Everywhere a Sign – Some U Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Its a unanimous understatement to say that I love traveling the back roads of America looking for the interesting and unique. It is ultimately my utmost passion (well, besides my family and my grandchildren).

I will also do something in this post. I will be posting some of the US Highway signs I have picked up, most specifically in 2018. I’ll explain down below.  I hope you enjoy some of the U Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Uranus, Missouri

Welcome to Uranus Missouri
Uranus, Missouri water tower
Thanks for Picking Uranus
Sounds yummy
Help Keep Uranus Clean
The Best Fudge Comes from Uranus
Uranus Parks T-shirt

Might as well start this post on a humorously low point.  Yes indeed, there is a place in Missouri called Uranus. And yes, it is pronounced “Your Anus” (and by the way, I heard a question on Jeopardy recently and Alex Trebek pronounces it that way).  And yes, the main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory where all of the employees (affectionately referred to as Fudge Packers) all yell out “Welcome to Uranus” when you walk into the shop.  Indeed, the owners and creators made sure it was quite the attraction.  Rather than go into detail on this post (I think the pictures above give you enough hints), please go visit my detailed post about Uranus from last year.  You can see more about Uranus here.

US Highway Shields / Route Markers

US Route 61 in Mississippi, also known as The Blues Highway (taken in 2017)

OK.  You are probably thinking “How can looking at numbers on signs be interesting?”  And, I would give that to you.  To many they probably aren’t.  But look at the signs…they look like shields or badges.  And, to me, as a collector of road trip memories (via photos and memories), these are like Boy Scout merit badges.  I am always after yet another number for my collection.

For consistency, in my blog I refer to them as US Highways, though they are called Route XX in other places…ala Route 66.  But, they are definitely interchangeable.

US Highway 1 signs in Baltimore, Maryland. US Highway 1 actually goes along the east coast from Key West, Florida to Fort Kent, Maine… a total of 2,369 miles.

US Highway 1 is the easternmost route in the US and runs north-south (as do ALL odd numbered highways) along the Atlantic Coast.

The first highways were numbered with this universal system in 1925.  Nowadays,  the U.S. Numbered Highways (or Routes) are the original interstate highways, dating back to 1926. U.S. Highways are numbered in a grid: even numbered for east–west routes (with the lowest numbers along Canada) and odd numbered for north–south routes (with the lowest numbers along the Atlantic Ocean). Three-digit highways, also known as “child routes,” are branches off their main one- or two-digit “parents” (for example, U.S. Route 202 is a branch of U.S. Route 2). However, US 101, rather than a “child” of US 1, is considered a “mainline” U.S. Route.

US Highway 2 in Hurley, Wisconsin (taken in 2016)
US Highway 2 at Stevens Pass in Washington

US Highway 2 is the northernmost long highway in the United States.  Completely, it covers 2,571 miles from east to west, starting in Houlton, Maine and ending in Everett, Washington.   In 1926 it was intentionally split.  The eastern section ends in Rouses Point, New York, where it meets US Highway 11.  Then, the highway kicks in again in St. Ignace, Michigan and traverses across the northern US, ending in Everett, Washington.  I have actually driven (at different times) the entire length of US Highway 2 from Ironwood, Michigan to Everett, Washington.

US Highway 101 in Southern Washington

US Highway 101 was the only original highway to have a three digit number.  This is the westernmost north-south highway and runs from Port Angeles, Washington to Los Angeles, California for about 1,550 miles.  In some places it is nicknamed the Pacific Coast Highway and in California it is also called the El Camino Real (the Royal Road).  I have been on portions of this highway in Washington, Oregon and California.

US Highway 90 near Garwood, Texas

Like US Highway 2, US Highway 90 is the original southern route going east-west.   It basically begins in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and ends in Van Horn, Texas.   It has a length of about 1,633 miles and, in some places is called the Old Spanish Trail.  I have driven portions of this highway in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, most of it in 2018 when I drive to Houston via Mobile, Alabama, through Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi, Lafayette, Louisiana and as far west as San Antonio.

