A to Z Challenge: The T 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.  To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

TThe T Towns

Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad, Missouri
Then there is place called Tightwad in MO and they even have a bank!
Then there is place called Tightwad in MO and they even have a bank!
Tightwad Fire Department
Tightwad Fire Department
Tightwad Cafe - Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

On a trip to Kansas City back in November 2011, I returned via some back roads in south central Missouri.  My main destination of choice was Tightwad, Missouri.  This is an unincorporated town of about 65 or 70 people.  The village’s unusual name is said to stem from an episode in which a store owner cheated a customer, who was a postman, by charging him an extra fifty cents for a better watermelon. Some sources claim the transaction involved a rooster rather than a watermelon.  However, there is really nothing definitive.  Nonetheless, the town is fun. Perhaps the biggest point of excitement was the Tightwad Bank, which at the time was a real bank (their website says that the closed on June 29, 2015 to become Tightwad Financial, Inc. and moved to Overland Park, KS).  According to its original website, the bank was founded on September 5, 1900 as Reading State Bank, a Kansas chartered commercial bank. On March 27, 2008 the bank opened a full service branch in Tightwad, MO and changed its name to Tightwad Bank. You can see my 2011 post HERE.

Talent, Oregon

Welcome to Talent
Welcome to Talent
Talent Mural
Talent Mural
Talent City Hall
Talent City Hall
TalentOR2
Talent Police – Better watch out if you have no talent!!
"Shoe Tree" in Talent, OR
“Shoe Tree” in Talent, OR

One evening a few years ago we were watching the well known TV Competition show “America’s Got Talent,” when they introduced one of the competitors and indicated he was from a place called Talent, Oregon.  I knew then that I had to find a way to that town! In April 2012 I had that opportunity while on a business trip to southern Oregon. Called “The City of Talent“,  I am not sure how much talent there actually is here.  With a Talent Police Department, a Talent City Hall and even a unique “Shoe Tree,” it is certainly a unique place to go to find some Talent.  See my full post about Talent HERE.

Toad Suck, Arkansas

Toad Suck, AR
Toad Suck, AR
Toad Suck, Arkansas
Toad Suck, Arkansas

On a road trip to Texas and Arkansas in 2007, we wound our way from Memphis into Arkansas and found a place called Toad Suck (after already visiting Booger Holler – see the B Towns post).  Like many odd named communities, Toad Suck has a small population.

According to a local website, the town got its name as follows:

“What does “Toad Suck” mean anyway? Well, the answer is quite simple… Long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend and fun live on at Toad Suck Daze”

Check out my post of the entire 2007 trip including our visit to Toad Suck HERE.

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120
Beautiful vista north of Thermopolis, WY on WY 120

I first visited Thermopolis, Wyoming in 1972.  As a 16 year old, I was disenchanted with things at home in Bozeman, Montana and decided to “run away” from home.  I hitchhiked my way from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, where I helped a family move things into a truck.  They gave me a ride as far as Thermopolis, where I continued on through Wyoming’s Wind River Canyon, riding with a nice Native American lady, who got me into southern Wyoming.  I eventually caught my final ride into Denver, where we used to live. Obviously, I got in trouble and returned back to Bozeman.

I again found myself in Thermopolis in the summer of 2014.  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.  See my full trip from Cody to Carhenge via Thermopolis HERE.

Teton Valley and Tetonia, Idaho

Teton Mountain View Lodge
Teton Mountain View Lodge
Dave's Pubb - Tetonia, ID
Dave’s Pubb – Tetonia, ID
Teton Drive-in
Teton Drive-in
Grand Tetons
Grand Tetons

In 2013 I was blessed to make 2 trips to Rexburg, Idaho for work.  During those times I made it a point to visit the Grand Tetons from different angles.  One of the wonderful places to do this was in the Teton Valley and from Tetonia. The views are amazing and the mountains are splendid.  Check out the entire trip post HERE.

