Vistas are the joy of back roads travel. Every corner, every crest of a hill, every mile offers a new vista. And this country has some spectacular and splendid vistas.
Over the years I have seen some amazing vistas. Whether they be in the deserts of the southwest, the high plains of Montana or on the oceans in the east or the west, the views are endless and inspiring. Following are some of the vistas I have enjoyed and their locations. Enjoy the ride and the views.
There are some super huge statues in this country. Giant behemoths that can be seen from far away.
Perhaps there is no place better for BIG than in Texas, where everything is supposedly bigger. Texas actually has three of the tallest statues in the United States, including two that honor the great Texas heroes Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. All three giant free standing statues exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base). This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.
“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant “World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”
The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas home of Sam Houston State University. This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet. It was built in 1994.
This giant Sam Houston statue can be seen from far off when driving on Interstate 45, especially coming from the south. It stands on the right looking over the interstate proudly.
This statue, along with the one of Stephen Austin were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes from his Sculpturworx Studio.
Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too. Adickes agreed to do the statue, which was named “The Father of Texas,” at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD. By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.
Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet. It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.
The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes. Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.
Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha
The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one. By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.
The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving. After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue. According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.
The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony. She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.
Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior. She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.
Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to
Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants. Following are some of the others I have visited over the years.
The Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States. It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet. This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi. I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo above was taken in December 1991.
The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana. Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte. I took the photo above in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.
Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I got to visit this statue in 2012.
The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet. This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. I visited this in 2012.
The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant. Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds. Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie Iron Mine.
An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant. This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it. I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture above is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.
One of the last “giants” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO. This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”
Anyone who drives on a road, whether city street or an interstate highway, always depends on roadsigns and street signs to find their way. In this age of GPS, we sometimes miss the turns because we’re not looking for the roadsigns.
Well, on the back roads of America there are many fun and unique roadsigns. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be that way as places were named certain names sometimes as far back as the 1600s and 1700s. But, sometimes neighborhood designers throw in funny names for streets or neighborhoods.
In this post I want to take a look at some of the roadsigns I have come across in my travels. Indeed, that has been one of my fun challenges. As I have noted on one of my pages, I am a “Collector of Places.” I can collect roadsigns, street signs and directional signs with the snap of a camera shutter. And that is what I do.
To start off with, I want to look at a few street signs. Some of these can be pretty unique. Perhaps the most interesting story comes out of Lake Jackson, Texas. The main drag if you will is named “This Way.” And, as a matter of fact, when it gets into downtown Lake Jackson, it intersects with another road called That Way. To be sure, there is a story associated with that and I have included the plaque that sits on the street by that intersection which 16 complete explains why there is a This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson.
Now, if you prefer, there is The Udder Way in Yellow Springs, OH. It’s just actually a small private drive that goes into a large ice cream shop in the Little Miami River region of Ohio.
If you were more into a fantasy trip, then how about taking Wonderland Road near Upton, KY or the Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH.
If you don’t care about the name of the street, try No Name Street in Millersburg, OH.
If you happen to be driving in Austin, Texas, you can find an interesting intersection at the corner of Music and Academy. Or, and yet another town in Ohio, there is an intersection of Sugar and Water in Chillicothe, OH.
There is a Normal St. in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And there are a couple of Bugtussle street names including Bugtussle Road in Bugtussle, Kentucky and Bugtussle Blvd. in the middle of nowhereville Texas.
I got a chuckle when driving through Cary, NC and came across Ten-Ten Rd.
I also came upon a Bliss Rd. in Columbia, KY, but it did not seem to bring me any bliss, until I discovered Bliss Happens Lane and Easy Street!
Head to DeForest, WI and there is an Elephant Trail. Drive down that road and look carefully and you will find a giant pink elephant!
If you are not too picky, you can drive down Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY.
For a drive with a bit of zing, trying to drive down Chile Capital Lane in Hatch, NM.
And for a real Jurassic adventure, how about visiting the corner of Gorgosaurus Ave and T. Rex Trail in Indianapolis.
One time I was driving on the back roads of Lexington, where I live, and came upon Real Quiet Lane. But shhhhh… keep it quiet OK?
Back in Ohio, in the Little Italy section of Cleveland, there is just a Random Road.
OK, yes, since you asked, I have been to Bourbon St. in New Orleans!
But, perhaps the best road to take is Only Rd. in Only, TN
Perhaps it’s not a road that you’re looking for, but rather a town or community. There are an abundance of fun road signs for these.
If somebody tells you to go to Hell, there is a sign for that in Michigan! If you are seeking Romance or Success, these signs will point the way for you in Missouri. And, you can also get directions to Prosperity in Pennsylvania. And you can find Talent in Oregon or Wisdom in Kentucky.
Along the way you may run into Normal, Peculiar, Odd or Oddville. You could even get stuck in Uncertain….it is one way in and one way out. Or maybe Boring.
Lonely? Head to Friendship or Friendly.
And these are cool places to visit…
Lost? Go this way to Earth.
If you prefer to go to Muleshoe, maybe you would like Donkey or some other assortment of critters.