A to Z Challenge: The E 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

E The E Towns

Earth, Texas

Welcome to Earth, Texas
Welcome to Earth, Texas
Yes, there is Earth Police
Yes, there is Earth Police
Old Earth Welcome sign
Old Earth Welcome sign

I finally visited Earth.  All of my travels and I had never been there.  Yes, there is a town called Earth and it is in Texas.  The town is on US Highway 70, east of the New Mexico border in far west Texas.  The community only has about 1000 residents, but is big in advertising Earth.  There is even an Earth Police Car.  See my original post on Earth, Texas from 2011 HERE.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel, America's Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Crescent Hotel, America’s Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR…totally made of glass and steel
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I was on another Texas trip in November 2012 with my wife. On the way home, after a long day,  we decided to find a hotel in a nearby town.  We used our phones to find us a place close by and were given Eureka Springs, Arkansas and the Crescent Hotel.  Lo and behold, when we arrived, we found out that the Crescent Hotel is considered the most haunted hotel in America.  They even give haunted tours nightly.  And, I swear, we did see an apparition in our room.  We asked “Lucy, Lucy, what did you die for?” and she said “Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.”  Eureka Springs is a very unique and touristy location with some lovely eateries, lots of gift shops and more.  We had a nice breakfast at the Mud Street Cafe, located in a basement.  Great food and great atmosphere.

Elbe, Washington

Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Elbe Railroad Station
Old Elbe Railroad Station
Small Elbe Church
Small Elbe Church

We visited our daughter and her family in Port Orchard, WA in the summer of 2015.  During our visit we went many places and, on one of the road trips from Mt. Rainier National Park, we stopped in the very small community of Elbe, Washington for dinner.  The town only has a population of under 30, but operates a huge dinner train…the kind that is stationary.  Called the Mt. Rainier Dining Company, it provided a great meal in our own private dining car.  The town also has a small church (see here).  You can read more about that trip and see more photos HERE.

Easton, Pennsylvania

Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Eaton, PA
Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA

Way back in the late 1990s, we had occasion to take our daughter to participate in an all-star chorus in Europe.  We had to drop her off in Pennsylvania.  Along the way, we visited the fun town of Easton, Pennsylvania and their Crayola Factory.  Back then they also had a PEZ Museum, but it is no longer there.

Eldon, Iowa

Eldon, Iowa - Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
Eldon, Iowa – Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
American Gothic House Sign
American Gothic House Sign
The American Gothic House
The American Gothic House
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA

I was on a five day trip to Omaha with my daughter in 2014.  We took a few days to sight see on the way there and back.  One of the places we made our way to was Eldon, Iowa. This community of less than 1000 that sits along the Des Moines River, is like many other midwestern communities, quaint and well kept.  It was an old railroad town. But, this one offered something most don’t have…an opportunity to visit the actual house featured in the world famous (and oft parodied) American Gothic House.  You can see more about our Iowa visit and the Gothic House HERE.

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Ahoy matey...how about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI
Ahoy matey…how about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI

Another trip with a different daughter and granddaughter was taken in 2013 as we ventured to Wisconsin for fun.  On that adventure we made our way into Egg Harbor, Wisconsin on the Eastern Peninsula of the state.  Among all of the lighthouses, this lovely community offered scenic views, shots of seagulls and unique shops and eateries.  We ate at the Shipwrecked Pub/Inn and also visited the Chocolate Chicken for desert. You can see the whole story HERE.

East Peoria, Illinois

Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl's Bakery in E. Peoria
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria
M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, IL
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, IL

East Peoria, Illinois is one of those towns with a lot of quirkiness.  Drive along US Hwy 24 and US Hwy 150 through town and it is much like a Route 66 drive.  There are big animal statues along the route and then there is fun M & M’s Twistee Treat Ice Cream place.