Route 66 – Getting my kicks
Route 66 in Missouri … near Rolla, Missouri
Visiting Route 66 in White Oak, Oklahoma
Historic Route 66 in Staunton, Illinois

Though I have not even come close to gaining all of the “badges,” I have many.  Following are a few of the other US Highways I have been on.  Just for your interest…my favorites are (in order)…  US 2 (from Wisconsin to Washington), US 89 (from northern Montana to Southern Arizona), US 66 (naturally), US 61 (along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Mississippi), US 50 (another cross-country east-west highway that cuts through the heart of America for over 300 miles from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California), US 101, US 60, which cuts across the heartland of the United States and sometimes joins with Route 66, and finally, US 31 (which runs from Northern Michigan to Mobile, Alabama including a long stretch through Kentucky).  But, I love many more of them!

Following are a few random photos I took in 2018 to add to my “badge collection” of US Highway Signs.

US Highway 68 taken in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. This highway runs for 560 miles from Toledo, Ohio to Reidland, Kentucky
US Highway 177 taken near Byars, Oklahoma. This is a spur of US Hwy 77 and goes for 233 miles from South Haven, Kansas to Madill, Oklahoma
US Highway 81 in Ringgold, Oklahoma

US Highway 81  is a major north-south highway that extends for 1220 miles in the central United States and is one of the earliest United States Numbered Highways established in 1926 by the US Department of Agriculture Bureau of Public Roads.  It begins in the north near Pembina, North Dakota at the U.S./Canada border and ends in Fort Worth, Texas at Interstate 35W.

US Highway 287, also pictured above, is a north–south (physically northwest–southeast) United States highway that stretches for 1,791 miles.  It serves as the major truck route between Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. The highway is broken into two segments by Yellowstone National Park, where an unnumbered park road serves as a connector.  I have actually been on many portions of this road.

US Highway 271 near Arthur City, Texas. It is about 297 miles in length from Tyler, Texas through Oklahoma to Fort Smith, Arkansas
US Highway 183 near Florence, Texas. It was the last route to be completely paved (in 1967). It runs north-south for 1250 miles from Refugio, Texas to Presho, South Dakota. I have been on many sections of this highway over the years.
US Highway 51 near Dyersburg, Missouri.

US Highway 51 is another major south-north United States highway that extends 1,277 miles from Laplace, Louisiana, to Hurley, Wisconsin on the  Wisconsin–Michigan state line where it ends in a T interchange with US Highway 2 near Ironwood, Michigan.  I actually stood at that very corner for my US Highway 2 photo (see above).

US Highways 79 and 190 in Milano, Texas

US Highway 79 is officially considered and labeled as a north-south highway, but it is actually more of a diagonal northeast-southwest highway. The highway’s northern/eastern terminus is in Russellville, Kentucky, at an intersection with U.S. Highway 68 and KY 80.  I have driven US 79 from Russellville all the way through Clarksville and Paris, Tennessee and then on to Memphis (where I took US Highway 61 south into Mississippi).  On other trips, I have taken US 79 in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  US Highway 79 covers about 855 miles.

US 190 has been around since 1926.  It covers about 875 miles as an auxiliary route to US Highway 90.  It starts in Slidell, Louisiana and ends in Iraan, Texas.  It passes through Baton Rouge as well as Huntsville and Temple, Texas.  I have driven a good portion of US Highway 190.

US Highway 58 near Damascus, Virginia

This is a beautiful stretch of highway starting at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee and heading about 508 miles across southern Virginia eventually to Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia.  At one time or another I have driven the entire length of this highway.

US Highway 89 and US Highway  2 meet up in northern Browning, Montana

US Highway begins in the northernmost region of Montana north of Babb on the Canada/Montana border. It goes south ending in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Over the course of my life I have traveled every inch of this 1,252 mile highway which was first established in 1926.  I would argue that this is one of the most scenic highways in the United States.  It passes seven National Parks (thus the nickname the National Park Highway.  These include, among others, Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and the Grand Canyon.  Along the route it also passes a number of scenic National Monuments as well.  In fact, National Geographic magazine has called this the “No. 1 Driver’s Drive in the World.”  I would concur.  You can experience mountains, high plains, deserts and canyons on this route.

