April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: Oregon’s High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway

Oregon’s High Desert

If the words “Scenic Byway” appear on a map or a highway, I try to take that road! And this is what I did on my return trip from Washington in mid April 2018.

After driving south from Port Orchard, WA on US 101, I skirted past Portland, OR and headed towards Bend, where I spent a night in a cozy, nice motel. My next day of travel was going to be rather long as I intended to make it all the way to Salt Lake City, which I ultimately did.

The High Desert Route through east-central Oregon

But I did not want to take the roads thru southern Idaho and come south on the interstate from Idaho into Salt Lake. Rather, I wanted to drive through the high desert and see the wildlife,  the high desert scenery and enjoy a long straight road or two!

A stretch of the Highway from Bend to Nevada

Thus, I discovered both the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway And, as part of that by the way, the Frenchglen Highway.

US 20 East of Bend, Oregon in the morning
Sunrise on US 20 as I neared Brothers, OR
Brothers, Oregon

I drove first from Bend southeast towards Brothers, OR on US 20 and then onto a cutoff south of Burns to get on to Oregon Highway 205, which would ultimately get me to the Nevada border at Denio.  By the way, Oregon is interesting in that it has towns named Brothers and Sisters.  I have actually been to both towns now.  Brothers is the home of the Brothers Stage Stop,  which was built in 1912 and was originally a stagecoach stop between Burns and Prineville. Today it’s a restaurant, gas station and post office.   I just got a photo of the place.

Brothers Stage Stop

Continuing southeast on US 20 towards Burns I saw some of that wildlife I was looking for.

Yellow-headed Blackbird
Red-tailed Hawk
A stretch of Oregon Highway 205 south of Burns, OR

As I neared Burns, I made my way to Oregon Highway 205 which is a straight shot south almost all the way to Frenchglen. This is where the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway begins.

Highway 205 then makes its way into the Malheur Basin Which offers some wonderful views of the lakes down in the valley. Ultimately, Highway 205 runs through the Narrows and over a bridge between the two lakes (Malheur Lake and Harney Lake) and, just past the bridge, fortunately, was a nice little rest area.

Oregon 205 just near Princeton, OR

The one thing I discovered on this long road and other long roads on the trip is that there are very few rest areas or places to stop for restrooms. So, if you take this road, you might want to keep that in mind.

A view of the Frenchglen Highway
Entrance to Diamond Loop Trail

The highway eventually leads back up the hill into the high desert where I deviated off for both a restroom break and a short little drive on the Buena Vista Overlook route. This gravel road took me up to a view point to overlook the valley in the high desert. I saw hawks and other wildlife along the way.

Landscape scene on Buena Vista Loop
Another view of the scenery
A view of the Steens Mountain range
Small store in Frenchglen

Back on Hwy 205 where the road continued south at the base of Steens Mountain and ultimately into the small little community of Frenchglen, Which is about 60 miles south of Burns.

Frenchglen is the home of the historic Frenchglen Hotel which is in the US National Register of Historic places. What I learned in later research was that this is a place for birdwatchers to stay. The nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is supposedly a very well-known birding area. The hotel has eight rooms and also has an outdoor out house for visitors to stop and take a break.

The Famous Frenchglen Hotel
There is a “Public Restroom” outside of the Frenchglen Hotel. Gotta love the planter too!
Found a shoe tree just outside of Frenchglen. Funny
Oregon Hwy 205 south of Frenchglen, OR

Unfortunately, I was not able to take the time to go into the hotel as I had hoped I could do because I had such a long extensive trip to make. But I did take some time to get a photograph of the hotel.

The Catlow Valley south of Frenchglen

From Frenchglen, the highway continued south into Fields, OR where I stopped at Fields Station to get some cold drinks, use the restroom and stretch.  They apparently make a good breakfast, but had a quite a crowd.  I didn’t want to wait 30 minutes, so back on the road. and then on to Denio, Nevada.

Steens Mountain as seen from OR 205 near Fields, OR
Fields Station in Fields, OR
Welcome to Nevada — Denio, NV

Beautiful scenes, long straight roads and a wonderful drive.

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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April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants

Whispering Giant by Peter Toth, in Murray, UT

I have posted about the Trail of the Whispering Giants in earlier posts, but my April 2018 trip afforded me the opportunity to double my visits from the past as I was able to create a route that let me hit six more of them as I traveled west to Washington and then back.  In this post I will feature the new ones I visited, but will also include a brief view of the others I have visited in past years.

