#TBT – Looking back to a day in Arkansas 2007

Booger HollowFor this edition of Throwback Thursday (a day late….),  I look back to June 2007, when my son Solomon graduated from Lafayette High School in Lexington.  He was the last of my five children to graduate.  On the occasion of this event, my sister Sherry and her husband Brian, in Ft. Worth, TX, kindly and generously offered to give Sol their 1998 Toyota Camry, which they no longer needed.  There was some work required, which Solomon had paid for, but the real catch was that he needed to go down there to pick it up.  So, early on June 2 he and I drove down to Ft. Worth to get the car.  It would be a short trip in terms of days and a long trip in terms of miles.  However, determined as I was to make a mini-vacation out of the trip, I set out to create a fun and eventful itinerary.

Naturally, my first stop in planning was the Roadside America
website and of course, I used my MapPoint software (Google Maps was not as effective back then) to layout the itinerary.  I also followed the map carefully looking for towns along the way so as to peruse the internet for other sites of interest including historical, geologic and possible National Parks or monuments. Following is my record of this trip, including thoughts and photos.

June 2, 2007: Today we departed on our trip to Forth Worth, Texas to go get Solomon’s car and to also satiate my wanderlust as I had not taken a real road trip since the Montana Trip two years ago. This quick Road Trip will comprise about 2500 miles over a three-four day period as we drive south thru Tennessee and Arkansas then into Texas and then return north through Southern Oklahoma, across
northwest Arkansas and southern Missouri and then back home.  A general map of the trip can be seen below:

We got up early and left Lexington at about 4:00 AM since we have such a long trip ahead of us and the plan was to drive all the way to Ft. Worth before the day was up.  As always, we stopped at a convenience store and loaded up on ice and some drinks.  We already picked up snacks, fruit, granola bars, etc.  Typically, when I take these trips, I do a detailed itinerary, which I plan knowing that some stops may not happen.  It is more for a guide.

After filling up with gas we left Lexington at 4:37 (EDT – all times in military 24 hr clock) with my odometer reading at 139719.6.  I like to keep track of these on the trip to kind of match it up with the  itinerary.  Anyway, we drove all the way to Jackson, TN before we needed fuel.  We finally arrived in Memphis, TN around 10:00 (CDT). We made a stop at the Memphis Visitor Center, which is the last exit before crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas.

My last visit to Memphis was clear back on December 31, 2001 when we went with some friends from Utah to go see the Liberty Bowl.  At that time BYU played Louisville (and lost sorely 28-10).  While there we visited Graceland and Beale St.  This time we did not have time to go to any of those sites, but we did get pictures with Elvis and B.B. King as can be seen below.

The B.B. King Statue at the Memphis Visitor’s Center
The Elvis Statue in the Memphis Visitors Center at Mud Island.

Outside of the Visitor’s Center you can see the Mud Island monorail, which takes people across to Mud Island River Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go there, but we did see the monorail. We also got a photo with the “Memphis Egg”.  I am not sure what the significance of the mosaic egg is, but it does make a very common photo op.

The Mud Island Monorail in Memphis
Sumoflam with the “Memphis Egg” on Mud Island

My REAL REASON for stopping at this point in Memphis was to get my photos of the Memphis Pyramid Arena.  The pyramid is 32 stories tall and is the THIRD largest pyramid in the world.  It is apparently taller than the Statue of Liberty. Its base covers 360,000 sq. ft. and can seat nearly 21,000 people inside. Quite an impressive building!!

The Memphis Pyramid is the third largest pyramid in the world

We left Memphis at about 10:30 and then crossed the mighty  Mississippi into Arkansas.  Our next “tourist stop” would be at one of the many unusually named locations in Arkansas…Toad Suck. There are others coming after that, but we made our way to Toad Suck, which is near Conway, Arkansas.  On arrival, we found the Toad Suck gas station first and indeed, they sell T-shirts, key chains, post cards, and other great Toad Suck merchandise!!  Below are photos of Solomon modeling his Toad Suck t-shirt and me by the Park sign.

Solomon liked Toad Suck.  In 2014 he still had the t-shirt
Solomon liked Toad Suck. In 2014 he still had the t-shirt
There apparently is a Legend of Toad Suck
Sumoflam at Toad Suck Park in Arkansas

Behind me in the photo is the Murray Lock and Dam and the Toad Suck Ferry.  The park is situated along the Arkansas River and is very scenic and offers camping and picnic facilities. It is quite nice.

