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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My Travels in 2018

Life gets so busy. The first two months of 2019 have been exceptionally busy and so I am just now getting to my annual review posts for 2018.

Visiting Route 66 in Oklahoma

At the beginning of 2018 I didn’t have very high hopes for many travel opportunities. I had begun a new job in early October of the previous year and I didn’t have any definitive travel plans. But, I had also learned to roll with things and, as good fortune would have it, 2018 actually became a really good travel year.

Over the course of the year I was able to travel through 26 different states and drove nearly 12,000 miles. I was able to add a plethora of photos (I took over 15,000 travel photos in 2018) and content for use in future blogs and books. Though many of my travels were alone (which I love), I also was able to travel with family on some of the trips (which I also love!).

Morning sky taken between Bend, OR and Brothers, OR (near Millican, OR) on US Hwy 20 heading east.
A sunset scene taken from the Edmonds to Kingston Ferry in Washington
Lovely sunset after a windy day. Taken on a side road of Interstate 70 just east of Abilene, Kansas
Mt. Aetna as seen from US 50 near Monarch Pass, Colorado.
Desert and snow-covered peaks in Nevada

My major trips included:

  1. A trip to Nashville in January to visit with my new employer ComicBook.com. On this trip I also visited the cool and “off-beat” Paradise PointMarketplace
    Welcome to Paradise Point
  2. In late January I made a trip down to Barren River Lake State Park in southern Kentucky to view the sandhill cranes which had migrated down there.
    Sandhill Cranes take flight
  3. In February I was asked by son Seth to come down to Cypress, Texas to watch his two sons for a couple of weeks while he and his wife were off on a cruise. The trip south took me through Calvert City, KY where I visited the Apple Valley Toy Land and Hillbilly Gardens. I also found my way to Kenton, Arkansas, home of the white squirrels, then to historic Walnut Ridge, Arkansas to see some fun Beatle’s things. I then meandered my way into Louisiana and visited a few fun places. While in Cypress with the boys I also visited Austin and then took the boys venturing out on some of the back roads around the Houston area where we discovered some fun places. My return trip took me up to Keller, Texas to visit my sister and while there I found a few more fascinating places. I then made my way home through Oklahoma and Arkansas, traveling back roads all the way and discovering some fun places. I finally returned to Lexington at the end of February.                                                                                               
    Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden – Calvert City, Kentucky
    Sumoflam with the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, AR
    The Beatles in Houston, statues by Houston artist David Adickes
  4. March saw me again on the road for a quick trip up to Cleveland, Ohio. On this trip, with my wife, we visited sites in Cleveland and then on the way home stopped in Columbus to see the famed Topiary Garden Park. It was a quick, yet fun and interesting trip. 
    Topiary Garden Park of Columbus
  5. On April 2 I set off on one of the biggest road trips I have had in a couple of years. We had a family event taking place in Port Orchard, Washington. I drove while my wife flew (she had a tighter schedule and needed to take some PTO time). I set out heading west through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. I had hoped to go up through Minnesota, but a major snowstorm diverted much of my initial plan. Nonetheless, I always find something. This trip allowed me to visit seven different Peter Toth “Whispering Giants” , which also took me to other unique places along the way. I ultimately made my way through Iowa Falls, Cedar Rapids, northern South Dakota and overnight in Belle Fourche. I then headed northwest into snowy southeastern Montana and crossed the state from there through Bozeman, Butte, Missoula and overnight in scenic and touristy Wallace, Idaho. From Wallace I made my way to Spokane and then east on US 2, to complete my travels on the western portion of that highway (other parts I had driven on in previous road trips. This took me through Washington’s high desert and then into the Cascades and back down into apple orchard country. I ultimately made my way into the Seattle area. The return trip went down through Olympia and then into Oregon on US 101 and then across Oregon’s high desert, through Winnemucca, Nevada and then into my old stomping grounds in Murray, Utah, near Salt Lake City. I then ventured to Colorado Springs to see my son Solomon and then across Colorado’s high deserts into western Kansas, and finally back home through St. Louis and Louisville. It was an amazing two week adventure! 
    Visiting the Whispering Giant at Starving Rock State Park in Illinois
    One of over 200 sculptures from around Raymond, Washington
    A stretch of Oregon Highway 205 south of Burns, Oregon
    Leavenworth, Washington
    Snow walls taller than me on both sides of the road at Stevens Pass in Washington
    Helper, Utah
    Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere near Chamberlain, South Dakota
    Men’s Room Door at a gas station in Ashland, Montana
    US Hwy 101 in southern Washington
    Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs, Colorado
    On the road somewhere in NW Nevada
  6. I didn’t really venture out on a road trip again until mid-June when my wife and I took a day long trip up to Cincinnati to see some things we hadn’t done before. It was a nice sightseeing adventure.
    A day trip to Cincinnati with my wife
    The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge as seen from Carew Tower in Cincinnati. When opened on December 1, 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet main span.
  7. In late July I was joined by my oldest grandchild Autumn for a fun adventure to Cypress, Texas. I was again asked to babysit my two granddsons for about ten days. Autumn and I meandered our way down there through Tennessee and Alabama down to the gulf coast and into Biloxi, Mississippi. We traveled along the Gulf Coast into Louisiana and eventually into Texas. While in Texas, the four of us made a few trips as well, including a day-long adventure to the weird city of Austin. Autumn and I then returned home through central Texas and up to Keller to stay with my sister and allow Autumn to hang with her cousin, who is the same age. After a couple of days in Keller, Autumn and I returned home through Oklahoma, Kansas and into Missouri, where we visited the unique touristy place called Uranus and then finally home. It was an amazing fun trip.
    Sharkhead in Biloxi, Mississippi
    Decatur, Texas
    Welcome to Uranus Missouri
    Getting stabbed in Bowie, Texas
    One of hundreds of frog statues in Rayne, Louisiana
    Peach Water Tower in Clanton, Alabama
    One of a number of murals in a section of Houston
    Vulcan Statue, one of America’s tallest, in Birmingham, Alabama
    Woody Guthrie Water Towers in Okemah, Oklahoma