 

Whispering Giant of Iowa Falls, IA in Veterans Park, placed in 1999

Peter “Wolf” Toth, a Hungarian-born sculptor now living in the United States, began creating a series of wooden sculptures to honor Native Americans and placed them in almost all 50 of the US States and some in Canada as well. He called these collectively the “Trail of the Whispering Giants.”  His first one was built in La Jolla, California in 1972.  The second of them was created and placed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.  By 1988 he had created 58 Whispering Giants with at least one in every U.S. state, though some have disappeared since.  Each of the creations are numbered in the order Peter Toth created and placed them.

Idaho Falls, ID

My goal in my travels has been to try to route my trips such that I can visit as many of these as possible.  Doing a cross country road trip on back roads facilitates this opportunity fairly well, as long as I don’t have to go too far out of my way or weather doesn’t stop me.   I planned on eight visits on this trip and made six.  Two of the statues are no longer in existence, both apparently victims of bad weather.

There are instances where Mr. Toth has gone back and replaced them and/or repaired damaged ones.  But some don’t get replaced or, at least have not yet been to this point.

#61 – Ho-Ma-Sjah-Nah-Zhee-Ga – Allen Park, Ottawa, Illinois

Ho-Ma-Sjah-Nah-Zhee-Ga in Ottawa, IL, placed in 1989

My first stop on the trip was in a park along the Illinois River near Ottawa, IL.  This was created in May 1989 and stands 13 feet tall.

With #61 in Ottawa, IL

#62 – Chief Walks with the Wind – Starved Rock State Park near Utica, IL

Chief Walks With The Wind in Starved Rock State Park, Utica, IL, placed in 1989

Just a short drive from Ottawa is the lovely Starved Rock State Park, near Utica, Illinois.  Apparently, Mr. Toth likes this area as he put up three of his Whispering Giants in close proximity to each other. The “Chief Walks With the Wind” stands 20 feet tall and sits in front of the State Park visitor center.  A drive around the state park shows off a number of other impressive wood carvings by other artists.

Visiting the Whispering Giant at Starved Rock State Park
Another view of Chief Walks with the Wind

#16 – Hopewell Giant – Village of Hopewell, Illinois

Hopewell Giant – Village of Hopewell, Illinois
The Village of Hopewell, Illinois

The Hopewell Giant is the 16th sculpture that Mr. Toth created.  It was put up in October 1975.  It sits up on a bluff at the entrance of the Village of Hopewell.  This statue is about 30 feet tall and overlooks the Illinois River valley below.  Apparently the Hopewell Indian Nation lived along the Illinois River nearly 3000 years ago.

Sumoflam with the Hopewell Giant
Side view of the Hopewell Giant

#68 – Veteran’s Memorial – Iowa Falls, Iowa 

The Iowa Falls Whispering Giant

The Whispering Giant of Iowa Falls, Iowa doesn’t seem to have a name.  As well, the current statue, which is #68 on the list was put up in 1999 to replace #28.  This one is 30 feet tall.  Unfortunately, it was snowing in Iowa Falls when I arrived and there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground.  Needless to say, I didn’t trudge through the snow to get a selfie with this one.

The Iowa Falls Whispering giant… a closer view

#57 – Ikala Nawan – Astoria, Oregon

Ikala Nawan – Astoria, Oregon

On my return trip home, I had planned on visiting the Whispering Giants in Victoria, WA, Astoria, OR and Hillsboro, OR.  Unfortunately, the only one of the three remaining is the Astoria Giant, named Ikala Nawan. This 18 foot tall cedar giant sits in a narrow strip of park off of US Highway 101 in the lovely town of Astoria.

Sumoflam with Ikala Nawan in Astoria, Oregon

#52 – Chief Wasatch – Murray Park, Murray, UT

Chief Wasatch in Murray, UT placed in 1985

By mid-April I was in my old stomping grounds of Murray, UT.  I gradated high school in Murray and spent many a day in Murray Park playing church softball.  At that time, Chief Wasatch was not set up. Peter Toth created this guy in November 1985 right at the entrance to Murray Park, overlooking State Street, the main drag through town. It was nice visiting the park after a more than 40 year hiatus. Chief Wasatch is 23 feet tall and made of cottonwood, one of the most common trees in the area.

