My family was never big on road trips...
On the two hour drive between our home in suburban Chicago and the cabin on Lake Michigan we frequented growing up, my younger brother and I bickered so incessantly and whined so much that, eventually, my parents purchased a portable TV / VCR combo (talk about life pre-iPad). Needless to say, I didn't grow up in a household where spontaneous car trips or well-worn maps, creased with age, were the norm.
In fact, it wasn't until I was 22 that I discovered my love for roadside oddities. It was early spring and a group of my friends had decided to embark upon the 23-hour drive from Des Moines to San Francisco. We were less than two hours into our trek when I forced a detour in the suburb of Boys Town, Nebraska, to see the World's Largest Ball of Stamps. Weighing in at 600 pounds, that quirky mess of stamps instantly stole my heart. It was my first world's largest thing, and it certainly wouldn't be my last.
The summer before I turned 25 I was itching for a new challenge. In the past year, I'd driven everywhere from Connecticut to Texas and written about all sorts of unique attractions on my blog, Olio in Iowa. But I wanted something more. So I concocted a plan to spend the next five years having one of my biggest (I suppose you could say, my world's largest) adventure yet.
Visit at least one World's Largest thing in every U.S. state by my 30th birthday on January 2, 2021.
Naturally, a simple visit isn't enough to satisfy my journalistic tendencies so along the way I'll also be sharing the stories of how these world's largest things came to be, the people who take care of them and the other adventurers who make these scenic stops their passion. When it comes to the specifics of what that'll look like, the details are still a little fuzzy—right now I'm envisioning a combination of photo essays, long-form written pieces, hand-drawn illustrations and maybe even a podcast.
You can follow along with my progress here under the Stories tab or browse by state in the Explorer's Guide. And to make sure you never miss an installment, sign up to receive updates on Wandering the World's Largest delivered right to your inbox.