B is for Back Roads – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

I live to travel the back roads of America. These are the core of my travels around the United States and Canada. They always offer the best of everything: scenery, traffic conditions and a myriad of surprises.

 

A gravel road south of Belvidere, SD
A road approaching a checkerboard wheat farm near Cut Bank, MT

To me, the definition of a back road is anything that is not an interstate highway. However, I prefer the kind that are two lane and in many cases don’t even have stripes down the middle. Those are the best! I am even happy to be on a gravel road at times!

In this day of GPS maps and tracking, taking a back road is all the more opportune! If I take a road and get lost, I can typically depend on my GPS to get me back on the road where I’m going.  But, more often than not, I don’t care where I’m going, I just want to see where I’ve been.

Killdeer Road near Athens, WI
Interstate 5 near Sunny Valley, Oregon
Heading into a wind farm near Rugby, ND
On the top of the world on Beartooth Highway that borders Wyoming and Montana south of Red Lodge, MT
A road in the middle of a cornfield near Bloomington, IL

Back roads are the threads and fibers of our country. Many might travel the big interstate to get from one place to another, but sometime along the way they will need to leave the highway and get on to a smaller road to get to their final destination.  For me…the back road is ALWAYS my destination!

Back roads lead to numerous discoveries. I have driven back roads through every state in the United States (except for Alaska — I took a bus in Juneau, so does that count?) and always have come across something unique or interesting.  I have driven through cornfields in Iowa and pineapple groves in Hawaii.  I have seen many a wheat field in Montana and Saskatchewan.  I love driving the roads through the mountains of Colorado, Montana and Idaho, but am just as happy on a desert road in New Mexico or Texas.

The Road through Juneau, Alaska
Following the Amish on a road near Aylmer, Ontario in Canada
A lonely highway in south central Nebraska, near Overland
Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington

Sometimes my back road adventures are planned. I will have learned about something unique in a certain area and will try to go there via a back road. (You may want to check out my road trip from Bugtussle, KY to Bugtussle, TX — through Only, TN, for instance. See it HERE.) Other times, I just take a road and see where it leads.  And that is often the most fun!

Not every back road leads me to where I want to go. I specifically recall a time on a trip in Missouri. Driving down the highway I saw a sign pointing to Romance. And as I turned there was also a sign pointing to Romance Church. Since it was only 2 miles down the road, I decided I would take the road to romance. It was a windy, narrow little road that eventually turned into a gravel road and by the time I got to the end of the road there was a large building with some people sitting out on the porch. It looked as if it might’ve been a church at one time, but it was obviously a residence. I believe that this was once the community of “Romance.” But there was nothing there indicating such and so to this day I claim that I took a road to Romance and it was a dead end.

I took the road, but never did find Romance in Missouri in 2011
Success, Missouri direction

On a similar trip in Missouri I saw another sign to a town called Success. Obviously, my penchant for wanting to go to towns with unique names has always sent me down those roads. I turned left out of the town of Houston, MO and headed down the 16 mile road to Success. Much to my surprise, all the way along the road I could see abandoned old trailers and rusty old cars littering both sides. Granted, this is in a section of the Ozarks that is known for its poverty. I finally made it to Success and even got a photo in front of the Success Post Office. But I learned quickly, that, at least in Missouri, the road to Success is not very glamorous.

Success, Missouri

One time, on a road trip with the family through Louisiana, we came across a café in the middle of nowhere. We decided to stop and maybe try some Cajun food. They had blackened alligator! None of us had ever eaten alligator. But what was more fun was the Cajun music that was being played. There was a Zydeco band with lots of dancing and some of the dancers actually came after my children and asked them to dance. It was a wonderful and totally unplanned experience that we would’ve never seen had we not taken a back road.

Wind River Canyon, WY

Back roads always lead to somewhere, even if it is only a dead end. However, you’ll never know what’s there unless you take one! Following are a few more photos of some of the back roads I have been on.  I have hundreds of these, so this is just a sampling.  Enjoy the ride….  and preferably on a back road!