Whispering Giant by Peter Toth, in Murray, UT

And thus completes my report of the six Whispering Giants I visited during my trip in April.  Following are photos I have taken of others in my past travels. Their number and location is in the photo caption.

#32 – Red Lodge, Montana

#32 is made of Ponderosa Pine, is 25 feet tall and sits in front of the Red Lodge Library in Red Lodge, Montana
Detail of the “Whispering Giant” of Red Lodge, Montana

#37 – Idaho Falls, Idaho

#37 created in 1980. Located in North Tourist Park in Idaho Falls, ID. Stands 27 feet tall and made from Douglas Fir
This was my second Whispering Giant…visited in 2013

#21 – Ocean City, Maryland

The Inlet Indian Nanticoke, dedicated to the Assateague tribe, is in Ocean City, MD.  It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and stands 20 feet tall. It was set in September 1976

#69 – Bethany Beach, Delaware (replaced #22)

#69 Chief Little Owl, is in Bethany Beach, Delaware. It is made from poplar and was put up in 2002 to replace #22 which was destroyed by high winds. #22 was put up in December 1976.

#50 – Paducah, Kentucky

#50 Chief Wacinton in George Noble Park,in Paducah, KY. Its 35 feet tall and made of red oak. It was set here in 1985.
We stopped in Paducah, in my home state of Kentucky, on a return trip from Texas in 2017.

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 May or early 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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April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: The Overview – Kentucky to Washington

Sumoflam on the Road Again

In April 2018 I took a nice long road trip from my home in Lexington, Kentucky to my daughter’s home in Port Orchard, Washington and back.  Though I was gone for 15 days, I spent nine of them traveling more than 6000 miles through 14 states.  Many of my stops were in anticipation of my new book as I wanted some fresh content to add to it.

Lots of great two-lanes on this trip

In the past, I typically wrote one or two huge blog posts about long roadtrips, but, I have decided that a focus on some of the sites would be more apropos, so I am providing a general overview of my trip herein with maps and a few photos.  Following there will be a number of posts about many of the places I visited along the way.

Lexington to Storm Lake, Iowa – about 900 miles on Day 1 and 2

DAY 1/2 – Lexington to Storm Lake, Iowa

Stopped to see Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants

My first two days were quite eventful as I drove nearly 900 miles with an overnight stay in Bloomington, IL and then proceeded northwest to Storm Lake, Iowa for night two.  The weather was rainy and yucky most of the way and by the afternoon of Day 2, had turned into snow and, in some cases, blizzard-like conditions.  Not fun!

I had very few stops along the way, with the only planned stops being at four locations to see four of Peter Toth’s amazing Whispering Giants.  My next post will be all about the Whispering Giants I visited on this trip and also in past trips.

Stopped at Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois and was pleasantly surprised
If driving through northeast Iowa, a stop at the home of American Pickers is always fun.
Storm Lake, Iowa to Belle Fourche, South Dakota – about 680 miles

 

Day 3 – Storm Lake, Iowa to Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Dignity is a stainless steel, 50-foot-tall statue was specifically designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.

Day 3 was really one of my typical road trip days with plenty of stops along the way, but it was slowed down considerably due to the snow and icy conditions.  Despite that, I visited places such as the Corn Palace (a required stop on a route like this as it changes each year), Wall Drug and a few in between.  The highlight of this day was seeing the amazing (and fairly new) fifty foot tall Dignity statue at a rest area overlooking Chamberlain and Oacoma, South Dakota.  The work was meticulous and lovely.

The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD

I decided to stay at a non-chain older Motel on this night and ended up at the cozy little Sunset Motel.  In fact, I got there about sunset and was even able to grab a photo of the sunset with the Sunset Motel sign.  This is the kind of motel that still has a real key on an old plastic diamond key holder.

Can’t skip the Corn Palace – a major roadside attraction. Changes every year.
Can’t skip the 80 foot tall Wall Drug Dino!!
Day 4 – Belle Fourche, SD to Wallace, Idaho

Day 4 – Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Wallace, Idaho

Snowy morning in Belle Fourche

I woke up to a cold, snowy morning in Belle Fourche on April 5. It was a concern as I knew I would need to be driving through a mountain range across southern Montana on US 212.  Fortunately, the roads weren’t bad until I got up on the pass and then they cleared up with occasional snow showers through Billings, Bozeman and Butte.  I was slowed down somewhat, so I ended up stopping in the small mountain town of Wallace, Idaho for the night.