The real question is, where did the name Toad Suck come from?  The people there at the gas station had no idea and there was no Toad Suck info pamphlet, etc.  According to one web site, The Arkansas Roadside Travelogue (which has some EXCELLENT writeups on places to see in Arkansas!!!), Toad Suck Park took its name from the Toad Suck Saloon which sat on the south bank of the river and probably was the center of operations for the original ferry across the river. It appears that the going story that “you’ll hear from the locals and read in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly is that this place was a popular spot for the bargemen to pull over and drink rum and moonshine. They are said to have “sucked on bottles until they swelled up like toads.” There you go. Toad Suck.” (taken from the above site –you can read more there).  One last comment: one of the  biggest festivals in Arkansas is “Toad Suck Daze” which is held in Conway in early May annually.

We had already fallen seriously behind schedule and so we were not able to visit the other site in Conway that I had hoped to see.  There is a metal sculptor named Finton Shaw who does some interesting work.  As Solomon is an artist, I thought he would be interested in seeing this work.  Unfortunately, time ran out.

We left Toad Suck at around 13:15 and continued east towards Russellville and Scenic Byway 7, which runs through the Ouachita National Forest and the eastern portion of the Ozarks.  I had planned for a lot of stops through here, but time was killing us and we had to try to get to Ft. Worth at a decent hour.

One of the misfortunes of using the internet for information is that sometimes details are sketchy and people don’t provide correct or updated information.  The OCD in me makes me want to be  meticulous.  A case in point is Booger Hollow, Arkansas.  This is another of those strange-named places and was next on my list of places to see. All I could glean from the web was that it was situated on a hill near Dover, AR on Highway 7.  We drove from Russellville to Dover (which is north, and the opposite direction from Ft. Worth, so it was out of our way, but I really wanted to see Booger Hollow!!)   Dover was about 24 miles from Russellville. When we got there, we could find no signs to Booger Hollow Trading Post, so we stopped at a gas station and then said it was about 12-13 miles east of there on
the left up Highway 7.  So, we headed east.  Turns out it was 18.5
miles east of the turn off and was on the RIGHT side of the road!! Along the way we could see signs on trees that said things like  Country Hams and souvenirs, etc., for Booger Hollow.  We rounded one corner and saw a sign on the right partially covered by a tree “…gger Hollow” and began to slow down only to find out it was Chigger Hollow, so we continued east.  Basically, you pass Pleasant Grove, you pass Chigger Hollow and you also go past the sign
to the Ouachita National Forest.

Welcome to Booger Hollow, Arkansas
Welcome to Booger Hollow, Arkansas

Once we arrived at Booger Hollow, we were sorely disappointed.  The place was in a shambles.  The Trading Post had obviously been closed for sometime.  But, there were still the signs and the famous double-decker outhouse.  True tourist photo ops for fans of the Off-Beat.  In the past the Trading Post apparently “featured loads of hillbilly themed knick-knacks as well as local simple-life goods like honey and
sorghum and lye soap. The diner offered the usual fare, but with a colorfully worded menu aimed right at the gigglebox of your carbound, stir-crazy eight-year-old… “boogerburger,” “boogerdog,” etc.” (from Arkansas Roadside Travelogue).

Booger Hollow Double-Decker Outhouse…and no, we did not use it!

The best part of this was the sign as seen above.  Says it all. The outhouse above does not really function any longer either.  It was in great disrepair.  On the left entrance there was a ladder inside where they were trying to fix the ceiling.  The Trading Post is still there as a building, but has obviously been closed for a while.  I was disappointed to make the trip all the way up here only to see this.
However, if you are driving on Highway 7 and just happen to drive by, it makes for a fun stop.

Booger Hollow Trading Post, Arkansas in 2007
Booger Hollow Trading Post, Arkansas in 2007

Booger Hollow apparently derived its name from the belief that the hollow was haunted due to the numerous graveyards located there. Booger in this case is a variant of bogie or boogie, as in “boogie man.” So to call the place Booger Hollow is a colorful local term meaning Ghost Valley. According to the USGS, Tennessee (near Fairview in Williamson County) and Kentucky (near Heidrick in Knox County) each have valleys named Booger Hollow.

