AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The C Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet, and not the order of the trip  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the C Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas

In my “A Stories,” I mentioned Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours and his great boat rides through the swamps of Caddo Lake in northeast Texas.  In this post, I am dropping a few photos of this beautiful swamp, as we saw it in February 2020. Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre lake and bayou on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo, who lived in the area until around the 19th century. It is a protected wetland and includes one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States.

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas
Caddo Lake bayou
Bald Cypress of Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake Texas
Having fun on a boat ride in the swamps of Caddo Lake

Caprock Bison Co. – Quitaque, Texas

In my “B Stories” post yesterday I commented on the “Bison Capitol of Texas.”  One of the big Bison companies in Quitaque, Texas is the Caprock Bison Company.

Caprock Bison Company – Quitaque, Texas

Cambria, California

We were fortunate that a friend of ours in Cambria, California offered us a place to stay on our way down CA Highway 1.  Cambria was actually our stopping point south on the Pacific Coast as we then headed east for the long return home.  Cambria is a small town.  Gas was very expensive.  But the scenery of the ocean, the beautiful, tall windswept trees and the fun, light atmosphere was wonderful.

Cambria, California
Unique pines in Cambria, CA
More unique pines of Cambria

Coos Bay, Oregon

On our drive south along US 101 from Port Orchard, Washington, we drove through the town of Coos Bay, Oregon.  We stayed overnight in North Bend, Oregon, which is just north and a twin city to Coos Bay.

Coos Bay, Oregon
Large ship mural in Coos Bay, Oregon (you can see the size by looking at the person in the bottom left of photo)
The Old Tioga Hotel building in Coos Bay.

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

As I have often noted, Carhenge is one of my favorite tourist attractions in the United States.  I included a chapter about it in my third book (see the book here).  I had a book signing in January 2020 and spent the night in Alliance and the next morning we drove out on a bitter cold and snowy morning to catch the sunrise before heading north to South Dakota. This is what we saw.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Closeup of a portion of Carhenge
January sunrise at Carhenge

California

Over my many years of travel, I had visited California on a number of occasions.  However, my February trip coming south from Oregon was my first visit to Northern California.  So, Welcome to California!

Welcome to California

California Balsamic – Ukiah, California

While driving south on US 101 in California, we eventually made our way into Ukiah, California where we ultimately spent the night.  However, the main reason for this visit was to get over to see Thomas Allen and his California Balsamic Company.  My wife had heard about this company from some of her Whole Food Plant Based groups and wanted me to pick up a few bottles.  Well, Thomas has created a sort of Baskin Robbins of Balsamics with many vegan and other options.  I was amazed at the flavors.  They use only high quality Trebianno and Spirgola grapes that come from Modena, Italy.  While there, Thomas kindly gave us a tour of his facility and tastings of many of their wonderful flavors.  I HIGHLY recommend his product!!

In fact, I spoke with Thomas today and he informed me that they have a HUGE April (2020) special going on.  So, if you like Balsamic Vinegar, please jump over to https://californiabalsamic.com/ and check out the April Stay At Home Special.  You can also call Thomas with questions.  His number is on the website.  Tell him Sumoflam sent you.

Thomas Allen, owner of California Balsamic in Ukiah, California
Some of the many flavors of California Balsamic
California Balsamic

Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park – Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park is in western South Dakota has some wonderful drives, especially the famous Wildlife Loop Road which travels though 18 miles of grasslands and pines and offers opportunities to see wild bison (see my photos in my “B Stories” from yesterday’s post), elk, prong-horned antelope, deer and even the adorable little prairie dogs.  And, if you have young kids, the state park offers the opportunity to get a Junior Ranger badge, much like the National Park programs.

Welcome to Custer State Park
Custer State Park visitor’s center
Some of the scenery in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Pronghorn Antelope relax in the grasslands of Custer State Park
A bison grazes in Custer State Park

Carrot Cake Soda – Nipton Trading Post, California

Yesterday I posted about Bacon Soda.  How about some Carrot Cake soda, which I also found at the Nipton Trading Post in Nipton, CA.  See yesterday’s post to learn more about the company that produces these unique flavors.

Carrot Cake Soda as seen in Nipton, California

The Chowder Stop – Long Beach, Washington

By the time we got to Long Beach in southern Washington, it was lunch time.  We drove around this very touristy looking town for a place to eat.  Being the winter season, many places were closed, but NOT the Chowder Stop!  And on a cold winter day, who wouldn’t want some tasty chowder?  Let me tell you…their chowder is so thick that you can stand a spoon up in it!!  NO JOKE!

The Chowder Stop in Long Beach, Washington
Chowder so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.  So very yummy!

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is a quaint little town nestled in the mountains of southwestern Idaho.  We stopped there for dinner (had some great pizza!) and also to get some shots of the Center of the Universe manhole and signs.  According to a writeup on RoadsideAmerica.com, “On September 25, 2004, mayor Ron Garitone of Wallace issued a proclamation that his town’s intersection of Bank and 6th Streets was the “Probalistic Center of the Universe.”   You can read the rest of the story on their website.  (Visit their site and give those guys lots of love!)

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
The Center of the Universe manhole in the main downtown intersection of  Bank Street and Sixth Street in Wallace, Idaho

Clearmont, Wyoming

There is really nothing special about Clearmont, Wyoming, but we did drive through the small community.  The Historical Center had a nice little mural on the oldish building.

Clearmont, Wyoming
Welcome to Clearmont, Wyoming

Covellite Theatre – Butte, Montana

I love getting photos of old Theatre and Movie marquees.  This one we saw in Butte, Montana

The old Covellite Theatre in Butte Montana

Coulee City, Washington

Coulee City runs along a the southern banks of a the huge Banks Lake on US Highway 2 in central Washington State.  This is beautiful country.  I loved the welcome sign for Coulee City.

