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.
Judy Garland Birthplace – Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Jakeman’s Maple Syrup – Beachville, Ontario
Jackalopes Everywhere – Superior, Wisconsin; Wall, South Dakota; Douglas, Wyoming; Fort Worth, Texas
Jungle Jim’s Restroom – Cincinnati, Ohio
Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Waldo, Arkansas
Juke Boxes – Mel’s Diner – San Francisco, California
Jerry Siegel / Joe Schuster – Creators of Superman – Cleveland, Ohio
James Frank Kotera – JFK The Twine Ball Man – Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin
Jumbo the Elephant Statue – St. Thomas, Ontario
JELL-O Museum – Le Roy, New York
Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk – Riverside, Iowa
Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Another of the premiere roadside attractions in America!!
J.C. Penney Mother Store – Kemmerer, Wyoming
Where it all started
Jesus in Cowboy Boots – Evergreen Cemetery – Paris, Texas
Three Jamestowns – Jamestown, New York; Jamestown, North Dakota; Jamestown, Virginia
James Garfield Monument – Lake View Cemetery – Cleveland, Ohio
Jackalope Capital of the World – Douglas, Wyoming
Get your Jackalope Hunting License Here
Joseph Smith Cabin – Palmyra, New York
Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers – Rexburg, Idaho
Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Joe Mama’s Fine Italian – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jacobson Park – Lexington, Kentucky
My Happy Place
Jamaica Beach – Galveston, Texas
Jesus of the Ozarks – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
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.
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.
Road trips would never be the same without the opportunity to stop at local diners, dives and drive-ins (OK…I gotta give credit to Guy Fieri). Food is such an important part of a road trip. Obviously, no matter where one drives they always come across the chain shops like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. With those places, the food you get is always the same.
But, for me, the real joy is stopping at a local Mom and Pop shop or local Drive-In and trying out the fare. Someplace well known in that little town or region, but maybe not known anywhere else.
My good friend, singer/songwriter/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain did a song a few years ago called “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More” in respect for these places that are quickly becoming a dying breed. (see the video)
“There used to be more flavor in this country that I roam I feel like I’m a stranger, no place to call my home I can eat the same cheeseburger from New Mexico to Main The same darn cup of coffee, just to link in someone’s chain No, mom-and-pop don’t work here no more”
So, when I am on the road I really make an effort to find the local places to eat and I have found many of them across this wonderful country of ours. For example, there is “Cozy Drive-In” in Springfield, IL which supposedly is famous because of its creation of the corndog.
Then there’s the place in Missouri called Lambert’s Cafe that is famous for its “Throwed Rolls.” Or how about the diner outside of Natchez, Mississippi that looks like an old 1930s black woman servant on the outside and service homemade sandwiches on homemade bread with deserts of homemade pie and cake? And how can I forget “Hillbilly Hotdog” in West Virginia or the unique burger joint called Fat Smitty’s that is plastered with dollar bills in Washington. And what about The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas?
Along the road there are always the burger joints, the ice cream places, and the roadside cafés. One never knows what they will get in some of these places. But, chances are the food will be much better than what one will get at a fast food chain place.
And each of these local places has their “speciality,” such as the Ku-Ku burger at Waylan’s in Commerce, OK on Route 66.
I recall visiting the “Tightwad Café” in Tightwad, MO. Amazing breakfast made for a king and not a miserly tightwad. The only indication that it was a “tightwad” type of place was that they only took cash — no credit cards.
But check out the food. This giant breakfast was very affordable and kept me filled up for a good part of the day.
Of course, there are the barbecue places. Oh yes, the myriad barbecue places across this country. I have had barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. In fact, one of my favorites was in Paris, Ontario in Canada!! And they’re all different and wonderful.
One such great barbecue place is Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. The café is inside a gas station and people are always waiting in line out the door to get their famous barbecue. And when I finished, my friend Brad Sweeten, and athletic director at one of the high schools in Kansas City, Missouri, took me to a local ice cream place that makes ice cream cones as tall is the Empire State building.
Honestly, I could write about the dozens and dozens of places I’ve visited over the years. Every single place has its own personality and tasty cuisine.
Following are a few of the photos of the diners, dives and drive-ins that I visited over the years. I have dozens that you can read about in my blog. I only have room to include a few. One piece of advice though… don’t go looking for a sandwich in Sandwich, NH. Been there…failed that. No sandwiches in Sandwich.
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 towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
The X Towns
For the X towns, I am taking a little deviation. Since there are really only two places in the United States whose names begin with X (namely Xenia, Ohio and Xenia, Illinois), I am including a few places that have X in the name as well.
Xenia, Ohio is in central Ohio and is the County Seat for Greene County. I visited the town in 2008 specifically to hit the many covered bridges in the area. Though most are not really in Xenia, but rather are in Greene County, Xenia was just the main destination. Greene County has at least seven of them. I have pictured a few above. An, not far from Xenia is the town of Clifton and there is a bridge there as well as the Clifton Mill. A great place to visit. You can see more photos and read the history of these bridges on my 2008 post HERE.
OK. I admit it. Lexington, KY is my home town. There is a great deal to see here as this is the Horse Capital of the World and also the center of the Bourbon industry. The city has some great eateries (try the Lexington Diner!!) It is the home of Keeneland Race Track, the Kentucky Horse Park and now also has a couple of dozen murals. Rather than provide links, just go to this blogs’ Search Bar and type in Lexington to see a number of posts about Bourbon Trails, Horse Photos and the amazing murals and wall art that dot the city thanks to the PRHBTN group and LexArts.
Texarkana, Arkansas (and its neighbor in Texas) share a common road and share a post office, the only US Post Office that sits on a state line and is on two states. See more about one of my many visits (or drive thrus) of this town HERE.
Oxford County, Ontario
I have mentioned in my blog posts a number of times that I spent 8 months living in Woodstock and Paris, Ontario. Woodstock is the seat of Oxford County, which offers an abundance of interesting places to visit including the location of the first baseball game played in North America. Read more on my detailed 2008 post HERE.
I spent a few weeks in Rexburg, Idaho in 2013 and got to travel extensively. Nestled in the mountains of Idaho, it is close to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It is a small college town and home of BYU-Idaho. Definitely a great place to visit. Check out my detailed post about Rexburg (one of many) HERE.
Cotopaxi, Colorado (Honorable Mention)
In 2013 I drove from Rexburg, Idaho to Dallas, Texas for business. Part of the trip took me on US Highway 50 which went through the small, but beautiful Cotopaxi, Colorado. See the entire trip HERE.
Exie, KY (Honorable Mention)
Not much to say other than there is a place called Exie, Kentucky and it has this Greasy Creek Homestead place. It lies at the intersection of U.S. Route 68 with Kentucky Routes 487 and 745, south of the city of Greensburg.
Texline, Texas (Honorable Mention)
Like Exie, Texline, Texas is a blink your eyes and you’ll miss it place. On the border of New Mexico and Texas, the town is in northwestern Dallam County, Texas and has a population of about 500. The town is named for its location near the New Mexico-Texas state line. I drove thru there in 2013 on the same day as I drove through Cotopaxi, Colorado above.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.