J is for Joy – #atozchallenge

Traveling this great country brings me joy!  You can see this thru the myriad selfies I take while on the road.

I make it a point to take selfies for posterity sake.   First of all, it proves I was there.  Secondly, it provides a record for my family to see where I’ve been. Lastly…it shows my joy of being on the road!

Jolly Sumoflam! In Jolly, TX

It makes me Jolly.

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

It makes me Nice.

I found Novelty in Ohio

Travel is always a Novelty

Wherever I go I try to Endeavor,

Made it to Hope, AR,

To have Hope

Finding Success in Missouri

And find Success

Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office in Arkansas

Being on the road has helped find Friendship

Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

And to be Friendly

Chunky, MS

And perhaps even Chunky

Welcome to Earth, Texas

It has brought me down to Earth

Township of Moon, PA

Zipped me to a Township named Moon

At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007

Or by a Starship in Vulcan

And found Prosperity in PA

And to even find Prosperity

Santa Claus, IN

Heck…I even found Santa Claus!

Though I try to be Real Quiet about it,

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN

I find that I have some Big Fish stories

Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream” on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Maybe even Bigger Fish Stories

Willie the Walleye in Baudette, MN

Indeed, Giant Fish Stories

The Beef House in Covington, Indiana

I have found The Beef

Say “Cheese!” – You’re in Wisconsin!

But also found the cheese

Giant Macaroni in Champaigne, IL

And even a Macaroni to go with it!

Sumoflam with the cow that wears pink glasses

Those big cows are moooving

Salem Sue in New Salem, ND – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow (Yes, that’s Sumoflam under the Udders)

But they can be Udderly huge

Big Bull in Minnesota

And that is certainly no Bull

Giant Pheasant in Gregory SD

I have gotten joy at the feet of a big bird

Giant Sandhill Crane in Steele, SD

And maybe even a bigger bird

Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Ok, perhaps even giant birds!

One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS

I have become a big Alligator

Baby Gator at Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA

But have held a small one

Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

Travel gives me Liberty

Sumoflam with Big Sam Houston towering behind him in Huntsville, TX

And helps me to stand at the foot of giants

The iconic Route 66 roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

I have had many out of car experiences

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

And I have been surrounded by cars

At Magnolia Market in Waco, TX – Home of the TV Program Fixer Upper

I have learned to be a Fixer Upper

Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa (home of American Pickers)

And an Antique Archaeologist

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie

I’ve enjoyed some Voodoo doughnuts

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ

And other baked goods from coast to coast

Sumoflam at Wonderland Rd. in Upton, KY

And have found the road to Wonderland

The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

I even found the Yellow Brick Rd.

A street with No Name in Millersburg, OH

A road with No Name

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

May lead me to be Uncertain

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

But whether I go This Way or That Way

Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

I’ll always be Okay

Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

Which makes me a Winner when I travel

Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

And that puts me On Top of the World!

Story General Store, Story, IN

This is my Story…

Happy in Happy, KY

…and it makes me a Happy traveler

Stay Awesome folks! #awesomebutgettingbetter

And that is the joy of travel

Enjoy the Ride folks!


Fiberglass Giants Part II: Giant Cows, Pink Elephants and More

Around the country one can find a number of fun and large Fiberglass Giants. Though most of what I touch on in this post is fiberglass, I do mention so HUGE giants made of other materials due to their fame and as a comparison to the sizes.

Salem Sue - New Salem, ND
Salem Sue – New Salem, ND


The fiberglass giant makers have had fun over the years as they have created some real huge and udderly mooooving creations.  The giant shown above Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow.  This monstrous mooer was built in 1974 at the cost of $40,000.  The project was sponsored by the New Salem Lions Club in honor of the local dairy farming industry. The statue stands 38 feet high and is 50 feet long. It stands proudly on School Hill near Interstate 94 off exit 127 S and can be viewed for several miles.

Salem Sue as seen about five miles east of School Hill on I-94
Salem Sue as seen about five miles east of School Hill on I-94 (taken in 2005)
Salem Sue Sign in New Salem, ND
Salem Sue Sign in New Salem, ND
Salem Sue as seen from I-94.
Salem Sue as seen from I-94.

