A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

ABanner600

The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

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The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

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The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

QBanner

The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

RBanner

The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

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The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

YBanner

The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

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The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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A to Z Challenge: The D 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, some known for their names, other for unique sites in town. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

D The D Towns

Douglas, Wyoming

Large Jackalope - Douglas, WY
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY

As I travel across the US and Canada, I am always on the lookout for quirky things and big statues.  Well, Douglas, Wyoming provides plenty in that area.  Touted as the Jackalope Capital of the World, Douglas has jackalopes dotting the town, including a couple of big ones.  And “What is a jackalope?” you ask…  Check out my full posts on Douglas HERE and ALSO HERE.

DeForest, Wisconsin

Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Pinkie the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little "Chick-Fil-A" on Burger King!!
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little “Chick-Fil-A” on Burger King!!

Perhaps Wisconsin is the home of the most Big Things.  Throughout the state there are big cows (it is a cheesy state mind you) and big mice.  There is a big bulldog in Beloit (see here).  However, not much tops the big pink elephant at the Shell One Stop in DeForest, WI and the big cow named Sissy is also one of America’s biggest.  Read the bigger story and see more photos HERE.

Discovery Bay, Washington

Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty's in Discovery Bay, WA
Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty’s

The theme of quirky runs throughout the veins of this post.  I now move on to Discovery Bay, WA on US Highway 101 northwest of Seattle, (near Port Townsend, WA) home of the uniquely quirky Fat Smitty’s burger place.  Surrounded by a menagerie of interesting and colorful wood carvings on the outside and walls and ceilings plastered with dollar bills (and other denominations), this is a place to behold.  Oh, and yes, the burgers aren’t too bad either.  See my full post about my August 2015 visit to Fat Smitty’s HERE.

Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas

At the "Filed of Corn" - Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
At the “Field of Corn” – Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas, former home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007

I have never been to Dublin, Ireland, but I have been to Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas.  The two American towns named Dublin are distinctly different, but both offer some surprises.

In Dublin, OH you can play amongst ears of corn at the “Field of Corn” is a publicly funded art installation in the city of Dublin, Ohio. The installation consists of 109 concrete ears of corn positioned in rows and standing upright in a grassy field.  Sculpted by Malcolm Cochran, a professor of sculpting at Ohio State University, the park was named the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, and was originally farmed by Sam Frantz, an inventor of several hybrid corn species.  This is not the only unique public art work in Dublin.  This is one of a few towns that has worked to bring in a plethora of unique, cool and sometimes quirky works of outdoor art. Check out the Dublin Arts Council’s website.

In 2007 I took a trip with my son to Texas and Arkansas (I noted our visit to Booger Holler in my B Towns post of the #AtoZChallenge).  On that same trip we visited the town of Dublin, TX, near Waco, to visit what was, at that time, the only remaining Dr Pepper plant in the world that made Dr Pepper with pure cane sugar.  The plant has eventually converted and the museum was moved to Waco.  But I note it here because, back then, they changed the name of the town to Dr Pepper, Texas once a year (and set the population at 1024 — if you are a Dr Pepper fan, you’ll know what the 1024 means).

Dragoon, Arizona

An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
The Thing's Outhouse -- Great Seats Available
The Thing’s Outhouse — Great Seats Available
AssKickin
Ass Kickin’ nuts…super spicy hot. Made in Goodyear, AZ and found at many tourist shops. Great for munching on long road trips (as long as you have some icy cold liquid to wash them down)

I mentioned Bowlin’s resorts in my post on Akela Flats in the A to Z Challenge last week.  Bowlin has another fun touristy place in Arizona called “The Thing.”  This is one of those places that has billboards hundreds of miles away promoting the unusual site (other’s that I recall seeing in diverse places include “Where the hell is Wall Drug?” (South Dakota), “Visit Little America” (Wyoming), “Rock City” (Tennessee).  I’ll actually hit these places in future posts. ).  As for an explanation of “The Thing”, you’ll have to make your way south of Tucson on Interstate 10, pay the fee and go see it for yourself.  Make sure you visit the famed Outhouse and get some of those amazing Ass Kickin’ Peanuts!  They are available at many fine tourist trap shops around the southwest.

Denton, Texas

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

A well kept secret of a place is Denton, Texas.  Just north of the excitement of the Dallas metroplex, Denton sits quietly with its grand architecture, ghost walks and a unique burger joint that features a wonderful, yet controversial mural call the The Great Texas Supper, a play on the Last Supper painting but instead has a number of dead Texas musicians.  The LSA Burger Company also features a tribute to Willie Nelson, a Texas shaped “Texas Instruments” sculpture and bars covered with old record albums.  See my full post HERE.

