Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 5: Des Moines, IA to Springfield, IL – Dutch, American Pickers and Cozy Dogs

Antique Archaeology
Antique Archaeology

April 3, 2013: Yet another day on the road home as Julianne and I take our time to see a few of the sites on the way.  This day we drove from Des Moines to a couple places in Iowa and eventually into Illinois. Here is our route:


View Larger Map – Des Moines, IA to Springfield, MO

First thing we did was head to Pella, Iowa, which is not too far from Des Moines.  Pella prides itself as being a “Touch of Holland” and indeed is very Dutch.  Home of the largest working Dutch windmill in the United States.  Pella was originally settled in 1847 by about 800 Dutch immigrants.  They named the town Pella, which in Dutch means City of Refuge, due to the fact that these immigrants were fleeing religious persecution in their home country of the Netherlands.  Pella is also the birthplace of Wyatt Earp, the famed sheriff of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Downtown Pella
Downtown Pella
Welcome to Pella
Welcome to Pella

We had been advised by friends to definitely try the “Dutch Letters” while here.  Dutch Letters are a flaky almond paste filled pastry.  Shaped like an S, they were apparently a traditional Christmas pastry in Holland.  We stopped at the Jaarsma Bakery on Franklin Street in Pella to have some of these.  They would be our breakfast.  Turns out they have a lot of other goodies!!

Jaarsma Bakery - Pella, Iowa
Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Yummy Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery
Yummy Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery
Almond Pies at Jaarsma Bakery
Almond Pies at Jaarsma Bakery
Famous "Dutch Letters" from Jaarsma Bakery
Famous “Dutch Letters” from Jaarsma Bakery

Another treat we were advised to try was Pella Ring Bologna. There are two well known places to get this ring bologna in Pella and we stopped at Ulrich’s Meat Market which is a couple doors down from the Jaarsma Bakery.  Not onl is the ring bologna good — the meat sticks were fabulous!!

Try smoking Pella Bologna
Try smoking Pella Bologna
Pella Ring Bologna
Pella Ring Bologna

The town of Pella is quaint and picturesque.  It was a pleasure to walk around and see some of the scenery, including a few smaller windmills and the larger one.  Here are a few scenes from Pella.

Daffodils in Bloom - Pella, IA
Daffodils in Bloom – Pella, IA

Pella is famed for its tulips, but we were too early for them.  But, daffodils are another Dutch bulb plant.  And they were in full bloom.

Buildings fronts in Pella, IA
Colorful building fronts in Pella, IA
Unique building corner in Pella, IA
Unique building corner turret in Pella, IA
Small Clock Tower in Pella
Small Clock Tower in Pella
Old Brick Wall Advertisement in Pella
Old Brick Wall Advertisement in Pella
Dutch-style Tiled Walls in Pella
Dutch-style Tiled Walls in Pella
Dutch Wooden Shoes - Pella, IA
Dutch Wooden Shoes – Pella, IA

Of course, perhaps the most famous thing in Pella (besides the famed Pella window factory) is the huge authentic working Dutch Windmill.  The Vermeer Mill, as it is called, is an 1850s style working windmill.  It is 124 feet tall and is the largest working windmill of its kind in the United States.  The mill is totally wind powered and is actually used like the windmills of old to grind wheat into flour.  It was built in Holland and assembled in Pella in 2002.

Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill
Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill
Vermeer Windmill - Pella, Iowa
Vermeer Windmill – Pella, Iowa
Vermeer Windmill towers above Pella to catch the wind
Vermeer Windmill towers above Pella to catch the wind

There is a Dutch Interpretive Center and small Dutch Village attached to the Windmill.  Within its confines are a number of Dutch style buildings , including Wyatt Earp’s birthplace.  We didn’t go into the village since admission was $10 per person, which we though was rather pricy.

After a pleasant time in Pella, we were back on the road.  With my penchant for going to strange named towns, I wanted to make our way down some back roads to What Cheer, Iowa. Originally named Petersburg in 1865 but was renamed What Cheer in 1879 after the Postal Service declined the name of Petersburg.  The Wikipedia article linked here has some details as to the origin of the name What Cheer.

Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa
Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa

Ironically, as we drive through town, I exclaimed to my wife that the town name should be “What Cheer?” as the small town looks like it is falling apart and many of the businesses have been abandoned. There were a little over 600 people in this small town according to the 2010 census.

Back road to What Cheer, IA.... a six mile long dirt road
Back road to What Cheer, IA…. a six mile long dirt road.  My GPS took us this route!!
Downtown What Cheer - many abandoned buildings
Downtown What Cheer – many abandoned buildings

Reminiscent of downtown Pella, there is one nicely kept building in What Cheer, with the nice corner turret.  It used to be a bank, but is apparently now a residence.

