X is for Xtreme Skies – #atozchallenge

OK.  I know…. Xtreme is not really a dictionary word, but many advertisers use it and there are company names and even a band name.  So, it is fair game.

This post is about xtreme (extreme) skies – unique cloud formations, colorful skies, sunrises, sunsets, sunbeams, moon shots, rainbows and more.  A traveler on the highways of America always sees the skies.  It can’t be helped. For me, I actually pay attention to them for the skies present their own fascinating form of art.

Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
A lovely view of the Big Sky in Montana as seen from US Route 2 west of Bainville, MT

For this post, I will provide an assortment of photos I have taken on my road trips (and a couple of local ones too – let’s face it, I used a road to get there right?).  The skies offer up their own amazing beauty.

I am fascinated by clouds and weather.  I find the amazing colors of the early morning and the post sunset evening to be beautiful.  I am awestruck by the variety that the skies offer…ofttimes changing by the minute.

Morning sky on US 89 south of Fairfield, Montana
Large clouds over central Missouri
Unique Clouds at 6:30 AM heading east on I-74 in central Indiana
a Cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier in Washington
Sunbeams peak through the clouds outside of Nebraska City, Nebraska
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone…
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go
Morning clouds over the mountains near Orem, Utah
Easter Morning Sunrise 2017 in Shenandoah National Park
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Sunrise shot from Leitchfield, KY
Sunrise in Northern Montana, near Great Falls
Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow
Sun Dog – Parhelion over Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
Easter Morning Sunrise over Shenandoah National Park
Another Shenandoah Sunrise photo
Sunrise over the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Beam of Sun at sunset in Cecilia, KY
Full moon over Lexington, KY
Scary cloud over the highway at sunset in northern Georgia
New Year’s Day 2017 sunrise in Ocean City, MD
Sun and trees somewhere in Nebraska
Sunrise over Lexington, Virginia
Sunset in Lake Minocqua, WI
Contrails across the sky in Kentucky
Sunset in Baytown, Texas
Sunset over the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina
Striated Clouds over Kentucky
A lovely rainbow over Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
The 2017 Easter Morning moon shot with a 600mm lens from Shenandoah National Park
A rare Red Rainbow as seen from Lexington, KY on a morning in April 2017
Lovely parhelion (sun dog) over Jacobson Lake in December 2016
Sunrise near Tyler, Texas
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
Sunset in Port Angeles, WA
Enjoyed a lovely sunset in Dublin, OH in early September
Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
Foggy Sunset in Northern Iowa
Heading into the Sunset as I crossed into Wyoming on I-90
Sunset in Hoboken, NJ
Watercolor skies over Manhattan, KS
Sunset in Yampa, CO
Sunrise Duck Lake, MT near Glacier National Park
Sunrise stuck in Dallas, TX traffic
Kentucky Sunset… the clouds and reflection formed a unique shape….
Fog shrouded sunrise
Sandhill Cranes against a purple sunset sky in Cecilia, KY

 

 

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Taking the Long Way Home from Nebraska – 800 miles in a day

Clouds over Concordia
Giant Clouds over Concordia, Missouri

The best and worst part of a long road trip is the coming home part.  Its always nice to be at home in my own bed after a grueling trip across the country.  But, it is bittersweet.  All of the adventures, sights, sounds and exhilaration are behind me.  The last leg of the trip is usually on the Interstates to get home as quickly as possible (with a few brief stops along the way).  This trip was no different.  My trip home was the “long way home” as it covered over 870 miles on the last day as I traveled straight from Grand Island, Nebraska to Lexington (via Kansas City and St. Louis in order to visit a friend in KC).

The Last Leg of a nine day trip - 870 miles from Grand Island, NE to Lexington, KY
The Last Leg of a nine day trip – 870 miles from Grand Island, NE to Lexington, KY
Starting off at sunrise in Grand Island, NE
Starting off at sunrise in Grand Island, NE

I started off early on this May 29 (Thursday) morning cruising east on Interstate 80.  It was a beautiful morning drive with a bit of mist in the air providing for some nice scenes from the highway.