Snow in Broadus, Montana
Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho

Once again, I stayed at a cool little motel called the Stardust Motel, ironically in the same room number I had the night before. In both cases, I did not request the room numbers.

Wallace is a really unique, touristy town nestled in the Idaho mountains.  I’ll have a blog post about this town over the next couple of weeks.

I did get to see some beautiful scenery on the trip and even visited my old high school in Bozeman, Montana as I made my way north towards Idaho.

Snow covered Teepees in Crow Agency, Montana
The interstate near Livingston, Montana
Men’s restroom door in Northern Cheyenne country – Ashland, Montana
Road Trip Day 5 – Wallace, Idaho to Port Orchard, Washington

Day 5 – Wallace, Idaho to Port Orchard, Washington

Sumoflam and Roger Vollmer, former boss from Nava-Hopi tours.

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting an old friend and former boss from my days as a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff, AZ in the 1980s.  Roger Vollmer, who later purchased and then sold the company, now resides in upper Idaho and I was able to drop by Cracker Barrel in Coeur d’Alene and have a nice breakfast and a couple of hours of reminiscing.  Honestly, Roger really helped me lay the foundation in my work ethic and I had a blast working with him.  It was good to see him.

The US 2 Sign at Stevens Pass in Washington

Another great part of this portion of my road trip was hitting US Route 2 from Coeur d’Alene and traveling it all the way to the end in Everett, Washington.  I have now traveled that highway from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Washington.  I still have a small portion from Eastern Michigan to Ironwood and about 450 miles from Maine to New York to be able to say have driven the entire length.  I have driven all of US 66 and all of US 89 at one time or another.

US 2 from Spokane west goes through Washington’s high desert and then eventually into the Cascades and up over Steven’s Pass, which still had snow on both sides of the highway, almost six feet deep in places.  It was spectacular!

A snowy stop sign at Steven’s Pass in Washington
The view of the Cascades as seen from the Skykomish / Gold Bar area of Washington, east of Everett.

Upon arrival in Port Orchard, I spent a week with my daughter and her family.  We took the ferry into Seattle, I traveled with grandchildren to see the rocky beaches and watch seagulls.  Following are just a couple of pics from the visit.

With some of the karvings at Kountry Krazy Kreatures in Kingston, WA
Seattle as seen from Manchester, WA
Granddaughter Livvy poses in the rocks
A seagull gathers clams in Sinclair Inlet near Port Orchard
Also saw this bald eagle flyover me at Sinclair Inlet
Some of the buildings of downtown Seattle
A beach scene in Manchester, WA

Finally, early on Saturday, April 14, I was back on the road, heading south towards Portland and eventually east, to spend the night in Bend, Oregon.

Port Orchard, WA to Bend, Oregon

Travel Day 6 – Port Orchard, Washington to Bend, Oregon

As with some of my other travel days, I had to deal with rain and fog for the first part of the trip.  I had hoped for a fun drive down part of US 101 and, despite the weather, I really had a great drive, even if I only drive about 450 miles.  Unlike some of the other drives, I enjoyed forests, mountains, snow, ocean scenes and eventually high desert scenes.  I also made a stop in Olympia, Washington’s state capital, and visited some friends for breakfast.  I’ll have separate posts about Olympia and its awesome wall art/murals.  I’ll also have a nice post about the town of Raymond, Washington.

One of many murals in Olympia, WA
Raymond, WA has an entire community of lifesize metal people
Zigzag, Oregon
US 101 near Allyn, WA
Ran into Bigfoot in Allyn, WA. At least he was smiling
Drove over Mt. Hood highway heading southeast out of Portland
The high deserts of central Oregon are lovely.

Travel Day 7 – Bend, Oregon to Murray, Utah

Day 7: Driving from Bend to Murray, UT thru Nevada

Day 7 of  my driving days was a long day through nearly 750 miles of high desert through Oregon and Nevada.  My destination was my old hometown of Murray, Utah.  The drive from Bend, OR to Denio, NV is pretty much through high desert.  I took the Frenchglen Highway, which was a beautiful drive on a beautiful day. really not many places to stop along the way.  I’ll have a separate post about the Frenchglen Highway (including Brothers, Frenchglen and Fields).  It had also been over 40 years since I had set foot in Nevada, so it was fun to get travel blog photos.  I spent the night at the home of one of my best friends and had dinner with some of my high school friends and their wives.  Great times!