    Over the next few posts, I will try to catch up with content about different themes…road scenes, wood art, murals, roadside attractions and more.

    I hope you will enjoy the ride with me as I revisit these adventures.

Have you seen my most recent book yet? “Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions” is available on Amazon!

The book is 130 pages of FULL COLOR whimsy and kitsch as I tell stories of my visits to these places all over the U.S. and Canada. Definitely was fun taking these back roads trips to quirkville and I am excited to share them with you in words and photos.   I hope you will be able to check out the book or even get it on Kindle.

You can order the book here:   See Offbeat and Quirky Roadside Attractions

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A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The V 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.

 

Vulcan, Alberta

Vulcan, Alberta

Vulcan Visitor Center

Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007

Valliant, Oklahoma

Welcome to Valliant, OK

Vietnamese Buddhist Center – Sugar Land, Texas

Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, TX

Pagoda at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center

Sumoflam at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center

Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana

Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana

Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland

The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake!

It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

Vandalia, Illinois

Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it

Madonna of the Trail Statue in Vandalia, IL

Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL

Victor Emporium – Victor, Idaho

Victor Emporium is famous for their Shakes at their Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

Van Tassell, Wyoming

Van Tassell, WY

A scene from Van Tassell, WY

Vivian, Louisiana

Flag mural in Vivian, Louisiana

History mural in Vivian, Louisiana

Volcanoes and Volcanic Craters – Capulin, New Mexico; Craters of the Moon, Idaho; Sunset Crater, Arizona

Capulin Volcano – part of the Capulin National Monument in New Mexico

Craters of the Moon drive amidst the lava fields

Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993

Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus, Virginia; Abingdon, Virginia

A section of the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, VA

Virginia Creeper Welcome Center – Abingdon, VA

Had to add this sign…this place was one of our true 2016 highlights!

Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia

Voyageurs National Park – International Falls, Minnesota

Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park

Kabetogama Walleye

Viborg, South Dakota

Welcome to Viborg

Velkommen to Viborg

Kountry Kookin’ Cafe – Viborg, SD

Valier, Montana

Welcome to Valier, Montana

Formations at Rock City north of Valier, MT

Vermeer Dutch Windmill – Pella, Iowa

Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States

Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill

Versailles, Kentucky

A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky

The CastlePost Castle near Versailles, KY

Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.

Vincennes, Indiana

The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001

Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001

Virden, Manitoba

Virden, Manitoba

At an oil well display in Virden, Manitoba

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Old Hotel Sign on side of The Vicksburg

Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park

Vicksburg Wall Mural

The Biedenharn Coca Cola Museum in Vicksburg

Villa Theater – Malta, Montana

Villa Theater in Malta, Montana. One of many old theater fronts to be seen along the Hi-Line of Montana

Vernal, Utah

Welcome to Vernal, UT

Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT

Virginia Heritage Music Trail – Wise, Virginia

The Crooked Road – Virginia Heritage Music Trail

Vander Ploeg Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Vander Ploeg Bakery in Pella, IA

Dutch Letters pastries at Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella

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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