I’ve Been Everywhere – Part II: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Sumoflam's Signs
Sumoflam’s Signs

One of the norms of driving the back roads of America are the town signs.  Anyone that drives any roads typically sees hundreds of them.  Of course, some are pretty typical town names, but, there are many that aren’t typical.   Here are a few “descriptive” town name signs that I have picked up along the less beaten paths of America.  I have written about some of these places, but now we can “compare.”

I would like to say I have made it to all of the strange and wacky town places, but indeed I have not.  Here is one non-definitive list from infoplease.com.  Here are a couple more links to the topic – Top 10 Worst Named Cities, Bad Names for Towns, Interesting Town Names.

As my photo above shows, there are quite a few adjective towns….

Uncertain, TX
Uncertain, TX

Uncertain is a small town in Texas on the shores of the mysterious Caddo Lake, which is the only naturally formed lake in the state of Texas. Uncertain derives its name from surveyors who were attempting to delineate the border between Texas and Louisiana and discovered that they were “uncertain” as to which side of the line they were on as they began surveying that particular part of Caddo Lake.

Odd, West Virginia
Odd, West Virginia

Odd is an unincorporated town in Raleigh County, West Virgina. According to one story, a group of people gathered at the post office to name the town. Several names were suggested, and to one suggestion, someone in the group responded “That’s odd.” And so the name of Odd was adopted for the town.  Odd is basically south of some other towns – Hurricane, Tornado and Comfort…all on the same road in West Virginia.  Odd is home to the Odd Elementary School, which was apparently the last remaining wooden school house in West Virginia.

Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville, Kentucky

Travel west from West Virginia into the Lexington, KY area and you can work your way to Oddville, Kentucky. Oddville is located on U.S. Route 62 5.4 miles (8.7 km) north-northeast of Cynthiana. Settlement began in 1799. The name was apparently an attempt to satisfy the postal authorities with a unique name for the post office, which opened in 1851.

Peculiar, Missouri
Peculiar, Missouri

Further west into Missouri is the town of Peculiar, easily reached from Interstate 64 just east of Kansas City.  On July 29, 1868, the county surveyor, Robert Cass, platted Peculiar and was filed as “The Town of Peculiar”. Apparently, the community’s first postmaster, Edgar Thomson is attributed to the name. His his first choice for a town name, Excelsior, was rejected because it already existed in Atchison County, Missouri. Several other choices were also rejected. The story goes that the annoyed Thomson wrote to the Postmaster General himself to complain saying, among other things, “We don’t care what name you give us so long as it is sort of ‘peculiar’.” Thomson submitted the name “Peculiar” and the name was approved. The post office was established on June 22, 1868.

Normal, IL
Normal, Illinois

Unlike the Odd and Peculiar and Uncertain names, Normal, Illinois got its name from the Normal School located in the town.  Of all of the strangely named towns I have come across, Normal is by far the largest, with well over 50,000 people and a college.

Okay, Oklahoma
Okay, OklahomaOkay, Oklahoma sign

Heading further west into Oklahoma you can come to the town of Okay. The town is located in the southeastern corner of Wagoner County on State Highway 16. The community lies on the east bank of the Verdigris River in the Three Forks area about fifty miles southeast of Tulsa.  Formerly known as Rex, North Muskogee and Falls City, the name was changed in the early twentieth century the settlement was became Okay in 1919, honoring the O. K. 3-Ton Truck and Trailer manufactured there by the Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company.

Boring, Oregon
Boring, Oregon

Head way west into Oregon and you can get to Boring. The townspeople call it an “exciting place to live and work.”  It actually got its name from 1n 1903 whenthe unincorporated area was named after one of its first residents, W.H Boring. The town is very close to Portland and really is not boring.  There is a new restaurant that just opened there and was not there on my last trip.  Called “The Not So Boring Bar and Grill“.

Cool, Texas
Cool, Texas

If the other names were not so interesting, then try out Cool, Texas. It is a very small incorporated town on U.S. Highway 180 eleven miles west of Weatherford in western Parker County, Texas. Cool was incorporated after 1960 and was first shown on county maps in the mid-1960s.  I have not been able to find out how it got its name, but it was likely after someone named Cool.  There is a Cool Cafe there is they are open when you go though.

