AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The C Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet, and not the order of the trip  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the C Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas

In my “A Stories,” I mentioned Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours and his great boat rides through the swamps of Caddo Lake in northeast Texas.  In this post, I am dropping a few photos of this beautiful swamp, as we saw it in February 2020. Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre lake and bayou on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo, who lived in the area until around the 19th century. It is a protected wetland and includes one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States.

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas
Caddo Lake bayou
Bald Cypress of Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake Texas
Having fun on a boat ride in the swamps of Caddo Lake

Caprock Bison Co. – Quitaque, Texas

In my “B Stories” post yesterday I commented on the “Bison Capitol of Texas.”  One of the big Bison companies in Quitaque, Texas is the Caprock Bison Company.

Caprock Bison Company – Quitaque, Texas

Cambria, California

We were fortunate that a friend of ours in Cambria, California offered us a place to stay on our way down CA Highway 1.  Cambria was actually our stopping point south on the Pacific Coast as we then headed east for the long return home.  Cambria is a small town.  Gas was very expensive.  But the scenery of the ocean, the beautiful, tall windswept trees and the fun, light atmosphere was wonderful.

Cambria, California
Unique pines in Cambria, CA
More unique pines of Cambria

Coos Bay, Oregon

On our drive south along US 101 from Port Orchard, Washington, we drove through the town of Coos Bay, Oregon.  We stayed overnight in North Bend, Oregon, which is just north and a twin city to Coos Bay.

Coos Bay, Oregon
Large ship mural in Coos Bay, Oregon (you can see the size by looking at the person in the bottom left of photo)
The Old Tioga Hotel building in Coos Bay.

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

As I have often noted, Carhenge is one of my favorite tourist attractions in the United States.  I included a chapter about it in my third book (see the book here).  I had a book signing in January 2020 and spent the night in Alliance and the next morning we drove out on a bitter cold and snowy morning to catch the sunrise before heading north to South Dakota. This is what we saw.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Closeup of a portion of Carhenge
January sunrise at Carhenge

California

Over my many years of travel, I had visited California on a number of occasions.  However, my February trip coming south from Oregon was my first visit to Northern California.  So, Welcome to California!

Welcome to California

California Balsamic – Ukiah, California

While driving south on US 101 in California, we eventually made our way into Ukiah, California where we ultimately spent the night.  However, the main reason for this visit was to get over to see Thomas Allen and his California Balsamic Company.  My wife had heard about this company from some of her Whole Food Plant Based groups and wanted me to pick up a few bottles.  Well, Thomas has created a sort of Baskin Robbins of Balsamics with many vegan and other options.  I was amazed at the flavors.  They use only high quality Trebianno and Spirgola grapes that come from Modena, Italy.  While there, Thomas kindly gave us a tour of his facility and tastings of many of their wonderful flavors.  I HIGHLY recommend his product!!

In fact, I spoke with Thomas today and he informed me that they have a HUGE April (2020) special going on.  So, if you like Balsamic Vinegar, please jump over to https://californiabalsamic.com/ and check out the April Stay At Home Special.  You can also call Thomas with questions.  His number is on the website.  Tell him Sumoflam sent you.

Thomas Allen, owner of California Balsamic in Ukiah, California
Some of the many flavors of California Balsamic
California Balsamic

Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park – Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park is in western South Dakota has some wonderful drives, especially the famous Wildlife Loop Road which travels though 18 miles of grasslands and pines and offers opportunities to see wild bison (see my photos in my “B Stories” from yesterday’s post), elk, prong-horned antelope, deer and even the adorable little prairie dogs.  And, if you have young kids, the state park offers the opportunity to get a Junior Ranger badge, much like the National Park programs.

Welcome to Custer State Park
Custer State Park visitor’s center
Some of the scenery in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Pronghorn Antelope relax in the grasslands of Custer State Park
A bison grazes in Custer State Park

Carrot Cake Soda – Nipton Trading Post, California

Yesterday I posted about Bacon Soda.  How about some Carrot Cake soda, which I also found at the Nipton Trading Post in Nipton, CA.  See yesterday’s post to learn more about the company that produces these unique flavors.

