2019 April Blogging From A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge

Its that time of the year again.  Yes,  the A to Z challenge!

Today is the day to reveal my 2019 Theme.

During 2018 I traveled through 26 states and over 12,000 miles.  Along the way I passed through many towns and, of course, each town has their signs.

So, my Theme for 2019 is “Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign.”  I will be including road signs and others that may fit the theme this year.  It will be a fun ride for all of you!  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!

IXL Oklahoma
Telephone, Texas

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book 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 Spring 2019!!

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Travel in 2018: The Best of the Roadside Attractions – Part 1

Sharkheads in Biloxi, MS

Obviously, one of my favorite things to do on road trips short or long is locate the fun, unique and offbeat roadside attractions.  And, fortunately, 2018 provided me a plethora of these.  I have already written about a few of them individually in past months, but this post will be a nice little “photo tour” of some of my favorites.

Having been through 26 different states in 2018, I had plenty of sites and loads of fun.  I got to share many of these with grandchildren, which made it even better.

Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere

Sumoflam with Dignity near Chamberlain, SD

Perhaps my favorite from 2018 was the amazing giant Dignity: Of Earth and Sky statue in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  This giant 50 foot tall steel statue honors the women of the Lakota and Dakota tribes.  It was created by artist  South Dakota Dale Lamphere.  It sits in a rest area overlooking the Missouri River and can be seen from quite a distance.

The statue also features a Star Quilt that has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move in the wind.  Really a wonderful site and it is also one of America’s tallest statues (the 20th tallest according to Wikipedia listing).

80 Foot Long and 37 Foot Tall Brontosaurus statue in Wall Drug created by Emmett Sullivan

Sumoflam takes a selfie with Wall’s giant Brontosaurus

Another giant is just down the road from Dignity. Wall Drug’s giant brontosaurus stretches 80 feet and sits 37 feet tall as it overlooks Interstate 90  at the Wall Exit.  Even there is no time for a visit to Wall Drug, there is always time to stop for a photo-op with a giant friendly dino!

 

Dinosaurs seem to be all over the country and on my four big trips in 2018 I came across a few more of them.  Always fun!

A Scary Dino in Uranus, Missouri

A colorful scrap metal dinosaur in Carmine, Texas

Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, SD

Scary Dino in Price, Utah

Another Giant dino in Uranus

A T-Rex stands at the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

Grandson Rockwell and I hanging with Ms. Pearl

Dinosaurs are not the only giants that I came across on the road in 2018.  One of my favorite “giants” was “Ms. Pearl” the giant squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas at the Berdoll Pecan Candy factory.   Created in 2011, it stands 14 feet tall and currently lays claim to be the tallest squirrel statue in the world.  Like many “roadside” attractions, this one is very visible off of TX Hwy 71.

Nice thing about Berdoll’s is that you can get your picture with Ms. Pearl and even get some Pecan goodies from their 24/7 Pecan Vending Machine.

Ms. Pearl, the 14 foot tall squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas

Other big things I came across in 2018

A Big Bull and Bison at Chef Louie’s steakhouse in Mitchell, SD

There is a big pig (named Wilbur of course) and then a spider web, with Charlotte, in Wilbur, Washington

Giant Shark Head at Sharkheads in Biloxi, Mississippi

A Giant Metal Owl in southern Houston

Giant Spurs in Hico, Texas

The Giant Bowie knife in Bowie, Texas

The Big Black Muffler Man wielding a miner’s ax in Helper, Utah

Then there are the big Muffler Men and Big John statues.  There are dozens and dozens of these dotting the landscape.  I came across a couple of fun ones in 2018.  In Helper, Utah there is one that is painted totally black…to represent the Coal Miners.

These guys are about 15 feet tall and basically all look alike except for the additional things added to them by the local sites.  Over the years I personally have photographed nearly 40 different versions of Big John, Muffler Men or Uniroyal Gals.

You can find them looking like Paul Bunyan, cowboys, Indians and other fun things.

I always like coming across these unique pieces of funky Americana.

Another look at the big black muffler man in Helper, Utah

A Big John at Steppin’ Out Western Wear in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma

Then there is the Big John in Hochatown, Oklahoma…with a golf club

I am working on Part 2 of this travel report with more big and unique things to see.  Watch for it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel in 2018: Fun Place Names and Street Signs

Smiling in Smiley, Texas

I am always on the lookout for fun places to visit when on the backroads of America.  My travels in 2018 took me to 26 different states and along the way I found more unique town names and fun street signs to add to my collection.  In 2017 I published my first book titled “Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names.”  (Check out the book here) At the time I wrote it, I didn’t think I would get enough new places to fill up a second book, but , indeed, I have.  And 2018 really helped with that.