Heading east on I-80 from Grand Island
Heading east on I-80 from Grand Island
Early morning in the heartland of America...east central Nebraska on I-80
Early morning in the heartland of America…east central Nebraska on I-80

My first stop was in York, Nebraska.  I had to stop for a rest stop and to get a photo of the uniquely colored water tower.

Water tower in York, Nebraska
Water tower in York, Nebraska

From York the interstate continued east to Lincoln, the capitol city of Nebraska.  It is home to the historic Capitol Building, a towering 400 foot tall building that can be seen for miles. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932.  The building is not the tallest state capitol in the country.  That goes to the Louisiana State Capitol, which is 450 feet tall.  Nonetheless, the “Skyscraper of the Plains” is quite impressive.

The "Skyscraper of the Plains", Nebraska's State Capitol in Lincoln, can be seen for miles
The “Skyscraper of the Plains”, Nebraska’s State Capitol in Lincoln, can be seen for miles
And this is a closer look at the impressive "Skyscraper of the Plains"
And this is a closer look at the impressive “Skyscraper of the Plains”

Of course, Nebraska is the “Cornhusker State” and there are plenty of corn fields to be seen from the highway.

Rolling corn fields in Eastern Nebraska
Rolling corn fields in Eastern Nebraska

From Lincoln, I continued into Nebraska City, a place I have visited and stayed in (see my blog post about this lovely town). When there, I always have to stop at Sapp Brothers on the southside of town (actually in Percival, IA) off of Interstate 29….they have the cleanest restrooms on I-29!

Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the "Cleanest Restrooms on I-29"
Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the “Cleanest Restrooms on I-29”
The famous Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water tower in Nebraska City
The famous Sapp Brothers Coffee Pot Water tower in Nebraska City

Not too far south of Nebraska City, I-29 crosses into the far southwest corner of Iowa and through the small town of Hamburg, which basically hugs the borders of Missouri to the south and Nebraska to the west.

This is a shot of downtown Hamburg, IA
This is a shot of downtown Hamburg, IA
There is a nice wall mural on the side of the Blue Moon Bar and Grille in Hamburg
There is a nice wall mural on the side of the Blue Moon Bar and Grille in Hamburg

Perhaps the real treat in Hamburg is Stoner Drug…yes, a strange name for a drug store.  But this particular shop also houses an old fashioned Soda Fountain, which is rare to find nowadays.  Even has the little spinning chairs and they make MALTS too.

Stoner Drug in Hamburg, IA
Stoner Drug in Hamburg, IA
The old fashioned soda fountain inside of Stoner Drug
The old fashioned soda fountain inside of Stoner Drug
Stoner Drug even sells T-shirts and hats.  I almost got one, but I had used my "hat money" on a Carhenge hat the previous day
Stoner Drug even sells T-shirts and hats. I almost got one, but I had used my “hat money” on a Carhenge hat the previous day

Heading south from Hamburg you are almost in Missouri immediately.

Welcome to Missouri
Welcome to Missouri

My main purpose for heading south to Kansas City was to visit with my good friend Brad Sweeten, the Athletic Director at Center High School in Kansas City, MO.  I stopped in for a visit and lunch at one of his favorite places (and mine too), Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que.  My last trip we visited their store in a gas station.  This time it was at their new place…still plenty of lines.

Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe's
Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s
Inside of Oklahoma Joe's - nice atmosphere, great food and big portions
Inside of Oklahoma Joe’s – nice atmosphere, great food and big portions

After my brief stopover in Kansas City is was time to fly on home down the Interstate.  As I drove through Missouri, the clouds were amazing…giant cumulonimbus clouds were framed by the blue background of the sky.

Large clouds over central Missouri
Large clouds over central Missouri
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone...
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone…

After a hearty meal, a short night of sleep and a lot of driving already, it was time for a nap….even Road Warriors need to sleep!!

Nap time in Missouri - even Road Warriors gotta sleep
Nap time in Missouri – even Road Warriors gotta sleep

After my brief 30 minute power snooze, I was back on the road with only one other planned stop to see a Paul Bunyan looking Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO.

