Everywhere a Sign – Some S Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Since man could walk, travel has been a part of life.  The sensational opportunity to see the world has kept most of us from being sedentary. The singular driving force is the strong desire of discovery.

For nearly 50 years I have sought the sensation, the scintillating, the stylish and the silly in my travels.  In 2018, that striving for something special continued.  I hope you will enjoy some of the S Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Smiley, Texas

Smiling in Smiley, Texas
Smiley, Texas – didn’t find many smiles here
The Smiley Water Tower. Not even a Smiley Face on it!

I was down in Houston in February 2018 and took the grandsons on an expedition.  One of my “goal places” was Smiley, Texas.   I always love places with unique names.  The small community’s name has nothing to do with smiles.  Rather, it was named after trader and sheepherder John Smiley in the 1870s.   The town of about 450 is located at the intersection of US Highway 87 and Farm Roads 3234 and 108.  Honestly, the town looked very depressed and run down.  Probably not much to smile about.

Sunset Motel, Belle Fourche, South Dakota 

Great little place in the geographic center of the continental US!
The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD
Sunset Motel Sign on a building in downtown Belle Fourche.

When I take a long road trip, I don’t typically plan on a place to stay until late in the day.  I never know how far along I’ll get before it gets dark.  Such was the case with my visit to Belle Fourche.  After traveling west on Interstate 90 thru to Wall, SD, I decided to head northwest on US Highway 85 towards Montana and made it into Belle Fourche.  I always try to stay at a local, vintage motel on these trips nowadays, just for the experience (good or bad).  I got to Belle Fourche at sunset, just in time to get a nice shot of the sunset with the Sunset Motel 5 sign.  It was a nice stay.

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL
A Starved Rock Carving

I made my way to Starved Rock State Park which is a huge natural park situated on the Illinois River just south of North Utica, Illinois and east of Oglesby, Illinois.  My sole purpose was to track down one of the Whispering Giant carvings by artist Peter Toth.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and hope to visit there for a more extended trip sometime in the near future.  The park has 18 small canyons and numerous waterfalls that can be seen from a number of hiking trails.

Skykomish, Washington

Welcome to Skykomish, WA

Skykomish – interesting name and splendid vistas!  I pulled into Skykomish on a beautiful April day after coming down from the snow-packed Stevens Pass on US Highway 2.  Though the altitude is only 928 feet, it feels completely like a mountain town as it is surrounded by the tall scenic mountains of the Cascade Range.  The name “Skykomish” derives from the Skykomish or Skai-whamish tribe who inhabited the area before any Europeans arrived. The town of Skykomish was officially incorporated on June 5, 1909.  The main purpose of the town was to be a fueling station for the railroad.

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

The old classic move marquee is slowly disappearing, so, whenever I hit a small town with a huge classic marquee, I want to grab a shot. Such was the case of the Sabine in Many, Louisiana. Built in 1947, the Sabine Theatre was acquired by the town of Many in the mid-1990’s. Like many theatres across the country, the Sabine is now typically used for live theatre, musical performances, occasional movies, and other community events.

Shiner, Texas

Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Shiner Barbeque Company

When I hear the word shiner, I usually think of a black eye.  So, on my trip to see Smiley (see above), I also went through the town of Shiner, Texas.  Located on US Highway 90, the town is now locally famous in Texas as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  best known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 49 states.  I didn’t visit the brewery, but learned that the town was named for Henry B. Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in 1887 and then incorporated in 1890.

Sublime Baptist Church, Sublime, Texas

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Continue East on US Highway 90 from Shiner and you’ll pass through the small community if Sublime.  Isn’t that just sublime?  There isn’t much here.  The population is about 75, and has been since the 1950s. The name was set in 1875 when a post office was established there.

Stardust Motel, Wallace, Idaho

Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
Stardust Motel – Wallace, Idaho

Like the Sunset Motel in South Dakota, I ended up in the mountain town of Wallace, Idaho on my way west to Washington in April 2018.  I just stopped in and got a room at the Stardust.  Classic vintage motel sign drew me in.  Nice rooms, good rates and a lovely little town.

