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!

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W is for Wildlife – #atozchallenge

There are not many better things on a back road trip than running into unexpected wildlife. There is an abundance of birds and animals to be discovered on the road.  For me, my camera is always at the ready for the chance meeting of some interesting animal or bird.

Sandhill Cranes fly over high plains near Dell, MT

One such incident happened on a gravel road near Dell, Montana.  I was on the lookout for bison as I drive along Ted Turner’s massive bison ranch.  While stopped to look I heard a strange bird call that I had never heard and shortly thereafter a pair of large birds came zipping by.  I got some shots, but wasn’t sure what I had until I got to the hotel later that night and discovered they were a pair of Sandhill Cranes, my first ever sighting of these glorious birds.

Sandhill Cranes near Cecilia, KY
A pair of Sandhill Cranes at sunset near Cecilia, KY

Just a few years later in my own state of Kentucky I was able to track down a migration of 1000s of these magnificent birds.  I actually came close to walking among their huge flock and they were flying all around me.  Words can’t explain the awe I had.

These birds migrate north back to their homes in Michigan and Wisconsin and fly through Kentucky in late January.  They stop in the bounteous cornfields to eat the leftovers that remained after harvest.

1000s of sandhill cranes converse on a field near Cecilia, KY
Sandhill Cranes take flight
Sandhill Cranes fly over Cecilia, KY

Chance encounters are always a thrill.  On a morning drive in Grand Teton National Park on a snowy morning in March 2013, I caught a fox leaping in the snow out of the corner of my eye.  The lovely animal stopped and stared at me as I sought to nab a shot.

Fox on Snow in Grand Teton National Park
Migrating Snow Geese by the hundreds in Arkansas in February 2017

On another trip earlier this year, we were driving on a backroad in Arkansas when we saw a “field of white” ahead of us.  Turned out to be a massive flock of migrating snow geese.

There could have been 1000s of them here, much the same as the Sandhill Cranes I noted above.  But it was such an unplanned surprise.

Once again, camera was always at the ready, so I was able to get a few shots while still sitting in the van (though we had to go about a mile down the road to turn around and accommodate the photo shoot.

Snow Geese everywhere
A flock of Snow Geese darkens the sky
1000s of snow geese in a small field in central Arkansas

Just like the snow geese, I happened upon a large flock of white pelicans at Andes Lake in South Dakota.  I could see them from a distance and thought they were ducks.

Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight at Andes Lake
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120

Of course, its not always about birds.  There are plenty of opportunities in the high plains to come across America’s fastest animal, the pronghorn antelope.

On trips through Montana and Wyoming I always saw these lovely sleek animals.  Sometimes I got them right on the side of the road.

I did have one lucky trip in 2013 when I was driving through Colorado and saw a mother and her two calves go jaunting through the tall grass.  I was able to get a nice shot with my telephoto lens.

Antelope Doe and Calves as seen from CO Hwy 13 north of Craig, CO
Antelope just stared back at me…didn’t run
A small family of pronghorn Antelope scamper across a field near Pulis Lane in Wilsall, Montana.
Antelope on the Run in Wyoming
A big bison poses for me in Yellowstone

The National Parks are always a great place to get some nice wildlife shots.  I have been to Yellowstone three times in the past 5 years and have seen a nice variety of wildlife, but mainly its the bison that roam free that are a thrill.  I was amazed at how huge some of these guys get.  One that walked by my car was at least 7 feet tall.

Bison and calves relax by a lake in Yellowstone
Bison roam freely along the Grand Loop road
Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Buffalo in southern Montana on Ted Turner’s sprawling ranch near Dell, MT
Another Bison in Yellowstone Park
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone

Elk are another great large mammal to look for.  I have seen them in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, as well as some of the mountain drives I made.

These are lovely animals.  And, like the bison, are huge.


Elk Bull in Sugar City, Idaho
An Elk Bull near Elkton, Oregon
One antlered elk bull on a breeding farm near Archer, ID
An elk was seen roaming the area around Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Deer at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park

The great culprit of car accidents and frequent recipient of roadkill awards are deer.  These can be seen along highways everywhere both day and night.

I recently made a trip to Shenandoah National Park and got some very nice shots of deer. I have many more from other places, but these are my best.

Deer jumping away in Shenandoah National Park
Deer looking on
Deer on the road from Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park
Deer grazing in the snow in Lewistown, Montana
Bald Eagle shot taken in mid April 2017 near Cave Run Lake, KY

Sometimes I make trips to find the wildlife myself.  Such was the case recently on a visit to the fish hatchery near Cave Run Lake in Eastern Kentucky.  I was in search of some of the bald eagles that hang around there.  Found one!

There have been more sightings recently of these lovely and regal birds.  I have seen one or two almost every week at Jacobson Park locally and also have been able to see a nest with three adults and two offspring near Taylorsville Lake west of Lexington.

Love these eagles.

Eagle at Jacobson Lake in Lexington
Eagle at Taylorsville Lake, KY
Great Blue Heron

My most favorite wildlife subject is the Great Blue Heron.  These huge birds hang around lakes and rivers in Kentucky and many other places.  I literally have 1000s of photos of them.  Here are a few recent ones from Lexington.

I have photos of these birds in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio and other places as well.

Blue herons in Taylorsville Lake
Blue Heron in Flight over Jacobson Lake in Kentucky
Breakfast time

I could post dozens and dozens of other photos, but I will only add a few other wildlife shots to this post from my travels.