Carrot Cake Soda as seen in Nipton, California

The Chowder Stop – Long Beach, Washington

By the time we got to Long Beach in southern Washington, it was lunch time.  We drove around this very touristy looking town for a place to eat.  Being the winter season, many places were closed, but NOT the Chowder Stop!  And on a cold winter day, who wouldn’t want some tasty chowder?  Let me tell you…their chowder is so thick that you can stand a spoon up in it!!  NO JOKE!

The Chowder Stop in Long Beach, Washington
Chowder so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.  So very yummy!

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is a quaint little town nestled in the mountains of southwestern Idaho.  We stopped there for dinner (had some great pizza!) and also to get some shots of the Center of the Universe manhole and signs.  According to a writeup on RoadsideAmerica.com, “On September 25, 2004, mayor Ron Garitone of Wallace issued a proclamation that his town’s intersection of Bank and 6th Streets was the “Probalistic Center of the Universe.”   You can read the rest of the story on their website.  (Visit their site and give those guys lots of love!)

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
The Center of the Universe manhole in the main downtown intersection of  Bank Street and Sixth Street in Wallace, Idaho

Clearmont, Wyoming

There is really nothing special about Clearmont, Wyoming, but we did drive through the small community.  The Historical Center had a nice little mural on the oldish building.

Clearmont, Wyoming
Welcome to Clearmont, Wyoming

Covellite Theatre – Butte, Montana

I love getting photos of old Theatre and Movie marquees.  This one we saw in Butte, Montana

The old Covellite Theatre in Butte Montana

Coulee City, Washington

Coulee City runs along a the southern banks of a the huge Banks Lake on US Highway 2 in central Washington State.  This is beautiful country.  I loved the welcome sign for Coulee City.

Welcome to Coulee City, Washington

Campbell, California

I have friends that live in Campbell, California, so we dropped by to visit them.  Campbell is proud of its old-fashioned water tower, one of only a few like it remaining in California.  Obviously, as much driving as I do on America’s back roads, I have seen others like it in other states.  But, to honor this lovely historic town, I am including a photo of it here.

Campbell, California
The famous Campbell Water Tower
One of a few murals that can be found in Campbell, California

Coca-Cola Ghost Sign in Tulia, Texas

There are likely hundreds of Coca-Cola murals dotting this huge country.  Caught this really classic one in Tulia, Texas

Coca-Cola Mural in Tulia, Texas

Country Friends Antiques Retro Signage in Moriarty, New Mexico

All along US Route 66 there is unique and fun signage.  This old retro starburst sign was likely for a motel in the 1960s, but now it is the sign for the Country Friends Antique shop in Moriarty, New Mexico.

Retro signage in Moriarty, New Mexico at Country Friends, Antiques

Crowell, Texas

I don’t post photos of every little town we drive through, but I am a big fan of Americana singer Rodney Crowell and this reminds me of him.  I don’t believe that there is any relationship.  Crowell is on US Route 70 a tad southwest of the Texas panhandle.  It is a typical small Texas town as the main street photo below shows.

Welcome to Crowell, Texas
Main Street in Crowell, Texas

Cormorants

I always like wildlife.  At home in Lexington, Kentucky, I get to watch cormorants do their thing almost daily.  Its always nice to see this unique diving birds in other environments.

Cormorants relaxing on a rock in Santa Cruz, CA
A Cormorant dries its wings high up in a tree in Caddo Lake swamp in Texas

Comet II Restaurant – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

All along Route 66 one can find throwback neon signs.  This classic neon for a restaurant is located in the Route 66 town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Comet II Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

City Drug Store – Happy, Texas

I visited Happy, Texas because it was, well, Happy!  The main street had many happy places, like the Happy Self Storage which was located in the old City Drug Store building.  In this case, I took this shot because I really liked the old brick building with the hand painted sign.

City Drug Store in Happy, Texas

Colors of the West – Williams, Arizona

Another nice example of throwback neon signage on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona is the Colors of the West sign.  They apparently sell Native American goods, such as pottery, rugs and quilts.

