sign a guestbook when we got there, and Ed of course signed his name under the alias of infamous porn star Peter North. The exhibits themselves were actually pretty cool. There were some models in the museum area that dated back to the early 1930s. The wood inside of these RV’s must have weighed a TON. After experiencing such a complete homage to these huge vehicles, I will compliantly admit that Elkhart is indeed the RV capital of the world.
Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana
There was a mad scramble from the parking lot to the visitor’s center to try and make the 11:00 tour of Notre Dame Stadium. We ran to the stone building and snuck into a tour group at the absolute last minute, only to find out that we were on a tour of the entire campus, and not just a tour of the stadium. Since we had plans to meet up with our distant cousin and lifelong family friend (and most importantly, student body president) David Baron at 11:30, we understood that this particular tour could cause problem. However, our trusty sophomore-ministry-major-to-be tour guide, Tony (we think that was his name, though it’s quite possible we just made up the moniker to match the nerd) took us directly the football stadium, and we were able to dodge the rest of the tour group shortly thereafter. Or so we thought…
We arranged to meet Dave at Touchdown Jesus and then head over to his office in the Union, but alas, we bumped into Tony and the Tour Family! I will be the first to say that it… was…AWKWARD! But Dave’s much-abbreviated tour lifted our spirits (What a beautiful campus! I often wonder what my life would’ve been like had I attended a different college. Illinois Wesleyan was extreme, but who knows, right?), and we spent some time chatting and hanging out in his president’s office, where he explained some of the ND electoral traditions and so on and such forth. We all rather quite enjoyed it, and afterwards we went to the Grotto to get some more pics, and you’ll never believe who we bumped into. It was Bono from U2 and a conglomerate of African children, all of whom were joining in lifted spiritual commune. Nah, I’m just kidding; it was the tour group again. It was again rather awkward, but after a brief gander at the rather large Notre Dame book store (where Ed lifted a Harry Potter 6 promotional poster), we hit the road, ready for more of what America had to offer us.
World’s Biggest Steer and World’s Biggest Sycamore Stump, Kokomo, Indiana
On the back of Ed’s Harry Potter poster, he wrote “Ala Kazaam, Are you a Harry Potter Fan?” and then beckoned passing cars to honk if they were in agreement with said sign. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t get anyone to respond, but at least it passed some of the time spend in the car to Highland Park in Kokomo, which plays home to the world’s biggest steer and sycamore stump, both of which were absolutely HUGE.
It was a tish disappointing to see that both were in building enclosures, and the stump was pretty much just that (although it was pretty ginormous), but the steer, a.k.a. “Big Ben” was seriously the fattest damn cow I’ve ever seen in my life. It was 16 feet long and about 7 feet tall in places. It’s like the thing’s mother birthed him in a placenta made of radioactive growth sludge. Were it alive, I would’ve wanted to ride it, but alas… It was probably the most boring stop of the day, but its value in roadside attractiveness was too great to pass up. It’s like, we don’t REGRET going, but we definitely would not visit again. Kind of a nice analogy for the state of Indiana as a whole!
The Giant Ball of Paint, Alexandria, Indiana
Definitely the day’s highlight. We weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled up to a tiny, unfinished house with loose wood siding and an unfinished roof, but the somewhat skiddish outside appearance was nothing close to a testament of the wonderful treasure that lie within…
The giant ball of paint started off as a baseball that was accidentally dropped into a bucket of paint, and the owner of this ball has been painting layer after layer of latex paint on the thing ever since. It’s been over 28 years, and now the ball is on its 19,000th coat and weighs over 1700 pounds! I was thinking that it takes a special kind of moron to have such passion for the world’s dumbest hobby. They guy was probably just as excited to tell us the story about the paint as he did the first person who came to visit. In a way it’s admirable, but then I remembered that his excitement stemmed from a giant ball of PAINT, and I remembered that he was probably legally retarded.
But, the nice man DID let us put a coat of paint on the sucker, and we were more than happy to oblige. We painted it green and received certificates of completion (Seriously. That’s not a joke. We have pictures to prove it). It was rousing good fun, and Ed left especially excited about the whole ordeal. Saddened, we left the last attraction of the day and headed for Indianapolis, which is where we’d be slumbering that evening.
Holiday Inn Express/ 8Lucky Buffet, Indianapolis, Indiana
We were supposed to stay with Ed’s cousin that night in a lofty Indianapolis suburban home, but cuz had to leave town and business, but was nice enough to pay for our hotel that night. We happily chose a Holiday Inn Express (the next day, Kyle walked out with the knowledge of how to perform plastic surgery, I could juggle flaming swords, and Ed was suddenly blessed with the ability to peel carrots one after the other in rapid succession. If you’ve seen the Holiday Inn Express commercials, you’ll get the joke). We mistakenly ate dinner at the Chinese buffest across the street, which was called the 8Lucky Buffet. That cruddy of a name should have been an automatic giveaway that the food was cause severe intestinal damage (Ed would later complain of “black, tarry stools”), but we ate there anyway. Huge mistake.
The rest of the night included subtle beer drinking, card playing, and an abnormal release of flatulence. We even checked out the menu for available hotel porn movies, but the farthest we got was the listing for the titles (which humorously included “Sluts Unlimited” and “Finally Legal”). A torrential storm and a full night of sleep later, we’d be off to Ohio for Day 3 of the soon-to-be-famous Midwest Road Fest!