Once again, it's summer vacation time time to lock up the house, load the kids into the car, fill the tank with gas, then decide which one of the kids you should sell to pay for the gas, because it's very expensive this year.
Now you're all set! To guarantee that it's the "vacation of a lifetime," I've prepared a special itinerary just for you, featuring a set of unique attractions that I swear I am not making up.
You'll start by driving to:
Marshall County, Ind. Here you'll visit the historic town of Bremen. According to the Marshall County Convention and Tourism Commission brochure, sent to me by alert reader Chris Straight, Bremen's claim to fame is that "the world's heaviest man died here." The brochure offers no details, except to say that while in Bremen, you can "ask about the casket preparation for the world's heaviest man." It doesn't say whom, specifically, you should ask. Your best bet is to just drive into Bremen, honk at the first person you see, roll down your window and shout, "WHAT ABOUT THE CASKET PREPARATION FOR THE WORLD'S HEAVIEST MAN?" Then you should drum your fingers impatiently on the steering wheel to indicate you need a quick answer, because you're in a hurry to get to your next vacation destination:
Macklin, Saskatchewan. This is located in Canada, which is legally a foreign country, but it's well worth the trip, because Macklin is the proud home of the world's largest fiberglass replica of the ankle bone of a horse. This particular one stands 32 feet high, which makes it taller than any fiberglass horse ankle bone you're going to see in your so-called "sophisticated" cities, such as New York or Paris.
The giant ankle bone, which was brought to my attention by alert reader Marylu Walters, symbolizes a game called "bunnock" ("bones"), in which you try to knock over horse bones by throwing other horse bones at them. According to a brochure put out by the Macklin Bunnock Committee, the game was invented by Russian soldiers in Siberia who "discovered that the ankle bones of a horse could be set up on the frozen ground." The brochure, speculating on what inspired this discovery, suggests "ingenuity," "sheer luck" and "boredom," although I personally think that another strong candidate would be "vodka."
Your family is sure to enjoy viewing the giant plastic Macklin bone, which looks vaguely like an enormous naked woman with no arms or legs or head. If you're lucky enough to be in Macklin in August, you might witness the World Championship Bunnock Tournament. But as much fun as it is to watch Canadians throw horse bones, you need to move on to:
Easton, Mass. This, according to a Boston Globe article alertly sent in by Tom Darisse, is the home of the nation's only Shovel Museum. More than 800 shovels! The kids will forget all about Disney World! But you'll have to pry them away, because you're off to:
Reno, Nev. It was here, at the Reno-Sparks sewage treatment plant, where, on Feb. 4, according to a lengthy article in the Reno Gazette-Journal sent in by many alert readers, two courageous plant workers used pitchforks to apprehend a "monster grease ball." The article states that the grease ball, which was clogging a channel leading to the plant, weighed 150 pounds and was "human-sized," which leads to the obvious question: Was Robert Shapiro reported missing around that time?
Tragically, the grease ball is not on public display, but you and your family will be able to enjoy a quick picnic near the historic sewage plant before hastening to your final vacation destination:
Fort Collins, Colo. Why Fort Collins? I'll answer that question by quoting, verbatim, the first paragraph of a recent story from the Fort Collins Coloradoan, written by Dan Haley and sent in by alert reader Glenn Gilbert:
"About 200 human gonads are sitting in a freezer at Colorado State University as researchers wait for funding to test them for plutonium."
I called Colorado State ("Home of the Frozen Gonads") and spoke with Dr. Shawki Ibrahim, an associate professor in the Department of Radiological Health Sciences. He told me that the gonads were removed during hospital autopsies; researchers want to find out if their plutonium levels correlate with how close their former owners lived to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. (The researchers need money for this project, so if you're a wealthy organization, please send them some.)
Dr. Ibrahim told me that the gonads are very valuable and are kept in a locked freezer in a secure area.
"We are sitting on a gold mine here," he said. (Really.)
I definitely see the need for security. You cannot have unsecured gonads in an environment frequented by college students; the potential for pranks is too great. This means you will not be able to actually see anything during your visit to Fort Collins. You will, however, be able to say, "Kids, we're standing within a mile or so of about 200 frozen human gonads!"
Trust me, it will be a vacation memory that will remain in their minds for the rest of their lives. Even after electroshock therapy.