A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The B 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.

 

Blueberry, WI

Old Antique Store in Blueberry, WI

Brazos Bend State Park – Needville, TX

Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Another Gator in Brazos State Park

Bruce Windmill Farm – Woodstock, ON

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woodstock, ON is One of Ontario’s premier “roadart” places

Bison/Buffalo – Yellowstone National Park

Bison and calves relax by a lake in Yellowstone
A big bison poses for me in Yellowstone

Blackwater, Missouri

City of Blackwater, MO

Boring Post Office – Boring, Oregon

Boring Post Office
Entering Boring

Bridges of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bridges of Pittsburgh

Bugtussle, Kentucky

Remember Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies??

What remains of the Bugtussle General Store in Bugtussle, KY

Buffalo Bill Museum – LeClaire, Iowa

Buffalo Bull Museum in LeClaire, Iowa

Beloit Smiley Water Tower – Beloit, WI

Beloit’s Smiley Water Tower greets visitors to Wisconsin

Two-State Sign – Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA

Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia – taken when we visited the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail

Beatles Tribute – Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

This way to Beatles Park at the corner of US 67 and Abbey Rd. in Walnut Ridge, AR
The Beatles Abbey Road Sculpture in Beatles Park.

Big Fish Supper Club – Bena, Minnesota

Big Fish Supper Club, Bena, MN
Complete view of the Big Fish Supper Club and the Big Fish in Bena, MN

Blue Heron Photos – Lexington, Kentucky & Uncertain, Texas

Blue Heron grabbing some breakfast
Blue Heron in Flight over Jacobson Lake in Kentucky
A blue heron flies by on Caddo Lake near Uncertain, Texas

Booger Hollow, Arkansas

Booger Hollow, Arkansas in 2007

Barbed Wire Sculpture at Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Bob Evans Headquarters – New Albany, Ohio

Bob Evans Farm HQ – New Albany, OH

Butte, Montana

Welcome to Butte, Montana

Blue Banana Espresso – Lostine, Oregon

Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon

Bessie the Cow – Janesville, Wisconsin

Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI

Blues Highway – US 61 in Mississippi

Sumoflam at the Blues Highway in Mississippi

Beatles Statues – Houston, Texas

The 35 Foot tall Beatles statues by David Adickes, currently on display outside Houston’s 8th Wonder Brewery

Hot Spring Shower in Hot Spring Capital of Japan – Beppu, Japan

A hot spring shower in Beppu…and yes, the towel was necessary. 1990

Brown Pelicans in Formation – Galveston, Texas

Pelicans in formation over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX
Pelicans fly in formation over the beach in Galveston

Beartooth Pass – near Red Lodge, Montana

The Beartooth Range in northern Wyoming.
At the Beartooth Highway in May 2015

Big Stone Gap, Virginia

Big Stone Gap, VA

Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles – Ashland, Wisconsin

Boudreau’s Antiques Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI

Big Jud’s Burgers – Rexburg, Idaho

Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger

Tersier Monkey in Bohol, Philippines

A Tersier in Bohol

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park in SD
Sunset at the Badlands in South Dakota.

Big Apple – Medina, NY (Yes, the OTHER big apple in New York)

Big Apple Medina, NY

World’s Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, North Dakota

World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND

Big Bone Lick State Park – Union, Kentucky

Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky

Big Indian – Bemidji, Minnesota

Big Indian in Bemidji, MN in front of a souvenir shop

Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum – Vicksburg, Mississippi

Biedenharn Museum Sign, Vicksburg, MS

Big John – Great Falls, Montana

Cowboy Muffler Man – Big John in Great Falls, Montana

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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A to Z Challenge: The J 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

J The J Towns

Jamestown, North Dakota

World's Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
The Chuckwagon Cafe - serving a 4 Meat Buffet
The Chuckwagon Cafe – serving a 4 Meat Buffet

One of my fun places to stop in North Dakota is Jamestown. It is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue and  the National Buffalo Museum.  It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh and is one of the giants across the US. See more about my visit to Jamestown HERE.

