Larry Vennard’s Iron Sculpture Park in Centralia, Missouri

Larry Vennard - Scrap Metal Artist, Centralia, Missouri
Larry Vennard – Scrap Metal Artist, Centralia, Missouri

In September I was traveling back home and on the way had the opportunity to stop at a small farm north of Centralia, Missouri on Highway T to visit scrap metal artist Larry Vennard, see his “Original Highway ‘T’ Rex” and a number of other pieces of his “Outside Art Sculpture Park.”  I mentioned him in my blog post about my trip back from Omaha, Nebraska.  But, he deserves his own blog entry much like my blog post about “Jurustic Park” in Wisconsin.  In the tradition of other “Outside Art”, he has dinosaurs, animals and mythical creatures all made from scrap metal (see one of my most popular posts entitled Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections for more from around the US and Canada).

Larry Vennard's Highway "T" Rex near Centralia, MO
Larry Vennard’s Highway ‘T’ Rex north of  Centralia, MO

We had to really fly from a late afternoon arrival in Chillicothe to get to Larry’s place on 13178 Highway T in Centralia.  But we did get there just at dusk and I got to meet Larry and learn more about his work.  He has been doing these sculptures for a number of years and really loves the attention he gets.  When we arrived and got out for a look see, the jovial Larry strolled out of his small farmhouse to greet me (along with his barking dog).  Larry suffered a disastrous car accident in the early 1990s.  He got a broken back that forced him to retire from his traveling construction work.  He walked out with a cane and a nice smile.

Sumoflam and Larry Vennard at his Iron Sculpture Park
Sumoflam and Larry Vennard at his Iron Sculpture Park

Here is the map to his place:


View Larger Map – map to Larry Vennard’s Iron Sculpture Park

If you look at Google Maps, it actually provides you a nice quick shot as can be seen below:

Larry Vennard’s front yard heading east on Missouri Highway T. You can see the “Highway ‘T’ Rex” on the right

Fortunately, we arrived just at dusk so I could clearly see all of Larry’s pieces, but, it got dark quickly, so most of the photos below are done with a flash and I tried to edit in some brightness….

Highway "T" Rex
Larry Vennard’s “Highway ‘T’ Rex”
Sumoflam with the Highway "T" Rex
Sumoflam with the “Highway ‘T’ Rex”

Vennard’s “Highway ‘T’ Rex” is about 20 feet tall and is by far his biggest project.  You can’t miss it either as you drive east on Highway T coming from Centralia.  He looks like he is ready to reach out an grab you!!  Following are a few other pieces I was able to capture…

Larry Vennard's "Triceratops"
Larry Vennard’s “Triceratops”
"Shaman" by Larry Vennard
“Shaman” by Larry Vennard
"Javelin Man" by Larry Vennard
“Javelin Man” by Larry Vennard
Another view of "Javelin Man"
Another view of “Javelin Man”
"Archer" by Larry Vennard
“Archer” by Larry Vennard
"Dimetrodon" by Larry Vennard
“Dimetrodon” by Larry Vennard
Dimetrodon's Sharp Teeth - watch out!!
Dimetrodon’s Sharp Teeth – watch out!!
"Missouri Shovel Tailed Fighting Rooster" by Larry Vennard
“Missouri Shovel Tailed Fighting Rooster” by Larry Vennard
Not sure about this one....a Phoenix maybe?
Not sure about this one….a Phoenix maybe?

Larry has a number of other goodies on the grounds.  His is one of those “MUST SEE” places on the back roads of America.  He is a nice, humble man doing what he loves and loving how his work impacts others in a positive way.  I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet Larry Vennard and I hope many of my readers will get the same opportunity!!