Colors of the West shop in Williams, Arizona

Cruiser’s Cafe 66 – Williams, Arizona

And finally, another Route 66 Neon sign in Williams, AZ.  Had we had the time, I would have loved to have stopped here to eat. You can see more about Cruiser’s at https://www.cruisers66.com/

Cafe 66 Neon Sign, Williams, AZ

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The B Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet, and not the order of the trip  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the A Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Bald Eagles – all over

On our 8154 mile drive across the United States, we were fortunate enough to see 24 Bald Eagles…we saw them in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and California.  Not all sightings provided photo opportunities, but we did get some.  Perhaps my BEST EVER Bald Eagle shot came from west of Davenport, Washington on US Route 2.  We saw two eagles fighting over a position a top of a telephone pole along the side of the road. We pulled up to about 30 feet away and that eagle WAS NOT going to give up its spot.  Well, here it is, along with a few others we were able to see.

Bald Eagle, taken on US Highway 2 near Davenport, WA
Another shot of the above Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle in flight along the Pacific Coast in Long Beach, Washington
Bald Eagle seen in northeast Wyoming
Bald Eagle in flight as seen at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, WA
Another Bald Eagle in Long Beach, Washington

Barstow, California

Barstow lives and dies on Route 66 basically.  Nice little town.  We stayed the night here.

Visiting Barstow, California

Bigfoot Sightings – Uncertain, Texas

Bigfoot Retreat in Uncertain, TX
Bigfoot Crossing, Uncertain, Texas

Bowlin’s Bluewater Outpost – Bluewater, NM

Many of you know that I am a big fan of the Bowlin Travel Centers.  In my third book I had a chapter dedicated to Bowlin’s The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona.  I have visited others as well.  Bowlin is famous for their gazillion billboards along the highways of Arizona and New Mexico.  Bluewater Outpost is in Bluewater, New Mexico, a lovely area of the state.  When I was about 8 years old our family went to Bluewater and rented a cabin by the lake.  It was my first experience riding a horse.  On this trip we didn’t have the time to stop, but I wanted to honor my friends at Bowlin with a little shoutout.

Bowlin’s Bluewater Outpost Bluewater, NM
Bluewater Outppost – Need Moccasins? You can COZIFY yer feet!!

Bovina, Texas

We just passed by.  Another interesting town name.

Bovina, Texas

Bill’s Place – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

We drive through the Route 66 town of Santa Rosa, NM on our way home.  Lots of neon.  We didn’t stop for much, but I took a couple of shots of Route 66ish stuff there.  Bill’s Place is a bar.

Bill’s Place in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Billy the Kid Museum – Fort Sumner, New Mexico

It was late as we drove through Fort Sumner, New Mexico on our way to our overnight stay in Clovis, New Mexico.  I ran into the Billy the Kid Museum and took a shot. It was obviously closed at that late hour, but I thought it unique.

Billy the Kid Museum, Fort Sumner, NM

Bacon Soda (with Maple Syrup) – Nipton, California

We made our from Baker, California towards Searchlight, Nevada and passed through the small community of Nipton, California, which has a unique trading post.  One of the things they sell there are really quirky soda flavors.  The Bacon Soda and other unique flavors are created by a company called Lester’s Fixins.  They have other flavors such as Buffalo Wing, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Pumpkin Pie, Ranch Dressing and Sweet Corn.  Oh, and I can’t forget the Dill Pickle flavor!! Lester’s Fixins is owned by Rocket Fizz, a Soda and Candy Shop based out of Camarillo, California. They have franchise shops all over the United States and even a couple in Canada.

Bacon Soda as seen at the Nipton Trading Post in Nipton, CA

The Big Orange at Mesa Verde Ranch – Lemon Cove, California

As we drove from Cambria, California to Sequoia National Park along CA Highway 198, we passed through the small community of Lemon Cove.  It was exciting for me as I hadn’t seen citrus trees in years (since our time in Mesa, AZ in the 1990s). We stopped at The Big Orange owned by Mesa Verde Ranch and bought some fresh oranges.  Yummiferous!

Big Orange fruit stand in Lemon Cove, CA
Buy from the growers – the best way!
Mesa Verde Ranch – The Big Orange – Lemon Cove, CA

Bison Art – Quitaque, Texas

On our drive from Clovis, New Mexico into the southern panhandle area of Texas, we drove through the town of Quitaque (pronounced kitty-kway by the locals).  It claims to be the “Official Bison Capital of Texas.”  My love for murals drove me to shoot a couple of their lovely murals.

