Assumption Catholic Church
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Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M.


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6/11/2017 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM    


Every year about this time, when vacation season revs up, tourist attractions become crowded, and airport security lines reach their peak of inefficiency, we provide, as a service to our readers, some suggested vacation destinations close to home, some of which can be reached on just one full tank of gas. In the past, we have focused on the states of Illinois and Iowa. This year we look eastward at the state of Indiana. Our one criteria for highlighting vacation destinations is that they be places not likely to be crowded at the height of the summer season. So that automatically eliminates Indiana destinations like the Indiana Motor Speedway, White River State Park, the Indiana Dunes, university campuses, any important museum in a major urban area, or any other place that large numbers of people might congregate because they have actually heard of the place. Thanks to on-line sources like Roadside America, it is clear that Indiana is rich with attractions beyond the usual tourist pale. The following sights you and your family might be able to enjoy all by yourselves even in the middle of July.

The people of Indiana, like people everywhere, want the world to know that they can do things bigger and better than anybody else. So, you could easily spend your entire vacation visiting familiar objects on steroids. Just across the border in Crown Point is the World’s Largest Tooth, a human molar about fifteen feet tall. In Bloomfield, right on Main Street, is the World’s Largest Tire Jack. In Centerville, you can visit the World’s Largest Candle, which actually contains a candle store inside its waxy exterior. In Shipshewana, in the middle of Amish country, you will find the World’s Largest Collection of Hudsons, that automobile from the late 1940’s that was way ahead of its time. The World’s Largest Rocking Chair is hard to miss in Franklin. Since picnic tables can be found on either side of it, you can have a bag lunch in the chair’s gargantuan shadow. The real mother lode of world’s largest things, though, is in the central Indiana town of Kokomo. There you will find the World’s Largest Steer (Big Ben, who has been dead for over 100 years), the World’s Largest Sycamore Stump (which once contained a telephone booth) and a 17 foot tall praying mantis, which does not claim to be the world’s largest but must be right up there. It is located in front of a Subway Restaurant. For some, this might be a good place to stop for lunch; for others, seeing a giant bug, maybe not. And, how about some interactive World’s Largests? In Alexandria there is a baseball covered with more than 25,000 layers of paint. While visiting, you are welcome to add a layer to the World’s Largest Ball of Paint. The World’s Largest Toilet in Columbus is actually a children’s slide. Stand by and watch your children go down the drain.

You like to visit museums? Indiana has loads of them. There is the Insane Asylum Museum in Logansport (tours by appointment only); Dr. Ted’s Museum of Musical Marvels in Dale (too marvelous to describe here); The Dan Quale Vice Presidential Museum in Huntington (with over 6,000 artifacts of the Huntington native, including a lock of Dan’s baby hair); The Hall of Hollywood Hoosiers in Vincennes; The Museum Honoring the 1954 State Basketball Champs in Milan (on which the movie Hoosiers was based); the Antique Fan Museum in Zionsville; and The Torture and Execution Device Museum in LaPorte.

In Indiana you can visit the birthplace of Michael Jackson (Gary,1958) and racehorse Dan Patch (Oxford, 1896), and pay your respects at the grave of hobo Johnny Appleseed (Ft Wayne), James Dean (Fairmont), and at the grave of the woman who was buried in her Cadillac in Aurora. Her husband had to buy 14 cemetery lots to accommodate her request. Finally, if you want to make this a spiritual journey, you will want to stop at the World’s Largest Celtic Cross Carved From A Single Rock in Cannelton, The Millenium Mary Statue in St. John, the Megachurch Last Supper in Munster, and most amazingly, the Footprint of the Angel Gabriel in New Harmony.

It’s a big world out there. Enjoy it!

                                                                                                Fr. Joe




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