Welcome to Coulee City, Washington

Campbell, California

I have friends that live in Campbell, California, so we dropped by to visit them.  Campbell is proud of its old-fashioned water tower, one of only a few like it remaining in California.  Obviously, as much driving as I do on America’s back roads, I have seen others like it in other states.  But, to honor this lovely historic town, I am including a photo of it here.

Campbell, California
The famous Campbell Water Tower
One of a few murals that can be found in Campbell, California

Coca-Cola Ghost Sign in Tulia, Texas

There are likely hundreds of Coca-Cola murals dotting this huge country.  Caught this really classic one in Tulia, Texas

Coca-Cola Mural in Tulia, Texas

Country Friends Antiques Retro Signage in Moriarty, New Mexico

All along US Route 66 there is unique and fun signage.  This old retro starburst sign was likely for a motel in the 1960s, but now it is the sign for the Country Friends Antique shop in Moriarty, New Mexico.

Retro signage in Moriarty, New Mexico at Country Friends, Antiques

Crowell, Texas

I don’t post photos of every little town we drive through, but I am a big fan of Americana singer Rodney Crowell and this reminds me of him.  I don’t believe that there is any relationship.  Crowell is on US Route 70 a tad southwest of the Texas panhandle.  It is a typical small Texas town as the main street photo below shows.

Welcome to Crowell, Texas
Main Street in Crowell, Texas

Cormorants

I always like wildlife.  At home in Lexington, Kentucky, I get to watch cormorants do their thing almost daily.  Its always nice to see this unique diving birds in other environments.

Cormorants relaxing on a rock in Santa Cruz, CA
A Cormorant dries its wings high up in a tree in Caddo Lake swamp in Texas

Comet II Restaurant – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

All along Route 66 one can find throwback neon signs.  This classic neon for a restaurant is located in the Route 66 town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Comet II Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

City Drug Store – Happy, Texas

I visited Happy, Texas because it was, well, Happy!  The main street had many happy places, like the Happy Self Storage which was located in the old City Drug Store building.  In this case, I took this shot because I really liked the old brick building with the hand painted sign.

City Drug Store in Happy, Texas

Colors of the West – Williams, Arizona

Another nice example of throwback neon signage on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona is the Colors of the West sign.  They apparently sell Native American goods, such as pottery, rugs and quilts.

Colors of the West shop in Williams, Arizona

Cruiser’s Cafe 66 – Williams, Arizona

And finally, another Route 66 Neon sign in Williams, AZ.  Had we had the time, I would have loved to have stopped here to eat. You can see more about Cruiser’s at https://www.cruisers66.com/

Cafe 66 Neon Sign, Williams, AZ

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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Book 4 Cover Art Reveal – New Book is Titled “8154”

GREAT NEWS! Book 4 is now officially underway! Thanks to my friend Antsy McClain, the new cover for Book 4 has been setup and here it is. Titled “8154” after the number of miles we traveled for 23 days from late January to mid-February 2020, this book will detail my EPIC Roadtrip with my daughter Marissa and her three children. You’ll finally get to take a trip as seen from our eyes. Marissa will help write the book with me. We hope to have it ready for sale by the end of March 2020. We hope you’ll watch for it.

Some of the sights we visited were kindly suggested by our friends at Roadside America.  Visit them and get their app!!

Roadside America iPhone app

 

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Everywhere a Sign – Some Z Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Well, I have made it…from A to Z throughout the month of April.  Along the way I have provided some Zany photos and many Zingers.

In 2018 I traveled the country with great Zeal, hitting 26 states with the Zippiest of attitudes.  I hope to provide you with a Zestful rest of your day with a few Z signs I found along the way in 2018.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Zigzag, Oregon

The Zigzag Ranger Station was built in 1935 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Zigzag Inn – Zigzag Oregon
Zigzag Mountain Cafe, Zigzag, Oregon

Zigzag, Oregon is located on the very beautiful Mt. Hood Scenic Byway on US Highway 26.  It is home to one of America’s oldest Ranger Stations and there are a couple of restaurants and gift shops.  The name Zigzag is assumed to come originally from pioneer/explorer Joel Palmer in 1845 as he wrote about a ravine from Mt. Hood.

The manner of descending is to turn directly to the right, go zigzag for about one hundred yards, then turn short round, and go zigzag until you come under the place where you started from; then to the right, and so on, until you reach the bottom.

Since then there are a number of Zigzags… Zigzag ravine, Zigzag Glacier, Zigzag Creek and, of course, the small community of Zigzag.

Zing’s Restaurant, Carmine, Texas

#at Zing’s in Carmine, Texas
Zing’s in Carmine, Texas

I am not sure if Zing’s is open any longer.  But I thought the signs and the rustic nature of the place in this small community on US Highway 290 was an interesting addition to my sign collection.

Zwolle, Louisiana

Zwolle, Louisiana
Railroad sign for Zwolle, Louisiana
Zwolle Post Office
Zwolle Tamale Festival
Zwolle Tamale Factory

Zwolle is a small town of about 1800 people on US Highway 171 in Sabine Parish northwest of Many and south of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Unlike many of the towns in Louisiana, Zwolle celebrates its Native American and Spanish heritage.

Zwolle was originally an Indian village that was occupied by the Spanish Province of Texas for many years. It was settled by the descendants of French and Spanish adventurers, who intermarried with the friendly Indians and with English-speaking settlers from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. The town was named for a community in Holland, in honor of a prominent Dutch visitor.

The town has become regionally famous for its spicy tamales and has a Tamale Fiesta annually in October. The fiesta stems from a combination of the Indians’ and Spaniards’ culinary efforts to produce the most delectable hot tamale in the country.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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