US Highway 60 on Midland Trail in West Virginia

Last sign for this post is a biggie.  US Highway 60 is an east–west United States highway, traveling 2,670 miles from southwestern Arizona to the Atlantic coast in Virginia. Despite the final “0” in its number, indicating a transcontinental designation, the 1926 route formerly ended in Springfield, Missouri, at its intersection with Route 66.

US Highway 60 cuts through West Virginia as the Midland Trail and also passes through Central Kentucky and westward.  I have driven the entire length from Norfolk, Virginia through Lexington, Virginia and on through West Virginia, Kentucky into Cairo, Illinois.  This has been a major route for me for many years, especially since it extends out of Lexington both east and west.

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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Everywhere a Sign – Some R Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Road trips can be redundant. Road trips can be real fun. Rarely is there anything dull along the way. Visit a small town on a back road and you will find something. Here are some R signs, including a collection of Roxy Theaters and Restroom signs…yes, some potty humor.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

 

 

Rustic Rose Mercantile, Evant , Texas

Rustic Rose Mercantile, Evant, Texas

Don’t know a thing about this place, but sure love the sign.  Evant, Texas is a small community at the intersection of US Highway 281 and US Highway 84. I drove through here on my way from Lampassas to Hamilton.

Rover, Arkansas

Rover, Arkansas Post Office

Rover, Arkansas is a small place on Arkansas Highways 27 and 28 on the border of the Ouachita National Forest. Just a quick photo stop for me.

Red Light Garage Antiques and Restaurant, Wallace, Idaho

Red Light Garage Antiques and Restaurant, Wallace, Idaho
Red Light Garage, Wallace, Idaho

I spent the night in Wallace, Idaho on a snowy April evening.  Beautiful little town off of Interstate 90 between Missoula, Montana and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  It is one of those places I would love to have an extended visit to.  I got in late and so this restaurant was closed.  Maybe next time.

Rayne, Louisiana

Rayne, Louisiana — Frog Capital of the World

Rayne, Louisiana has laid claim to be the moniker of “Frog Capital of the World.”  To celebrate that, they have dozens of small frogs at store fronts around the town.  There are over a dozen frog-themed murals all over town as well. A fun little place.

Rayne is located off of Interstate 10 or US Highway 90 between Lake Charles and Lafayette.

Rusty Rooster, Elmore City, Oklahoma

Rusty Rooster Resale Shop, Elmore City, Oklahoma

On our way home from Texas in April 2018, we drive through Duncan, Oklahoma and then took US Highway 81 north to Marlow and then east on OK Highway 29, where we passed through Elmore City.  Loved the building that we saw there.  This is one of the reasons I always go through small towns on back roads.

Ronald Reagan Trail, Sparland, Illinois

Ronald Reagan Trail, Sparland, Illinois

I always enjoy taking labeled scenic highways and “trails.”  In early April 2018 I drove to Washington State and passed through Illinois along the Illinois River Road, which, at least in Sparland, Illinois included the Ronald Reagan Trail. The trail runs from Reagan’s ancestral home in Fulton, Illinois along the Mississippi River, where both of his parents came from, to his own birthplace in Tampico, Illinois, where one can still visit the apartment on the town strip where he was born. The Reagan Trail includes his boyhood home of Dixon, his birthplace in Tampico, his homes in Galesburg and Monmouth and the place which helped make him into a leader, Eureka College.  I took Illinois 29 north through Hopewell and Henry and followed the trail there a bit.

Roxy Theater Marquees – All Over the Place

Roxy Theater , Franklin, Kentucky
Roxy, Lexington, Kentucky
Roxy Theater, Ottawa, Illinois
New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS
Roxy Theatre in Choteau, Montana
Roxy Theatre in Langdon, ND
The Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana

There are many theaters named Roxy dotting small towns and big towns across America.  Some of these above I have found (some were actually in 2017 travels as well).

