V is for Vistas – #atozchallenge

Vistas are the joy of back roads travel. Every corner, every crest of a hill, every mile offers a new vista.  And this country has some spectacular and splendid vistas.

Over the years I have seen some amazing vistas. Whether they be in the deserts of the southwest, the high plains of Montana or on the oceans in the east or the west, the views are endless and inspiring.  Following are some of the vistas I have enjoyed and their locations.  Enjoy the ride and the views.

Sunset at the Badlands in South Dakota
St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho
A view of the Portland Head Light in Maine
Hills of Shenandoah Valley in presunrise hours on Easter 2017
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Golden Gate Bridge in 2016
Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Oregon
Caddo Lake near Uncertain, TX
Highway to Cody, Wyoming
A lonely highway in south central Nebraska, near Overland
Horse Country – Lexington, Kentucky
Cincinnati Skyline
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona, ca. 1983
Delaware Seashore Bridge at sunset
Spacious skies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona
The river into Juneau, Alaska as seen from a mountain top near Juneau
The mountains and the Yellowstone River as seen from US 89
The long straight highway near Cohagen, MT
Beautiful Highway heading into Virginia from Kentucky
Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
The Oyate Trail highway in southern South Dakota
Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia
Beach at Clallam Bay, WA adorned with seagulls
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ
Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR
Scenic cinder Hills and Shadows as seen on Idaho Hwy 33
Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Tetons as seen from near Drummond, ID
Sunset in the Sweetgrass, north of Dunkirk, MT
White Sands, NM
A view of the New River Gorge in West Virginia
Sunflowers forever near Lexington, KY
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Fall Colors from the Eagle’s Nest above Bancroft, Ontario near Algonquin
Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro
Hells Canyon in northeast Oregon is actually wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon
Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sisters, Oregon
Somewhere in Kansas
View of the Beartooths near Red Lodge, Montana from the highway was awesome
America the Beautiful – A scene near Glacier National Park

 

(10)

From Cody to Carhenge with a Jackalope in-between

DSC_7698After a marvelous time in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, it was time to head east through the high deserts of Wyoming and across Nebraska and eventually back home to Kentucky.

Map of trip from Cody to Grand Island, Nebraska
Map of trip from Cody to Grand Island, Nebraska

After a restful evening at the Moose Creek Lodge in Cody, Wyoming, I was ready to hit the road running early the next morning. I had visited Cody in 2013 and so I didn’t spend a lot of time, but I did want to get back over to the Buffalo Bill Center and take some pictures of some of the numerous statues there.

Buffalo Bill Cody statue in Cody, Wyoming
Buffalo Bill Cody statue in Cody, Wyoming
Plaque under Buffalo Bill statue
Plaque under Buffalo Bill statue
Sumoflam with Chief Washakie Statue at buffalo Bill Center
Sumoflam with Chief Washakie Statue at Buffalo Bill Center
Old Cody Theater in downtown Cody, WY
Old Cody Theater in downtown Cody, WY
Courthouse in Cody, WY
Courthouse in Cody, WY

After about 30 minutes in Cody, I was soon heading southeast on Wyoming Highway 120 towards Thermopolis. This is a scenic drive through rolling hills of sage brush.

Wyoming 120 to Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 to Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 heading east
Wyoming 120 heading east
Mountains and Sagebrush as seen from Wyoming 120 - I believe this is Wapiti Ridge
Mountains and Sagebrush as seen from Wyoming 120 – I believe this is Wapiti Ridge and the Absaroka Range
Wyoming 120 a few miles north of Meeteetse, WY
Wyoming 120 a few miles north of Meeteetse, WY

I drove through the town of Meeteetse (Where Chief’s Meet) and then on to Thermopolis.

Welcome to Meeteetse, WY
Welcome to Meeteetse, WY
A cuddly bear on a corner in Meeteetse, WY
A cuddly bear on a corner in Meeteetse, WY
An old Bank building (1901) in Meeteetse
An old Bank building (1901) in Meeteetse

The drive from Meeteetse to Thermopolis is generally through high desert grasslands and hills. This is the vast interior of Wyoming, the open range land of ranchers and of solitude. You’re more likely to encounter more antelope than cars along this route, which was my case (which I did!!)