(2877)

Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections

Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado

As I travel the backroads of America and Canada I always run across all sorts of what some call “Yard Art”.  Others call it folk art, offbeat art, quirky things, etc.  Well, there is the whimsical and fun, there is the unique and then the downright strange. Some of the sites, like Cadillac Ranch above, are world famous.  Others are in the middle of nowhere and are happenstance and unexpected.  Following is a menagerie of quirky and offbeat whimsy and creativity that I have seen.  Enjoy the ride and see if you have been to any of these places…

SCRAP METAL DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS

Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon - Harrietsville, Ontario
Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon – Harrietsville, Ontario

Perhaps one of the most common types of yard art I see is scrap metal work.  And it seems that dinosaurs and dragons are the most popular.  Here are a few.

(UPDATE II – May 2015: On a recent trip to California, I discovered this great piece called “Horn Dragon” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris. It certainly fits into this post!)

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA

(UPDATE – October 2013: I have found another great scrap metal artist besides those noted below.  Visit my post on Larry Vennard from Centralia, Missouri)

Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram - Glasgow, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram – Glasgow, Montana
Big White Dino made of old car parts - Bertram, Texas
Big White Dino made of old car parts – Bertram, Texas
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops - near Rudyard, Montana
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops – near Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur - work done by Wally Keller - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Dragon - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Dragon – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Small triceratops in someone's yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Small triceratops in someone’s yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Grazing Dinosaur - Harrietsville, Ontario
Grazing Dinosaur – Harrietsville, Ontario
Hungry Dinosaur - Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Hungry Dinosaur – Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Dragon Biting my head off - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Dragon Biting my head off – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon - Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Metal Dragon Head - Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon Head – Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon on a Building - Clayton, New Mexico
Metal Dragon on a Building – Clayton, New Mexico

SCRAP METAL CRITTERS

Barbed Wire Buffalo Head – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Of course, dinosaurs and dragons are not the only creatures (critters) that can be seen out on the road.  Here are a few more scrap metal (found metal) critters from all over…

Big Parrot - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Parrot – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scrap metal buck made from car parts - Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Alligator - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Giant Armadillo - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull - Montrose, South Dakota
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull – Montrose, South Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish - by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish – by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family - by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family – by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

See my complete tour of Enchanted Highway here

Metal Bird - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scrap Metal Horse - Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Horse – Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Ostrich - Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Ostrich – Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Anteater - Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Anteater – Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Turtle - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Turtle – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Horse - Clayton, New Mexico
Big Horse – Clayton, New Mexico
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Flamingo - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Flamingo – Harrietsville, Ontario

SCRAP METAL FOLK

The Tin Family - Enchanted Highway
The Tin Family – Enchanted Highway

Of course, dinos and critters are not the only things made out of scrap metal.  People are too.  Perhaps the biggest and most impressive scrap metal people I have ever seen are the three that comprise the “Tin Family” at the end of the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (if driving from I-94 or first one if driving from Regent, ND).  The Dad is 45 feet tall, Mom is 44 feet tall and the Tin Kid is 23 feet tall.  But, there are many more that are unique.  Here are a few scrap metal folk found on the road…

Greedy Attorney - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse - Sod House Museum - Gothenburg, Nebraska
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band - Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band – Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal Farmer - Oil City, Ontario
Scrap Metal Farmer – Oil City, Ontario
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Big Scrap Metal Soldier - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Scrap Metal Soldier – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors - Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 – Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty - Hamtamck, Michigan
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty – Hamtamck, Michigan
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player - Bertram, Texas
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player – Bertram, Texas

Then there is the most magnificent of all scrap metal art pieces, the World’s Largest (according to the Guinness Book of World Recrod’s).  This is at the entry of the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota:

Geese in Flight - World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture - Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota
Geese in Flight – World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture – Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota

CHAIN SAW ART

Chainsaw Guy - Alpena, Arkansas
Chainsaw Guy – Alpena, Arkansas

Obviously, scrap metal is not the only medium used in the creation of yard art.  There is a ton of work don with chain saws and wood.  I have seen hundreds of pieces dot the country.  Here are a few from all over…

