My family tells me I’m in a rut. When we take a vacation, I like to go to familiar places like Gatlinburg or Orlando. I don’t want to have to think when I’m on vacation, and going to new places or taking new roads causes me to think. When I have down time, I like mindless comedies, simple books, a nice chair to sit in or a mall to walk around so I can watch people. I don’t ask for much.
I also like to visit Civil War battlefields, but being the only man in my family, I don’t get much cooperation. My idea of a good side-trip is a bookstore, especially a used bookstore. I like to look at mountains, but I don’t necessarily want to climb one. To be honest, I like New York City. I do enjoy going to Broadway plays, but I can’t tell my girls that—it would spoil their fun. I enjoy visiting our nation’s capital and other historical sites. I don’t necessarily care for the beach. To each his own. Everyone has their favorite place for vacation.
In the movie, Michael, the main character is a fallen angel who wants to stop by some very odd vacation spots. In the movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation, the Griswold family takes a magical (and nightmarish) trip to Wally World. As a youth minister, I took my youth group to Six Flags so much I never want to go again. Wally World reminds me of Six Flags.
I’ve often wondered who actually stops at the alligator farms in Florida. As I was pondering these deep issues, I heard about a book, The New Roadside America. The authors have actually visited hundreds of strange tourist traps. Here are a few:
The Five-Story Tall Chicken in Marietta, Georgia
People actually visit the “Big Chicken” at the intersection of Roswell Street and Highway 41. I drove past it every day for four years. The only thing it’s good for is a landmark. It’s hard to miss your turn when someone tells you, “Go to the Big Chicken and turn right.”
The Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri
A haircut is actually included in the admission price. I wonder if bald people get in free.
The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas
Talk about gaudy! The King of Kitsch is honored in this shopping center shrine to Liberace. I hear they are building the Elton John and Freddie Mercury museums next door.
Jimi Hendrix Viewpoint in Seattle
According to the book, “it overlooks the zoo and is surrounded by purple bushes.” You’d have to be in a “Purple Haze” to want to make that trip.
Hobbittown USA in Phillipsville, California
It houses a life-size replica of Bilbo Baggins’ hometown (from Lord of the Rings).
Toilet Rock in New Mexico
It’s literally a rock that looks like a toilet. Just flush the thought out of your mind of spending the time to see it.
The World’s Largest Artichoke
It’s in California. Where else?
The World’s Largest Stump in Indiana
The stump is 57 feet around and 12 feet high. That’s what is known as a dead landmark according to the book.
The World’s Largest Twine Ball in Minnesota
It’s 12 feet around and weighs 21,140 pounds.
The Tupperware Awareness Center in Kissimmee, Florida
While you are at DisneyWorld, stop by and visit this amazing site. You’ll discover better ways to burp the lids to get all the air out. There’s also a display of every Tupperware product known to man. Personally, I’m aware of Tupperware every time it falls out of the cabinet when I open the door, and I’m frustrated when I can’t find the matching lid.
Spongeorama in Tarpon Springs, Florida
Nothing but sponges. Go ahead, soak it all up.
The Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota
The only place you need to go to learn everything you need to know about Spam.
Why do these places exist? I think it’s because people are bored. Lacking any sense of purpose, they wander through meaningless museums and tourist traps. Look at crowds in a theme park—they are hot, testy, fussing and frowning. The kids cry and whine while mom and dad spend thousands of dollars on credit cards to “have fun.”
Most people have a meaningless existence. They spend their lives, energy and money on entertainment, trips and sporting events to escape the monotony of their meaningless existence. They want to get away from the daily grind. They are looking for something to give them meaning.
What’s the point? People need meaning and purpose. Otherwise, they waste their lives. Church ministries provide an alternative. The church, through her activities and ministries, is not just trying to keep people busy. We are providing opportunities for encouragement, relationships, outreach and body life. As you and I support the church financially, we provide ministries people need. As we invite others to join us, we offer them the only alternative to an empty existence—life abundant in Jesus Christ.
The Church is not a museum. What we do matters in time and for eternity. The church exists to equip the saints and evangelize the lost. That’s why we should give, serve and tell others. It is imperative that we share good news with people who are wandering through life looking for something to do. They need someone, and that someone is Jesus.