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.
Fiberglass Snowman – Lewisburg, West Virginia
Fireplace of States – Bemidji, Minnesota
Fat Smitty’s – Port Townsend, Washington
Futuro Flying Saucer House – Covington, Kentucky
Four Corners – Teec Nos Pos, Arizona
Frank L. White Grave Marker (The Cream of Wheat Guy) – Leslie, Michigan
Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho
Fair Play, South Carolina
Fisherman’s Wharf – San Francisco, California
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Fisherman’s Dream – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota
First Church of Peculiar – Peculiar, Missouri
Fox in the Snow – Grand Teton National Park
Fallasburg Covered Bridge – Fallasburg, MI
Forest Fire Department – Forest, Mississippi
Flatrock Coffee – Nashville, Tennessee
Flying Saucer Monument – Mars, Pennsylvania
Frank Sinatra Park – Hoboken, New Jersey
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Future City, Illinois
Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan
Frog Pond Bar-B-Que – Frog Pond, Tennessee
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas
Flood Wall Murals – Paducah, Kentucky; Jeffersonville, Indiana; Point Pleasant, West Virginia; Portsmouth, Ohio
Fort Worth Stockyards – Fort Worth, Texas
Floodwood Catfish – Floodwood, Minnesota
Friendly, West Virginia
Fort Steuben – Steubenville, Ohio
Findlay Market – Cincinnati, Ohio
Frontier Bar & Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana
Mount Fuji – Fuji City, Japan
Flower Bed Art – 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.
The United States is a vast and diverse country. From sea to shining sea there are sweeping vistas and spectacular scenes of nature.
The grandeur of this country is not seen on the interstate highways, but on the back roads and the gravel roads that have woven the fiber of this country.
I am always awestruck by the superb landscapes that one can witness on the back roads. Some of these landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains, are known by everybody. But there are so many more spectacles to feast your eyes upon.
When speaking of grandeur, perhaps one of my most favorite locations is Monument Valley in the northwest corner of Arizona and the southwest corner of Utah. Located within the Navajo Indian reservation, this amazing natural wonder has been the backdrop for many movies and television commercials. And one can only stand in a location or another and must turn their head from left to right to catch the full glory of this spectacular wonder of nature.
Not too far from there and also on the Navajo Reservation is a much lesser known, but in another way very spectacular sight. Called Coal Mine Canyon, it is a hidden gem off of a two lane highway east of Tuba City, AZ.
Coal Mine Canyon is filled with a variety of HooDoos…ghost like rock formations that can form eerie shadows and spooky formations at night. The view goes on for miles into Blue Canyon. In any other state, this might be a National Park or Monument. It is just one more canyon in Arizona.
Head north into Colorado and take a ride up to Mount Evans north of Denver. Nearly 13,000 feet up, it offers up an amazing view of the mountains and lakes below.
Not to be outdone in the words of grandeur, is the scenic highway that traverses the Bear Tooth Range along the Montana and Wyoming border. I have only been there once and it was in the very early spring on the first day the road was open. There were still piles of snow on both sides of the road. But the expanse of the mountains left me in awe.
But grandeur is not just mountains or spectacular geologic formations. I can drive through the plains of North Dakota or South Dakota and experience miles and miles of grasslands.
I have driven through these great plains in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. To some, the drive through these vast grasslands might be considered boring. To me, the vast expanse of grasslands is stunning.
Then there is the grandeur of the oceans. I have been blessed to have been able to see the Pacific Ocean from the northern parts of Washington and Oregon all the way to the coast in Southern California. I have also seen the Atlantic Ocean from points in Maine all the way south to Florida. The amazing sunrises and sunsets over the water provide unspeakable grandeur and a glorious feeling.
Like the oceans, the Gulf of Mexico offers similar sights. Nothing like witnessing the spectacle flocks of pelicans flying in sync overhead.
The most gratifying part of experiencing grandeur for me is that every back road and numbered highway offers a peek at splendid views. One needs only crest to the top of a hill and laid out before your eyes are wonderful scenes like that of Hells Canyon in Oregon, or in Hell’s Half Acre in the middle of Wyoming. Drive along a two Lane highway in the eastern United States in the fall and you get to the top of the hill and see nothing but spectacular fall colors as far as the eye can see.
But the grandeur is not just in nature. From a different perspective, the views of the skyline of a big city offers its own brand you were. Whether enjoying the skyline of Manhattan from across the river in Hoboken, NJ to witnessing the scene of riverine cities such as Pittsburgh or Cincinnati from the top of a hill, one gets a sense of how small they really are.
I am grateful to live in these United States and my heart is filled with joy that I have been able to travel many a back road and experience the grandeur of this country.