We headed back to Dover and about 10 miles back we stopped at Chigger Hollow Trading Post, which still is in business.  We met owner David Standridge and found out some information about Booger Hollow.  Apparently, two brothers owned the place and it succumbed to business losses.  David, who owns the land across the road from Booger Hollow, wanted to buy the spot and redevelop it, but the brothers could not agree on terms, so there it sits.  David told us he was the one who painted the Double-Decker Outhouse.

Chigger Hollow owner David Standridge
Sumoflam at Chigger Hollow Trading Post

Chigger Hollow Trading Post has some nice items, such as hand made bonnets and quilts, some wood work, as well as some touristy things in the gift shop.  David is also working on an antique shop and sells some local food items like soup, honey, sorghum and jellies. Unlike Booger Hollow, Chigger Hollow is worth the stop if even for just a look-see, a candy bar and a soft drink.

Hand Made quilts at Chigger Hollow
Hand Made quilts at Chigger Hollow

All along the road we saw many old trailers and houses, with cars parked in front and these dilapidated buildings seemed to still be lived in. Solomon noted that it seemed that every one of the old trailers and houses had an old Firebird parked in front…

Old run down trailers on AR Hwy 7 near Dover
Another run down trailer that looks as if it was still lived in.
If not a trailer, than an old shack with old rusted out cars.

By the time we left Chigger Hollow, we had already fallen behind in schedule by nearly 3 hours.  We headed back through Dover and then back through Russellville and south on Highway 7 towards Hot Springs.  Along the way we took another detour towards Lake Ouachita. This took us down some more windy roads and finally upon the shores of the largest lake in Arkansas.  Obviously, since I didn’t have a boat and since we weren’t planning on camping, there is the question of “Why Ouachita Lake?”. Well, as many of you reading this know, I am the webmaster for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours and on their newest CD, called Trailercana, there is a song called “Joan of Arkansas” wherein Joan, who had just burned  down her husband’s trailer, was last seen heading south towards Quachita Lake (see lyrics and hear a clip of the song).  Antsy told me that he had heard of the lake and looked it up as Quachita and it did show up. In fact, it does sound like Quachita Lake, but everything out there is Ouachita.

The lake really is beautiful and would make a nice place to camp. In  fact, just nearby is a KOA Campground so you can look for Joan of Arkansas while being a KOA Refugee (also by Antsy McClain — see
lyrics and hear a clip of the song).  Here are a couple of photos of the lake:

Lake Ouachita State Park in central Arkansas
A nice view of Lake Ouachita in June 2007

We had actually planned on hitting Hot Springs National Park while in the area, but it was already after 5 PM and we were falling further behind, so we skipped it.  Rather, we stopped for some food and headed further south. We also skipped our drive down through Mt. Ida (known as the Quartz Crystal Capital of the world) as well as Oden, AR, home of the Lum and Abner Museum and Jot ‘em Down Store, which houses the Beverly Hillbillies truck.  These will have to be on another trip I guess.

We continued south to Texarkana and by the time we got there, it was pretty dark.  However, we were still able to get over to the
Post Office there.  This is the only U.S. Post Office that sits in two states. The Post Office resides within the courthouse, which is said to be one of the most photographed in the U.S.  And much like Four Corners (near Durango, CO), you have a photo op where you can stand in two states at once.  Here I am in front of the Post Office:

Sumoflam in Texarkana, standing in two states.

After filling up with gas and soda in Texarkana, we took the last leg of the trip into Ft. Worth. We finally got into Ft. Worth around midnight.  It was about a 20 hour day and we were excited to finally get to rest.

(84)

#TBT Travel: The Mission Days in Japan-1976-78

Mt. Fuji and Fuji City ca. 1978
Mt. Fuji and Fuji City  (ca. 1978)

For this week’s edition of #TBT, I take a look back to 1976 when I served as an LDS missionary in Japan. Just a year earlier I had joined the church and, like some of my friends, as a 19 year old I was off to serve in a very foreign country.  (Please forgive the schmutz on the photos…many of these were scanned from 38 year old slides)

Mt. Fuji framed by Japanese flag, ca. 1978
Mt. Fuji framed by Japanese flag, (ca. 1978)

Prior to my trip to Japan, I had never been to a foreign country other than a couple of marching band trips to Alberta in Canada. Therefore, this was a new experience for me. I had to have a passport, a visa, shots, and the whole works. And though I had been on an airplane in the past, I had never flown on a humongous 747.  It was quite the experience.