Though Salem Sue is the Giant, there are many more cows out there strutting their stuff, from smaller than life to much larger than life…..here are a few from past road trips:

Giant Steer in Gilboa, OH.  I have seen many similar ones in other places
Giant Steer in Gilboa, OH. I have seen many similar ones in other places

Another big steer can be found outside of the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Big Bull outside of Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX
Big Bull outside of Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX
Cow with Pink Sunglasses in Russellville, KY (around the corner from a big pink elephant - see below)
Cow with Pink Sunglasses in Russellville, KY (around the corner from a big pink elephant – see below)

Perhaps the second largest cows can be found in Wisconsin.  Not nearly as big as Salem Sue, these huge heifers still provide some awe. Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet is home to Sissy the Cow (below).

Sissy the Cow is at Ehlenbach's Cheese Factory in DeForest, WI
Sissy the Cow is at Ehlenbach’s Cheese Factory but striking a royal post at Burger King to promote Spicy Chicken Sandwiches in DeForest, WI

Just down the road from DeForest, in Janesville, WI is Bessie the Cow, who is likely about the same size.  These two Cowlossus girls are both about 19 feet tall and 20 feet long.  Both were manufactured by F.A.S.T Corp in Sparta, WI (as were many of those in this post)

Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI
Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI

Of course, there are many “lesser bovines” out there and here are a few of the fun ones I have come across over the years….

The first of these if the Springbank Snow Countess Monument in Woodstock, Ontario.  She was a, champion milk producer (she became the World Champion Lifetime Butterfat Producer with a total of 9,062 pounds of butterfat and 207,000 pounds of milk), was born, raised, and died on the Springbank Farm, in Oxford County, Ontario.  Her record held until 1954. She was designed by local artist Ross Butler.  I include her for the honor even though she is actually made of cast iron and not fiberglass.

Springbank Snow Countess in Woodstock, Ontario
Springbank Snow Countess in Woodstock, Ontario

F.A.S.T. Corp is well known for their mass manufacture of fiberglass animals for local art projects.  Dozens of these events have popped up around the country, including two in Lexington that featured horses.  Some have features art on cows and here are a couple of fun examples:

A colorful cow in sunglasses seen in Normal, IL
A colorful cow in sunglasses seen in Normal, IL

The JELL-O Gallery in LeRoy, NY is a fun offbeat place to visit and they have a colorful cow!

The JELLO Cow at the JELLO Museum in Leroy, NY
The JELL-O Cow at the JELLO Gallery in LeRoy, NY
Head shot of JELLO Cow in Leroy, NY
Head shot of JELL-O Cow in LeRoy, NY
The Blues Cow in Kansas City, MO
The Blues Cow in Kansas City, MO


White Bison in Atoka, OK
White Bison in Atoka, OK

A close cousin to the bovine is the bison (which many mistakenly call buffalo).  There are a few of these around too.  By far the biggest of these in Jamestown, ND.  The “World’s Largest Buffalo” was built in 1959 and is actually made from cement.  It is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs a mere 60 tons.  Despite it being made of cement, I had to include it…

World's Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND

There are other “lesser bison” to be found on the back roads of America. As an iconic plains animal known specifically to the Americas, it is no doubt that it is honored in many places.

Fiberglass Buffalo Statue - Driggs, ID
Fiberglass Buffalo Statue – Driggs, ID
Bison statue outside of Loretta Lynn's Restaurant in Buffalo, Tennessee
Bison statue outside of Loretta Lynn’s Restaurant in Buffalo, Tennessee
A White Buffalo Guards the Gate at Christman's Studio in St. Louis, MO
A White Buffalo Guards the Gate at Christman’s Studio in St. Louis, MO
One Artsy Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, part of a city arts project.
One Artsy Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, part of a city arts project.
Bison in Great Falls, MT
Another artsy “Bison” in Great Falls, Montana, also part of a city arts project


Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI
Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI at Orange Moose Bar & Grill

Another of the big American animals that can be seen around the country are moose.  By far, thee world’s biggest moose is up in Canada and is not fiberglass.  But, it should be shown here anyway.

Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Mac the Moose was put up in 1984 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  Mac stands 32 feet tall and weighs in at 10 tons. He was constructed by Saskatoon artist, Don Foulds using a steel frame, covered with metal mesh and completed with 4 coats of cement.

