Weird Al's awesome song, "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota," prompted me to visit Darwin, MN when I was in the area. The ball is not just the biggest in Minnesota, but the world! If we're talking sisal twine. Made by one man. (Turns out there are a lot of big twine balls). The song always leaves me wondering whence the narrator originated. Here we'll unravel the lyrics and use math to help us understand.
Let's start at the beginning .
Well, I had two weeks of vacation time coming
After working all year down at Big Roy's Heating And Plumbing
Artistic license appears to have been taken, as all online references to this establishment on are related to the song's lyrics. We can come back to this later.
Oh, we couldn't wait to get there
So we drove straight through for three whole days and nights
Maybe we can estimate an average speed, but how "straight" were they going? Let's use some arbitrary paths to get an idea of the radius we should consider.
A trip from L.A. to N.Y. will take 45 hours, says Google. As the crow flies, this distance is about 2445 miles, so we might estimate a "crow speed" of 54 mph or so. But we should consider starting and ending locations farther from the main arteries. Perhaps Darwin, MN and, say, Muce, Florida?
1449 crow miles in 29 hours = 50 mph.
Of course, we stopped for more pickled wieners now and then
So let's call it 45-50 mph. Over the course of three days and nights, they could have gone between 3200 and 3600 miles. This is ridiculously far, so we better consider the difficulties of traveling through other countries or wilderness areas.