Road Trip to Idaho – Day 1: Lexington, KY to Savage, MN

Sunset in Northern Iowa
Sunset in Northern Iowa

A couple of days ago I was informed I have an opportunity for some work in Idaho, and possibly full time employment.  They want me to come out for two weeks and suggested I drive out instead of fly, especially since they know I love to do that.  So, today (March 8) I drove 848 miles over a 15 1/2 hour stretch, finally arriving in Savage, MN for the night.  Following is the map of the trip:

Lexington, KY to Savage MN

I left Lexington at about 6 AM and just drove straight through Indianapolis and eventually made my way to Advance, IN.  This is a small town located in Boone County.  I went there because of the name.

Advance, Indiana
Advance, Indiana

Advance is a small town of about 500 people.  Originally platted in 1820 and named Osceola, but, since there was already a town with that name in Indiana, the name of Advance was chosen “in anticipation of the advancement which the coming of the Midland Railway would bring to the community.”

Advance Post Office
Advance Post Office

Advance Water TowerAdvance Water Tower

Perhaps the funniest thing for me was the bank in town.  The State Bank of Advance is perhaps the funniest name for a bank since my visit to Tightwad Bank in Missouri.

State Bank of Advance
State Bank of Advance

From Advance I moved into Illinois.  I first made a stop at the Salt Kettle Rest Area.  Typically I don’t comment on Rest Areas, but I got a kick out of the name:

Salt Kettle Rest Area, near Oakwood, IL
Salt Kettle Rest Area, near Oakwood, IL

Apparently, there were pioneer salt mines nearby and thus the name.  From the rest area, I took a quick drive to get a shot of the Possum Trot Supper Club. Once again, I thought it was a unique name.  It really didn’t look like much from the outside….

Possum Trot Supper Club, Oakwood, IL
Possum Trot Supper Club, Oakwood, IL

From Oakwood, I drove by Bloomington and then was a few miles from Normal…(what else is new – never quite normal…).  As you drive towards Peoria out of Bloomington/Normal I headed north towards Davenport, IA.

Old Building Advertisement - Davenport, IA
Old Building Advertisement – Davenport, IA

One of those “Roadside Attractions” was in a park in town…a giant Mother Goose…

Mother Goose Statue - Davenport, IA
Mother Goose Statue – Davenport, IA

From Davenport I headed west towards Iowa City and into Walcott, which is home to the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, which claims to be the biggest truck stop in the world…and it is really big!!

Sumoflam at I-80 Truckstop in Walcott, IA
Sumoflam at Iowa 80 Truck stop in Walcott, IA
I-80 Truck Stop Roof Sign
Iowa 80 Truck Stop Roof Sign
Full Size semi truck and trailer inside I-80 Truck Stop
Full Size semi truck and trailer inside Iowa 80 Truck Stop – Including mural on trailer
Old Truck in I-80 Truck Stop
Old Truck in Iowa 80 Truck Stop

From Walcott I continued west and then north thru Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.  I then made my way north on US 218 towards Charles City, where I came upon the Charles City Wind Farm which has 38 turbines.  It was right at sunset as I passed by so I got the shot at the top of the page and the one below as well.

Charles City Wind Farm - Iowa
Charles City Wind Farm – Iowa

Just north of there was Floyd, IA, my last stop in Iowa for fuel.  I stopped in the small town of about 300 at a unique truck stop that had a “Floyd Bear” and a wagon wheel.

Floyd Water Tower
Floyd Water Tower
Floyd Bear
Floyd Bear

The main reason for my venturing north on US 218 was to get to Austin, MN, home to the world famous Spam Museum and the International Headquarters for Hormel.  Unfortunately, I got there too late to visit the museum, but I was able to get photos!!

Spam Museum - Austin, MN
Spam Museum – Austin, MN
Hormel International
Hormel International
Spam Museum Billboard - Austin, MN
Spam Museum Billboard – Austin, MN
Sumoflam at Spam Museum
Sumoflam at Spam Museum
Pig Farmer statue in front of museum
Pig Farmer statue in front of museum

After my brief stop in Austin, I finally made it to Savage, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis, for my overnight stay.


