AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The G Stories #atozchallenge

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 G Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Gold Beach, Oregon

Driving along US Highway 101 (The Oregon Coast Highway in Oregon) you can drive into Gold Beach, Oregon, a very beautiful stop that’s about 40 miles north of the California border.  The town of about 1500 derived its name from gold prospectors that began arriving in the area around 1853. We didn’t see any gold, but we did see some beautiful coastal scenery.

Gold Beach, Oregon
Welcome to Gold Beach, Oregon
Ocean waves at Gold Beach
Large coastal islands in the Pacific Ocean as seen from Gold Beach
Ocean scene from Gold Beach, Oregon

Great River Road – Southern Illinois

The Great River Road stretches 3000 miles alongside the great Mississippi River north to south from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.  Much of it goes along the borders of 10 U.S. states. From Minnesota the drive takes you south between Wisconsin and Minnesota, then between Iowa and Illinois, then Missouri and Illinois (and the tip of Kentucky).  Further south you travel between Arkansas and Tennessee and then finally between Louisiana and Mississippi.  Over the years I have had the good fortune of driving most of this National Scenic Byway.  On this trip we drove along the Great River Road while in Illinois.

Great River Road in southern Illinois

General’s Highway and the Giant Forest – Sequoia National Park, California

If you are planning on visiting the amazing Sequoia National Park, be prepared to drive the Generals Highway, a 32 mile stretch of highway that connects CA Hwy 180 to CA Hwy 198.  The section we drove climbed from about 1500 feet altitude all the way to over 8000 feet.  This winding road pretty much begins in Three Rivers, California and then to the Foothills Visitor Center for Sequoia where you enter the National Park.  We drove the first 10 miles from the Visitor Center to the General Sherman Tree deep in the Sequoia forest.  This road is steep, narrow, winding and full of switch backs, but offers some spectacular views.  The speed limit along the first 10-15 miles is only 10 MPH, so it is really slow going.  Typically, in January and February and even into March, snow chains are required.  Fortunately for us, the week we visited there had been no snow and the roads were clear.

General’s Highway – Sequoia National Park
Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park
Giants Highway – CA 198
Lovely vista of the landscape as seen from high up on the Generals Highway
Giant sequoia trees as seen from the Generals Highway

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of America’s most famous bridges.  You can’t go to San Francisco and not visit this amazing structure.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
A scene of the Golden Gate bridge from above on the hill. San Francisco in the background
Driving on the Golden Gate Bridge
Looking up at one of the two bridge towers. These are 746 feet tall

Glenn’s Bakery Neon Sign – Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup, New Mexico has loads of wonderful neon signs as part of its Route 66 heritage.  Many are motels, but the Glenn’s Bakery sign is also a good one.

Glenn’s Bakery unique neon sign in Gallup, New Mexico

Golden Rule Sign – Philipsburg, Montana

As we drove north from Butte thru Opportunity and Anaconda, we found our way to the lovely little community of Philipsburg.  By this time my three grandchildren had gotten really cranky and we had to do something.  So, we pulled on a side road and I gave them a lecture.  I told them that they needed to live the Golden Rule (Do unto others, as you would have others do to you).  I used that sign to remind them.  I then told them if they would promise, I would get them a treat.  (What I had already seen was that this “Golden Rule” sign was on the side of The Sweet Palace, a giant candy store. I’ll cover it in my S Stories post)  So, I drove up to the front, gave each of the kids a few dollars and let them go to town in this store but also told them that they couldn’t buy anything unless they told the cashier that they were going to live the “Golden Rule.”  I even keyed the cashier in on it and she asked each of them what they promise to do.

Golden Rule wall sign on the side of the Sweet Palace in Philipsburg, Montana

Grulla National Wildlife Refuge – near Arch, New Mexico

I am a huge Sandhill Crane lover and, in my research for our epic road trip, I found that during February thousands of Sandhill Cranes winter in the Grulla National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Mexico (near the ghost town of Arch) and the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in western Texas.  Grulla is the Spanish word for crane.  Sadly, after driving nearly 20 miles on a dirt road to get to Grulla, we saw no cranes.  Even after driving from Grulla to Muleshoe, we saw none over there either.  It wasn’t until we got near Dimmitt, Texas (nearly 60 miles northeast of Muleshoe) before we saw any Sandhill Cranes…and there we saw thousands of them migrating north in an amazing scene.

