Travel in 2018: Fun Place Names and Street Signs

Smiling in Smiley, Texas

I am always on the lookout for fun places to visit when on the backroads of America.  My travels in 2018 took me to 26 different states and along the way I found more unique town names and fun street signs to add to my collection.  In 2017 I published my first book titled “Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names.”  (Check out the book here) At the time I wrote it, I didn’t think I would get enough new places to fill up a second book, but , indeed, I have.  And 2018 really helped with that.

Happyville Road in Greensburg, Kentucky (I always #CHOOSEHAPPY)
Autumn and me in Marvel, Alabama with our Marvel T-Shirts

Obviously, in my road trip plans I did set my sights on a few of these places intentionally.  Once such place was Marvel, Alabama.  I even bought a Marvel T-shirt to wear in front of the sign.  But, having never been there, I had no assurance that there would even be a sign in such a small place.  Luckily, my granddaughter Autumn (who also had a Marvel T-shirt for the occasion) and I did find a sign for the Marvel Baptist Church!!  LUCKY!

Lostant, Illinois. If the ant is Lost, how do they know it is that way?

But, I had many more instances where the places just happened to be there.

This post will quickly hit up on some of these fun discoveries, along with photos of signs, etc.  ENJOY THE RIDE!

“Y” City, Arkansas. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

Y City is an unincorporated community in Scott County, Arkansas. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 71 and 270 in the southern part of the county on Mill Creek and the junction is shaped like a Y.

I.X.L., Oklahoma is really unique. Haven’t seen many towns that have abbreviations.

This small community was apparently a “freedmen’s” town.  It is located in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 48. It has about 59 or 60 residents.

Woody Guthrie Street in Okemah, Oklahoma

While in Okfuskee County, we also visited Okemah, the home of famed folk singer Woody Guthrie — you know, the guy that wrote “This Land is Your Land,” and “Bound for Glory,” among numerous others.

Then there is Gold Bar, Washington in the Cascades

Gold Bar, Washington is located on US 20 in Snohomish County, Washington. The town has a little over 200 residents and is located in the heart of the Cascades.  Beautiful mountains frame this small town.  Gold Bar started as a prospectors camp in 1889, named by a miner who found traces of gold on a river gravel bar.

Fairy Baptist Church, Fairy, Texas. Didn’t know Fairies went to church not that they were Baptist!
The Gate to the Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas

I never knew that fairies were Baptists nor that they die and get buried.  But, there is a Fairy Baptist and a Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas, a very small unincorporated community in the northern part of Hamilton County (north of Hico). It is at the junction of Texas FM 219 and 1602.

Lame Deer, Montana. No, I didn’t even see a regular deer.

Lame Deer is on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Rosebud County, Montana.  The community is named after Miniconjou Lakota chief Lame Deer, who was killed by the U.S. Army in 1877 under a flag of truce south of the town.

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Sublime, Texas is a small community off of US Route 90 about 60 miles west of Houston.  It has a small church and a Post Office.

Goobertown, Arkansas continues the tradition of strange town names in Arkansas

Goobertown is an unincorporated community in Craighead County, Arkansas, near Jonesboro.  You can pick up a Goobertown T-shirt if you want one at the Goobertown Grocery on US 49. The T-shirts feature a personified peanut after which the tiny community is supposedly named.

Punkin Center, Colorado. No punkins to be seen anywhere.

From peanuts in Goobertown to Punkins in Punkin Center.  Punkin Center is a small, rural Unincorporated community in Lincoln Countyat the intersection of State Highway 94 and State Highway 71.  Yes, that is literally the middle of nowhere!  Originally had a small store that was painted orange (this the pumpkin reference), but it burned down in the 1950s.  There are currently “about” 4 residents in this dot on the highway.

Zigzag Inn – Zigzag, Oregon – A NEW Z Name for me!!
The Zigzag Ranger Station was built in 1935 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Zigzag is another unincorporated community.  It is located in Clackamas County, Oregon on US Route 26, near Rhodendron.  It is supposedly named after the Zigzag River.  It is home to the Zigzag Ranger Station, which was built in 1935.

