A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The M Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Mystic Pizza – Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

Moon Township, PA

Township of Moon, PA

Muscovy Duck – Damascus, Virginia

A unique Muscovy duck in the river in Damascus

Mammy’s Cupboard – Natchez, Mississippi

Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard Dining Room – Much bigger than it looks on the outside

Mail Pouch Barns – Brinkhaven, Ohio; Friendly, West Virginia; Hargett, Kentucky

Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV
A rare Mail Pouch barn sighting in Hargett, KY

Billy Tripp’s Mindfield – Brownsville, Tennessee

Sumoflam at Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
A portion of the Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Mindfield Cemetery, Brownsville, Tennessee

Mr. Roger’s T-Rex Statue – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mr. Rogers T-Rex

Mountain Bluebird – The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

A Mountain Bluebird perched on a fencepost in the Badlands

Mac the Moose – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Monument Valley – Utah

Monument Valley, Utah
Enjoying the splendor of Monument Valley in southern Utah and Northern Arizona around 1983

Monongahela Incline – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the Monongahela Incline
Monongahela Incline going up
Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh

Maid of the Mist – Niagara Falls, Ontario

The Maid of the Mist at the bottom of Niagara Falls filled with tourists

Melt Eclectic Cafe – Cincinnati, Ohio

Melt in Cincinnati
Melt Cafe

Metal Green Bay Packer – Pagac’s Bar – Ashland, Wisconsin

Robotic scrap metal quarterback. The guy in the bar said you can plug it in and it actually moves!

Mayan Ruins – Tulum, Mexico

Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

Midlothian Castle – Burk’s Falls, Ontario

Midlothian Castle
Headstone on one of the Gates to Midlothian Castle

Home of Mayberry – Mount Airy, North Carolina

Snappy Lunch – Mt. Airy, NC
Mayberry on Main
Mayberry Cheese

Mount Rainier National Park – Greenwater, Washington

Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Mt. Rainier in Washington – visited in 2015
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the background

Migrating Snow Geese – Arkansas

Snow Geese everywhere
Ran into a HUGE flock of migrating snow geese in central Arkansas

Medicine Hat, Alberta

Giant Teepee in Medicine Hat, Alberta

Mickey Mantle Statue – Commerce, Oklahoma

Mickey Mantle Statue in Commerce, Oklahoma

Memorial Falls near Great Falls, Montana

Memorial Falls near Great Falls, MT

Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

The Meerkats are my favorite animal at the zoo. This one posed for me!
Lounging Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo

Metropolis, Illinois

Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman
Giant Grocer Statue in Metropolis, IL

Dinosaur Tracks – Moenave, Arizona

Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
The kids at the Dinosaur tracks in Moenave, AZ near Tuba City (July 1993)

Mama Santa Pizzeria – Little Eatery – Cleveland, Ohio

Sumoflam with Mama Santa’s owner Papa Tio
Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa Restaurant in Cleveland, OH

Montour Trail – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Montour Trail – Canonsburg, PA

Miner’s Memorial Mural – Ironwood, Michigan

The men in Miner’s Memorial Mural represent the thousands of men who worked in the Gogebic Range Mines of Michigan and Wisconsin.
A section of the Miner’s Memorial Mural in Ironwood, which was completed in 2012

Mt. Fuji – near Fujinomiya, Japan

Enjoying wintertime at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji, near Fujinomiya, Japan in 1987
Mt. Fuji, Japan as seen from my airplane seat in 1990 as I flew to Tokyo from Oita.

Multnomah Falls – Multnomah County, Oregon

At Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
Cozy Mud Street Cafe

Memphis Egg – Memphis, Tennessee

With the famous Memphis Egg in 2007

Mothman Museum – Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Glowing Red Eyes of the Mothman
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV

Mel’s Diner – San Francisco, California

Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

Mapleton Taxidermy and Cheese Shop – Mapleton, Ontario

Taxidermy and Cheese Store
Taxidermy and Cheese

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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Blogging A to Z Challenge – The Complete List for 2017 – #atozchallenge

During the month of April I participated with nearly 2000 other bloggers worldwide in the “Blogging from A to Z Challenge” which is now in its 7th year. This was my second year to participate and this year’s theme for my series was “Wanderlust.”  As a “Travelographer,” my posts tend to be photo heavy.  I travel and take loads of photos. This is my way of sharing the wonders of the back roads of America.

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

Following are links to the complete A to Z set.  Just click on the banner for each and letter and enjoy the posts and the photos.  I hope all readers will Enjoy the Ride as much as I have enjoyed sharing it!

With over 6,300 locations worldwide, Choice Hotels has you covered! Book on our official site ChoiceHotels.com and save!

With over 6,300 locations worldwide, Choice Hotels has you covered! Book on our official site ChoiceHotels.com and save!

