In merely one week I’m going to be packing up that little black truck in the background of this photo and driving north with a cargo of camping gear to spend some quality time in the Alberta wilderness.
(No) thanks to the pandemic it’s been two years since I’ve slept in a tent, and coincidentally that same tent will be pitched on about the same weekend in the same vicinity as when this photo was taken… two years ago.
for whatever one photo is worth:
It’s something of a running joke, or insider gag, that every local road trip through the rural country highways usually involves stopping for at least one photo with something big.
An oversized bird statue. An obscenely large perogy on a fork. A life-sized UFO landing pad. Or the world-famous giant Easter egg, a Ukrainian pysanka, in Vegreville.
Or, for this example, a few kilometers drive from where we had been camping in the bush, we escaped the rain for a couple hours to meander into Vilna, Alberta for some ice cream and (of course) to pose with the World’s Largest Mushrooms.
Like so many World’s Largest objects scattered around Western Canada, the World’s Largest Mushrooms are a photogenic bit of roadside art propped up in a small park, tucked into a tiny neighbourhood, hidden behind the main street of a pinprick town in the middle of the Alberta prairie.
This is as much a kind of local hubris as anything else. For many of these small little towns, despite their small town beauty and unique identity in vast western expanse, the there is little reason besides a fill of the gas tank or a happenstance need for a meal to veer off the highway into their streets. They are lovely little places, but apart from a green highway sign marking their location as one speeds by at a hundred kilometers per hour, few people turn turn gaze from the road… unless as there occasionally may be, there is a World’s Largest… something… anything to be seen.
With some steel and paint and artistic license, any small town in the middle of nowhere becomes a tourist destination.
An excuse to visit. A reason to stop. A purpose for a day-long country-side road trip with a camera and a sense of local curiosity.
And of course, there is usually some ice cream close by, too.