A to Z Challenge: The V 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 towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

VThe V Towns

Vulcan, Alberta

Welcome to Vulcan Plaque
Welcome to Vulcan Plaque
Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon
Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007
At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007
Vulcan Public Library Sign
Vulcan Public Library Sign
Enterprise Family Restaurant - Vulcan, Alberta
Enterprise Family Restaurant – Vulcan, Alberta
Vulcan Visitor Center
Vulcan Visitor Center
Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta
Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta

Back in 2007 I had occasion to visit a friend of mine in Alberta, Canada.  One of the side trips we tool was to the town of Vulcan, which has taken full advantage of its name and the association with the TV show Star Trek.  Vulcan is a town located midway between the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge inthe prairies of Southern Alberta, Canada.  The population of the town was 1,940 in 2006, and the population of the county, which is also named Vulcan. See more about my Vulcan visit HERE. Live long and prosper!!

Valier, Montana

Welcome to Valier, Montana
Welcome to Valier, Montana
Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana
Two Medicine River north of Valier, Montana

Last week I posted about a place near Sweet Grass, Montana called Jerusalem Rocks.  About 70 south of there is a town called Valier.  It is a small town of about 700 and really does not have a whole lot there. But, just outside of town is another outcropping of hoodoos and formations in a place called Rock City.  I wrote about this and other similar places in a post HERE.  But, you may also want to check out my complete post on my Montana US Highway 89 adventure HERE.

Vernal, Utah

Welcome to Vernal, UT
Welcome to Vernal, UT
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
DinoHead
Dinosaur Head Fossil at Dinosaur National Monument
DinNatMon1
Dinosaur bones embedded at Dinosaur National Monument
DaveDinLeg
Sumoflam with a dinosaur Leg Bone Fossil at Dinosaur National Monument
Flaming Gorge, near Vernal, UT (photo from utah.com)
Flaming Gorge, near Vernal, UT (photo from utah.com)

In 1975 I made weekly trips from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah for work as a record/tape distributor.  I loved the drive and Vernal was actually a nice place to visit every week.  In the early 2000s I once again visited with my family as we ventured to the Dinosaur National Monument.  Along with my trips, I would drive the switchbacks form Vernal and over the area known as Flaming Gorge.  This is beautiful country and well worth the visit.  It has been many years since I have been there, and I hope to get there again soon!

Vandalia, Illinois

Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL
Vandalia State House in Vandalia, IL
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
Breathing Fire in Vandalia
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL

On a family trip in 2014, we drove through the town of Vandalia, Illinois as part of our return trip home.  Our main reason for coming here was to see a fire breathing dragon…made from metal. But, Vandalia is so much more.  This is where Abraham Lincoln kicked off his career as a politician.  It was the western terminus of the National Road, one of America’s first highways.  The Kaskaskia Dragon was a load of fun for the grandkids too!! Check out my full trip report with lots of photos HERE.

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Entry arch at Vicksburg
Entry arch at Vicksburg
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
Cannon line the grounds of Vicksburg National Military park in Vicksburg, MS
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg
Sculpture at Vicksburg

In the summer of 2014 I cruised down the Blues Highway and ended up spending the night in Vicksburg, Mississippi. I woke up early the next day to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park before heading further south on Highway 61. The park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863 and also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. The expansive park includes 1,340 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of historic trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile tour road, 144 emplaced cannons, a restored gunboat, and more. A must see for Civil War enthusiasts, but also a great place to learn about a facet of American history.  Besides the park, the town has a great Coca Cola memorabilia museum and a number of murals along the river wall.  You can see many more photos and a more detailed writeup about my visit in 2014 HERE.

