Everywhere a Sign – Some S Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

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.

Smiley, Texas

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

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 

Great little place in the geographic center of the continental US!
The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD
Sunset Motel Sign on a building in downtown Belle Fourche.

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

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL
A Starved Rock Carving

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, Washington

Welcome to Skykomish, WA

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

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.

Shiner, Texas

Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Shiner Barbeque Company

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

Sublime Baptist Church in 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

Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
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

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!!

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Everywhere a Sign – Some Q Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

It is a challenge to find signs and places that begin with Q.  This post only has one.  So, for fun, I am also adding a Quirky Quickies section to the post…a number of quirky or otherwise interesting photos from the road that didn’t really fit into any of my other A to Z Challenge posts.  It will be a quick read with quaint and quirky and maybe even quizzical signs.  I hope they quench your travel fancy.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

The Queen City, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Queen City sign taken from way up high, Cincinnati, Ohio
Another view of the Queen City sign

Cincinnati is a beautiful city.  I really love taking trips up to this beautiful city on the Ohio River.   The city has been nicknamed The Queen City and the Queen of the West since around 1820, only a few short years after the city was incorporated in 1802 (the city was first settled in the 1780s).   One possible birth of this nickname likely came from writer Ed B. Cooke of the (then) Inquisitor and Cincinnati Advertiser wherein he wrote in the May 4, 1819 edition of the paper:

The City is, indeed, justly styled the fair Queen of the West: distinguished for order, enterprise, public spirit, and liberality, she stands the wonder of an admiring world.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also mentioned it in his poem Catawba.

Quirky and Quick Signs From the Road

A fun little view of some of the more offbeat things I see while on the road

Unique We’re Open sign from Decatur, Texas
Social Vegan sign, seen in Houston, Texas
Boomerang Diner… I guess it’ll make you wanna come back? Taken in Shawnee, Oklahoma
The Local Wag, a dog place in Lexington, Kentucky
No Spitting sign , Doolittle, Missouri
Be-Sure In-Sure sign, Carmine, Texas
I’m Melting on an old movie marquis in Austin, Texas
BBQ Shit is one of many products by Special Shit products of Big Cock Ranch in Austin, Texas. Really!
Please Pick Up in Uranus, Missouri
Black Bear Motel Be Nice sign, at Belle Inn in Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Dr. Pierce’s Barn Sign – a magic potion! Taken in Waterville, Washington
Brothel sign at Black Bear Motel in Davenport, Washington
Old theater turned in Magic Mirror Beauty Salon in Wilbur, Washington
Chicken Plop in Brothers, Oregon
Antique Archaeology van, Le Claire, Iowa
Open sign in Uranus, Missouri
Fresh Shrimp, right off of the boat! Biloxi, Mississippi
Seen at a Walgreen’s in Cypress, Texas in mid-July 2018. Check out the temperature!
LOVE sign — all you need is LOVE. Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Belcherville Cemetery, Belcherville, Texas…population 34
Bull Frog Brand Juice sign on a wall in Rayne, Louisiana — Frog Capital of the World
Found this sign at a place in Telephone, Texas
April 20 is coming…. In Colorado that means the 420 Fest, Taken in Manitou Springs, Colorado
We have all seen Attorney Billboards. How about THIS Attorney? David Komie, the Attorney that rocks! Austin, Texas
Always Carry Cash on a road trip. Some places don’t take credit cards. This sign was at Voodoo Doughnut, in Austin, Texas
You need to watch your children on road trips….or else…. Taken at Star Pizza in Houston, Texas

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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