Wooden Bear Totem Pole - Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Crusty Old Man
Crusty Old Man – Pauly’s Backwoods Gifts and Chainsaw Carvings – Gateway, Arkansas
Wooden Eagle - Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Eagle – Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Piano Playing Crow - Winter Wheat - Sparta, Ontario
Wooden Piano Playing Crow – Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
Relaxing Bears - Sawtooth City, Idaho
Relaxing Bears – Sawtooth City, Idaho
Climbing Bears - Robbins Amazing Art - Ridgetown, Ontario
Climbing Bears – Robbins Amazing Art – Ridgetown, Ontario
Big Indian - Blackwater, missouri
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Big Moose - Shelby, Nebraska
Big Moose – Shelby, Nebraska
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Another Mt. Horeb Troll - for good measure
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different.  I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Wooden Mermaid - Robbins Art - Ontario
Wooden Mermaid – Robbins Art – Ontario
Lady - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Lady – Sharon, Pennsylvania

The epitome of Chain Saw Art is the Chain Saw Totem Pole forest in Medford, Wisconsin.  Chainsaw Gordy has gone to a whole new cut above…. 21 poles with nearly 400 chainsaws in them, all done by Gordy Lekies.

Chainsaw Gordy - near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Gordy – near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole – Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Forest
Chainsaw Forest

MAILBOXES AS PART OF THE ARTWORK

Milk Can Mailbox - near Burke, South Dakota
Milk Can Mailbox – near Burke, South Dakota

Though not nearly as prevalent as Chain Saw art and metal art, there are the occasional unique mailboxes to be seen on the back roads of America.  I have passed dozens of plastic John Deere mailboxes, fish and cow mailboxes, etc., but then there are the really unique ones….

Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Knot Normal Mailbox - Peebles, Ohio
Knot Normal Mailbox – Peebles, Ohio
Antler Mailbox - Thornton, Idaho
Antler Mailbox – Thornton, Idaho
Chainsaw Mailbox - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Mailbox – Medford, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox - Dunkirk, Montana
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox – Dunkirk, Montana

TOTALLY JUNKED OUT PLACES

Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, Michigan
Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, Michigan

Folk art abounds in this country, but there are some who have taken it to excess with knick-knacks, whirly-gigs, old toys, old stuff and more…and all in one place.  Some in the name of art and some just to, well, have a place for their stuff.  Though I have seen many across the country, here are some of the more outlandish examples (with two or three shots from each place)

Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, MI
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, MI
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland

Moving on to Woodstock, Ontario and Cliff Bruce’s Windmill Hill, another menagerie of the unusual….(see my writeup here)

Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate - Woodstock, Ontario
Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate – Woodstock, Ontario
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill

Meander to Lesage, West Virginia and you can enjoy huge hot dogs while perusing the “collection” of things at Hillbilly Hot Dogs (see a slide show I did a few years ago)

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Then there is the Flower Man House in Houston, Texas. Built by a man who had been a homeless alcoholic for years, he decided to turn his life around and began putting together his interestingly eccentric colorful house, which sits in an otherwise bland neighborhood.

Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! - Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! – Houston, Texas

And just around the corner from the Flower Man’s House is another quirky place – the Law Offices of Tim Hootman.  His office is in a brightly colored boxcar and has some unique art sitting outside the place.  Really funky…

Tim Hootman Law Office - Houston, Texas
Tim Hootman Law Office – Houston, Texas
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car - Jim Hootman
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car – Jim Hootman
This babe greets you at Hootman's Law Office
This babe greets you at Hootman’s Law Office
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman's law office in Houston, Texas
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman’s law office in Houston, Texas

If these are not quirky enough, how about this place in Lima, Montana…is it a shop, a restaurant, a hotel or just someone’s knick-knack collection?  It was closed, so I couldn’t really find out….

"Not the Hotel California" in Lima, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Sign is a Saw Blade
Sign is a Saw Blade
Stuff in front of the "shop" in Lima, Montana
Stuff in front of the “shop” in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana

If you liked the place in Lima, how about the Junk Store in Buena Vista, Colorado?  This place seems to everything (you may not want or need)!!

