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

 

A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

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The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

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The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

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The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

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The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

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The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

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The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

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The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

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The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

A to Z Challenge: The B 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 towns, some known for their names, other for unique sites in town. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

B The B Towns

Bemidji, Minnesota

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
Big Indian in Bemidji, MN in front of a souvenir shop
Big Indian in Bemidji, MN in front of a souvenir shop

Visiting Bemidji, MN was a lifelong dream of mine believe it or not.  As a young kid in the 1960s I had seen black and white photos of the giant Paul Bunyan Statue with his giant ox in LIFE magazine. I finally got to visit this iconic statue as well as a myriad of other sites in Bemidji, which is on US Highway 2 in western Minnesota. See my full post about Bemidji and my US Highway 2 cross country road trip  HERE.

Boring, Oregon

Entering Boring, OR
Entering Boring, OR
Sunset on the peak of Mt. Hood as seen from Boring, OR in 2012
Sunset on the peak of Mt. Hood as seen from Boring, OR in 2012

In 2012 I visited Oregon on a couple of occasions for business.  While in Portland, I was fascinated with a town called Boring and wanted to have the opportunity to visit there and see if it lived up to its name.   The town actually has about 8000 people and is a distant suburb of Portland and is reached on Oregon Highway 212. It offers some fabulous views of the massive Mt. Hood and provides a few chuckles with places like the Boring City Hall, the Boring Fire Department and a few other Boring places.  The community was named after William H. Boring, an early resident of the area who began farming there in the 1870s.  See more about my Boring visit HERE.

Blackfoot, Idaho

Idaho Potato Museum - Blackfoot
Idaho Potato Museum – Blackfoot, Idaho
Uniroyal Gal dressed as a Waitress in Blackfoot, ID
Uniroyal Gal dressed as a Waitress in Blackfoot, ID

In 2013 I took a two week business trip to Rexburg, Idaho.  While there I made a visit to Blackfoot so I could see the famed Idaho Potato Museum and the worlds largest baked and buttered potato.  The town is at the end of US Highway 26 and is crossed through by Interstate 15 and  US 91 and is almost exactly between Idaho Falls and Pocatello.  The town has a number of nice murals, a great Uniroyal Gal statue and a couple of awesome drive-in eateries including Rupe’s Burgers and Martha’s Cafe. For more on my visit to Blackfoot and the surrounding area in 2013, click HERE.

Burk’s Falls, Ontario, Canada

Screaming Heads. Canadian secondary school teacher Peter Camani created these spooky yet fascinating landscape artwork. Since the mid-1970s besides being a teacher, he has built these massive structures and amazing castle.
Screaming Heads on a farm near Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Screaming Heads - Burk's Falls, Ontario
Screaming Heads – Burk’s Falls, Ontario

I worked in southern Ontario during a good part of 2008 and one of the most quirky and unique places I ever visited was on a farm just outside of Burk’s Falls, Ontario. Canadian secondary school teacher Peter Camani created these spooky yet fascinating landscape pieces of art, which cover quite a bit of acreage. Since the mid-1970s besides being a teacher, he has built these massive structures and amazing castle.  Burk’s Falls is way up north in Ontario, on Canadian Highway 11 west of Algonquin Provincial Park. Once there, you need to find Midlothian Road and head west.  You can’t miss this freaky place.  Read more about my visit and see more photos HERE.

Booger Holler, Arkansas

Booger Holler, AR 2007
Booger Holler, AR 2007
Booger Hollow Trading Post, Arkansas in 2007
Booger Hollow Trading Post, Arkansas in 2007

When a town has a name like Booger Holler, how can you NOT go see it.  On a trip through Arkansas on my way to Fort Worth, Texas in 2007, I went 30 miles out of my way to visit Booger Holler.  Obscurely located on the winding AR Hwy 7, the place is barely a dot on the map.  At one time it Booger Hollow was once a popular tourist attraction along the Scenic 7 Byway. Though it is a “ghost attraction” today — closed and abandoned, it’s still worth a stop for its interesting photo opportunities, especially the main attraction — a two-story outhouse.  You can read more about this unique offbeat and quirky attraction on a distant back road in Arkansas by clicking HERE.

