Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 1: Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT

Gold Butte, Montana
Gold Butte in Northern Montana as seen from Frontier Bar near Shelby, Montana

Mar. 27, 2013: After almost two weeks in Rexburg working with my new employer DSN America, it was time to return back to Kentucky and home sweet home.  They had flown Julianne out to Idaho, so I was blessed to have my very best friend and sweetheart with me for the long drive home, with a brief stopover in Shelby, Montana to see our daughter and their kids.  It was an easy first day.


Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT

We left Rexburg in the afternoon and eventually zipped up I-15.  We crossed over Monida Pass, which serve as the border between Idaho and Montana. The mountains were still snow covered and beautiful, especially as we came close to the Montana border.

Lima Peaks south of Lima, Montana
Garfield Mtn (R) and Lima Peaks just south of Lima, Montana

Lima, Montana is just a small dot on the map and there is not much there.  But, it is really a quite unique place.  There are barely 200 people living in the town at the base of the mountains.  Many of the buildings are really old.  In some respects, the town almost looks like it is a period movie set rather than a real town. The Red River runs nearby the small town.  Lima was originally called Allerdice until a train station for the Utah and Northern was built there.  It was changed to Spring Hill at that time.  It was eventually changed to Lima by Henry Thompson, who named it for his former home in Lima, Wisconsin.

Downtown Lima, Montana
Downtown Lima, Montana

We drove around the small town, much of which was dirt roads.  There is a woodworker that makes whirly-gigs, a couple of interesting buildings and a unique kitschy store front.

Down Moose Alley to the hand made wood toys place
Down Moose Alley to the hand made wood toys place
Wood Shop was closed when we got there.
Wood Shop was closed when we got there
Whirly-gigs
Whirly-gigs
Peat Bar and Hotel in Lima, Montana
Peat Bar and Hotel in Lima, Montana – Home of the Cook Your Own Steak
Peat Hotel - Lima, Montana
Peat Hotel – Lima, Montana
Peat Bar & Steak House
Peat Bar & Steak House

We also found the Lima Historical Society building, originally built in 1880.  It was originally called the Bailey Building, having been built and resided in by E.A. Bailey and sons, as a Mercantile.  It really did evoke an Old West feel to the place.

Historical Museum
Lima Historical Society Building – Lima Skyscraper
Historical Museum
Lima Historical Society

Perhaps the most interesting place we saw in town was the Wild West Weed Patch, at least that is what I think it is called based on the writing on the Saw Blade sign.  The shop was not open, but there were a number of unique things there.  Still,  I am certainly not sure what it is called.  The closest thing I have ever seen to this kind of hodge podge is Hillybilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia. (See my Trip Journal of my West Virginia Trip with photos)

The Weed Patch
The Wild West Weed Patch?? – shades of West Virginia’s Hillbilly Hotdogs
Weed Patch Sign
Wild West Weed Patch Sign – Lima, Montana
Steak and Burgers
Steak and Burgers – Lima, Montana
Ice Cream Cones
Ice Cream Cones – Lima, Montana
Lots of Stuff
Lots of Stuff
FJ's Skull?
FJ’s Skull?

After our little diversion in Lima we continued north on I-15 until we got to Red Rock Ranch Rd., south of Dillon.  On my trip down to Rexburg I had passed a ranch with hundreds of buffalo and I wanted a closer look on the way back to Shelby.  So, the night before the trip there I did some research and discovered it was one of Ted Turner’s Buffalo Ranches.  Called Red Rock Ranch, it could kind of be reached by taking Exit 29, north of Dell, Montana.  We went under the freeway and then turned right and almost immediately the road was a dirt road.  We followed it north, but alas, no buffalo to be seen.  So, after almost getting all the way to Clark Canyon Reservoir, we turned around.  Shortly down the road off to my left (the car window was open), I heard some birds squawking.  At first I thought they were geese, but they sounded different.  Then, all of a sudden I saw these two HUGE birds zip on past.  I whipped out the camera and took a bunch of shots hoping that one would reveal the secret.  Here are a couple of the shots of what I realized were Red-Crested Sandhill Cranes.  I had never seen these in the wild so it was a real treat.

Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana
Sandhill Cranes near Red Rock Ranch in Montana

Such beautiful birds!!

Well, we did finally get to see the buffalo, but not until we were continuing north on I-15.  I was determined to get some photos, so we stopped and I took these from my car on the side of the interstate.

Ted Turner's Buffaloes on Red Rock Ranch
Ted Turner’s Buffaloes on Red Rock Ranch
More of the Buffaloes
More of the Buffaloes
Buffaloes at Red Rock Ranch Rd. in Southern Montana
Buffaloes at Red Rock Ranch Rd. in Southern Montana

Thank goodness for telephoto lenses!!