Japan Airlines 747 as seen in San Francisco airport in April 1976 prior to boarding for my trip to Japan.
Japan Airlines 747 as seen in San Francisco airport in April 1976 prior to boarding for my trip to Japan.

After two months of language training in Provo, UT, I arrived in Japan with a number of fellow missionaries in mid-April 1976.

Japan Nagoya Mission group arriving in Nagoya in April 1976
Japan Nagoya Mission group arriving in Nagoya in April 1976

Our first night in Japan was quite interesting.  We were given a strange tasting juice and had “orange creme pan”, a piece of baked bread with an orange creme filling.  I was not used to the humidity at all.  It was wet out and the country was filled with strange new smells.  The country seemed crowded.  The subways were packed with black haired people.  It was all so new.

Crowded subway in Nagoya...all black heads
Crowded subway in Nagoya…all black heads (ca. 1976)ts in our areas

As missionaries, our main objectives were to preach and teach the gospel in our assigned areas as well as do service projects.  That is still the objective of Mormon missionaries today.  Despite this, we did have the opportunities to see sights in our assigned areas on our preparation days (p-days).  In this unique country, I tried to take full advantage of the opportunities.

A busy missionary....no cell phones back then.  Just Japanese pay phones. (ca. 1978)
A busy missionary….no cell phones back then. Just Japanese pay phones. (ca. 1978)

During my 22 month stay in Japan, I was blessed to serve in some wonderful areas including Kanazawa, Nagoya, Fukui, Takaoka, Ogaki and Fuji (in location order).  Today those cities are all modern like most of Japan.  However, back then, many were still quite rural.  I got to experience living conditions similar to the Japanese.  Small apartments with tatami (thatched) floors, flash gas heaters, strange toilets, etc.

My first apartment in Japan, in Kanazawa
My first apartment in Japan, in Kanazawa
Our apartment in Ogaki, Japan (ca. 1977)
Our apartment in Ogaki, Japan (ca. 1977) — and yes, those were our washing machines!!!
A Japanese toilet -- we affectionately called them Bennies (after the Japanese word o-benjo).  There were also "dump bennies" (non-flushing benjo) that we frequented. (ca. 1977)
A Japanese toilet — we affectionately called them Bennies (after the Japanese word o-benjo). There were also “dump bennies” (non-flushing benjo) that we frequented. (ca. 1977).  Yes, we had to squat…no sitting on these guys.

The landscape in Japan was either buildings or rice fields back then.  Almost all available land was used for raising crops of some sort.

Industry abounded everywhere. These are the smoke stacks in Fuji City, a major paper producer (ca 1978)
Industry abounded everywhere. These are the smoke stacks in Fuji City, a major paper producer (ca 1978)
Typical Neighborhood in Japan.  This was a sunset in Ogaki (ca 1977)
Typical Neighborhood in Japan. This was a sunset in Ogaki (ca 1977)
Stacked Rice Stalks after harvest.  These are reused for tatami mats and other things.
Stacked Rice Stalks after harvest. These are reused for tatami mats and other things.

Having grown up in a Christian country, it was quite a learning experience for me to know that most of the people in Japan were Buddhist (and/or Shinto).  In our door to door proselytizing it was not uncommon to hear “uchi wa Bukkyo” (meaning we are Buddhist).  They were always gracious to us “gaijin” (forigner) missionaries, as in many places we were still a novelty back in the 1970s. Many would listen, but the Buddhist religion was always engrained into their daily lives and cultures.  Same with Shinto…   So, everywhere we went we would see Buddhist shrines, large Buddhas, etc. I was fortunate to be in Takaoka, home of the Takaoka Daibutsu one of Japan’s BIG THREE Great Buddhas.

Large Buddha statue in Takaoka, Japan.
Great Buddha statue in Takaoka, Japan. Completed in 1933 (ca 1977)
Another view of the Large Buddha statue in Takaoka, Japan.
Another view of the Great Buddha statue in Takaoka, Japan. (ca 1977)
A scary guardian at a Buddhist temple.  These are everywhere. (ca 1977)
A scary guardian at a Buddhist temple. These are everywhere. (ca 1977)
Shinto Toori Gates in Fukui, Japan (ca. 1976)
Shinto Toori Gates in Fukui, Japan (ca. 1976)
A typical shrine...this one in Kanazawa (ca 1976)
A typical Shinto shrine…this one in Kanazawa (ca 1976)

During my time in Fukui, we got to visit the famous Eiheiji Temple, in the middle of a cold snowy day.  Built in the late 1200s by Dogen Zenji, this temple is one of the Soto Zen sects’ two main temples.  When we were there we saw the monks walking across the wooden planks in bare feet, even in the midst of a snowstorm.