Hill country in central Wyoming south of Meeteetse
Hill country in central Wyoming south of Meeteetse
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120
Antelope just stared back at me...didn't run
Antelope just stared back at me…didn’t run
One more nice wildlife shot of antelope on WY 120
One more nice wildlife shot of antelope on WY 120

As the drive gets closer to Thermopolis, there are numerous unique rock formations which break the monotony of the seemingly endless sage brush grasslands. These open up to layers of mesas which provide a visual texture for miles. (OK, I lied, there were more cars than antelope – see photos below!)

The Road to Thermopolis
The Road to Thermopolis
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120

Hwy 120 ends in Thermopolis. This town is home to the world’s largest mineral hot springs and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. From the south Thermopolis is the gateway to Yellowstone Country, and coming from the north it is the gateway to the Wind River Canyon.

Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
Welcome to the Dinosaur Center
Welcome to the Dinosaur Center
Flags fly in Thermopolis
Flags fly in Thermopolis

Of course, I always keep my eyes peeled for unique things when I drive through a town.  Here are a couple of good ones.

Antler Arch in Thermopolis
Antler Arch in Thermopolis
An old neon sign for the Coachman Inn
An old neon sign for the Coachman Inn

Since I was pushing to get to Carhenge before dusk,I rushed through Thermopolis and proceeded east towards the Wind River Canyon on US Hwy 20.

US Route 20 is actually the longest highway in the US, spanning 3365 miles across the country from Newport, Oregon through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and ending in Massachusetts.

US Route 20 heading to Wind River Canyon and Boysen State Park
US Route 20 heading to Wind River Canyon and Boysen State Park

The Wind River Canyon drive follows US 20 along the Wind River for about 14 miles and into the depths of the canyon, sometimes 2400 deep. It is amazingly scenic as the highway winds it’s way around 34 miles of bends and through Rock carved tunnels, finally opening up near Boysen State Park and ending up in the small town of Shoshoni.

Entering Wind River Canyon on US 20 from Thermopolis
Entering Wind River Canyon on US 20 from Thermopolis
One of many spectacular views of Wind River Canyon
One of many spectacular views of Wind River Canyon

I have been through this canyon twice before and have always been amazed at the engineering genius of gnawing a path through this wild gorge. There are even a number of pullouts that provide unique views up and down the length of the canyon.

One of tunnels tunnels on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon. These tunnels are hewn stone and must have been a massive undertaking.
One of tunnels tunnels on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon. These tunnels are hewn stone and must have been a massive undertaking.
Tunnel #3 on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon
Tunnel #3 on US 20 through the Wind River Canyon
Welcome to Boysen State Park in the midst of the Wind River Canyon
Welcome to Boysen State Park in the midst of the Wind River Canyon
History of the Wind River Canyon
History of the Wind River Canyon

As I left the canyon, the spacious Boysen Reservoir was to my right (looking West) and beyond the lake in the distance were the snow capped peaks of the Wind River Mountain Range. Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s highest mountain at 13,804 feet, is part of this massive range that stretches about 100 miles from north to south. There are more than 40 named peaks over 13,000 feet in this mountain range. US Highway 26 and US Highway 287 skirt this range to the east in Wyoming through Dubois and Lander. I hope to drive those roads sometime in the future.

Boysen Reservoir with the Wind River Mountain Range in the distance.
Boysen Reservoir with the Wind River Mountain Range in the distance.
Another view of the Wind River Mountain Range behind Boysen Reservoir
Another view of the Wind River Mountain Range behind Boysen Reservoir
US Route 20 north of Shoshoni, WY
US Route 20 north of Shoshoni, WY

Just past the south end of Boysen Reservoir, US 20 continues into Shoshoni and the southeast towards Casper. Shoshoni had the appearance of a dying town to me. There were a few old buildings with some nice Native American murals, but the town really appeared dead.

