Everywhere a Sign – Some E Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them.  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)

Every road is an adventure.  Every detour offers new entertainment.  In this post I am providing some of the E signs I came across during my travels across the country in 2018.  E means ENJOY!

Eighter From Decatur, Decatur, Texas

Eighter from Decatur sign in Decatur, Texas
Decatur, Texas – Home of the Eighter from Decatur

Decatur, Texas is a fun little town.  Home of the famed Petrified Wood Gas Station (and a few other vintage gas stations), it is also home to the “Eighter from Decatur.”  “Eighter from Decatur” is a slang phrase used by craps shooters who want to roll an eight as well as the title of a song by Western Swing legend Bob Wills.  In 1949, Decatur mayor Sly Hardwick added the phrase to two signs welcoming tourists to the town.

Empire Theater, Livingston, Montana

Empire Theater, Livingston, Montana

There are hundreds of movie theaters dotting this great country.  I love capturing images of many of the vintage marquees.  This one is from the lovely mountain town of Livingston, Montana.  The Empire Theater has two screens.

Edgewater Park, Cleveland, Ohio

Edgewater Park, Cleveland, Ohio

Edgewater Park is one of Cleveland’s premier parks.  On the edge of Lake Erie, the park offers so many wonderful things in its 147 acres.  It has over 9000 feet of shoreline offering some splendid views of the lake, a nice view of downtown Cleveland and more.  I love visiting there for the scenic views and for photos of the birds.

8th Wonder Brewery, Houston, Texas

8th Wonder Brewery, Houston, Texas

In 1965, the Houston Astrodome was opened and was one of the biggest sports venues of its type.  It was given the nickname “The 8th Wonder of the World.” The 8th Wonder Brewery took on this name in 2013 when they opened their brewery in the eastern part of downtown Houston.  If you like craft beer, then you would want to visit here.   But, the property also has a huge Houston sign, four 30 foot tall sculptures of the Beatles (see my post about them here), and the entire area for a few blocks has dozens of unique street art and murals.

EAT Signs – Vinita, Oklahoma, Houston, Texas and Uranus, Missouri

EAT Sign in Vinita, Oklahoma on Route 66
EAT Sign in Uranus, Missouri on Route 66
Eat Sign at Star Pizza in Houston, Texas

Over the years I have been building up my collection of EAT signs that I come across.  I think I have over a dozen.  I captured three of them in my 2018 travels as shown above.  Makes you hungry eh?

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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My Travels in 2018

Life gets so busy. The first two months of 2019 have been exceptionally busy and so I am just now getting to my annual review posts for 2018.

Visiting Route 66 in Oklahoma

At the beginning of 2018 I didn’t have very high hopes for many travel opportunities. I had begun a new job in early October of the previous year and I didn’t have any definitive travel plans. But, I had also learned to roll with things and, as good fortune would have it, 2018 actually became a really good travel year.

Over the course of the year I was able to travel through 26 different states and drove nearly 12,000 miles. I was able to add a plethora of photos (I took over 15,000 travel photos in 2018) and content for use in future blogs and books. Though many of my travels were alone (which I love), I also was able to travel with family on some of the trips (which I also love!).

Morning sky taken between Bend, OR and Brothers, OR (near Millican, OR) on US Hwy 20 heading east.
A sunset scene taken from the Edmonds to Kingston Ferry in Washington
Lovely sunset after a windy day. Taken on a side road of Interstate 70 just east of Abilene, Kansas
Mt. Aetna as seen from US 50 near Monarch Pass, Colorado.
Desert and snow-covered peaks in Nevada

My major trips included:

  1. A trip to Nashville in January to visit with my new employer ComicBook.com. On this trip I also visited the cool and “off-beat” Paradise PointMarketplace
    Welcome to Paradise Point
  2. In late January I made a trip down to Barren River Lake State Park in southern Kentucky to view the sandhill cranes which had migrated down there.
    Sandhill Cranes take flight
  3. In February I was asked by son Seth to come down to Cypress, Texas to watch his two sons for a couple of weeks while he and his wife were off on a cruise. The trip south took me through Calvert City, KY where I visited the Apple Valley Toy Land and Hillbilly Gardens. I also found my way to Kenton, Arkansas, home of the white squirrels, then to historic Walnut Ridge, Arkansas to see some fun Beatle’s things. I then meandered my way into Louisiana and visited a few fun places. While in Cypress with the boys I also visited Austin and then took the boys venturing out on some of the back roads around the Houston area where we discovered some fun places. My return trip took me up to Keller, Texas to visit my sister and while there I found a few more fascinating places. I then made my way home through Oklahoma and Arkansas, traveling back roads all the way and discovering some fun places. I finally returned to Lexington at the end of February.                                                                                               
    Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden – Calvert City, Kentucky
    Sumoflam with the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, AR
    The Beatles in Houston, statues by Houston artist David Adickes
  4. March saw me again on the road for a quick trip up to Cleveland, Ohio. On this trip, with my wife, we visited sites in Cleveland and then on the way home stopped in Columbus to see the famed Topiary Garden Park. It was a quick, yet fun and interesting trip. 
    Topiary Garden Park of Columbus
  5. On April 2 I set off on one of the biggest road trips I have had in a couple of years. We had a family event taking place in Port Orchard, Washington. I drove while my wife flew (she had a tighter schedule and needed to take some PTO time). I set out heading west through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. I had hoped to go up through Minnesota, but a major snowstorm diverted much of my initial plan. Nonetheless, I always find something. This trip allowed me to visit seven different Peter Toth “Whispering Giants” , which also took me to other unique places along the way. I ultimately made my way through Iowa Falls, Cedar Rapids, northern South Dakota and overnight in Belle Fourche. I then headed northwest into snowy southeastern Montana and crossed the state from there through Bozeman, Butte, Missoula and overnight in scenic and touristy Wallace, Idaho. From Wallace I made my way to Spokane and then east on US 2, to complete my travels on the western portion of that highway (other parts I had driven on in previous road trips. This took me through Washington’s high desert and then into the Cascades and back down into apple orchard country. I ultimately made my way into the Seattle area. The return trip went down through Olympia and then into Oregon on US 101 and then across Oregon’s high desert, through Winnemucca, Nevada and then into my old stomping grounds in Murray, Utah, near Salt Lake City. I then ventured to Colorado Springs to see my son Solomon and then across Colorado’s high deserts into western Kansas, and finally back home through St. Louis and Louisville. It was an amazing two week adventure! 
    Visiting the Whispering Giant at Starving Rock State Park in Illinois
    One of over 200 sculptures from around Raymond, Washington
    A stretch of Oregon Highway 205 south of Burns, Oregon
    Leavenworth, Washington
    Snow walls taller than me on both sides of the road at Stevens Pass in Washington
    Helper, Utah
    Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere near Chamberlain, South Dakota
    Men’s Room Door at a gas station in Ashland, Montana
    US Hwy 101 in southern Washington
    Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs, Colorado
    On the road somewhere in NW Nevada
  6. I didn’t really venture out on a road trip again until mid-June when my wife and I took a day long trip up to Cincinnati to see some things we hadn’t done before. It was a nice sightseeing adventure.
    A day trip to Cincinnati with my wife
    The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge as seen from Carew Tower in Cincinnati. When opened on December 1, 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057 feet main span.
  7. In late July I was joined by my oldest grandchild Autumn for a fun adventure to Cypress, Texas. I was again asked to babysit my two granddsons for about ten days. Autumn and I meandered our way down there through Tennessee and Alabama down to the gulf coast and into Biloxi, Mississippi. We traveled along the Gulf Coast into Louisiana and eventually into Texas. While in Texas, the four of us made a few trips as well, including a day-long adventure to the weird city of Austin. Autumn and I then returned home through central Texas and up to Keller to stay with my sister and allow Autumn to hang with her cousin, who is the same age. After a couple of days in Keller, Autumn and I returned home through Oklahoma, Kansas and into Missouri, where we visited the unique touristy place called Uranus and then finally home. It was an amazing fun trip.
    Sharkhead in Biloxi, Mississippi
    Decatur, Texas
    Welcome to Uranus Missouri
    Getting stabbed in Bowie, Texas
    One of hundreds of frog statues in Rayne, Louisiana
    Peach Water Tower in Clanton, Alabama
    One of a number of murals in a section of Houston
    Vulcan Statue, one of America’s tallest, in Birmingham, Alabama
    Woody Guthrie Water Towers in Okemah, Oklahoma