Joseph, Oregon

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Joseph, Oregon is the Gateway to Hell’s Canyon
A view of Hells Canyon
A view of Hell’s Canyon near Joseph, Oregon
The Spirit of Joseph by Steve Parks
Sumoflam with “The Spirit of Joseph” Eagle sculpture in Joseph, OR. Sculptor was Steve Parks
Sacajawea Peak
A view of Sacajawea Peak near Joseph, Oregon
Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake near Joseph, OR

Known as “The Little Switzerland” of the United States, Joseph, Oregon is a scenic town on the shores of the lovely Wallowa Lake. I visited this community in 2007 and was enthralled by the beauty.  Like many towns, they have an art walk with many fine outdoor sculptures, including the intricate eagle sculpture “The Spirit of Joseph” by Steve Parks.  Joseph was named after Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce Tribe.  Joseph is also about an hour away from the awe inspiring Hell’s Canyon. Despite the grandeur and wide expanses of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Hell’s Canyon has been carved much deeper by the Snake River. The canyon is about 100 miles in length and there is one 40 mile section that is nearly 5500 feet deep. But the steepest point from river to rim is at Granite Creek. This is an amazing 7900 foot deep section of the canyon!! The widest expanse across the canyon is 10 miles. The Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway is an awesome way to spend a day driving and taking in the wonderful views.  See more about my NW Oregon  and SW Washington roadtrip from 2007 HERE.

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana
Welcome to Jeffersonville, Indiana
One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center
Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center
Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN
Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN
Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN
Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN
Gargoyle at Industrial Terrorplex
Gargoyle at Industrial Terrorplex (added especially for my Gargoyle loving friend and author Tui Snider)

Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY is the river town of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Two different cities and a shared river and bridge.  In September 2013 , with camera in hand,  I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville.  The town has a series of floodwall murals which are delightful to walk along and see. Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew.  This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012.  Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world. Jeffersonville is also home to The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner.  A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me. See more about this unique Ohio River town in my 2013 post HERE.

Juneau, Alaska

Downtown Juneau Alaska
Downtown Juneau Alaska
Cruise Ship in Juneau
Cruise Ship in Juneau as seen from OUR Cruise Ship at 5:30 AM
Juneau Tram
Mount Roberts Tramway
View of Gastineau Channel as seen from top of mountain
View of Gastineau Channel as seen from top of mountain
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

One of the few places you cannot get to on a backroad by car is Juneau, Alaska.  Only accessible via air or boat, we visited while on a cruise in June 2004 with other family members.  Sitting along the Gastineau Channel, the town is picturesque and touristy.  It is the gateway to Mendenhall Glacier as well.  Mendenhall Glacier is about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. We also took the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top of the mountain and enjoyed a spectacular view.  The tramway’s cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest to the Mountain House, offering expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The Tramway is one of the most vertical tramways in the world. See the entire report of this trip HERE.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

"Howdy Stranger" Sign at Teton Pass summit
“Howdy Stranger” Sign at Teton Pass summit
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Antler Arch of Jackson
Antler Arch of Jackson
The famous Cowboy Bar neon sign
The famous Cowboy Bar neon sign
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge
Grand Tetons as seen from outside Jackson, WY
Grand Tetons as seen from outside Jackson, WY

One of my FAVORITE places in the US is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It is the gateway to the Grand Tetons National Park and is a beautiful town nestled in a picturesque valley. See my full post from a 2013 visit HERE.  It is one my “Heaven on Earth” places.

Janesville, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)

Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI
Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI

Another of the interesting towns in Wisconsin, Janesville is not too far from Madison and north of Beloit.  The town has big cows and cheese factories as well as a great history.  Definitely worth a visit.

Jackson Center, Ohio (Honorable Mention)

Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio
Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio
Wally Byam Caravan Club HQ in Jackson Center
Wally Byam Caravan Club HQ in Jackson Center
Sumoflam hanging at the Airstream Visitor's Center
Sumoflam hanging at the Airstream Visitor’s Center

Jackson Center, Ohio is the home of the Airstream Factory. Everyone has seen these iconic trailers on the roads.  This is where they come from.  They give tours!!  Check out a report about my visit there in May 2008 right HERE.

Jamaica Beach, Texas (Honorable Mention)

Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation

On one end of Galveston Island in Texas is Jamaica Beach, with nice beaches, condos to stay in and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico.  Brown pelicans are in the air everywhere.  See my 2014 post with many pelican shots and lots of views of the beautiful gulf coast HERE.

Jamestown, New York (Honorable Mention)

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Lucille Ball Birthplace
Lucille Ball Birthplace

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include another Jamestown.  (And yes, I have also been to Jamestown, VA to see the old Jamestown history!!) Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of iconic TV star Lucille Ball.  There is Lucy and Desi stuff all over town.  We didn’t have time to visit the Lucy-Desi Center, but I did at least get shots of the facilities and the murals.  See my full report about my New York trip to Jamestown and other places nearby by clicking HERE.