Old Motel Neon sign in Shoshoni, WY
Old Motel Neon sign in Shoshoni, WY
Highway Signs in Shoshoni, WY...part of the sand Creek Massacre Trail
Highway Signs in Shoshoni, WY…part of the sand Creek Massacre Trail

The Sand Creek Massacre Trail in Wyoming is dedicated to the remembrance of the Sand Creek Massacre which took place on November 29, 1864.  The trail follows the paths of the Northern Arapaho and Cheyenne in the years after the massacre. It traces them to their wintering on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Riverton in central Wyoming, where the Arapaho remain today. The trail passes through Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper, Shoshoni and Riverton. The trail was dedicated August 6, 2006

The seemingly run down business section of Shoshoni, WY
The seemingly run down business section of Shoshoni, WY
Detail of Mural on front one of the buildings in Shoshoni
Detail of Mural on front one of the buildings in Shoshoni
Another view of downtown Shoshoni, WY. Note the remnant of another nice mural in the center of the photo
Another view of downtown Shoshoni, WY. Note the remnant of another nice mural in the center of the photo

Heading east on US Routes 20/26, I immediately drove by a number of unique rock formations along the side of the road. The sandstone pillars have been eroded away over centuries of time to create these nice designs.

Rock formations east of Shoshoni, WY on US 20
Rock formations east of Shoshoni, WY on US 20
Another rock formation on US 20 east of Shoshoni, WY
Another rock formation on US 20 east of Shoshoni, WY

US Highway 20 then provides us with a typical long drive through the sagebrush of Wyoming…

US Route 20 in Wyoming
US Route 20 in Wyoming
Another highway scene along US Route 20 in Wyoming
Another highway scene along US Route 20 in Wyoming

It is a bit of drive, but fortunately, there is a rest area east of the small town of Hiland.  A couple of nice history signs as well.

Wyoming's Wildlife?
Wyoming’s Wildlife?
Bridger Road Historical Marker at Rest Area on US 20/26 east of Hiland
Bridger Road Historical Marker at Rest Area on US 20/26 east of Hiland

About 4 miles from the rest area on the south side of the road is a turnoff to Hell’s Half Acre (near Powder River, WY), a large scarp with deep ravines, canyons, caves, rock formations and hoodoos.  I have a love of these types of things.  I was so very disappointed to see a chain link fence keeping visitors from being able to grasp the full extent of this place.

Hell's Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
Hell’s Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
A view of the Hell's Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A view of the Hell’s Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A massive hoodoo pillar in Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming
A massive hoodoo pillar in Hell’s Half Acre, Wyoming
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell's Half Acre
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell’s Half Acre

It was here that I met a new friend…a fellow traveler, a fellow photographer, a fellow blogger.   A a professional photographer, Derek Ace does some amazing work.  You can see some of his best work HERE. Turns out that Derek is from Middleton, Wisconsin, which had me talking right away since Middleton is also the home the National Mustard Museum, one of my favorite places (see my post about this from my old blog).  You can really get a nice sense of Derek’s work from his Facebook Photo stream.  I am glad to have made his acquaintance on this trip and I am looking forward to what I believe will be an amazing set of photos from HIS visit there.

Powder River, Wyoming
Powder River, Wyoming

Not too far east of Hell’s Half Acre is the little dot on the map known as Powder River, Wyoming.  There are probably less than 40 people here. However, there was one place that took me back…and in the middle of nowhere too.

An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY
An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY

Apparently, as late as 2005, this place was being used a strip joint and oil workers, folks from Shoshoni and nearby Casper, would venture their way to this hole in the wall place. It closed in November 2005 and now sits as another ghost on a basically deserted highway in the middle in Nowheresville, welcoming the passersby.

Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Entering Casper, Wyoming
Entering Casper, Wyoming

I really didn’t have much time to spend in Casper, but I needed gas, so I stopped and filled up.  While at the gas station, a giant Cloud Troll decided to show me the direction I needed to go in as I headed towards my next stop, which was Douglas, WY. (By the way…I LOVE looking at clouds!!)

A giant cloud troll shows me the way to Douglas, WY
A giant cloud troll shows me the way to Douglas, WY

From Casper I jumped on Interstate 25 to head east toward Douglas.  This was one of the few Interstate ventures I took while on the road.

I-25 East out of Casper, WY
I-25 East out of Casper, WY
There's a jackalope in them thar hills!!
There’s a jackalope in them thar hills!!

On the approach to Douglas, which is the “Jackalope Capital of the World”, there is a giant jackalope up on a hill overlooking Interstate 25.  It is the first sign of Jackalope everywhere….