Happyville Road in Greensburg, Kentucky (I always #CHOOSEHAPPY)
Autumn and me in Marvel, Alabama with our Marvel T-Shirts

Obviously, in my road trip plans I did set my sights on a few of these places intentionally.  Once such place was Marvel, Alabama.  I even bought a Marvel T-shirt to wear in front of the sign.  But, having never been there, I had no assurance that there would even be a sign in such a small place.  Luckily, my granddaughter Autumn (who also had a Marvel T-shirt for the occasion) and I did find a sign for the Marvel Baptist Church!!  LUCKY!

Lostant, Illinois. If the ant is Lost, how do they know it is that way?

But, I had many more instances where the places just happened to be there.

This post will quickly hit up on some of these fun discoveries, along with photos of signs, etc.  ENJOY THE RIDE!

“Y” City, Arkansas. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

Y City is an unincorporated community in Scott County, Arkansas. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 71 and 270 in the southern part of the county on Mill Creek and the junction is shaped like a Y.

I.X.L., Oklahoma is really unique. Haven’t seen many towns that have abbreviations.

This small community was apparently a “freedmen’s” town.  It is located in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 48. It has about 59 or 60 residents.

Woody Guthrie Street in Okemah, Oklahoma

While in Okfuskee County, we also visited Okemah, the home of famed folk singer Woody Guthrie — you know, the guy that wrote “This Land is Your Land,” and “Bound for Glory,” among numerous others.

Then there is Gold Bar, Washington in the Cascades

Gold Bar, Washington is located on US 20 in Snohomish County, Washington. The town has a little over 200 residents and is located in the heart of the Cascades.  Beautiful mountains frame this small town.  Gold Bar started as a prospectors camp in 1889, named by a miner who found traces of gold on a river gravel bar.

Fairy Baptist Church, Fairy, Texas. Didn’t know Fairies went to church not that they were Baptist!
The Gate to the Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas

I never knew that fairies were Baptists nor that they die and get buried.  But, there is a Fairy Baptist and a Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas, a very small unincorporated community in the northern part of Hamilton County (north of Hico). It is at the junction of Texas FM 219 and 1602.

Lame Deer, Montana. No, I didn’t even see a regular deer.

Lame Deer is on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Rosebud County, Montana.  The community is named after Miniconjou Lakota chief Lame Deer, who was killed by the U.S. Army in 1877 under a flag of truce south of the town.

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Sublime, Texas is a small community off of US Route 90 about 60 miles west of Houston.  It has a small church and a Post Office.

Goobertown, Arkansas continues the tradition of strange town names in Arkansas

Goobertown is an unincorporated community in Craighead County, Arkansas, near Jonesboro.  You can pick up a Goobertown T-shirt if you want one at the Goobertown Grocery on US 49. The T-shirts feature a personified peanut after which the tiny community is supposedly named.

Punkin Center, Colorado. No punkins to be seen anywhere.

From peanuts in Goobertown to Punkins in Punkin Center.  Punkin Center is a small, rural Unincorporated community in Lincoln Countyat the intersection of State Highway 94 and State Highway 71.  Yes, that is literally the middle of nowhere!  Originally had a small store that was painted orange (this the pumpkin reference), but it burned down in the 1950s.  There are currently “about” 4 residents in this dot on the highway.

Zigzag Inn – Zigzag, Oregon – A NEW Z Name for me!!
The Zigzag Ranger Station was built in 1935 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Zigzag is another unincorporated community.  It is located in Clackamas County, Oregon on US Route 26, near Rhodendron.  It is supposedly named after the Zigzag River.  It is home to the Zigzag Ranger Station, which was built in 1935.

Smiley, Texas – didn’t find many smiles here
The Smiley Water Tower. Not even a Smiley Face on it!

I am always looking for a smile and I thought Smiley, Texas would be just the place!  I have been all over the country and seen many water towers with those fun smiley faces on them.  Ala, no such luck in this town.  Smiley is located in Gonzales County, Texas on US Route 87 and has a population of about 500 not too smiley people.  It is about 60 miles east of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States.

I have seen the Light!! It’s in Arkansas!

Light, Arkansas was named after Daniel Light, the first settler.  The small unincorporated community of 50 or so is located in Greene County at the junction of US Route 412 and AR Hwy 228.