Darndest Store in Town - Buena Vista, Colorado
Darndest Store in Town – Buena Vista, Colorado
Lots of Stuff at this store
Lots of Stuff at this store
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado

I came across this fence in Parker, Idaho… completely made of roadsigns

Sign fence - Parker, Idaho
Sign fence – Parker, Idaho

In the small town of What Cheer, Iowa, a lady has gussied up her yard with old wheels, implements and even has a real “flower bed”!

Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

Came across this little “health food store” in Gardner, Colorado, called H Food Store – Huajatollas Foods (see YouTube Video):

H. Food Store - Gardner, Colorado
H. Food Store – Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla's Foods in Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla’s Foods in Gardner, Colorado

And finally, we discovered a couple of places on a back road in central Kentucky.  We took Highway 77 (Nada Tunnel Road) and first came across a barn with a hubcap collection:

Hubcap Barn - Central Kentucky
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky

And we also came across this house near Orlando, Kentucky

House near Orlando, Kentucky
House near Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky

Finally, this unique house in Talent, Oregon along with their Shoe Tree:

Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon

(13067)

Road Trip: Dallas to Lexington, KY via Branson, MO

Metals Horses in Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen in Durant, Oklahoma

After being gone for nearly a month in Idaho and then a few days in Dallas for work in mid June (2013), I took the final leg of this adventure and a two day trip to return home to Lexington via Branson, Missouri, where my wife was visiting with her sister.  This would turn out to be another fun adventure as I traveled through Oklahoma and the Ozarks.  Following is the route I took for the trip.  I left in the afternoon and arrived about midnight in Branson.


View Larger Map – Dallas, TX to Branson, MO

I headed straight up US 75 to Denison and while there at least got a glimpse of the HUGE Eisenhower statue that can be seen off of the freeway.  I took a photo of it while driving by, so it is not as good as I would have hoped.

Eisenhower statue in Denison, TX - Burthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower statue in Denison, TX – Birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower

I continued north on US 75 until it turned into US 69 as I crossed into Oklahoma and made my way into Durant, Oklahoma. Durant is one of those unique small towns that brings me so much enjoyment in travel.

Bench in Durant, Oklahoma
Bench in Durant, Oklahoma

Durant is in the Choctaw Nation and is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.  It is in a very nice area near lakes and rolling hills.  There are colorful horses dotting the town and some other surprises as well!!

Painted Horse in Durant, Oklahoma
Painted Horse in Durant, Oklahoma
A painted horse in Durant, Oklahoma
A painted horse in Durant, Oklahoma
A painted horse with Native American designs in Durant, Oklahoma
A painted horse with Native American designs in Durant, Oklahoma
Old Wall Advertisement in Durant, Oklahoma
Old Wall Advertisement in Durant, Oklahoma

Turns out that Durant, Oklahoma is also home to the “World’s Largest Peanut”, 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.

World's Largest Peanut
World’s Largest Peanut
Sumoflam with Durant's Giant Peanut
Sumoflam with Durant’s Giant Peanut

Finally, on the way out of town I ran into these unique scrap metal horses in a park in Durant. These appear to be the handiwork of South Dakota “found metal sculptor” Doug Owen.

Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap metal horse - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap metal horse by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma

From Durant I headed north on US 69/75 through a number of small towns until I got to Atoka, Oklahoma.

US Routes 69/75 north of Durant, Oklahoma
US Routes 69/75 north of Durant, Oklahoma

Atoka, Oklahoma is a town of a little over 3000 people.  It was settled in the mid-1800s and was an important stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage Road.  The small town was considered the capital of the Choctaw Nation in the late 1800s and was named after Captain Atoka who led his people here during the “Trail of Tears” in the 1830s.

Large White Buffalo statue in Atoka, OK
Large White Buffalo statue in Atoka, OK

Due to my time constraints, I didn’t have a lot of time to stop along the road on this trip, but I did make my way past the beautiful Atoka Reservoir and into McAlester, Oklahoma.

