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

 

DBanner

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

 

GBanner

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

 

HBanner

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

 

IBanner

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

 

JBanner

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

 

KBanner

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

 

LBanner

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

 

OBanner

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

 

PBanner

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

 

SBanner

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

 

TBanner

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

 

UBanner

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 E 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  what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

E The E Towns

Earth, Texas

Welcome to Earth, Texas
Welcome to Earth, Texas
Yes, there is Earth Police
Yes, there is Earth Police
Old Earth Welcome sign
Old Earth Welcome sign

I finally visited Earth.  All of my travels and I had never been there.  Yes, there is a town called Earth and it is in Texas.  The town is on US Highway 70, east of the New Mexico border in far west Texas.  The community only has about 1000 residents, but is big in advertising Earth.  There is even an Earth Police Car.  See my original post on Earth, Texas from 2011 HERE.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel, America's Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Crescent Hotel, America’s Most Haunted in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Thorncrown Chapel
Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR…totally made of glass and steel
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I was on another Texas trip in November 2012 with my wife. On the way home, after a long day,  we decided to find a hotel in a nearby town.  We used our phones to find us a place close by and were given Eureka Springs, Arkansas and the Crescent Hotel.  Lo and behold, when we arrived, we found out that the Crescent Hotel is considered the most haunted hotel in America.  They even give haunted tours nightly.  And, I swear, we did see an apparition in our room.  We asked “Lucy, Lucy, what did you die for?” and she said “Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.”  Eureka Springs is a very unique and touristy location with some lovely eateries, lots of gift shops and more.  We had a nice breakfast at the Mud Street Cafe, located in a basement.  Great food and great atmosphere.

Elbe, Washington

Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Elbe Railroad Station
Old Elbe Railroad Station
Small Elbe Church
Small Elbe Church

We visited our daughter and her family in Port Orchard, WA in the summer of 2015.  During our visit we went many places and, on one of the road trips from Mt. Rainier National Park, we stopped in the very small community of Elbe, Washington for dinner.  The town only has a population of under 30, but operates a huge dinner train…the kind that is stationary.  Called the Mt. Rainier Dining Company, it provided a great meal in our own private dining car.  The town also has a small church (see here).  You can read more about that trip and see more photos HERE.

Easton, Pennsylvania

Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Eaton, PA
Seth and Amaree play with GIANT Crayons at the Crayola Museum in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA
Amaree and Seth at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA

Way back in the late 1990s, we had occasion to take our daughter to participate in an all-star chorus in Europe.  We had to drop her off in Pennsylvania.  Along the way, we visited the fun town of Easton, Pennsylvania and their Crayola Factory.  Back then they also had a PEZ Museum, but it is no longer there.

Eldon, Iowa

Eldon, Iowa - Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
Eldon, Iowa – Home of the Grant Wood Gothic House
American Gothic House Sign
American Gothic House Sign
The American Gothic House
The American Gothic House
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA
Sumoflam at American Gothic House Center in Eldon, IA

I was on a five day trip to Omaha with my daughter in 2014.  We took a few days to sight see on the way there and back.  One of the places we made our way to was Eldon, Iowa. This community of less than 1000 that sits along the Des Moines River, is like many other midwestern communities, quaint and well kept.  It was an old railroad town. But, this one offered something most don’t have…an opportunity to visit the actual house featured in the world famous (and oft parodied) American Gothic House.  You can see more about our Iowa visit and the Gothic House HERE.

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
Welcome to Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
The Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor, WI
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor
Ahoy matey...how about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI
Ahoy matey…how about some lunch at the Shipwrecked Brew Pub in Egg Harbor, WI

Another trip with a different daughter and granddaughter was taken in 2013 as we ventured to Wisconsin for fun.  On that adventure we made our way into Egg Harbor, Wisconsin on the Eastern Peninsula of the state.  Among all of the lighthouses, this lovely community offered scenic views, shots of seagulls and unique shops and eateries.  We ate at the Shipwrecked Pub/Inn and also visited the Chocolate Chicken for desert. You can see the whole story HERE.

East Peoria, Illinois

Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl's Bakery in E. Peoria
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria
M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, IL
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, IL

East Peoria, Illinois is one of those towns with a lot of quirkiness.  Drive along US Hwy 24 and US Hwy 150 through town and it is much like a Route 66 drive.  There are big animal statues along the route and then there is fun M & M’s Twistee Treat Ice Cream place.