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

I am always looking for a smile and I thought Smiley, Texas would be just the place!  I have been all over the country and seen many water towers with those fun smiley faces on them.  Ala, no such luck in this town.  Smiley is located in Gonzales County, Texas on US Route 87 and has a population of about 500 not too smiley people.  It is about 60 miles east of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States.

I have seen the Light!! It’s in Arkansas!

Light, Arkansas was named after Daniel Light, the first settler.  The small unincorporated community of 50 or so is located in Greene County at the junction of US Route 412 and AR Hwy 228.

I had hoped for a sunny day in Cloudy, Oklahoma, but alas, as you can see, the place lived up to its name.
There is a Cloudy Baptist Church!! I wonder if there is sunshine in their souls?
And a Cloudy Cemetery?

I saw the town of Cloudy, Oklahoma on a map as I planned a return trip home from Texas and figured I needed to try to get there.   It was actually more of an adventure than I had planned as Cloudy Road, which heads north out of Rattan, Oklahoma, snakes its way for about 12 miles into some hilly country.  Some of the roads were in bad repair.  But I made it!! Due to flooding, I had to return back to Rattan to continue the trek home.

Yes indeed, there is a nice little community called Dime Box in Texas. It even has a big giant dime in a glass box on display in the town (which will be in another post)
Can’t have much prosperity with only a Dime Box…can you?
A dime for Dime Box. But the forever stamps will cost you 55 cents.

Dime Box, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 141 and TX Hwy 424 in Lee County.  The community has maybe 200 people in town.  There is actually a Dime Box Independent School District and a high school.  I’ll feature more about Dime Box in future posts.

Brothers, Oregon
Brothers Stage Stop – Brothers, Oregon

Brothers, Oregon is a dot on the map on US Route 20 about 40 miles east of Bend.  There is a small stage stop, rest area and post office located in the unincorporated community.  The place is in the Oregon high desert and is in the midst of a vast sagebrush field. If you travel about 60 miles northwest on US 20, you will arrive in Sisters, Oregon.  I have been there a couple of times and have noted the town in my blog in the past (see post).

Ding Dong, Texas is comprised of one store/cafe.

Ding Dong, Texas is an unincorporated place on the Lampasas River between Gerogetown and Kileen on TX Hwy 195.  I had stopped there in hopes of buying Hostess Ding-Dongs…  But, among all of the Hostess Cupcake products in the store, they did not carry Ding Dongs.  A Ding Dong fail!!  Ding Dong was named when two early settlers in the town, Zulis Bell and Bert Bell, opened a store and hired the artist Cohn Cohen Hoover to make a sign for it. Hoover painted a sign with two bells on it. Inside the bells, Hoover painted the initials of the Bell brothers. Underneath one bell he painted the word “Ding” and the word “Dong” under the other bell. Over the years, because of this sign, this community became known as Ding Dong.

Helper, Utah

Helper is small quaint community of about 2,200 located off of US 191 just north of Price, Utah in Carbon County.  The town is a coal mining and railroad town.  It gets its name from the “helper” engines that would help push trains up the long hill to Soldier Summit as trains made their way to Salt Lake City.

There are so many unique places in Texas. I just accidentally came across this one….
I was so thrilled for this place. It had a laundromat and a restroom!!
I wonder if you can call the Telephone VFD with a cell phone now???

Telephone, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 273 and TX Hwy 2029 in Fannin County north of Honey Grove, Texas and just south of the Oklahoma border.   There are about 200 folks in this community, which got its name after numerous rejected name submissions to the US Postal Service in 1886.

Startup, Washington

Startup, Washington is a small community located just west of Stevens Pass on US Route 20. The name was to honor George G. Startup, manager of the Wallace Lumber Company. The Startup post office was established in 1900.  There are about 700 people in this very scenic town at the base of the Cascade Mountains.

Welcome to Many. Not just a few here!