Standing in the middle of the road…no cars..on the Frenchglen Highway in central Oregon
Another scene from SE Oregon
Finally back in Nevada…at Denio, NV
Downtown Winnemucca, NV
The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
Hanging with Friends

Travel Day 8 – Murray, Utah to Manitou Springs, Colorado

Travel Day 8 – Murray, UT to Manitou Springs, CO
Hitting the Colorado border

Day 8 of travel was another long  day as I drove nearly 600 miles from Murray, Utah to Manitou Springs, Colorado. This day once again took me through deserts, high deserts, mountain passes and into some beautiful country. I hit the town of Helper, UT which is nestled in a canyon and was a railroad and mining town.  Also passed through Price.  When working for a record and tape rack jobber back in 1974-75, I made weekly trips to Helper and Price.  Things have changed considerably. Crescent Junction had a unique place, Papa Joe’s, which I’ll write about separately.

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction – fun “tourist trap”
Soldier Summit, UT between Spanish Fork, UT and Price, UT on US Rt. 6. Elevation 7,477
Another Whispering Giant by Peter Toth, in Murray, UT

The drive from Grand Junction through Delta, Montrose, Gunnison and Buena Vista was absolutely beautiful (US Hwy 50), especially going over Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet in altitude. On the way down the hill towards Poncha Springs I even go to see a couple of mountain goats crossing the roads.

Once again, I stayed in a local motel.  Always interesting.

 

Monarch Pass – the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet in Colorado
Just barely was able to whip out the camera to catch this mountain goat
Old Hotel Neon in Helper, Utah
A scene from US 50 in Colorado near Cimarron
Mule deer taken near Poncha Springs, CO
US 50 East of Gunnison near Monarch, CO
Stayed at the Silver Saddle Motel in Manitou Springs

Travel Day 9 – Manitou Springs, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri

Day 9 drive from Manitou Springs, CO to Kansas City, MO
Entering Kansas on US 40 near Weskan, Kansas

Talk about a long, straight drive.  Made the trip from Manitou Springs, after a visit to Garden of the Gods, (which I’ll write about in a separate post), and went through the deserts of eastern Colorado and Western Kansas on a super windy and dusty day.  Did catch a pretty amazing sunset as a result of the dust storms.  I decided to really go back roads on this leg of the trip by taking the straight as an arrow drive on Colorado Hwy 94 through Yoder, Rush and Punkin Center.  The highway eventually met US Hwy 287 near Wild Horse, CO. Basically, the highway was 85.5 miles long running almost perfectly west to east the entire length.

Garden of the Gods near Manitou Springs
Colorado Hwy 94 – 85 miles of straight highway in the middle of nowhere
Punkin Center, Colorado

I finally got to stop at a place to eat in Kit Carson, Colorado and then continued east on US 40 in Kansas through Cheyenne Wells, Sharon Springs and Oakley, where I got on to Interstate 70 to finish up the ride into Kansas City.   I was fortunate to stay with my good friend Brad Sweeten in KC.

Lunch at Kit Carson Trading Post
Kansas Sunset near Abilene, Kansas

Travel Day 10 – Kansas City, Missouri to home in Lexington, Kentucky

Travel Day 10 – the last leg. Kansas City, Missouri to Lexington, Kentucky
Driving with the windows open and the wind blowing through my hair

On the last day it was pretty much straight through driving. I enjoyed another beautiful sunrise east of Kansas City and then just made my way home with a couple of restroom and gas stops along the way.  What a long, wonderful trip it was!

Over 6000 miles, 14 states, 5 motels, lots of friends and time with family. I traveled through blizzards, rainstorms, snow covered mountain passes, high desert, long lonely highways. Enjoyed sunsets, sunrises, good meals at local places.  Saw eagles, mountain goats, mule deer, hawks and assortment of water fowl.  And, of course, a variety of roadside attractions along the way.

Back in Kentucky
The Shelbyville Horse at the Kentucky Welcome Center near Shelbyville

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 May or early 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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