We continued north and made a brief stop in Dillon.  I wanted to just kind of drive through the town and get a glimpse of it.  I had seen in my research that it had a very nice courthouse.

Dillon, Montana
Big Moose Statue in Dillon, Montana

I saw this moose, to add to my collection, but the lighting was not too good.  It was across the street from the post office.

Mural in Dillon, Montana
Mural in Dillon, Montana
Beaverhead County Courthouse
Beaverhead County Courthouse
Hotel Metlen in Dillon, Montana
Hotel Metlen in Dillon, Montana

The courthouse was one of the nice ones such as the ones can be seen in Texas and other places.  But, it was not the only unique building.  The Hotel Metlen was also a nice building. It was built in 1897 and is now apparently up for sale, based on the link above.

We then continued north on I-15 towards Butte and made a brief stop for fuel

Welcome to Butte
Welcome to Butte

After Butte we zipped up the interstate through Helena and and then a brief stop in Great Falls to get a birthday present before heading to Shelby.  Saw a nice George Washington statue at the Mall in Great Falls.  Similar to the statues I saw in Jackson, Wyoming done by Gary Lee Price, but I am not sure if it his work.

George Washington at mall in Great Falls
George Washington at mall in Great Falls
Cuddling with GW
Cuddling with GW

Finally, we made our way to Shelby to visit the grandchildren.  We spent three nights in Shelby and during that time did a number of things.  These will be noted in the next post.

(948)

Sumoflam is Everywhere – A Photo Gallery

Following is a gallery of over 300 photos of my travels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan and the Philippines, covering a span of nearly 40 years.  The unique thing about all of these is that I am in the photos.

Sumoflam and Thunderbirds in Bismarck, ND
Sumoflam and Thunderbirds in Bismarck, ND

Over the years I have taken nearly 30,000 photos of my travels and in most cases I have not been in the photos.  Over the coming months I will add new galleries that are thematic. this is the first one.  Enjoy!!

[nggallery id=2]


(992)

Traveling the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

The Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota

If you are at all interested in the whimsical, unique and humongous roadside attractions of this great country, then a drive down the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota is a MUST!!

On April 2, 2013, I finally had the opportunity to drive one of the “Bucket List” trips for me in all of my travels across the country.  The 32 mile drive features a number of pieces of the amazing artwork of retired Regent, ND school teacher Gary Greff who has taken on this effort in order to keep the small dying town from becoming a ghost town.  I hope to have a pretty comprehensive overview of the entire route, including the map below and detailed directions, mileage, photos and even some details about each stop along the way.


The Enchanted Highway – from I-94 near Dickinson to Regent, ND

GEESE IN FLIGHT – STOP #1

To get started you must get to Exit 72 on I-94 east of Dickinson, ND.  You most certainly cannot miss the first stop, which is called “Geese in Flight” and has been listed as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world by the Guinness World Book of Records.

"Geese in Flight" - Stop #1 on Enchanted Highway. Off of I-94, Exit 72
“Geese in Flight” – Stop #1 on Enchanted Highway. Off of I-94, Exit 72
Sumoflam at Geese in Flight
Sumoflam at Geese in Flight

“Geese in Flight”, in my opinion, not only has the geese, but the giant backdrop appears to look like a giant eye looking out towards the Enchanted Highway. For my trip south on the Enchanted Highway, this is Mile Point 0 (zero).

The road to geese in flight, lined with dozens of metal geese
The road to Geese in Flight, lined with dozens of metal geese all the way to the top of the hill
One of the dozen of small geese lining the road to Geese in Flight
One of the dozens of small geese lining the road to Geese in Flight

This piece was erected in 2001 and weighs over 78 tons.  The main structure is 154 feet wide and 110 feet tall.  The largest goose has a wingspan of 30 feet.  On a clear day this structure can be seen from nearly 5 miles away (it was a clear day for us – thank goodness!!).  Gary Greff used oil tanks and oil well pipe for the materials to construct this humongous piece of art.

Giant Goose on the Structure - 30 foot wing span
Giant Goose on the Structure – 30 foot wing span
Close up of Geese in Flight
Close up of Geese in Flight
Geese in Flight from Google Maps satellite shot
Geese in Flight from Google Maps satellite shot
View of "Deer Crossing" from "Geese in Flight", about 3 miles away
View of “Deer Crossing” from “Geese in Flight”, about 3 miles away

DEER CROSSING – STOP #2

The drive from Stop 1 “Geese in Flight” to Stop 2 “Deer Crossing” is about 3.4 miles.  As shown above, you can see Deer Crossing and the Enchanted Highway from the top of the “Geese in Flight” hill.