Durant, Oklahoma

Sumoflam with Durant's Giant Peanut
Sumoflam with Durant’s Giant Peanut
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses – Durant, Oklahoma
Painted Horses in Durant, OK
Painted Horses in Durant, OK

Durant, Oklahoma is one of those unique small towns that brings me so much enjoyment in travel.  Home of the “World’s Largest Peanut” statue, it is also decorated with dozens of painted horses. Durant is in the Choctaw Nation and is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.   Though Durant lays claim to the “World’s Largest Peanut”, its a title it shares with two other monuments in Texas and Ashburn, Georgia. This monument is for the peanut growers in Bryan County and I found it on the front lawn of Durant’s city hall.  See more about my trip to Durant and other locales from back in 2013 HERE.

Danville, Illinois

Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl

I visited Danville, Illinois on a trip to Omaha in 2013.  This is one of those towns you can spend a good day in.  With dozens of wall murals depicting town history and town heroes, the art is great. But there are other unique pieces of art such as the Danville USA Brick Sculpture shown above.  But most interesting to me was the Lindley Sign Post Forest. The story is unique….Carl Lindley, one of the mural artists in Danville, has the same name as Carl Lindley (also originally from Danville, IL), the founder of the original sign post forest in Alaska (see here). This tradition started in 1942 by Carl K. Lindley, a U. S. Army Engineer, 341 company “D”. When building many signs in the area, he added a sign to a sign post which stated, “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles”.  The Alaska version has over 47,000 signs.  I think the more mini version in Danville has about 200.  Read the bigger story and see photos in my 2013 post HERE.

Dallas, South Dakota (Honorable mention)

Welcome to Dallas, SD
Welcome to Dallas, SD
Water tower in Dallas -- in the middle of the road
Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road

In 2013 I trekked across the country to Idaho and, along the way, took a drive along the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, which covers US Highways 18 and 50. (See the full post HERE).  One of the unique little places I visited was Dallas, SD.  Unlike the huge metropolis of Dallas, Texas, this small community has no stop light but it DOES have a water tower right in the middle of the road!

Denver, North Carolina (Honorable mention)

Big Spider, Denver, North Carolina
Big Black Widow sculpture, Denver, North Carolina
Stacy's Restaurant, Denver, NC
Stacy’s Restaurant, Denver, NC

If I am going to include a Dallas, I might as well also include a Denver, this one in North Carolina.  Denver is a town of a little over 13,000 fine folk who enjoy the luxurious life on the west shore of Lake Norman, just off of NC Hwy 7.  I visited some friends there in March 2012.  We went downtown to dinner and lo and behold I saw a giant black widow!!  Creepy.  Sculpted by artist Dave Simpson, it apparently advertises a pest management company. The gleaming arachnid, with its eight-foot-long legs, perches on a boulder.  After that appetizing moment we had a wonderful dinner at Stacy’s Restaurant. It was a great local home cooked meal type of place.

Damon, Texas (Honorable mention)

I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon...
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…

Another town with a unique water tower and a fun post office is Damon, Texas.  A small place in southern Texas, it has one of the smallest water towers I ave seen and it boasts the name “Planet Damon.”  Fun fun.  See my full trip HERE.

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South Dakota Backroads: The Oyate Trail across southern South Dakota

Land of the Pheasants - southern South Dakota
Land of the Pheasants – southern South Dakota

In early April 2013 I had the opportunity to drive across the Hi-Line (US Route 2) in Northern Montana and then made our way to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and all the across South Dakota to Mitchell and the Corn Palace.   With another work trip to Idaho, I took a different route and, similar to the Hi-Line Drive, I mainly took US Route 18 (also known as the Oyate Trail) as it crosses most of South Dakota.  It goes through many small and unique towns.

Oyate Trail
Oyate Trail

The Oyate Trail is a 388 mile route that generally follows SD 50 and US Route 18 across southern South Dakota.  The name is derived from the Lakota word “Oyate”, which means “a people or a nation” and “Ochanku”, which is Lakota for “trail.”  Thus, the trail of nations, initially meaning the trail to the various Lakota Nations — the Yankton, the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Sioux nations.  But, the meaning is even more complex with the coming of the Europeans and the mixture of their cultures along the trail.


