A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The D 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.

 

Dupuyer, Montana

Welcome to Dupuyer, another unique metal town sign, common in northern Montana

Dinosaur National Monument – Vernal, Utah

Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT

Dolphin Swimming in the Atlantic – Ocean City, Maryland

Christmas morning sunrise in Ocean City , MD and greeted by a dolphin in the foreground.

DISH, Texas

DISH, Texas

Dutch Haven Cafe – Ronks, Pennsylvania

Shoo Fly Pie – YUM!

Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse

Do Drop Inn Juke Joint – Shelby, Mississippi

Famed Do Drop Inn Juke joint in Shelby, MS

Daffin’s Candies Chocolate Kingdom – Sharon, Pennsylvania

Giant chocolate animals

Chocolate Kingdom entrance at Daffin’s
Sumoflam at the Chocolate Kingdom in Daffin’s

Deer Photos – Shenandoah National Park, VA; Mt. Rainier National Park, WA; Lewistown, Montana

Deer at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park on Easter Morning 2017
Deer on the road from Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park
Deer grazing in the snow in Lewistown, Montana

Duck Commander, home of Duck Dynasty – West Monroe, Louisiana

Duck Commander HQ, home of Duck Dynasty in West Monroe, LA
Duck Dynasty Headquarters in West Monroe, LA

Delaware Seashore Bridge – Sussex County, Delaware

Delaware Seashore Bridge

DFW Elite Toy Museum – Haltom City, Texas

Visiting the DFW Elite Toy Museum
The main display room of the Elite Toy Museum. Hundreds and hundreds of various cars

Diamondville, Wyoming

Diamondville Town Hall sign, Wyoming

Dragon Murals – Oak Creek, Colorado & Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Impressive Dragon mural on a Chinese Restaurant in Oak Creek, Colorado
Dragon Mural in Broken Bow, OK

Discovery Bay, Washington

Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA

Texas Country Restaurant – Dundas, Ontario

Texas Country Restaurant – Dundas, Ontario

Douglas, Wyoming

White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, WY
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY

Dutch Letters at Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Famous “Dutch Letters” from Jaarsma Bakery – S shaped pastry filled with almond cream and sprinkled with sugar. Delectable!

Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana

Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana

Drain, Oregon

I guess this post is going down the drain! Drain, OR

Danielle Colby Cushman of American Pickers – LeClaire, Iowa

Sumoflam with Danielle Colby Cushman – June 20, 2012

Driggs, Idaho

Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho

Big Spider – Denver, North Carolina

Big Spider, Denver, North Carolina

Dean Martin Mural – Steubenville, Ohio

Dean Martin mural in Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998

Disaster Memorial Statue – Galveston, Texas

The Disaster Memorial by David. W. Moore in Galveston, TX

Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas

Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas

Deer Crossing on Enchanted Highway – near Regent, North Dakota

Sumoflam at Enchanted Highway Stop #2 – ‘Deer Crossing”

Dave Thomas Statue – Wendy’s in Dublin, OH

Sumoflam with Dave Thomas statue in Dublin, OH

Duck Lake, Montana

Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake

Watertower in the middle of the road – Dallas, South Dakota

Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road
Welcome to Dallas, SD

Donkey, Virginia

A place called Donkey in Virginia

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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A to Z Challenge: The D 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 towns, some known for their names, other for unique sites in town. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

D The D Towns

Douglas, Wyoming

Large Jackalope - Douglas, WY
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY

As I travel across the US and Canada, I am always on the lookout for quirky things and big statues.  Well, Douglas, Wyoming provides plenty in that area.  Touted as the Jackalope Capital of the World, Douglas has jackalopes dotting the town, including a couple of big ones.  And “What is a jackalope?” you ask…  Check out my full posts on Douglas HERE and ALSO HERE.

DeForest, Wisconsin

Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Pinkie the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little "Chick-Fil-A" on Burger King!!
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little “Chick-Fil-A” on Burger King!!

Perhaps Wisconsin is the home of the most Big Things.  Throughout the state there are big cows (it is a cheesy state mind you) and big mice.  There is a big bulldog in Beloit (see here).  However, not much tops the big pink elephant at the Shell One Stop in DeForest, WI and the big cow named Sissy is also one of America’s biggest.  Read the bigger story and see more photos HERE.

Discovery Bay, Washington

Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty's in Discovery Bay, WA
Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty’s

The theme of quirky runs throughout the veins of this post.  I now move on to Discovery Bay, WA on US Highway 101 northwest of Seattle, (near Port Townsend, WA) home of the uniquely quirky Fat Smitty’s burger place.  Surrounded by a menagerie of interesting and colorful wood carvings on the outside and walls and ceilings plastered with dollar bills (and other denominations), this is a place to behold.  Oh, and yes, the burgers aren’t too bad either.  See my full post about my August 2015 visit to Fat Smitty’s HERE.

Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas

At the "Filed of Corn" - Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
At the “Field of Corn” – Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas, former home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007

I have never been to Dublin, Ireland, but I have been to Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas.  The two American towns named Dublin are distinctly different, but both offer some surprises.

In Dublin, OH you can play amongst ears of corn at the “Field of Corn” is a publicly funded art installation in the city of Dublin, Ohio. The installation consists of 109 concrete ears of corn positioned in rows and standing upright in a grassy field.  Sculpted by Malcolm Cochran, a professor of sculpting at Ohio State University, the park was named the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, and was originally farmed by Sam Frantz, an inventor of several hybrid corn species.  This is not the only unique public art work in Dublin.  This is one of a few towns that has worked to bring in a plethora of unique, cool and sometimes quirky works of outdoor art. Check out the Dublin Arts Council’s website.

In 2007 I took a trip with my son to Texas and Arkansas (I noted our visit to Booger Holler in my B Towns post of the #AtoZChallenge).  On that same trip we visited the town of Dublin, TX, near Waco, to visit what was, at that time, the only remaining Dr Pepper plant in the world that made Dr Pepper with pure cane sugar.  The plant has eventually converted and the museum was moved to Waco.  But I note it here because, back then, they changed the name of the town to Dr Pepper, Texas once a year (and set the population at 1024 — if you are a Dr Pepper fan, you’ll know what the 1024 means).

Dragoon, Arizona

An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
The Thing's Outhouse -- Great Seats Available
The Thing’s Outhouse — Great Seats Available
AssKickin
Ass Kickin’ nuts…super spicy hot. Made in Goodyear, AZ and found at many tourist shops. Great for munching on long road trips (as long as you have some icy cold liquid to wash them down)

I mentioned Bowlin’s resorts in my post on Akela Flats in the A to Z Challenge last week.  Bowlin has another fun touristy place in Arizona called “The Thing.”  This is one of those places that has billboards hundreds of miles away promoting the unusual site (other’s that I recall seeing in diverse places include “Where the hell is Wall Drug?” (South Dakota), “Visit Little America” (Wyoming), “Rock City” (Tennessee).  I’ll actually hit these places in future posts. ).  As for an explanation of “The Thing”, you’ll have to make your way south of Tucson on Interstate 10, pay the fee and go see it for yourself.  Make sure you visit the famed Outhouse and get some of those amazing Ass Kickin’ Peanuts!  They are available at many fine tourist trap shops around the southwest.

Denton, Texas

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

A well kept secret of a place is Denton, Texas.  Just north of the excitement of the Dallas metroplex, Denton sits quietly with its grand architecture, ghost walks and a unique burger joint that features a wonderful, yet controversial mural call the The Great Texas Supper, a play on the Last Supper painting but instead has a number of dead Texas musicians.  The LSA Burger Company also features a tribute to Willie Nelson, a Texas shaped “Texas Instruments” sculpture and bars covered with old record albums.  See my full post HERE.

Durant, Oklahoma

Sumoflam with Durant's Giant Peanut
Sumoflam with Durant’s Giant Peanut
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses – Durant, Oklahoma
Painted Horses in Durant, OK
Painted Horses in Durant, OK

Durant, Oklahoma is one of those unique small towns that brings me so much enjoyment in travel.  Home of the “World’s Largest Peanut” statue, it is also decorated with dozens of painted horses. Durant is in the Choctaw Nation and is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.   Though Durant lays claim to the “World’s Largest Peanut”, its 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.  See more about my trip to Durant and other locales from back in 2013 HERE.

Danville, Illinois

Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl

I visited Danville, Illinois on a trip to Omaha in 2013.  This is one of those towns you can spend a good day in.  With dozens of wall murals depicting town history and town heroes, the art is great. But there are other unique pieces of art such as the Danville USA Brick Sculpture shown above.  But most interesting to me was the Lindley Sign Post Forest. The story is unique….Carl Lindley, one of the mural artists in Danville, has the same name as Carl Lindley (also originally from Danville, IL), the founder of the original sign post forest in Alaska (see here). This tradition started in 1942 by Carl K. Lindley, a U. S. Army Engineer, 341 company “D”. When building many signs in the area, he added a sign to a sign post which stated, “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles”.  The Alaska version has over 47,000 signs.  I think the more mini version in Danville has about 200.  Read the bigger story and see photos in my 2013 post HERE.

Dallas, South Dakota (Honorable mention)

Welcome to Dallas, SD
Welcome to Dallas, SD
Water tower in Dallas -- in the middle of the road
Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road

In 2013 I trekked across the country to Idaho and, along the way, took a drive along the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, which covers US Highways 18 and 50. (See the full post HERE).  One of the unique little places I visited was Dallas, SD.  Unlike the huge metropolis of Dallas, Texas, this small community has no stop light but it DOES have a water tower right in the middle of the road!