Tuba City, Arizona

Creek through Tuba City, AZ
One of the many “tangled waters” found in and around Tuba City, AZ
Old School from the 1950s in Tuba City. Been abandoned for years.
Old School from the 1950s in Tuba City. Been abandoned for years.
Red Rocks near Tuba City, AZ taken in 1983
Red Rocks near Tuba City, AZ taken in 1983
Sumoflam at Coal Mine Canyon in 1991. Cola Mine Canyon is a few miles from Tuba City
Sumoflam at Coal Mine Canyon in 1991. Cola Mine Canyon is a few miles from Tuba City
Another view of Coal Mine Canyon
Another view of Coal Mine Canyon
Elephant Buttes east of Tuba City on US 180
Elephant Buttes east of Tuba City on US 160

As I have noted in other posts on this blog, in the 1980s I was a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff.  As part of my work I took may tourists on excursions into Navajo and Hopi country.  Heading north on US Highway 89 out of Flagstaff and then catching US Highway 160 east, the  first major town is Tuba City.  Next to Flagstaff, it is the second largest city in Coconino County (which in land area is the second largest county in the United States) and is located on the Navajo Reservation.  Continuing east on US 160 the drive eventually gets you to Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley.  Instead, take AZ 264 south and you head towards the three mesas of the Hopi Reservation.  In fact, the name of the town honors Tuuvi, a Hopi headman from Oraibi who converted to Mormonism. The Navajo name for Tuba City, Tó Naneesdizí translates as “tangled waters”, which probably refers to the many below-ground springs that are the source of several reservoirs.

Tuba City is also kind of the gateway for a spectacular canyon known as Coal Mine Canyon, which is accessible about 15 miles away on AZ 264 on the way to the Hopi Reservation.  I have literally visited there a couple of hundred times.  The canyon is one of many remote, little-visited sites in the Southwest where the main interest comes from the detail of the rock – the colors, forms and textures of the eroded sandstone – rather than the large scale appeal of such grand places as Zion and Monument Valley. Coal Mine Canyon is first sighted about 15 miles from Tuba City, and the usual viewing area is reached by a half mile drive along a dirt track – narrow and bumpy but fine for all vehicles – that leaves highway 264 between mileposts 336 and 337. This track leads to a new-looking 2 story residence, but the canyon rim is a little way to the right, at the end of a side track that passes an isolated windmill and water tank, ending at a parking area next to a rather forlorn picnic spot consisting of a few concrete tables & chairs surrounded by bare red earth within a fenced enclosure.

Tornado, West Virginia

TornadoWV
Welcome to Tornado, West Virginia
Tornado Church
Tornado Church
Tornado Post Office
Tornado Post Office

In 2012 I made another road trip to North Carolina and took a side road through West Virginia for the sole purpose of driving through a Hurricane and a Tornado.  Hurricane is a bit west of Charleston, WV.  Once there, take US Highway 60 southeast and about 16 miles down the road you can drive through Tornado.  Officially, Tornado is recognized as Upper Falls, WV.  But there are still signs for Tornado. You can see my trip report about my visit to these two places HERE.

Tavistock, Ontario

Tavistock Recreational Centre
Tavistock Recreation Centre, Tavistock, Ontario – Home of the International Crokinole Championships
Crokinole Book
Crokinole Book
Tavistock Arena, Tavostock, Ontario - Home of the World Crokinole Championships
A Crokinole Board
Playing Crokinole at the 2008 International Crokinole Championships in Tavistock, Ontario
Playing Crokinole at the 2008 International Crokinole Championships in Tavistock, Ontario

During my 2008 time in Ontario, I was invited to the 10th Annual World Crokinole Championships by then Tavistock Mayor Don McKay, one of the officials at that year’s event.  I was greeted by Mayor McKay and also met Tavistock Gazette Editor Bill Gladding.  Both were gracious enough to introduce me to this game.  The championships are held in this small town as this is where the game was apparently invented in the 1870s. Crokinole (pronounced croak-i-knoll) is an action board game with elements of shuffleboard and curling reduced to table-top size. Players take turns shooting discs across the circular playing surface, trying to have their discs land in the higher-scoring regions of the board, while also attempting to knock away opposing discs. Historically, the game of Crokinole got its start near Tavistock. According to the Crokinole website, “the earliest known Crokinole board was made in 1876 in Perth County, Ontario, Canada.  Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin.   You can see my complete report of this June 2008 HERE.

Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Tomahawk, WI
Tomahawk, WI
Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI
Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI
Tomahawk Water Tower
Tomahawk Water Tower

The town of Tomahawk, Wisconsin is located on US Highway 51.  We ventured into this colorful town during a 2012 visit to Wisconsin.  We had just finished visiting Jurustic Park in Marshfield (see the M Towns Post) and were on the way to Rhinelander (in my R Towns post).  Tomahawk has a nice big Moose, a BBQ Place called the Butt Hutt and a lovely Eagle sculpture in the downtown area.  Read about the entire trip HERE.

Tripp, South Dakota

Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota
Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
My version of a John Deere ad - outside of Tripp, SD
My version of a John Deere ad – outside of Tripp, SD
A Flag painted on a window in Tripp, South Dakota
A Flag painted on a window in Tripp, South Dakota

Tripp, South Dakota really offer s very little, but it has a great name for a Road Tripper!!  Its all in the Tripp right?  Located on South Dakota’s Oyate Trail, which basically follows US Highway 18 across the state.  It is between the town of Menno to the east and the lovely Lake Andes to the east.  See more about the Oyate Trail Drive HERE.

Tunica, Mississippi

Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
Sumoflam at US 61 south just south of Tunica, MS
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS
Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues
Old Benches outside the Gateway to the Blues

The summer of 2014 was a great travel year for me.  I made four big trips, one of which was to Galveston, Texas via US Highway 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi. If approaching from Memphis, then one of the first stops worth making along the highway is in Tunica.  Tunica is huge resort town with a number of hotels and casinos.  But it is also home to the Gateway to the Blues Visitors Center. The Visitors Center is built in a rustic train depot, circa 1895.  It is filled with guitars, maps, souvenirs, etc.  Definitely worth a stop.  See the report on my first leg along the Mississippi Blues Highway HERE.

Tioga, Texas (Honorable Mention)

TiogaTX
Welcome to Tioga, Texas, birthplace of Gene Autry
Tioga Heritage Museum
Tioga Heritage Museum
Rustic shopping area of Tioga, Texas
Rustic shopping area of Tioga, Texas

Tioga is a small town in Texas near Sherman and Denison on US Highway 377. It is the birthplace of country music legend and former California Angels owner Gene Autry.

Ten Sleep, Wyoming (Honorable Mention)

Tensleep Canyon on US 16
Tensleep Canyon on US 16
Ten Sleep
Crazy Woman Cafe and Pub in Ten Sleep, WY
TenSleep2
Dirty Sally’s in Ten Sleep, Wyoming

OK.  If you found a town named Ten Sleep, wouldn’t you include it in your post?  This town is located near Ten Sleep Canyon which is on US Highway 16. It is located in the Big Horn Basin in the western foothills of the Big Horn Mountains, about 26 miles east of Worland and 59 miles west of Buffalo.  I drove through here in 2013 on my way from Idaho to Dallas.  I left Gillette, went through Buffalo and eventually made may way into Worland.   See my full trip post HERE.

Torch, Ohio (Honorable Mention)

Torch, Ohio
Torch, Ohio
Ohio's Smallest Church, the Healing Chapel, is located in Torch.
Ohio’s Smallest Church, the Healing Chapel, is located in Torch.
The Healing Chapel, Ohio's Smallest Church in Torch, Ohio
The Healing Chapel, Ohio’s Smallest Church in Torch, Ohio

Finally, there is the small blink your eyes and you’ll miss it place along the Ohio River known as Torch, Ohio.  Torch is not too far from Coolville, OH (see my C Towns post). (Ironically, the first town north of Coolville on Ohio 144 is called Frost…I did not go there). I could not find anything to provide information as to how Torch got its name. As for the little chapel in Torch, I did some research and came to find that it was built by Lloyd Middleton of Coolville. The non-denominational small chapel (its only 10 ft. by 14 ft.) is open 24/7 and anyone can go in to pray and seek respite.  A more detailed writeup of the church’s history and the Ohio River drive can be seen HERE.