Oyate Trail across South Dakota

Elk Point, SD - "Where South Dakota Begins"
Elk Point, SD – “Where South Dakota Begins”

I started off in Kentucky on May 31 and spent the evening near Omaha, NE.  On June 1 I headed north towards South Dakota, entering South Dakota in Sioux City on I-29.  I took the freeway into the small town of Elk Point, another of the many places that Lewis and Clark had visited.  They made camp nearby the area in August 1804.

Downtown Elk Point, South Dakota
Downtown Elk Point, South Dakota

My main stop in Elk Point was at Edgar’s Soda Fountain, a throwback to the good old days.  Originally opened in Centerville in 1906 in a drug store, the soda fountain was taken out of the drug store in the 1960s.  It eventually was rediscovered and rebuilt by the granddaughter of the drug store owner.  They have even brought out the old manuals and have some concoctions directly from those manuals, such as The Standard Manual of Soda and Other Beverages.

Edgar's Soda Fountain Bar
Edgar’s Soda Fountain Bar

Owner Barb Wurtz was there and the staff was ultra friendly.  They had an old-fashioned candy case, nice neon, original wooden booths and bar seating.  Its a great place to take a quick break off the road.

The Fountain
The Fountain
Old Soda Bottles
Old Soda Bottles
Outdoor Signage at Edgar's
Outdoor Signage at Edgar’s
Candy Counter at Edgar's
Candy Counter at Edgar’s

I also wanted to drop by Edgar’s with my good friend and amazing guitarist Edgar Cruz in mind.  So, “Welcome to Edgar’s!”

Welcome to Edgar's
Welcome to Edgar’s

After consulting with the great staff at Edgar’s, I determined to make my way along US Route 18 (the Oyate Trail), which would take me across the lush prairies of southern South Dakota and into some small and unique towns.  After visiting the Lewis and Clark Campsite monument n Elk Point, I headed north on I 29 to Exit 47 near Beresford and then west to Viborg.  The Oyate Trail actually starts in Vermillion, SD, just NW of Elk Point, but I wanted to hit Viborg first.

Lewis and Clark Campsite - Elk Point, SD
Lewis and Clark Campsite – Elk Point, SD

After leaving I-29, I headed west on SD 46 to Viborg, South Dakota.

Velkommen to Viborg
Velkommen to Viborg

Viborg is a town of around 700 and was settled by Danish immigrants in the 1860s.  The town is named for Viborg in Denmark.  The town was originally named Daneville, but with the coming of the railroad in the 1890s, the residents had to move a bit north so they could be along the railroad.  Thus Viborg was born and was finally incorporated in August 1903.

Welcome to Viborg
Welcome to Viborg
Kountry Kookin' Cafe - Viborg, SD
Kountry Kookin’ Cafe – Viborg, SD

As I drive through town I got glimpses of the culture.  The Kountry Kookin’ Cafe, with its built in neon sign above the door, gave me cause for chuckle.  The window on the right says “Dis is vare Sven loves the dinners” and the window on the left says “Dis is vare Ole gets the pie.”  Had there been time, it could have been “Dis is vare Sumoflam gets the lunch!”

Viborg Movie Theater
Lund Theater in Viborg

Like many small towns, there are the old fashioned theaters that thrived in the 1950s and 1960s.  But these are a dying breed so I try to get shots of them when I go through these small towns.

Decorative Glazed Block Silo near Viborg, SD
Decorative Glazed Block Grain Silo near Viborg, SD

On the outskirts of Viborg I came across this unusual, yet decorative grain silo.  As I drive the back roads of this country, whether in Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin or elsewhere, silos are a common site.  Yet, I don’t recall ever seeing brick silos like this one, nor do I recall the decorative nature.  After a bit of internet research (thank you Google!!) I have learned that these are Glazed Block Silos.  They are apparently very common in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.  I am assuming that they are of Scandinavian origin, though I have not yet found anything definitive.

Horses Frolicking near Viborg, SD
Horses Frolicking near Viborg, SD

Living in Lexington I see plenty of horses.  But, I couldn’t help but notice this happy trio in the lush prairie grasses near Viborg.  I sat and watched them for a few minutes as they frolicked and played.

Old remnants of yesteryear near Viborg
Old remnants of yesteryear near Viborg — I love old cars!

From Viborg I headed straight north on SD 19 past Swan Lake to US 18 and began my trek across the state.