Embro, Ontario, Canada (Honorable mention)

Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario

As I have noted in other posts, during 2008 I worked in Woodstock, Ontario at the Toyota plant as a Japanese interpreter.  During my time off, I traveled throughout much of southern Ontario.  One of the towns I enjoyed visiting was Embro, which is in the larger township of Zorra.  Embro is home of the Highland Games, a  large event run by the Zorra Caledonian Society since the 1930s to perpetuate “the spirit, music and games of Scotland”.   A great little community and a fun taste of Scotland in the hills of Oxford County, Ontario.

Eagle, Colorado (Honorable Mention)

Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado
Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado

I included Eagle, Colorado in this due to the spectacular views from this town.  It is located down the freeway from Vail.  I stayed there one evening in 2013 and it was a lovely little town in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.  You can see the entire trip report HERE.

Endeavor, Wisconsin (Honorable mention)

Endeavor, WI
Endeavor, WI

And finally, just had to add this one because of the name.  I visited Endeavor on the same trip as Egg Harbor (see above).

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A 5 Day Midwest Adventure – Day 1: Lexington, KY to Walcott, IA

Danville, Illinois
Danville, Illinois

On September 9, 2013 I had the opportunity to accompany my daughter and three grand kids on a an adventure across the midwest from Kentucky to Omaha, Nebraska.  She wanted to visit her close friend there and needed a “tour planner and driver.”  I was free and able to make the journey.  All totaled, we spent 5 days on the road visiting spots in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.  This post covers our adventures on Day 1 as we made our way to Walcott, Iowa, home of the World’s Largest Truck Stop.


View Larger Map – Lexington, KY to Walcott, IA

We left plenty early so that we could hit Indianapolis by early morning with the intent to surprise the three grand kids with a “Dinosaur Sighting”.  As we arrived in downtown Indy near the Lucas Field, I saw my first “Football” Wall Art.  There was an entire wall of a building dedicated to the Indianapolis Colts.  Here are a few shots:

Indianapolis Colts Wall Mural
Indianapolis Colts Wall Mural
Indianapolis Colts Mural
Indianapolis Colts Mural
Indianapolis Colts Wall Mural
Indianapolis Colts Wall Mural

A few blocks later we arrived at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Unfortunately, it was the first Monday after Labor Day, so the museum was closed.  But, our main concern was seeing the amazing dinosaurs busting out of the building.  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled!!

Giant Dinosaur at Indianapolis Children's Museum
Giant Dinosaur at Indianapolis Children’s Museum
Dinosaurs peek into the Children's Museum
Dinosaurs peek into the Children’s Museum
Dinosaurs "breaking out" of building
Dinosaurs “breaking out” of building
About to be squished by a giant dino!!!
About to be squished by a giant dino!!!

After looking at the dinosaurs, we were walking past the building and peeking in.  The kids got all excited as there was a GIANT Transformer in the lobby.  To our total delight, one of the staff members came to the door and invited us in to see the Autobot “Bumblebee.”   This huge model was actually a prop from the original 2007 Transformers movie.

Transformer "Bumblebee" movie prop at Children's Museum
Transformer “Bumblebee” movie prop at Children’s Museum
Grandson Landen is loving his visit with Bumblebee
Grandson Landen is loving his visit with Bumblebee
Sumoflam and Bumblebee
Sumoflam and Bumblebee

The outside of the museum also has a couple of nice bronze sculptures of kids at play and a nice “Walk through History” of some of the unique buildings of the world…

Kids Playing at Indianapolis Children's Museum
Kids Playing at Indianapolis Children’s Museum
My grandkids emulate the statue at Indy Children's Museum
My grandkids emulate the statue at Indy Children’s Museum
The Great Wall in the Walk of History
The Great Wall in the Walk of History
The Sphinx and grandkids
The Sphinx and grandkids
Wall Art on a hardware store in Indy
Wall Art on a hardware store in Indy
Colorful Building Graffiti in Indianapolis
Colorful Building Graffiti in Indianapolis

This first part of our trip was a real splash for the kids and got us on the fast lane for the remainder of the day.   From Indy we headed west to Danville, Illinois.  Danville has put in a great deal of effort to color up the town with beautiful murals and the Lindley Signpost Forest.