Main gate to Eiheiji. Note the monk walking across.  He was barefoot. (ca 1976).
Main gate to Eiheiji. Note the monk walking across. He was barefoot. (ca 1976).

I visited other Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines during my stay, but none was as impressive as the Sokkagakkai Taisekiji, home of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism.  Located in Fuji-no-Miya, at the base of Mt. Fuji, the old was mixed with the new.  Like Taisekiji, the original temple was built in the late 1200s, but they also built a HUGE building with ginormous pillars.

One of the huge buildings of Taisekiji in Fuji-no-miya (ca. 1978)
One of the huge buildings of Taisekiji in Fuji-no-miya (ca. 1978)
Towering pillars of Taisekiji.  Notice the little dots at the bottom...those are people. (ca. 1978)
Towering pillars of Taisekiji. Notice the little dots at the bottom…those are people. (ca. 1978)
Pagoda at Taisekiji, near Fuji-no-Miya (ca. 1978)
Pagoda at Taisekiji, near Fuji-no-Miya (ca. 1978)

Another item of Japanese culture that I became enamored with was the castles from the 1600s.  Japan is dotted with castles, but in my mission area, there were only a few.  The famed Nagoya Castle is known throughout the world. I got to visit, but was only in Nagoya for two months and never got to go there on a day off so I have no pictures.  The Gifu Castle, in Gifu, is also famous.  It was original built as a fortress in the 1200s, but by 1597 was a full fledged castle.  I lived in the neighboring city of Ogaki in 1977 and so was able to visit the Gifu Castle.  On my way home I got to see the Imperial Castle in Tokyo…not as impressive.

Gifu Castle in Gifu Japan (ca. spring 1977)
Gifu Castle in Gifu Japan (ca. spring 1977)
Another view of Gifu Castle (ca 1977)
Another view of Gifu Castle (ca 1977)
Visiting the Imperial Castle in Tokyo just before I left to return home.  I was with one of the sisters who I taught in Ogaki in 1977, who came to see me off.  (ca. Apr 1978)
Visiting the Imperial Castle in Tokyo just before I left to return home. I was with one of the sisters who I taught in Ogaki in 1977, who came to see me off. (ca. Apr 1978)

The real highlight of my mission in terms of places to be, was living in Fuji City.  It was a moderate climate, well known for its green tea and mikans (mandarin oranges) and, of course, Mt. Fuji.  While in Fuji I took over 100 photos of the mountain that had a different personality daily.  I was blessed to visit Mt. Fuji again in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.  Certainly my most lasting memories of the country.

Mt. Fuji at night (ca. 1978)
Mt. Fuji at night (ca. 1978)
Top of Mt. Fuji (ca April 1978)
Top of Mt. Fuji (ca April 1978)
A Bullet Train speeds by with Mt. Fuji in the background (ca. 1978)
A Bullet Train speeds by with Mt. Fuji in the background (ca. 1978)

I got to ride the bullet train a couple of times while in Japan.  It was an amazing ride back then!

Mt. Fuji in the morning overlooking Fuji City (ca. 1978)
Mt. Fuji in the morning overlooking Fuji City (ca. 1978) That’s me on the tower
Mt. Fuji in the trees and clouds (ca. 1978)
Mt. Fuji in the trees and clouds (ca. 1978)

I spent nearly a year on the Japan Sea side of the country while in Kanazawa, Fukui and Takaoka.  My first winter in Japan was a monster.  I was living in Fukui.  We rode bikes everywhere.  I had spent time in Denver, Great Falls and Bozeman growing up, so I was used to the snow, but the snow of Fukui was astounding.

