As I was making a quick pass through the house, tidying it up before leaving to run some errands, I came across a big book on the floor in my husband’s “office.” Its title alarmed me: “1001 Buildings To See Before You Die.” I wasn’t aware of this goal of Charlie’s, and I had to sit down for a minute to process what this might mean for the remainder of MY life. Honestly, I had thought Charlie was finished with traveling. But this opened up some scenarios in my imagination that gave me the willies.
Let’s start with the United States. Evidently, there is a Medical-Dental office in San Francisco that is a must see. It seems that it is modeled after a Mayan pyramid. Inside, the ceilings have Mayan glyphs. There are bronze chandeliers. I wonder if the exam tables look like the altars for human sacrifice? Do the spit sinks have little waterfalls? Do you have to make a doctor’s appointment in order to get the tour?
Then there is Hangar One, at Moffett Federal Airfield in California. Ok, it IS one of the largest unsupported structures in the United States. But my God, IT IS AN AIRPLANE HANGAR. And by the way, in 2003, it was discovered that the entire structure was leaching toxic lead and PCB’s into the surrounding soil. NOW THAT IS SOMETHING YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS ON YOUR NEXT TRIP!
Charlie has always had a thing for industrial parks. Often, when I request that we “go for a ride,” instead of gliding through sylvan glens, or looking at the latest in McMansions, I find myself looking out of the windows at gravel pits and concrete facilities, sewage processing plants, or Charlie’s favorite: the abandoned General Motors factory (of which we have PLENTY in the Dayton area). So I am sure that on his list of places to go and see is the Magnitogorsk Metal Kombinat, or “Stalin’s Pittsburgh,” in Chelyabinsk Oblast, in Russia. This place was created as a model industrial town for making steel, and it was home to a few thousand industrial workers living in tents. Wow, to be a housewife in THAT town! Even the BOOK says that in this place, living standards and quality of life were “very low.” Obviously, a must see for American tourists!
I don’t know about you, but visiting places where they butcher things has never been high on my list of places to go before I die, but apparently the “Stalls and Abattoir” in Vrin, Switzerland, are a real tourist Mecca. The buildings’ sloping roofs and wooden construction owe much to the Swiss chalet design. But this would be my first question: WHY DON’T WE JUST GO AND SEE SOME SWISS CHALETS?
This book has A THOUSAND AND ONE of these places! Granted, it does include the Arc de Triomphe, the Alhambra, and the Parthenon. Ok. But my husband has been to all those places. I have even been to some of those places. Knowing my husband, those places on the beaten track would have no real appeal, because ALL THE TOURISTS go there. Oh, no! For us, the Pentonville Prison in London would be on the itinerary, along with the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, the Tampere Fire Station in Finland, and by nature of its name, the Dick House in France.
Living with a man like my husband, who has his peculiarities, such as keeping track of the pollen count each year since 1990, or maintaining a spread sheet that records the amount of watts of electricity that we use yearly, should have prepared me for this. I wonder: are there travel agents who sell these tours? How would one advertise them? “Boring and Obscure Landmarks the World Over?” “Architecture for Geeks?”
I have never been one of those retired people who yearns to take a cruise every year. Or one of those women who likes to travel with packs of other women to see art museums, opera houses, or cathedrals. I don’t really want to snorkel or scuba on the Great Barrier Reef.
But any of those things sounds very appetizing when compared to the Hermann and Steinberg Hat Factory…