Traveling I-74 west towards Danville, IL from Indy
Traveling I-74 west towards Danville, IL from Indy

Danville, Illinois is a town of a bit over 33,000 people.  It is literally on the border of Inidana. The town has a colorful history and was the home to famous actors Dick Van Dyke and Gene Hackman.  The Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount was also born in Danville.

Old Drive-In Burger place in Danville...60's neon.
Old Drive-In Burger place in Danville…60’s neon
Royal Donut in Danville, IL.  Great prices and old fashioned goodness
Royal Donut in Danville, IL. Great prices and old fashioned goodness

Today the charming town features antique shops and other shopping, a number of historical museums and a smattering of colorful Wall Murals created by Walldogs. In August of 2010, one hundred and sixty-two Walldog artists traveled to Danville from all over the world for a four day meet (see a complete Gallery here). During that span, they forever changed and enhanced the city with sixteen murals in a 7 block area.

Tiger Head Malt Syrup
Tiger Head Malt Syrup mural by The Walldogs
Hot Rod Lincoln mural by The Walldogs
Hot Rod Lincoln mural by The Walldogs
Historical mural in Danville, IL
Historical mural in Danville, IL
Colorful mural depicting Balloon Classic
Colorful full wall mural depicting Balloon Classic
Evel Knievel Wall Mural in Danville
Evel Knievel Wall Mural in Danville
Chuckles Ad with Evel Knievel flying over it....
Chuckles Ad with Evel Knievel flying over it….

And perhaps the best one of all of them….

Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Sumoflam and Dick Van Dyke
Sumoflam and Dick Van Dyke

Along with the numerous murals in town, Danville also set a park aside downtown to create the Lindley Sign Post Forest. This was created in honor of Danville resident Carl Lindley. He was a soldier who became homesick while working on the Alaska Highway in 1942. While there, Lindley erected a sign at Watson Lake in the Yukon showing how far it was to his hometown of Danville — 2835 miles. Since that time more than 40,000 signs have been added to it at Watson Lake. The Danville version of the Sign Post Forest was originally built in 2010 along with the painting of the Walldog murals.

Carl Lindley and his wife at the original Sign Post Forest in Alaska (photo from www.signpostforest.com)
Lindley Sign Post Forest Sign
Lindley Sign Post Forest Sign
Lindley Sign Post Forest
Lindley Sign Post Forest

And following are a few more sign posts….

Lindley Sign Post Forest
Lindley Sign Post Forest
Lindley Sign Post Forest
Lindley Sign Post Forest
Another Long View of the Lindley Sign Post Forest
Another Long View of the Lindley Sign Post Forest

And a few more scenes from Danville….

The Old Fisher Theater in downtown Danville
The Old Fischer Theater in downtown Danville
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl

More on Danville USA Sculpture here

Colorful Birdhouses in a park next door to the Fischer Theater
Colorful Birdhouses in a park next door to the Fischer Theater
Interesting Jazz-themed mosaic sculpture in the small park next to the Fischer Theater
Interesting Jazz-themed mosaic sculpture in the small park next to the Fischer Theater
AMBUCS Playground for Everyone
AMBUCS Playground for Everyone

We let the kids play at the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone, which has been specifically designed to accommodate not only children, but also handicapped individuals and adults.  It was actually quite unique.

Fresh Pumpkins at Curtis Orchard
Fresh Pumpkins at Curtis Orchard

From Danville, it was westward to Champaign, Illinois.  Obviously, with the kids, I had hoped to get them to the Curtis Orchard Pumpkin Farm to see the Wizard of Oz themed things and for them to “follow the yellow brick road”.  Unfortunately, only the youngest, little Lyla, was awake.

Granddaughter Lyla follows the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards
Granddaughter Lyla follows the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards
Giant Indian at Curtis Orchards
Giant Indian at Curtis Orchards
Emerald City Mural on barn at Curtis Orchards
Emerald City Mural on barn at Curtis Orchards

From Champaign we continued northwest on I-74 through the windfarms near Bloomington and onward into Morton, Illinois, the Pumpkin Capital of the World and home of the Libby’s Pumpkin Canning Plant.

