Apr 082013


Shippensburg, PA would have absolutely no value to me if not for Ed Helms and his impeccably-constructed Tiny World, a small village in his yard built for his cats.  Henry seemed pretty ambivalent about this stop on my agenda, and I think he was going to try and dispute it so I made sure to loudly announce, “But it’s a town built for CATS!” which made Chooch’s interest pique real quick, and soon Henry had two children whining and begging to visit Tiny World. Henry glared at me for using the c-word. “Cat” is like the equivalent to smelling salt for Chooch. He can be in the deepest zone, a self-induced pouting coma, but someone casually says the c-word and he’s very much in the present, yelling, “WHERE? WHERE? WHERE IS  THE CAT!?”

Sometimes I don’t even know why Henry bothers to object. His voice of dissent falls on pretend-deaf ears every time.

As Henry wound the car over country roads, he asked, “Um, this isn’t at someone’s house, is it?” I answered him by looking out the window and ignoring him.


Parts of Tiny World can be seen from the road, so I screamed for Henry to pull over the first second I glimpsed a hillside dotted with a doll-sized community. We parked in a small, makeshift gravel lot next to several other cars. At first it seemed like Tiny World was going to be booming with tourists, but we were the only oglers the whole time, so I guess the cars belonged to the family.


I don’t know what I was expecting, just some plywood shells I suppose, but Ed’s attention to detail was impeccable. I read online that he had no formal training in this stuff, just sat down and did it for no reason other than because he wanted to. And you know what, that’s inspiring even to someone like me. If I want to be a brain surgeon, I should just sit down and do it! And boy, have I got just the person to be my guinea pig.



The town was a tiny bit weathered, some of the furnishings had toppled over and cobwebs abound, but it was still pretty surprising that it wasn’t in a greater state of disarray. The proprietor is apparently pretty old and was suffering some health problems according to a Roadside America update from 2011, so it’s hard to say if upkeep is being honored at all.

The attic of one of the larger plantation-esque homes had items all strewn about and I wondered if it was intentionally done to make it look haunted. In either case, I legitimately shivered and stepped away from the window before I wound up accidently staring into the eyes of Bagul.


Dead rooster in the barn’s hay loft.

To be honest, I kind of liked that it had an abandoned tone to it. It made me feel like we were being watched from the nearby woods, hackneyed hillbillies lining us up in the crosshairs of their laser guns, preparing to shrink us down into Tiny World citizens. I already knew which house I was going to move into. (The one with the haunted attic, duh.)



If you like trains, then one might imagine you would enjoy the Tiny World Train Station.


That wallpaper! And look at that tiny box of thread on the sewing machine – even if you’re some joyless cat-hating asshole who thinks that building a sprawling town for feral cats is a waste of time, you still have to give respect to the details that went into this project — it’s a true labor of love.


There was even a relatively hot picture of Jesus Christ on the wall of the church.


Chooch’s succinct review, typed on his own: “It’s cool!  it’s kitty awesome! it’s  really freakin cool as shit.”

Again, the reviews I read online weren’t exactly current, but Tiny World is supposedly a hot commodity for all of the neighbors during the Christmas season. We noticed quite a bit of leftover Christmas lights and decorations peeking out here and there, so God only knows the last time the holiday lights set-up was functioning.

Built into the entrance/exit trellis is a pot for donations which I insisted on contributing. This seemed to prickle Papa Tight Wad’s asshole, but he finally handed Chooch a dollar for the pot.


Henry sighed wearily and slapped another buck in my opened, whiny palm, which I then happily dropped into the collection hole.

“I’m so glad we came out here! It was totally worth it!” I gushed while Henry tried to find his way back to the highway and a gas station before Chooch pissed his pants. “Wasn’t it awesome?!” I cried, shaking Henry’s arm.

He didn’t answer, just continued to drive while looking like the personification of FML.


Henry, actually SMILING was washing the car windows! It’s a road trip miracle!

We also visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, but I don’t feel that it’s appropriate or respectful to include that in this post.

To lighten the mood, we stopped in Bedford for a photo op with a large Coffee Pot, which used to be a lunch stand way back in the day. Like all awesomely tacky roadside attractions, it was in threat of being demolished in the 90s, but was eventually restored and is now used as a landmark.



“No, that’s OK,” Henry mumbled when I asked him if he was going to get out of the car and gawk at it with me and Chooch.


After Chooch accidentally knocked off part of the coffee pot (in his defense, that pot has structural leprosy), we both turned into royal motherfuckers. Henry of course knew this was because we were hungry and FINALLY stopped at a Valley Dairy to feed us.

“Hey Mommy, knock knock,” Chooch said after our food was served and we began to return to our non-surly, hyper selves.

“Who’s there?” I begrudgingly went along. His knock knock jokes are the worst.

Room service!” And then we both laughed our food all over the table while Henry simply frowned at the memory of his stressful experience the night before at the hotel.

“What are you looking at?” Chooch asked me as I stared off into the distance while slowly eating a scoop of maple pecan ice cream. (Hello Weight Watcher narcs, I was on “vacation.”)

“Nothing, I’m just thinking,” I answered.

“Oh,” Chooch shrugged. “I always figured that when you do stuff like that, you’re wondering why Daddy won’t marry you.”



That night, after we had been home for a few hours, Chooch sighed, “I miss yesterday.”

“What part do you miss?” I asked.

“Uh, Pierce the Veil,”  he answered in that awesomely snotty teenaged tone.

Me too, Chooch. Me too.

So much love for that entire weekend!

  One Response to “Historic Route 30 Part 2: Tiny Towns, Coffee Pots & Dinner Convos”

  1. That cat place is so rad! If I were more dedicated to doing things, I’d build a tiny village for Turbo to live in.

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