Brownsville, Tennessee

Sumoflam at Tripp's Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Sumoflam at Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Billy Tripp's Mindfield in Brownsville, TN
Billy Tripp’s Mindfield in Brownsville, TN

On a road trip to Galveston in 2014, I made it a point to take back roads all the way from Lexington to Galveston.  Along the way, I hit a number of unique attractions before making my way to US 61 and the Blues Highway in Mississippi.  One of my stops was in Brownsville, Tennessee, home of the uber quirky Billy Tripp’s Mindfield, which was built to honor Mr. Tripp’s parents.  A towering and dizzying metal sculpture, it was most certainly not something one would expect in a quiet little Tennessee town like Brownsville, which can be reached on US 79 northeast of Memphis.  Read more about this strange attraction and quaint town HERE.

Babb, Montana

Babb Bar and Supper Club
Babb Bar and Supper Club
Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT

On a number of occasions I visited family in Shelby, Montana.  On one trip we took a ride to the edge of Glacier National Park and visited the little community of Babb, Montana.  We ate breakfast at the Leaning Tree Cafe and enjoyed a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains.  Babb is located on US Highway 89, one of America’s most scenic highways and it is the first US town south of the Canadian border on that highway.  See more about this lovely place HERE.

Blackwater, Missouri

City of Blackwater, MO
City of Blackwater, MO
Bucksnort Trading Company, Blackwater, MO
Bucksnort Trading Company, Blackwater, MO
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Old Holsum Wall Advertisement, one of many wall murals to be seen in Blackwater, MO

I like visiting towns that are named in songs.  In the past I have visited China Grove, TX and LaGrange, TX and on one trip I drive into Blackwater, MO for a quick look see.   Blackwater is the home of the Bucksnort Trading Company (not to be confused with Bucksnort, TN) and can be reached by taking Missouri Highway K north of Interstate 70.  Fun little place with Antiques, some great old Wall Art and more.

Bena, Minnesota

Complete view of the Big Fish Supper Club and the Big Fish in Bena, MN
Complete view of the Big Fish Supper Club and the Big Fish in Bena, MN
The Historic Big Winnie store and RV Park in Bena, MN
The Historic Big Winnie store and RV Park in Bena, MN

Last stop on the B Town visit is the town of Bena, Minnesota, another of the many fascinating places to be seen on US Highway 2 in Minnesota.  It is home of the Big Fish Supper Club including the giant walk in fish.  Bena is also home to the historic Big Winnie Store and RV Park.  Built in 1932, this place has been a haven for travelers for over 80 years. Bena is actually not too far from Bemidji (see above).  The long US 2 trip report from 2013 can be seen HERE.

Bucksnort, Tennessee (Honorable Mention)

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Welcome to Bucksnort, TN Just a small place off of Interstate 40

Honestly, since I mentioned the Bucksnort Trading Company in Missouri, how can I forget adding the unusual community of Bucksnort, TN. It is located near Exit 152 on Interstate 40, a few miles east of the Tennessee River. Strange name with just a small truck stop and convenience store.  I visited here in 2010 on a trip from Bugtussle, KY to Bugtussle, TX (all in one day — see below)

Bugtussle, Kentucky and Bugtussle, Texas (Honorable Mention)

What remains of the Bugtussle General Store in Bugtussle, KY
What remains of the Bugtussle General Store in Bugtussle, KY
Road sign in Bugtussle, TX...the only indication you are at the intersection of FM1550 and TX34
Road sign in Bugtussle, TX…the only indication you are at the intersection of FM1550 and TX34

And finally, how about a couple of places named Bugtussle?  In February 2010 I had a crazy notion – how about driving from my home in Lexington, KY to Bugtussle, KY and then drive all the way to Bugtussle, TX on the same day, taking back roads through Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. I had known the name Bugtussle from the Beverly Hillbillies and so, in my own quirky way, I thought it would be fun!  Bugtussle, KY is a small community on the border of Tennessee on Kentucky Hwy 87 south of Glasgow, KY.  Bugtussle, TX is just a corner at the intersection of Texas Farm Road 1550 and Texas Hwy 34, southwest of Paris, TX.  On the same trip I visited Bucksnort, TN (see above) and on the way home visited Uncertain, TX (which will be featured on my U Towns post later this month).  See the original Bugtussle trip post HERE.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]