My Travels in 2018

Life gets so busy. The first two months of 2019 have been exceptionally busy and so I am just now getting to my annual review posts for 2018.

Visiting Route 66 in Oklahoma

At the beginning of 2018 I didn’t have very high hopes for many travel opportunities. I had begun a new job in early October of the previous year and I didn’t have any definitive travel plans. But, I had also learned to roll with things and, as good fortune would have it, 2018 actually became a really good travel year.

Over the course of the year I was able to travel through 26 different states and drove nearly 12,000 miles. I was able to add a plethora of photos (I took over 15,000 travel photos in 2018) and content for use in future blogs and books. Though many of my travels were alone (which I love), I also was able to travel with family on some of the trips (which I also love!).

Morning sky taken between Bend, OR and Brothers, OR (near Millican, OR) on US Hwy 20 heading east.
A sunset scene taken from the Edmonds to Kingston Ferry in Washington
Lovely sunset after a windy day. Taken on a side road of Interstate 70 just east of Abilene, Kansas
Mt. Aetna as seen from US 50 near Monarch Pass, Colorado.
Desert and snow-covered peaks in Nevada

My major trips included:

  1. A trip to Nashville in January to visit with my new employer ComicBook.com. On this trip I also visited the cool and “off-beat” Paradise PointMarketplace
    Welcome to Paradise Point
  2. In late January I made a trip down to Barren River Lake State Park in southern Kentucky to view the sandhill cranes which had migrated down there.
    Sandhill Cranes take flight
  3. In February I was asked by son Seth to come down to Cypress, Texas to watch his two sons for a couple of weeks while he and his wife were off on a cruise. The trip south took me through Calvert City, KY where I visited the Apple Valley Toy Land and Hillbilly Gardens. I also found my way to Kenton, Arkansas, home of the white squirrels, then to historic Walnut Ridge, Arkansas to see some fun Beatle’s things. I then meandered my way into Louisiana and visited a few fun places. While in Cypress with the boys I also visited Austin and then took the boys venturing out on some of the back roads around the Houston area where we discovered some fun places. My return trip took me up to Keller, Texas to visit my sister and while there I found a few more fascinating places. I then made my way home through Oklahoma and Arkansas, traveling back roads all the way and discovering some fun places. I finally returned to Lexington at the end of February.                                                                                               
    Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden – Calvert City, Kentucky
    Sumoflam with the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, AR
    The Beatles in Houston, statues by Houston artist David Adickes
  4. March saw me again on the road for a quick trip up to Cleveland, Ohio. On this trip, with my wife, we visited sites in Cleveland and then on the way home stopped in Columbus to see the famed Topiary Garden Park. It was a quick, yet fun and interesting trip. 
    Topiary Garden Park of Columbus
  5. On April 2 I set off on one of the biggest road trips I have had in a couple of years. We had a family event taking place in Port Orchard, Washington. I drove while my wife flew (she had a tighter schedule and needed to take some PTO time). I set out heading west through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. I had hoped to go up through Minnesota, but a major snowstorm diverted much of my initial plan. Nonetheless, I always find something. This trip allowed me to visit seven different Peter Toth “Whispering Giants” , which also took me to other unique places along the way. I ultimately made my way through Iowa Falls, Cedar Rapids, northern South Dakota and overnight in Belle Fourche. I then headed northwest into snowy southeastern Montana and crossed the state from there through Bozeman, Butte, Missoula and overnight in scenic and touristy Wallace, Idaho. From Wallace I made my way to Spokane and then east on US 2, to complete my travels on the western portion of that highway (other parts I had driven on in previous road trips. This took me through Washington’s high desert and then into the Cascades and back down into apple orchard country. I ultimately made my way into the Seattle area. The return trip went down through Olympia and then into Oregon on US 101 and then across Oregon’s high desert, through Winnemucca, Nevada and then into my old stomping grounds in Murray, Utah, near Salt Lake City. I then ventured to Colorado Springs to see my son Solomon and then across Colorado’s high deserts into western Kansas, and finally back home through St. Louis and Louisville. It was an amazing two week adventure! 
    Visiting the Whispering Giant at Starving Rock State Park in Illinois
    One of over 200 sculptures from around Raymond, Washington
    A stretch of Oregon Highway 205 south of Burns, Oregon
    Leavenworth, Washington
    Snow walls taller than me on both sides of the road at Stevens Pass in Washington
    Helper, Utah
    Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere near Chamberlain, South Dakota
    Men’s Room Door at a gas station in Ashland, Montana
    US Hwy 101 in southern Washington
    Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs, Colorado
    On the road somewhere in NW Nevada
  6. I didn’t really venture out on a road trip again until mid-June when my wife and I took a day long trip up to Cincinnati to see some things we hadn’t done before. It was a nice sightseeing adventure.
    A day trip to Cincinnati with my wife
    The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge as seen from Carew Tower in Cincinnati. When opened on December 1, 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet main span.
  7. In late July I was joined by my oldest grandchild Autumn for a fun adventure to Cypress, Texas. I was again asked to babysit my two granddsons for about ten days. Autumn and I meandered our way down there through Tennessee and Alabama down to the gulf coast and into Biloxi, Mississippi. We traveled along the Gulf Coast into Louisiana and eventually into Texas. While in Texas, the four of us made a few trips as well, including a day-long adventure to the weird city of Austin. Autumn and I then returned home through central Texas and up to Keller to stay with my sister and allow Autumn to hang with her cousin, who is the same age. After a couple of days in Keller, Autumn and I returned home through Oklahoma, Kansas and into Missouri, where we visited the unique touristy place called Uranus and then finally home. It was an amazing fun trip.
    Sharkhead in Biloxi, Mississippi
    Decatur, Texas
    Welcome to Uranus Missouri
    Getting stabbed in Bowie, Texas
    One of hundreds of frog statues in Rayne, Louisiana
    Peach Water Tower in Clanton, Alabama
    One of a number of murals in a section of Houston
    Vulcan Statue, one of America’s tallest, in Birmingham, Alabama
    Woody Guthrie Water Towers in Okemah, Oklahoma

    Over the next few posts, I will try to catch up with content about different themes…road scenes, wood art, murals, roadside attractions and more.

    I hope you will enjoy the ride with me as I revisit these adventures.

Have you seen my most recent book yet? “Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions” is available on Amazon!

The book is 130 pages of FULL COLOR whimsy and kitsch as I tell stories of my visits to these places all over the U.S. and Canada. Definitely was fun taking these back roads trips to quirkville and I am excited to share them with you in words and photos.   I hope you will be able to check out the book or even get it on Kindle.

You can order the book here:   See Offbeat and Quirky Roadside Attractions

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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

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