Grulla National Wildlife Refuge, near the Ghost Town of Arch, New Mexico

Gem Theatre – Turkey, Texas

We drove through the uniquely named town of Turkey, Texas on our northeast from Muleshoe and Dimmitt.  This old theatre was on the main drag so I nabbed a shot of it.  This theater opened in 1928 and showed its first “talkie” move in 1931.  Country singer Bob Wills, a Turkey resident, was a frequent visitor to this old theater and the building has two old movie posters featuring Bob Wills adorning the front.

Gem Theatre, Turkey, Texas
Gem Theatre sign

Grants, New Mexico

Grants, New Mexico is another iconic Route 66 town and features a unique Route 66 drive-thru sign.

Grants, New Mexico famous Route 66 Drive Thru sign
Back side of the Grants sign

Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup is a great place to celebrate Route 66, but is also a very scenic area.  Located on the Navajo Reservation, there are plenty of places to get Navajo crafts and food.

Gallup, New Mexico
Red Rocks surrounding Gallup, New Mexico

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

To close out my G Stories, I am including a few photos of the amazing Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.  In the 1980s I was a tour guide / bus driver in Flagstaff and visited the Grand Canyon numerous times.  Though I have been there over 100 times, I never tire of this amazing world wonder.  I want to mention herein that as I write this post during the historic Coronavirus pandemic, the entire Grand Canyon National Park is currently closed as a result.  That amazes me.  I am so grateful to have been able to take my grandchildren to this lovely national park.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon

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

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The D Stories #atozchallenge

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)

Dinosaurs

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.

Clean up your Dog Poop (or should it be Dino Poop?) at Nipton Trading Post, Nipton, CA
Scary dinosaur as seen in Holbrook, AZ
A bunch of Dinosaurs at the Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
A Gnarly Dino hanging around Uranus, Missouri
Scrap Metal T-Rex in Sebastapol, California
Dinosaurs at Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, Arizona

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.

Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery Barn Sign in Waterville, Washington

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.

Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Devil’s Elbow Post Office

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.

A fun name and a classic neon sign at the Dutch Mill Diner in Tillamook, Oregon

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.

Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, Caddo Lake, Texas
Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room
Dick and Charlie’s House Rules

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.

Direction Sign found in Nipton, California
Direction Sign Post in Raymond, Washington
Neighborhood signs in Seabeck, Washington
More Seabeck Signs

Desert Skies Motel – Classic Route 66 Neon Sign –  Gallup, New Mexico

Desert Skies Motel Classic Neon Sign, Gallup, NM

Davey, Nebraska

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.

I was thrilled to come across Davey, Nebraska
Davey, Nebraska Post Office

Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California

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.

Dallas and Railway Terminal on side of rail car in San Francisco

Diner Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Diner sign in 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.

Dairy Queen Sign in Williams, Arizona

Dirt Roads

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.

Stateline Road between Farwell, Texas and Texico, New Mexico
Stateline Road
Stateline Road between Texas and New Mexico

Deer as seen near Muleshoe, Texas

We saw this buck while driving on the Stateline Road dirt road
A second buck was just down the road

Dimmitt, 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.

Dimmitt, Texas
Migrating Sandhill Cranes as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86
Migrating Snow Geese as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86

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.

Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, CA

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

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The C Stories #atozchallenge

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 C Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas

In my “A Stories,” I mentioned Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours and his great boat rides through the swamps of Caddo Lake in northeast Texas.  In this post, I am dropping a few photos of this beautiful swamp, as we saw it in February 2020. Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre lake and bayou on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo, who lived in the area until around the 19th century. It is a protected wetland and includes one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States.

