Friday, February 02, 2007

01-14-2006 – The World’s Largest Kubasa (sp?)

"Good fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could have desired, for there you see thirty or more enormous giants with whom I intend to do battle..."
-- Don Quixote
There’s a wrongness about the World’s Largest Kielbasa… Kubassa… Ukrainian sausage, a weird kink in its links that knocks the thing off balance, confounds the human eye’s desire for symmetry and smooth curves. Rather than a sentimental paragon of sausagehood, the town of Mundare has crowned itself with a 42-foot, six-ton, $120,000 monument to the imperfect, to the asymmetrical earthiness of this most ancient and rustic of viands…

…ok, I can’t keep that up. It’s a giant concrete statue of a round of sausage, and it’s ugly and creepy. But it’s here and so are we, adventurers on that most Albertan of last-minute road trips, the Giant Objects pilgrimage. These trips are generally undertaken when one is younger, and in better weather, but a promise is a promise. A few months ago, on another trip in another car to another location, I’d looked my roommate in the eyes and said, “As soon as I get a vehicle, I swear I’ll take you to see the Giant Perogy.”

And so it was that last night, having come over hours of snowblown and iced-up roads, we pulled into the village of Glendon and, in the –33C darkness, embraced that massive dumpling for about five seconds before shivering back into the van. Mission accomplished! We’d paid our respects to the staple dish of our heritage (and our poverty), even though we had to shake our heads a little over how deeply Glendon’s monstrous diner had sunk his great fork into that morsel – too vigorous a stab, buried beyond the tines, splitting the dough, promising only a disappointing spill of potato. Or sauerkraut; it was too dark to tell by colour what the Perogy (Pierogi? Perohe? Etc?) might be filled with.

A side note on roadtripping without a tape deck: it’s a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, if you have (as I have) a competent tuner-jockey in the shotgun seat, a playlist can be patched together switching between K-Rock/Bear/Sonic/Joe that might not make your ears puke, a construction-grade Halen/Leppard/Creedence/Cult Megamixxx that contributes mightily to rockin’ confidence on tractionless two-lane truckways. On the other, even the quickest shotgun hand can’t totally deke around the yammering noise of radio ads and the braying of the moron DJs. How do people listen to this shit all day?

Anyway, my rage at the constant “K-Rock Scalper” spots, which are about four hours too long, faded quickly after we rolled out of range and tuned into “The Goat” somewhere around Bonnyville. By the time we reached our friend’s place just past Ardmore (apparently, that village will soon boast the World’s Largest Rubber Ducky Made Out Of Beer Cans) all was peaceful – at forty below, you sure can see the stars. Two bottles of Royal Reserve, plus the tonic of crisp country air seasoned ever so slightly with just a kiss of gas-plant emissions, rocked us gently to sleep…

…for a couple of hours. A house with three excitable children is non-conducive to lying in on a Sunday. So maybe, being underslept and overhung, we weren’t in the best of moods to appreciate the wonders we saw on the way back; I couldn’t even muster the playfulness to pose for the obligatory “eager stoner takes a big bite” gag photo when we stopped at the World’s Largest Mushrooms in Vilna. And all I could think of the World’s Largest Mallard Duck in the village of Andrew was that it would look great if a top- or even mid-notch airbrush artist gave it an Audubon-accurate detailing. But where would the money for refurbishment come from?

Not from the Provincial government, you can bet. Andrew’s Mallard, like so many of our famous small-town Giant Things, is a product of pre-Klein times, an era when Tourism Grant cash was sprinkled over the province like Hy’s Steak Spice over a big slab of Alberta prime rib. But that’s Getty thinking, just like our whimsical Family day. There’s little chance any of our current surplus dough will find its way into rural whimsy – future road-tripping hosers will have to draw up itineraries of shuttered boom-built Wal-Marts… or of ghost hamlets bled dead by youth exodus, their remnant “tourist attractions” decayed into unrecognizable lumps of fiberglass and rubble.

Having had our communion with the Giant Kuabsa, we’re faced with a decision at the turn onto the highway: turn right toward Edmonton and its familair World’s Largests (Baseball Bat, Cowboy Boot, Mall), or left toward Vegreville and the crown jewel of Alberta’s Giants, the World’s Largest Ukrainian Easter Egg? The truck behind us starts honking.

“Fuck it, let’s go home,” my navigator/radio man says at last; “The Giant Pysanka will always be there, and I really have to take a nap before I go to the Tragically Hip.”

I almost started crying as I cranked the wheel and spun my tires on the black ice; rarely have I felt more Canadian.


medea said...

I thought that the road trip to large steel objects was uniquely Canadian, but now I think it's universal. Here in Japan we take roadtrips to see "World famous windmills" and "largest camphor tree in Japan". At least some thought went into the perogy.

Sierra Sawatzky said...

Yes! Yes yes yes!

I'm volunteering in Vermilion (close to Vegreville) as part of a Canadian Youth thingy (otherwise and more formally known as Katimavik). We went to see the Pysanka two weeks ago, and it totally kicked 'world's largest' ass. My town in Manitoba is famous for it's... now, get this...

World's Largest Painting on an Easel.

Huh? No, it's true. We have a fake Van Gough 'Sunflowers' crowning the streets of our beloved small town. Can't people come up with anything better to spend their money on? What's wrong with "World's Largest Intelligent Quotient" or "World's Largest Fitness Center". For God's Sake, something that's actually good for bragging rights.

I'd like to see the World's Largest Cookbook. Mmm, giant recipes.


Don't even ask how I stumbled upon this blog.