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Sumoflam Flashback – Adventures in Southwestern Ontario: Oxford County

Tobacco Barns in SW Ontario Canada
Tobacco Barns in SW Ontario Canada

In 2008 I spent about nine months working as a Japanese interpreter in Woodstock, Ontario at the new Toyota Plant that was being built there at the time.  Over the course of that nine months I had many opportunities to visit dozens of places in rural Ontario and made my way to Toronto and some if the larger towns in the area around Toronto.  I have posted a number of “Travel Journals” with extensive details about all of these visits on my Sumoflam Trip Journals site.

Southwestern Ontario in the Red
Southwestern Ontario in the Red

Southwestern Ontario is centered on the city of London. It extends north to south from the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron to the Lake Erie shoreline, and east to south-west roughly from Guelph to Windsor. Other significant towns and cities in the region are Brantford, Cambridge, Chatham, Goderich, Ingersoll, Kitchener, Owen Sound, Sarnia, St. Thomas, Stratford, Tillsonburg, Waterloo, Windsor, and Woodstock.

Snow Countess - large cow statue in Woodstock, Ontario
Snow Countess – large cow statue in Woodstock, Ontario

In this first edition of my “Adventures in Southwestern Ontario” series, I will take a brief trip around Oxford County, one of the fifteen counties/municipalities comprising Southwestern Ontario.  Oxford County has been a municipality (rather than a county) since 1991. It covers a little over 787 square miles and has a total population of just over 100,000 people.  It is almost in the center of the Southwestern Ontario region and is one of the land-locked counties.

A typical road in Oxford County
A typical road in Oxford County

Oxford County is predominantly agricultural with dairy being one of its industries (Thus the big statue of the Snow Countess above). Also in the area is a famous “sugar bush” where maple syrup is made.  Corn and tobacco are also crops in the area. While in Woodstock I became good friends with the Director of Tourism at the time.  She was gracious enough to provide me with plenty of ideas on where to visit, when to visit, etc.  I was also honored by inclusion of three of my writeups on their website.

Woodstock, Ontario water tower
Woodstock, Ontario water tower

I was fortunate enough to experience three seasons in Oxford…I arrived in the middle of a cold and snowy winter.  But, I enjoyed the spring and the flowers.  I also enjoyed the wonderful summer and even sometime into the fall.

Giant pile of snow in Woodstock - February 2008
Giant pile of snow in Woodstock – February 2008
Winter scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Winter scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Summer scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario
Summer scene in rural Oxford County, Ontario

Oxford County is chock full of history with some unique museums — including two National Historic Sites.  The Woodstock Museum is one of the National Historic Sites.  Located in the old town hall, the museum, though small, houses the 1879 Council Chambers, a number of historical artifacts from early settlers and even a rifle display.

Woodstock Museum - The Old Town Hall - Woodstock, Ontario
Woodstock Museum – The Old Town Hall – Woodstock, Ontario
1879 Council Chambers in old Town Hall (Woodstock Museum) - Woodstock, Ontario
1879 Council Chambers in old Town Hall (Woodstock Museum) – Woodstock, Ontario
Relics in Oxford Rifle Museum - Militia Uniforms and drums from early 1800s - Woodstock Museum
Relics in Oxford Rifle Museum – Militia Uniforms and drums from early 1800s – Woodstock Museum
Old Wagon Wheel in the Building a City Gallery of Woodstock Museum
Old Wagon Wheel in the Building a City Gallery of Woodstock Museum

The other National Historic site is the Tillsonburg Museum – the Annandale House, which I did not get a chance to visit (there are so many great places to visit in SW Ontario!!!).  But, I did get a chance to visit the smaller Beachville District Museum in the small community of Beachville, Ontario.  This small town has the unique status of claiming to be the home of the first ever recorded game of baseball in North America. According to the museum, the group of men who gathered in a Beachville pasture on June 4, 1838 to enjoy a friendly game of baseball had little idea that they were making history. Their match was the first recorded baseball game in North America. It occurred one year prior to the famous Cooperstown game.  The museum has a number of artifacts from this game and even has an annual game on the land outside the park, using the original 5 base configuration.

