None of us here at TWD are strangers to getting around and seeing new places. But for every excellent vacation and accidentally awesome discovery made on the road, there is a corresponding “What the fuck did I just see?” moment. Here are 5 places I am content to leave off future travel rosters. Seeing them once will last me a life time.
5. Worlds Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, IA. This wasn’t so much a travel destination as a “Oh look there, it’s 4 am, I’m in a car with Rosalita and I could use a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit” spontaneous stop. And that’s pretty much all I would recommend it for…It’s a glorified haven for fast food and gasoline. How it has blossomed into Route 66 nostalgia nightmare is beyond me. But to be fair, it is host to the annual Trucker Jamboree. Which might be fun. If you’re into 18 wheelers. All I know is I have since passed the World’s Largest Truck Stop on many of my cross-I-80 trips without much more than a look at the dash to be sure I don’t need to stop for gas or Slim Jims. Or nasty bathroom trucker sex.
4. Mealy Mounds Archaeological Site – Mokane, MO. With a name like Mealy Mounds, you know it’s bound to be a great weekend getaway. Now, I can’t be responsible if I’m wrong on the name of this one, since I was only 10 or 11 when I visited. But it left an impression friends. I remember being tucked in the family van, driving through pleasant Missouri hills and woods, the only car in the whole park it seemed. We pulled up to the Indian burial mounds we had come to see, just small careful hills covered in grass, really only discernable from normal grassy knolls because we had been told what the were, and the suspect lack of trees upon them. But no one wanted to get out of the car. Not a-one of us. The air was rife with foreboding and ghosts. We were not wanted here. It’s difficult to describe what this feels like, but imagine what it would take for a white, middle class family to drive all the way out to the boondocks and defer from seeing their destination. Also, at the time I’d already read Pet Semetary and I knew that this is what happens when you fuck with that shit. No one needs a scalpel wielding toddler around.
3. Oliver Anderson House -Lexington, MO – Yet another horrifying trip from my childhood. What, you don’t mean kids aren’t totally into blood stains from the civil war and holes in the ceiling from cannon fire? And ghosts? Creepy creepy cemetaries? Unholy land where the souls of lost soldiers wander just to scare the shit out of your kid? My parents strove to give me nightmares.
2. Medieval Crime Museum – Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany – This one actually scores high on the interesting-meter, but in a beautiful walled city in Germany, where you can eat the best pastries in the world that i never shut up about, it’s a big downer to suddenly get reminded of all the gruesome ways people like to hurt people. Just…bummer.
1. Dachau Concentration Camp – Dachau, Germany – Let me be clear: I include this on the list for completely different reasons than the previous entries. No, I do not think that a truck stop is on the same tier of horrifying as a prison camp. And I do believe that everyone with a soul and eyes toward the future should force themselves to stare at this kind of evil. But once is good enough. You cannot walk on this ground, you cannot look at the chimneys of the incinerator silhouetted against the sky, you cannot notice the quiet German neighborhood backing up to the barbed wire fence, without feeling your heart wrung with anger and despair at the black things man can accomplish. But to keep your heart in that vice grip is dangerous; leads you to your own thoughts of torture and vengeance. And the world has no use for any more of that.