In early 2020 I traveled across the country with 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 R Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)
Route 66 – Here and There
Though we didn’t drive the entire route, we did hit a number of places on our trip along the famed Route 66. Indeed, we got our kicks on Route 66!
US Routes and US Highways visited
As with Route 66, also known as US Highway 66, there are a couple hundred US Highways / Routes. Here are signs from some of the US Routes that we drove on during our 8154 road trip. As I have written often, I try to take back roads and US Highways whenever I can.
Raccoon – Point Defiance, Oregon
While driving through Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington, we came upon this cute raccoon.
Raymond is along US Route 101 and has over 100 metal people. The artwork is whimsical and fun.
Rex Museum – Gallup, New Mexico
Another great example of old Route 66 neon
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
Since man could walk, travel has been a part of life. The sensational opportunity to see the world has kept most of us from being sedentary. The singular driving force is the strong desire of discovery.
For nearly 50 years I have sought the sensation, the scintillating, the stylish and the silly in my travels. In 2018, that striving for something special continued. I hope you will enjoy some of the S Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.
I was down in Houston in February 2018 and took the grandsons on an expedition. One of my “goal places” was Smiley, Texas. I always love places with unique names. The small community’s name has nothing to do with smiles. Rather, it was named after trader and sheepherder John Smiley in the 1870s. The town of about 450 is located at the intersection of US Highway 87 and Farm Roads 3234 and 108. Honestly, the town looked very depressed and run down. Probably not much to smile about.
Sunset Motel, Belle Fourche, South Dakota
When I take a long road trip, I don’t typically plan on a place to stay until late in the day. I never know how far along I’ll get before it gets dark. Such was the case with my visit to Belle Fourche. After traveling west on Interstate 90 thru to Wall, SD, I decided to head northwest on US Highway 85 towards Montana and made it into Belle Fourche. I always try to stay at a local, vintage motel on these trips nowadays, just for the experience (good or bad). I got to Belle Fourche at sunset, just in time to get a nice shot of the sunset with the Sunset Motel 5 sign. It was a nice stay.
Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois
I made my way to Starved Rock State Park which is a huge natural park situated on the Illinois River just south of North Utica, Illinois and east of Oglesby, Illinois. My sole purpose was to track down one of the Whispering Giant carvings by artist Peter Toth. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and hope to visit there for a more extended trip sometime in the near future. The park has 18 small canyons and numerous waterfalls that can be seen from a number of hiking trails.
Skykomish – interesting name and splendid vistas! I pulled into Skykomish on a beautiful April day after coming down from the snow-packed Stevens Pass on US Highway 2. Though the altitude is only 928 feet, it feels completely like a mountain town as it is surrounded by the tall scenic mountains of the Cascade Range. The name “Skykomish” derives from the Skykomish or Skai-whamish tribe who inhabited the area before any Europeans arrived. The town of Skykomish was officially incorporated on June 5, 1909. The main purpose of the town was to be a fueling station for the railroad.
Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana
The old classic move marquee is slowly disappearing, so, whenever I hit a small town with a huge classic marquee, I want to grab a shot. Such was the case of the Sabine in Many, Louisiana. Built in 1947, the Sabine Theatre was acquired by the town of Many in the mid-1990’s. Like many theatres across the country, the Sabine is now typically used for live theatre, musical performances, occasional movies, and other community events.
When I hear the word shiner, I usually think of a black eye. So, on my trip to see Smiley (see above), I also went through the town of Shiner, Texas. Located on US Highway 90, the town is now locally famous in Texas as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery, best known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 49 states. I didn’t visit the brewery, but learned that the town was named for Henry B. Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in 1887 and then incorporated in 1890.
Sublime Baptist Church, Sublime, Texas
Continue East on US Highway 90 from Shiner and you’ll pass through the small community if Sublime. Isn’t that just sublime? There isn’t much here. The population is about 75, and has been since the 1950s. The name was set in 1875 when a post office was established there.
Stardust Motel, Wallace, Idaho
Like the Sunset Motel in South Dakota, I ended up in the mountain town of Wallace, Idaho on my way west to Washington in April 2018. I just stopped in and got a room at the Stardust. Classic vintage motel sign drew me in. Nice rooms, good rates and a lovely little town.
Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington
I stopped in to Olympia to have breakfast with some old friends. We ate the Spar Cafe in downtown Olympia. First established in the 1930s, the eatery is filled with interesting art. Originally touted as a “fine eating and recreation parlor,” can you still see the original bar, artwork, chandeliers, and other furnishings. I heard that even the drinking water is served up old school—straight from its own artesian well.
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!!
(Editor’s Note: For my 2019 posts, I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018. I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018. These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them. )
There are many road signs and store front signs to be seen across this magnificent country. The endlessly marvelous variety of signs and places always has me camera ready. Here are some of the Many signs I found along the way, including some that say Many! Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.
Nashboro Motel, Goodlettsville, Tennessee
It probably ain’t fancy and maybe even a place you won’t want to stay. But the name is great! For years I have referred to Nashville as “Nashvegas,” but got a kick out of this sign when heading into Nashville on US Highway 41. I turned around to go get this shot of a uniquely named motel. I don’t offer any recommendations…unless you want a fun photo.
Nevada Sign, Denio, Nevada
Prior to this stop in Denio, Nevada in April 2018, I hadn’t been in Nevada since my days as a driver for Nava-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff in 1983. Yep…it had been 35 years since visiting the great state of Nevada. I crossed this state from Denio on NV 140, through into Winnemucca on US Route 95 and then traveled on Interstate 80 through Elko and Wendover on my way to my old hometown of Murray, Utah. As for Denio, Nevada, it sits in the high desert on the border with Oregon. There are a couple of places there and a store, a couple of miles away at Denio Junction.
Napoleon Scenic Byway to Space, Napoleon, Mississippi
On my way west on US 90 in southern Mississippi, I came across this sign. It was so interesting … a scenic byway to space. Just north of US 90 and a few miles east of the Louisiana Border is the John C. Stennis Space Center, a NASA Rocket Testing Facility. In association with the surrounding areas of the Stennis Space Center, Hancock County, Mississippi created a number of scenic routes through the wildlife rich wetlands (in the Spirit of the Old Spanish Trail, which was the shortest route from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California). US 90 is designated as the Old Spanish Trail. The county has designated eight scenic byways in the area around the space center, including six of which have the “Scenic Byway to Space” name. Napoleon is now unpopulated and never really had a population of more than 100 since its founding in the early 1800s. As for the highway, I never made it to space…still earthbound.
I grew up watching Richard Nixon on TV as youth. I remember him as a President. Nixon, Texas has nothing to do with him… Nixon was founded in 1906 as Nixonville, when the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway built its lines through the John T. Nixon Ranch. The town sits in the counties of Wilson and Gonzales, and can be found at the intersection of US Highway 87, TX Highway 80 and Farm Road 1117.
Like what you see here? 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!!