Many, Louisiana is just east of the Texas border on Louisiana Hwy 6 and the junction of US Route 171 in Sabine Parish. The community takes its name from Colonel Many, who was an officer stationed at nearby Fort Jesup.

Flat, Texas is truly in a flat part of the state

Back to Texas (again) to the community of Flat.   The town is on TX Hwy 36 northeast of Temple in Coryell County.  There are about 850 people currently living here.

Big Foot Road in Wall, South Dakota

Are you looking for Big Foot?  Maybe you can take Big Foot Rd. near Wall, South Dakota and find him.  I wouldn’t know…  I just stopped for a photo of the exit sign on Interstate 90.

 

Big Fun in Uranus, Missouri
Thanks for Picking Uranus
Welcome to Uranus Missouri
Help Keep Uranus Clean

Finally, there is the “faux” town of Uranus, Missouri on Route 66 west of Cuba.  It is actually a huge tourist attraction filled with fun.  The main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory and all of its employees, called Fudge Packers.

And I’ll end this post in Uranus…  hope you enjoyed the ride

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!

 

(10)

April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: The Landscape in Photos

Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, CO

This is the final post from my April 2018 cross-country road trip from Lexington to Port Orchard, Washington and back. As a reminder, I covered 6000 miles and ventured through 16 states. Along the way I not only stopped to visit attractions and see the sites in towns small and large, but I also tried to capture the grandeur of the landscapes and scenery I passed by along the way.  Following are a number of scenic photos from that trip.  Enjoy the ride!  I have randomized these, so they are not in any particular order.  Captions tell the story.

Sunset in Colorado, taken on US 24 near Hartsel, Colorado
Lovely sunset after a windy day. Taken on a side road of Interstate 70 just east of Abilene, Kansas
Morning sky taken between Bend, OR and Brothers, OR (near Millican, OR) on US Hwy 20 heading east.
This is a sunset scene taken from the Edmonds to Kingston Ferry in Washington. The mountains in the distance are Olympic National Park. Water is Puget Sound.
This is US Route 2 heading west towards Waterville, WA
A huge dust storm as seen from Nevada Hwy 140 west of Winnemucca, NV
Lovely mountain scene from US Route 2 near Skykomish, WA
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Edmonds to Kingston Ferry crossing the Puget Sound.
US 101 near South Bend, WA. I was heading south and it was raining. Still beautiful
Another shot of Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs, CO
This is Hole in the Mountain Peak, taken from I-80 near Deeth, NV. I was heading east and this was south of me.
Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti National Recreation Area east of Gunnison, CO. This was taken from US Hwy 50.
Mt. Aetna as seen from US 50 near Monarch Pass, Colorado. heading east.
Sunbeams over Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs, CO
One of the peaks of the Cascades near Goldbar, WA
A snowy Interstate 90 heading west towards Livingston, Montana
Seattle, Washington as seen from a ferry in Puget Sound
A scene of the high Utah desert near Crescent Junction, UT
Heading towards Pine Canyon near Waterville, WA
Sunset over Sinclair Inlet near Port Orchard, WA
Missouri River Valley near Chamberlain, South Dakota

US Route 2 just past Steven’s Pass, WA – notice how high the show walls are on the side

Wenatchee Valley, near Wenatchee, WA
US Route 2 in Eastern Washington
A view from Oregon 202
Colorado Highway 94 near Rush, Colorado
US 50 East of Gunnison near Monarch, CO
Frenchglen Highway in Central Oregon
Skykomish River near Skykomish, WA as seen from US Hwy 2
A beach scene in Manchester, WA
The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
The high deserts of central Oregon are lovely.
The view of the Cascades as seen from the Skykomish / Gold Bar area of Washington, east of Everett.

ENJOY THE RIDE!  CHOOSE HAPPY!

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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late  June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

(67)

April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: Oregon’s High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway

Oregon’s High Desert

If the words “Scenic Byway” appear on a map or a highway, I try to take that road! And this is what I did on my return trip from Washington in mid April 2018.