Versailles, Kentucky (Honorable Mention)

A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.
Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.
One of many amazing Horse Farm barns that can be seen in the Versailles area
One of many amazing Horse Farm barns that can be seen in the Versailles area
Versailles is in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World
Versailles is in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World

Living in Lexington, Kentucky offers many wonderful opportunities for “Staycations.”  One great place to visit nearby is the lovely and historic town of Versailles (pronounced Ver-sales) which is on US Highway 62 west of Lexington. Versailles is well-known for its quaint, small-town beauty, beautiful horse farms and Kentucky’s famed bourbon distilleries, including the famed Woodford Reserve.  Many of the famed Bluegrass Horse Farms are in Woodford County and near Versailles.   I have never written a blog post about Versailles, but I would highly recommend a visit there if you come to Kentucky.  Plan the trip in April and go to the races at nearby Keeneland Racetrack then take the Bourbon Trail.  Check out my 2013 blog post about Horse Farm Country with many photos about horses, horse farms and the Horse Capital of the World — right HERE.

Vincennes, Indiana (Honorable Mention)

Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001
Family inside the Clark Memorial with George Rogers Clark and the seven murals, Summer 2001

In the summer of 2001 my family took a trip westward to Utah (including the trip to Vernal noted above).  Early in the trip we went through Vincennes, Indiana to visit the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. Founded in 1732 by French fur traders, Vincennes is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in Indiana and one of the oldest settlements west of the Appalachians. It sits at the intersection of US Highway 41 and US Highway 50. George Rogers Clark (November 19, 1752 – February 13, 1818) was a surveyor, soldier, and militia officer from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky (then part of Virginia) militia throughout much of the war. Clark is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) (Way before the fiery dragon noted above!!) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign, which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the “Conqueror of the Old Northwest”.  his younger brother William was the “Clark” in the Lewis and Clark expeditions.  This trip was well before my travel blogging days, but the Memorial was definitely one of our more memorable experiences on a trip across the country to see history.

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A to Z Challenge: The F 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  towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

F The F Towns

Flagstaff, Arizona

Sumoflam the Tour Guide in 1983 - taken in Arizona. Nava-Hopi was located in Flagstaff, AZ
Sumoflam the Tour Guide in 1983 – taken in Arizona. Nava-Hopi was located in Flagstaff, AZ
Spacious skies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Spacious skies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Wupatki Ruins off of US 89 south of Flagstaff
My son Seth at Wupatki Ruins off of US 89 south of Flagstaff in 1992
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993

I cannot do an A to Z Challenge about towns in America without including Flagstaff, Arizona.  Not only is this town the gateway to Grand Canyon National Park, it is also the jump off spot to other National Monuments including Walnut Canyon NM, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon, and the amazing Meteor Crater.  The town is only  a couple of hours from Monument Valley, the Petrified Forest National Park, Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell and more.  Truly a tourist haven.  And, it was a major stop on Route 66 and was at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Route 66.   From 1981 to 1983 I worked as a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours, which was a  Gray Line Tour Company.  It was there that my family began to grow…three children were born there and I graduated from Northern Arizona University.   But one of the best times in my life was working as a tour guide.  For any traveler in America, Flagstaff should be one of the Top Five stops on your list!!

Friendly, West Virginia

Friendly, West Virginia
Friendly, West Virginia
Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV
Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV

Friendly, West Virginia is a small town of maybe 150 people.  Located on the Ohio River across from Ohio on WV Hwy 2.  Highway 2 is an amazingly scenic drive along the Ohio River, running through many small towns.  Its only rival is the same route across the river in Ohio and Kentucky (see Fly, OH below).  The town is also the setting for the novel Shiloh, a Newbery Medal-winning children’s novel by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor published in 1991. It is the first in a quartet about a young boy and the title character, an abused dog. Naylor decided to write Shiloh after an emotionally taxing experience in West Virginia where she encountered an abused dog. Read more about the drives along the Ohio River in my detailed post HERE.

Friendship, Arkansas

Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas
FriendshipAR3
Friendship Police
Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office
Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office

If I visited Friendly, obviously, I should also visit Friendship in Arkansas. This is another small community of perhaps 200 friendly folks in south central Arkansas.  It is accessible off of Interstate 30, but is right on US Highway 67. They even have a Friendship Police Department which seems like an oxymoron.  If for any other reason, you can stop there and then tell people that you finally found Friendship.  Read about my 2010 visit to Friendship (as well as Metropolis, IL which will be covered in my M Towns post HERE.