Coolville, Ohio
Coolville, Ohio

And then there is Coolville, OH. This town is located in the extreme southeast corner of Ohio. In 1818 Coolville was platted by Ashel Cooley, for whom it is named, and incorporated in 1835. I believe that Ashel Cooley is actually a distant cousin of my wife, whose grandmother was a Cooley. Coolville is located close to a couple more “hot/cold” communities: Torch and Frost.

Torch, Ohio
Torch, Ohio

Speaking of Torch, I might as well add it and warm things up.   Not sure how it got its name, but, since we are getting warm here, let’s take the real jump….

Hell, Michigan
Hell, Michigan
Direction to Hell from Pickney, MI
Direction to Hell from Gregory, MI

Hell, Michigan is probably one of the more famous wacky town names in the United States (along with Intercourse, Pennsylvania).  The story of Hell starts out around a sawmill, gristmill, distillery and tavern. All four were operated by George Reeves. Reeves moved to the area in the 1830s from the Catskill Mountains in New York.  Apparently, soon after Michigan gained statehood, George Reeves was asked what he thought the town he helped settle should be called and replied, “I don’t care, you can name it Hell for all I care.” The name became official on October 13, 1841.  The town has a bar, an ice cream shop and a tourist shop.  That’s about it.  But, it is a beautiful drive from Pinckney, through Gregory, which is the gateway to Hell.

Ponder, Texas
Ponder, Texas

So, these names make me want to ponder what other places I can visit.  Ponder, Texas.  Ponder is located about 10 miles from Denton, Texas.  Not sure how it got its name. But how about these next few places?

Talent, Oregon
Talent, Oregon

Looking for Talent?  You can find it in the far southwestern part of Oregon.  Like its counterpart Oregon town of Boring, Talent was actually named after a person. In 1889, A.P. Talent platted a town-site and named it “Talent.” On November 2, 1910, Talent became an incorporated town.

Wisdom, Kentucky
Wisdom, Kentucky

Seeking Wisdom? Well, it is a dot on the map in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.  There is not much from here, but the country rock band Kentucky Headhunters, famous for their cover of Bill Monroe’s “Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine” hail from Wisdom.  As for the name, I have not found out how it got the name yet.

Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri
Success, Missouri

Looking for Success? It is a small town about 17 miles northwest of Houston, Missouri. The road to Success from Houston is lined with old doublewides and rusted out cars.  No joke!!  And once you find Success, you will see that there is not much there.  At least you can say you found it.

Romance, Missouri
Romance, Missouri

Maybe you are looking for Romance instead?  Well, good luck.  Romance is down in the Ozarks, about 9 miles north of Gainesville, MO.  I took the partially paved and partially dirt road to Romance and found nothing but a couple of houses.  There apparently used to be a church there.  But, take it from me, the road to Romance is a dead end.

Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas
Friendship, Arkansas

Perhaps you are looking for Friendship instead.  It is located in north of Arkadelphia off of Interstate 30 in Hot Spring County and has a population of just over 200. It is a quaint little town.

Comfort, West Virginia
Comfort, West Virginia

Or maybe you just want some Comfort. You can find it on the windy Coal River Road (Hwy 3).  If you go to Hurricane, WV off of Interstate 64 and then head southeast on US 60 through Tornado and get on Coal River Road you will eventually find Comfort.  Yes, you must go through a Hurricane and a Tornado to get to Comfort.  By the way, keep going south and you will get to Odd.

Charm, Ohio
Charm, Ohio

Or, maybe you just want some Charm. This small town on Hwy 557 in the heart of Ohio Amish Country got its name in 1885. If you like cheese, there is plenty of cheese in the area. Other Amish goods are available.  Honestly, this little burg really lives up to its name!!

Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin, Kentucky
Flippin, Kentucky

There are two Flippin places that I have been to.  The larger Flippin is in Arkansas.  It is close to some great recreational areas in the Ozarks and is the home to ranger Boats.  There is a Flippin Police Department, a Flippin High School and a few Flippin Churches.  There are about 1500 residents in Flippin, Arkansas.  The name of Flippin comes from Thomas J. Flippin, who left Hopkins County, Kentucky in 1821. There is a nice history of the town here. Flippin, Kentucky, on the other hand, is very small.  It is located in southern Kentucky in Monroe County.

Part III will cover some of the more unique place names I have visited.  Enjoy the Ride!!

 

 

 

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I’ve Been Everywhere – Part I: The Collector

Am I Normal? Who knows?
Am I Normal? Who knows?