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

I stopped in to Olympia to have breakfast with some old friends.  We ate the Spar Cafe in downtown Olympia.  First established in the 1930s, the eatery is filled with interesting art.   Originally touted as a “fine eating and recreation parlor,”  can you still see the original bar, artwork, chandeliers, and other furnishings.  I heard that even the drinking water is served up old school—straight from its own artesian well.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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Everywhere a Sign – Some O Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them. )

Obviously, there are many outstanding places to visit in this outrageously wonderful country. Whether you are an occasional traveler or you take every opportunity to wander, there is always something to see. Here are some of the odd O signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Old Potter, Arkansas

Old Potter, Arkansas

A few miles south of Mena, Arkansas, on US Routes 59/71, is a small unincorporated community called Old Potter.  It is also referred to as Potter Junction.  One can take AR Hwy 375 west from there a couple of miles, to Potter, Arkansas.  I have no idea how the name Potter cam about.  But I like the name Old Potter.  Kind of fun.

Okie Noodling Tournament Sign, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma

Okie Noodling Tournament Sign, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma

I first learned about the sport of Noodling on a documentary television program by Bradley Beesley titled Okie Noodling, which came out in 2001.  If you are not sure what noodling is, well here is the scoop…(or the grab is probably better) — it is the practice of wading in murky water and sticking your hand into dark holes hoping a 30-pound plus catfish will latch onto your hand and arm. Missing fingers and toes on some noodlers attest to the danger and excitement of the sport. The film emphasizes how noodling is believed to have originated with white settlers, with at least one reference known to have dated from 1775.

From that documentary, a tournament was developed at Bob’s Pig Shop in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.  This year (2019), on June 14/15, the Okie Noodling Tournament will celebrate its 20th anniversary.  There is an “O’FISH’Al” Okie Noodling website with all of the details, if you are interested.  I will be returning from Texas on that weekend and may just drop by for a looksee and maybe a visit to Bob’s Pig Shop on June 15!

Check out the trailer for the movie here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8E83pzt_MU

By the way, the rock band, The Flaming Lips, did the original music for the 2001 documentary.

Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky

Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky
Octagon Hall, Franklin, Kentucky

Driving south on US 31W near Franklin, Kentucky, I came across a sign to Octagon Hall Museum. This is one of the joys of traveling back roads.  I have come across so many unique places that were unplanned on my trips.  Though we were early and couldn’t visit this Antebellum eight-sided Civil War home built by Andrew Jackson Caldwell, it was still a unique place to see, especially from the outside. Octagon Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was used during the Civil War by both Confederate and Federal troops and served as a Civil War hospital.

Orlinda, Tennessee

Orllinda, Tennessee

I always like town signs, but this may be in my favorites list.  I love the “Sunniest Spot in Tennessee” catch phrase.  The town of Orlinda is located off of US Hwy 31W, just south of the Kentucky border (and not too far from Octagon Hall).   There are about 1000 sunshiny folks living in this community.

Okemah, Oklahoma

Okemah, Oklahoma
Okemah Hot, Cold and Woody Guthrie Water Towers

Okemah, Oklahoma was named after a Kickapoo  Indian Chief and is the home to the Creek Nation and specifically the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, a group that speaks the Mvskoke language (thus Muscogee).  Even though there is a great Native American Heritage here, it is also the birthplace of the famous Folk Singer Woody Guthrie who wrote such well-known songs as This Land is Your LandMule Skinner Blues, and hundreds of other songs.  Okemah is just off of Interstate 40 and US Highway 62 passes through the town.

Olive Hill, Kentucky

Olive Hill, Kentucky

Last on my O list is one closer to home.  Olive Hill, Kentucky is in eastern Kentucky on US Highway 60.   It is an old railroad town established in 1861.  I especially like the town because of its layout and the many murals that can be found along a wall in town.  The main street of town is Railroad Street.  Just a cool little town.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Sign post in Broadus, Montana

One thing that we all see when traveling America’s highways is signs.  All kinds of them: road signs, exit signs, mile markers, billboards, “Welcome to Our Town” signs and the massive assortment of business signs from fast food places to local eateries.  Indeed, our eyes and minds are deluges with them!