Welcome to Beachville, Ontario
Welcome to Beachville, Ontario
Beachville Museum - Beachville, Ontario
Beachville Museum – Beachville, Ontario
Beachville District Museum sign
Beachville District Museum sign
100 year anniversary jersey of Beachville baseball game
100 year anniversary jersey of Beachville baseball game
Old Chest Protector in Beachville Museum
Old Chest Protector in Beachville Museum
Old baseball and mitt in Beachville Museum
Old baseball and mitt in Beachville Museum

The Beachville Museum is also home of a number of agricultural implements and old vehicles.

Old Sign in Beachville Museum - Beachville, Ontario
Old Sign in Beachville Museum – Beachville, Ontario
Old farm implement at Beachville Museum
Old farm implement at Beachville Museum
Old fire truck in Beachville Museum
Old fire truck in Beachville Museum

Baseball was not the only game that got some fame in Oxford County.  The game of Crokinole celebrates its annual World Championships in Tavistock, a town in northern Oxford County.

Crokinole World Championships
Crokinole World Championships

What is Crokinole?  Basically, Crokinole is an action board game similar in various ways to marbles with elements of shuffleboard and curling reduced to table-top size. Players take turns shooting discs across the circular playing surface, trying to have their discs land in the higher-scoring regions of the board, while also attempting to knock away opposing discs.

Crokinole Board from World Championships in Tavistock, Ontario
Crokinole Board from World Championships in Tavistock, Ontario
Flicking the disk with a finger
Flicking the disk with a finger

The earliest known crokinole board was made by craftsman Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Perth County, Ontario. Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin, and dating from the 1870s, have been discovered since the 1990s. It seems to have been patented on April 20, 1880, in New York City by Joshua K. Ingalls. In 2006, a documentary film called Crokinole was released. The world premiere occurred at the Princess Cinema in Waterloo, Ontario, in early 2006. The movie follows some of the competitors of the 2004 World Crokinole Championship as they prepare for the event.  Ironically, a former work associate of mine in the 2000s in Lexington was a participant in the championships and has been noted in books and the movie.

Crokinole Trophies
Crokinole Trophies

Tavistock is home to a number of Mennonite Churches and groups.  Indeed, Oxford County has a number of Mennonites and Amish in the area. Here are a few shots I have from my visits with them (some may be from neighboring counties)…

Mennonite father and daughter selling Maple Syrup
Mennonite father and daughter selling Maple Syrup
Mennonite Maple Syrup stand
Mennonite Maple Syrup stand
Amish cart in front of house in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish cart in front of house in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish folk shopping in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish folk shopping in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish buggy in modern neighborhood in Oxford County, Ontario
Amish buggy in modern neighborhood in Oxford County, Ontario
A Mennonite Buggy
Amish buggy and horse parked in a lot in Oxford COunty
Amish buggy and horse parked in a lot in Oxford County

On one trip south of Woodstock, I was on a dirt road and came across an amazing tulip farm.  Here are some shots…

Tulip farm in southern Oxford County, Ontario
Tulip farm in southern Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips in Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips in Oxford County, Ontario
Tulips and daffodils
Tulips and daffodils

Woodstock is also home to one of the more unique “Yard Art” menageries – The Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill.

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill - Woodstock, Ontario
Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill – Woodstock, Ontario

The Bruces have amassed a quirky collection of windmills, whirl-a-gigs, railroad implements and more…all in their yard.  There are few places like this that I have run across over the years and miles (Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit is another).