Flippin, Arkansas

Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin Police
Flippin Police
Old Flippin Jailhouse
Old Flippin Jailhouse
Flippin Christian Church
Flippin Christian Church

In 2010 I took a trip to Texas for work.  On the way home I decided to take a trip through the Ozarks.  It was a bit out of the way, but was well worth it.  One of the places I visited on the way home was Flippin, Arkansas. This nice town is located in north central Arkansas, east of Eureka Springs (which I mentioned on my E Towns post) on US 412.  It is the gateway to the Ozarks and a lovely drive.  But, then again, many of us know that the word “Flippin” can be used as an alternative to another word, so when the Flippin Police pull you over and you go to the Flippin Jail or even attend church at the Flippin Christian Church or shop at your friendly Flippin WalMart, it brings a laugh.

Fair Play, South Carolina

Fair Play SC
Fair Play, SC
Fair Play Menagerie
A really interesting Church Sign in Fair Play, SC

On August 8, 2012 I was on a trip from eastern Tennessee to Atlanta for work.  Along the way I went through North and South Carolina and happened to go through Fair Play, South Carolina.  Not sure how the town got its name, but there is something about the name coming from a fight. Interestingly, throughout most of this small town, the Motto “Our Name Says It All” is posted.  The photo on the left is the main entry sign.  The town is just off of Interstate 85 and is the junction of SC Hwys 243, 182 and 59.  You can read more about my visit HERE.

Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Downtown Fergus Falls

Continental Divide Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Information Center in Fergus Falls, MN
Continental Divide Information Center in Fergus Falls, MN

On  cross country trip in March 2013, I made my way across Minnesota in the cold snowy winter.  Along the way I visited Fergus Falls.  I think it would be a marvelous place to visit in the late spring or early summer.  Being a prairie town there is plenty of wildlife.  It is also noted as a Continental Divide location.  Having lived in the Rocky Mountains for much of my life, the term Continental Divide conjurs up the place where the rivers flow east or west.  But, apparently, the land is located right on the divide between the Hudson Bay and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.  Fairly unique!!  You can read about the long trip across Minnesota and North Dakota in 2013 HERE.

Feely, Montana (Honorable Mention)

Feely, Montana
Feely, Montana

Came across a place called Feely in Montana on a trip.  It is located south of Butte on Interstate 15. Always into the touchy and feely of life, I had to stop and get a picture. No services there and no report about the place here, just a picture.

Flippin, Kentucky (Honorable mention)

Flippin, Kentucky Post Office
Flippin, Kentucky Post Office

DSC_1131

OK.  If I am going to include Flippin, Arkansas, I might as well give mention to Flippin, Kentucky, which is just north of Bugtussle, KY.  See my report on Bugtussle in my B Towns post.

Fly, Ohio (Honorable Mention)

Fly, Ohio
Fly, Ohio

I mentioned Friendly, WV above and the drive along the Ohio River.  Just a tad north of Friendly and across the Ohio River is the small community of Fly, OH.   I know nothing about the place, but it can join Black Gnat, KY in my bug towns.  (I did not include Black Gnat in this year’s A to Z posts).

Four Way, Texas (Honorable mention)

Sign to Four Way, Texas
Sign to Four Way, Texas
Mural in Fourway, Texas
Mural in Four Way, Texas
Another mural in Four Way, TX
Another mural in Four Way, TX

Four Way, Texas is a very small community at a crossroads in the panhandle of Texas north of Amarillo.  I went through there while on US Highway 87 heading to Amarillo. At the junction of US 87 and TX 354, there were some buildings with a few murals.  That is pretty much all that was there.  The hamlet is named for its position on the spot where U.S. Highway 87 from Dumas to Masterson crosses the route from Channing to Lake Meredith and Stinnett.

Future City, IL (Honorable mention)

Sign to Future City, Illinois...I guess it is not there yet??
Sign to Future City, Illinois…I guess it is not there yet??

