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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PRHBTN 2019: More Murals to Decorate Lexington

Once again, John and Jessica Winters and their PRHBTN organization has brought some amazing art into Lexington.  October and the first part of November saw four more unique artists into the city to colorize more walls in the city.

This year we got visits from Venezuelan artist Koz Dos,  New Yorker Elle, SNUB23 from Great Britain and Alexandrea Pangburn from the Denver area.  Each of them brought their own unique styles to add to the beauty of the city.

Detail of Koz Dos mural
KOZ DOS

The first one to get started was Koz Dos.  Born in 1986 in Caracas, Venezuela, he is a graffiti artist who made his first steps in the Caracas hood. Since then, he has become famous for his photorealistic and colorful portraits of people and frames, art, using geometric patterns.

Koz Dos was hard at it in his first couple of days, painting 5 stories up.

The Koz Dos mural was painted on the side of the large LexPark garage in downtown Lexington off of Short Street.  Originally, it was the home of a large HOW & NOSM mural (see my post about the 2014 PRHBTN murals to see the HOW & NOSM mural) that had lots of weather damage.  These artists come into this knowing that there is always the possibility that their art may disappear due to weather, new ownership of buildings, etc.  Such was this case.  But, it opened the wall for the massive and colorful work that Koz Dos laid upon it.  He used the nearly sixty foot wall to create a unique and crafty piece of art with a number of colorful characters on it.  Following are a few shots from beginning to complete.  Note, this is a difficult piece to get a complete photo of without wires getting in the way.    You can see more about Koz Doz on his Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/koz.dos/

First Day of work for Koz Dos
Detail of a polar bear on top of the Koz Dos mural

I am a big fan of herons, cranes and flamingos.  In this instance, I am not exactly sure what kind of bird he used, but it looks like some sort of heron.  I love his use of the birds.

Fish and herons on the Koz Dos mural
Detail of Fish on Koz Dos mural
This is the best shot I could get of the finished mural, the day it was completed. It is beautiful.
Alexandrea Pangburn

While Koz Dos was hard at work, a couple of miles away Alexandrea Pangburn was getting started on her piece near 8th Street and Jefferson.  Based in Golden, CO, Alexandrea specializes in animal portraits using acrylic paint, ink, watercolors and gouache on a variety of surfaces – from canvas to wood and bricks.

First day view of Alexandrea Pangburn mural
Detail of Day 1 of Pangburn mural

When I visited her work on her first day, I saw what looked like a paint by number painting and really couldn’t see what was going to come from it. After seeing the completed piece, I can see everything.  I did get to meet her and she is extremely friendly and personable.  Unfortunately, I never got by to see her actually working on it.  Visit and follow Alexandrea Pangburn on her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/alexandrea_pang/

Detail of the Pangburn mural. Such a cute fox
This is the finished mural from Alexandrea Pangburn
This fox visited our neighborhood just a few days before the Pangburn mural was painted.
Another shot of the local fox

Just a few days later she had finished.  You can see the completed mural above. I was so delighted to see this foxy photo.  Ironically, just a few days earlier I was fortunate enough to capture some shots of a fox who had visited our neighborhood after being displaced from its nearby den due to home/apartment construction.  So, this mural had special meaning to me and I absolutely love it!

Street Artist in ELLE takes a moment to chat
ELLE

Next to roll into Lexington is Brooklyn, New York artist ELLE.  (See her website at http://ellestreetart.com/).   Over the years I have met many street artists through PRHBTN and others.  Most of them are rough cut, though personable, souls.  They all have that gypsy-like nature about them.  But not ELLE.  For lack of a better way to describe her after meeting and talking with her is that she is an exotically beautiful bad-ass artist.  She actually looks more like she belongs on a TV commercial.   According to her Website BIO:

ELLE considers her paintings to be poetry. She creates stories by collaging disparate images: powerful females, flora and fauna, classical paintings juxtaposed with pop-culture and high fashion imagery, revealing purposefully designed messages to the world.

ELLE Working on her mural
Detail of ELLE mural

ELLE’s giant mural is located on the side of a building off of Church Street near Mill Street in downtown Lexington.  This work is just as exotic and colorful as she is.  I got there after she had already knocked out some of the first part of the work, which features three women’s faces collaged into each other.