Welcome to Douglas, Wyoming, home of the Jackalope
Welcome to Douglas, Wyoming, home of the Jackalope

This trip was my second one to Douglas, the first with my son Solomon back in 2007.  I also wrote a guest post about the Jacakalope for author/blogger Tui Snider’s Mental Mosaic Blog (see my article HERE).  However, on this trip I wanted to make sure I also got my Jackalope Hunting License.

Giant Jackalope in front of Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center
Giant Jackalope in front of Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY

In the visitor’s center I was kindly greeted by Chamber Assistant Director Patty Morrell who took time to show me around, tell me a bit of history AND get me all set with my OFFICIAL “Limited Non-Resident Jackalope License”.  She also was kind enough to slip me a Jackalope Sticker and a Jackalope pin.

My Official Jackalope License
My Official Jackalope License – I love the Chief Licensor’s name – Adam Lyre

The Visitor’s Center has a number of unique Jackalope goodies…here are a few

New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
A cuddly Jackalope
A cuddly Jackalope
Stagbunny "The Movie" Promo
Stagbunny “The Movie” Promo

In 2006 there was a movie called “Stagbunny” about one man’s hunt for the elusive Jackalope.  Here is the trailer (get ready to chuckle)

Posing with some of the collection in Douglas
Posing with some of the collection in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye

I should note that the Douglas Visitor’s Center also has some nice trains to look at if you are interested in these.

Old Train Engine on display at the Douglas Visitor's Center
Old Train Engine on display at the Douglas Visitor’s Center

Before heading out of town I came across the White Wolf Saloon in downtown Douglas.  Another great Kitschy place.  Had to take a couple of shots.

White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, WY
White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, WY
A couple of characters in front of the White Wold Saloon
A couple of characters in front of the White Wold Saloon

Of course, I had to move on to get to Carhenge in time so I was back on US 20 heading east towards Lusk, Wyoming. US 20 and US 26 split at Orin Junction south of Douglas and that is where US Route 18 begins and joins with US 20.

US 18/20 to Lusk, WY
US 18/20 to Lusk, WY

This section of highway parallels the railroad tracks from Orin to Lusk and is pretty desolate, but there are a few things to be seen…

US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming
US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming
Interesting mesas can be seen on US 20
Interesting mesas can be seen on US 20

But, one of the more unique dots on the map on this stretch of highway is Lost Springs, WY.  In 1976 the town was designated as the smallest incorporated town in America.  At the time, its population was eleven.  In 2007 I drove through and, at the time, it was one of only a handful of towns in the US with a population of 1.  Here is a photo of me from that visit.

Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007

On this visit the town had boomed back to a population of FOUR….

Lost Springs in 2014 - ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2014 – ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!

I had hoped to actually drop into their Post Office/Shop, but they were closed.  Nevertheless, here are a couple of shots of Lost Springs today (I took some in 2007 too).

Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Welcome to Lost Springs
Lost Springs Welcomes You. Well, not quite…nobody was home.
101 Main Street, Lost Springs, WY
101 Main Street, Lost Springs, WY
Lost Springs Public Facilities
Lost Springs Public Facilities (Better than those in Hell, Michigan mind you….)
Another view of the Lost Springs store and post office
Another view of the Lost Springs store and post office
The Lost Springs Chuckwagon??
The Lost Springs Chuckwagon??

Back on US 18/20 I continued east.  Lots of highway and long trains and even an old truck stop in the middle of nowhere.

US 18/20 east of Lost Springs, WY
US 18/20 east of Lost Springs, WY
The road goes on forever and so do the trains
The road goes on forever and so do the trains
3 Sisters Truck Stop sign near Manville, WY
3 Sisters Truck Stop sign near Manville, WY

From Manville it was on to Lusk, Wyoming.  Yet another small town on the road, Lusk boasts a population of about 1500.  Just a stop on the railroad tracks, it does offer one unique site….an old wooden train water tower.