I had hoped for a sunny day in Cloudy, Oklahoma, but alas, as you can see, the place lived up to its name.
There is a Cloudy Baptist Church!! I wonder if there is sunshine in their souls?
And a Cloudy Cemetery?

I saw the town of Cloudy, Oklahoma on a map as I planned a return trip home from Texas and figured I needed to try to get there.   It was actually more of an adventure than I had planned as Cloudy Road, which heads north out of Rattan, Oklahoma, snakes its way for about 12 miles into some hilly country.  Some of the roads were in bad repair.  But I made it!! Due to flooding, I had to return back to Rattan to continue the trek home.

Yes indeed, there is a nice little community called Dime Box in Texas. It even has a big giant dime in a glass box on display in the town (which will be in another post)
Can’t have much prosperity with only a Dime Box…can you?
A dime for Dime Box. But the forever stamps will cost you 55 cents.

Dime Box, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 141 and TX Hwy 424 in Lee County.  The community has maybe 200 people in town.  There is actually a Dime Box Independent School District and a high school.  I’ll feature more about Dime Box in future posts.

Brothers, Oregon
Brothers Stage Stop – Brothers, Oregon

Brothers, Oregon is a dot on the map on US Route 20 about 40 miles east of Bend.  There is a small stage stop, rest area and post office located in the unincorporated community.  The place is in the Oregon high desert and is in the midst of a vast sagebrush field. If you travel about 60 miles northwest on US 20, you will arrive in Sisters, Oregon.  I have been there a couple of times and have noted the town in my blog in the past (see post).

Ding Dong, Texas is comprised of one store/cafe.

Ding Dong, Texas is an unincorporated place on the Lampasas River between Gerogetown and Kileen on TX Hwy 195.  I had stopped there in hopes of buying Hostess Ding-Dongs…  But, among all of the Hostess Cupcake products in the store, they did not carry Ding Dongs.  A Ding Dong fail!!  Ding Dong was named when two early settlers in the town, Zulis Bell and Bert Bell, opened a store and hired the artist Cohn Cohen Hoover to make a sign for it. Hoover painted a sign with two bells on it. Inside the bells, Hoover painted the initials of the Bell brothers. Underneath one bell he painted the word “Ding” and the word “Dong” under the other bell. Over the years, because of this sign, this community became known as Ding Dong.

Helper, Utah

Helper is small quaint community of about 2,200 located off of US 191 just north of Price, Utah in Carbon County.  The town is a coal mining and railroad town.  It gets its name from the “helper” engines that would help push trains up the long hill to Soldier Summit as trains made their way to Salt Lake City.

There are so many unique places in Texas. I just accidentally came across this one….
I was so thrilled for this place. It had a laundromat and a restroom!!
I wonder if you can call the Telephone VFD with a cell phone now???

Telephone, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 273 and TX Hwy 2029 in Fannin County north of Honey Grove, Texas and just south of the Oklahoma border.   There are about 200 folks in this community, which got its name after numerous rejected name submissions to the US Postal Service in 1886.

Startup, Washington

Startup, Washington is a small community located just west of Stevens Pass on US Route 20. The name was to honor George G. Startup, manager of the Wallace Lumber Company. The Startup post office was established in 1900.  There are about 700 people in this very scenic town at the base of the Cascade Mountains.

Welcome to Many. Not just a few here!

Many, Louisiana is just east of the Texas border on Louisiana Hwy 6 and the junction of US Route 171 in Sabine Parish. The community takes its name from Colonel Many, who was an officer stationed at nearby Fort Jesup.

Flat, Texas is truly in a flat part of the state

Back to Texas (again) to the community of Flat.   The town is on TX Hwy 36 northeast of Temple in Coryell County.  There are about 850 people currently living here.

Big Foot Road in Wall, South Dakota

Are you looking for Big Foot?  Maybe you can take Big Foot Rd. near Wall, South Dakota and find him.  I wouldn’t know…  I just stopped for a photo of the exit sign on Interstate 90.

 

Big Fun in Uranus, Missouri
Thanks for Picking Uranus
Welcome to Uranus Missouri
Help Keep Uranus Clean

Finally, there is the “faux” town of Uranus, Missouri on Route 66 west of Cuba.  It is actually a huge tourist attraction filled with fun.  The main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory and all of its employees, called Fudge Packers.

And I’ll end this post in Uranus…  hope you enjoyed the ride

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!

 

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