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas
Caddo Lake bayou
Bald Cypress of Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake Texas
Having fun on a boat ride in the swamps of Caddo Lake

Caprock Bison Co. – Quitaque, Texas

In my “B Stories” post yesterday I commented on the “Bison Capitol of Texas.”  One of the big Bison companies in Quitaque, Texas is the Caprock Bison Company.

Caprock Bison Company – Quitaque, Texas

Cambria, California

We were fortunate that a friend of ours in Cambria, California offered us a place to stay on our way down CA Highway 1.  Cambria was actually our stopping point south on the Pacific Coast as we then headed east for the long return home.  Cambria is a small town.  Gas was very expensive.  But the scenery of the ocean, the beautiful, tall windswept trees and the fun, light atmosphere was wonderful.

Cambria, California
Unique pines in Cambria, CA
More unique pines of Cambria

Coos Bay, Oregon

On our drive south along US 101 from Port Orchard, Washington, we drove through the town of Coos Bay, Oregon.  We stayed overnight in North Bend, Oregon, which is just north and a twin city to Coos Bay.

Coos Bay, Oregon
Large ship mural in Coos Bay, Oregon (you can see the size by looking at the person in the bottom left of photo)
The Old Tioga Hotel building in Coos Bay.

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

As I have often noted, Carhenge is one of my favorite tourist attractions in the United States.  I included a chapter about it in my third book (see the book here).  I had a book signing in January 2020 and spent the night in Alliance and the next morning we drove out on a bitter cold and snowy morning to catch the sunrise before heading north to South Dakota. This is what we saw.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Closeup of a portion of Carhenge
January sunrise at Carhenge

California

Over my many years of travel, I had visited California on a number of occasions.  However, my February trip coming south from Oregon was my first visit to Northern California.  So, Welcome to California!

Welcome to California

California Balsamic – Ukiah, California

While driving south on US 101 in California, we eventually made our way into Ukiah, California where we ultimately spent the night.  However, the main reason for this visit was to get over to see Thomas Allen and his California Balsamic Company.  My wife had heard about this company from some of her Whole Food Plant Based groups and wanted me to pick up a few bottles.  Well, Thomas has created a sort of Baskin Robbins of Balsamics with many vegan and other options.  I was amazed at the flavors.  They use only high quality Trebianno and Spirgola grapes that come from Modena, Italy.  While there, Thomas kindly gave us a tour of his facility and tastings of many of their wonderful flavors.  I HIGHLY recommend his product!!

In fact, I spoke with Thomas today and he informed me that they have a HUGE April (2020) special going on.  So, if you like Balsamic Vinegar, please jump over to https://californiabalsamic.com/ and check out the April Stay At Home Special.  You can also call Thomas with questions.  His number is on the website.  Tell him Sumoflam sent you.

Thomas Allen, owner of California Balsamic in Ukiah, California
Some of the many flavors of California Balsamic
California Balsamic

Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park – Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park is in western South Dakota has some wonderful drives, especially the famous Wildlife Loop Road which travels though 18 miles of grasslands and pines and offers opportunities to see wild bison (see my photos in my “B Stories” from yesterday’s post), elk, prong-horned antelope, deer and even the adorable little prairie dogs.  And, if you have young kids, the state park offers the opportunity to get a Junior Ranger badge, much like the National Park programs.

Welcome to Custer State Park
Custer State Park visitor’s center
Some of the scenery in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Pronghorn Antelope relax in the grasslands of Custer State Park
A bison grazes in Custer State Park

Carrot Cake Soda – Nipton Trading Post, California

Yesterday I posted about Bacon Soda.  How about some Carrot Cake soda, which I also found at the Nipton Trading Post in Nipton, CA.  See yesterday’s post to learn more about the company that produces these unique flavors.

Carrot Cake Soda as seen in Nipton, California

The Chowder Stop – Long Beach, Washington

By the time we got to Long Beach in southern Washington, it was lunch time.  We drove around this very touristy looking town for a place to eat.  Being the winter season, many places were closed, but NOT the Chowder Stop!  And on a cold winter day, who wouldn’t want some tasty chowder?  Let me tell you…their chowder is so thick that you can stand a spoon up in it!!  NO JOKE!