What I didn’t know until this post, was that the name “Roxy” comes from the famed American dance/theatre/vaudeville and cinema entrepreneur Samuel L. Rothapfel, whose nickname was “Roxy.” It was Roxy that was responsible for the great appeal of spectacular movie palaces.   His philosophy:

Giving the people what they want is fundamentally and disastrously wrong. The people don’t know what they want. They want to be entertained, that’s all. Don’t give the people what they want–give ’em something better.

Roxy is also the man who created the Radio City Music Hall.  So, next time you go to a great old grand movie theater, think about Roxy!

Restrooms on the Road – A fun look at some of the places

When you are on a long road trip, face it, you gotta go.  Many places take advantage of this by creating an interesting “going experience.”  I keep my iPhone with me at all times just in case.  Here are a few that I came across over the past year.  Go with me on this potty adventure…and don’t forget to wash your hands!  And yes, I do take Selfies in the Restrooms.

I don’t care… I do take selfies in the bathroom sometimes.
King Cotton Restroom, Cotton Gin Cafe, Prosper, Texas
Men’s Room at Uranus Fudge Factory, Uranus, Missouri
Staff Must Wash Hands, Uranus, Missouri

I personally get a kick out of signs that say Employees Must Wash Hands

Employees Must Wash Hands – can’t remember where this was
Wash Hands, Hurts Donut in Katy, Texas
Another one. Can’t remember where
Yet another one…and they NEVER come in and wash my hands!!
Restrooms Sign, Star Pizza, Houston, Texas
Just one more…
Boys Restroom , Nan’s New Orleans Cafe and Po’ Boys, Mandeville, Louisiana
Sign at a gas station in Davenport, Washington
Sign in the same Davenport Gas Station, inside the restroom
Toilet Sign at the DFW Elite Toy Museum, Haltom City, Texas
Virol Sign above urinals at The Spar Cafe in Olympia, Washington

VIROL was a brown, sweet and incredibly sticky Malt Extract that was pushed as a potion for good health in the 1920s.

Sprinkle Tinkle sign in a restroom in Ola, Oklahoma
Outhouse with a toilet planter in Frenchglen, Oregon. Funny how they don’t have a flushing toilet…  And there is a “Public Restroom” sign on the door
The Sign to the Bathroom at Sunshine General Store, Brookeville, Maryland (Actually visited in 2019)
Men’s Room Door at a gas station in Ashland, Montana
Don’t Flush sign at Sunset Motel (where I stayed one night), Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Sign on a Convenience Store door in Ferdinand, Indiana. Not technically a bathroom sign, but it kinda fits the theme!!
WooHoo… I was considered a customer at the station in Davenport, Washington  Don’t think I can take that key with me.
You can hit a deer, but can’t hit the toilet… At a restroom in Ola, Oklahoma
Men’s Room at Sharkheads in Biloxi, Mississippi
Restroom Entrance at Sharkheads in Biloxi, Mississippi
Restroom Door at The Outpost, Fanning, Missouri

Well, you are probably feeling wiped out after seeing all of these.  I’ll quit here.

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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Everywhere a Sign – Some P Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Perfection is not something I seek on a road trip.  Play is the key word for me.  Driving from here to there on a back road is like playing.  The game of discovery is so much fun. And I am passionate about the places I venture into, whether it be a small country community on a narrow two-lane road or a big city amid the proud tall-standing buildings.  Pure passionate playfulness. And here are some of the interesting P signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Putnam’s One-Stop Bait Shop Sign, Rogersville, Alabama

Putnam’s One stop Bait Shop, Rogersville, Alabama
Putnam’s Shad Guts
Putnam’s Fiddle Worms

Driving to Houston through Alabama brought plenty of surprises.  It was my first trip into this section of Northern Alabama.  We drove down Alabama 101 from Lexington, Alabama towards the Tennessee River crossing at Wheeler Dam.  Just before we got there, I came across this old bait shop just south of the intersection of AL 101 and US Highway 72.  The old faded mural on the side of the building is what grabbed me.  The Fiddle Worms and Shad Guts on the front of the building were the final clinchers.  What in the world is a fiddle worm?  What the heck are Shad Guts? (No, I am not a fisherman).

