A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The F Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Feely, Montana

Feely, Montana

Fiberglass Snowman – Lewisburg, West Virginia

Huge snowman in Lewisburg, WV

Fireplace of States – Bemidji, Minnesota

Fireplace of States in Bemidji, MN

Fat Smitty’s – Port Townsend, Washington

Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s ceiling covered with money.

Futuro Flying Saucer House – Covington, Kentucky

The Futuro House in Covington, KY

Four Corners – Teec Nos Pos, Arizona

Four Corners – July 15, 1993

Frank L. White Grave Marker (The Cream of Wheat Guy) – Leslie, Michigan

Grave Marker of Frank L. White, the man featured on Cream of Wheat boxes.  In Woodlawn Cemetery, Leslie, MI

Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho

Frostop Drive-in – Ashton, ID

Fair Play, South Carolina

Fair Play SC
Fair Play, SC

Fisherman’s Wharf – San Francisco, California

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

Fayetteville, West Virginia

The Hobbit Hole – a unique and quirky shop in Fayetteville, WV

Fisherman’s Dream – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Fisherman’s Dream, one of the many Ginormous scrap metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway
Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream” on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

First Church of Peculiar – Peculiar, Missouri

First Church of Peculiar – A Peculiar Church in Peculiar, MO

Fox in the Snow – Grand Teton National Park

Fox on Snow in Grand Teton National Park

Flippin, Arkansas

Flippin, Arkansas
Flippin Police
Flippin Christian Church

Fallasburg Covered Bridge – Fallasburg, MI

Fallasburg Covered Bridge, Fallasburg, MI

Fourway, Texas

Buffalo Mural in Fourway, Texas
Sign to Fourway, Texas

Forest Fire Department – Forest, Mississippi

Forest Fire Department, Forest, MS

Flatrock Coffee – Nashville, Tennessee

Had lunch at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville. Great food and a large collection of one of a kind Antsy McClain art on coffee cups
Antsy McClain art on Coffee Cups — one of dozens of original pieces on display at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville

Flying Saucer Monument – Mars, Pennsylvania

Flying Saucer in main town square in Mars, PA

Friendship, Arkansas

Found Friendship in Arkansas
Friendship Police Department

Frank Sinatra Park – Hoboken, New Jersey

Blue Eyes Pizza and Gelato in Frank Sinatra Park

Flower Man House – Houston, Texas

Flower Man House – Houston, Texas

Fly, Ohio

Fly, Ohio

Future City, Illinois

Sign to Future City, Illinois…I guess it is not there yet??

Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan

Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan

Frog Pond Bar-B-Que – Frog Pond, Tennessee

Frog Pond Bar-B-Que – Frog Pond, Tennessee

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas
Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim

Flood Wall Murals – Paducah, Kentucky; Jeffersonville, Indiana; Point Pleasant, West Virginia; Portsmouth, Ohio

Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah
One of the many flood wall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
Dafford’s History Mural on flood wall in Point Pleasant, WV
Chillicothe Street 1940s by Robert Dafford in Portsmouth, OH

Fort Worth Stockyards – Fort Worth, Texas

Pecos Bill, the giant longhorn for photo ops at the Fort Worth Stockyards
Cowboys – Fort Worth, Texas

Floodwood Catfish – Floodwood, Minnesota

A Catfish monument in Floodwood, MN where they claim to be the Catfish Capital of the World

Friendly, West Virginia

Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

Fort Steuben – Steubenville, Ohio

Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
Historic Fort Steuben

Findlay Market – Cincinnati, Ohio

Findlay Market, Cincinnati
Sumoflam at Findlay Market in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati

Frontier Bar & Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club

Mount Fuji – Fuji City, Japan

Mt. Fuji framed by Japanese flag, ca. 1978
Mt. Fuji in the trees and clouds (ca. 1978)

Flower Bed Art – What Cheer, Iowa

A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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O is for Offbeat Oddities – #atozchallenge

For me there is a difference between “Offbeat” and “Quirky.”  I like to look at things that are offbeat as being similar to something conventional or recognizable, but just somewhat off.  On the other hand, quirky is closer to non-conventional and sometimes even absurd (my Q post will focus on Quirky).

Oddville, Kentucky

When I am traveling I love looking at the beauty and nature around me, but I also seek out the offbeat and quirky.  One source I always use to help me find these locations is the Roadside America app. This app covers all 50 states and most of Canada and includes almost anything offbeat, odd, quirky and even downright outlandish and ridiculous. There are literally 1000s of sites and things to find and this makes for something fun on a roadtrip.

Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati
Mushroom House front side

So, what do I mean by offbeat?  Let’s take houses for instance.  The normal home is brick and mortar, or a trailer home.  But how about a flying saucer or a house that looks like mushrooms?  A trip to the Cincinnati area offers up both of these.

First, there is a house in Cincinnati literally referred to as the “Mushroom House.”  It is built almost completely out of either natural materials or recycled materials.

