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

 

Usa Shrine – Usa, Japan

Family at Usa Shrine in Oita Prefecture ca. 1990
Daughter Amaree in Usa, Japan 1987

Uncasville, Connecticut

Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

Upper Lake, California

Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Upper Lake, CA
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques

Unexpected Texas – Tui Snider – Azle, Texas

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)
Tui Snider – author of “Unexpected Texas” (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Uniroyal Gals – Blackfoot, Idaho; Gainesville, Texas

Glenn Goode’s Big People has a Uniroyal Gal too
Uniroyal Gal dressed as a Waitress in Blackfoot, ID

Uncle Roosters – Seymour, Missouri

Uncle Roosters in Seymour, Missouri
Uncle Rooster’s Big Rooster on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri

Ukiah, California

Ukiah, CA
California Strawberries! found near Ukiah, CA

Usuki, Japan

Usuki, Japan 1988

Union Pacific Railroad Museum – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Uncertain, Texas

Uncertain, TX
Uncertain Department of Tourism
Uncertain Inn … An Uncertain Place to Stay
Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

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 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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O is for Offbeat Oddities – #atozchallenge

For me there is a difference between “Offbeat” and “Quirky.”  I like to look at things that are offbeat as being similar to something conventional or recognizable, but just somewhat off.  On the other hand, quirky is closer to non-conventional and sometimes even absurd (my Q post will focus on Quirky).

Oddville, Kentucky

When I am traveling I love looking at the beauty and nature around me, but I also seek out the offbeat and quirky.  One source I always use to help me find these locations is the Roadside America app. This app covers all 50 states and most of Canada and includes almost anything offbeat, odd, quirky and even downright outlandish and ridiculous. There are literally 1000s of sites and things to find and this makes for something fun on a roadtrip.

Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati
Mushroom House front side

So, what do I mean by offbeat?  Let’s take houses for instance.  The normal home is brick and mortar, or a trailer home.  But how about a flying saucer or a house that looks like mushrooms?  A trip to the Cincinnati area offers up both of these.

First, there is a house in Cincinnati literally referred to as the “Mushroom House.”  It is built almost completely out of either natural materials or recycled materials.

It is like a house…it is a house.  But it certainly looks different than the “normal” human abode.

A view of Cincinnati’s Mushroom House
Beam Me Up Scotty at the Front Door of Futuro House

Then there are the homes that look like flying saucers.  Called “Futuro” homes, there were many built in the 1960s by a company in Finland.

Across the river from Cincinnati, on a hill in Covington, KY overlooking the Ohio River and US Interstate 75, sits a Futuro House.  It is in a regular neighborhood and stands out like a sore thumb.  If you look carefully off to your right from the Interstate driving south out of Cincinnati right after crossing the Ohio River, you will see it.

The Futuro House in Covington, KY
Beer Can House, Houston, TX

Finally, take a tripdown to Houston for another Offbeat house…the house built totally out of Beer Cans!

Basically done as an art project, this house is also lived in and is built out of 1000s of aluminum beer cans.

I think the owner’s name must be Bud Weiser??

Beer Can House Front
Beer Can House
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

But houses aren’t the only offbeat places.  If one looks hard the discovery of offbeat eateries can also come to the fore.  Like the houses, these are normal in most respects, but there is just something a tad different.

For instance, there is a great place in Portland, Oregon called Voodoo Doughnut.  The main shop (yes, there are now a few of them) is located downtown and there are lines there 24/7.  They make a great variety of doughnuts and even a few offbeat ones, such as the actual Voodoo Doughnut, which is a person shaped doughnut, covered with chocolate and filled with raspberry filling.  It is stabbed with a pretzel stick…yes, like a Voodoo Doll!

The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stick!
It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

Then there is the other offbeat thing…the original shop also has a chapel and some of the bakers are ALSO ordained ministers.  You can be married at Voodoo Doughnut legally and be surrounded by chapel-esque stained glass and everything!

Voodoo Doughnut Stained Glass
Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie
Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls

Head on over to Missouri for another unique treat.  There is a restaurant in Ozark, Missouri (and another near Branson) called Lambert’s Cafe.  These huge facilities cater to tourists and buses.  They offer a variety of yummy meals and have a few things served “home style” – wheeled in on carts and served out of pots at the table (including black-eyed peas, potatoes, tomato stew and more).

But what really makes them famous are their “Throwed Rolls.” And this is where they fit into the Offbeat category.  Literally, they come to the middle of an area in the restaurant, ask who wants rolls and then throw them across the room to you.  You miss them, too bad…

Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place
The Throwed Rolls with Sorghum – yummy!

Then there is the offbeat looking restaurant in Mississippi with amazing lunch offerings…

Sumoflam at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard Dining Room – Much bigger than it looks on the outside
Sumoflam and MSR Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

Convention gets thrown out the door when visiting a facility just outside of Nekoma, ND.  There is a huge cement pyramid in the middle of nowhere.  Seemingly deserted (but fenced off), this used to be an old military facility.

The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex was the United States’ first operational ABM (anti-ballistic missile) defense system.  The pyramid included radar and other defense systems.  Now unused, it sits in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota and is an imposing offbeat site.

The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility
The famed North Dakota pyramid, a vestige of the cold war, as seen from ND Hwy 1 south of Nekoma, ND

And a bank is a bank is a bank…right?  What about one for tightwads?

Then there is place called Tightwad in MO and they even have a bank!
National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI

Next are museums.  There are hundreds of museums in the United States, but some are more offbeat and unique than others.  Take the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI.  Chock full of mustards from around the world, one can buy a lifetime supply of mustards and never have the same flavor twice.

The original Mustard Museum was located in Mt. Horeb, WI, but later moved to Middleton, to be in a much larger facility. A condiment lover’s  dream.

Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin
MBA Degree (Master of Bad Attitude) from the Mustard Museum’s Poupon University (Poupon U)

There are also other fun museums out there.  How about these?

Jell-o Museum in LeRoy, New York
Spoon Ceiling at JELL-O Museum
Sumoflam at Spam Museum in Austin, MN
Spam Museum Billboard – Austin, MN
Spam Museum – Austin, MN
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID
World’s Largest Potato Chip – 23″ x 14.5″ at the Idaho Potato Museum

And then there is the actual Oddity Place of all Oddity Places… a museum of Oddities in Seattle, WA called “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.”

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA

Finally, what’s in a town?  There are some offbeat towns out there.  Many towns have unique names, but some of these are really offbeat and odd.

Odd, West Virginia Post Office
Oddville United Methodist Church, Oddville, KY
Peculiar, Missouri
A Peculiar Church

Some are totally Uncertain….

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX
Yes, there is a Church of Uncertain!!

And lastly, a town that actually changed its name to a major sponsor…also in Texas.

DISH Town Hall, DISH, Texas
DISH, Texas

Indeed, there is much offbeat in America and this is just a small sampling of the savory and unsavory offbeat oddities of our wonderful country.  Is there anything Normal?

Normal, IL

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