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Montana Roadtrip – Day 1: A Cheesy Drive to Yooperville

Excitement at 4 AM as I get ready to leave on a long roadtrip!
Excitement at 4 AM as I get ready to leave on a long roadtrip!

I began my 4600 mile trek to Montana and back by driving from Lexington, Kentucky to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (these folks call themselves “Yoopers”) and the small town of Ironwood.

Unique Clouds at 6:30 AM heading east on I-74 in central Indiana
Unique Clouds at 6:30 AM heading west on I-74 in central Indiana

As with most of my long road trips, the first leg did require a bit of driving on the interstate which I try to avoid once I get into the midst of a trip. For a change of pace, I headed north to Cincinnati and then west on I-74 to Indianapolis and then continued on I-74 all the way to Bloomington, IL.  I have made numerous trips to Indianapolis and into Illinois, so I am not documenting much about those states in this post. I should note however, that from Bloomington I followed US 51 north, though much of it was along I-39 all the way into the middle of Wisconsin.

Welcome to Illinois on I-74 at Indiana/Illinois Border
Welcome to Illinois on I-74 at Indiana/Illinois Border
Driving north out of Bloomington, IL
Driving north out of Bloomington, IL
Driving north on I-39 / US 51 towards Beloit, WI
Driving north on I-39 / US 51 towards Beloit, WI

Of course, whenever possible, I do try to take some side trips off of the interstate to visit new places. On this particular venture, I strolled into El Paso, Illinois for a looksee. This is one of those small towns that give you a good taste of Americana. I had seen a photo of this old bed-and-breakfast type restaurant with an old neon sign. So, I wanted to check it out myself and see if it was still there. And, to my joy it was!

Visiting "The Elms" in El Paso, IL
Visiting “The Elms” in El Paso, IL

If I were a filmmaker, I would add “The Elms” restaurant and the building that it used to be housed in as part of the set of “Bates Motel.”  It has that old feel, yet it also has a spooky appeal to it.  The restaurant opened in the 1940s and finally closed down in March 2003. In its heyday it was a draw from all around.

The old abandoned Elms Restaurant in El Paso, IL.  Vintage neon and a classic old building.
The old abandoned Elms Restaurant in El Paso, IL. Vintage neon and a classic old building.

From El Paso, I continued north into Rockford, Illinois. I had a number of places I’d hoped to go see, but due to time constraints and my desire to get to the Upper Peninsula before dark, I skipped over all but one site there. I made my way to the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza since it was right off of the road. Established in 2002, the plaza celebrates the United Nations’ official September 21 International Day of Peace. The plaza showcases 44 flags, and has messages of peace in more than 60 languages. The photo below is of the “Harmony Index” it was designed for this particular location by nationally known sculptor Lee Sido.

Harmony Index at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza designed by
Harmony Index at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza designed by Lee Sido
Over 60 flags fly at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza in Rockford, IL
Over 44 flags fly at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza in Rockford, IL

After Rockford, I headed north into Beloit, Wisconsin. People that make it into Beloit are greeted by the uber-friendly Smiley Water Tower. Of course, entering Wisconsin also brings you face on with cheesiness everywhere!

Beloit's Smiley Water Tower greets visitors to Wisconsin
Beloit’s Smiley Water Tower greets visitors to Wisconsin
Say "Cheese!" - You're in Wisconsin!
Say “Cheese!” – You’re in Wisconsin!

In this case, I don’t necessarily just mean cheese as in the food, but Wisconsin is dotted with unique big animal statues. My first bout was with a big bulldog near the water tower. This is the mascot for the Road Dawg Restaurant in Beloit.

The Big Bulldog mascot of the Road Dawg Restaurant
The Big Bulldog mascot of the Road Dawg Restaurant

And around the corner things got even cheesier at the Cornellier Superstore (cheese-r-us.com)! There is cheese all over the wall (outside that is) and a number of cheesy looking statues of animals outside as well. If you like taking cheesy selfie photos, then this is a good place to start!

The famous mouse with sausage and cheese outside of Cornellier Superstore in Beloit
The famous mouse with sausage and cheese outside of Cornellier Superstore in Beloit
Who stole my cheese?
Who stole my cheese?

Besides the cheesy mouse, there is a big Holstein cow at front. If you’re not into cows, there is also a big cuddly bear with honey and lots of interesting things inside the shop. And, of course, you can get all kinds of cheese!