An onlooker admires the work of ELLE as it sits in progress
Detail of ELLE painting

The element of surprise was the key to this beautiful mural.  And, this one was not without controversy as she added some “hidden” political commentary onto the mural, which, was painted over on the day after she completed it.  Though I do have a photo of the controversial content, I am choosing not to post it here.  But, I do want to note, that this is not unusual for graffiti artists.  In your face controversy follows them…  thus the name PRHBTN for Lexington’s now world famous art organization.  Following are more shots of her amazing work.

ELLE at Work
Detail of her nearly complete mural
This is a full-length shot of ELLE’s mural
Another view of ELLE’s mural
SNUB23

The final mural in Lexington was done by Brighton, UK artist SNUB23.  Like the others above, he has become a world-renown street artist and graphic artist for smaller projects.   His PRHBTN project is probably one of the more unique pieces and certainly very detailed on many levels. On his website BIO, the definition of his work style is as colorful as he is:

Coming into being in the 1990s, SNUB is the alter ego of a graphic designer, inspired by the fictional robot Hammerstein.

SNUB Logo
SNUB23 with his friend and helper

I got to speak to him a few times during his big project and he is as friendly as can be.  Many graffiti artists prefer to not be photographed, and I totally adhere to their requests.  Not so with SNUB, who was delighted to have his photo taken along with his female friend with her striking orange hair.

Though, as you can see on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/snub23/, much of his work looks more like it comes from the comic book world. However, the work he did in Lexington is quite complex and was absolutely time consuming.  I watched as he used various size templates to create a visual illusion of 3D blocks of different sizes.  Quite the amazing work.

SNUB23 working on his wall.
SNUB23 used templates to make each block
SNUB’s friend works on a section
SNUB23 works on each cube separately.
Finished Corner view
Side view. When looked at in light it appears in 3D due to his detailed shadowing
More SNUB23

You can visit SNUB23 at his website at https://www.snub23.com/

Have you checked out my books?

John Winters, the founder and fearless leader of PRHBTN shows off his Less Beaten Paths books.

I write about back roads travel and quirky, unique sites along the way.  I have published three books so far, and am working on Book 4 now, which will be all about murals, graffiti art and wall art from all over the U.S. and Canada.  I have photos of nearly 2500 different works.  And, yes, I will have a unique chapter just on PRHBTN in Lexington!!!  You can see PRHBTN founder John Winters on the left with HIS copies of my books. At muraledesign.com offering the largest selection of high-quality murals, providing a helpful customer service staff, and letting our customers pick the exact size and ideal material for their unique space.

ORDER YOUR BOOKS TODAY!

Happy Holidays from Sumofalm

As the 2019 Holidays are upon us, its a good time to think about that unique gift.  My books are great fun for travelers.  Every place in my books was personally visited by me and these are my unique stories of these places.  All photography is also mine.  You can grab your copies of any of my books at Amazon in print or Kindle versions at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0784XVGSW

My newest book is also available at the fun gift shops at Carhenge in Nebraska, Paradise Point Marketplace in Scottsville, Kentucky, Bowlin’s The Thing in Arizona and the famed Uranus Fudge Factory on Route 66 in Missouri.

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Paradise Point (KY) Revisited: September 2019

Visiting with John and Sebrina Erskine to celebrate my new book, which includes a chapter about them!

Back in January of 2018 I made my first visits to the Paradise Point Marketplace in Scottsville, KY and did a blog post about it (see the original post).  In celebration of my newest book release, which features a chapter about Paradise Point, I made a trip down there in mid-September 2019 to sign the book and have a fun visit.  Since they are also an excellent and whimsical eatery, they will also be included in a future book on eateries, so I needed more photos of the place, especially the amazing breakfast items, bakery items and hot dogs.

Paradise Point Marketplace in Scottsville, KY
Funky Junk
Paradise Point

From Lexington, its about a two and a half drive to get down to Paradise Point, which is just down US 31E from the beautiful Barren River Lake State Park and Resort.  They are HIGHLY visible right off the highway and have plenty of parking and seating.  As they have gotten more and more popular, they expanded their seating to a covered outdoor area, which provides much more room for bigger groups.