Enchanted Highway Stop #2 - 'Deer Crossing"
“Deer Crossing” – Stop #2 on the Enchanted Highway
Sumoflam at Deer Crossing
Sumoflam at Deer Crossing

“Deer Crossing” is one of the newer works by Mr. Greff.  It was erected in 2002 just a bit south of the small town of Gladstone. The jumping buck is 75 feet tall and 60 feet long.  The doe is 50 feet long and 50 feet tall.  Mr. Greff used oil well tanks for the material to construct this.

Geese in Flight as seen from Deer Crossing
Geese in Flight as seen from Deer Crossing – over 3 miles away
Deer Crossing as seen from Google Map Satellite
Deer Crossing as seen from Google Map Satellite

GRASSHOPPERS IN THE FIELD – STOP #3

The next stop on the trek south to Regent is “Grasshoppers in the Field”.  It is about 12 miles down the road from “Deer Crossing”.  You must pass the small — nearly ghost town — of Lefor, ND before the giant grasshoppers appear on the right side of the road.

First sight of "Grasshoppers"
First sight of “Grasshoppers in the Field” as seen coming south from Lefor, SD
Giant Grasshopper
Giant Grasshopper

Unlike the first two on the drive, “Grasshoppers in the Field” was a complex set of sculptures.   There is one large grasshopper and a couple of smaller ones.  As well, Mr. Greff had added large strands of wheat to the sculpture (made of metal of course!!).  The design of the grasshoppers was similar to the Balsa Wood animals and insects that can be purchased at hobby shops.

Medium Grasshopper
Medium Grasshopper
Wheat and Grasshopper
Wheat and Grasshopper
Closeup of Giant Grasshopper
Closeup of Giant Grasshopper

All of the grasshoppers have stringed lighting so I am assuming they can be lit up at night as well.  This work was completed in 1999.  The Giant Grasshopper 60 feet long and 40 feet tall.  The Medium Grasshopper is 24 feet long and 12 feet tall.  Some of the wheat pieces are well over 40 feet tall.  Fuel tanks and oil well tanks were the predominant materials used for these pieces.

Sumoflam with Giant Grasshopper
Sumoflam with Giant Grasshopper
Grasshoppers in the Field looking north
Grasshoppers in the Field looking north
Grasshoppers in the Field as seen from Google Maps Satellite view
Grasshoppers in the Field as seen from Google Maps Satellite view

FISHERMAN’S DREAM – STOP #4

Fisherman's Dream
Fisherman’s Dream

The next stop on the Enchanted Highway is the newest of Mr. Greff’s creations.  Called “Fisherman’s Dream”, this complex and beautiful work is 14.8 miles south of the “Grasshoppers in the Field”.  Greff completed this work in 2007.  It includes 6 large fish of different sizes including a 60 or 70 foot leaping trout going after a giant dragonfly.

60 foot tall trout - centerpiece of "Fisherman's Dream"
60-70 foot tall trout grabbing dinner – centerpiece of “Fisherman’s Dream”
Fisherman's Dream as seen from "underwater"
Fisherman’s Dream as seen from “underwater”

I must say that I was most impressed with this stop more than any of the others.  All of them are impressive, but the use of colors, the variety, the complexity of the fish scales and even the use of the small fisherman in the boat was just fabulous.

Giant Catfish at "Fisherman's Dream"
Giant Catfish at “Fisherman’s Dream”
Giant Blue Gill at "Fisherman's Dream"
Giant Blue Gill at “Fisherman’s Dream”
Another fish
Another fish
Happy Fisherman at "Fisherman's Dream" floating on the lake
Happy Fisherman at “Fisherman’s Dream” floating on the lake
Another view of "Fisherman's Dream"
Another view of “Fisherman’s Dream”
Sumoflam at "Fisherman's Dream"
Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream”
Fisherman's Dream as seen from Google Maps satellite view
Fisherman’s Dream as seen from Google Maps satellite view

PHEASANTS ON THE PRAIRIE – STOP #5

Pheasants in the Field as seen approaching from the north
Pheasants on the Prairie as seen approaching from the north

Continuing south for about 4.5 miles from “Fisherman’s Dream” is the next stop, called “Pheasants on the Prairie”.  This is also a quite impressive work of art with a giant rooster and hen and their three chicks.