As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated with statistics and numbers.  I have also been a collector.  As a young fifth-grader in Dallas in the late 1960s, I was already obsessed with statistics.  I looked at baseball boxscores daily and kept my own tabulations of most homeruns, doubles, RBIs, etc.  I also had a huge collection of bottlecaps from sodas.  I would pick them up a couple of times a week at the 7-11 (which in those days was really open from 7 AM to 11 PM).  I had bags of them and would lay them out in the driveway and count the various types…Coke and Pepsi were always the clear leaders, followed by Dr. Pepper, 7-UP and Sprite.  But I had countless other flavors.  As an eleventh grader in Bozeman, Montana I had a job as a dishwasher and I counted the forks and knives and spoons each day and kept a running tabulation of them with averages, etc.   AS well, from the time I lived in Dallas until I was a senior in high school, I would listen to the AM radio and peruse through channels slowly seeing how many call letters I could get.  Denver was the best place for that and I even got Chicago, Seattle and some Canadian places.  It was a fascination.

But my two biggest collecting obsessions have been music and travel.  On the music front I currently have a 1 TB hard drive with over 90,000 mp3s, including digitized versions of wax ring recordings from the 1890s!!  I have over 5000 cover songs as well (including over 20 covers of Stairway to Heaven such as “Stairway to Gilligan’s Island” by Little Roger and the Goosebumps.  Imagine what my Spotify playlist would look like!!

While a 6th grader in Denver I began listening to Dr. Demento.  I never missed a show and continued to listen to his programs all through high school.  I became obsessed with quirky music, though I still loved the main stream.  Just after graduation I worked for a company called Alta Distributing in Salt Lake City.  They were a record and tape rack jobber.  My job was to travel all week to southern Utah and southern Wyoming and fill the racks with the latest LPs, 8 tracks and cassettes.  I was in heaven with music and travel.

Dr. Demento and Antsy McClainDr. Demento and Antsy McClain

Back in 2007, my dear friend and nationally known singer/songwriter Antsy McClain got to visit with Dr. Demento and do an interview.  Like me, Antsy had grown up listening to Dr. Demento and by 2007 some of his songs were being played by the Doctor!! You can listen to the interview here.  During his visit Antsy got me the ultimate gift…two MP3 greetings by Dr. Demento just for me.  Check them out…

DR. DEMENTO 1         DR DEMENTO 2

But I digress….this is a Travel Blog, not a Music Blog.  Like my passion for collecting music, I am also a “Travel Collector.”  I collect places and all kinds of them.  Obviously, my passion, just like my quirky music tastes, is on the strange and unique places…the offbeat destinations.  But, I also collect many other places.   Following are a few examples:

The 50 U.S. States: I have been to 47 of them.  Still missing Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The 47 Japanese Prefectures: I have been to 45 of them.  Still missing Hokkaido and Okinawa.

Canadian Provinces and Territories: I have been to 5 of the 13 including Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia

Top 50 Populated Cities in the US: I have been to all 50 on this list and many more

New York City
New York City

Top 13 Populated Cities in Japan: I have been to all but Sapporo

Largest Cities in Canada: I have been to 24 of the Top 50

The 59 US National Parks: I have been to 25 so far

The 103 US National Monuments: I have been to 37 of these so far

US towns that start with every letter of the alphabet: I have been to every letter – yes, even Q for Quincy (IL) and Quakertown (PA), X for Xenia (OH) and Z for Zanesville (OH) and Zuni (NM).

MY PERSONAL COLLECTIONS:

Of course, I have done many strange things as I take trips.  I will plan my trips around getting somewhere interesting or around a theme.  Some of my trips help me collect on other themes, some of which I will cover in other parts of my “I’ve Been Everywhere” series.

Hank Snow
Hank Snow

First off…my theme song “I’ve Been Everywhere“.  This song was originally written by Australian Geoff Mack in 1959 and made popular by the singer Lucky Starr in 1962.  It was about Australian places.  In 1962, Canadian born country singer Hank Snow recorded a version that became a number one hit. In 1996 Johnny Cash made the song famous again after it was used in a number of TV commercials.