Lucky Moose on Dundas Street in Chinatown, Toronto
Lucky Moose on Dundas Street in Chinatown, Toronto

The Lucky Moose, located atop the Lucky Moose Food Mart on Dundas Street in Toronto’s Chinatown, is a colorful moose and one of a 326 originally scattered across Toronto as a fund raiser for the Olympics.  Very few can be seen in and around Toronto.

Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI
Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI

Tomahawk, WI is home to a fifteen foot tall Big Bull Moose which sits in front of the Road Lake Pub and Grill.


Pinkie the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Pinkie the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI

Another common sight on roads around the states are Pink Elephants and other elephants.

Jumbo the Elephant, St. Thomas, Ontario
Jumbo the Elephant, St. Thomas, Ontario

Jumbo the Elephant was a real elephant from the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  He died in St. Thomas, Ontario after being hit by a train.  100 years later, in 1985, the town built this 38 ton cement life sized statue, that is well over 15 feet tall.

Sumoflam with Jumbo in 2008
Sumoflam with Jumbo in 2008

But there are many other fiberglass behemoths, and many are pink.  Not sure what started the Pink Elephant craze, but it is fun.

Pinkie in DeForest, WI
Pinkie in DeForest, WI

Perhaps one of the most famous of all of the pink elephants is Pinkie.  Located in DeForest, WI this dude is sharp in his glasses.

Pinkie the Elephant, DeForest, WI
Pinkie the Elephant, DeForest, WI

Not to be confused with Pinky the Elephant, a 1963 creation now residing in Marquette, IA (and one I have yet to visit).

But wait, there are more….

This pink elephant is in the Huntington, WV suburb of Barboursville on US 60
This pink elephant is in the Huntington, WV suburb of Barboursville on US 60
Martini bearing pink and white elephant pair at Hipp Nursery in Haubstadt, IN
Martini bearing pink and white elephant pair at Hipp Nursery in Haubstadt, IN
Big pink elephant in Russellville, KY, just around the corner from the big cow with pink sungalsses
Big pink elephant in Russellville, KY, just around the corner from the big cow with pink sunglasses

I am not certain, but it appears that most of these come from the same mold from the company in Sparta, WI.


Big Bulldog in Beloit, WI
Big Bulldog in Beloit, WI

Among all of the others is a menagerie of animals like dogs, mice, giraffes.  Here are a few more animals (birds and fish will be in Part 3 with the dinosaurs and oddities).

A seven foot tall mouse holding cheese and a wiener in Beloit, WI
A seven foot tall mouse holding cheese and a wiener in Beloit, WI
Cheesey Mouse looks over DeForest, WI
Cheesey Mouse looks over DeForest, WI
Big happy giraffe in Cincinnati, OH
Big happy giraffe in Cincinnati, OH
A colorful giraffe (with granddaughter) in Covington, IN
A colorful giraffe (with granddaughter) in Covington, IN



#TBT Montana Road Trip: Day 1 – June 15, 2005

Montana Road Trip Journal

June 15, 2005: Today we departed on our trip to Great Falls, Montana for Amaree’s wedding, the second in a string of 3 weddings in 8 weeks. Accompanying me on the trip is Seth, Solomon and Marissa, who will be married on the 25th of June in Louisville, which is in 10 days. Our Road Trip will comprise about 4500 miles as we drive north thru Indiana and Illinois and then across Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana. Our return will be a
similar trip, except thru a corner of Wyoming and then across South Dakota and then Minnesota and Wisconsin. A general map of the trip can be seen below:

My goal was to leave at 5:30 AM since we have such a long trip ahead of us. However, we got out at 6:00 AM. Then, we had to stop at Wal-Mart to get some new tennis shoes for me since I blew my others ones out yesterday.  After Wal-Mart, we made a quick stop at McDonald’s for breakfast and then headed on the road.