Pheasant Chicks as seen from the Road
Pheasant Chicks as seen from the Road

This work was erected between 1996 and 1997.  The pheasant rooster weighs over 13,000 pounds and is 70 feet long and over 40 feet tall.  The hen weighs 12,000 pounds and is 60 feet long and 35 feet tall. Each of the chicks are about 5000 pounds and are about 20 feet long and 15 feet tall.  Greff used pipe and wire mesh to construct these.  Ironically, the mesh construction was conducive for numerous birds to build nests in!!

The Hen at Pheasants on the Prairie - over 12,000 pounds of bird
The Hen at Pheasants on the Prairie – over 12,000 pounds of bird
The Rooster at Pheasants on the Prairie weighs over 13,000 pounds is over 40 feet tall.
The Rooster at Pheasants on the Prairie weighs over 13,000 pounds is over 40 feet tall
Chicks looking down - make you feel like you are bird food
Chicks looking down – make you feel like you are bird food
Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie
Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie
Pheasants on the Prairie as seen from Google Maps satellite view
Pheasants on the Prairie as seen from Google Maps satellite view

TEDDY RIDES AGAIN – STOP #6

Teddy Rides Again as seen approaching from the north
Teddy Rides Again as seen approaching from the north

The next stop is quite different from most of the others.  It is about 2.2 miles south of the “Pheasants on the Prairie” and honors the inventor of the National Park System in the United States. This is more like a giant wire sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt.  Erected in 1993 out of well pipes, it is 51 feet tall and weighs over 9000 pounds.  This little park also includes a small wooden stage coach being pulled by horses.

Closeup of Teddy Roosevelt
Closeup of Teddy Roosevelt
The Wooden Horses at "Teddy Rides Again"
The Wooden Horses at “Teddy Rides Again”
Another view of the Stagecoach
Another view of the Stagecoach
Sumoflam at Teddy Rides Again
Sumoflam at Teddy Rides Again
Teddy Rides Again as seen on Google Maps satellite view
Teddy Rides Again as seen on Google Maps satellite view

THE TIN FAMILY – STOP #7

The Tin Family as seen approaching from the north
The Tin Family as seen approaching from the north

The last big stop on the road to Regent is the Tin Family.   It is about 3.4 miles south of “Teddy Rides Again” and can be seen for a distance before you get there.  This one has a Dad, a Mom and a son. The Dad is 45 feet tall, the Mom is 44 feet tall and the boy is 23 feet tall.  Mr. Greff used farm tanks, telephone poles, barbed wire and augers to make these, the first of his sculptures.

Mom and Dad and "Tin Family" Kiosk
Mom and Dad and “Tin Family” Kiosk

As can be seen in the photo above, each of the sites has an informative kiosk that notes the name of the work, notes the names of donors and other information.

Mom Closeup
Mom Closeup
Mom's Flower Bouquet
Mom’s Flower Bouquet
Dad Closeup
Dad Closeup
The boy and sucker closeup
The boy and sucker closeup
The whole Tin Family
The whole Tin Family
Sumoflam with Mom and Dad
Sumoflam with Mom and Dad
Tin Family as seen from Google Maps satellite view
Tin Family as seen from Google Maps satellite view

REGENT, NORTH DAKOTA – STOP #8

Welcome to Regent and Enchanted Highway Road Map
Welcome to Regent and Enchanted Highway

Continuing south from the Tin Family about 1.9 miles you pull into the small town of Regent.  Though we arrived around lunch time on a Tuesday (April 2), the town was pretty much dead.  There was a gas station (and believe me…you better fill up here!!) and a small grocery store.  We inquired about cafes and there were two and both were closed.  Even the Enchanted Highway Visitor Center was closed.  Off season I guess.

Enchanted Highway art in downtown Regent, ND
Enchanted Highway art in downtown Regent, ND – whirlygigs and more
Enchanted Highway Gift Shop in Regent, ND - closed the day were there
Enchanted Highway Gift Shop in Regent, ND – closed the day were there
More Enchanted Highway Scenes in Regent, ND
More Enchanted Highway Scenes in Regent, ND – the bison are all fabricated metal
End of the Road - Enchanted Hotel in Regent, ND
End of the Road – Enchanted Castle Hotel in Regent, ND – even has a Drawbridge!!

After filling up with gas, we meandered our way to the end of Main Street to see the Enchanted Castle Hotel, which was apparently built from an old school.  We didn’t have time to stop there as we continued to head south.

Enchanted Highway Kiosk
Enchanted Highway Kiosk

The Enchanted Highway makes for a great diversionary trip, especially if you plan to head south to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills.  Definitely one of the Dream Places!!

(11003)