Lusk, Wyoming
Lusk, Wyoming
Old Red Wooden Water Tower
Old Redwood Water Tower
Redwood Water Tank
Redwood Water Tank in Lusk, WY

IMG_6595The old water tower was originally built in 1886 to furnish water for the Fremont, Elkhorn, Missouri Valley Railroad Steam Engines. The town of Lusk was established at the same time. The wooden tower is round, with a diameter of about 25 feet. The tank is about 25 feet high on a 25-foot base. The structure is believed to be composed of Douglas fir, while the tank itself is redwood. It is apparently the only surviving structure of its kind in Wyoming.

US 20 East out of Lusk, WY
US 20 East out of Lusk, WY

After a brief stop  in Lusk it was eastward towards Nebraska, with a flyby past Van Tassell, the last town in Wyoming.

Van Tassell, WY
Van Tassell, WY – Population 15
A scene from Van Tassell, WY
A scene from Van Tassell, WY

And into Nebraska I rolled….

Sumoflam in Nebraska
Sumoflam in Nebraska
On the border, there is a building with a windmill growing out of it....
On the border, there is a building with a windmill growing out of it….

This section of US 20 is also called the “Bridges to Buttes Scenic Highway” and runs for about 200 miles across northern Nebraska. This is Nebraska in its rawest form, as the subtle and rolling sandhills transform into striking and majestic bluffs and buttes.

Bridges to Buttes Byway in western Nebraska on US 20
Bridges to Buttes Byway in western Nebraska on US 20
Rolling hills of US 20 in western Nebraska
Rolling hills of US 20 in western Nebraska

From the rolling hills, the scenery opens up into beautiful buttes on the approach to Crawford, Nebraska.

Buttes of Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska
Legend Buttes of Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, Nebraska
US 20 approaching Crawford, Nebraska and the Butte Country
US 20 approaching Crawford, Nebraska and the Butte Country

After the long drive from Casper through the prairies of eastern Wyoming, I had to make stop in Crawford, “The Garden Beyond the Sandhills.”

Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Old house in Crawford, NE
Old house in Crawford, NE

From Crawford I headed southeast on Nebraska Highway 2 towards Alliance.  This highway was a nice drive through the small town of Hemingford, Nebraska.

Nebraska Hwy 2/71 heading southeast towards Hemingford
Nebraska Hwy 2/71 heading southeast towards Hemingford
Nebraska Hwy 2/71
Nebraska Hwy 2/71
Old church near Hemingford, Nebraska
Old church near Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Hemingford water tower
Hemingford water tower

I loved the little police station in downtown Hemingford.  One of the smaller ones I have seen.

Hemingford Police Station
Hemingford Police Station

From Hemingford it was on to Alliance, one of my main destination goals for this trip….

Alliance, Nebraska
Alliance, Nebraska

My object in Alliance was the famed Car Art spot “Carhenge.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Wide view of Carhenge
Wide view of Carhenge

Due to the nature of this great roadside attraction, I have actually done a full blog post on Carhenge.  You can see that HERE. So, I’ll just add one last photo below…you can see the rest on my other post.

Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

From Alliance I still had a ways to go as I continued on Nebraska Hwy 2 towards my final destination for the day, Grand Island, Nebraska.  This section of Hwy 2 is also known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway on Nebraska Hwy 2
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway on Nebraska Hwy 2
Nebraska Highway 2 Sandhills Journey
Nebraska Highway 2 Sandhills Journey

The drive from Alliance to Grand Island was still about 272 miles so I was literally driving into the sunset over the beautiful rolling Sandhills of Nebraska. The Sandhills represent the largest remaining grassland ecosystem in the United States that is still virtually intact for both flora and fauna. It is the largest sand-dune area in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest grass-stabilized dune regions in the world. I wish I could have taken more time to see it, but I did get to enjoy a fabulous sunset as I passed the small town of Hyannis, Nebraska.

Sunset over Beem Lake in the Sandhills of Nebraska...
Sunset over Beem Lake in the Sandhills of Nebraska…

I continued for a couple more hours on Nebraska 2 finally arriving in Grand Island about 1 AM after a drive of about 720 miles and on the road from 7 AM to 1 AM – 18 hours.  Yes, I was tired, but I was certainly happy with the wonder of the day’s journey.

