Thursday, March 14, 2019

Following the Garfield Trail

I guess this post just happens to be a Throwback Thursday, because it turns out that with all the travel and fun that we had last summer, I never got around to telling you about the day trip that we took up north to follow the Garfield Trail!

Jim Davis grew up a few hours north of us, in Marion, Indiana, and the county where he grew up now sports a bunch of giant, adorable, themed Garfield statues that are meant to show off their various tourist hot spots and civic structures. The kids have looooooved Garfield forever, so the Garfield Trail has always been on my radar, but last year they started offering a Girl Scout fun patch for Girl Scouts who hit the trail.

Y'all know how I feel about fun patches.

So late last summer we finagled a time when we didn't have anything pressing on our agenda, when at least one car was more-or-less functioning, when Matt consented to come with us, and we hit the Garfield Trail!

This one is James Dean-themed, because he was ALSO born in Marion, Indiana, and is outside the Fairmount Historical Museum:

We didn't actually go into any of these places, likely defeating the entire purpose of installing the statues, because we brought Luna, who loved every second of the driving and getting into and out of the car and running around and posing for photos.

We also did some geocaching, and Will, who is the best ever at finding kindness rocks, FOUND YET ANOTHER KINDNESS ROCK!

We make plenty of our own kindness rocks to hide, so when we find one that we love, we happily keep it. 

Here's a little more James Dean for you:

THIS is the best reason to go on any random day trip--do you know how long it's been since we've seen a genuine playground merry-go-round?!?

 And a legitimately METAL outdoor slide, the exact same kind that Matt and I both burned our thighs on as kids a country apart?

Another worthwhile experience to hand down to the next generation:

Firefighter Garfield lives outside the Jonesboro City Hall:

Speedking Garfield is outside of Swayzee Elementary School:

We were apparently NOT supposed to climb up and pose with him--oops!

But to be fair, the warning sign isn't terribly visible:

My favorite things on this trail turned out not to be the actual Garfield statues, but the Garfield theming that abounded in these places, unrelated to the official Garfield Trail:

Here's College Bound Garfield, at the Sweetser Switch Trail and Depot:

This is Duffer Garfield, at the Arbor Trace Golf Club. It's the only one that Luna couldn't visit--humph!

Fit for Life Garfield in Matter Park was by far our favorite--

--because Matter Park is AMAZING! It's a HUGE park, especially for the area, with playgrounds and gardens and this enchanting children's garden that both kids fell in love with:

The children's garden contained actual edibles, with an invitation to pick something if it was ripe and you wanted to eat it. What an awesome concept for a public park!

Dr. Garfield lives outside the Marion General Hospital:

A couple of the statues were off-exhibit or inaccessible. We tried, anyway!

Okay, this might actually be my favorite: British Soldier Garfield, outside Payne's Restaurant:

I don't really understand why there is a restaurant serving authentic British cuisine out in the middle of the farmland, but I SUPER want to go eat there... you know, sometime when I don't have a doggy along as a dining partner.

Instead, we ate something more dog-friendly:

Ice cream!

We fed her real ice cream, too. Scream for Ice Cream Garfield, outside of Ivanhoe's Restaurant, was our final stop on purpose, so that we could order a bunch of milkshakes to go and then eat them as we started driving home.

The day on the trail wasn't completely what I'd expected--other than the Garfields outside of restaurants, there wasn't really any tourist infrastructure surrounding the statues, and most of the places where we went, other than those two restaurants and the park, were VERY sleepy little spots. We spent a lot of time driving down endless country roads with endless farms on either side; it was good for the kids to see both examples of the typical Indiana environment, since our town is the most un-Indiana place actually IN Indiana, and examples of the environment that Jim Davis grew up in, that color his comics. Whenever Jon talks about his childhood back home on the farm, he's speaking about HERE, right here where we were driving, with the basketball hoops on the barn doors and the chickens and the rusted tractors and the acres of crops with nothing else to see to the horizon.

So even though it wasn't what I'd expected, it was very worth it to see. You don't have to always write what you know, of course, but it's useful to see, even for children, that your background colors what you become, and seeing the background of a comic creator, even just in the background of what we're intended to be seeing, is a valuable and accessible experience for a kid.

Especially when there's ice cream at the end!


Bev Hankins said...

You were up in my neck of the woods. I go by the Swayzee Garfield every time I go home to visit my parents in Wabash. :-)

julie said...

Oh, man, the entire Garfield Trail would be just a little dogleg off the path for you! You should totally get your parents to put a Garfield statue up outside their house and add to the trail, lol.