The Beloit Holstein Cow outside of Cornellier Superstore
The Beloit Holstein Cow outside of Cornellier Superstore
Cuddling with the Honey Bear in the front of Cornellier Superstore
Cuddling with the Honey Bear in the front of Cornellier Superstore

From Beloit I continued north to Janesville. It is the home of “Bessie the Cow.”  I was really udderly fascinated by the big brown cow out front of the Arby’s Restaurant. Though not nearly as big as “Salem Sue” in New Salem, North Dakota (see my photo from 2005), it is the second largest cow statue I have ever seen! (And I do have a collection of them)

Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI
Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI
Udderly Amazed at the size of this cow!
Udderly Amazed at the size of this cow!

Continuing north, I made my way into DeForest, Wisconsin. As a traveler, if you were at all interested in the quirky or offbeat, then this is a must stop if you are in the area! Their famous pink elephant with big Buddy Holly glasses is a site worth beholding and worth getting into a photograph with. I understand that there are a few of these elephants around the country, but this is the only one that I am aware of with glasses. And, if you go into the Shell gas station, they sell pink elephant magnets, T-shirts, stickers, and they even have a pink elephant liquor store.

The Pink Elephant of DeForest at exit 126 on I-94
The Pink Elephant of DeForest at exit 126 on I-94
Check out the glasses on this dude!!
Check out the glasses on this dude!!
Need a Pink Elephant T-Shirt?  I know where you can get one!
Need a Pink Elephant T-Shirt? I know where you can get one!

Just down the street from the Pink Elephant is Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet. They have a big Holstein Cow as well.  This one is named “Sissy the Cow.” Sissy is very close in size to Bessie.  Indeed, they may be sisters!!  I was really lucky to get the shot I did as Bessie has done a “Chick-Fil-A” to Burger King….look carefully….

Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI.  Playing a little "Chick-Fil-A" on Burger King!!
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little “Chick-Fil-A” on Burger King!!
One of the two murals that decorate the outside of Ellenbach's Cheese Chalet
One of the two murals that decorate the outside of Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet

As is known to many of the followers of my travel blog, I always endeavor to find towns with unique names. This time, I actually came upon one named Endeavor in Wisconsin.

Endeavor, WI
Endeavor, WI
Grampa's Swamp Side Bar & Grill in Endeavor, WI.  Not sure how it is, but love the name!
Grampa’s Swamp Side Bar & Grill in Endeavor, WI. Not sure how it is, but love the name!

One of the reasons I take joy in driving the back roads of America is that I run into places that are an expected. I’m always looking for a Smiley Water Tower, or barn with a smiley on it. But this time as I passed through Hancock, Wisconsin I came upon Smiley’s Old Time Diner! Now, how fun is that! I just wish I would’ve had time to stop and check out the menu (which includes things like meatloaf o Monday, etc.) but had to press onward.

Smiley's Old Time Diner in Hancock, Wisconsin
Smiley’s Old Time Diner in Hancock, Wisconsin

I continued north on Interstate 39 until I got to Wausau, Wisconsin. From there the freeway ends and US 51 continues on its own past the colorful town of Tomahawk, Wisconsin (which I visited in 2012 and you can see pictures of it here). US 51 continues north and passes numerous lakes, ponds and touristy towns such as the scenic town of Minocqua, Wisconsin, which is basically on an island in the midst of Lake Minocqua.

Skies at dusk in northern Wisconsin on US 51 south of Minocqua, WI
Skies at dusk in northern Wisconsin on US 51 south of Minocqua, WI
Sunset at Lake Minocqua, WI
Sunset at Lake Minocqua, WI

I pulled into this small lovely village right near sunset, and so I was blessed to get some beautiful sunset pictures with the lake. As well, they have a big diner called Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, which was closed at the time, but has a big old Bunyan and Babe statue and so I joined them for a photo opportunity!

Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty in Minocqua, WI
Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty in Minocqua, WI
Paul Bunyan and Sumoflam in Minocqua, WI
Paul Bunyan and Sumoflam in Minocqua, WI
Paul Bunyan and Babe at sunset in Minocqua, WI
Paul Bunyan and Babe at sunset in Minocqua, WI

Continuing north on 51 hit got darker and so I just pressed forward missing some other sites such as the second largest black duck statue and a couple of others along the way. I finally made my way to my hotel in Ironwood, Michigan fairly late in the evening.

Sunset over Lake Minocqua, WI
Sunset over Lake Minocqua, WI

This long “Day One” trip covered approximately 825 miles and I was on the road for over 16 hours in total enjoyment!

Typical Red Barn in Wisconsin
Typical Red Barn in Wisconsin

The next leg of the trip will be covered in my next post and will feature the sites of Ironwood, Michigan and the drive all the way across Wisconsin to Duluth, Minnesota.

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