US Route 69 north out of Atoka, Oklahoma
US Route 69 north out of Atoka, Oklahoma
US 69 heading towards Atoka Reservoir
US 69 heading towards Atoka Reservoir

Upon arrival in McAlester I got to see a throwback to the 1950s…at the Happy Days Hotel there are 50s themed rooms including the “Elvis Suite,” “I Love Lucy,” James Dean and Marilyn Monroe rooms at the hotel.

Happy Days Hotel and Angel's Diner - McAlester, OK
Happy Days Hotel and Angel’s Diner – McAlester, OK
Happy Days Hotel - McAlester, OK
Happy Days Hotel – McAlester, OK
Angel's Diner store front - McAlester, Oklahoma
Angel’s Diner store front – McAlester, Oklahoma

Angel’s Diner has the black and white checkerboard floors, diner seating and more.  I wish I would have had time to stop in…..but I had to continue on to Branson

Eufaula Lake, Oklahoma
OK Hwy 9 bridge across Eufaula Reservoir, Oklahoma

One of the more spectacular sights along the drive north on US 69 is the huge Eufaula Lake, with over 600 miles of shoreline, it is the largest lake in Oklahoma.   It was beautiful as I approached close to sunset.

Another shot of Lake Eufaula
Another shot of Lake Eufaula

Shortly after passing by the lake I arrived in Checotah, Oklahoma and then headed west on Interstate 40.  It was getting dark, so I zipped my way on to Branson, Missouri through Arkansas.  Sorry…too dark for photos…

Branson, Missouri water tower
Branson, Missouri water tower

The next morning my wife and I took two cars and drive back from Branson to Lexington, Kentucky.  We had to get back, so we didn’t have much time to see anything in Branson.  I did get a photo of a huge guitar sticking out of a building….

Grand Country Fun Spot - Big Guitar neck - Branson, Missouri
Grand Country Fun Spot – Big Guitar neck – Branson, Missouri

Our route from Branson to Lexington was not a direct route as I wanted to take my wife by Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, MO for lunch, as you will see later on.  Here is our nearly 600 mile route for Day 2:


View Larger Map – Branson, MO to Lexington, KY

The drive across southern Missouri is always nicer OFF of the freeways.  I had been on US 60 between Branson and Sikeston three or four times.  But, of course, there are always interesting things to see along the way.

US 65 North near Busiek State Forest south of Springfield, Missouri
US 65 North near Busiek State Forest south of Springfield, Missouri
Uncle Rooster's Restaurant near Seymour, Missouri on US 60 East
Uncle Rooster’s Restaurant near Seymour, Missouri on US 60 East

Gotta love a name like Uncle Rooster’s!!  They even have a giant rooster out front….

Uncle Rooster's Big Rooster on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri
Uncle Rooster’s Big Rooster (ROHO) on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri

From Seymour, the countryside becomes mainly farmland until about Mountain View and Cabool.  We saw thousands of rolled bales of hay and other nice rural scenery along the way.

Rolled hay bales on US 60 east of Seymour, Missouri
Rolled hay bales on US 60 east of Seymour, Missouri
Long Train Running along US 60 near Norwood, Missouri
Long Train Running along US 60 near Norwood, Missouri
US Route 60 west of Mountain Home, Missouri
US Route 60 west of Mountain View, Missouri
More bales of hay near Mountain Home, Missouri
More bales of hay near Mountain View, Missouri

We stopped in Mountain View, Missouri for a quick rest break and a drink.  While there, lo and behold, I saw some scrap metal horse sculptures that looked amazingly similar to the ones I had seen in Durant, Oklahoma the day before.  I believe they are the work of South Dakota artist Doug Owen.

