We may not have been allowed to leave the state in search of roadside attractions, but Indiana is no slouch in that department if you do the research and hunt them down like Mulder and Scully tracking aliens, except we do it to admire creativity and imagination rather than save the earth from world domination, even when the attraction’s origin is exactly the size you’d expect invaders from beyond to be.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Then came 2020 A.D.
Even in an ordinary average year, sometimes you really need to get away from it all. In a year like this, escape is more important than ever if you can find yourself one — no matter how short it lasts, no matter how limited your boundaries are. Anne and I had two choices: either skip our tradition for 2020 and resign ourselves to a week-long staycation that looks and feels exactly like our typical weekend quarantines; or see how much we could accomplish within my prescribed limitations. We decided to expand on that and check out points of interest in multiple Indiana towns in assorted directions. We’d visited many towns over the years, but not all of them yet.
In addition to our usual personal rules, we had two simple additions in light of All This: don’t get killed, and don’t get others killed…
Deep in the heart of Kokomo stands our lead subject: the amazing colossal KokoMantis! 17 feet up and 22 feet long, the brainchild of Scott Pilcher and Scott Little was erected in 2012 using a combination of parts taken from stoplight poles and a WWII bomber. He spends his days guarding a Subway parking lot and generally threatening anyone who approaches with any attitude less than puzzled respect.
Two minutes east of KokoMantis on Sycamore Street is another unusual structure, likewise constructed in 2012 from repurposed parts, overseen by Mr. Pilcher, and seemingly warped into our reality from another realm. For practical purposes Storybook Express is an ordinary convenience store, but it’s bolder on the outside. Its components came from an old local firehouse as well as several schoolhouses from around Indiana.
While KokoMantis was clearly the art installation that most reminded me of MST3K, Storybook Express was the only one that lured me inside to spend money. It was just for a pack of Combos, my go-to snack on our road trip pit stops, but still. I masked up and I hurried in ‘n’ out before the shop could vanish back to its home dimension and take me with it.
To be continued!
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