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill "warning" sign
Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill “warning” sign
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woddstock, Ontario
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woddstock, Ontario
Cliff Bruce main entrance
Cliff Bruce main entrance
Clydesdales and a superhero whirlygig
The Bruce’s version of the Michelin man?
Whirlygig Maximus
Cats and more at Cliff Bruce Windmill Farm in Woodstock, Ontario
Cats and more at Cliff Bruce Windmill Farm in Woodstock, Ontario
Old Cowboy Statue at Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill
Old Cowboy Statue at Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill

In the form of entertainment, I had the opportunity on two occasions to visit the Walters Dinner Theatre in Bright, Ontario (Bright is also known for its Cheese Factory)

Walters Family Dinner Theatre – Bright, Ontario

The Walters Family offers a little taste of Branson in the back woods of Ontario. They have established a fun program…a country dinner buffet and then an hour and a half of live music, sometimes from some great guest musicians. From June to October they put on six shows a week through the end of October and then in December they put on a Christmas extravaganza. (You can see more of complete writeup here)

Bradley Walters – the Leader of the Band
The Walters Family putting on a show in 2008

It all started a number of years ago when father Garry had his three children Bradley, Kimberley and Darren form the Walters Trio. Soon Garry and his wife Shirley were learning drums and bass guitar and joined the kids in performances. As a family they have toured with the Osmonds and have performed with Lawrence Welk and other groups.

The best part is the wonderful buffet

The buffet line for Rolled Ribs (with sage stuffing), roast beef, cole slaw, potatoes and gravy, veggies and fresh baked bread. They even had creamed horseradish which I slathered on my rolled ribs…yum!

The Rolled Ribs

Perhaps one of the best things about the Woodstock area is internationally known Jakeman’s Maple Products, located in Beachville. I got to visit Jakeman’s on a number of occasions and love their fresh maple syrup.  Back in 2008 I even had a nice page about them (see here).

Jakeman's Maple Products - Beachville, Ontario
Jakeman’s Maple Products – Beachville, Ontario

Jakeman’s is owned by Bob and Mary Jakeman, who are fourth generation Maple Syrup farmers. As their history states in their brochure, Bob’s great grandfather George and his wife Betsy Anne Jakeman came from Oxfordshire, England to Oxford County in Ontario. They were taught the maple syrup making technique by local native Canadians. Back then they collected the sap and boiled it down in an iron kettle over an open wood fire until it was golden brown. The family business has grown throughout the years and now the Jakeman name is known all over Canada and throughout the world. They have over 1000 taps.

Mary and Bob Jakeman in 2008
Mary and Bob Jakeman in 2008

Their shop is housed in an old rustic building. Originally built in 1855, it used to be the Sweaburg General Store and post office in Sweaburg. In 1976 the Jakeman’s moved the entire building to its present location. Inside is a maple gift shop, a small museum and a pancake house (much different than a IHOP!!). My first thought as I entered was WOW, look at all of the different products made from maple syrup…cookies, candies, wine, snacks, etc. Of course, they had a great variety of 100% Maple Syrup, which is drawn from trees on site, boiled on site and bottled there as well. You can see a good variety of their products (and order them as well) at their website: www.themaplestore.com. Unbeknownst to me, their #1 Medium Maple syrup was named the best tasting in Canada among 8 national brands by the National Post newspaper in 2004.

Best Syrup in Canada
Best Syrup in Canada

Trees are “tapped” to get the syrup.  On one of my visits, Bob explained the process in detail.

Bob Jakeman explains the tapping process
Sugar Shanty where maple syrup is processed

Fact: It takes about 40 liters of Maple sap to make 1 liter of Maple Syrup.
Fact: They don’t start boiling it down until they get at least 500 liters of sap.
Fact: A tree is tapped once a year in a different place each year. The trees have scars from previous years.
Fact: The sugar bush is self-generating. They do not plant the trees. Rather, the trees seed the ground and grow.
Fact: The Jakeman’s Maple Bush has about 1000 trees that are tapped. They contract with many others in the area as well.