Looking Back: Places Gone But Not Forgotten


World Trade Center 1990
World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty – Dec. 1990

All of us have been to a local store or restaurant that is now no longer in business.  Many times we drive by the empty shell of the former restaurant or store and may have a sense of sadness.  I know that here in Lexington I can probably drive by well over a dozen such restaurant locations and probably as many store locations.

World Trade Center – Formerly in New York City

Sometimes, similar things happen to tourist attractions, roadside attractions and the like.  I am pleased that I have had an opportunity to document some of these sites before they disappeared.

New York City from the air - 1986
New York City from the air – 1986

While I was working on my Master’s Degree at Arizona State University in 1986, I had an opportunity to participate in a conference at West Point and flew into New York City.  I captured this scene from the plane.  It was my first time to ever see the twin towers of the World Trade Center, then the tallest buildings in the world.  Each of them was 100 stories tall. The North Tower was completed in December 1972 and the South Tower was finished in July 1973. These were amazing structures and I could never have imagined that I would witness their destruction while it happened live on television in 2001.  And now I will never forget the event.  In 1990 and again in 1998, I had the opportunity to see these amazing buildings again (see photo at top and the one below)

New York City - 1998
New York City – 1998 — My daughter Chelsea, my son Solomon and my sister Sherry

Last March (2012) I once again had occasion to visit the area while on a business trip to New Jersey.  I was fortunate to get a glimpse of the One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower), which is being built in the same area as the former twin towers.  This will be built to 1776 feet tall (yes that number is intentional…) making it the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere and the third largest in the world.

One World Trade Center – March 2, 2013

The original World Trade Center was not the only attraction I have seen that no longer exists.

“Spindle” aka Cars on a Spike – formerly at Cermak Plaza, Berwyn, IL

Another one of the famous, but more quirky, roadside attractions that is now gone was known as “Spindle” but probably better known as Cars on a Spike. This sculpture by artist Dustin Shuler, was built in 1989 at the Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois.  It was one of many kitschy sculptures in the shopping center.  On May 2, 2008 the sculpture was disassembled. The Berwyn Arts Council took the top two cars (the VW was owned by Shuler and the BMW was owned by the original chairman of Cermak Plaza at the time of the sculpture).  I visited the site on August 29, 2007. See my original post here.

Spindle by Dustin Shuler - 1989-2008
Spindle by Dustin Shuler – 1989-2008

I made a video of the sculpture which can be seen on my YouTube Channel.

Spindle Close up
Spindle Close up
Dave License Plate
Dave License Plate – Second Car from top

The impaled cars on the spindle, from top to bottom, were:

  1. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, red
  2. 1976 BMW New Class, silver License Plate reads “DAVE”
  3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
  4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
  5. 1978 Ford Mustang, white over blue
  6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
  7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
  8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis, black

Tallest Can Pile – formerly in Casselton, ND

May and June 2005 were very busy months for my family.  All three of my daughters were married in a six week period.  The first wedding, my youngest daughter, took place in Gatlinburg, TN in late May.  Then, in mid-June, my oldest daughter was married in Cardston, Alberta and one week later, my second daughter was married in Louisville, KY. It was a wild time.

Casselton Can Pile - June 16, 2005
Casselton Can Pile – June 16, 2005

Since it was a big event in Great Falls, MT and Cardston, Alberta, some of us drove.  I borrowed a conversion van from a friend at work and drove to Great Falls with my two sons and my second daughter.  We made a road trip out of it.  Along the way we saw a ton of things, but one of the more unusual was the giant can pile in Casselton, ND (see photo above). The can pile was started in 1933 by a man named Max G. Taubert, who owned and operated a Sinclair gas station at the intersection of then Hwy 10 and Hwy 18. Max began stacking empty oil cans into a cone shape, probably for lack of a better place to discard them.  After a while the “Can Pile” had grown to a height such that it attracted viewers from all around. It eventually gained enough notoriety to have its own website.  