Before I go into detail about the trip, I need to make a special note of gratitude to Randy O’Neal and his wife.  Randy works with me at Lexmark.  We have worked in the same are for nearly five years.  Anyway, last Sunday Randy called me out of the blue.  I was curious why he would call me on a Sunday and wondered if there was a work
emergency that came up.  In the long run Randy told me that he and his wife would like to offer us the use of their conversion van for the long trip. They felt that this was probably the best gift they could give for these weddings and that it would fill a big need since he knew we were planning on renting a car for the trip.  I told him how far we were going and that I would feel bad if anything happened.  But, he continued to press and so I graciously accepted.  This was such an extremely kind and thoughtful act on the part of Randy and his wife.  I know that this will make the trip more comfortable for all of us.  Below is a picture of the van:

Randy’s van – our wheels for this trip

We finally got on the road at about 6:45 after taking care of all the errands.  We headed west through Versailles and then onto I-64 towards Louisville.  We then headed north on I-65 through Indianapolis and on up to Gary, Indiana.  By the time we got to Gary it was already 11:45 AM.  My goal was to be in Chicago at our first stop by 10:00.  But, due to traffic and a late start, we were already way behind.  Nonetheless, I was thrilled to be on the road.  I had not taken a road trip like this for a couple of years and love to get out and see the countryside and the personality of these United States and all that is offered.  I kind of themed our trip to see the ‘Wacky and Wonderful’.  We would be going across the Northern states to Montana and they are fairly well known for a number of cheesy and interesting sites (and in the case of Wisconsin–REAL Cheesy).  I spent alot of time scheduling out all of the sites, most of which would be free.  But, we also had a tight schedule to keep since we had to make it to Great Falls by late Thursday night.  So, we really had to push it.

Our first planned stop was in Chicago, at Millennium Park.  We finally pulled into the underground parking lot in downtown Chicago at 12:54 PM, basically three hours later than planned.  The traffic was TERRIBLE into Chicago.  There were instances that we didn’t even move along Lake Shore Drive.  But, I wanted to at least get to Millennium Park.  I had read about it in the AAA Magazine and
thought it would match our theme.  I also felt that this would be a great point for all of us to get out and stretch and walk a bit.

Chicago traffic was terrible.
Thus parking garage was just one of many novelty sites on this trip.

Millennium Park is right in the center of downtown Chicago, on the location of Grant Park.  It is a 24.5 acre park that features some fabulous art and architecture.  I will not go into the history of the park here, but instead will provide a link to the park’s website:

Millenium Park

My hopes in visiting the park were to see the three main works: The Crown Fountain, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Kapoor sculpture, entitled “Cloud Gate”.

Our first stop was the Crown Fountain.  The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens (apparently over 1000 subjects were videoed), a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where
faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out.  I was excited to see the fountains and see how the faces were projected on to them. More details about the fountains can be found here: The Crown Fountain

Here we are visiting Crown Fountain:

Seth and Solomon get a toothy grin at the Crown Fountain.
Missy and I are ooking at the “gargoyle”

The fountains are actually kind of freaky.  The subjects were video-taped, so they blink, move their mouths, etc.  It is as if the structures were alive.

Our next stop on the park was a stroll over to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  To me this looks very similar to the Sydney Opera House in architectural design.  Details about the pavilion can be seen here: Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The Pavilion is a concert venue that stands about 120 feet high.  The stage is surrounded by a number of brushed steel ribbons.  I guess they call this the “headdress”.  There is a large lawn in front of it that makes this much like an amphitheater.  While we were here, there was an orchestra and choir rehearsing for an upcoming concert.  It was pretty unique.

Solomon, Seth and me at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Brothers carrying sister Marissa under the “headdress” of the pavilion

Our next visit in the park was to the “Cloud Gate”.  This is a large silver sculpture that looks like a drop of mercury.  Unfortunately, we could not see it in its entirety as much of it was covered for repair work.  Here is a link to more details about the sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor:  Cloud Gate on SBC Plaza

Despite the construction, we were able to get some pictures as one side of it was open.  It was pretty neat to take the pictures with a backdrop of the city behind us.  Here we are at Cloud Gate:

If you look carefully, you can see me in the middle taking the picture…to the left of Seth’s head.
One of the massive pieces of art at Millennium Park
A view of the fountain

We spent about an hour at the park. It was a refreshing experience and a nice break.  But, we needed to get back on the road as we had a lot of ground to cover.  I was quite disappointed that we were so far behind schedule.  One of the other sites that I really, really, really wanted to see was the Cermak Plaza, famous for the Cars on a Spike (NOTE: I did eventually make it to Cermak to see Spindle and, thank goodness I did as it has since been taken down).  Since we didn’t get there, I don’t have photos.  But here is a link: Spindle

Another place I had hoped to see was the Leaning Tower
of Niles…Niles, Illinois that is.  But, time did not allow for that
either.  But, here is a link from my favorite site Roadside America: Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois

Hopefully, on my next Road Trip to Montana to see Amaree and Aaron we can hit those sites.