    Over the next few posts, I will try to catch up with content about different themes…road scenes, wood art, murals, roadside attractions and more.

    I hope you will enjoy the ride with me as I revisit these adventures.

Have you seen my most recent book yet? “Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions” is available on Amazon!

The book is 130 pages of FULL COLOR whimsy and kitsch as I tell stories of my visits to these places all over the U.S. and Canada. Definitely was fun taking these back roads trips to quirkville and I am excited to share them with you in words and photos.   I hope you will be able to check out the book or even get it on Kindle.

You can order the book here:   See Offbeat and Quirky Roadside Attractions

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Experiencing Old-Timey Decatur, Texas

Heading north out of Keller, Texas on US 287 you can enjoy a scenic ride and make your way into the town of Decatur, Texas.  Named after naval hero Stephen Decatur, the town was originally set up in 1856 and eventually was a stopover for ranchers and herders on the Chisholm Trail.

The old Eighter from Decatur Sign

By 1882, the railway came into Decatur from Fort Worth.  It was apparently at that time a gambling railway worker was talking about a female from Decatur and coined the phrase an “Eighter from Decatur,” which has stuck around ever since.

Welcome to Decatur sign

Today, the peaceful little town still draws traffic from ranchers and railway folk, but also from tourists trying to relive the olden days…like me.

The old Decatur Petrified Wood Gas Station with the Texas Cafe in the background

Sumoflam at the Petrified Wood Station

One of the really nostalgic points is the old Petrified Wood Gas Station as you come into town.  In 1927 a keen businessman named E.F. Boydston purchased a former feed lot in order to build a wooden shed and a gas station.   Boydston allowed people to stopover and camp there and eventually even built some cabins. As the highway was widened in the mid-1930s, Boydston added more cabins, a garage and other buildings and then made them sturdier by adding petrified wood as a facing on the buildings. Auto News Center offers upgrade and makeover ideas to help you create a clean and well-functioning garage.  The entire complex was eventually named Texas Plaza.

Texas Plaza Neon Sign in Decatur, TX

No Gas
No Gas

He also built a one-room frame building next door in 1929 and called it the Texas Lunchroom.  In 1935 they renamed it the Texas Cafe and faced it with the same petrified wood to match the other buildings.  It is now called the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Whistle Stop Cafe in Decatur, Texas. Formerly the Texas Cafe

Texaco Gas Pumps at Petrified Wood Station

Here’s a sign you don’t see anymore in the U.S.

Another view of the Petrified Wood Station

Today the complex is a unique example of the early days of automobile tourism.  I recall the 1960s and going to gas stations similar to this.  I really enjoyed the nostalgia.  And Decatur has taken advantage of that as there are two other nostalgic gas stations in town.

Old Sinclair Station – Decatur, Texas

Old Gulf Station in Decatur, Texas

Old Gulf Pump – Decatur

Old Sinclair Pump in Decatur, TX

Have you seen my new book yet? “Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions” is now available on Amazon!

The book is 130 pages of FULL COLOR whimsy and kitsch as I tell stories of my visits to these places all over the U.S. and Canada. Definitely was fun taking these back roads trips to quirkville and I am excited to share them with you in words and photos.

 

I hope you will be able to check out the book or even get it on Kindle. You can order the book here:

SEE NEW BOOK

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