Over the course of my 6000 mile road trip to Washington State and back, I probably saw way more than a sign a mile (on average).  Yes, there are many places with no signs, but then, there are others, such as going through small towns, where they are in abundance.

One of hundreds of Wall Drug signs to be seen on I-90 from as far away as Minnesota.
Lostant The Mint Bar and a Coca-Cola Wall Art sign in Livingston, Montana
Zigzag Inn – Zigzag, Oregon

This post presents a variety of signs from the road.  This “eye-candy” is just one more fun piece of the travel puzzle.  Discovering new signs, whether they be unique neon signs advertising local burger joints to the unique town signs and water towers, these signs are the little “color fillers” on the grand expanse of two lane highways zig-zagging this nation.

I always watch for fun town name signs. This one is in Illinois….not sure if they found the ant.
Welcome to Gold Bar, Washington.

Follow me along on this colorful journey (in no particular order) to see some of the signs I saw along the way.  And watch for the occasional Wall Drug sign to pop up on the ride (just like they do on I-90).

Saigon Rendezvous Restaurant – Olympia, Washington
Starve Rock State Park – Illinois
Luxury 5 Cinema in Mitchell, SD
Billy Burgers – Wilbur, Washington
Old Piggly Wiggly Ad on the side of a building in Helper, Utah
Wall Drug Sign on I-90 in South Dakota
A Sign at a convenience store door in Ferdinand, Indiana. So bummed! Wanted to go into store Donald Duck style….
Sunset Motel Ad on building in Belle Fourche, SD
Classic neon Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
Welcome to Nevada – Denio, Nevada
Sasquatch Sign Company, Manitou Springs, Colorado
Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota
Welcome to Henry, Illinois
Livingston Bar & Grille – Livingston, Montana
Wall Drug sign in southwest Minnesota
Safeco Field Sign in Seattle, WA
Murray Theatre – Murray, Utah
Welcome to Tonica, Illinois
Welcome to Davenport, Washington
Logger Restaurant in Astoria, Oregon
Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain, South Dakota – Largest stop for 200 miles (next one down the road is Wall Drug
Brothers Stage Stop – Brothers, Oregon
Custer Battlefield Trading Post – Crow Agency, Montana
Welcome to Kingston, Washington
Silver Saddle Motel in Manitou Springs, CO. I stayed there. Nice place. That is Pkes Peak in the background.
Iowa River Greenbelt – Iowa Falls, Iowa
Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery Barn Ad in Waterville, Washington
Kit Carson Trading post, Kit Carson, Colorado
Oyster Capital of the World – South Bend, Washington
Winners Casino – Winnemucca, Nevada
Lame Deer, Montana
Roxy Theater – Ottawa, Illinois
Old Hotel Newhouse neon sign in Helper, Utah
Punkin Center, Colorado. Smack dab in the middle of nowhere
Cenex Sign on I-90 warning of last gas station for miles. Chamberlain, South Dakota
Wall Drug Sign on I-90 in South Dakota
Warrior Trail – US Hwy 212 in Montana…taken near Ashland, Montana
Solomon, Kansas
Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction, UT – The middle of nowhere touristy stop for gas, snacks and odds and ends quirky souvenirs.
Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Jerry Strong Landing on the Illinois River in Lacon, Illinois
Sign at door of Belle Restaurant in Belle Fourche, SD
Cutter’s Barber Shop in Olympia, Washington
Portway Tavern – Astoria, Oregon
Direction Signs in Wallace, Idaho
Black Bear Clothes wall ad in Sultan, Washington
Wallace, Idaho
Yet another Wall Drug Sign – in Western Minnesota
The Empire Theater in Livingston, Montana
Big Foot Road, near the Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures in Kingston, Washington
Welcome to Helper sign with old Coke Wall Ad in background
Welcome to Kentucky, home sweet home
Wall sign in Olympia, Washington
Colorado State Line

ENJOY THE RIDE!  CHOOSE HAPPY!

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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late  June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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