Rolling road near Gurney, WI
Downtown Ironwood, MI. Check out the giant Hiawatha Statue at the end of the road
On a quiet road near Baggs, WY
Three Turkey Vultures block the road near Gray Hawk, KY
Road leading to the Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks, Oregon
The Canadian highway near Fleming, Saskatchewan
NM 152 near Truth or Consequences, NM
The road to Alta, WY near Teton Valley, ID
Loop Road west of Sweet Grass, Montana right on the Canadian border
The highway leading to Carhenge in Alliance, NE
A local road near my home in Lexington, KY
The road through Bedias, TX
Driving along the coast in Galveston, TX
The cornfields near Adair, IA
I-80 near Green River, WY
A gravel road east of Craig, CO
Main Street in lovely Stanley, ID (yes it is a gravel road!)
SD 79 just south of the North Dakota border
The long straight highway near Cohagen, MT
Drive through the pines trees along OR 38 near Reedsport, OR
Driving in the autumn colors of Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada
The road in Ketchikan, AK ends with a cruise ship
Share the road with the Amish in Arthur, IL
The lonely road into Lost Springs, WY – Population 4

 

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Ohio’s Amish Country – Holmes County, OH

Holmes County Trail, Ohio
Holmes County Trail, Ohio

We took a road trip to Holmes County, OH in late July 2016 for Julianne to ride the Holmes County Bike Trail and the Mohican Valley Bike Trail.  (I will have Bike Trail posts about both of these coming soon)

While she rode, I visited a few of the places in the area.  I had visited the area in 2008, including the town of Charm.  (See my post HERE) In another trip in the early 2000s, we had also visited the unique town of Berlin.  I never did a post about the town and hope to make it there again sometime in the future.  On this particular visit, we didn’t make it to that part of Holmes County.  Rather, we focused on the towns surrounding the bike trails, beginning with Fredericksburg, OH and ending in Danville, OH.

Holmes County Trail map - Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH
Holmes County Trail map – Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH

DSC_7150We took the five hour drive to Fredericksburg, OH, a small community of a little over 400 people.  This is where the Holmes County trail begins at the northern end. I dropped Julianne off at the trailhead, which is located right near the town park.

Fredericksburg Town Limit
Fredericksburg Town Limit

DSC_7162Fredericksburg is home to two factories, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles and Robin Industries. Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles specializes in various kinds of pasta as well as jams and jellies distributed throughout the United States.  I saw three different facilities while driving around the town.

An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy "speeds" along a road near Fredericksburg, OH
An Amish buggy “speeds” along a road near Fredericksburg, OH

It is also a town frequented by the Amish and one can see their buggies around the town.

The town and surrounding area features Amish furniture shops, Amish cheese shops, and even a working blacksmith shop.  (See shop list HERE) There is apparently a car wash that can also be used for the buggies.

The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH

From Fredericksburg, I drove south on OH County Road 192 to Holmesville which was the next town along the trail.

The drive to Holmesville went along some lovely cornfields and other farmland. The roadside was dotted with sunflower fields and wildflowers as well.

Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH  CR 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sharing the Trail...buggies to the left and bikes to the right.
Sharing the Trail…buggies to the left and bikes to the right.

The Holmes County Trail is a unique bike trail in that bikers share the trail with Amish Buggies.  The trails have signage for both and there were instances during the day where I saw both bikes and buggies.

The trail runs along some beautiful farmland (as did my drive). It made for a nice scenic ride for Julianne.

A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Homlmesville
A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Holmesville
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg

The next section of drive is along Ohio Highway 83 which goes to the larger town of Millersburg, OH, which is in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.  There are many shops here and the town is just a few minutes west of Berlin. When I visited Berlin a few years ago, we visited the large Heini’s Cheese Chalet, but I had never written a post about it.  Though I didn’t visit it on this trip (its address is in Millersburg, but it is actually closer to Berlin), here are a few photos from my visit in 2011.