Pancake Breakfast at Jakeman’s

On Saturday and Sunday mornings in March every year Jakeman’s offers a pancake breakfast along with small tours of their facility. The pancake breakfast is a fundraiser for the local 4H Club and all of the members are there to make pancakes, take orders and serve. There is room in the Jakeman’s store for about 35 people.

Some of their products

On a final note, I would like to introduce the flower called a Trillium.  A white trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Ontario. It is also an official symbol of the Government of Ontario. One wonderful place to see an abundance of trillium in the spring is the Trillium Woods Provincial Park south of Woodstock.

A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park
A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park
Ontario's Provincial Flower - The Trillium
Ontario’s Provincial Flower – The Trillium

The Trillium only blooms for about two weeks in May and can be seen dotting some rural areas.  The Nature park is unique in its variety of trillium, not only the white ones, but some of the more colorful ones as well.

A Red Trillium - seemed very rare in the park
A Red Trillium – seemed very rare in the park
A Yellow Trillium
A Yellow Trillium
Beautiful White Trillium

So, head to Woodstock, learn some history, eat some maple syrup, listen to some great Branson entertainment, take a wlk through a flower garden and go learn the game of Crokinole!!  You’ll be glad you did!!

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Road Trip to Idaho – Day 3: Miles City, MT to Shelby, MT

Antelope on the Run
Antelope on the Run

Day 3 – March 10, 2013: A beautiful morning in Miles City, Montana.  A cool 45 degrees and bright sunny skies.  Should be a wonderful day to drive to Shelby, about 6 or 7 hours away. Following is the path I took to Shelby from Miles City:


Miles City to Shelby, Montana

Welcome to Miles City
Welcome to Miles City

Miles City is a town of about 8500 people in Custer County in the far southeast of Montana. The town was founded in 1877 by settlers who had been evicted by General Nelson A. Miles from the Tongue River Cantonment for selling alcohol to the soldiers.  It is a typical Western town and actually similar to some Texas towns I have been to.

Buffalo Statue
Buffalo Statue near my hotel in Miles City
Indian Chief and Horse statue above a hair stylist shop in Miles City
Indian Chief and Horse statue above a hair stylist shop in Miles City

I took State Hwy 59 north out of Miles City towards Jordan.  This took me through high prairies in lands dotted by cattle ranches, old cabins and grazing antelope.

Montana State Highway 59 heading north
Montana State Highway 59 heading north
Pronghorn Antelope off if Hwy 59
Pronghorn Antelope off of Hwy 59 (also see photo at top)
Old Cabin in the Plains as seen on Hwy 59
Old Cabin in the Plains as seen on Hwy 59
Landscape approaching Jordan
Landscape approaching Jordan, MT

Just before getting into Jordan, I made my way through the small town of Cohagen, an unincorporated sheep farming town.  I was enthralled by the bar which also had a pretty old Squirt sign on it.

Cohagen Bar, Cohagen, MT
Cohagen Bar, Cohagen, MT

I also saw another old cabin, something I really enjoy finding on the road.

Old cabin in Cohagen
Old cabin in Cohagen
Striped field as seen north of Cohagen
Striped field as seen north of Cohagen

From Cohagen I went through Jordan and then headed west on Hwy 200 towards Lewistown. About halfway there I came to the Mosby Rest Area, a real nice rest area by the way.  This rest area had a few historical markers and sits in a fairly scenic area.

Stretch of highway 200 heading from Jordan to Mosby Rest Area
Stretch of highway 200 heading from Jordan to Mosby Rest Area
Bearpaw Shale Historical Marker at Mosby Rest Area
Bearpaw Shale Historical Marker at Mosby Rest Area
Kerchival City Historical Marker at Mosby Rest Area
Kerchival City Historical Marker at Mosby Rest Area
Fort Musselshell Historical Marker
Fort Musselshell Historical Marker

Just up the road I crossed over the Musselshell River in an area where it is drying up.