Cormorants in flight over Kentucky
Turkey vulture gathering on a road in central Kentucky
Prairie Dog – Cactus Flats, SD
Prairie Dog — standing watch in Cactus Flats
A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument
Mama Doggie – Cactus Flats, SD
Pelicans in formation over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX
A pelican starts its dive for a meal into the gulf
Pelicans fly in formation over the beach in Galveston
Christmas morning sunrise in Ocean City , MD and greeted by a dolphin in the foreground.
A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry while crossing the Puget Sound in Washington
Seagull in flight with the Gulf of Mexico behind it
A couple of seagulls “converse” as they enjoy the view over Lake Superior in Wisconsin
A pair of seagulls glide by in Galveston
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor, WI
An osprey in flight
Mountain Goat in the Badlands of South Dakota
A Great Egret relaxes in the swamp near Uncertain, Texas
A red squirrel with a mouthful in Nebraska City, NE
Cattle Egret seen in Angleton, Texas
I found a gator in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas
Another Gator in Brazos Bend State Park


A to Z Challenge: The E Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique  what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

E The E Towns

Earth, Texas

Welcome to Earth, Texas
Welcome to Earth, Texas
Yes, there is Earth Police
Yes, there is Earth Police
Old Earth Welcome sign
Old Earth Welcome sign

I finally visited Earth.  All of my travels and I had never been there.  Yes, there is a town called Earth and it is in Texas.  The town is on US Highway 70, east of the New Mexico border in far west Texas.  The community only has about 1000 residents, but is big in advertising Earth.  There is even an Earth Police Car.  See my original post on Earth, Texas from 2011 HERE.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel, America's Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Crescent Hotel, America’s Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR…totally made of glass and steel
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I was on another Texas trip in November 2012 with my wife. On the way home, after a long day,  we decided to find a hotel in a nearby town.  We used our phones to find us a place close by and were given Eureka Springs, Arkansas and the Crescent Hotel.  Lo and behold, when we arrived, we found out that the Crescent Hotel is considered the most haunted hotel in America.  They even give haunted tours nightly.  And, I swear, we did see an apparition in our room.  We asked “Lucy, Lucy, what did you die for?” and she said “Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.”  Eureka Springs is a very unique and touristy location with some lovely eateries, lots of gift shops and more.  We had a nice breakfast at the Mud Street Cafe, located in a basement.  Great food and great atmosphere.

Elbe, Washington

Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Elbe Railroad Station
Old Elbe Railroad Station
Small Elbe Church
Small Elbe Church

We visited our daughter and her family in Port Orchard, WA in the summer of 2015.  During our visit we went many places and, on one of the road trips from Mt. Rainier National Park, we stopped in the very small community of Elbe, Washington for dinner.  The town only has a population of under 30, but operates a huge dinner train…the kind that is stationary.  Called the Mt. Rainier Dining Company, it provided a great meal in our own private dining car.  The town also has a small church (see here).  You can read more about that trip and see more photos HERE.

Easton, Pennsylvania

Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Eaton, PA
Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA

Way back in the late 1990s, we had occasion to take our daughter to participate in an all-star chorus in Europe.  We had to drop her off in Pennsylvania.  Along the way, we visited the fun town of Easton, Pennsylvania and their Crayola Factory.  Back then they also had a PEZ Museum, but it is no longer there.

Eldon, Iowa

Eldon, Iowa - Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
Eldon, Iowa – Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
American Gothic House Sign
American Gothic House Sign
The American Gothic House
The American Gothic House
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA

I was on a five day trip to Omaha with my daughter in 2014.  We took a few days to sight see on the way there and back.  One of the places we made our way to was Eldon, Iowa. This community of less than 1000 that sits along the Des Moines River, is like many other midwestern communities, quaint and well kept.  It was an old railroad town. But, this one offered something most don’t have…an opportunity to visit the actual house featured in the world famous (and oft parodied) American Gothic House.  You can see more about our Iowa visit and the Gothic House HERE.

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Ahoy about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI
Ahoy matey…how about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI

Another trip with a different daughter and granddaughter was taken in 2013 as we ventured to Wisconsin for fun.  On that adventure we made our way into Egg Harbor, Wisconsin on the Eastern Peninsula of the state.  Among all of the lighthouses, this lovely community offered scenic views, shots of seagulls and unique shops and eateries.  We ate at the Shipwrecked Pub/Inn and also visited the Chocolate Chicken for desert. You can see the whole story HERE.

East Peoria, Illinois

Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl's Bakery in E. Peoria
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria
M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, IL
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, IL

East Peoria, Illinois is one of those towns with a lot of quirkiness.  Drive along US Hwy 24 and US Hwy 150 through town and it is much like a Route 66 drive.  There are big animal statues along the route and then there is fun M & M’s Twistee Treat Ice Cream place.

Embro, Ontario, Canada (Honorable mention)

Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario

As I have noted in other posts, during 2008 I worked in Woodstock, Ontario at the Toyota plant as a Japanese interpreter.  During my time off, I traveled throughout much of southern Ontario.  One of the towns I enjoyed visiting was Embro, which is in the larger township of Zorra.  Embro is home of the Highland Games, a  large event run by the Zorra Caledonian Society since the 1930s to perpetuate “the spirit, music and games of Scotland”.   A great little community and a fun taste of Scotland in the hills of Oxford County, Ontario.

Eagle, Colorado (Honorable Mention)

Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado
Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado

I included Eagle, Colorado in this due to the spectacular views from this town.  It is located down the freeway from Vail.  I stayed there one evening in 2013 and it was a lovely little town in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.  You can see the entire trip report HERE.

Endeavor, Wisconsin (Honorable mention)

Endeavor, WI
Endeavor, WI

And finally, just had to add this one because of the name.  I visited Endeavor on the same trip as Egg Harbor (see above).

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]