(8222)

Vintage Neon Everywhere

Old Mojo Gas Sign - Rock Springs, Wyoming
Old Mojo Gas Sign – Rock Springs, Wyoming

Everywhere I go I see old neon.  These signs remind me of the my youthful days in the 1960s and 70s when we traveled.  Alas, for many, the only signs they see are the same unoriginal fast food, gas station and motel chain signs all over the place.  But, in the by gone days there were few McDonald’s and Motel 6 spots.  Instead, there were the little cozy motels with the old metal chairs in the front and the unique neon signs.  There were the local burger joints with their big shiny signs.  And there were the drive in movie theaters and the downtown theatres with their unique names.  Here is a trip down memory lane with neon I have captured along the less beaten paths and just a few comments, when appropriate.

OLD MOTELS

Chinook Hotel - Chinook, Montana
Chinook Hotel – Chinook, Montana

Of all of the unique neon signs, perhaps the hotel and motel signs are the most fun and bring back the fondest memories.  My first ever motel stay was in some non-descript motel in Amarillo, Texas in 1968.  At the time I was only 12.  It was exciting to sleep in a motel bed, see the paper covered drinking glasses, taste the strange tasting water, sit on the metal rockers on the front porch.  We watched the news and stock reports on the local television and ate pancakes at a local cafe before heading to our new home in Richardson, Texas (we were moving from Albuquerque, so yes, we were on Route 66 back then).

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana
Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Cave Land Motel - Cave City, Kentucky
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky
Log Cabin Motel - Ashton, Idaho
Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone, Montana
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana
D-K Motel - Arco, Idaho
D-K Motel – Arco, Idaho
Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, South Dakota
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, South Dakota
4 Winds Motel - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4 Winds Motel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana  The sign is all that remains
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana The sign is all that remains
Generic Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Generic Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri.  Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri. Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Motel in Havre, Montana
Motel in Havre, Montana
Palace Hotel - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Palace Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Antler Motel - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Antler Motel – Kemmerer, Wyoming
Texan Motel - Raton, New Mexico
Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

And to round off the trip, how about one of the more famed ones….

Sleep in a Wigwam - Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Goody Goody - St. Louis, Missouri
Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

After a nice evening a a comfy motel, what is better than starting the day off with a great breakfast at a diner, a pancake house or a local cafe. The servings are always big, the mom and pop service is better than any fast food joint.  Of course, while on the road you can also stop for lunch and even a big dinner, in some cases even more than you can manage if you are willing to take the chance (think Amarillo, Texas!!)

Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas
Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas They have a giant rooster on the roof there too!
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon
Royal Donut - Danville, Illinois
Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois
Crystal Cafe - Raton, NM
Crystal Cafe – Raton, NM
Golden Burro Cafe - Leadville, CO
Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO
Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, OH
Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, OH
Lil' Cafe - Commerce, Oklahoma
Lil’ Cafe – Commerce, Oklahoma
Irma Restaurant and Grill - Cody, Wyoming
Irma Restaurant and Grill – Cody, Wyoming
Pickle's Place - Arco, Idaho
Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho
Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota

How about some burgers for lunch?

Wimpy's Hamburgers - Dallas, Texas - I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today....
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….
Paul's Hamburgers - Kansas City, Kansas
Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Miami, Oklahoma
Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Frostop Root Beer - Ashton, Idaho
Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho
Schroeder's Drive-In - Danville, Illinois
Schroeder’s Drive-In – Danville, Illinois

Perhaps you want to try an ORIGINAL Cozy Dog….a Route 66 Classic indeed.  This one deserves two photos

Cozy Drive-In - Home of the Cozy Dog - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In – Home of the Cozy Dog – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In - Springfield, Illinois  The sign says it all
Cozy Drive-In – Springfield, Illinois The sign says it all

Don’t want a burger or a corn dog?  How about a Maid-Rite Sandwich?

Maid-Rite Sandwiches - Lexington, Missouri
Maid-Rite Sandwiches – Lexington, Missouri

Or perhaps some great authentic Bar-B-Q?

Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

And a little Ice Cream for an afternoon treat….

Zesto - near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Zesto – near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Jimmy's Ice Cream - Waldo, Arkansas
Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Stamps, Arkansas

Okay.  So this next one is not neon.  But it is certainly Vintage.  And who can resist stopping for an ice cream at a place that LOOKS like an Ice Cream?