The Chowder Stop in Long Beach, Washington
Chowder so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.  So very yummy!

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is a quaint little town nestled in the mountains of southwestern Idaho.  We stopped there for dinner (had some great pizza!) and also to get some shots of the Center of the Universe manhole and signs.  According to a writeup on RoadsideAmerica.com, “On September 25, 2004, mayor Ron Garitone of Wallace issued a proclamation that his town’s intersection of Bank and 6th Streets was the “Probalistic Center of the Universe.”   You can read the rest of the story on their website.  (Visit their site and give those guys lots of love!)

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
The Center of the Universe manhole in the main downtown intersection of  Bank Street and Sixth Street in Wallace, Idaho

Clearmont, Wyoming

There is really nothing special about Clearmont, Wyoming, but we did drive through the small community.  The Historical Center had a nice little mural on the oldish building.

Clearmont, Wyoming
Welcome to Clearmont, Wyoming

Covellite Theatre – Butte, Montana

I love getting photos of old Theatre and Movie marquees.  This one we saw in Butte, Montana

The old Covellite Theatre in Butte Montana

Coulee City, Washington

Coulee City runs along a the southern banks of a the huge Banks Lake on US Highway 2 in central Washington State.  This is beautiful country.  I loved the welcome sign for Coulee City.

Welcome to Coulee City, Washington

Campbell, California

I have friends that live in Campbell, California, so we dropped by to visit them.  Campbell is proud of its old-fashioned water tower, one of only a few like it remaining in California.  Obviously, as much driving as I do on America’s back roads, I have seen others like it in other states.  But, to honor this lovely historic town, I am including a photo of it here.

Campbell, California
The famous Campbell Water Tower
One of a few murals that can be found in Campbell, California

Coca-Cola Ghost Sign in Tulia, Texas

There are likely hundreds of Coca-Cola murals dotting this huge country.  Caught this really classic one in Tulia, Texas

Coca-Cola Mural in Tulia, Texas

Country Friends Antiques Retro Signage in Moriarty, New Mexico

All along US Route 66 there is unique and fun signage.  This old retro starburst sign was likely for a motel in the 1960s, but now it is the sign for the Country Friends Antique shop in Moriarty, New Mexico.

Retro signage in Moriarty, New Mexico at Country Friends, Antiques

Crowell, Texas

I don’t post photos of every little town we drive through, but I am a big fan of Americana singer Rodney Crowell and this reminds me of him.  I don’t believe that there is any relationship.  Crowell is on US Route 70 a tad southwest of the Texas panhandle.  It is a typical small Texas town as the main street photo below shows.

Welcome to Crowell, Texas
Main Street in Crowell, Texas

Cormorants

I always like wildlife.  At home in Lexington, Kentucky, I get to watch cormorants do their thing almost daily.  Its always nice to see this unique diving birds in other environments.

Cormorants relaxing on a rock in Santa Cruz, CA
A Cormorant dries its wings high up in a tree in Caddo Lake swamp in Texas

Comet II Restaurant – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

All along Route 66 one can find throwback neon signs.  This classic neon for a restaurant is located in the Route 66 town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Comet II Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

City Drug Store – Happy, Texas

I visited Happy, Texas because it was, well, Happy!  The main street had many happy places, like the Happy Self Storage which was located in the old City Drug Store building.  In this case, I took this shot because I really liked the old brick building with the hand painted sign.

City Drug Store in Happy, Texas

Colors of the West – Williams, Arizona

Another nice example of throwback neon signage on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona is the Colors of the West sign.  They apparently sell Native American goods, such as pottery, rugs and quilts.

Colors of the West shop in Williams, Arizona

Cruiser’s Cafe 66 – Williams, Arizona

And finally, another Route 66 Neon sign in Williams, AZ.  Had we had the time, I would have loved to have stopped here to eat. You can see more about Cruiser’s at https://www.cruisers66.com/

Cafe 66 Neon Sign, Williams, AZ

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

 

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