In God We Trust mural with bison in Quitaque, TX
Bison along the top of a shop in Quitaque, Texas

Speaking of Bison – Custer State Park, South Dakota

As we made our way north from Alliance, Nebraska towards Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, we passed through Wind Cave National Park and then through Custer State Park, both on SD Hwy 87 and then to US Route 16A.  Along the way we took the famed Wildlife Loop Road in search of bison (also called buffalo). There are over 1500 head of these large animals in the park.  We were fortunate to drive right into a dozen of them.  Here are some closeup shots of the North American Bison.

Buffalo are dangerous
North American Bison, Custer State Park, SD
A big bison
Be careful
You looking at me – a young bison
Just chillin

Buffalo, Wyoming

Keeping on the buffalo / bison theme, on the same day as our Custer State Park trip, we meandered into Buffalo, Wyoming. A nice little town of about 5000, it is full of buffalo themes.  I was especially fond of the beautiful buffalo mural.

Buffalo, Wyoming
Buffalo mural in Buffalo, Wyoming
Welcome to Buffalo, WY

Black Bear Motel – Davenport, Washington

Davenport, Washington is quirky little town.  Got a shot of this motel sign to add to my motel sign collection.

Black Bear Motel in Davenport, WA

Big Sky Brewing – Missoula, Montana

I stopped at the  Big Sky Brewing Company on our way towards Idaho because I wanted to pick up a some Moose Drool Brown Ale for one of my friends in Kentucky.  this is where it is brewed and it was available cold.  I’ll have more about Moose Drool in my M Stories post.

Big Sky Brewing – Missoula, Montana

Butte, Montana – Home of 1000 Ghost Signs

OK, I am not sure there are 1000 Ghost Signs in Butte, Montana, but there are quite a few. A Ghost Sign is basically a hand-painted advertising on the side of a building that has been preserved for years.  Many have faded away, but, all across the United States you can see them on buildings. Butte has some nice ones as can be seen below.

Ghost Signs in Butte, Montana
Sweet Candies Ghost Sign in Butte, Montana
Ghost Sign in Butte, Montana

Bay Bridge, San Francisco, California

Though the Golden Gate Bridge is the famous bridge of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge is also a nice one.  We crossed both bridges while in San Francisco.

The Bay Bridge with Alcatraz Island in front of it
The Bay Bridge, San Francisco

Bixby Creek Bridge – Big Sur, California

Another of California’s famous bridges is the Bixby Creek Bridge on CA Highway 1 in Big Sur, California.  This drive is considered one of the best scenic drives in the world and the bridge has gained fame as a result.  We stopped for a photo of it before crossing it on our way south along the Pacific Coast to Cambria, California.

Bixby Creek Bridge – Big Sur, CA

Bandon, Oregon

On our way south on the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon (US Route 101) we passed through the artsy little town of Bandon in southern Oregon.  There are many beautiful Pacific Coast scenes along the way, but Bandon offers up some funky art.  There are two pieces on display that were made completely from garbage collected on the nearby beaches.  These were created by the organization known as WashedAshore.org.  The town also had a number of murals and other art.  Really a cool little town.

Bandon, Oregon
A fish created by WashedAshrore.org, made completely of garbage that has washed ashore on the Pacific Ocean
Natasha the Turtle made by WashedAshore.org
Whale Mural in Bandon, Oregon
Another whale mural in Bandon, Oregon
Bigfoot sighting in Bandon, Oregon
Fish sculpture in Bandon, Oregon

Big Mural in Baker, California

Baker, California is really one of those “must visit” places if you are into quirky tourist attractions.  This mural shows how it sits in the middle of Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Baker, California mural

Begging Bird of Barstow, California

And finally…as I waited for my daughter and grandkids while they were picking up some snacks and new DVDs for the long ride at a Wal-Mart in Barstow, California early in the morning, this little brown bird (I think it is a type of grackle) came to me begging.  Had to include some pics.

Begging Bird of Barstow..notice the one leg up while it stared up at me.
Begging Bird 2
Begging Bird 3

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The A Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet, and not the order of the trip  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the A Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Alcatraz Island – San Francisco, CA

While in California in mid-February, we visited San Francisco and viewed Alcatraz Island, the famed island-prison, from afar.