Turkey Ridge Store - Hurley, SD
Turkey Ridge Store – Hurley, SD
Meridian Corner Steak House at US 18 and US 81 junction
Meridian Corner at US 18 and US 81 junction – Freeman, SD

I passed the two establishments along the road.  Both were basically in the middle of nowhere.  Meridian Corner has a fairly active Facebook Page.  They are apparently quite popular and have T-shirts, etc.

Menno, SD
Menno, SD
Menno, South Dakota
Menno, South Dakota

I rolled into Menno, SD next. Menno was settled by German-Russian immigrants around 1874.  Continuing west my next stop was in Tripp, SD.  This was the first Tripp I have experienced on my many trips!!  The town slogan “Easy to Find, Hard to Leave”.  For me, its as my friend Antsy McClain says “Its All in the Trip”.

Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota
Welcome to Tripp, South Dakota

Tripp recently became a destination for a group of Amish families that moved from Wisconsin in 2010.  This, of course, brings the need for a blacksmith.  The name on the barn reminded me of the Amish, so I checked and indeed, as the link above explains, the first Amish in South Dakota are in this area.

Heine Prien - Blacksmith - Tripp, SD
Heine Prien – Blacksmith – Tripp, SD
Flag painted in Window - Tripp, SD
Flag painted in Window – Tripp, SD
Old Neon Sign - Tripp, SD
Old Neon Sign – Tripp, SD
My version of a John Deere ad - outside of Tripp, SD
My version of a John Deere ad – outside of Tripp, SD

I continued west on US 18 passing by farmland and a few trees.  I found one set of trees that struck me…these were near the junction with US 281, where US 18 heads due south towards Ravinia, SD.

Trees on US 18 near US 281
Trees on US 18 near US 281
Farmland near Ravinia, SD
Farmland near Ravinia, SD

US 18/US 281 again heads west near the base of Lake Andes, which is a National Wildlife Refuge.  As I drive along the southern border of the lake, I saw a huge flock of white birds.  From my viewpoint I thought they were swans, but I decided to take a closer look so I took a drive into the small park just before getting to the town of Lake Andes, SD.  I was thrilled as I got closer and discovered it was a huge flock of pelicans!!

Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
More Pelicans - Lake Andes, SD
More Pelicans – Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight - Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight – Lake Andes, SD

Seeing the Pelicans was a real thrill for me as these were birds that I have never had a close encounter with.  While at the lake, I also saw some beautiful purple wildflowers.

Purple Wildflowers near Lake Andes, SD
Purple Dame’s Rocket Wildflowers near Lake Andes, SD

From Lake Andes I continued south on US 18/281 to cross over the dam at the Randall Creek Recreation Area.  At the top of the hill past the dam I had an excellent view of the Old Fort Randall Cemetery.

Old Fort Randall Cemetery
Old Fort Randall Cemetery

US 18 continued west, then southwest for a while and then began heading northwest again towards the town of Bonesteel.

The road goes on forever - US 18 in southern South Dakota
The road goes on forever – US 18 in southern South Dakota
More winding roads in South Dakota
More winding road in South Dakota

The town of Bonesteel was basically the first town of many on the actual Oyate Trail that I would hit on this drive.  Bonesteel has an interesting name, named after H.E. Bonesteel and hasjust about 300 people.

Bonesteel Welcome Sign
Bonesteel Welcome Sign
Battle of Bonesteel Commenmorative Sign
Battle of Bonesteel Commenmorative Sign
Bonesteel Mural
Bonesteel Mural

The railroad first made its way into Bonesteel in 1902.  there were a limited number of registrations for land ownership and eventually many of the prospective homesteaders fought leading to what was called “the Battle of Bonesteel.”

Bonesteel Mural
Bonesteel Mural
Another Bonesteel Mural
Another Bonesteel Mural

On the outskirts of town is a small little restaurant.  Great name…

TeePee Cafe - Bonesteel, SD
TeePee Cafe – Bonesteel, SD

The next town on the trail was Burke, SD, another town with about 600 people.  As I approached town I ran into a place called Rooster Tales Hunting Service.  They had a unique sign and even a patriotic hay bale!  Turns out that they have a Pheasant hunting service.

Rooster Tales Hunting Service - Burke, SD
Rooster Tales Hunting Service – Burke, SD
Rooster Tales Mailbox in a milk can
Rooster Tales Mailbox in a milk can
Patriotic Hay Bale at Rooster Tales
Patriotic Hay Bale at Rooster Tales

This part of South Dakota is considered the pheasant capital of the U.S. (including a number of towns competing for the title).  So, despite the small towns, there are hotels and accommodations for pheasant hunting enthusiasts.

