2014: The Highlights and Top 10 Sites Visited

The year 2014 brought me some wonderful opportunities to travel and even fulfill some travel dreams. In the past year I traveled nearly 10,000 miles on road trips and traversed through 19 states (including my home state of Kentucky).  With all of this travel I was able to hit a few “bucket list” stops and also drive a good part of some “bucket list” highways as well. Overall, the year was splendid.

The Big Highlights

  • 9,700 Miles Driven
  • Traveled through 19 states
  • Drove about 1,200 miles of US Route 2, one of my Bucket List Highways.  Drove from Ironwood, MI to Browning, MT
  • Drove the Blues Highway in Mississippi
  • Drove the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming (which Charles Kuralt noted as “the most beautiful drive in America” and I concur

My Top 10 List of Places Visited (in order)

1. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, MN

Sumoflam at Paul Bunyan statue in Bemidji, Minnesota - Dreams can come true!
Sumoflam at Paul Bunyan statue in Bemidji, Minnesota – Dreams can come true!

I had dreamed of visiting here since first seeing pictures of it in a Life Magazine Book in the 1960s.  A dream came true in May. (see full post here)

2. Drive the Beartooth Highway (US 212) in Wyoming and Montana

At the Beartooth Highway in May
At the Beartooth Highway in May
Panoramic Scene of Beartooth's at 11,000 feet
Panoramic Scene of Beartooth’s at 11,000 feet

For years I had hoped for a chance to take one of the most beautiful drives in America.  I was lucky on this one as the highway was opened for travel on Memorial Day weekend, just a couple of days before I got there.  (see full post here)

3. Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE
Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE

I have had this on a Bucket List for a number of years.  Along with Cadillac Ranch (in Amarillo, TX) and “Spindle” – the Cars on a Spike in Cermak Plaza (Berwyn, IL – and no longer there), these were my BIG THREE car art sites on my Bucket List.  This was the last one to check off, though I have found smaller scale ones along the way as well (such as Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL) (see full post here)

4. The famous Austin sign in Austin, Texas

Sumoflam visits Austin, Texas
Sumoflam visits Austin, Texas

This is probably one of the most famous “Welcome to” signs in the country and one I wanted to say I had been to.  Well, here it was, in June. (Full post coming in January 2015)

5. Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi

Sumoflam at Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Sumoflam at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS

This unique eatery deep in the heart of Mississippi made the list because of its quirky style.  I had not heard of this place until doing my research on the Blues Highway.  But it was a definite “Must See” place on the way.  Glad I made it here. (see full post here)

6. The Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN
Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN
I love this angle - Big Fish Eats House!!  In Bena, MN
I love this angle – Big Fish Eats House!! In Bena, MN

Another iconic roadside attraction (one of many) in Minnesota, this big guy on US Highway 2 was well worth the visit.  Wish I could have stopped for dinner…(not his…MINE!) (see full post here)

7.  Rock City in Valier, Montana

Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City, Montana
Rock City, Montana

While visiting family in Montana, I was told about this place called Rock City, a unique geologic site.  Had to make a visit, so we went as a family.  Well worth the trip! (see full post here)

8.  Giant Pyramid Structure in Nekoma, North Dakota

Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility

I came across this unusual site while perusing Roadside America and looking for something to see in northern North Dakota near US Route 2.  Well, I found a doozy!! (see full post here)

9. Visit to the home of “Swamp People” in Pierre Part, Louisiana

Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Sumoflam and Swamp People's Troy Landry...one of the friendliest and most personable guys you'll ever meet (Troy that is...)
Sumoflam and Swamp People’s Troy Landry…one of the friendliest and most personable guys you’ll ever meet (Troy that is…)

When the TV show “Swamp People” premiered a few years ago, I told my wife that I would someday make it to Louisiana and meet Troy Landry, one of the stars of the show and fun guy to watch catchin’ alligators.  Well, in June I did it! (see full post here)

10. Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming

A view of the Hell's Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A view of the Hell’s Half Acre scarp, Wyoming

This is another one of those places I just came across while driving through Wyoming.  An amazing geologic site.  My only disappointment was that it was surrounded by fencing.  But, I did get to meet a fellow traveler and amazing photographer named Derek Ace (see his Facebook page).  We have since become friends on Facebook and I really love the photos of his travels and unique perspectives on our broad expanse.

A Couple of Other Notable Items

I got to meet Facebook friend, fellow travel blogger and author Tui Snider (visit her site) while on the road in 2014.

Hanging with Tui Snider in Azle, Texas
Hanging with Tui Snider in Azle, Texas

Her books “Unexpected Texas” and “Paranormal Texas” are both great travel guides for the Dallas and northern Texas area. It was fun to meet her. We continue to exchange travel ideas and photos as we go.

The enormous "I Am MO" mural in the Lexington Distillery District
The enormous “I Am MO” mural in the Lexington Distillery District

One of Tui’s favorite comments is “Even Home is a Destination” and I have certainly made Lexington a destination in 2014. The proliferation of massive wall art murals, among other things, have kept me busy.  I was even published in Ace Weekly Magazine for a post about these.

Indeed, 2014 was a great year for travel!

Sumoflam in Rugby, ND
Sumoflam in Rugby, ND

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