Welcome to Heini's - taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Welcome to Heini’s – taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
An old Amish man relaxes in Hein's - taken in July 2011
An old Amish man relaxes in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
Large mural on Heini's
Large mural on Heini’s
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini's - taken in July 2011
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini's Cheese Chalet - taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini’s Cheese Chalet – taken in July 2011
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini's and they'll gladly cut the cheese for you.
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini’s and they’ll gladly cut the cheese for you.
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg

Millersburg is also home to Hipp Station, the main information center for the Holmes County Trail.   It houses the Millersburg Depot which contains a shop, information, refreshments, etc.

There are nice benches to relax and, as it is right on the bike trail, it is a good place to look at the  bikers and buggies ride by.

Millersburg Depot
Millersburg Depot/Hipp Station on Holmes County Trail
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country

A drive through Millersburg also provides a look at some old fashioned signs from the past.  Its a quaint little town and there are even a few fun surprises!

I had fun seeing the old 70’s style Laundromat sign and the old 7 UP sign.

Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH

And then there is the fun surprise….Millersburg is a place where the streets (at least one of them) have No Name!

No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
Holmes Country Trail Map 3
Map of trail from Millersburg to Killbuck
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail

The final rideable section of the Holmes County Trail takes riders from Millersburg to the village of Killbuck, ending at the old Killbuck Depot on Main Street (OH County Road 622).  Basically, I drove down US Route 62 (the Amish Country Byway) from Millersburg to the CR 622 turnoff. Its a nice drive and Killbuck is in a nice region of the county.

Welcome to Killbuck
Welcome to Killbuck

Julianne was fortunate to get into Killbuck just as a heavy duty thunderstorm emerged.  We got her into the car dry as the deluge hit.

Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Welcome to Glenmont, OH
Welcome to Glenmont, OH

The Holmes County Trail from Killbuck to Glenmont is closed, so Julianne’s bike was loaded and we headed to Brinkhaven (via Glenmont), which is the beginning of the Mohican Valley Bike Trail and also home to the “Bridge of Dreams,” the second longest covered bridge in Ohio.  I dropped Julianne off at the paved beginning of the trail near a tunnel that goes under US 62.

Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Welcome to Brinkhaven
Welcome to Brinkhaven

As Julianne rode down the trail, I returned to US 62 to head to the “Bridge of Dreams.”  Just near the tunnel is one of the iconic Mail Pouch Barns.  Many of these barns emblazoned with a Mail Pouch ad dot the southeast.

Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mohican Valley Trail
Mohican Valley Trail

The Mohican Valley Trail is only a 4.5 mile stretch of bike trail that links the Kokosing Gap Trail (a 14.5 mile trail from Danville, OH to Mt. Vernon, OH) and the Holmes County Trail (currently connects to the primitive portion of the trail at the tunnel above).

The Mohican Valley Trail basically runs from Brinkhave, OH to Danville, OH.  Its major feature, as noted above, is the 370 foot long “Bridge of Dreams.” This classic covered bridge is of interest to all and is easily accessible by car visitors as well.

The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven.
The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven

DSC_7212The Bridge of Dreams was originally built in the 1920s as a railroad bridge, and covered in 1998. It is the second longest covered bridge in Ohio after the Smolen–Gulf Bridge over the Ashtabula River in NE Ohio (which I visited a couple of months before it opened in 2008 – see my photo HERE), and third longest covered bridge in the United States. The bridge is closed to motorized traffic but is often used by Amish buggies.