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash

The US version of the song starts in Winnemucca, NV. (I have been there) and then has the following locations in order, most from the US, but some in Canada and a couple of other places. (I took this from Wikipedia).  The one’s in BOLD are places I have been:

First verse
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa (WA), La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla (Chile), Barranquilla (Colombia) and Padilla (Philippines).
Second verse
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana, Washington, Houston, Kingston (Jamaica), Texarkana, Monterey, Ferriday (LA), Santa Fe, Tallapoosa (GA), Glen Rock (WY), Black Rock (NV), Little Rock, Oskaloosa (IA), Tennessee, Hennessey (OK), Chicopee (MA), Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devils Lake and Crater Lake.
Texarkana
Texarkana
Third verse
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika (ON), Schefferville (QB), Jacksonville, Waterville (NH), Costa Rica, Pittsfield (WI), Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellico (TN), Argentina, Diamantina (Brazil), Pasadena and Catalina.
Fourth verse
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg (WV), Gravelbourg (SK), Colorado, Ellensburg (WA), Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado (MO), Larimore (ND), Atmore (AL), Haverstraw (NY), Chattanooga, Chaska (MN), Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika (AL), Baraboo (WI), Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City (UT) and Dodge City.

I have also done a number of other interesting trips:

In 1996, while the Presidential elections were in fill swing, I was on a trip with my kids heading back to Kentucky from Utah.  On the way home, just for fun, we stopped in Texarkana (AR) (home to candidate Ross Perot), we then continued to Hope (AR) (home of Bill Clinton) and then stopped to have lunch at an A & W in Russell (KS) (home of Bob Dole).  Ironically, in Russell, we sat next to a lady who had gone to school with Bob Dole.

On that same trip in 1996, on the way out to Salt Lake City, I decided to hit as many towns with the name Junction as we could.  We skipped Junction City in Kentucky as it was too far south, but we did go through Junction (IL), Junction City (MO), Junction City (KS) and Grand Junction (CO).  We were tired so skipped going too far south to Junction, Utah.

Perhaps one of my favorite stories to tell is about a trip I planned in February 2010.  I had to make a trip to Dallas, so I decided to go through Bugtussle, KY.  While researching the road to get there, I discovered that there was also a Bugtussle in Texas.  So, in one day (a long one), I drove from Lexington, KY thru Bugtussle, KY all the way to Keller, TX thru Bugtussle, TX. You can read about the whole trip on my Trip Journal.

Bugtussle Rd
Bugtussle Rd

Other themes I have tried…

  • On a trip in Pennsylvania in 2008 I drove from Virginville to Intercourse to Paradise in one day (I actually did it in reverse, but more fun to say it this way – see the trip here)
  • On a trip in North Carolina in 2012 I drove from Climax to High Point.  I stopped halfway there to call my wife and tell her I was somewhere between Climax and High Point.
High Point, NC
High Point, NC

 

  • I have made stops specifically for names of Doobie Brothers songs in China Grove, TX and Blackwater, MO
  • On another trip in 2012 I was in West Virginia and specifically took a drive thru a Hurricane and then a Tornado and survived to tell about it.
Through a Hurricane and a Tornado all in one afternoon
Through a Hurricane and a Tornado all in one afternoon
  • I have sought after towns named after my children.  Though I have not found an Amaree anywhere in the US or Canada, I have been to Marissa (IL), Chelsea (MI), Seth (WV) and Solomon (KS).
Seth, WV
Seth, WV
  • I collect covered bridges.  I have been to dozens of them in the US and Canada.  I’ll post a special blog entry on these later as part of this series.
  • I collect animals along the way
  • I collect flowers along the way
  • I collect roadside oddities and attractions along the way
  • I collect big things and little things and super things
  • I collect interesting street names
  • I collect Police Cars from strange place names
  • I collect church signs from strange place names
Friendship, AR
Friendship, AR

Along the way, I have found Charm (OH), Success (MO), Talent (OR), Friendship (AR), Comfort (WV) and looked for Romance (MO) and discovered it was a dead end.  I have gone from Odd (WV) and Oddville (KY) to Peculiar (MO) to Boring (OR) to Okay (OK) to Normal (IL) and all the way to Uncertain (TX).   I have visited a Metropolis (IL) that is actually a small town.  I have also been to Cool (TX) and Coolville (OH).  I have been to Flame (OH) and even have gone to Hell (MI).  I have made my way to Earth (TX) and Mars (PA), as well as Vulcan (AB) and Romulus (MI).  I have come across a Black Gnat (KY), some Rabbit Hash (KY) , a Toad Suck (AR) and a Booger Holler (AR).  I have visited a Tightwad (MO) and a Prosper (TX). Heck, I have even found a Waldo in Arkansas and Wisconsin.