It is like a house…it is a house.  But it certainly looks different than the “normal” human abode.

A view of Cincinnati’s Mushroom House
Beam Me Up Scotty at the Front Door of Futuro House

Then there are the homes that look like flying saucers.  Called “Futuro” homes, there were many built in the 1960s by a company in Finland.

Across the river from Cincinnati, on a hill in Covington, KY overlooking the Ohio River and US Interstate 75, sits a Futuro House.  It is in a regular neighborhood and stands out like a sore thumb.  If you look carefully off to your right from the Interstate driving south out of Cincinnati right after crossing the Ohio River, you will see it.

The Futuro House in Covington, KY
Beer Can House, Houston, TX

Finally, take a tripdown to Houston for another Offbeat house…the house built totally out of Beer Cans!

Basically done as an art project, this house is also lived in and is built out of 1000s of aluminum beer cans.

I think the owner’s name must be Bud Weiser??

Beer Can House Front
Beer Can House
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

But houses aren’t the only offbeat places.  If one looks hard the discovery of offbeat eateries can also come to the fore.  Like the houses, these are normal in most respects, but there is just something a tad different.

For instance, there is a great place in Portland, Oregon called Voodoo Doughnut.  The main shop (yes, there are now a few of them) is located downtown and there are lines there 24/7.  They make a great variety of doughnuts and even a few offbeat ones, such as the actual Voodoo Doughnut, which is a person shaped doughnut, covered with chocolate and filled with raspberry filling.  It is stabbed with a pretzel stick…yes, like a Voodoo Doll!

The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stick!
It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

Then there is the other offbeat thing…the original shop also has a chapel and some of the bakers are ALSO ordained ministers.  You can be married at Voodoo Doughnut legally and be surrounded by chapel-esque stained glass and everything!

Voodoo Doughnut Stained Glass
Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie
Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls

Head on over to Missouri for another unique treat.  There is a restaurant in Ozark, Missouri (and another near Branson) called Lambert’s Cafe.  These huge facilities cater to tourists and buses.  They offer a variety of yummy meals and have a few things served “home style” – wheeled in on carts and served out of pots at the table (including black-eyed peas, potatoes, tomato stew and more).

But what really makes them famous are their “Throwed Rolls.” And this is where they fit into the Offbeat category.  Literally, they come to the middle of an area in the restaurant, ask who wants rolls and then throw them across the room to you.  You miss them, too bad…

Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place
The Throwed Rolls with Sorghum – yummy!

Then there is the offbeat looking restaurant in Mississippi with amazing lunch offerings…

Sumoflam at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard Dining Room – Much bigger than it looks on the outside
Sumoflam and MSR Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

Convention gets thrown out the door when visiting a facility just outside of Nekoma, ND.  There is a huge cement pyramid in the middle of nowhere.  Seemingly deserted (but fenced off), this used to be an old military facility.

The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex was the United States’ first operational ABM (anti-ballistic missile) defense system.  The pyramid included radar and other defense systems.  Now unused, it sits in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota and is an imposing offbeat site.

The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility
The famed North Dakota pyramid, a vestige of the cold war, as seen from ND Hwy 1 south of Nekoma, ND

And a bank is a bank is a bank…right?  What about one for tightwads?

Then there is place called Tightwad in MO and they even have a bank!
National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI

Next are museums.  There are hundreds of museums in the United States, but some are more offbeat and unique than others.  Take the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI.  Chock full of mustards from around the world, one can buy a lifetime supply of mustards and never have the same flavor twice.

The original Mustard Museum was located in Mt. Horeb, WI, but later moved to Middleton, to be in a much larger facility. A condiment lover’s  dream.

Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin
MBA Degree (Master of Bad Attitude) from the Mustard Museum’s Poupon University (Poupon U)

There are also other fun museums out there.  How about these?

Jell-o Museum in LeRoy, New York
Spoon Ceiling at JELL-O Museum
Sumoflam at Spam Museum in Austin, MN
Spam Museum Billboard – Austin, MN
Spam Museum – Austin, MN
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID
World’s Largest Potato Chip – 23″ x 14.5″ at the Idaho Potato Museum

And then there is the actual Oddity Place of all Oddity Places… a museum of Oddities in Seattle, WA called “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.”

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA

Finally, what’s in a town?  There are some offbeat towns out there.  Many towns have unique names, but some of these are really offbeat and odd.

Odd, West Virginia Post Office
Oddville United Methodist Church, Oddville, KY
Peculiar, Missouri
A Peculiar Church

Some are totally Uncertain….

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX
Yes, there is a Church of Uncertain!!

And lastly, a town that actually changed its name to a major sponsor…also in Texas.

DISH Town Hall, DISH, Texas
DISH, Texas

Indeed, there is much offbeat in America and this is just a small sampling of the savory and unsavory offbeat oddities of our wonderful country.  Is there anything Normal?

Normal, IL

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