This is the first nearly ghost town mention in my A to Z Challenge. Future City was developed as a suburb of Cairo, IL, which sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers around the turn of the (19th-20th) century. At that time Cairo was still growing and prosperous. By 1912 Future City would have had a population of several hundreds. Between 1912 and 1913 Future City was almost entirely destroyed by three separate flooding events. The town was  partially rebuilt, but Cairo has since collapsed and the area has experienced a drastic drop in population. Today there are 6 or so occupied homes in Future City’s otherwise empty grid of streets.

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Traveling US Numbered Highways – Part I: An Overview and History

US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana
US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana

When I was young and living in Albuquerque, NM in the 1960s, there were not many Interstate Highways.  Most of the country still relied on the U.S. Numbered Highway System.

Even to this day I can recall our family drives along the iconic Route 66 out of Albuquerque to Gallup, NM and then, eventually, when we moved to Dallas in 1968 we took it all the way to Amarillo, TX.  Even at that young age I was already enamored by the maze of highways and the desire to see what lays along these long black roads with millions of white lines in the middle and endless telephone poles and wires along both sides.  I too remember the many billboards advertising Stuckey’s roadside stops, gas station or unique tourist attractions.

Albuquerque as I knew it in the 1960s (Really!!) Official caption: Traffic in the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico after a heavy downpour. Original Publication: Colour Photography book. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images )
Albuquerque as I knew it in the 1960s (Really!!).  This was Central Avenue, which was part of Route 66.  Official caption: Traffic in the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico after a heavy downpour. Original Publication: Color Photography book. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images )
Historic Route 66 in Illinois
Historic Route 66 in Illinois

Since those days I have had the opportunity to travel many of these wonderful highways that ribbon across this glorious country.  They highways have taken me through deserts, mountains, mosquito-infested lake areas, the high plains, through small towns and big cities.  As I near 60 years old the fascination with these highways continues and I drive them every chance I get!!

Map of Current US Highways By SPUI - Own work / Base map is http://www.nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/pdf/reference/genref.pdf, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=944944
Map of Current US Highways
By SPUI – Own work / Base map is http://www.nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/pdf/reference/genref.pdf, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=944944

The current system of United States Numbered Highways (also called U.S. Routes or U.S. Highways) is an integrated network of roads and highways numbered within a nationwide grid in the contiguous United States. The roadways have always been maintained by state or local governments since their initial designation in 1926.

Old Lincoln Highway sign - from the Federal Highway Administration website
Old Lincoln Highway sign – from the Federal Highway Administration website
Carl Fisher, creator of the numbered highway system and also the Indianapolis Speedway
Carl Fisher, creator of the numbered highway system and also the Indianapolis Speedway

According to an article entitled “From Names to Numbers: The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System” by Richard F. Weingroff of the Federal Highway Administration, highway numbering didn’t get started until 1926.  Prior to that time there were just a couple of cross country roads, known as trails back then.  These would include the Lincoln Highway (a direct route from New York City to San Francisco) and the Victory Highway (New York City to San Francisco via Baltimore).  The idea of the Lincoln Highway came from the fertile mind of Carl Fisher, the man also responsible for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miami Beach. With help from fellow industrialists Frank Seiberling and Henry Joy, an improved, hard-surfaced road was envisioned that would stretch almost 3400 miles from coast to coast, New York to San Francisco, over the shortest practical route.

Weingroff notes:

The trails were a product of the pioneer days of auto travel when government took little interest in interstate roads. Most long distance trips, even by the most avid advocate of the automobile, took place in the comfort of the Nation’s railroads. Although named trails can be traced to the 1890’s, the movement began in earnest in the early 1910’s, with the National Old Trails Road (Baltimore to Los Angeles) and the Lincoln Highway setting the pattern. Boosters selected a route over existing–often, just barely existing–roads, gave it a colorful name, formed an association to promote the trail, and collected dues from businesses and towns along the way. The associations published trail guides and newsletters, held annual conventions, and promoted the improvement and use of their route. The goals were to promote the road, the good roads cause, and economic opportunity for the cities and businesses along the way.