Snow piled high (yes, it was THAT DEEP!!) in front of the LDS Church in Fukui, Japan (ca. winter 1976/77)
Snow piled high (yes, it was THAT DEEP!!) in front of the LDS Church in Fukui, Japan (ca. winter 1976/77)
Trapped by snow and icicles in Fukui, Japan. (ca winter 1976/77)
Trapped by snow and icicles in Fukui, Japan. (ca winter 1976/77)

Then there was the exotic food in Japan.  I had to learn to eat many interesting things…squid, octopus, dried fish, daikon radishes, miso soup and more.

Daikon radishes drying for pickling in Ogaki, Japan (ca 1977)
Daikon radishes drying for pickling in Ogaki, Japan (ca 1977)
A fish monger with an octopus in Takaoka, Japan (ca. 1977)
A fish monger with an octopus in Takaoka, Japan (ca. 1977)
Hanging with the fish monger and holding dried squid in Takaoka, Japan (ca. 1977)
Hanging with the fish monger and holding dried squid in Takaoka, Japan (ca. 1977)

Another wonderful experience I had was turning 20 while in Japan. The country has a tradition of “Seijin-shiki” or Coming of Age Ceremony.  We got to attend one in Fukui (I think….).  All of the girls wore nice Kimonos.  I got a picture with them…

Seijin-shiki 1976 in Fukui, Japan (ca. Nov. 1976)
Seijin-shiki 1976 in Fukui, Japan (ca. Nov. 1976)

Then, there were all of the kids.  Everywhere we went they would approach us and say “This is a Pen!!” – the only English they knew.  I loved to play with the kids (and still do nowadays!!)

Playing with the kids at an amusement park near Fuji. (ca 1978)
Playing with the kids at an amusement park near Fuji. (ca 1978)
Playing around with the kids in Kanazawa (ca 1976)
Playing around with the kids in Kanazawa (ca 1976)

And here are a few more photos from Japan…shopping, parks, cities…

Japan Sea sunset taken near Fukui, Japan (ca 1977)
Japan Sea sunset taken near Fukui, Japan (ca 1977)
Typical Japan Town (forget where this was) (ca. 1977)
Typical Japan Town (forget where this was — and it is backward) (ca. 1977)
Mr. Universe Japan in front of the main Nagoya Train Station.  He was a Mormon too! (ca. 1976)
Mr. Universe Japan in front of the main Nagoya Train Station. He was a Mormon too! (ca. 1976)
Cherry Blossoms.  Old photo so colors have faded. This was taken in Gifu (ca. 1977)
Cherry Blossoms. Old photo so colors have faded. This was taken in Gifu (ca. 1977)
Ken-roku Park in Kanazawa. One of Japan's most famous garden parks (ca. 1976)
Ken-roku Park in Kanazawa. One of Japan’s most famous garden parks (ca. 1976)

I loved Kenroku-en in Kanazawa.  A beautiful park, it was only a block from the LDS Church in Kanazawa, so we got to see it all of the time.

Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (ca. 1976)
Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (ca. 1976)
A Japanese road sign in Fukui (ca. 1977)
A Japanese road sign in Fukui (ca. 1977)
A typical Shoten-Gai shopping area.  They always had festive colors throughout Japan. I think was in Fuji (ca. 1978)
A typical Shoten-Gai shopping area. They always had festive colors throughout Japan. I think was in Fuji (ca. 1978)
An Undokai (exercise festival) at a high school in Japan. (ca. 1977)
An Undokai (exercise festival) at a high school in Japan. (ca. 1977)
A wave splashes at sunset on the coast of the Japan Sea near Fukui (ca. 1977)
A wave splashes at sunset on the coast of the Japan Sea near Fukui (ca. 1977)
A Japanese hearse (ca. 1977)
A Japanese hearse (ca. 1977)

Obviously, this two year mission had a profound impact on my life.  I returned home and by 1987 was back in Japan working for the Oita Prefectural government.  But that is another story…. (204)

Austin Stays Weird – A Pictorial

greetings from Sumoflam in Austin
greetings from Sumoflam in Austin

After a good night’s rest at my cousins house in late June, I was able to spend my morning and part of my early afternoon in Austin, Texas. The motto of that town is “keep Austin weird.” I must say that they have done that very successfully!

Roadhouse Relics
Sumoflam at Austin’s Roadhouse Relics, one of the unique and quirky shops on South Congress
i had breakfast at the South Congress Cafe. It was truly an upscale cafe, if there is such a thing
I had breakfast at the South Congress Cafe. It was truly an upscale cafe, if there is such a thing

There are not many offbeat and quirky towns in this country, but those that are really go to town and Austin is certainly one of the best of these. Portland is another fun and quirky town and I am sure there are a few more bouncing around out there in the country.

