PERSONAL SPACE - Travelin' show

1) A replica of a water tower painted as a giant 8-ball. The real one is in Tipton, Missouri.
2) The smaller version of the giant Paul Bunyan, who greets travelers in Brainerd, Minnesota.
3) Another small version of a big thing, this time of the largest baseball bat as found in Louisville, Kentucky.
4) Now here's something to see before you die: "Carhenge" in Alliance, Nebraska.


By DAN GILL | spark

Growing up, Erika Nelson was on the road a lot. She knew she was getting closer to home by the sight of a water tower painted like a giant 8-ball in Tipton, Missouri.

"I thought that everybody grew up this way," Erika said. "During the year, you grew up in a small town and during the summers you traveled, all over the place. So it was ingrained fairly early."

Erika calls Kansas her base of operations. It's nearly at the geographic center of the United States, but she does not spend much time there. Instead, her days and some nights are spent in her minibus, a live-in museum of miniature roadside attractions.

Her minibus is filled with photographs and guidebooks. Miniature roadside attractions can be seen from the side windows. Through grants, she travels from town to town teaching about art and how the road brings us all together. And she consults with cities who have their own plans to market a world's largest thing, whatever that thing might be.

In fact, Erika says, Delaware already has a few cool giant things hidden away.

A tip led her to find a giant metal doctor's bag outside a medical plaza near Christiana Mall, complete with a huge stethoscope, made of metal and black rubber.

"It's a really good monument," she said.

The big frying pan, used at the Delmarva Chicken Festival, has a permanent home at the Delaware History Museum. But as she's been asking locals about what kind of World's Biggest thing would really fit the area, she's been hearing the same thing over and over: "Well, maybe we just need a giant credit card."

We thanked Erika for the advice.

"That's what I'm here for."

Her roadside attraction is at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art until Friday. If you miss her there, make a visit to her Web site at www.worldslargestthings.com



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