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 D Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)
Seems like whenever you get near a trading post a fun place, there always seems to be a dinosaur or two hanging around. I have dozens and dozens from previous road trips. Here are a few I got on our 8154 Trip.
Dr. Pierce’s Barn Sign — Waterville, Washington
Barn signs are very common in the eastern United States (think Mail Pouch Tobacco or Rock City or Meramec Caverns). In all of my travels in the western United States, I rarely see them. However, on this trip I saw two barns with the Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery painted on them. One is in bad shape and hard to get to for a photo, but this one in Waterville, Washington is a classic.
So, Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce (1840-1914) was one of the more successful 19th century Snake Oil Quacks. He first started his pharmaceutical entrepreneurship in Buffalo N.Y. pushing his own “blood purifier” known as Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery. He, and his son, Valentine Motts Pierce (1865 -1942) successfully sold the elixir for 90+ years. You can still find old bottles and boxes of this in some antique stores and museums.
Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Route 66 has many iconic stops along the route from Chicago to California. In Missouri, one of the more famous ones is Devil’s Elbow, which is also famous as a quirky town name. Situated on the Big Piney River, a few miles east of St. Robert, Missouri, on Route 66, the small unincorporated community was named for the big “devil of an elbow” bend in the river.
The place has a post office, though it was destroyed during the flood of May 2017. It has since been added to Shelden’s Market which also serves as a souvenir shop and local gathering spot.
Obviously, as close as I was, I couldn’t resist a stop, though the market and post office were closed on the Sunday morning we came by.
Dutch Mill Diner – Tillamook, Oregon
We were in Tillamook late and had made a stop at the world famous Tillamook Creamery. But, we also had to drive through town. I was excited to see the Dutch Mill Diner and its classic neon sign. What a bummer that they were closed the evening we drove by. This is one of those classic 1950s-style diners with the black and white checkerboard tiled floors, cushy booth seats and soda fountain stools. Would have been a fun stop.
Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room – Caddo Lake, Texas
I have already mentioned in a couple of this years’ posts that we took a fun swamp cruise with my friend Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours in Uncertain, Texas. During that ride in mid-February, one of the more unique places we saw on the swamp ride was Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, an old run down shack on stilts in the middle of the swamp. I think the only way to even get there is by boat.
The story of the place says that the building was originally built in the 1800s but became a popular place during the days of Prohibition (from about 1919-1933) . Back then, Marion County (where Uncertain is located) was a dry county, so this place was built across the water in Harrison County, where people could get a drink.
On closer inspection, you can also see their “House Rules” on a sign next to the place. See the photos below.
Direction / Mileage Sign Posts
I always get a kick out of the sign posts that point in the direction of a place and provide the mileage. In some cases, they are just made for directional purposes. Here are a few I ran across on this trip.
Desert Skies Motel – Classic Route 66 Neon Sign – Gallup, New Mexico
We were on the third day of our long trip when we came upon the small community of Davey, Nebraska. What a place for a Selfie (since my name is David…duh). And with a number 1 on it to boot!
The small community apparently has about 150 people, but they do have a classic old Post Office. The town was founded in 1886 and was named after one of the local pioneers, Michael Davey.
Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California
Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. – San Francisco, California
Lots of rail cars in San Francisco. This was on the side of one of them.
Diner Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Dairy Queen Sign – Williams, Arizona
I was kind of excited to run across this classic old Dairy Queen sign in Williams, Arizona on the trip.
While in Western Texas I had wanted to visit the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge and the neighboring Grulla National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Mexico (which is administered by the Muleshoe NWR). There were supposedly large numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the area and I hoped to get some photos.
As we left our overnight stay in Clovis, New Mexico and made our way to Texico, New Mexico, we found that the road to Grulla was along a nearly twenty mile long, well-maintained dirt road aptly named Stateline Road as it went down the Texas – New Mexico border. The road was nearly 20 miles from Texico / Farwell to Grulla.
Deer as seen near Muleshoe, Texas
Welcome to Dimmitt, Texas. I mention Dimmitt because it was near here that we crossed the MAJOR migration paths of both Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. As well, the town is located on the old Ozark Trail which ran from St. Louis, Missouri to El Paso, Texas.
Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, California
For the small community of Nipton, California, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, there is really a lot to be seen. I am always in favor of some fun metal sculptures, especially when they are colorful.
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