After driving south from Port Orchard, WA on US 101, I skirted past Portland, OR and headed towards Bend, where I spent a night in a cozy, nice motel. My next day of travel was going to be rather long as I intended to make it all the way to Salt Lake City, which I ultimately did.

The High Desert Route through east-central Oregon

But I did not want to take the roads thru southern Idaho and come south on the interstate from Idaho into Salt Lake. Rather, I wanted to drive through the high desert and see the wildlife,  the high desert scenery and enjoy a long straight road or two!

A stretch of the Highway from Bend to Nevada

Thus, I discovered both the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway And, as part of that by the way, the Frenchglen Highway.

US 20 East of Bend, Oregon in the morning
Sunrise on US 20 as I neared Brothers, OR
Brothers, Oregon

I drove first from Bend southeast towards Brothers, OR on US 20 and then onto a cutoff south of Burns to get on to Oregon Highway 205, which would ultimately get me to the Nevada border at Denio.  By the way, Oregon is interesting in that it has towns named Brothers and Sisters.  I have actually been to both towns now.  Brothers is the home of the Brothers Stage Stop,  which was built in 1912 and was originally a stagecoach stop between Burns and Prineville. Today it’s a restaurant, gas station and post office.   I just got a photo of the place.

Brothers Stage Stop

Continuing southeast on US 20 towards Burns I saw some of that wildlife I was looking for.

Yellow-headed Blackbird
Red-tailed Hawk
A stretch of Oregon Highway 205 south of Burns, OR

As I neared Burns, I made my way to Oregon Highway 205 which is a straight shot south almost all the way to Frenchglen. This is where the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway begins.

Highway 205 then makes its way into the Malheur Basin Which offers some wonderful views of the lakes down in the valley. Ultimately, Highway 205 runs through the Narrows and over a bridge between the two lakes (Malheur Lake and Harney Lake) and, just past the bridge, fortunately, was a nice little rest area.

Oregon 205 just near Princeton, OR

The one thing I discovered on this long road and other long roads on the trip is that there are very few rest areas or places to stop for restrooms. So, if you take this road, you might want to keep that in mind.

A view of the Frenchglen Highway
Entrance to Diamond Loop Trail

The highway eventually leads back up the hill into the high desert where I deviated off for both a restroom break and a short little drive on the Buena Vista Overlook route. This gravel road took me up to a view point to overlook the valley in the high desert. I saw hawks and other wildlife along the way.

Landscape scene on Buena Vista Loop
Another view of the scenery
A view of the Steens Mountain range
Small store in Frenchglen

Back on Hwy 205 where the road continued south at the base of Steens Mountain and ultimately into the small little community of Frenchglen, Which is about 60 miles south of Burns.

Frenchglen is the home of the historic Frenchglen Hotel which is in the US National Register of Historic places. What I learned in later research was that this is a place for birdwatchers to stay. The nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is supposedly a very well-known birding area. The hotel has eight rooms and also has an outdoor out house for visitors to stop and take a break.

The Famous Frenchglen Hotel
There is a “Public Restroom” outside of the Frenchglen Hotel. Gotta love the planter too!
Found a shoe tree just outside of Frenchglen. Funny
Oregon Hwy 205 south of Frenchglen, OR

Unfortunately, I was not able to take the time to go into the hotel as I had hoped I could do because I had such a long extensive trip to make. But I did take some time to get a photograph of the hotel.

The Catlow Valley south of Frenchglen

From Frenchglen, the highway continued south into Fields, OR where I stopped at Fields Station to get some cold drinks, use the restroom and stretch.  They apparently make a good breakfast, but had a quite a crowd.  I didn’t want to wait 30 minutes, so back on the road. and then on to Denio, Nevada.

Steens Mountain as seen from OR 205 near Fields, OR
Fields Station in Fields, OR
Welcome to Nevada — Denio, NV

Beautiful scenes, long straight roads and a wonderful drive.

ENJOY THE RIDE!  CHOOSE HAPPY!

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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late  June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

(72)