One of the things I absolutely love about living in Knoxville is the potential for spur-of-the-moment field trips. There is easily accessible gorgeousness all around me, and while I have never been all that much of an outdoorsy person, living in this part of the country is actually causing me to leave my house to be with nature on a fairly regular basis. ON PURPOSE. Jim and I go exploring together a lot on the weekends, but during the week I find myself hopping into the car after lunch or extending an errand run just to go see something, usually because of my brain.

While my stress levels have decreased dramatically since I stopped working at the end of last summer, I have a problem in that if my brain doesn’t hum along at a certain level, I go into overthinking, over-analysis mode about pretty much anything. I was going to compare it to that saying “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”, while changing “hands” to “brain” and then trying to explain that it’s not so much that I get into trouble like the devil would have me do but rather my brain starts to sort of eat itself alive with anxiety-inducing thoughts upon thoughts upon thoughts. Then I decided that my having to provide so much explanation to you for my personal interpretation of that saying sort of defeats the purpose, not to mention I really don’t want to get biblical (it comes from Proverbs).

So if you got through that paragraph just now you’ll see how difficult it is to be me sometimes. My brain, ugh. Perhaps I need to jump in the car.

Anyway, my friend Vikki told me about an app she uses, called Roadside America. (There’s a website too.) You can put in your current location–or any location–and get a list of attractions, oddities, and interesting places to visit. I asked Vikki earlier today if she had written about the app before so I could link to that blog post here, and she said no but she plans to write about it when she gets home from her current trip and then she’ll link to this post. Once she does that I’ll probably throw her link HERE, but that will be some super hocus-pocus time travel blog stuff for any of you who visit me after the fact. I’m making magic happen right here.

My brain has been on fire for nearly two days now and with nothing on my calendar for today I knew I would be doing myself a favor if I got out of the house for a couple of hours. I pulled up the Roadside America app on my phone, found some great stuff, and got on my way.

My first stop was to visit the Sunsphere, a tower that was built for the 1982 World’s Fair and subsequently became the symbol of that incredible event. It’s still a distinctive part (actually, THE distinctive part) of the Knoxville skyline and every time I see it I get extremely warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic for my teen years. The World’s Fair is what brought my family to Knoxville originally (my dad managed a nearby hotel), and my sister and I spent the majority of the summer of ’82 on the fairgrounds.

The tall base used to be painted blue. #FunFact

 

Oddly enough I felt much more nervous (at first) going up to this observation deck at 266 feet than I have ever been going up to Skydeck Chicago in the Sears Tower, which is 1353 feet up. Go figure.

After taking some artsy pictures of the Sunsphere once I was back on the ground, I crossed the street and entered the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park to find the World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube, which I haven’t seen up close and personal since the Fair. I didn’t even know it was still in existence so this discovery was pretty exciting to me.

My purse for scale. They even have the motor running again so it spins like the old days.

After getting back into my car I queued up my navigation system to take me to see a Big Goofy Metal Bird. No kidding: that’s how it’s listed in Roadside America. It was aptly named, too: the bird was indeed big, goofy, and metal. It has solar panels on it; according to the app that’s so parts of it can light up at night, during the holidays. I guess I’ll have to make a return trip in December. Anyway, the bird was pretty cool.

This is located across the street from a metal fabrication company on “Frank Bird Boulevard”. Seriously.

There are lots of other things in the app that are just a short drive from my house, but I got a great start with these three. Today’s field trip made me happy and reminded me of my Route 66 detours in Oklahoma last fall. Technology is a pretty fantastic thing: an app like this that cuts out all of the research and makes it so you don’t have to know what you’re looking for? I’m all in and looking forward to doing more exploring!