M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, Illinois
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, Illinois

There are lots of places that you can get dinner…many of the old neon places are a combo bar/grill or bar/restaurant.   And many have unique signs.  Personally, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have certainly enjoyed a few good meals at some of these kinds of places.

Manhattan Bar - Leadville, Colorado
Manhattan Bar – Leadville, Colorado
Mint Bar and Lounge - Chinook, Montana
Mint Bar and Lounge – Chinook, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge - Butte, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge – Butte, Montana
Atomic City Bar - Atomic City, Idaho - no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Atomic City Bar – Atomic City, Idaho – no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Elk Bar and Good Food - Chinook, Montana
Elk Bar and Good Food – Chinook, Montana
Steaks - what more needs to be said? - near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Steaks – what more needs to be said? – near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Riscky's Steakhouse - Fort Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Fort Worth, Texas
Lariat Saloon - Buena Vista, Colorado
Lariat Saloon – Buena Vista, Colorado

And let’s not forget two of the most iconic vintage neon places for travelers….

Cowboy Bar - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big Texan Steak House - home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) - Amarillo, Texas
Big Texan Steak Ranch – home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) – Amarillo, Texas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more ethnic in the evening….

Joe Mama's Italian - Time for Fine Eats - Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
Joe Mama’s Italian – Time for Fine Eats – Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
El Fenix Restaurant - Best Tex-Mex in Texas - downtown Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Restaurant – Best Tex-Mex in Texas – downtown Dallas, Texas
Hung Far Low - Famous Chop Suey and Famous name - Portland, Oregon
Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon

Or perhaps just a late night Philly Cheese Steak?  How about two choices and they are just across the street from each other in the triangle….(I actually tried one at each place on the same evening – add the whiz!)

Geno's Cheese Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Movie Theaters, Drive-In Theaters and Music Halls

Teton Drive-In - Rexburg, Idaho
Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

Perhaps you have had a long day on the road and need a break from motel room TV.  A visit to an old drive in theater with some popcorn and thus fuzzy little speakers hanging in your window will do ya.

Too cold outside?  Then there are some classic old movie theaters around that show some cool movies or maybe even will have a live band playing in them. Many of the old theaters are multi-purpose nowadays, but their old neon signs still draw you in and bring back the memories of 1960s childhood.

Following are a few classic looks with neon I have seen over the years as I travel the back roads of America.

 

Plaza Theatre - Glasgow, Kentucky
Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Lund Theatre - Viborg, South Dakota
Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota
Liberty Theatre - Vandalia, Illinois
Liberty Theatre – Vandalia, Illinois
Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
The Blue Room - Kansas City, Missouri
The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri
Pix Theatre - Winner, South Dakota
Pix Theatre – Winner, South Dakota
Westside Theatre - Newman, California
West Side Theatre – Newman, California
Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Kentucky
Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, Kentucky
Fox Theatre - Detroit, Michigan
Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan
Skyline Theatre - Rudyard, Montana
Hi-Line Theatre – Rudyard, Montana
El Raton Theatre - Raton, NM
El Raton Theatre – Raton, NM
Fischer Theatre - Danville, Illinois
Fischer Theatre – Danville, Illinois
Orpheum Theatre - Wichita, Kansas
Orpheum Theatre – Wichita, Kansas
Leeds Theatre - Winchester, Kentucky
Leeds Theatre – Winchester, Kentucky
Bing Crosby Theatre - Spokane, Washington
Bing Crosby Theatre – Spokane, Washington

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY OTHER PLACES

Pelo's Sundries - LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)
Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Sure, I meant it when I included “Sundry” in this section.  That term seems old fashioned now, but the old five-and-dime shops had “sundry” items.  There were also the old drug stores that sold magazines, had fountains in the shop and they sold “sundries.”

I also include the “various” in here since there are a few odds and ends neon signs that I  want to include in this section.

The famous Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
The famous Pike Place Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas.  They also do shoe repairs
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas. They also do shoe repairs
Arco City Hall - Arco, Idaho - First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Arco City Hall – Arco, Idaho – First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Boring Rexall Drugs - Warsaw, Missouri
Boring Rexall Drugs – Warsaw, Missouri
The Old Drugs Store - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
The Old Drugs Store – Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Now, wasn’t that just a yummy adventure through the past?

Yummy House - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

(1893)