Lincoln Highway after numbering
Lincoln Highway after numbering

In March 1925, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) started planning the federal highway system. Major east-west routes would be numbered in multiples of ten, from U.S. 10 across the north to U.S. 90 across the south. The major north-south routes would end in 1 or 5, from U.S. 1 between Maine and Florida to U.S. 101 between Washington and California. The Lincoln Highway was then broken up into U.S. 1, U.S. 30, U.S. 530, U.S. 40 and U.S. 50 (see above). The Lincoln Highway Association was created in 1913 to promote the Lincoln Highway using private and corporate donations. The public responded favorably, and many other named roads across the country followed.

The Lincoln Highway Map from lincolnhighwayassoc.org
The Lincoln Highway Map from lincolnhighwayassoc.org

Today the Lincoln Highway Association maintains an informative and history-filled website (see it here) about the first real cross country highway.

US 212 East on Beartooth Highway
US 212 East on Beartooth Highway

As I mentioned, the numbering of highways began in earnest in 1925. Generally, north-to-south highways are odd-numbered, with lowest numbers in the east, the area of the founding thirteen states of the United States, and highest in the west. Similarly, east-to-west highways are typically even-numbered, with the lowest numbers in the north, where roads were first improved most intensively, and highest in the south. Major north–south routes have numbers ending in “1” while major east–west routes have numbers ending in “0”.  Expansion of the system continued until 1956, when the Interstate Highway System was formed. After construction was completed, many U.S. Routes were replaced by Interstate Highways for through traffic. Despite the Interstate system, U.S. Highways still form many important regional connections, and new routes are still being added.

Scenes from US 89
Scenes from US 89

Throughout my years of driving, I have been blessed to be able to traverse thousands of miles of these numbered US highways.  In some instances, I have covered the entirety of the routes (over a number of trips).  For instance, from the 1970s to as late as 2014, I covered the entire north/south path of US 89, from Canada to Mexico.  I have been on most of US 66, US 61, US 20 and many others.

Official Route 66 Roadside Attraction
Official Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Some of the US Highways traverse the entire length of the country east to west or north to south.   Some of the longest of these are listed below:

25px-US_20.svgUS Highway 20 from Boston, MA to Yellowstone NP to Newport, OR – 3,237 miles

US_6.svgUS Highway 6 from Provincetown, MA to Bishop, CA – 3,207 miles

25px-US_30.svgUS Highway 30 from Atlantic City, NJ to Astoria, OR

25px-US_50.svgUS Highway 50 from Ocean City, MD to Sacramento, CA – 3,011 miles

US_2.svgUS Highway 2 from Houlton, ME to Rouses Point, NY and then starts again at St. Ignace, MI and goes all the way to Everett, WA – 2,572 miles (combined)

US_1.svgUS Highway 1 from Fort Kent, ME on the border with Canada to Key West, FL – 2,377 miles

31px-US_101.svgUS Highway 101 from Olympia, WA to Los Angeles, CA – 1,519 miles

25px-US_66.svgUS Highway 66 – the famed Route 66 – from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA – 2,451 miles (though much has been replaced by I-10, I-15, I-40, I-44 and I-55)

US_61.svgUS Highway 61 – the Great River Road along the Mississippi River and then the Blues Highway in Mississippi – from Wyoming, MN to New Orleans, LA – 1,400 miles

25px-US_89.svgUS Highway 89 – goes along many of the US National Parks including Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP and the Grand Canyon – from just north of Babb, MT on the Canadian border to Flagstaff, AZ.  Continues 89A south through Sedona and then onto Nogales (according to the US 89 Society website) – officially 1,247 miles, but the US 89 Society shows it as 1,800 miles)

DSC_5062Currently there are numbered highways from US 1 all the way to US 830 and a couple hundred in between. I have not been on a good number of these, but many of the cross country ones have felt the wheels of my cars and my footprints.  I have been on US 1 along many parts of the Atlantic Coast and have traveled much of US 101 on the Pacific Coast.  I have traveled the length of US 89 and have been on most of US 2 from Michigan to Montana.

DSC_7579Over the course of my next few posts, I will address my travels on the US Numbered Highways and note some of the wonderful places that can be seen along these routes.

US Highways 71 and 59 in Arkansas
US Highways 71 and 59 in Arkansas

 

 

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