I went to Wentsville!
I went to Wentzville, the Crossroads of the Nation
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, IL
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, MO

If you are really interested in Muffler Men and Uniroyal Gals and their variations, you MUST see Roadside America’s Muffler Man Page.  It is chock full of info, history and even a location map of these big guys and gals.

Sumoflam and Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO
Sumoflam and Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO

I have seen many of these guys in my travels and you’ll run across them in my blogs.  (HERE are some in Texas; a Uniroyal gal in Idaho; a Native American Muffler Man in Bemidji, MN; a Big John in Metropolis, IL; another Big John in Great Falls, MT and there are more.)

Approach to St. Louis, MO - heavy traffic!
Approach to St. Louis, MO – heavy traffic!

On the way into St. Louis I got slowed down considerably by heavy late afternoon traffic.  I was really glad when I finally go to Cardinals Stadium, which meant I was soon across the river…

Cardinals Stadium and Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Cardinals Stadium and Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

I still had quite a trip as a drove home with the sunset to my back…

Sunset as seen from southern Illinois
Sunset as seen from southern Illinois
And this was the final sunset as seen in my rear view mirror as I finished off my trip
And this was the final sunset as seen in my rear view mirror as I finished off my trip

Finally, the last leg of a trip covering 9 days, 12 states, 4500+ miles and numerous amazing adventures was over with at about 1 AM EST.  Time for a rest….

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It’s All in the Trip

Corner of This Way and That Way
The Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

I started off today on the last leg of a 9 Day Road trip. This was my second 9 day road trip in one month. Both road trips were mainly for family affairs of one type or another. So, that being said, I did have destinations for both trips.

Cow with Glasses in Guthrie
Giant Cow with glasses in Guthrie, KY

My first trip took me to Montana for my grandson’s baptism. I’ve already posted some content about that, but that trip took me almost 4600 miles in nine days and thru 12 states. I still have a few post to go to finish my blogs on that trip.

Riding the Ferry into Galveston
Riding the Ferry into Galveston

This current trip’s purpose was chiefly to attend a family reunion for my father’s side of the family. It was in Galveston, Texas. It is always wonderful to see family and it was a great time!

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014
Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

This current trip will eventually take me close to 3500 miles. When all is said and done I will have traversed through seven states on this trip.

Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS

As many of you know, traveling the backroads of America and documenting the trips through photos and the written word is one of my passions. It brings me great joy to see this beautiful country of ours and to share with others who may not have the chance to visit some of the places I go.

Teepee Motel in Wharton, Texas
Teepee Motel in Wharton, Texas

For me, it is always about the trip and not about the destination. The backroads of America offer a myriad of surprises whether they be a unique town name, some unique roadside attraction, some amazing piece of scrap metal art or sensational Wall art or mural.

Sumoflam in Alligator, MS
Sumoflam in Alligator, MS

For these last two trips I have tried to focus on traveling US highways rather then the interstate freeways. Everyone knows that Route 66 is the epitome of the US Highway, at least to many who think about traveling on the road or other nostalgic road trips. Indeed, route 66 is a wonderful road trip in and of itself. At one time or another I have pretty much covered most of Route 66 over the years since the 1960s.

Devils' Crossroads, Clarksdale, MS
Devil’s Crossroads, Clarksdake, MS

But Route 66 is certainly not the only wonderful highway that one can take across this country. On my last trip to Montana, I traveled over a good portion of US Route 2 and some of US Route 89, not to mention a few others. On this trip I hit US Route 79, US Route 61 (The Blues Highway), US Route 59 and more. Each of these highways has their own unique character and characters! Indeed, in my opinion, they could rival Route 66 for nostalgia and roadside attractions.

Moddy Gardens, Galveston, TX
The three pyramids of Moody Garden’s in Galveston, TX

As I travel, I know that I barrage my friends with numerous selfie photos and other photos of the trip. But, I have friends that travel vicariously through me and I am cognizant of that as well. When I travel, the little child in me has joy, for this is the exploring, and the discovery. As a child we always explore and we love to discover new things whether it be a butterfly on our arm or a beautiful waterfall. That sense of excitement from discovery has never left me throughout my life. And I am grateful that I have friends out there that appreciate it and they share this joy in one way, shape or form.

