World's Largest Collection of World's Smallest Versions of World's Largest...
When we pulled in to Cawker City, Kansas -- late as usual -- to see how the World's Largest Ball of Twine was faring, we parked next to a large passenger van, fully decorated with roadside iconography. We were immediately jealous, since we were driving a plain green minivan with only two days of detritus in the back. The more we looked, the more jealous we got.
It turned out that the van is the home of "The world's largest collection of the world's smallest versions of the world's largest things," and it belongs to artist Erika Nelson.
Visible from its windows were dozens of miniatures, hand-crafted by Erika, of Roadside American giants: Albert the Bull in Audubon, Iowa; Brainerd, Minnesota's Talking Paul Bunyan; the Talking Cow of Neillsville, Wisconsin; Big Brutus of West Mineral, Kansas; and the World's Largest Strawberry of Strawberry Point, Iowa. Inside the van were more, along with research files, work space, publicity clippings, and a stack of offbeat travel guidebooks.
Based in Lucas, Kansas, home of the Garden Of Eden, Erika received her masters degree with a thesis titled, "Driving Around Looking at Big Things While Thinking About Spam," and also curates a website, www.worldslargestthings.com. She lectures at colleges and describes herself as "one of America's foremost experts and speakers on the World's Largest Things." She will also consult with Chambers of Commerce that are seeking their own world's largest thing.
Erika had stopped by Cawker City to return some old newspaper material about the Twine Ball. She had just returned from a trip out to Salvation Mountain and other Southern California attractions. She brought us up-to-date on some gossip: the World's Largest Kachina Doll in Carefree, Arizona, was for sale, while the World's Largest Covered Wagon in Milford, Nebraska, had been turned into a motorcycle repair shop (and has since closed). We told her how ticked we were that Kansas guidebooks list the Geodetic Center of the 48 States in Osbourne, Kansas, when in fact it is 18 miles away (which really throws off your travel schedule).
After taking in the Twine Walk around City with the hospitality committee, Erika and her Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum were off, back to Lucas, while we headed north toward the Geographical Center of the 48 States in Lebanon.