When you live in a state where personal fireworks are illegal, traveling through states where they are legal can be painful, especially when you have a mild obsession with fireworks. Most males I know develop an obsession with fireworks around the age of 7. Your uncle shows up with a brown bag full of them at a barbecue, hands them out to you and your cousins, and that is when the obsession starts. The ruby red firecracker wrappers and bottle rocket sticks, the fantastic 4 color illustrations on the wrappers, the smell of gunpowder, and even the crinkle of firecracker wrapper paper are an enchanting prelude to the glorious sounds and lights contained within each firework. Then you light the fuse and scramble to a safe distance, and then WHOOOOSHHHH, BOOOOOOM or CRACK CRACK POP CRACK BOOM CRACK CRAACK POP BOOOOOM begins. Each firework is an exquisitely wrapped gift with the present of LIGHT, SOUND, and DANGER waiting inside. Even the red, white and blue confetti of discharged firecrackers are in their own small way, amazing.
Of course, there are those not enchanted by DANGER, the folks who will project their own fears upon you, and tell you that you’ll blow your fingers off or set the roof on fire. So you end up with a state where personal fireworks are illegal. Cowards. Ben Franklin said, “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” Well, perhaps those who sacrifice firecrackers for 10 working fingers deserve neither… or maybe they just need to lighten up.
Every Phantom Fireworks I pass is a reminder of where I live and what I desire.
On this Independence Day, here’s to the States where you can still purchase and detonate even the smallest of fireworks.
Don’t worry too much about me — I still get to see some of the professional fireworks. I saw these across the street from my apartment a few years ago.
Fireworks in Sea Bright NJ on July 1st, 2013 from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.
While staying at the Kuttawa/Eddyville Hampton Inn, I developed a strong hankering for nourishment, and whatever candy bars or snack crackers the hotel vending machine offered would not suffice. Certainly, the near-by gas stations had plenty of snacks, but I wanted a meal, and hopefully a meal that had a little bit of local flavor. Fortunately, there was a Huddle House in the same parking lot as the hotel.
A Huddle House is similar to a Waffle House or Denny’s in that they serve hot, delicious, stomach packing food, however, the Huddle House has its own unique vibe. It is decorated like a stereotypical 1950s diner, using the colors red, white and chrome. The kitchen is open (not behind a wall) and you can see it from any point of view. The visibility of the kitchen and the bright, sparkly colors, provide the diner (me) with an overall feeling of ease that the Huddle House care about cleanliness and order.
What really made my Huddle House experience shine was Rusty the maitre’d/waiter/restaurant manager/cashier. Rusty was like the operating system of the Huddle House: seating people, taking orders, checking on the status of orders, doing his best to keep everything flowing. It is kind of fascinating being able to watch all the employees work together to make your dining experience as perfect as possible. It is like removing the back of a fine watch and observing how all the parts work together to provide the time.
I had the fried green tomatoes. They are the perfect combination of sour and crispy, and the Huddle House prepared them perfectly.
Last visited: May 23rd, 2015.
In case you didn’t believe that I purchased Kryptonite and Kryptonite rock candy at the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois, here is photographic proof:
They will be stored in a lead box, just in case.
The Superman Museum (37.152684, -88.732646), or technically the Super Museum, in Metropolis, Illinois, is both a museum dedicated to Clark Kent/Superman and a comic book store/souvenir shop.
Outside the brightly-colored (red, blue & yellow of course) brick building you’ll find a phone booth (just in case Clark needs to change), a green car reminiscent of the car on the cover of Action Comics #1 (the debut of Superman) and some contraptions that let you take a photo of your head on Superman or Supergirl’s body.
Inside you’ll find a museum, and a comic book store skewed towards Superman and DC Comics. The best purchasable items are the glow in the dark Kryptonite rocks and the Kryptonite candy.
This Super Museum is worth a visit if you’re in the area, and I suppose it would be a must-visit destination for super-fans of Superman.
In late May 2015, I went on a POWER VACATION! What is a POWER VACATION, you ask. Let me tell you.
These are the rules of POWER VACATION!
- You must visit more than one state or province per day. I visited 16 states in 8 days.
- You should have a pre-planned itinerary before departing, but you must deviate from your plans at least once.
- Never pre-book lodging. Use your cunning and the internet to find reasonably priced, and interesting lodging along the way.
- Take photos of the things you might never see again: roadside attractions, the sun setting over your hotel, a strange bug, the Doubletree warm-cookie van.
- You must pump your own gas. Except in New Jersey!
- Make massive mixtapes! Listen to an entire iPod of music. Fill a Flash thumb drive with 32GB of music, and listen to it all.
- Talk to strangers. Treat everyone you meet as a friend, even though you might never see them again in your life.
- Sample unique, local foods. This might mean a strange candy or confection at a truck stop grocery store.
- Bring some Energy Drinks and 5 Hour Energy bottles. After driving for 9 hours in a row, you will need them. This kid has reviews of energy drinks.
- If you get sleepy while driving, pull over ASAP. Don’t put people’s lives at risk.
- Make sure your vehicle is road-worthy. If it’s your car, get it serviced before you depart. Make sure the spare tire is inflated.
- Make sure you have an assortment of things to listen to. Fast music for driving fast. Slow music, podcasts, and audiobooks for slow traffic.
- Keep your car clean. Don’t let energy drink cans and gum wrappers accumulate. Throw them out along the way.
- Stay alert to weather changes, and take precautions.
I’ll probably add to these lists, but you get the idea.
Where is the world’s largest statue of Superman (37.152329, -88.732637)? Metropolis, Illinois of course! Right on Superman Square.
The non-stop flow of tourists is almost as amusing as the statue itself.
Visit Metropolis Tourism for more information.
Last visited: May 24th, 2015.
Driving through Metropolis on your way to the World’s Largest Statue of Superman, you’ll find another large statue of a “super man”: Big John (37.144369, -88.716370).
Big John fits in the genre of roadside attractions known as Muffler Men: giant statues of square-jawed he-men, that beckon you to buy mufflers, or in the case of John, to buy groceries. John looks like a cross between the happiest lumberjack ever and Al Capp’s L’li Abner.
If you lived in Southern Illinois, wouldn’t you shop at Big Johns?
Read more about Big John in this lengthy article.
Last visited: May 24th, 2015.
The Fort Massac Rest Area (37.159140, -88.679758) welcomes you to Metropolis, Illinois, the town Clark Kent works in. Clark Kent is, of course, the possibly-fictional superhero Superman.
The rest area is, overall, quite pleasant and features landscaped grounds, a clean bathroom (I can’t say clean bathrooms (plural) because I only visited the men’s bathroom), and an informative educational display about Emerald Ash Borer insects (which destroy ash trees).
The grounds also feature Brood XXIII periodical cicadas, but the next time you’ll be able to observe them there is 2028.
Last visited: May 24th, 2015.
I’m changing the direction of this website to focus on one of the things I really enjoy: road trips & travel.
Expect photos and long, rambling tales of travel.