Old style motel - Hillcrest Motel - Burke, SD
Old style motel – Hillcrest Motel – Burke, SD
Burke, SD Water Tower
Burke, SD Water Tower

Despite its size, Burke is also home to the Burke Stampede Rodeo, supposedly the largest amateur rodeo in the Midwest.

Burke Stampede Rodeo - Burke, SD
Burke Stampede Rodeo – Burke, SD

The next major stop on the road is Gregory, South Dakota.  This is in the midst of pheasant country.  South Dakota is the pheasant capital of the U.S. and this area of the Oyate Trail is one of the centers of the pheasant hunting world (and, in Gregory there is also a Gorilla or two….)

Welcome to Gregory
Welcome to Gregory
Gregory - Home of the Gorillas
Gregory – Home of the Gorillas
Gregory Wall Art
Gregory Wall Art
Mary Bob's Bar - Gregory, Idaho
Mary Bob’s Bar – Gregory, Idaho

I got a kick out Mary Bob’s Bar — out in Kentucky we hear of “Jim Bob” all the time, but I have never heard of “Mary Bob.”

Hipp Theater - Gregory, SD
Hipp Theatre – Gregory, SD

The Hipp Theatre in Gregory is a community volunteer run theatre, but does show up to date first run movies.

Gregory - The Happening Place
Gregory – The Happening Place

Then there is the giant pheasant….

Giant Pheasant - Gregory
Giant Pheasant – Gregory, SD
Sumoflam and Giant Pheasant
Sumoflam and Giant Pheasant

Apparently Gregory is “The ground-zero of pheasantdom” according to Fortune Magazine in 1992.

Pheasant Sign - Gregory, SD
Pheasant Sign – Gregory, SD

Next stop was not too far — Dallas, South Dakota

Welcome to Dallas, SD
Welcome to Dallas, South Dakota

Dallas is a really small town but has some interesting things…

Water tower in Dallas -- in the middle of the road
Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road
Frank Day's Lodging House
Frank Day’s Lodging House

Frank Day’s looks run down, but, apparently it is one of the “happening places” on the Oyate Trail. They have fashioned themselves as an old western-style saloon and also seem to be an attraction for bikers.

Frank Day's Signs
Frank Day’s Signs

Moving west on US 18 I finally arrived at one of my “planned destinations.”  Those that follow my blogs know that I am always looking for unique town names like Uncertain (TX), Boring (OR), Peculiar (MO), Tightwad (MO), Odd (WV) and more.  Well, this town is a real Winner!!!  Yes, Winner, South Dakota.

Welcome to Winner, SD - Pheasant Capital of the World
Welcome to Winner, SD – Pheasant Capital of the World

Winner was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and later part of the Dakota Territory, which was established by an act of Congress and a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861.  Winner was named because it was the “winner” in the struggle to establish a town along the railroad right-of-way when the Chicago North Western began moving west from Dallas, SD in 1909.

Winner, South Dakota
Winner, South Dakota
Welcome to Winner - Home of Frank Leahy
Welcome to Winner – Home of Frank Leahy

Frank Leahy was one of Notre Dame’s most famous coaches.  He grew up in Winner.

Downtown Winner, SD
Downtown Winner, SD
Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD
Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD

While I was in Winner, I stopped for a drink and a snack at a gas station.  I just had to ask…had anyone ever won it big in the lottery in Winner.  And, believe it or not, there was indeed a winning ticket sold, and, ironically, the winner’s name was Neal Wanless (awfully close to Winless…).  Wanless was a Winner in Winner to the tune of $232 million.  He apparently has many friends that frequent the Pheasant Bar.

Pix Theatre - Winner, SD
Pix Theatre – Winner, SD

Want a winning place to buy groceries?  Try this place….

Winner Food Center, Winner, SD
Winner Food Center, Winner, SD
Winner Westside Motel
Winner Westside Motel

The Motel Parking lot above is home to another Pheasant Statue, as seen below…

Pheasant Statue, Winner, SD
Pheasant Statue, Winner, SD

Now, for that “Pheasant Capital” bit….  Research has shown me that Redfield, South Dakota is the “Pheasant Capital of the World” and they have even registered the phrase.  Redfield is in the northeast section of South Dakota, north of Mitchell.  As late as 1994 there has been a dispute between Winner and Redfield as to which is the “official” capital.  I found an interesting article that shows that on October 26, 1994 Redfield had trademarked the phrase.  Winner still claims it as well.  But, Gregory is still the “ground-zero of pheasantdom.”  I think this argument has gone to the birds!!!