Texas Capital Building in Austin
Texas Capital Building in Austin
Austin Cityscape including the Frost Bank Tower -- the "Owl Building" (due to the shape of the top of the building)
Austin Skyline including the Frost Bank Tower — the “Owl Building” (due to the shape of the top of the building)
Another view of Frost Tower - The Owl
Another view of Frost Tower – The Owl
Fun Austin
Fun in Austin

What makes the town of Austin fun is all of the old neon signs, the unique in kitschy stores and eateries.

Freddie's Place on South Congress seems to be covered with kitsch
Freddie’s Place on South Congress seems to be covered with kitsch
Amy's Ice Cream
Amy’s Ice Cream is a chain out of San Antonio. Their shop on 6th St. in Austin is fun to look at and fits in well with keeping Austin weird

The main drag through the best part of Austin is on South Congress Ave. Here one can see an abundance of unique shops and restaurants and cafés. They also have special parks set aside for food trucks and food trailers. I was even surprised to see what appeared to be a trailer park with a number of Airstreams including some really nicely painted ones.

Trailer Park Eatery in Austin -- a hybrid "food truck" type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
Trailer Park Eatery. Check out the Airstreams!
Trailer Park Eatery. Check out the Airstreams!
Lovely quirky Airstream
Lovely quirky Airstream
Another one of many food parks in Austin
Another one of many food parks in Austin

Then there is Gourdough’s – Also in an Airstream

Gourdough's
Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts in Austin. Giant gourmet donuts

While in Austin I stopped at one of them, Gourdough’s, which did custom gourmet donut (thus Gourdough’s – get it?) I figured I needed to at least try it out because it looks so unique. My last unique donut shop visit was in Portland, Oregon where I visited Voodoo Doughnut, which is one of the quirkiest eateries I have ever been to.

Gourdough’s certainly had unique gourmet donuts. The following photo is part of their menu.

Gourdough's Menu - Yum!!
Gourdough’s Menu – Yum!!
Two sweet gooey yummiferous ly rich giant donuts from Gourdough's. Made to order fresh in the trailer. What a kick!
Two sweet gooey yummiferously rich giant donuts from Gourdough’s. Made to order fresh in the trailer. What a kick! And yes, that’s ham on the left and bacon on the right (the Porkey’s)

I wish I would have had three or four days to just spend in Austin as there is so much to see there. But I did my usual swing through and found a number of neon signs, a few murals and of course, the “greetings from Austin” mural which is like a giant postcard.

Welcome to Austin Mural - Austin, TX
Welcome to Austin Mural – Austin, TX

Another place I would’ve liked to have gone in and visited where is the Lucy in Disguise shop. The storefront, including the roof, is phenomenal and quirky as ever.

Lucy in Disguise, Austin, TX
Lucy in Disguise, Austin, TX
Lucy Statue at Lucy in Disguise in Austin
Lucy Statue at Lucy in Disguise in Austin

As I drove down South Congress and on 6th Street, I captured a few more scenes of the essence of Austin’s weirdness!

Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill in Austin
Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill in Austin
Autin Motel
Austin Motel in Austin – No Preservatives!!
Home Slice Pizza
Home Slice Pizza and the Queen of Pies in Austin
New Bohemia in Austin
New Bohemia in Austin – Quirky retailer featuring vintage men’s & women’s apparel, plus a wide array of boots & accessories.
Uncommon Objects
Lasso Cowboy on a rabbit on Uncommon Objects, an antiques, oddities, and curious goods store on South Congress in Austin
Roadhouse Relics in Austin
This Is It at Roadhouse Relics in Austin
Roadhouse Relics Wall Sign in Austin
Roadhouse Relics Wall Sign in Austin
Nostalgicalaly Austin
Nostalgically Austin
Fun mural in Austin
Fun mural in Austin
South Congress Cafe in Austin
South Congress Cafe in Austin

Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit some of the historical sites in Austin, but hope to do so in the future.  Austin is a place worth spending a few days in!! Happy Trails until we meet again Austin.

Custom Boots Wall Art
Texas Custom Boots Wall Art
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Enjoying the Ride on the Back Roads of America

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