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Summer Road Trip - Looking for Upper Midwest Roadside Kitch

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Summer Road Trip - Looking for Upper Midwest Roadside Kitch

Old 06-06-07, 01:12 PM
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Summer Road Trip - Looking for Upper Midwest Roadside Kitch

My family (me, the Mrs, and our 6 y/o son) will be piling into the minivan for a 2-week, 2500 mile, cross-country jaunt this summer, and I'm looking for Otter help in finding kitchy, schlocky, gimmicky road-side attractions that we might otherwise miss seeing. Y'know, things like the largest spatula in Nebraska, or the biggest foil ball in America, that kind of stuff.

Here's the route:
Day One - We're departing home base in Bloomington, IN, crossing Illinois on I-74 to Quad Cities, then taking I-80 west as far as Iowa City.
Day Two - From Iowa City, we head north and go through Cedar Rapids, IA and then angle NW, picking up I-35, which we take north into Minnesota. Once in MN, we take I-90 west to Sioux Falls, SD.
Day Three - From Sioux Falls, we continue west on I-90 to Rapid City, SD. We're spending two days and nights in Rapid City to see the big headed guys and as much stuff as we can cram in.
Day Six - After a couple of days in Rapid City, we head east on I-90 to Sioux Falls, take I-29 south from there to Sioux City, IA.
Day Seven - From Sioux City, we continue south on I-29 through Omaha, and Kansas City, and then work our way down US-71 from KC to Joplin, MO and a visit with the grandparents. We'll be staying there for 4-5 days.
Day "Last" - We head home to Bloomington from Joplin via I-44 (to St Louis) and I-70 (to Indiana).

Here's a Google Map link, showing the route: KenBuzz's Excellent 2007 Upper Midwest Adventure

(I'm not looking for recommended improvements to our route. It's been negotiated all spring with the wife, and this routing/schedule allows us to take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of Marriott points I've got in the bank.)

We've already scheduled a few must-see stops along the way, courtesy of www.roadsideamerica.com. Some of them include:

The Atomic Cannon in Rock Island, IL (is it still there?)
The (future) Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Iowa's Largest Frying Pan in Brandon, IA
The Spam Museum in Austin, MN
Jolly Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, MN
Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD
Wall Drug in Wall, SD

...and a whole host of stuff in Rapid City / Custer / Black Hills.

The standard tourist stuff we know about, we're looking for the odd-ball things we might not otherwise see. Anyone have any suggestions?




Last edited by kenbuzz; 06-06-07 at 01:15 PM.
Old 06-06-07, 03:33 PM
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Last Day.

Right outside of St Louis (Collinsville, IL).

Largest Catsup Bottle

Last edited by nevermind; 06-06-07 at 03:35 PM.
Old 06-06-07, 03:35 PM
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Wow - god bless you - this would be an absolute nightmare for me.
Old 06-06-07, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Flashback
Wow - god bless you - this would be an absolute nightmare for me.
No doubt.....
Old 06-06-07, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by nevermind
Last Day.

Right outside of St Louis (Collinsville, IL).

Largest Catsup Bottle
I'd forgotten about that one. It's a couple of miles to the left of our route, but we will have gone a couple thousand by that point, so its definitely doable.
Old 06-06-07, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Flashback
Wow - god bless you - this would be an absolute nightmare for me.
Meh, different strokes for different folks. When I drive, I'm very much a Point A-to-Point B man, but with us having to spend 3 days on the road to get to Mount Rushmore anyway, there's no reason to blast through. Besides, with a solo 6 y/o in the car, we'll probably be needing to stop regularly anyway. This just gives us an excuse and a way to break the trip into bite-sized pieces. Instead of hearing him complain about how many DAYS it'll take us to get to the big heads, we can whine about how many HOURS it'll take to get to the Spam Museum.
Old 06-06-07, 09:32 PM
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There is a ton of crap on the South Dakota route. My parents forced us kids to go on on a summer Blacks Hills trip from Minnesota three times in our youth, and I think we hit up every sparkling mineral cave and tourist trap on the way. We did see a lot of cool historical sites, but there were a billion kitschy things as well.
Old 06-07-07, 02:31 AM
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The Atomic Cannon is still on The Arsenal in Rock Island, but getting onto the base can be tricky now-a-days. It's been a year since I moved away (again) and I needed my military ID to get on base before I left. You may be able to get a visitors pass, but I'm not sure. If you can get on the base, the place where they have the cannons and tanks is pretty cool. My kids loved going over and checking them out. If you can't get on base, there is always riverboat gambling!!! There is also a John Deere museum near The Arsenal on the Moline side (lots of old tractors and farm equipment).
Old 06-07-07, 04:00 AM
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you've got an odd definition of the "Upper Midwest"
Old 06-07-07, 05:47 AM
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It may be off your route a little but I would go to The Field of Dreams movie site: http://www.fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com/distance.html It's in Dyersville, Iowa North of Davenport.
Old 06-07-07, 07:23 AM
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I love those type of roadside attractions. Florida has tons of 'em.

