Thursday, August 04, 2005

The World's Largest Tire

Those of you who have been stumbling through my blog entries for awhile might remember that, in 1997, Marie, Blaine and I took a trip to Cleveland, to see The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and other sights, and to Detroit, to take in Hitsville, USA, the recording studio where Berry Gordy Jr. and his crew cranked out a ton of Motown hits. Blaine is a big Motown buff, (as are Marie and I), and this vacation was to be his high school graduation present.

I have written here about some of the sights we visited during that amazing and fun trip, which also included a day trip to Ada, Michigan, to see The World Amway Headquarters, just because we are completely out of our minds, and one day, we found a museum in Cleveland called The Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame, which was just a blast. We dined on perch from Lake Michigan, visited several other museums, on and on. It was one great vacation.

One day, in Detroit, when we awoke, we decided to, among other things that day, go see “The World’s Largest Tire”, in Dearborn, Michigan, yet another site related to auto manufacturing in the Detroit area. I should say, "The World’s Largest Uniroyal Tire”, since it is basically a promotion for Uniroyal, and sits, billboard like, just off the freeway. We had read about the tire in one of our “Wacky Shit To Do OnYour Vacation” books, and after our sumptuous Fruit Loops breakfast from the motel lobby, we headed out in our rented van.

As we approached Dearborn, we could see the tire looming on the horizon. The fucking thing is huge. Of course, we ad-libbed our immense pleasure at seeing it, as we approached, saying things like, “Oh my God, would’ya look at that thing, it’s gigantic, it’s wonderful, I can’t believe we finally made it!” I know, I know. It’s a bit offbeat. But we were keyed up.

However, as we got to the neighborhood, to try to get right up close and personal to the tire, we realized, this is not gonna be easy. There were no signs to help one find the tire. There were no apparent roads to the tire, I mean, so that you could get right up by it. The heck with that, we all said, we are gonna get to that tire! We have come all this way just to see this tire, up close, and by God, we are gonna do it!

As we entered the neighborhood, which bordered the freeway, and the tire, all we found was a neighborhood. The tire was barely visable, just the top part, above the tree tops, as we looked toward the freeway. Suddenly, Marie saw some residents on the street, and told me to pull over. To my shock, she accosted these unsuspecting neighbors, who were standing in their driveway, with “excuse me, we have travelled here from Portland, Oregon, just to see The World’s Largest Tire, that one over there by the freeway. We want to get up close to it, so we were wondering, since you live here and all, how do we get over there”? If my memory serves me correctly, there were three people there, listening to Marie’s question, and when she was through, they just stood there and stared at her. For like, awhile. As in, lady, you’re scaring us. Finally, one of them piped up, “No, we don’ know”, and they all began slowly back pedalling toward their garage. Ha! Dearborn proves to be no match for the little gal from Portland! As we drove away, no smarter, Marie groused about the encounter, as in “wellllll, those people were no help, probably lived here all their lives, and they don’t even know how to get to the tire, gawd!” Blaine and I were laughing so hard, I finally had to pull over again to regain control.

Undaunted, but becoming a bit skeptical about our chances to view the tire from its base, we drove and drove. In the neighborhood. Out the neigborhood. Back onto the freeway and past the tire again. And again. Finally, I spied what looked to me like a possible roadway to the tire, next to an industrial building. There was an expansive parking lot in front of this building, and I entered cautiously, scanning for security, and any other significant factors, like “employees only” signs, uniformed guards, anything. I kept driving, through the lot, and came to a large cyclone fence gate, which was wide open, and it looked to me like the road ahead just might lead to the tire. I was happy to see the gate was open. But my glee was dampened when I saw the large sign, next to the gate, permanently affixed to the fence which said, NO TRESPASSING.

We looked at each other, and I said to Marie, “what do you think?”. But as she was contemplating an answer, my wild side, and the fact that we had come this far, got the best of me. I slammed my foot down onto the gas pedal. “Dukes of Dearborn” time.

The road was gravel, and very rough, and since I was driving so fast, it was one hell of a bumpy ride. Just for fun, I let fly a war whoop. I can remember Marie shouting “Oh my God!” as we appoached a creek bridge, visions of Chappaquiddick dancing in her head. But moments later, as we threaded our way, at 40 mph, through the forest, while the brush on the sides of the road scraped our van, the forest opened to reveal the grail.

There, rising mightily before us, and our battered van, as we sat in silence, and angels sang, stood one huge black Uniroyal tire, on a rather large pad of grass, not exactly manicured, but definitely maintained. There were no picnic tables, but there could have been. It was like a small park, no baseball diamond, just The World’s Largest Tire. We took some photos in a hurry, laughed until we cried, and got outa there.

Here’s a picture.

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