Mussellshell River near Mosby Rest area
Mussellshell River near Mosby Rest area

Not too far west of the river crossing, I came to the town of Winnett.  Usually I would pass right by, but their welcome sign caught my eye so I had to meander into this town, which is also the county seat of Petroleum County.

Winnett, MT Welcome Sign
Winnett, MT Welcome Sign – Go Ahead and Blink

The small town of about maybe 200 people really does have some character.  There is a small hotel, a little cafe (which I wish I would have tried out) and a couple of bars.  There are some old signs, some nice old buildings and a great view of the butte behind the town.

Old Grain Elevator - Winnett, MT
Old Grain Elevator – Winnett, MT
Old Store Front - Winnett, MT
Old Store Front – Winnett, MT
Old Hotel Sign - Winnett, MT
Old Hotel Sign – Winnett, MT
Old Cabin, Winnett, MT
Old Cabin, Winnett, MT
Another Winnett Sign - on other side of town
Another Winnett Sign – on other side of town

Continuing west another 25 miles or so on Montana 200 , I came across another small town called Grass Range.  Like Winnett, the town of about 100 people seemed to have some character, so I dropped in there as well, and I am glad I did.  I think I was happiest about the old wooden grain elevator.  What a taste of old western Americana.

Welcome to Grass Range, MT
Welcome to Grass Range, MT
Old Wooden Grain Elevator - Grass Range, MT
Old Wooden Grain Elevator – Grass Range, MT
Old Grass Range Depot and Elevator
Old Grass Range Depot and Elevator

The wooden grain elevator used to serve the old Old Milwaukee Road Railroad which ran from Milwaukee thru Montana and on to Seattle, WA. The electrified railroad was built around 1917, and eventually, the Montana portion was abandoned around March 1980, thus giving it “fallen flag” status. There are still remnants of this railroad, including the depot and grain elevator in Grass Range.  There has even been a book written about the Montana portion of this unique railroad called Guide to the Milwaukee Road in Montana by Steve McCarter. The book takes you on a trip along the Milwaukee Road railroad across Montana, from the North Dakota border to St. Paul Pass in Idaho.  There is also a unique video about it on YouTube.

Mountains near Lewistown
Mountains near Lewistown

From the high plains I continued north into the foothills of the geographic center of Montana, better known as Lewistown, the county seat of Fergus County. The town has a unique quality to it…on the edge of the wilderness yet still a population center.  In fact, just about a mile before coming into town I saw a bald eagle sitting in a field. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was the first bald eagle I had ever seen in the wild.  And, in the field next to it I saw a second one take off in flight.

Bald Eagle in field east of Lewistown
Bald Eagle in field east of Lewistown

I also saw deer on a hill right in town.

Deer in Lewistown
Deer on a hill in Lewistown

One of the first things you see in town is the visitor’s center, which also has a rocket ship and a replica Statue of Liberty in the park next to it.

Lewistown Rocket Ship
Lewistown Rocket Ship
Golden Statue of Liberty in Lewistown
Golden Statue of Liberty in Lewistown

I would have to say that the most stunning piece of the town was the Fergus County Courthouse.  It reminded me of some of the courthouses I have seen in Texas.

Fergus County Courthouse, Lewistown, Montana
Fergus County Courthouse, Lewistown, Montana

Built in 1907 from a design by Newton C. Gauntt.  Gauntt used brick from Hebron, North Dakota to build it. Truly a spectacular old courthouse!!

Old Barn west of Lewistown
Old Barn west of Lewistown

After Lewistown I headed west towards Belt and then up through Great Falls and then into Shelby.

Approaching Belt, Montana from the east
Approaching Belt, Montana from the east

 

Big John Statue - Great Falls, MT
Big John Statue – Great Falls, MT

But, the best part of getting up to Shelby?  Grandkidz!!

Grandkidz 1
Grandkidz 2
GK1
Grandkidz 1

Another great day of travel!!

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