Embro, Ontario, Canada (Honorable mention)

Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Embro, Ontario, home of the Highland Games
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario
Richards Sope on side of Hardware Store in Embro, Ontario

As I have noted in other posts, during 2008 I worked in Woodstock, Ontario at the Toyota plant as a Japanese interpreter.  During my time off, I traveled throughout much of southern Ontario.  One of the towns I enjoyed visiting was Embro, which is in the larger township of Zorra.  Embro is home of the Highland Games, a  large event run by the Zorra Caledonian Society since the 1930s to perpetuate “the spirit, music and games of Scotland”.   A great little community and a fun taste of Scotland in the hills of Oxford County, Ontario.

Eagle, Colorado (Honorable Mention)

Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado
Mountain Scene from Eagle, Colorado

I included Eagle, Colorado in this due to the spectacular views from this town.  It is located down the freeway from Vail.  I stayed there one evening in 2013 and it was a lovely little town in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.  You can see the entire trip report HERE.

Endeavor, Wisconsin (Honorable mention)

Endeavor, WI
Endeavor, WI

And finally, just had to add this one because of the name.  I visited Endeavor on the same trip as Egg Harbor (see above).

Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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Washington State: Mt. Rainier National Park

DSC_5960Our last couple of days in Washington and we finally made it to Mt. Rainier National Park.  This was a fabulous day trip from Port Orchard and we were blessed with amazing weather.

DSC_5963For this trip we headed south to Tacoma and then eventually made our way to WA 410 and to the small picturesque town of  Enumclaw.  We had a couple of hours to get there, so we stopped for a play break for the kids and a stretch break for the adults.  We found a nice park that afforded us all some time to get stretched and even take a few photos.

Livvy climbs the ropes to the top in a ark in Enumclaw
Livvy climbs the ropes to the top in a ark in Enumclaw
Kade having fun
Kade having fun
Hanging with kids in Enumclaw
Hanging with kids in Enumclaw
Benson hanging around
Benson hanging around
Charles just playing
Charles just playing
Grampz and Bensie
Grampz and Bensie
White River runs along WA 410 near Greenwater, WA
White River runs along WA 410 near Greenwater, WA

From Enumclaw we continued west on 410, also called the “Chinook Byway,” along the White River to Greenwater, WA.  The historic Naches Trail brought ox and horse drawn wagons through this area carrying early settlers west. Many years later, touring cars carried early visitors through Greenwater to the newly dedicated Mt. Rainier National Park.  Today, this place

Old Naches Trail Sign
Old Naches Trail Sign

is a dot on the map with a couple of touristy stops and a bar/cafe. Lots of Sasquatch carvings around the place as well.  By the time we got to Greenwater, everyone was hungry.  So we stopped at a place called Naches Tavern to get some lunch.  They had a nice picnic area on the side (the kids couldn’t go into the tavern portion) and actually had a pretty good menu.

Naches Tavern
Naches Tavern
Find the Sasquatch
Find the Sasquatch
10 foot tall Sasquatch carving at Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA
10 foot tall Sasquatch carving at Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA

DSC_6051Naches Tavern is a rustic old place and has apparently been around as a watering hole since the early 20th Century. The inside is decorated with old memorabilia of the Naches Trail and a covering of dollar bills all over the walls.

Naches Tavern 1
Naches Tavern 1
Old telephone sign in Naches Tavern
Old telephone sign in Naches Tavern
Dollar Bills on the walls at Naches Tavern
Dollar Bills on the walls at Naches Tavern
I found a Davey Dollar in Naches Tavern!
I found a Davey Dollar in Naches Tavern!
No Pets Allowed...notice what the pets look like!
No Pets Allowed…notice what the pets look like!

After lunch we were back on WA 410 heading towards Mt. Rainier National Park.  Chalk up another National Park visit for me!

Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA

The drive on 410 offers up some wonderful scnic views of Mt. Rainier but also of other mountains.  We got to a wonderful overlook near Naches Peak Overlook called the Tipsoo Lake Parking Area.

Panorama of Tipsoo Lake Parking Area near Naches Peak Trail
Panorama of Tipsoo Lake Parking Area near Naches Peak Overlook
Cowlitz Chimneys as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking area
Cowlitz Chimneys as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking area
Wildflowers near Tipsoo Lake
Wildflowers near Tipsoo Lake

From the parking area there is  a wonderful easy trail that walks along the ridge allowing a great view of Tipsoo Lake as well as wildflowers and wildlife.  We all walked that trail to the point where it started a decline down to the lake.  We wanted to get to Mt. Rainier, so we only went that far.  Along the walk I got some great closeup shots of birds in action, a chipmunk scurrying off and then the breathtaking view of Tipsoo Lake.