Sumoflam in Friendship, Arkansas
Sumoflam in Friendship, Arkansas

On both of these trips I have met new people that share the same passion as I do. I met a photographer in Wyoming who loves to travel as I do and visit unique sites. I met a time lapse photographer who does time lapse for a living as I visited a unique destination in Nebraska. I met another individual from Scotland who lives in the states now and has traveled extensively. We visited a unique graveyard in Oklahoma. With all of these, we shared stories, experiences and enriched each others lives through doing so.

Hanging with Troy Landry
Hanging with Troy Landry, star of “Swamp People” in Pierre Part, LA

Through my travel blogs I have met other travel bloggers online and on this particular trip I got to meet a couple of them in person as I traveled through their hometowns. What a wonderful opportunity that was for me to meet these great people who share a passion and have so many wonderful things to share with me and all of the others that may visit their blogs.

Hanging with Tui Snider
Hanging with travel author and blogger Tui Snider, author of “Unexpected Texas”

Naturally, these road trips are long and they can be grueling, even to a road warrior like myself. But I look at the trips as “memory creators” as they build memories and help me to reflect on the joys of life during the more difficult times. To me, the best part of any long trip is the “looking back.”and these 18 days of travel over the last 30 days have created years of memories and stories for me to share with others and to treasure up within my own mind!

Billy Tripp's Mindfiled
Billy Tripp’s Mindfield in Brownsville, TN

This last day of travel has been a particularly challenging one for myself and also for my wife. We took a vacation “together” but “separately,” as I went to Galveston and she went to San Diego for her own family reunion with her sisters and brother. She was supposed to fly home to Louisville and my trip was scheduled such that I would meet her at the Louisville airport on my way home and pick her up. But things don’t always work as planned and when must be flexible and travel no matter how you do it.

Double Rainbow
A double rainbow near Arkadelphia, Arkansas

For Julianne, it was a challenging time as she got to the airport early but her flight canceled. She ended up having to consult with me on some other options. With some thinking, I realized that she was flying Southwest airlines and that they fly into Nashville and since I was driving through Nashville anyway, we tried to see if she could switch her itinerary to fly to Nashville, which, thank goodness she was able to do.

An Old Plane near Paris, TX
An old plane near Paris, TX

In the meantime, as I drove from my overnight stay in Arkadelphia, Arkansas last night, I had it planned such that I would arrive at the Louisville airport 30 minutes before her flight. That all changed with her flight, but then as I approached Nashville, near the town of Dickson, Tennessee, there turned out to be a horrific crash on interstate 40 just west of Dixon. And involved a semi tractor-trailer and a car and turns out that three people were killed. It also had a major impact on traffic is cars going in both directions on interstate 40 were backed up for 10 to 15 miles and not moving at all for nearly a half hour. That would’ve made me very late to pick up Julianne in Louisville.

Bad Accident near Dickson, TN
Bad accident on Interstate 40 near Dickson, TN

So as you can see, sometimes the flexibility of things does have a way of working its way out. So here I sit in the cell phone parking area of the Nashville international airport waiting for nearly 2 hours for my sweetheart tour right here this evening so that we can make a 3 1/2 hour drive back home to Lexington thereafter.

20140627-203919-74359685.jpgA vacation or a road trip or a field trip or whatever you might call it, will always have a plethora of memories. Some may be pleasurable, some may be fine and others may not be so good. But these create indelible memories in our minds and we can share them with others. I feel so blessed to of been able to take these two trips and see parts of America I’ve never seen, but some amazing people, enjoy some interesting food and create some awesome memories.

Clouds over Gause, TX
Clouds over Gause, TX

I am not sure when my next trip will be, but I worry live this trip over and over as I spend the next few weeks working to complete my blogs posts from both of the trips in the nearly 9000 miles with United States roads that I’ve covered during that time.

Sam Houston head in Huntsville, TX
Sam Houston’s Head in Huntsville, TX

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