A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The I Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Idaho Potato Museum – Blackfoot, Idaho

At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID
Idaho Potato Museum – Blackfoot

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Intercourse, PA Sign – the most stolen town sign in the US
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant – Corfu, New York

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant in New York

I-80 Truck Stop – World’s Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, Iowa

Sumoflam at I-80 Truckstop in Walcott, IA
Full Size semi truck and trailer inside I-80 Truck Stop

Imagination Takes Flight Sculpture – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Imagination Takes Flight – Matthew Placzek in front of Council Bluffs Public Library

Ice Cream Cone Buildings – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; Peoria, Illinois

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg, PA
Sumoflam and Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL

Inverness, Montana dinosaur

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

International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska

International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska
Shelves of Mexican pastries and breads at the International Bakery in Omaha

Indian River Inlet Bridge – Bethany Beach, Delaware

The Indian River Inlet Bridge between Maryland and Delaware

Ironwood, Michigan

A section of the Miner’s Memorial Mural in Ironwood, which was completed in 2012
Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI

Indian Paintbrush – Cool, Texas

Indian Paintbrush

Indianapolis Children’s Museum – Indianapolis, Indiana

Giant Dinosaur at Indianapolis Children’s Museum
T Rex Trl in Indianapolis

Idan-Ha Drive In – Soda Springs, Idaho

Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre – Soda Springs, Idaho

Indian Head – Indian Head, Saskatchewan

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

Iago, Texas

Iago, Texas

Imes Covered Bridge – St. Charles, Iowa

Imes Covered Bridge – St. Charles, Iowa

Irma Restaurant – Cody, Wyoming

Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY

Interstate by William King – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Interstate by William King at entrance to Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA

Independence Hall – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Island Hopping – Bohol and Cebu, Philippines

Island Hopping in the Philippines in 2006

Independence, Missouri

A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO

Illinois Route 66 – Staunton, Illinois

Historic Route 66 in Illinois
Route 66 “Route Beer”

Indianapolis, Indiana

Capital Building in Indianapolis, IN
Welcome Sign in Indianapolis

Irvine, Kentucky

Welcome to Irvine, KY
A large wooden carving of a mountain mushroom in downtown Irvine, KY

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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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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