Scrap Metal Horses in Missouri
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen in Mountain View, Missouri

From Mountain View we proceeded eastward on US Route 60.  Here are a couple more scenes from the road:

US Route 60 east of Mountain View, Missouri
US Route 60 east of Mountain View, Missouri
Low flying plane near Dexter, Missouri (aerial spraying)
Low flying plane near Dexter, Missouri (aerial spraying)
Aerial Spray plane rounding a turn near Dexter, Missouri
Aerial Spray plane rounding a turn near Dexter, Missouri

Not soon after seeing the aerial acrobatics of the plane above, we made our way into Sikeston, Missouri.  Sikeston is at a major junction of US 60 from the west, Interstate 55 (N-S thru Sikeston) and Interstate 57 from the east.  But for me, the real highlight was being able to once again visit Lambert’s Cafe.  I had been to the one in Ozark, Missouri a number of years ago, but never to this one.

Sumoflam and wife at Lambert's Cafe - Home of Throwed Rolls
Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls

Lambert’s is one of those places that buses full of tourists stop at, highway drivers stop and more.  All sorts of Kitsch with license plates everywhere, old photos and, most importantly – good food and LOTS of it.  But, perhaps the real drawing card is the “Throwed Rolls”, a tradition at these stops since the beginning.

The Throwed Rolls Guy - Lambert's Cafe, Sikeston, Missouri
The Throwed Rolls Guy – Lambert’s Cafe, Sikeston, Missouri
Throwing Roll's at Lamberts - this guy chucked them clear across the room
Throwing Roll’s at Lamberts – this guy chucked them clear across the room

To get a roll you must raise your hand and they throw it to you.  You miss and hits the floor….too bad!

Throwed Rolls soaked in Sorghum Molasses
Throwed Rolls soaked in Sorghum Molasses

Sometimes the roll throwers do miss.  We saw some up on the overhangs…

Oops - missed
Oops – missed

The unique thing about this place is the Family Style servings.  You order your food and a side and then they bring you a number of other sides – fried potatoes, fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, black-eyed peas and more.  These are as much as you care to eat.

Bringing around the potatoes at Lambert's
Bringing around the potatoes at Lambert’s
More throwed rolls!!
More throwed rolls!!

The environment there is fun as well….

Flags hang in front of Lambert's Cafe
Flags hang in front of Lambert’s Cafe
Lambert's Cafe - Sikeston, Missouri - big place
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place
Walkway in Lambert's Cafe - Sikeston, Missouri
Walkway in Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri
The Original Roll Thrower
The Original Roll Thrower
Eagle at Lambert's
Eagle at Lambert’s
Big Metal Chicken on overhang at Lambert's
Big Metal Chicken on overhang at Lambert’s
Need a big cup? Plenty of souvenirs at Lambert's!!
Need a big cup? Plenty of souvenirs at Lambert’s!!

After a hefty lunch, we really wanted a nap, but we actually had to scoot onwards towards home.  Just a short zip up I-57 and we were in Cairo, Illinois where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet for one of the biggest confluences in the country.  There are two big bridges to cross at this point.

Crossing the Mighty Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois
Crossing the Mighty Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois

One moment you are in Missouri, a few minutes later you go through Illinois and straight into Kentucky.

Welcome to Wickliffe, Kentucky - just after crossing over the second bridge
Welcome to Wickliffe, Kentucky – just after crossing over the second bridge
I love it when Kentucky welcomes me home with flowers
I love it when Kentucky welcomes me home with flowers after being gone for a month
Sign to Future City, Illinois...I guess it is not there yet??
Sign to Future City, Illinois…I guess it is not there yet?? Or have I come “Back to the Future?”

After driving the narrow KY Hwy 286 to Paducah, we were excited to get on the freeway, but, I got a taste of Dallas in rural Kentucky as we were stuck in non-moving freeway traffic for well over 30 minutes.

Stuck in traffic on I-24 east of Paducah - shades of Dallas....
Stuck in traffic on I-24 east of Paducah – shades of Dallas….

But, after it all cleared up, we were on I-69 breezing away and then eventually onto the Bluegrass Parkway.

Bluegrass Parkway near Bardstown, Kentucky
Bluegrass Parkway near Bardstown, Kentucky

And, finally, back home in Kentucky after being away and on the road for over 5500 miles, 33 days and driving through 15 different states during that time.

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