Petrified Wood Gas Station, Decatur, Texas

Petrified Wood Gas Station, Decatur, Texas
Sumoflam at the Petrified Wood Station

This place was on my MUST SEE bucket list for a number of years and I finally got to see it last summer on my way back to Kentucky from a visit to Texas with my granddaughter.  Sitting on the local business route of US Highways 81/287 is an old gas station and Tourist Camp faced with Petrified Wood. It is a nostalgic throwback to the early days of road travel.  It is no longer a functioning gas station, but it is a symbol for the town of Decatur.   According to a history of Wise County, Texas, this station was built in 1927 by E.F. Boydston, a local businessman in the county.   Initially, he built a wooden shed for travelers as well as a couple of cabins.  He allowed visitors to build campfires on the spot.  By 1931 he had built three wooden cabins with garages.  It was called the Texas Tourist Camp at the time. Then, for some reason, maybe looks, he faced his station and the three cabins with petrified wood in 1935 after the highway was widened.   The Boydston family ultimately sold the property in 1988.    On a side note, there is a legend that Bonnie and Clyde stayed at the tourist camp during their runs from the law.

Papa Joe’s Stop & Go, Crescent Junction, Utah

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction – fun “tourist trap”
Papa Joe’s Oasis, Crescent Junction, Utah

Crescent Junction, Utah is called such because it is the junction of US Highways 191, 50 and 6.  Traveling on Interstate 70 east from Green River, Utah towards Grand Junction, Colorado, Crescent Junction sends US 191 south towards Moab while US 50/6 continue east.  At the Junction, which really is in the middle of the eastern Utah desert, there is not much.  Need a restroom break, water, drinks, snacks?  Papa Joe’s offers all of this and more.

Like many other “tourist traps,” this place offers many goodies, Utah souvenirs, has alien cut outs, an old replica of the Scooby Doo Magic Van, and has recently opened a second building to carry Beef Jerky products.

Only recommendation…you may want to avoid buying gas.  Get your gas in Green River, Moab or Grand Junction.  Papa Joe likes to price gouge a bit on the car juice.

Powder River Lanes, Broadus, Montana

Powder River Lanes, Broadus, Montana

Old bowling alleys always provide some fun sign shots.  Back in the 1960s bowling was a big thing.  Many people enjoy the sport (my hand is raised as one of them), but you don’t see many new ones going up.  The old vintage signs are always a kick.  I saw this one in Broadus, Montana on my northwest from South Dakota towards Billings on US Highway 212. Nowadays, casinos are a big thing and Montana has hundreds of small casinos.  There is one in this old bowling alley.

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Cosmopolis, Washington

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, US 101, Cosmopolis, Washington

Both Washington and Oregon have a Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.  I was able to drive part of Washington’s in 2018. The Washington version of the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway is a 350 mile drive starting in Olympia, Washington. From there it outlines the entire Olympic Peninsula, and then meanders through Olympic National Park and its lush rain forests.  It continues along ocean beaches beginning at Olympia’s Ruby Beach, then extends south to the border with Oregon, ending near Long Beach, Washington. Some of the route also goes along US Highway 101.  I would love to drive the entire route someday.

Portway Tavern, Astoria, Oregon

Portway Tavern, Astoria, Oregon

This is another of those places with a unique business sign. I didn’t stop into the Portway Tavern, located in the VERY scenic town of Astoria in northwest Oregon.  It is one of those places with a colorful history, dating back to the 1920s, when the place was established by Victor Jarvinen. It has a number of unique stories and myths and claims to be the oldest tavern/saloon west of the Rockies.

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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