Visit Alcatraz
Alcatraz Prison on an island in the bay.

Avenue of the Giants, near Pepperwood, CA and other northern locations

On this trip we drove US Highway 101 all the way from northern Washington, though Oregon and all the way to Santa Cruz, CA, where we took Highway 1.  Along the way, in northern California, in the Redwood Forest, we took Avenue of the Giants, a nice 31 mile drive through the giant redwoods. Following are few shots from this lovely drive through amazing giant redwood trees.

Avenue of the Giants, northern California
Sumoflam Selfie on the Avenue of the Giants
Avenue of the Giants near Scotia, CA
Avenue of the Giants near Scotia, CA

Anaconda, Montana

Our trip from Kentucky eventually took us through Montana on our way to Washington.  Taking back roads, we took a drive through the historic mining town of Anaconda, Montana.

Welcome to Anaconda, Montana
Anaconda, Montana

Alliance, Nebraska

Alliance, Nebraska is the home of the famed tourist attraction Carhenge.  I wrote about Carhenge in my third book and, as a result, I was invited to do a book signing at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance.

The Alliance Theater, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

Awesome Possum Flea Market – Hamburg, Iowa

Always fun to find unique store fronts.  We found the Awesome Possum Flea Market in Hamburg, Iowa. Despite being almost late January, they were still playing Christmas music on a loud speaker outside of the store.

Awesome Possum Flea Market

Aaron Applebaum – Swamp Tour Guide Extraordinaire – Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas

On our return trip home we stopped in Uncertain, Texas to take a swamp tour, our second one, with Aaron Applebaum, who runs Mystique Tours and gives boat rides year-round through the swamps of Caddo Lake.  Aaron is very friendly and knows the swamp well.  You are in very good hands with him.  My good friend and fellow travel writer Tui Snider and her husband Larry, joined us on this trip.

Taking a swamp ride with Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours. In this photo are Lyla, Joselyn, Marissa, and Landen Noe, Aaron Applebaum, Larry and Tui Snider and me.
Hanging with Aaron Applebaum

Animals Are Wild – Sequoia National Park, California

Be warned, when you are in the national parks and national forests, animals are wild and should not be fed or touched.  The sign below tells it all.

All Park Animals are Wild — Sequoia National Park, California

Alien Fresh Jerky and Crazy Giant Aliens – Baker, California

A drive through Baker, California offers the unwitting tourist a delightful mix of eye-candy and tasty treats.  Sadly, when we got to Baker, Alien Fresh Jerky was closed, but we still got to see the fun.  Watch out for Aliens!!

Alien Fresh Jerky, Baker, CA
Alien Fresh Jerky Shop, Baker, CA
Watch for the aliens. Look carefully and you might see a strange human reflection.
Alien Street Lamp… Peace Out
Try the Invisible Jerky

Arrowhead Motel – Hyannis, Nebraska

Another of the many unique signs discovered on the backroads of America.  This one was in the small town of Hyannis, Nebraska

Arrowhead Motel sign in Hyannis, Nebraska

Audubon Parkway – near Owensboro, Kentucky

We left from Kentucky and, on part of the trip form Lexington, we took the Audubon Parkway, which was named after John James Audubon, the famed bird artist, who was from Kentucky.

Audubon Parkway, Kentucky

Alibi Pub and Eatery – Wilbur, Washington

Wilbur, Washington is a small town on US Route 20 west of Spokane.  I liked the store front, so here it is.  Alibi Pub has a Facebook page.

Alibi Pub and Eatery in Wilbur, WA

Alioto’s Restaurant, 8 Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

I love unique signs.  Driving through the Fisherman’s Wharf district of San Francisco, I saw this fishy sign.  Sure wish we could have stopped to eat here.  Looks good.  Check out Alioto’s on their Website.

Aliotos Neon Sign, San Francisco

Ardmore, South Dakota

Drive across America and you will see many small towns, like the ghost town of Ardmore, South Dakota which sits on SD 71 just north of the Nebraska border in the Ogalala National Grassland.

Ardmore, South Dakota

Arkansas

One of the twenty states we drive through.  Welcome to Arkansas!

Welcome to Arkansas

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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