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Finding Prosperity near Canonsburg & Washington, PA

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg, PA

Just a week after a nice three-day visit to northern Ohio (see post HERE), Julianne and I made our way to Canonsburg, PA, which is south of Pittsburgh. Julianne’s sister Laura recently moved there from Idaho with her husband and daughter and wanted us to visit.

Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh
Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh

From Lexington, Canonsburg is about a 5 Hour drive. We loaded Julianne’s bicycle onto the bike rack and were off shortly after she got off of work. We also took our first trip with one of our grandchildren, our oldest named Autumn.  She has traveled with her mother and me on a long trip to Wisconsin, but this is her first trip alone with Grampz and Grandma.

Welcome to West Virginia!
Welcome to West Virginia!

Most of the trip was fairly uneventful as we headed east on Interstate 64 into West Virginia and then north on Interstate 79 just outside of Charleston, West Virginia.

Along the way, we decided to stop for a couple of snacks and found a unique Amish market located in Flatwoods, WV.  The shop is

Sitting in the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sitting in the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV

located in the Flatwoods Factory Outlet.  As is often the case when making an unknown stop, there’s always a surprise in store. We were looking for some interesting food items and/or snack items to enjoy, but while there, we found that they have a giant Amish-made chair to sit in. Always have to include the quirky things!

Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Amish made Old Fashioned "Traffic Jam" - should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!
Amish made Old Fashioned “Traffic Jam” – should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!

We also picked up some goodies to leave with her sister and we got some hot mustard that was absolutely amazing! The view from behind the store into the hilly farmlands of Pennsylvania was very nice and I’ve included a photo of that above.  After our break and an ice cream cone for Autumn, we were back on the road heading towards Canonsburg.

After arriving in Canonsburg, and having a nice evening together, we spent the next day touring around Pittsburgh (that post will follow this one).

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

The next morning, Julianne and her sister decided to take a bike ride down the Montour Trail Bike Trail, a 46 mile trail from Moon Township (northwest of Pittsburgh) to Clairton.  This is one of a number of Rail Trails that Julianne will take over the next few weeks (I’ll write about each of those in upcoming special “Bike Trail posts – watch for them!).  This trail is actually part of a larger set of trails that stretch nearly 330 miles to Washington, D.C.  (Known as the Great Allegheny Passage) Julianne and Laura hope to ride that complete trail in 2017 (And maybe I’ll be ready by then too!!)

Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA

While they were doing that, I arose early took a ride into the countryside nearby and captured a beautiful sunrise early in the morning.  It was a beautiful drive up US Hwy 19 into Upper St. Clair, PA.  There was a hint of fog in the air and the sun came up over the rolling hills and verdant farmland.

Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
Welcome to Prosperity
Welcome to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity

After breakfast, I took another ride to visit the small town of Prosperity, PA. The small unincorporated village is south of Washington, PA on PA Hwy 18.  Obviously, I wanted to add this as another of those uniquely named towns that I like to visit. Prosperity really doesn’t look like it’s that prosperous of a town, but did have some unique old buildings and of course the Prosperity Post Office! (I have also found Success, Romance and Uncertain, among many others in my travels.)

Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Small old-fashioned grocer in Prosperity, PA
Small old-fashioned convenience shop in Prosperity, PA – Jim’s Stop & Shop Mall
Welcome to Washington, PA
Welcome to Washington, PA

On my way back from Prosperity, I made my way through the city of Washington, PA.  The city is the County Seat of Washington County, which was the first county in the U.S. to be named Washington – done so in 1781.  As the home of the old Washington and Jefferson College (the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), it is definitely a college style town but has some very old charm and many old historical buildings and some unique history.

All along the roads the lovely Dame's Rocket wildflowers can be seen
All along the roads the lovely Dame’s Rocket wildflowers can be seen
Washington, PA Historic Marker
Washington, PA Historic Marker
One of many old buildings in Washingotn, PA
One of many old buildings in Washington, PA
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
Washington Courthouse Statue
Washington Courthouse Statue

Most impressive about Washington was the amazing looking historic courthouse with a large golden statue of George Washington on top.  This is apparently the fifth version of the county courthouse, with this one being built in 1900.

Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington Statue
Washington Statue
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

Washington also gained notoriety in 1794 as a result of the Whiskey Rebellion, which was led by David Bradford. The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue to help reduce the national debt.

The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue

Washington, is also the home of the PONY League, one of the well-known youth baseball and softball organizations that can be found throughout the world.  They have a World Series event every August in Washington.