Corner Tower on building in What Cheer, IA
Corner Turret on building in What Cheer, IA
What Cheer
What Cheer
What Cheer Post Office - even this sign is becoming illegible and run down
What Cheer Post Office – even this sign is becoming illegible and run down
What Cheer, Iowa
What Cheer, Iowa

There was one other refreshing site in town.  One home had some unique artwork surrounding the yard.

Bunnie's House in What Cheer, IA
Bonnie’s House in What Cheer, IA
Wheel Fence at Bonnie's house in What Cheer
Wheel Fence at Bonnie’s house in What Cheer
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

From What Cheer we made our way northeast to I-80 and then into Le Clair, Iowa, a small touristy town along the Mississippi River.  This was my second visit to Le Claire as I had been here before to visit Antique Archaeology,  home of the “American Pickers” TV show on History Channel.  On my previous visit back in June 2012 I even got to meet Danielle and get a shot with her.

Sumoflam with Danielle Colby Cushman - June 20, 2012
Sumoflam with American Pickers star Danielle Colby – June 2012

When I visited in June last year Danielle had a shop in Le Claire across the street from Antique Archaeology called 4 Miles 2 Memphis.  She is actually well known for “up-cycling” things and making them into clothing, jewelry, etc.  The shop has since moved to Chicago.

Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers
Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers
Antique Archaeology's famous old car
Antique Archaeology’s famous old car
Antique Archaeology
Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology

There are lots of unique things for sale at the shop, many which had been picked from shows past.  Here is a small sample of some of the things in the shop.  Recognize anything?

Old boots and stuff - Antique Archaeology
Old boots and stuff – Antique Archaeology
Motorcycle Goggles and Hat - Antique Archaeology
Motorcycle Goggles and Hat – Antique Archaeology
Mike's favorite subject - Indian Motorcycles - Antique Archaeology
Mike’s favorite subject – Indian Motorcycles – Antique Archaeology
Yucky Mask - Antique Archaeology
Yucky Mask – Antique Archaeology
Old Motorcycle - Antique Archaeology
Old Motorcycle – Antique Archaeology
Laurel and Hardy and Sumoflam
Laurel and Hardy and Sumoflam

A video clip of the American Pickers episode with the Laurel and Hardy masks.

You would be mistaken if you think that Antique Archaeology is the center piece of Le Claire.  This unique little town is chock full of personality, antique shops and more.

Old neon for Pelo's Sundries
Old neon for Pelo’s Sundries
Old back porch behind Pelo's in Le Claire
Old back porch behind Pelo’s in Le Claire

 

Pelo’s is your typical old sundry and fountain type shop, except that it now has a coffee shop, open mike nites and more.

River Boats in Le Claire, IA
River Boats in Le Claire, IA
Wooden Flag in Le Claire, IA
Wooden Flag in Le Claire, IA
More Antiques - Mike and Frank are not the only pickers in town
More Antiques – Mike and Frank are not the only pickers in town
The Auction Center
The Auction Center
Old Milk Cans - Le Claire, IA
Old Milk Cans – Le Claire, IA
Lots of stuff - Le Claire, IA
Lots of stuff – Le Claire, IA
More stuff - Le Claire, IA
More stuff – Le Claire, IA
Whimsy in Le Claire
Whimsy in Le Claire

Julianne was thrilled to visit some of the shops, but her biggest thrill was being able to “pick” a 1930s quilt from a shop in Le Claire.  This hand pieced and hand sewn quilt was in a small shop along the river.  The gal in the shop obviously didn’t know quilts like Julianne does as she had this quilt for sale for $150!!  It was a splurge purchase for us, but, we believe that the value of this quilt is really closer to $800 or $1000 due to its age and almost pristine quality, along with all of the 1930s fabric.

Julianne all smiles after getting a steal of a deal on a quilt. She is a Real Picker!!
Julianne all smiles after getting a steal of a deal on a quilt. She is a Real Picker!!
Le Claire was fun
Le Claire was fun

We could have spent more time in Le Claire, but had to move on.  My ultimate goal stop for the day was to get to Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois.

Illinois Route 66
Illinois Route 66

Springfield is one of those iconic Route 66 towns and along this road is the Cozy Dog Drive In, which claims to be the home of the all-American famed Corn Dog!  Though there is some dispute as to the true origin of the corn dog, the Cozy Dog story is that Ed Walmire and his friend Don Strand invented the deep fried battered hot dog on a stick while stationed in Amarillo, Texas during World War II. They called them crusty curs, but, upon Ed’s return to Springfield, Ed and his wife decided on the name “Cozy Dog” and began selling them from their house and at the Illinois State Fair in 1946.  Ed’s wife designed the “hot dogs in a loving embrace logo” for the drive in. In 1996 they moved their Drive In a bit up the road to its current location and gave it a decidedly Route 66 theme.