Over the next few entries I will include photos of town sign names and places and some of the stories.  Singularly, various places are a lot of fun.  Collectively, there are some interesting themes.

Do I dare say that I ENJOY THE RIDE?

 

 

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People Shots from My Travels – Part 1 (Canada and US)

Street Person - Toronto
Street Person – Toronto

Throughout my travels in Canada and the US, I have run across many opportunities to get random shots of people.  Our world is made up of people of all types.

Strolling by Mo's Seafood Restaurant - Newport, Oregon
Strolling by Mo’s Seafood Restaurant – Newport, Oregon

So, for this entry and the next couple of them, it will be more about people, than places.  I hope you will enjoy this little cruise.  People are fun!

Soccer in the Shadows - Hoboken, NJ
Soccer in the Shadows – Hoboken, NJ
"Super" Family Trip - Metropolis, Illinois
“Super” Family Trip – Metropolis, Illinois
Old Man - Paducah, Kentucky
Old Man – Paducah, Kentucky

I got the next couple of shots while on a visit to Niagara Falls with my family.  I took quite a few, but these were my favorites.

Jewish Tourists - Niagara Falls, Ontario
Jewish Tourists – Niagara Falls, Ontario
Indian Lady - Niagara Falls, Ontario
Indian Lady – Niagara Falls, Ontario

On a trip to Dallas a couple of years ago, I headed west and got the following shots

Relaxing - Weatherford, Texas
Relaxing – Weatherford, Texas
Sitting - Mineral Wells, Texas
Sitting – Mineral Wells, Texas

In 2008 I had the opportunity to visit Toronto.  I found a good deal of opportunities there.  These were taken mainly around China Town and Kensington.

Walking by the Art - Toronto
Walking by the Art – Toronto
Relaxing - Toronto
Relaxing – Toronto
Street Person - Toronto
Street Person – Toronto
Store Front - Toronto
Store Front – Toronto

In the spring of 2012 I went to Arizona with my family.  We drove back through Tucson and then through Texas.  While in Tucson we stopped at the San Xavier del Bac Church, an old Catholic church built in the 1600s. I got a great shot of a man meditating in the church.

Meditation - San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona
Meditation – San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona

I had many other opportunities to travel around Ontario while there in 2008.  Here are a few more random shots.

Crokinole - Tavistock, Ontario
Crokinole – Tavistock, Ontario
Enjoying Lake Erie - near Port Colborn, Ontario
Enjoying Lake Erie – near Lorraine, Ontario
Fishing Trip - Caledonia, Ontario
Fishing Trip – Caledonia, Ontario
Sun Bathing - Port Dover, Ontario
Sun Bathing – Port Dover, Ontario

I have made a number of trips to Fort Worth.  Lots of Cowboys there.  And other types as well.

Cowboys - Fort Worth, Texas
Cowboys – Fort Worth, Texas
Street Person - Dallas, Texas
Street Person – Dallas, Texas
Standing -m Antlers, Oklahoma
Standing – Antlers, Oklahoma

Here are a few more random shots from trips

Resting on Train - Lima, Ohio
Resting on Train – Lima, Ohio
Amish Man - Charm, Ohio
Amish Man – Charm, Ohio
Street Musician - Seattle, Washington
Street Musician – Seattle, Washington
Mennonite Father and Daughter - Elora, Ontario
Mennonite Father and Daughter – Elora, Ontario

There are also many opportunities to snag shots of people right here at home in Lexington.  here are a few…

Sleeping on a Bench - Lexington, Kentucky
Sleeping on a Bench – Lexington, Kentucky
Sitting out the Day - Lexington, Kentucky
Sitting out the Day – Lexington, Kentucky
Homeless Lady - Lexington, Kentucky
Homeless Lady – Lexington, Kentucky
Walking the Dog - Lexington, Kentucky
Walking the Dog – Lexington, Kentucky
Hopeless - Lexington, Kentucky
Hopeless – Lexington, Kentucky
At the Parade - Lexington, Kentucky
At the Parade – Lexington, Kentucky
Parade Crowd - Lexington, Kentucky
Parade Crowd – Lexington, Kentucky

My next blog will be People Shots Part II – Photos I took of people in Cebu, Philippines.  Watch for it soon.

 

 

 

 

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