Expanded Seating at Paradise Point
Breakfast!

I took an early morning drive from Lexington to Bardstown on the Bluegrass Parkway and then exited off to take US 31E south along the Lincoln Memorial Highway (I’ll have a separate post about this scenic drive coming soon).  Other than seeing Sebrina and John, I really looked forward to indulging in their amazing breakfast offerings. They homemake almost everything there and make a sweet tasty breakfast hashbrown casserole, breakfast burritos, cowboy casserole, a couple of types of quiche and a unique french toast casserole, among other things.  Oftimes, on the weekends, their breakfast items sell out, so, if you wanna try them out, you better get there early.  On weekends in the summer, they open at 8 AM CDT.

Breakfast Menu
My favorite is the Hashbrown Casserole
Hashbrown Casserole
French Toast Casserole
French Toast Casserole is yummy too.
Serving Breakfast and goodies
Yes, they have good coffee
Bakery items like brownies, cookies and pies … yum

Along with breakfast, you can pick up some of the other goodies that are bakery items, such as huge cookies, mouth watering pies and other goodies.  After breakfast I was too full to even think about trying these, but they too looked sooooo good!

They also have a huge selection of drinks to wash the breakfast and sweets down, so no need to worry about that either.  And, for the coffee lovers out there, they have some high quality coffee products.  I am not a coffee drinker, but I have heard good things from others about the coffee.

Need a brownie? Look at these!
Me Want Cookie
Look at that pie….yummiferous
Hot Dogs

The last two times I visited, it was in the morning and so I could not try out John’s hot dogs, so I stuck around until hot dog time to try one out.  They have a huge following for their hot dogs so I really had to try one and I loved it.  Me..I am a mustard and hot dog kinda guy, so that’s what I did.  I kicked myself after leaving…should have gotten a couple of the long road trip back.  I will certainly do that.

The Hot Dog thingamajigger
Best Hot Dog
Buns
Yum!
Get your Hot Dog ticket inside and then go get the goodies outside
Hot Diggity Dog
Yummiferous
John sports the Hot Dog shirt
Eat your hot dogs in their big area
John Erskine Art

Of course, food is only a small part of the Paradise Point experience!  The marketplace has a great variety of quirk, color and whimsy, all sprinkled with happiness and joy and love in their shop. From the colorful car and mural enhanced semi trailer, among other things, in the parking lot and adjacent junk and art area to the overwhelming amount of eye-candy merchandise on the inside, this place is a shoppers paradise.  John Erskine is an artist and all sorts of his joy-inspiring art is available for sale in the store, along with other unique things…including Sumoflam books!!!

Here is a menagerie of what you can see at Paradise Point.  Hope you can get down there and have a fun time.

The Art Car gets changed every year. This year its extra colorful
Don’t Postpone Joy is a continual theme throughout the place
Greetings from Paradise Point!
No naughty allowed…be nice or leave
This is where it needs to stay!!
Need a bathroom?
Be warned! Only 3 guys allowed in the rest room at a time
Bathroom Door
More art by John
Be Happy
Patriotism
Used to eat Milky in Japan all the time—so fun to see a can in the middle of reural Kentucky
Lots of fun stare down opportunities
Don’t Forget Ice Cream
Always make someone’s day
Next to a lake…boat ride anyone? Great companions
Wait a minute!! I know this guy!! His books are for sale at Paradise Point!
Get it? (Yes, there are many Amish down in these parts)
Did I mention the Hot Dogs?
Not sure what this is, but they have it Paradise Point!
Need a sign? They have them. And stickers too!
CUSTOM Love Bigger and Don’t Postpone Joy t-shirts are available here
Yes, it makes me happy!

ENJOYING WHAT YOU SEE?  TRY MY BOOKS.

Now have three books out. Check them out!

You can find my books at Paradise Point or you can check my books out on Amazon for more fun reads about my quirky back roads travels.  Get them out on my Amazon page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0784XVGSW

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