With each new road comes a new experience. I still have yet to personally experience the special nature of Yosemite National Park or the giant sequoia trees of Northern California. But I have seen the vast expanses filled with volcanoes in Hawaii or the old volcano cones in New Mexico and Arizona.
I have driven the long highway over Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana and over the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. These man-made spectacles still offer a sense of grandeur.
So, get out on the road and experience this country for yourself.
At the end of August we had a new grandson born into the family — Samuel Kravetz is now grandchild #10. He was born to my son Seth and his wife Holly, who, at the time, were living near Hartford, Connecticut. Naturally, this was a cause for celebration and for a trip to Connecticut to see this new bundle of joy.
So, we planned the trip and our daughter Marissa and her three children would join Julianne and I for a visit to New England. On September 5th we headed east on I-64 for this “see grandson/see nephew/see cousin/see New England” trip. I was excited not only for the grandchild, but also because this trip would afford me the opportunity to knock off the last 3 states on my list…I would finally get to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, to make it to all 50.
We were on the road before sunrise and arrived at the West Virginia/Kentucky border just shortly after sunrise. there is wonderful Rest Area a few miles east of Huntington, WV and so we stopped to give the now awake kids a chance to run a bit.
As for me, I walked around and enjoyed the flowers, the fresh morning air and a chance to stretch my legs as the day would be a long one…we planned to drive all the way to Connecticut and I would be the only driver (as always — because I am a road warrior of course!!)
After the break we were back on the road again heading east on I-64 to Charleston and then northeast on I-79 until we got to Cheat Lake, where the interstate switched to I-68 east towards Cumberland, MD and then eventually onto I-70/I-68. We finally stopped at the South Mountain Rest Area south of Greenbrier and South Mountain State Parks. This was a perfect place for the kids to get out and run around, stretch and play.
While they rested, I was out capturing sots of flowers and plants, of which there was an abundance.
After a nice rest and stretch, we were back on the road and heading towards Hershey, PA for a sweet visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World. The last time I was here was with the kids a number of years ago, when there was an entirely different facility. Now there is an amusement park, a HUGE building, and plenty of crowds. We had hoped for the factory tour, but the place was away too busy for us since we had to get back on the road…we were driving all the way to Vernon, CT. But, we had time for a little fun….
And Joselyn wanted to give Grampz a Hershey Kiss as well…
And then there is the Chocolate…
After sweetening ourselves up a bit on Hershey’s chocolate, we were soon back on the road eastward, with the next stop planned being Hoboken, NJ for a view of NYC at night and hopefully a visit to the famed Carlos Bake Shop from TLC’s “Cake Boss.”
Along the way we stopped for gas in Bethel, PA. While there, I grabbed a couple of shots of the iconic Midway Diner signs. It used to be in one of those silver diner styles, but has since been changed. But, I always love the old Neon Signs like the one below.
After fueling and restroom breaks for the kids (and adults), we were back on the road again. We pulled into Hoboken around 8:30 PM and drive straight to Frank Sinatra Park to get a nighttime view of the Manhattan portion of New York City. The kids had never seen it at night and this is probably one of he best places to get a great view of the entire skyline Manhattan.
Built in 1998, it honors Frank Sinatra, who was born in Hoboken. Sinatra Park is shaped in a Roman amphitheater style with an area that faces the former site of the World Trade Center.
After the great view, we made our way to Hudson St. and then down to Newark, turned right and then right on Washington to Carlo’s Bake Shop (Actually, they all walked over there and I dealt with the traffic mess!).
The place was hopping even at 9:00 PM. I had to double park on the street and Julianne came out to sit in the car so I could get out and get a few photos (and some cannoli!!). Carlo’s is a family owned bakery featured on the TLC hit show Cake Boss. Carlo’s, was originally opened by Carlo Guastaffero in 1910 and was acquired by Bartolo Valastro Sr. in 1964. After the passing of Bartolo Sr. in 1994, matriarch Mary Valastro and her children Grace, Maddalena, Mary, Lisa and master baker Bartolo Jr. “Buddy” Valastro have expanded the business with the help of their spouses. They actually have bakeries in 5 states!!
We picked up some goodies…and I wanted to try the Cannoli, since they are supposedly famous for them. I had mine, it was good, but not as good as the ones I had at Presti’s Bakery near my birthplace in Little Italy in Cleveland.
Nevertheless, the goodies were good and this made for a fun stopover before we finished the last leg of the trip to Connecticut and a much needed good night’s rest.
We pulled into the Holiday Inn in Vernon sometime after midnight…it was a long day.
I must say that the Noe kids have become seasoned travelers, even at their young age. Joselyn has been on long trips with me from Arizona to Kentucky and then all three have traveled to Omaha, St. Louis, South Carolina, Georgia and now the northeast coast. They are a fun lot to travel with! Grampz is always happy to be with them!