Sumoflam at the Casselton Can Pile
Sumoflam at the Casselton Can Pile

At the time of our visit (see the original blog post here), the can pile was 45 feet tall and had an 18 foot diameter at the bottom.  Who knows how many cans actually were piled on?  Loegering Manufacturing eventually purchased the property it was on and, according to one news article, used three tractors and a bulldozer to move the immense pile.  On May 29, 2008, the pile was shrink-wrapped and then moved to a location near the Casselton Water Tower (see photos here).  According to a news clip from WDAY-TV, the can pile was taken apart in November 2011.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – formerly in Louisville, Kentucky

Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – Dec. 27, 2012

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe was perhaps one of the most iconic and kitschy eateries in the United States.  Located just down the road from me in Louisville, KY, I had the opportunity to visit there on a number of occasions. My most recent visit was in December 2012, and, unbeknownst to us at the time, was only a couple of weeks before Lynn closed the doors on this unique eatery.  The restaurant opened in 1991 in the Highlands Neighborhood of Louisville. It was started by Lynn Winter. It had even been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Throwdown! with Bobby Flay on Food Network, where Lynn defeated Bobby Flay in a breakfast contest.  The restaurant had been featured on other TV shows and was reviewed in numerous consumer magazines.  On an episode of Man v. Food Nation set in Louisville, host Adam Richman paid a visit to Lynn’s to try the restaurant’s Quadruple “B” French Toast, which is dunked in buttermilk and black walnuts and topped with blackberry glaze and a Bourbon meringue. He experienced a unique way of grilling the toast when Lynn showed him how to launch it onto the grill with a 19th-century catapult.

Toaster Horse at Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Toaster Horse at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
Legs on walls at Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Legs on walls at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe
Kitschy Lamp at Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Kitschy Lamp at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

On January 12, 2013,  just about two weeks after my family all met there after Christmas for a big breakfast, Lynn’s Paradise Cafe closed the doors. (See WAVE-TV article here).  I posted a short article on this blog site about it as well.  Thank goodness I got the Flamingo Glasses and a great photo…

Sumoflam at Lynn's - December 27, 2012
Sumoflam at Lynn’s – December 27, 2012

Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum – formerly in Okemos, Michigan

Traveler's Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum
Traveler’s Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum

On June 1, 2008 I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend an arena football game between the Utah Blaze and the Grand Rapids Rampage.  My good friend, former University of Kentucky wide receiver Aaron Boone, was a receiver for the Blaze and I had gone to visit him.  On the way home back to Kentucky, I made my way to Okemos, MI to visit the fairly well known Travelers Club and Tuba Museum for lunch and a look see.  You can see my original posting here.  The place had different international cuisine served daily, was famous for their buffalo burgers (which is what I had) and, of course, their unique display of Tubas, including a wonderful Sousaphountain. They even had live music.

World Famous Sousaphountain
World Famous Sousaphountain
The Tuba Bar
The Tuba Bar
A row of tubas on the wall...actually look more like baritones?
A row of tubas on the wall…actually look more like baritones?
Travelers Club International Restaurant's famous Buffalo Burger
Travelers Club International Restaurant’s famous Buffalo Burger

The restaurant and museum was in a very old building, originally a house built in the 1870s. The restaurant had been a fixture of the community since the 1980s, and, after 30 years, mainly due to financial difficulties, the eatery had to close its doors. (See WLNS TV article here.)  On January 23, 2013 the demolition of the building took place to make way for a new Day Spa.  According to the owners and the museum website, they are looking for a new spot to house the eatery and all of its Tubas.

Hanging Sousaphones
Hanging Sousaphones

“Smokesax” – currently in Houston, Texas is being moved

Smokesax - Houston, Texas
Smokesax – Houston, Texas

In mid-July 2010, I was on business in Houston for about one week.  While there, I took some of my free time to drive around the town and catch some of the sites.  Included in this was a drive to “The Horn” Bar and Grille (which later became Billy Blues Restaurant and Bar – which has since gone out of business), which had a 70 foot tall blue saxophone made out of car parts, oil field pipes, a surfboard and an entire Volkswagen out front.  “Smokesax” was created by artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade.  Wade is also known for a number of other giant Texas-sized sculptures including a giant iguana, giant cowboy boots, a sombreros shaped roof top and more (obviously, still a bunch of quirky sites to visit in Texas!!!). The saxophone, originally painted red and then later blue, is being dismantled and moved to the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art in southeast Houston.  These are the same folks that managed the Beer Can House Project (see my post on this blog).