We finally got back on the road at about 2 PM and continued to head north towards Wisconsin.  Along I-90 we must have hit 5 or 6 toll stations.  What a pain.  All totaled, we spent $11.00 on tolls between Gary, IN and the Wisconsin border.

We drove up I-90 through Madison, WI and then took exit 126 to DeForest, WI, which was our next scheduled stop. The first stop was the Ehlenbach Cheese Chalet, famous for its cheese and also famous for its large Holstein Cow statue in the front of the shop.  Here we
are in Wisconsin:

Welcome to Wisconsin!
Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet in DeForest, WI

Of course, besides a nice bag of cheese curds, the real goal here was to see Sissy the Cow:

Sissy the Cow..udderly mooving. Sissy the Cow is NOT wearing the tie dye shirt!!!
I did say there were some cheesy things in Wisconsin!!

Sissy is 19 feet tall, 20 feet long, and two tons — a Holstein cow made of structural steel and fiber mixed with epoxy.  She used to be known as the World’s Largest Cow, along with her sister Chatty Belle in nearby Janesville, WI.  However, as you will soon see (in a later post), she is now nowhere near the world’s largest (which is Salem Sue, in New Salem, ND).

Another site we planned on just down the road from Sissy, in fact, at the same exit, is Pinky the Elephant.  This was Marissa’s hope and dream to see Pinky.  Pinky is one of three or four of these bespectacled Pink Elephants dotting the United States.  I think there is one in Tennessee, one in Illinois and one in Georgia.  However, due to its proximity with Sissy, this one is probably the most famous.  Here are some shots of Pinky and Missy:

Pinky the Elephant in DeForest, WI
Marissa kissing Pinky on the snout
Missy gave Pinky a love pat on the rear.
And yes…you can EVEN buy souvenir stickers of Pinky for a quarter!! (As of 2014 they were 50 cents)

After our little venture into DeForest, it was time for us to head west towards Minnesota.  There were many other places along the way that we wanted to see, but time was a factor for us as we needed to get to St. Cloud, Minnesota in time for dinner at a special place.

We cruised across the state and got to the Mississippi River at about 7:15 PM, still about 3 hours behind schedule. This was really disappointing to me here as well.  I had hoped to get to Darwin, MN to see the Largest Ball of Twine made by one person.  But, since
we couldn’t make it this time, I will at least put a link to it:
World’s Largest Ball of Twine
.  There are other Balls of Twine out
there as evidenced by this site: World’s Largest Twine Balls.  I hope to get to all of them some time.

Solomon doesn’t look to excited to be welcomed to Minnesota.
The kids with the Mississippi River behind them.

But, despite missing the twine ball, I was very determined to get to Space Aliens Grill and Bar in Waite Park, MN, just outside of St. Cloud.  We were all hungry and we had to push it to get there, which we finally did at 10:00 PM.  Thank goodness they close at 11:00 PM (I did my research in advance so I knew this!!).  It was great to get there when we did too.  It was a Wednesday and that meant All-You-Can-Eat Ribs.  The boys were thrilled.

I wanted to go to Space Aliens either here or in Fargo, but didn’t think we could make it all the way to Fargo. This is one of those novelty theme restaurants as can be seen below.  Here is a link to their web site: Space Aliens Grill & Bar

The Waite Park restaurant was not difficult to locate.  We got there and all Seth and Solomon could say was “Let’s Eat!!”  I don’t think I need to say anything about the restaurant except that the ribs were fantastic.  The boys ate a ton of ribs, in fact, the waitress said she could not recall any group having as many as we did. The photos below should tell it all:

Notice that Earthlings are Welcome at this place.
Sumoflam outside the restaurant at 10 PM CST
Seth at the ‘UFO Crossing’.
Some of the typical artwork
The ceiling artwork
Now this is what we came for!! All-You-Can-Eat Ribs.
The boys set a record at this place and also wiped out the ribs.

Empty bones and plates
And full tummies and smiling faces after a well-eaten meal!!

After a great dinner, and our first real meal of the day, we were ready to crash.  We found a nearby motel and did just that.  A long, long day 1 of the trip to Montana was finally over.

The entire roadtrip set of journals can be seen in its original form HERE