“You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go!” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go
As a Throwback Thursday menagerie, I thought I would throw in some of my odds and ends from the past…some going way back and some not so long ago. I have been blessed to travel so many places and many of my travels happened long before I began writing about them. So, here they are, a potpourri of places diverse. ENJOY THE RIDE!
“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go
Most of my early life was spent in the western U.S. and, as such, I got to see deserts, mountains, Indian ruins and more.
Growing a love for antiquities and old things, I had many opportunities to visit old places during my many visits to Japan. I am especially fond of the awesome castles and amazing old shrines, many of which I have had the opportunity to visit. Here are a couple.
While living in Japan, I also visited Kyoto on a couple of occasions. Kyoto has wonderful old historic shrines and temples, and colorful Geisha…
Back in the U.S., I have been to both coasts and to the north and south and most points in between. Here are some of the places I have visited…
I have discovered that the world abounds with natural beauty. I have been blessed to see this beauty in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, the Philippines and other places.
Of course, when taking trips there are always fun things to try. When in Japan I tried quite a few new adventures. Perhaps my favorites were taking hot springs baths and going to the Sumo Wrestling events.
Beppu is probably the most famous of the hot springs resort towns in Japan. Located in Oita Prefecture, I had the opportunity to visit often and for different kinds of “baths”
Then there are the Sumos…I got to go to two of their tournaments and see the giant Konishiki wrestle. I will always be a fan of Sumo wrestling.
Of course, as a history major, I have always had an interest in things historical. One of my classes at Northern Arizona University was on Japanese literature and we studied Kunikida Doppo, who was considered one of Meiji Japan’s most well traveled writers. While living in Oita, I was able to visit his studio in Saiki. Ironically, my professor at NAU, Dr. Atkins, was a Kunikida Doppo expert, so it was a special trip for me.
One cannot study Japanese history without learning about the atrocities of World War II. The Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I have been able to visit both places. Ironically, in 1979 I also visited the Los Alamos museum where the bombs were initially built. So, I have seen both sides of the story.
And now, for a few other odds and ends, just for fun…
As I travel the backroads of America and Canada I always run across all sorts of what some call “Yard Art”. Others call it folk art, offbeat art, quirky things, etc. Well, there is the whimsical and fun, there is the unique and then the downright strange. Some of the sites, like Cadillac Ranch above, are world famous. Others are in the middle of nowhere and are happenstance and unexpected. Following is a menagerie of quirky and offbeat whimsy and creativity that I have seen. Enjoy the ride and see if you have been to any of these places…
SCRAP METAL DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS
Perhaps one of the most common types of yard art I see is scrap metal work. And it seems that dinosaurs and dragons are the most popular. Here are a few.
(UPDATE II – May 2015: On a recent trip to California, I discovered this great piece called “Horn Dragon” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris. It certainly fits into this post!)
(UPDATE – October 2013: I have found another great scrap metal artist besides those noted below. Visit my post on Larry Vennard from Centralia, Missouri)
SCRAP METAL CRITTERS
Of course, dinosaurs and dragons are not the only creatures (critters) that can be seen out on the road. Here are a few more scrap metal (found metal) critters from all over…
Of course, dinos and critters are not the only things made out of scrap metal. People are too. Perhaps the biggest and most impressive scrap metal people I have ever seen are the three that comprise the “Tin Family” at the end of the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (if driving from I-94 or first one if driving from Regent, ND). The Dad is 45 feet tall, Mom is 44 feet tall and the Tin Kid is 23 feet tall. But, there are many more that are unique. Here are a few scrap metal folk found on the road…
Then there is the most magnificent of all scrap metal art pieces, the World’s Largest (according to the Guinness Book of World Recrod’s). This is at the entry of the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota:
CHAIN SAW ART
Obviously, scrap metal is not the only medium used in the creation of yard art. There is a ton of work don with chain saws and wood. I have seen hundreds of pieces dot the country. Here are a few from all over…
The epitome of Chain Saw Art is the Chain Saw Totem Pole forest in Medford, Wisconsin. Chainsaw Gordy has gone to a whole new cut above…. 21 poles with nearly 400 chainsaws in them, all done by Gordy Lekies.
MAILBOXES AS PART OF THE ARTWORK
Though not nearly as prevalent as Chain Saw art and metal art, there are the occasional unique mailboxes to be seen on the back roads of America. I have passed dozens of plastic John Deere mailboxes, fish and cow mailboxes, etc., but then there are the really unique ones….
TOTALLY JUNKED OUT PLACES
Folk art abounds in this country, but there are some who have taken it to excess with knick-knacks, whirly-gigs, old toys, old stuff and more…and all in one place. Some in the name of art and some just to, well, have a place for their stuff. Though I have seen many across the country, here are some of the more outlandish examples (with two or three shots from each place)
Moving on to Woodstock, Ontario and Cliff Bruce’s Windmill Hill, another menagerie of the unusual….(see my writeup here)
Then there is the Flower Man House in Houston, Texas. Built by a man who had been a homeless alcoholic for years, he decided to turn his life around and began putting together his interestingly eccentric colorful house, which sits in an otherwise bland neighborhood.
And just around the corner from the Flower Man’s House is another quirky place – the Law Offices of Tim Hootman. His office is in a brightly colored boxcar and has some unique art sitting outside the place. Really funky…
If these are not quirky enough, how about this place in Lima, Montana…is it a shop, a restaurant, a hotel or just someone’s knick-knack collection? It was closed, so I couldn’t really find out….
If you liked the place in Lima, how about the Junk Store in Buena Vista, Colorado? This place seems to everything (you may not want or need)!!
I came across this fence in Parker, Idaho… completely made of roadsigns
In the small town of What Cheer, Iowa, a lady has gussied up her yard with old wheels, implements and even has a real “flower bed”!
Came across this little “health food store” in Gardner, Colorado, called H Food Store – Huajatollas Foods (see YouTube Video):
And finally, we discovered a couple of places on a back road in central Kentucky. We took Highway 77 (Nada Tunnel Road) and first came across a barn with a hubcap collection:
And we also came across this house near Orlando, Kentucky
Finally, this unique house in Talent, Oregon along with their Shoe Tree:
I have traveled the broad expanses of this beautiful nation we call America and have seen and enjoyed this country that I call home. On this July 4th birthday, I would like to celebrate by adding photos to the words of the song “America the Beautiful“, which was written by American Poet Katharine Lee Bates. All photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
Oh Beautiful, for Spacious Skies
For Amber Waves of Grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good,
to Shining Sea
May we celebrate this day as we enjoy our freedom and our liberty…..