In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren. We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks. My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip. Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip. I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America. Please enjoy the H Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)
Hamburg, Iowa is a small town just off of Interstate 29 and a few miles north of the Missouri border and a miles southeast of the Nebraska border. The small town is quaint and has some great places to visit. Along with the scenes below, I should note that it is home to Stoner Drug and more.
Hogdaddy’s Saloon – Old Shawneetown, Illinois
Don’t know much about this place, but it had a great wall advertisement!
On this long 8000 mile trip, one place set into ice in my agenda was Happy, Texas. I am always looking for something happy. I love their mantra: The Town Without a Frown. Happy is not a big place. It only has about 680 people. Its name is derived from a local stream called Happy Draw, which was named by 19th Century cowboys who were happy to find water there. Hopefully, some of the photos below will make you happy!
Hyde and Lombard – San Francisco, California
Want to take Lombard Street, the Crookedest Street in the World? Well, you need to get to Hyde and Lombard up on the hill first.
Hartline, Washington Post Office
This is one of those unique Post Offices. The sign looks plenty old as does the building. Hartline is a small community on US Highway 2 a few miles northeast of Coulee City. Only has a population of 151.
Haufbrau House – Bozeman, Montana
I lived in Bozeman, Montana from 1971 to 1973. On this road trip I stopped there to enjoy a dinner with some high school friends. We enjoyed some amazing burgers at the Haufbrau House, a bar and grill that has been around since the 1960s. If you are in Bozeman, stop by this rustic place and order their Lanny Burger…it is awesome!
Halsey is another very small community located on Nebraska Highway 2 in the sandhills of the state. Less than 100 people live here, but they are proud of their hand planted forest.
Ha Ha Tonka Cut Thru in Camdenton, Missouri
We were driving through the Ozark tourist town of Camdenton when we saw the sign below. I had to turn around to get a shot. This drive was likely named for the Ha Ha Tonka State Park, home of the Ha Ha Tonka Castle, which we did not have time to visit.
Hotel Waterville – Waterville, Washington
The small community of Waterville is in central Washington on US Highway 2. While driving through I saw this old neon sign and had to snap a shot.
Hyannis is a small town of about 200 in western Nebraska near the panhandle. Like Halsey (see above) it is located in the sandhills of Nebraska on Nebraska Hwy 2. It is home to the Hyannis Hotel Bar and Grill, which was built in 1898 during the heydays of cattle shipping. It is now on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Hodge Podge Cottages – Uncertain, Texas
Uncertain, Texas is a tourist location on the shores of Caddo Lake. There are many unique places to stay, including the Hodge Podge Cottages, which, as the name reflects, offer a number of totally unique places to stay.
Hotel Turkey – Turkey, Texas
Now this is a place I would like to say that I stayed at. Turkey is a cool little town to with lots of history and more.
WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON
I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family. You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l
Woodflock – a relatively unknown destination for those unfamiliar with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. For the last six years Flamingoheads from California and other places have gathered in the Sycamore Grove campground along the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA to enjoy time schmoozing with Antsy and the band and each other through music, meditation, arts and crafts and food. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the campground turns into a flamingo haven.
I have traveled with Antsy McClain on a cruise to Mexico, I have accompanied him on Field Trips in Kentucky and Texas and have toured with him and the band in Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and California, but I have never had the opportunity to attend the pinnacle of Flamingohead Fantasy trips…Woodflock. That is, until last week. And what a trip it was!
I departed on a non-stop flight to San Francisco from Cincinnati on Thursday. It was a nice four and a half hour flight with views of clouds until we got over the Rocky Mountains In Colorado and oh what a view. The snow covered peaks and the lakes…phenomenal. We went right over Mount Evans, where I have set foot in the past. How fun.
I arrived in San Francisco at about 11:30 AM California time and was met there by my Flamingohead friend Carla, a sweet and bouncy young lady of 70. Carla had worked out a few plans for our day and our drive to Santa Rosa, where she lives.