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg

But, I would have to say that the small Borough of Canonsburg actually holds some merit as one of the more interesting places to see in the area.  First off, it was the home to two famed singers from the 1960s – Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.  And the local McDonald’s restaurant offers a rare glimpse of them and their lives with an in-restaurant little museum (the second such “Fast Food Museum” I had seen in as many weeks – the other being the Wendy’s/Dave Thomas Museum in Dublin, Ohio – see that one HERE).  The museum display includes photos, albums, yearbooks, clothing and instruments, as well as the statues.

Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como story
Perry Como story
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg

And then down the road from the McDonald’s is another statue honoring Perry Como.  It is located in front of the bourough offices.

The statue of Como was unveiled in May 1999 and the city pipes his music 12 hours a day. (I must have missed it the day we were there).

Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg
Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg

A couple of historic pieces are also in the Canonsburg downtown area.

John McMillan's Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg's educational tradition.
John McMillan’s Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg’s educational tradition.
Veteran's Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Veteran’s Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr's conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr’s conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop

Canonsburg is also home to one of the quirky and iconic Turtle Twist Ice Cream Shop, shaped like an ice cream cone. The Ice Cream Shaped building was originally created by Twistee Treat Ice Cream out of Florida. The buildings are 28 feet tall and 20 feet wide and made of fiberglass.  The original Twistee Treat company went out of business in 1990, but a new company was formed in 1996.  Turtle Twist is a former Twistee Treat building.  Their building was previously installed in 1992 at an amusement park in Lakewood, NY in 1992. It was then purchased and reassembled in Canonsburg in 2004.  I have only seen one other of these in my travels (see M&M Twistee Treat in E. Peoria, IL)

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world's largest candy stores
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world’s largest candy stores

Speaking of Ice Cream, there is another well known place in Canonsburg known for its ice cream and as well as its chocolate and chocolate art work. The Sarris Candies Factory and Ice Cream Parlour covers an area the size of a full city block, and carries over 100 yards of chocolate, penny candy, ice cream and life-like plush toys. Not sure what it is about Pennsylvania and chocolate.  In other visits I have seen the huge Hershey’s facility in Hershey, PA and also Daffin’s Chocolate in Sharon, PA, known for its huge chocolate sculptures (see my post about Hershey HERE and my Daffin’s post HERE) . Both Daffin’s and Sarris claim to have the world’s largest candy stores. Sarris does also lay claim to an amazing 2600 pound Chocolate Castle (Daffin’s has a 400 pound chocolate turtle in their Chocolate Kingdom).

Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds
Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds

Some of the facts that Sarris notes about their castle:

  • Cost $130,000
  • Weighs 2600 pounds
  • It is 12 feet tall from floor to ceiling
  • It is 8 feet long and 3 feet long
  • It took 8 people three months and 2000 man hours to create
  • The whole confection room is also surrounded by 65 feet of beautiful hand-painted wall murals depicting a circus train ride through Candyland.
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Chocolate!!
Chocolate!!

The shop has tons of candy products, massive plush toys including some life size ones and then there is the amazing Ice Cream shop.

Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Cuddly plush panther
Cuddly plush panther
Candy!!
Candy!!
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Eighty Four, PA Post Office
Eighty Four, PA Post Office

Finally, some mention of a couple more places nearby that I visited.  Not too many towns are named with a number, but Eighty Four, PA is one of the few numbered towns.  There are a number of stories surrounding the name, but the town was actually founded in 1884 and the Post Office sought the name of Smithville, but it was already taken. So, apparently, the Postmaster H.F. Weir asked the post office be named after the year founded.

Eighty Four that a way
Eighty Four that a way
Welcome to 84 Country
Welcome to 84 Country

DSC_4343In 1957 a lumber company was created in town and was named 84 Lumber.  It has grown dramatically with more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops, and engineered wood products (EWP) centers in 30 states, representing the top 130 markets in the US.

Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA
Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA

Not too far from Washington is a place called Laboratory, PA, yet another strange name. But I also noticed an historic plaque with the name of Pancake. But there was already another Pancake in Pennsylvania. Some internet research warranted the following explanation (found on Jim’s Journey Website HERE):

Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA
Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA

Earle Forrest wrote about this area in his 1926 History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in the chapter on South Strabane Township. He discusses first George Pancake, then Jonathan Martin and adds this paragraph:

“About thirty years ago the late Dr. Byron Clark, who resided near the end of East Maiden Street, Washington, established a chemical laboratory for the manufacture of patent medicine, which he sold throughout the country. He had a post office established and named the place Laboratory, by which it is still known, although the original name of Pancake still sticks.

Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA

And finally, there was the Library Volunteer Fire Company in South Park, PA, near Washington.  How did it get that name?? The Library Volunteer Fire Company was organized in October 1939 and was comprised of 21 firefighters and one truck housed at the corner of Brownsville and Library Road. Presently, the company is located at 6581 Library Road in South Park Township.

My next post will cover some of our visit to Pittsburgh

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