Cozy Drive In - Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction

And of course, this is why we come to Cozy Dog – not healthy at all, but sure Yummiferous!!

Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries - Cozy Dog - Springfield, IL
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog

This was officially our final stop on the way home so it was a perfect place to “cozy up” with my sweetheart….

Cozying up at Cozy Dog
Cozying up at Cozy Dog

After spending the night in Springfield, Julianne and I booked it back to our old Kentucky Home in Lexington.  It was a long trip, almost 2,800 miles (including side trips into towns, etc.) and over 55 hours of driving time.  We traveled from Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT (to see the grandkids) and then across northern Montana, south into North and South Dakota, east thru Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and finally home.  This was Julianne’s longest road trip ever (her previous one was when we moved from Mesa, AZ to Frankfort, KY in 1991 — that was about 2100 miles).

Map of our entire road trip - April 2013
Map of our entire road trip – April 2013 – over 2800 miles

Now that is how you ENJOY THE RIDE!!

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……


(1419)

Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 4: Oacoma, SD to Des Moines, IA

Bridges of Madison County in Iowa
Covered Bridges of Madison County in Iowa

April 2, 2013: After a good night’s rest in Oacoma, we were back on the road heading east with our first planned stop being an early morning visit to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.


View Larger Map – Oacoma, SD to Des Moines, IA

Originally built in 1892 as the “Corn Belt Exposition,” it became an iconic landmark and attraction in Mitchell after 1921.  Every year the exterior decorations are stripped and a new theme is created. The work is done by local artists.  The 2013 theme is “We Celebrate” and each mural is a depiction of an American holiday.  The artists use 13 different colors or shades of corn to decorate with. Typically there are over 275,000 ears of corn used annually on the murals. There is a nice list of the history of the murals here.  The Corn Palace has a full sized basketball court inside and even has big name concerts.

The Corn Palace - 2013
The Corn Palace – 2013
One of the Corn Pillars of the Corn Palace
One of the Corn Pillars of the Corn Palace
World's Only Corn Palace
World’s Only Corn Palace
Mural depicting Easter
Mural depicting Easter
Mural depicting Valentine's Day
Mural depicting Valentine’s Day
Sumoflam at the Corn Palace
Sumoflam at the Corn Palace
Not sure which of these two is the cornier??
Not sure which of these two is the cornier??
Not all corn in Mitchell. There is also a giant cow advertising a steak house.
Not all corn in Mitchell. There is also a giant cow advertising a steak house

From Mitchell we continued east on I-90 toward Sioux Falls.  Unbeknownst to me, in the small town of Montrose, South Dakota, right off the freeway (near Exit 374), there was an unusual site.  I actually pulled onto the shoulder to get out and get shots of what is known as the Porter Sculpture Park, which includes an amazing 60-foot tall bull’s head, which is what got me.  For some reason I had overlooked this one!!  I got a few photos from where I was, but was already past the exit and we were pushing the clock.

60 foot tall bull's head at Porter's Sculpture Park
60 foot tall bull’s head at Porter’s Sculpture Park
Porter's Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
Porter’s Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
A skeleton sentry watches over the park
A skeleton sentry watches over the park
A giant hammer adorns the park's whimsical displays
A giant hammer adorns the park’s whimsical displays

Vultures that represent politicians and buzzards holding giant knives are just some of the over 40 creations that came from the inventive mind of Wayne Porter, a blacksmith who uses his appreciation of history to create metallic works of art at his establishment.  Apparently, Porter spent approximately three years creating the 25-ton bull’s head which is mostly made out of railroad tie plates. This could definitely be the largest bull’s head statue around.

A hodge podge of scrap metal art at Porter's Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
A hodge podge of scrap metal art at Porter’s Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
Porter Sculpture Park as seen from a Google Satellite image
Porter Sculpture Park as seen from a Google Satellite image

From Montrose we continued east towards Sioux Falls and then on to I-29 south past Sioux City, Iowa.  Along the way I saw a sign for Onawa, Iowa noting it as the home of the Eskimo Pie. I had to drive through the town of about 3000 and see if we could find where it was invented.  Research shows me that someone named Christian Nelson invented it in 1920.  Interestingly enough, he originally called it an I-Scream Bar.  He later partnered with candy maker Russell Stover to patent the product. (See History here) They also claim to have the widest Main Street in the U.S.A. Though I drove around a bit, I couldn’t find a museum or anything…but, there were the hanging banners!!  I wish I could have found an Eskimo Pie!!

