Road Trippin’: Part 1

Hmm…it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated this blog. Let me fill you in on a few things that happened since the last post:

1.  I finished my semester abroad in Amsterdam and sadly said goodbye to all my friends.

2.  I packed up 6 months of my life in one suitcase, put it in a storage locker, and went backpacking around Europe (and Asia and Africa) for 6 weeks.

3.  I saw some really awesome stuff, met some really amazing people, and did a few things I never thought I would.

Marrakech, Morocco at Night

4.  I came back to America and my lovely and supportive family and friends who let me go off on adventures but are always there when I come back. And yes, they make signs and wear wigs to greet me at the airport. I come by my love of costumes honestly.

5.  I celebrated my 21st birthday…for a whole week. I had a White Trash America party in Springfield, complete with floatin’ on the river, drinkin’ cheap beer, wearin’ wife beaters and lipstick, grillin’ out, and buyin’ beer coozies. God Bless Amurrica. My party in Kansas City was on my actual birthday, and was Mexican Fiesta themed. My Aunt Kelly threw a badass party with tacos, margaritas, and a pinata. Oh, and mustaches.

Pin the tail on the donkey

Me and my Mom

So now that you are all caught up, let’s get onto the good stuff. AKA…. THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP 2010!!!

After the success of last summer’s road trip (refer to the archives for all the glorious tales, including the story of the birth of Daddy and friends), Weston and I knew we had to go again. We basically only have about 2 weeks this time, instead of the 4 weeks we had last year, because I have to go back to school. But we are bound and determined to make these the most epic 2 weeks anyone has ever experienced. The first stop on the trail to epicness? The George Washington Carver National Monument and Historic Homestead, of course. I don’t know about you, but when I think GWC, I think epic. But before we could make it to the GWC Monument, we had to take a little detour.

That’s right, the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. Weston was not too terribly excited about it, or as he so aptly put it, “I’ve been avoiding this my entire life.” I did not really want to go either, but it’s kind of like how people can’t draw their eyes away from a car wreck. Except this car wreck had a multitude of signs advertising its impending presence. Anyway, we went, and it was every bit as creepy as we had imagined.

There were biblical scenes and figurines, all painted and sculpted in Precious Moments style. I guess this is pretty much the point of the Precious Moments Chapel, but still. It’s quite disturbing to see the Virgin Mary painted as a four-year-old with teardrop eyes. This painting was one of the more enjoyable (AKA hilarious) aspects of the Chapel, as we happened to walk in when the tour guide was describing it:

After screaming at the children in the back of the room who were not being quiet enough for her liking, she proceeded to explain how each figure in the painting represented someone important to Sam Butcher, the Precious Moments artist. It was all very cute (Grandpa making toys for the children in Heaven, an artist painting rainbows, etc.), that is, until the tour guide pointed out the figure of Jesus (with her laser pointer!) and told us that Sam Butcher had intentionally painted Jesus realistically, and not in Precious Moments stye. Yeah, realistically if Jesus was Scandanavian.

The Precious Moments Chapel was also super creepy because there were not one but two memorial rooms—one for the artist’s son (understandable) and one for a dedicated Precious Moments fan (awkward). The final straw in our Precious Moments tour was when we looked around and realized that 90% of the people there were Asian. And one of them had signed the guestbook saying “I like farting here with my legs up!” We left immediately.

Okay, so on to George Washington Carver. Those of you who know me well know how obsessed I am with GWC, so it was inevitable that I would be making a trip to the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, sooner rather than later.

The GWC Monument was very informative and interactive, so when (not if) you go, you should plan to spend a couple hours there exploring everything. There is a traditional museum, an interactive kids’ section, a short film to watch, and a trail that leads from the visitors’ center out to the old Carver house and around to the GWC boyhood statue. It was very cool, and I learned a lot, which actually surprised me since I am the world’s biggest GWC fan. Not only was the George Washington Carver Monument educational, it was hilarious. My favorite parts of the museum included the front door and the section where the staff answered kids’ questions about GWC:

I can’t tell if they are being serious with this door. Why would anyone with peanut allergies go to the George Washington Carver Museum? “Hi, is this the NAACP Museum? I’m with the KKK.” Even funnier than the door were the children’s questions posted to the bulletin board. Some of my faves:

You know, that movie.

First of all, my heart goes out to the kid who asked if George Washington Carver had any friends who didn’t like him. That kid is obviously going through a lot at school, dealing with the other kids not liking him, probably because he spells “him” as “hem.” Anyway, I especially like the question where the kid blatantly calls GWC gay. “Why did he never have a girlfriend?” Um, I’m sorry, I was too busy INVENTING 300 PEANUT PRODUCTS TO GO ON DATES!!! But yeah, the kid was probably right. The Museum did have an excellent collection of George Washington Carver’s knitted lace samples.

Weston and I hiked the trail to the homestead and the statue, and then we went on our way.

GWC Homestead, AKA the house the people that owned his mother built after GWC had already left. Thus, totally irrelevant to GWC's life.

All in all, here’s why you should skip the Precious Moments Chapel and go to the George Washington Carver National Monument instead:

  1. George Washington Carver found over 300 uses for peanuts. Sam Butcher created over 300 useless figurines.
  2. The George Washington Carver Museum is free.  Well, so is the Precious Moments Chapel, but chances are that you will feel pressured to buy a bunch of Precious Moments crap because you have to walk THROUGH the gift shops (the Christmas shop, the baby shop, the figurine shop) to get to the Chapel.
  3. The GWC Museum is really well organized and informative. The Precious Moments Chapel, not so much. Let’s just say there is a room with random pictures of deceased people, mostly children, with no explanation of who they are or why they are in the Precious Moments Chapel. The creepiness goes on and on….

After Missouri, we headed through Oklahoma and Texas on a combination of Route 66 and Interstate 40. We arrived in New Mexico, and the next post will describe our adventures there.

5 responses to “Road Trippin’: Part 1

  1. Wait, you drove through Oklahoma on Route 66 (which goes right by my apartment), and did not stop?

  2. my sides are splitting from laughter! Girlfriend, you have an untapped talent running from your brain to the end of your fingers! You need to be published!! Send more soon!

  3. Thank you for spending the time to blog. I agree with your mom about you talent for writing. It is amazing. I look forward to your updates to follow!
    I am curious as to how you got this GWC obsession. I had a thing for the steam boat guy when I was your age….anyway, looks like you are having fun and taking full advantage of all that the good ole USA has to offer for you artistic crazy kids!!! Keep us laughing, please.
    your favorite aunt(ya know)Linda

  4. Favorite Grandma

    What a great blog! When I was in 7th grade, we studied GWC. I, like you, was fascinated by his story. Our class was amazed at all the things he made with peanuts. A lot of people do not even know his name. It’s a travisty. Keep up the good writing, call a book publisher.

  5. Favorite Aunt Kelly

    Once again you have me laughing all the way through!
    Great stuff! Keep it coming!

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