Here is the REAL WInner!!
Here is the REAL Winner!!
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
Centennial Mural for Tripp County in Winner
Heading west on US 18 out of Winner, South Dakota
Heading west on US 18 out of Winner, South Dakota

I continued to head further west to Mission, which would be my last stop on the Oyate Trail as I planned to head north to the Badlands from there.  By the way, Mission, SD is the home of Bob Barker, famous as the host of The Price is Right. The town of Mission is in the Rosebud Indian Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota tribe of the Sioux Nation.

Catholic Church in Mission, SD
Catholic Church in Mission, SD
Buffalo Jump Restaurant - Mission, SD
Buffalo Jump Restaurant – Mission, SD

While driving through Mission I came across this colorful restaurant called the Buffalo Jump.  It is owned and operated by Native Americans and offers buffalo burgers, Indian tacos, and, yes, Asian, Mexican, Italian, seafood and other goodies.

Mural in Mission, SD
Mural in Mission, SD
Another Mural in Mission, SD
Another Mural in Mission, SD

From Mission I headed north on US 83 until I arrived at SD 63.

US 83 in South Dakota heading north from Mission
US 83 in South Dakota heading north from Mission

I found it interesting that my GPS sent me onto SD 63.  I think my GPS is learning my penchant for back roads.  SD 63 is 23 miles GRAVEL ROAD that cuts mainly through the Rosebud Indian Reservation to Belvidere, SD on I-90 near Badlands National Park.  What a wonderful drive it was!!

SD 63 near Norris, SD -- 23 miles of gravel road
SD 63 near Norris, SD — 23 miles of gravel road
Sioux Burial Ground - I think
Sioux Burial Ground – I think
Sunlit badlands on SD 63
Sunlit badlands on SD 63
SD 63 going though prairie grasslands and badlands
SD 63 going though prairie grasslands and badlands
Long gravel road
Long gravel road
White River as seen from SD 63 south of Belvidere, SD
White River as seen from SD 63 south of Belvidere, South Dakota

I crossed over the White River just south of Belvidere.  The White River is the 36th longest river in the US at 506 miles.  It truly is whitish gray as a result of the clay, sand and volcanic ash it picks up along the way.

Belvidere, SD
Belvidere, SD – Population 63

I finally got back onto pavement as I entered Belvidere, just a small town with 63 people and perhaps that many horses and goats….

Foal jogging in Belvidere
Foal jogging in Belvidere
Community grazing tree in Belvidere
Community grazing tree in Belvidere
Grandpa Goat
Grandpa Goat
Rural Scene near Belvidere, SD
Rural Scene near Belvidere, SD

It was time to fuel up so I stopped at the Badland’s Travel Stop in Kadoka just off of I-90 west of Belvidere.  I loved the skies behind it.

Badland's Travel Stop - Kadoka, SD
Badland’s Travel Stop – Kadoka, SD
Teepee Picnic Area at Badland's Travel Stop
Teepee Picnic Area at Badland’s Travel Stop
Kadoka, South Dakota water tower
Kadoka, South Dakota water tower

Kadoka, South Dakota is “The Gateway to the Badlands.”  The name Kadoka is a Lakota word which means “Hole in the Wall,” but the town doesn’t seem that way….

 

Badlands Petrified Gardens in Kadoka, SD
Badlands Petrified Gardens in Kadoka, SD
Flag Benches in Kadoka, SD
Flag Benches in Kadoka, SD

I really got a kick out of all of the homemade signs in Kadoka…..

Pocketful of Posies - Kadoka, SD
Pocketful of Posies – Kadoka, SD
Museum - Kadoka, SD
Museum – Kadoka, SD
Hotel Pearl - Kadoka, SD
Hotel Pearl – Kadoka, SD

And then there is the old Wagon Wheel motel sign…

Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, SD
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, SD
Dr. Pepper Sign in Kadoka, SD
Dr. Pepper Sign in Kadoka, SD

And that was the end of the road to the Badlands — Kadoka is the “Gateway!”

Prairie Dog -- watch for me soon
Prairie Dog — watch for me soon

On my next post I will have some great shots of prairie dogs and badlands!!

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