EST. May 2000 (AD)


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You had grand plans for your summer vacation. You paid for everything in advance, but decided to skip the traveler's insurance. And then someone (and we're not naming names) drops an anvil on her foot. Now going to the remote island without cars is not only impossible, but you're out the deposit. (The cheap inn off the interstate wouldn't have billed you anything, but you can't stay someplace without decent linens, little lighthouse figurines and andirons.) You could stay home and mope, but that's not productive. You could pretend to have gone, photo-shopping your face onto images you downloaded off the Internet, but that's a little bit crazy.

Or it's onto Plan B: If luxury and amenities are no longer within your grasp, why don't you go to Hell?


Or Why?

This Plan B is remarkably easy. Pick up a map, look for the town with the silliest name, and then affirm to one and all that this is what you wanted to do all along. Make it a day trip; take some photos. Buy some useless local swag to gift to others. There isn't a silly named town in existence without a surprisingly well-stocked gift emporium. Ask a local about the origins of the town name, or just read the posted signs. You're bound to come up with a few interesting stories in less than an hour.

Unless you already live in a remote location, you'll find the proper silly-named town a few hours away. Here are a few possibilities:

There is a Silly, Belgium, but they named the town after a stream. That's not funny. But Lickey End in the UK is probably just as funny to someone speaking Urdu. (Wouldn't you love to have all your letters postmarked Lickey End?)

Ever been to the Isles of Scilly? No one would ever go out of the way to go there had it been named Scenic Archipelago or Desperate for Tourist Money. (It's lovely, actually, and they serve a delightful cream tea. But at 28 miles off the SW coast of England, it's not exactly on the way to anything. If you do go, take the plane. The locals refer to the passenger ferry as "the stomach pump.")

A few caveats:

The locals may not want to know you only dropped by to make fun of their town. Not everyone possesses a sense of humor. When asked why you're laughing and taking photos, make something up. Point to the person in the car in the cast. Explain that had it not been for the anvil, you wouldn't know this town offered same-day taxidermy service.

Don't trust the veracity of every web site. Once there was a town boasting hot tubs under the hot sun. It had a silly name and was deemed worthy of a day trip. They promised it would be a million miles from Monday. The traveler drove two hours into the desert, admiring the cheerful lack of anything resembling civilization. Only when the traveler arrived, did she notice another glaring lack: clothing. In their efforts to bring in customers, the web site skipped the words nude recreation.

You are going to look like a tourist. You won't be able to help it. The smaller the town with the silly name, the greater the chance the locals all know one another. Tread cautiously. So if you walk into a karaoke bar and a local approaches you and asks for you to escort her to the bathroom, recognize that this is not one of those when in Rome situations. Don't let your curiosity get the best of you.

You might have just driven for two hours to see very little. That's okay. It's not every traveler who could boast playing putt-putt golf in Hell. Few people stopping by Rabbit Hash, KY, actually eat the little bunny. (At least that one's on the way to Big Bone Lick State Park.) Hit the clearance table, buy a few mementos, and drive home. The wonderful thing about travel is that there is always another vacation on the horizon.

Copyright © 2009 by Pamela Miller




Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller