Throughout my time as a travel blogger I have had the opportunity to correspond and exchange notes with many other travel bloggers who are also find of the offbeat and quirky. One of those with whom I have worked with often is Tui Snider, from Azle, Texas.
Tui is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book.
First off, I am honored to have been asked to be a part of her “Blog Tour” and to help interested travelers find another valuable guide for seeing some of the more unusual and fun parts of our great country. (Also, some lucky viewers will won some nice prizes….see below for details!!) I have had a chance to peruse this book and it is really chock full of splendid places on back roads you never heard of. Having traveled 1000s of miles of Texas backroads myself, I know that this will likely be Tui’s first book, but not last, on the wonders of Texas.
Some of the places, such as the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower that adorns her cover are places I have been.
For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas.
Tui provides a nice overview of the quirky, offbeat and even scary places around north Texas, sharing often overlooked travel tips for places within a day’s drive of Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of the quirkier chapters include details on how to visit the:
Gravesite of an alleged space alien.
Courthouse displaying an embalmed lizard in a velvet-lined casket.
Statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots.
Museum commemorating the lynching of Santa Claus.
Life-sized wax replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Building made entirely of salt.
65 foot tall Eiffel Tower replica.
Petrified wood cafe.
World’s smallest skyscraper.
Only Michelangelo painting in America.
Personally, I have driven hundreds of miles of roads in Texas and visited over 100 cities and towns, including a few of the places Tui covers in her book, such as Mineral Wells and the famous Douglas Hotel, where it was rumored that Bonnie and Clyde had stayed numerous times. I have also been to the Fort Worth Stockyards, Granbury, Denton, the Fossil Rim Animal Park and more. But I have barely scratched the surface in terms of the number of places Tui details in this great book!
As an author, Tui now has a page of her own on Amazon
You can also find Tui all around the web. Feel free to drop by and say say hi:
Recently I was assigned by a client to look into the creation of a SmugMug website. I had to do some testing on it, but in the process I created my own SmugMug site. This site has hundreds of photographs that I’ve taken on my travels around the country, in Canada, in Japan, and in the Philippines.
I have not always focused on just the unique and offbeat, but I also have visited many national parks, many scenic wonderlands, have focused on animal life, flowers and trees, and other unique and interesting places and things. My new SmugMug site will feature a great variety of all of these photographs.
I hope you’ll give it a visit and Enjoy the Ride!!
Two different cities and a shared river and bridge. In September 2013 one of my daughters and her friends needed some assistance getting to Louisville and had some business to take care of. So, with camera in hand, we were off and they did their stuff while I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville. Here are a few the things I saw in a three hour jaunt thru two towns….
This stretch of the Ohio River is the widest and deepest part (about 23 feet) of the Ohio River.
A drive down West Main Street in downtown Louisville offers a number of interesting sights. You pass by the Art and Museum District of town. Perhaps the biggest and most interesting site is the amazing Giant Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The bat replica is actually not made of wood. It is a 120 foot tall steel bat that weighs over 68,000 pounds. The Big Bat is an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat.
Ironically, just a mere three blocks away is another “Big Bat”. This one is located at Caufield’s Novelty Shop and is a huge monstrosity of a hanging vampire bat. They obviously want to capitalize on the “novelty” factor!
Another business on Main Street, just a couple of doors down from the Louisville Slugger Museum is an advertisement for Kentucky Mirror and Paint Glass with a Giant Baseball going through a Painted Window…
Not to be outdone, there is the guy there that could actually use the giant bat and ball and probably fight off that vampire thingy… yes, a giant gold replica of Michelangelo’s “David” statue is a right there on main.
This statue was created by Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya and was commissioned to be created in Istanbul, shipped to New York and then to Louisville. It certainly must be the largest representation of a male’s complete anatomy in Kentucky and perhaps even the U.S. (See this photo for details if you dare). The statue is at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which is a unique contemporary art museum coupled with a boutique hotel. The 21c Museum is North America’s only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century. The Museum is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than twenty special exhibitions and installations have been organized by the 21c Museum since its opening in 2006.
Mural Artist Bryan Todd completed this giant “Louisville Mural” earlier in 2013. (see article about it). Around the downtown area and the Highlands district there are other art works…wall murals, street art, etc.
The mural above is a classic piece painted on a retaining wall near Mark’s Feed Store and Ear X-Tacy in Louisville. Noah has painted a number of murals, many inside cafes and shops around Louisville. You can see an interview with him here on a mural he was working on in Philadelphia. Following are some detail shots of his whimsical mural. I have tried to find the story on this one but to no avail…
I found another nice mural on the side of Old Town Liquors on Bardstown Road. This one is more classic, but nice. Painted by Louisville artists Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002, it was partially funded by the City of Louisville. Roberts says of the project “I got my inspiration by standing on a porch in the neighborhood and it presents a perspective of looking inside out.”
And a few other odds and ends of art I came across just driving around in Louisville:
Then, in a few places downtown I came across this little guy…apparently somebody’s “tag”
And, to go along with the two “Big Bats” noted earlier, on the other end of Main Street I ran into a Big Batman!
Across the street from Batman is the Louisville Slugger Field that has a statue of famed Dodgers shortstop and Louisville native “Pee Wee” Reese. I remember watching him with Dizzy Dean in the 1960s as they announced the New York Yankees games on CBS.
Another unique statue off of main was what I think was an Alice in Wonderland rendition
While in Louisville I wanted to get a couple of nice shots of the landmark building of Louisville, the Aegon Center building, which is both the tallest and the most noteworthy and recognizable building in Louisville. It was built in 1993 (I remember well as I was living in Louisville at the time) and is 549 feet tall with 35 floors.
From Louisville I ventured over the Ohio River into Indiana on the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, that was opened in 1929. The bridge spans over 5700 feet over the river and is one of five bridges from Louisville to Clarksville/Jeffersonville. I had really never visited Jeffersonville or Clarksville. My main intent was getting a broad view of Louisville from across the river, but I also was fortunate to see a number of interesting things on the Indiana side of the river….
On the other side of the river is the colorfully unique Southern Indiana Visitor Center
Also on this side of the bridge is Water Tower Square…
The Clark Memorial Bridge (also referred to as the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville) has some cool old Art Deco (as if from Superman or Batman) cement pylons. Actually, these columns are identical to each other on each of their respective sides of the bridge. The only differences between the Indiana and Kentucky columns are the state names engraved on the column, as well as each side has their own version of the carved plaque.
Clarksville, Indiana was once a home site to George Rogers Clark (older brother to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame), and was founded in 1783. It is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory (the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River). The town is also home to the Colgate clock (seen above behind the water tower), one of the largest clocks in the world. The Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed, are also just a short jaunt from the bridge.
Louisville and the associated Indiana communities—Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany—all owe their existence as communities to the falls, as the navigational obstacles the falls presented meant that late 18th Century and early to late 19th Century river traffic could benefit from local expertise in navigating the 26-foot drop made by the river over a distance of two miles.
The Fourteenth Street Bridge (also known as the Ohio Falls Bridge) was built in 1868 by the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company and was operated for many years by the Pennsylvania Railroad, giving the company its only access to Kentucky. Ownership of the railroad and the bridge passed on to Penn Central and later Conrail, which then sold the line from Louisville to Indianapolis, Indiana to the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, the current bridge owner.
Along the Falls is a statue of Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis met William Clark (younger brother of General George Clark) in 1803. Together they recruited the “Nine Young Men from Kentucky” that formed the core of the Corps of Discovery. Meriwether Lewis and his party left Pittsburgh on August 31st 1803, reaching Louisville on October 14th where he was met by William Clark. At their handshake upon this meeting the Lewis and Clark Expedition was born. (see more detailed history here).
Over the years I have driven hundreds of miles across the U.S. and have traced the many paths of Lewis and Clark, even to Astoria, Oregon where their final western destination ended at Fort Clatsop. I have been to L & C sites in Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Idaho and more. But this is where it all started!! Here is a map f their entire route.
After the visit to Clarksville, I headed to Jeffersonville to see what may be there. To my delight, I discovered a series of floodwall murals, similar to what I have seen in other river communities.
Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew. This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012. Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world.
Just a few blocks away is an entirely different scene. The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner. A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me.
The gargoyles were enough to scare me back across the river to pick up my daughter and her friends and make our way back to Lexington. Along the way I did see a more pleasant statue…Thomas Jefferson said a nice hello as did a few ducks.