We left SFO and began our trip north to the city where we first visited Golden Gate Park to see the lovely mural in the visitor’s center, the beautiful flowers and a cool old Dutch windmill. The park is a beautiful inner city park with lots to see, but we had to move on to see some of the other sights. Here are a few scenes.
In 1901, John McLaren, together with Park Commissioners Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd, convinced the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission to build a windmill 300 yards from the ocean. This windmill could take advantage of the prevailing winds to pump water for the park’s irrigation system. Completed in 1902 at a cost of $25,000, the North Windmill was designed by Alpheus Bull Jr., a prominent San Franciscan at the time. Over the years it has had to go through various restorations, but the blades now function, though the pump has long been removed.
Golden Gate Park runs along the coast and so there are plenty of beach scenes and birds, etc.
Our next stop was for lunch. What better place than an old fashioned diner. We stopped at the historic Mel’s Drive-in, a throwback to the 1950s both in style and cooking. Every table had a Rock-ola jukebox with 50s and 60s songs. Though working hard to change my diet, coming to this diner was risky…the meatloaf looked fabulous. But, I stuck with a large salad and a couple of rolls. No butter. Great diner atmosphere and what appeared to be great diner food.
The original Mel’s Drive-in, built in the 1940s, was used for George Lucas’ classic film American Graffiti. There are now a few in the San Francisco area and even a couple, with the trademarked name and logo, at amusement parks. Following is a brief portion of the history from their website:
Following is a brief portion of the history of Mel’s as taken from their website:
“Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs started it all back in 1947 when they built their first car hop eatery, inspired by similar restaurants serving motorists in Los Angeles. With a staff of fourteen carhops covering a 30,000 square foot parking lot, they lured the hungry with a local radio personality broadcasting a live remote. As music reverberated through car radios in the drive-ups, the curb-stepping gals of 140 South Van Ness became a new paradigm for service.
At all hours of the day and night, crowds of patrons that fancied dining-in-your-car came early and often. It didn’t take long for the first unit to multiply into eleven! Six Mels became landmarks in the Bay Area with additional cluster achieving their own notoriety in Stockton and Sacramento. They reigned for almost twenty years, until a parade of franchised fast food outlets finally outpaced their service. As the new philosophy of “serve yourself” began to reprogram attitude about dining, Mel’s began its gradual decline.”
A Drive Down Lombard Street in San Francisco
After a good lunch and a break, we drove around town and made our way to Lombard St., the so called Crookedest Street in the World. The one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets has eight sharp turns that supposedly make it the crookedest street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles. The sign at the top recommends 5 mph. There were dozens of tourists at the top of the road, all along the crooked road and even dozens more when we got to the bottom. A fun little drive, as can be seen from the video above.
After our little brake infused jaunt down Lombard St., we then meandered around town over to Fisherman’s Wharf. Following are a few scenes from along the way.
From Fisherman’s Wharf we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was plenty of construction going on so traffic was slow going. But, once we got to the bridge the fog began to sneak in above the bridge…a beautiful sight. We crawled across the bridge, which was covered in foot traffic as well. Truly a major attraction.
Once across the bridge we found the viewing area which offered not only a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but an expansive view of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower and more. And the weather was perfect.
I was last in San Francisco in 2009 with Antsy McClain when he and the band performed at the Great American Music Hall (see video below). But we didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the bridge. So it was an awesome opportunity.
After the bridge we made our way into Novato to join another Flamingohead sweetheart, Ione, who would be lending me her RV (nicknamed IRV) for the weekend in Red Bluff. We had some great Chinese food at the China Palace and then joined together for a fun picture to memorialize the occasion.
After dinner, Carla drove us up to her doublewide trailer in Santa Rosa, CA. She Lives in Aluminum and is happy there in Lot #36 …see the video below if you don’t get it!! (Taken in 2009 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco…video by Sumoflam)
A nice 2500 mile day!
Next post will cover Santa Rosa to Ukiah to Red Bluff!