Onawa, Iowa, Home of the Eskimo Pie
Onawa, Iowa, Home of the Eskimo Pie

After that little detour we continued south until we hit I-680 north of Omaha and headed towards Des Moines on I-80 until we got to Exit 106. I have always wanted to go to Winterset, Iowa, famed for the “Covered Bridges of Madison County” (See a map here).  Robert James Waller made these famous with his book called The Bridges of Madison County. The county originally had 19 covered bridges, but now only six remain.  There are actually a couple of other places in Ohio with quite a few covered bridges including the bridges in Greene County (see map) near Xenia (see my write up of my visit to many of these), the 18 bridges in Fairfield County (also see map) and the 17 bridges in Ashtabula County (also see map here), including the newest and longest, which is the Smolen-Gulf Bridge at 613 feet long (see my photo of this bridge).  There are just over 125 covered bridges still in the United States and I have been fortunate to have visited many of them.  Therefore this was an exciting visit for me.

Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa
Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa

First thing you see in Winterset is the amazing Madison County courthouse! This courthouse was built in 1876. The Renaissance Revival structure has four wings which join to form a Greek cross. The silver-colored dome reaches a height of 136 feet (41.5 m) into the air and it contains a 1500-pound (680.4 kg) bell.  The inside is wonderful as well.  I got to go in for a look see.

Fon's and Porters Quilt Shop - Winterset, Iowa
Fons and Porter’s Quilt Shop – Winterset, Iowa

Across the street from the Courthouse is the famous Fons and Porter’s Quilt shop. Fons and Porter are two famous quilters that have produced a TV Show, the Love of Quilting Magazine and more.  Though I am not a quilter, my wife is and she was excited to visit here.  We found out that the store front was built specifically because people were always looking for one in their travels to Winterset.

Building front in Winterset
Building front in Winterset
More Winterset building fronts
More Winterset building fronts

Winterset is also famous as the Birthplace of John Wayne.  I did drop by there for a visit.  The visitor’s center was closed when we got there, but I did get a photo opp in front.

Birthplace of John Wayne
Sumoflam at the Birthplace of John Wayne
John Wayne Drive, Winterset, Iowa
John Wayne Drive, Winterset, Iowa

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, the son of Clyde and Mary Brown Morrison.  Interestingly, on May 24-25 (in nine days), the center will host Maureen O’Hara, who starred with John Wayne in 5 of his movies. Over his 50-year career, John Wayne appeared in more than 175 movies from major Hollywood epics to shorts, documentaries, promotional films, television shows and special appearances. Though there are actors who may have appeared in more movies, it is yet to be seen if any actor will ever better Duke’s record of being the lead in more than 140 films.

Welcome to Winterset, Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa
Welcome to Winterset, Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa
Cedar Covered Bridge, Winterset, Iowa
Cedar Covered Bridge, Winterset, Iowa

But the real interest in Winterset was the covered bridges.  Our first one was the Cedar Covered Bridge. This bridge was built in 1883 by Benton Jones and is 73 feet long.

Side view of the Cedar Bridge
Side view of the Cedar Bridge

Unfortunately, the original Cedar bridge was destroyed by an arsonist in September 2002.  They have reconstructed it and the new bridge was dedicated on October 9, 2004.

Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa
Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa

Like the Cedar Bridge, the Roseman Covered Bridge was also built by Benton Jones.  It is 107 feet long. This bridge is also known as the “haunted” bridge. Apparently this is where two sheriff’s posses trapped a county jail escapee in 1892. It is said the man rose up straight through the roof of the bridge, uttering a wild cry, and disappeared. He was never found, and it was decided that anyone capable of such a feat must be innocent.  This bridge was renovated in 1992.

Holliwell Covered Bridge in Scott, Iowa
Holliwell Covered Bridge in Scott, Iowa

The Holliwell Covered Bridge is another bridge built by Benton Jones in 1880.  It is the longest of the Madison County bridges at 122 feet.  It is located in Scott, Iowa.  Like the others, it was renovated in 1995.

Holliwell Covered Bridge, Scott, Iowa
Holliwell Covered Bridge, Scott, Iowa

Along the way to Holliwell, we came across a nice pond with a Blue Heron ( I love these birds!!) and a nice windmill shot.

Old Windmill on road to Holliwell Covered bridge
Old Windmill on road to Holliwell Covered bridge
Herry the Heron visited us near Scott, Iowa
Herry the Heron visited us near Scott, Iowa

We didn’t have time to get to the Hogback Covered Bridge or the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge, but we did make it to the Imes Covered Bridge in St. Charles, Iowa.  This bridge was built in 1877 and actually moved three times.  It was moved to its current location in 1977.  this is the oldest of the remaining covered bridges, though it was also renovated in 1997.  It is 81 feet in length.

St. Charles, Iowa welcome sign near Imes Covered Bridge
St. Charles, Iowa welcome sign near Imes Covered Bridge
Imes Covered Bridge, St. Charles, Iowa
Imes Covered Bridge, St. Charles, Iowa

From St. Charles it was a short jump to I-35 and we went north into Des Moines for the night.  It was a beautiful day going through Iowa.


(588)

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?

 

 

(999)