Smokesax bottom view
Smokesax Volkswagen bottom view
Smokesax Mouthpiece
Smokesax surfboard Mouthpiece

The Smokesax was sawed into 5 pieces as artist Wade oversaw the project on February 28, 2013. (See Houston Chronicle article)  It is now in storage until a site can be determined for it.

The National Mustard Museum – from Mt. Horeb, WI to Middleton, WI

National Mustard Museum - Mt. Horeb, WI - Aug. 29, 2007
National Mustard Museum – Mt. Horeb, WI – Aug. 29, 2007

Ironically, on the same day that we visited the Spindle in Illinois, we also made our way to Mt. Horeb, WI to visit the Mustard Museum (see original post here).  This was a fun little spot.  I even got an MBA (Master of Bad Attitude) degree from Poupon U!!

Poupon U Degree
Poupon U MBA Degree Certificate

The National Mustard Museum began as the “Mount Horeb Mustard Museum” when its founder & curator, Barry Levenson, started collecting mustards on October 27, 1986.  The actual museum opened in Mt. Horeb, WI on April 4, 1992. In 2009, the Museum moved to its current facility in downtown Middleton, WI, and changed its name to the more encompassing “National Mustard Museum”. On August 7, 2010, the National Mustard Museum hosted its annual mustard festival in Downtown Middleton after years of putting on National Mustard Day in Mount Horeb.The detailed history can be seen here.

Barry Levenson and staff member
Barry Levenson and staff member
Top Ten Reasons
Top Ten Slogans at Poupon U
National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI
National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI
Mustard Display - Plastic Bottles
Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles
Condiment Phrenology
Condiment Phrenology

Hopefully some of the other places above will have the same success in moving as the Mustard Museum has.  I am tired of being saddened by visiting places and then seeing them go the way of the world.














Another Central Kentucky Roadtrip – Stanford and Crab Orchard

Old Pepsi Wall Ad - Stanford, KY
Old Pepsi Wall Ad – downtown Stanford, KY

On Thursday (Feb. 28, 2013) my wife and I made a trip to Stanford, KY for a meeting.  Stanford is the second oldest town in the state and Lincoln County is one of Kentucky’s three original counties.  Benjamin Logan accompanied Daniel Boone to the area and in 1775 built a fort in what is now Stanford.  It was originally called Logan’s Fort. A diorama replica of the fort is housed in the Lincoln County Public Library.

I figured that while we were in Stanford we could also catch a bit of the history and scenery of of the area, so we made it a half day “Sumoflam Road Trip” and took some back roads.  Following is the map of our route for the day.

Stanford and Crab Orchard, KY

Just before our meeting at the beautiful Lincoln County Public Library, we took a drive around the small town of Stanford and caught a couple of the sights.  Just next to the library is the old Stanford L & N Railroad Depot and next to that is a very old grist mill, which was known as Baughman’s Mill.  I didn’t get a photo of the depot, but following are a couple of photos of the mill.

Baughman's Mill - Stanford, KY
Baughman’s Mill – Stanford, KY
Baughman's Mill - Stanford, KY
Baughman’s Mill – Stanford, KY
Old Wooden Water Tower - Stanford, KY
Old Wooden Water Tower – Stanford, KY

The first steam mill in Lincoln County was built in 1848 at Buffalo Springs. When it was torn down in 1895 the logs were used to build Baughman’s Mill. This mill became the first steam powered flour mill in Kentucky.  The building is currently in bad disrepair.  The mill, along with the railroad depot, are all included in the National Register of Historical Places.