Birds on trail to Tipsoo Lake
Bird on trail to Tipsoo Lake
A chipmunk scurries to hide from my camera. Caught it just in time.
A chipmunk scurries to hide from my camera. Caught it just in time.
Mt. Rainier as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking lot
Mt. Rainier as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking lot
Another bird caught on the trail
Another bird caught on the trail
AA view of Tipsoo Lake as seen from the trail
AA view of Tipsoo Lake as seen from the trail
Sumoflam at Tipsoo Lake
Sumoflam at Tipsoo Lake
More wildflowers
More wildflowers
Family all walking along the trail from Tipsoo Lake
Family all walking along the trail from Tipsoo Lake
A Halo surrounds Mt. Rainier
A Halo surrounds Mt. Rainier

DSC_6178After our little hiking break we were back on the road to return to Cayuse Pass and then north to visit the Sunrise Visitor’s Center.  This location offered some amazing views of Mt. Rainier as well as of the Cowlitz Chimneys.  This is also the highest point that can be reached by vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park.

Sumoflam and Mt. Rainier from Sunrise
Sumoflam and Mt. Rainier from Sunrise
View of more of the Cascades
View of more of the Cascades
Stevens Canyon
Stevens Canyon

From Sunrise, we headed back to 410 and south to Cayuse Pass and WA 123 which would take us into Stevens Canyon and then around the east end of the mountain on the windy road towards Paradise.

Winding road to Paradise
Winding road to Paradise

We reached Paradise and it most certainly matched the name. Splendid views of the mountain.

Paradise is not as high up as Sunset, but it still offered a different perspective of Rainier and the Cascades.

Mt. Rainier from Paradise
Mt. Rainier from Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
One of many waterfalls seen along WA 123
One of many waterfalls seen along WA 123
Deer on the road from Paradise
Deer on the road from Paradise
Giant redwoods surrounded the highway
Giant redwoods surrounded the highway
Pine forests.
Pine forests.

After visiting the mountain we were soon on our way back to Port Orchard via Longmire, WA on WA 706 and then on to Elbe, WA.  The road was lined with giant redwoods and other tall trees.  It was a splendid drive.

WA 123 heading to Elbe, WA
WA 123 heading to Elbe, WA

Once in Elbe, we stopped for dinner at the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. to eat in an old Railroad Car.  It would be a fun experience for all  of us!

Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Dining Car at Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company
Dining Car at Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company

The Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company includes a caboose motel (The Hobo Inn), a gift shop, the Cascadian Dinner Train and a restaurant and lounge.  Great for railroad buffs, the Cascadian Dinner Train, once known as the American Freedom Train, apparently toured the country with 26 cars displaying over 500 treasures of Americana.  It was a unique place for all of us to eat.

Making friends at the entrance of the Dining Car
Making friends at the entrance of the Dining Car
Caboose Motel - the Hobo Inn
Caboose Motel – the Hobo Inn
Scaleburgers, across the street from the Dining Train.
Scaleburgers, across the street from the Dining Train.  Apparently known for great burgers, hot dogs and shakes.
We got to eat in the "luxurious" Silver Palace Car
We got to eat in the “luxurious” Silver Palace Car
All of us in the Silver Palace Car for dinner
All of us in the Silver Palace Car for dinner
Elbe Church
Elbe Church, Elbe, WA

Elbe is also know for its historic Elbe Church.  This tiny (18-by-24 foot) church sits on its original location and has a rich German heritage.  It bears the name of the founders’ origin, the Elbe River valley near Hamburg, Germany.  The church has been around since 1906. Forged by the town’s first blacksmith, a 4-foot iron cross tops the 46-foot steeple, which houses the first bell.  The church still features its original altar and elevated pulpit as well as one of the hand-carved pews. Lettered prominently on the steeple of the landmark Elbe Lutheran Church is “Ev. Luth. KIRCHE” (Evangelische Lutherische Kirche), a reminder of the founders’ German origins.

Alder Lake near Elbe, WA
Alder Lake near Elbe, WA

From Elbe, we drove along the eerily picturesque and spooky Alder Lake.

The lake is dotted with old tree stumps and is really kind of “out of this world” looking.  And, some of these are really quite huge stumps.  Quite an amazing site after all of the magnificent trees we had seen throughout the day.

Alder Lake stumps near Elbe, WA
Alder Lake stumps near Elbe, WA

Finally, as we approached the small town of Eatonville, we got one fabulous view of Mt. Rainier, which, in my opinion, was probably the highlight photo of my entire 10 day visit to Washington!

Closeup shot of Mt. Rainier form near Eatonville, WA
Closeup shot of Mt. Rainier form near Eatonville, WA
Another Rainier view from near Eatonville, WA
Another Rainier view from near Eatonville, WA

It was a glorious day of travel and a wonderfully scenic drive around one of America’a most amazing mountains!!

 

 

 

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