Wind Farm near Bloomington, IL
Wind Farm near Bloomington, IL
I-74 west of Normal, Illinois
I-74 west of Normal, Illinois
Welcome to Morton, Illinois - Pumpkin Capital of the World
Welcome to Morton, Illinois – Pumpkin Capital of the World
We missed the Morton Pumpkin Festival by only a few days.
We missed the Morton Pumpkin Festival by only a few days

From Morton it was up I-74 into East Peoria.  This was a very hot day (around 100 degrees) and the kids needed some cooling off.  Where better than to go to the M & M’s Twistee Treat?  This is one of those iconic Ice Cream/Hot Dog places where going there is as much fun as eating the ice cream.

Sumoflam and Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL
Sumoflam and Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL
M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, IL
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, IL

Though built in the 1980s, there are flashbacks to the 1960s in here and also a collection of M & M stuff….

Starlight Drive-in Clock in Twistee Treat
Starlight Drive-in Clock in Twistee Treat
Old style counter and lots of M & M stuff
Old style counter and lots of M & M stuff
Big Ice Cream Cones at Twistee Treat
Big Ice Cream Cones at Twistee Treat

Just down the street from the Twistee Treat is Carl’s Bakery, home of the giant Rooster with a Top Hat.

Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl's Bakery in E. Peoria
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria

From Peoria is was north to Le Claire, Iowa.  My daughter Marissa was keen on visiting Antique Archeaology, home of the American Pickers TV Show.  So, we zoomed on up the freeway.

Peoria, Illinois skyline
Peoria, Illinois skyline
Murray Baker Bridge crossing over the Illinois River
Murray Baker Bridge crossing over the Illinois River
Rural Scene in eastern Iowa as seen from I-74
Rural Scene in eastern Iowa as seen from I-74

We arrived in LeClaire around 5 PM knowing that Antique Archaeology closed at 6 PM.  Marissa was very excited to visit.  But, lo and behold, on this, my third visit and her first, we saw the following sign when we got there….

Antique Archaeology closed for filming
Antique Archaeology closed for filming

That did not stop us from taking a few shots from the outside.  We also got a chance to meet Mike Wolfe’s brother Rob, who was on hand for the filming that day.  Danielle Colby was nowhere to be found, likely because she is running her clothing shop in Chicago.  Last year I did get a chance to visit her as well (and I have included that photo for fun).

American Pickers production staff takes a break
American Pickers production staff takes a break
Antique Archaeology Car as seen on American Pickers
Antique Archaeology Car as seen on American Pickers
Antique Archaeology picks
Antique Archaeology picks
Sumoflam and Rob Wolfe at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam and Rob Wolfe at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam with Danielle from American Pickers (taken June 2012)
Sumoflam with Danielle Colby from American Pickers (taken June 2012)

And the best picture of all….

My Grandkidz at with the old Antique Archaeology Nash
My Grandkidz at with the old Antique Archaeology Nash as seen on American Pickers

Of course, LeClaire is not only known for American Pickers. It is also the birthplace of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in April 1846.  The family left LeClaire in 1853 to move to Leavenworth, Kansas.  Eventually, Buffalo Bill made his way west.  Cody, Wyoming is named after him and has a large museum (which I visited earlier this year).  We dropped by the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire for a couple of shots to round off my visit to Buffalo Bill Cody Museums in two locations!

Buffalo Bill Museum - LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bill Museum – LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bull Museum in LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bull Museum in LeClaire, Iowa

After our brief visit to LeClaire, we were hot, tired and ready to settle down, so we headed straight to our motel in Walcott, IA, next door to the Iowa 80 Truck Stop – the World’s Largest Truck Stop.

Sunset in Walcott, IA at the World's Largest Truck Stop
Sunset in Walcott, IA at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop – World’s Largest Truck Stop

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