Mohican Valley Trail Map
Mohican Valley Trail Map
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH

 

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A to Z Challenge: The I Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

I The I Towns

Indian Head, Saskatchewan

Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada

It is interesting that three of my I Towns in this post have something to do with Indians (American Indians) and so I am starting off in Canada at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Indian Head is anchored against the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway just 65 km east of Regina.  The town was both a railroad hub and is in the center one of the wheat producing areas of Canada. The Indian Head statue (shown above) was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985. The statue is 18 feet high (the head itself is 10 feet tall). It weighs approximately 3,500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement. The statue was designed by sculptor Don Foulds of Saskatoon. It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

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Intercourse, PA Sign - the most stolen town sign in the US
Intercourse, PA Sign – the most stolen town sign in the US
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
An Amish Buggie speeds by in Intercourse
An Amish Buggy speeds by in Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities

Contrary to those with dirty minds, Intercourse was formerly known as “Cross Keys”, which was founded in 1754. The name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. There are several explanations concerning the origin of the name of Intercourse, but none can really be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town along the Old Philadelphia Pike. The entrance to the race course was known as “Entercourse”. Some suggest that “Entercourse” gradually evolved into “Intercourse”. There are others, but perhaps the most quantifiable to me comes from the “old english” language which was is use in the early 1800’s. It refers to the “fellowship” or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time. The Amish are really quite a social people and are well known for working as groups to raise barns, etc.   The town’s sign is considered the most frequently stolen town sign in the US and is now on a pole that is difficult to get to.  You can read more about my visit to Intercourse and Amish Country in central Pennsylvania back in 2008 HERE.

Ironwood, Michigan

Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America's tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
A sign from the past...Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A sign from the past…Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI

Ironwood, Michigan was the starting point of my massive US Highway 2 Roadtrip across half of the US Continent back in 2014. I started in Ironwood, which is on the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it sits on the border with Wisconsin. Ironwood has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States (it stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town). They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see. Its actually a great place to visit. As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station.  See more about my visit to Ironwood and my drive on US Highway 2 HERE.

Independence, Missouri

A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held…it is nearby Liberty, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila's Hair Museum in Indeendence
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO

Independence is one of the great historical towns in Missouri. Decorated with murals all over town, filled with history and nearby in Liberty is the home of a major LDS (Mormon) Church Museum. It is the birthplace of American President Harry Truman.  Lewis and Clark ventured here in the 1800s and many pioneers came here on the Mormon, California and Oregon trails. It is also home to one of America’s really quirky museums in Leila’s Hair Museum.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen five.
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls...great wooden sculptures
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls…great wooden sculptures
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Yummy House Chinese - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House Chinese – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty's Hamburgers - Old Americana
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Old Americana

I try not to include too many “big” cities in these posts, but I wanted to include Idaho Falls.  Its a nice place to visit and has plenty to see. There are vintage restaurants and burger places, such as Scotty’s above, a beautiful Mormon temple, one of the 55 Peter Toth wooden carved “Whispering Giants” Indian Statues and more. The Snake River runs through the middle of town with some wonderful waterfalls (thus Idaho Falls).  You can see more about my 2013 visit there by clicking HERE.

Iona, Idaho (Honorable Mention)

Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm

On a hill just northeast of Idaho Falls is another small town called Iona, a town settled by Mormon pioneers in 1884. It is now home to the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm. There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day.  This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.

Inverness, Montana (Honorable Mention)

Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT

Driving along US Highway 2 in northern Montana near Rudyard, is the small community of Inverness. It was named by “Scotty” Watson, pioneer stockman, in memory of his native town in Scotland. The Scottish town is located on the inlet to Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness monster. There is a population of about 55 living there, including sculptor Byron Wolery who made an interesting scrap metal dinosaur that greets passersby near Rudyard.  They have their own “monster” now! See more about the Hi Line drive of Montana HERE.

Iron River, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)

Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI

West of Ironwood, MI on US Highway 2 is the small town of Iron River, Wisconsin. This small town has a huge mural done by the same artists that did a number of lovely murals in Ashland, Wisconsin. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club. The town is proud to claim 96 Lakes, 12 Trout Streams, 4 Rivers, 500 miles of groomed ATV trails, Chequamegon National Forest, North Country Hiking Trail and many more great hiking trails, Camba Mountain Biking Trail System, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Waterfalls, Fishing, Birding, Berry Picking, Wildlife and Summer Sunsets. I hope to visit the area again in the future on a more extended visit.  See more HERE.

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