I stopped at a reptile farm once and got to see the elusive hooded trouser snake.
Old 06-07-07, 07:28 AM
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Here are a few cool websites

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

http://www.wlra.us/

Old 06-07-07, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by kenbuzz
My family (me, the Mrs, and our 6 y/o son) will be piling into the minivan for a 2-week, 2500 mile, cross-country jaunt this summer, and I'm looking for Otter help in finding kitchy, schlocky, gimmicky road-side attractions that we might otherwise miss seeing. Y'know, things like the largest spatula in Nebraska, or the biggest foil ball in America, that kind of stuff.


That's the kind of vacations my wife, daughter and I like to take.
We love the oddball stuff.

Have a blast!
Old 06-07-07, 10:45 AM
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No offense to Joplinians (Joplinites?, Jopliners?), but 4-5 days in Joplin will probably seem like a month. Maybe you can take a day trip to Tulsa or Branson (2 hrs away) with the Grandparents and see some stuff they have around there.
Old 06-07-07, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Quatermass
No offense to Joplinians (Joplinites?, Jopliners?), but 4-5 days in Joplin will probably seem like a month. Maybe you can take a day trip to Tulsa or Branson (2 hrs away) with the Grandparents and see some stuff they have around there.
Our family farm is there, as are my sister and her family, and we have an annual cookout along the banks of "our" creek while the kids splash and run around. I have a lot of family in JoMo that we only get to see once a year.

That, and I have to wait until Tuesday for Fred and Red's to open.

Edited to add:

Fred & Red's Review: http://dining.digistar.com/view.page/rr/22/index.html

Last edited by kenbuzz; 06-07-07 at 11:56 AM.
Old 06-07-07, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by LiquidSky
Here are a few cool websites[/IMG]
I had already scoured Roadside America, but WLRA is a great find. I've already penciled-in a few more items, including:

WL Bird and WL Grasshopper (Knoxville, IL), three minutes off our Day One route
WL Rocking Chair (Amana, IA), just minutes from our Night One hotel
WL Bullhead and WL Catfish (Crystal Lake, IA), ten minutes off our Day Two route
WL Bird Feeder (Mitchell, SD), we're stopping for the Corn Palace on Day Three anyway.
WL Seal (Rapid City, SD). And the tire men and the dinosaur park and ....
WL Catsup Bottle (Collinsville, IL). Mentioned above.

Thanks for the gouge!
Old 06-07-07, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by kenbuzz
Our family farm is there, as are my sister and her family, and we have an annual cookout along the banks of "our" creek while the kids splash and run around. I have a lot of family in JoMo that we only get to see once a year.

That, and I have to wait until Tuesday for Fred and Red's to open.

Fred & Red's Review: http://dining.digistar.com/view.page/rr/22/index.html
Oh, I didn't realize you were having family get-togethers - that sounds like a great trip. I live in OKC and usually go through Joplin at least once a year, but I only see it from I-44 at 70 MPH. I'm definitely hitting Fred & Red's next time I'm up that way.
Old 06-07-07, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Quatermass
Oh, I didn't realize you were having family get-togethers - that sounds like a great trip. I live in OKC and usually go through Joplin at least once a year, but I only see it from I-44 at 70 MPH. I'm definitely hitting Fred & Red's next time I'm up that way.
Take the Main St exit (SR-86 and SR-43 North) and go north into Joplin. It's maybe 2-3 miles, on the right, between 20th and 15th streets. Closed Sunday, Monday, and August.

I recommend the Spaghetti Red w/an extra dip of chili. Onion and Pickle, Grated Parm, Ketchup and Red Pepper.... yum!

A word of caution, like the review states, this is NOT healthy food. They make their chili to Taste Good, so it's probably chocked full of sodium and cholesterol and transfats and asbestos and all sorts of other junk. (Well, j/k about the asbestos.) The fact is that it's greasy, and you should expect your body to have some, ahem, "after" effects, if you catch my meaning.

Last edited by kenbuzz; 06-07-07 at 12:44 PM.
Old 06-07-07, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by kenbuzz
A word of caution, like the review states, this is NOT healthy food. They make their chili to Taste Good, so it's probably chocked full of sodium and cholesterol and transfats and asbestos and all sorts of other junk. (Well, j/k about the asbestos.) The fact is that it's greasy, and you should expect your body to have some, ahem, "after" effects, if you catch my meaning.
I'm counting on it.
Old 06-07-07, 05:36 PM
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Outside of Rapid City: Flintstone Park
Old 06-07-07, 05:37 PM
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here's the link:
http://www.flintstonesbedrockcity.com/index.html

Stupid work, they have the "Edit Post" button blocked out.

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