Land of Make Believe

Photos of TV. Totally my favorite website of the moment.

So, plenty of the images made me laugh. Some made me laugh in very unladylike ways. But then there was the photo of the ad for the Land of Make Believe. I have two stories about the Land of Make Believe.

I just tried counting the number of times I’ve driven on I-80 through New Jersey on the way to or from Nebraska. I couldn’t count the number. Then again, I’m not quite sure how one would count numbers, unless there were a pile of numbers somewhere that needed counting. I digress.

Ande and I were on our way to Providence, and I think this was as part of our massive loop around the eastern half of the United States in 19 days.

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That was a great road trip. We stopped in DC for a very confused and sleepless hour or two, drove all over Myrtle Beach in our Honda listening to Motley Crue since it was Bike Week, and ate Waffle House hash browns cooked by a convicted felon near Jacksonville at 3 AM. Anyway, on the way back to Providence, we visited my godmother in Chicago and then went to see our friend Ben Donsky in New Brunswick, NJ, where he was in grad school at Rutgers. The drive from Chicago to New Brunswick is about 13 hours, and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing it wasn’t on the same trip as the epic road trip of the eastern half of the U.S.

It was winter. But we were driving from Chicago to New Brunswick, and by the time we were in western New Jersey, we were a little slap-happy from all the driving. We saw the sign for the Land of Make Believe — it was one of those little brown place of interest type signs you see along the interstate for scenic overviews and ski resorts and state parks. Even though it was dark, Ande and I were intrigued enough to take the exit ramp. We get to the end of the exit ramp…..nothing. No sign pointing us in the direction of the Land of Make Believe, no billboards, nothing. And we explode with laughter. This was also, I think, not too long after Mr. Rogers died, making this somehow even more tragicomic. So we get right back on I-80, arrive at the little house party at Ben’s, and just can’t get over telling the story of how the Land of Make Believe DOESN’T EXIST! HA!

A year later, when Alex Svoboda had just moved to Providence, she and Ande and I were all driving home for Christmas. We had gone to New York for a couple of days before returning to Nebraska, and had stayed with Ben in New Brunswick once again. This time, we set off for the Midwest — and for a show Ande was playing in Detroit — in the early morning. Alex was sleeping in the backseat, and I was driving and listening to a Freedom Call CD Darin had burned for me. Play that video now, while you read the rest of this.

As I approached the exit for the Land of Make Believe, this time in the daylight and perhaps inspired by the music, I decided to try again. I pulled off, and this time, coming from the east (and therefore, the populous part of New Jersey), there were signs. I wound through the sleepy town, following street signs and painted billboards, and finally pulled into the parking lot of a dinky amusement park just at the point that a very bewildered Alex woke up in the back seat as Freedom Call blared through the speakers. Priceless.

Maybe you should watch a Freedom Call live video, since that other one was just for the song.

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