Earliest Church Plaque
Earliest Church Plaque

After driving by the mill, we drive down main street in Stanford and came across the plaque above.  This was on the site of the first church built in Kentucky.  This first church building was a one-room log meeting house built in 1792.  This building has been preserved and currently sits inside the Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Museum.

Old Presbyterian Church and Museum - Stanford, KY
Old Presbyterian Church and Museum – Stanford, KY
Old Meeting House - Stanford, KY
Old Meeting House – Stanford, KY

The Meeting House was built in 1788 and served as the first church and then later became a home in the 1930s and then a library.

Once the meeting ended, we headed to Crab Orchard, KY where we planned to eat a late lunch at the Past Time Cafe, which has typically had great reviews for its home cooking.

Welcome to Crab Orchard - sign inside of Past Time Cafe
Welcome to Crab Orchard – inside of Past Time Cafe
Past Time Cafe - Crab Orchard, KY
Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, KY

This small cafe has two rooms, one for smoking and one for non-smoking.  Lincoln County currently has no smoking ordinance.  The place has dozens of old photos, newspaper clippings, etc., about Crab Orchard’s history.  Pretty nice to look at while waiting.  The fare is typical cafe fare – hamburgers, french fries, sandwiches and a few other items.

Past Time Cafe Wall
Past Time Cafe Wall
Past Time Cafe Wall
Past Time Cafe Wall

They have a daily “home cooked special” which was as close to a healthy meal as a place like this would serve.  We ordered their battered mushrooms and their battered cauliflower (which neither of us had eve tried).  These were pretty good, though the mushroom stems were still a bit on the frozen side.  We ordered the Salmon Patty special which included soup beans, an onion slice, corn muffins, homestyle potatoes and collard greens.  The soup beans were rather bland and needed some salt and pepper, but, overall, it was a nice warm meal and really did taste homemade (at least in my opinion.)

Thursday Special - Salmon Patty Dinner
Past Time Cafe Thursday Special – Salmon Patty Dinner

After a nice late lunch, we were back on the road.  Crab Orchard is in the middle of Amish Country and there are some great places to buy bulk foods and enjoy the scenery at the same time, even in the middle of winter.  We headed out to Yoder’s General Store, which is on HWY 3246 just off of KY 39.

Yoder's General Store - Crab Orchard, KY
Yoder’s General Store – Crab Orchard, KY

The nice thing about this store is that it is traditionally Amish in nature.  They have plenty of bulk foods for sale, they use no electricity in the building (even their cash register is run off of a 12 volt battery).  When you walk under the gas powered lighting you can hear the hiss of the burning fuel right above your head.  Bertha Yoder and her husband were more than friendly and accommodating.

Bulk Food Offerings at Yoder's
Bulk Food Offerings at Yoder’s
Gas Powered Lighting at Yoder's
Gas Powered Lighting at Yoder’s
Buggies parked at Yoder's
Buggies parked at Yoder’s

From Yoder’s we next thought we would go to Byler’s Kountry Kitchen.  We had to continue on HWY 3246 until we got to Harmon’s Lick Road, a narrow windy road going through farmland.

Sign to Byler's Kountry Kitchen
Sign to Byler’s Kountry Kitchen
Harmons Lick Road - Crab Orchard, KY
Harmons Lick Road – Crab Orchard, KY
Lonely Amish Buggy
Lonely Amish Buggy

Unfortunately, when we got to Byler’s we discovered it was closed. They are closed on Sundays and Thursdays.  But we did see some ceramic bird houses hanging outside of the store.  Typically these are made from gourds and this was the first time I had seen these.  These attract purple martins.

Ceramic Gourd Martin Bird Houses
Ceramic Gourd Purple Martin Bird Houses

From there we continued following a number of the backroads.  I had to plug my GPS in to make sure we didn’t get too lost.  We made our way through the countryside and eventually to I-75 in Berea, KY.  It was a pleasant trip!!

Amish House - Garrard County, KY
Amish House – Garrard County, KY
Amish Laundry hanging to dry - Crab Orchard, KY
Amish Laundry hanging to dry – Crab Orchard, KY