Denver, North Carolina (Honorable mention)

Big Spider, Denver, North Carolina
Big Black Widow sculpture, Denver, North Carolina
Stacy's Restaurant, Denver, NC
Stacy’s Restaurant, Denver, NC

If I am going to include a Dallas, I might as well also include a Denver, this one in North Carolina.  Denver is a town of a little over 13,000 fine folk who enjoy the luxurious life on the west shore of Lake Norman, just off of NC Hwy 7.  I visited some friends there in March 2012.  We went downtown to dinner and lo and behold I saw a giant black widow!!  Creepy.  Sculpted by artist Dave Simpson, it apparently advertises a pest management company. The gleaming arachnid, with its eight-foot-long legs, perches on a boulder.  After that appetizing moment we had a wonderful dinner at Stacy’s Restaurant. It was a great local home cooked meal type of place.

Damon, Texas (Honorable mention)

I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon...
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…

Another town with a unique water tower and a fun post office is Damon, Texas.  A small place in southern Texas, it has one of the smallest water towers I ave seen and it boasts the name “Planet Damon.”  Fun fun.  See my full trip HERE.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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Ten Really Obscure Quirky Places You May Have Never Heard Of

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

Over the years I have traveled tens of thousands of miles of back roads across the United States (only missing Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont…they will be hit soon!).  Through all of these travels I have seen the many “famous” unique and quirky tourist spots like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX (the one with all the Cadillacs in the ground), the giant Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox in Bemidji, MN, the Enchanted Highway in ND or the competing Eiffel Towers in Paris, TX and Paris, TN.

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN

Among the 100s of places I have been, there are a few that really stand out to me and I would consider as future MUST SEE spots for the adventurous travelers.  In no specific order, here are ten of my “Obscure Quirky Places” you should visit while you are out and about on your July road trips….  You can click on the links to see more details of these visits from my earlier blog posts.

1. Jurustic Park – Marshfield, WI (take a side trip to the Chain Saw Totem Poles and to the National Mustard Museum)

Clyde Wynia - the local Jurustic Park paleontologist
Clyde Wynia – the local Jurustic Park paleontologist

Former Wisconsin Attorney Clyde Wynia has created an amazing little “park” of amazing scrap metal sculptures, with 1000s of pieces from small spiders to giant dragons.

 

Giant 48 foot tall metal dragon at Jurustic Park
Giant 48 foot tall metal dragon at Jurustic Park

2.  Road Sign Art in Meadville, Pennsylvania

Stop sign flower in Meadville, PA
Stop sign flower in Meadville, PA

Signs & Flowers is a garden of 12 large flowers made of recycled road signs and landscaping at the PennDOT storage lot in Meadville. In the spring and summer of 2001, Allegheny College art students, under the direction of art professor Amara Geffen, designed and planted the “garden,” which has quickly become a popular attraction for local residents and tourists. In the summer of 2002 Geffen’s students continued the project by constructing a 200-foot sculptural fence Read Between the Signs on the PennDOT property along Hwy 322

Road Sign Flower Garden in Meadville, PA
Road Sign Flower Garden in Meadville, PA

3. Starship Enterprise and Museum – Vulcan, AB

Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon
Welcome to Vulcan in Klingon

In central Alberta is a small town called Vulcan.  Named by a surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1915, the town has become a center for Star Trek history with a museum and all sorts of fun stuff.  There is even a huge Starship Enterprise on the grounds. Truly a unique place to visit and think about going where no man has gone before. (You may also be interested in “The Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk” in Riverside, Iowa)

Star Trek Museum in Vulcan, Alberta
Star Trek Museum in Vulcan, Alberta
Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta
Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta

4. Billy Tripp’s Mindfield – Brownsville, TN

Mindfield Cemetery, Brownsville, Tennessee
Mindfield Cemetery, Brownsville, Tennessee

One man’s life dedication to his parents draws people from all around to see this unique and absolutely quirky massive structure made of steel pipes and steel pieces and a large painted water tower that says “Mindfield Cemetery.” This large piece of art work is the work of one Billy Tripp, who, in 1989 began creating this monument to his parents.

Billy Tripp's Mindfield in Brownsville, TN
Billy Tripp’s Mindfield in Brownsville, TN
Sumoflam at Tripp's Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Sumoflam at Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN

5. Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility

Who would have known that the US Military built a huge Pyramid shaped building in the middle of northern North Dakota?  Well, its there in the tiny town of Nekoma.  Actually, the pyramid is part of a larger installation called the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard Complex (SRMSC).  This complex was the United States’ first operational ABM (anti-ballistic missile) defense system.

The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

6. World’s Largest Pistachio – Alamogordo, NM

World's Largest Pistachio in Alamagordo, NM
World’s Largest Pistachio in Alamagordo, NM

In the day and age of humorous “Get Crackin’” commercials promoting the benefits of pistachios, it is fun to see the World’s Largest pistachio in the home of pistachios in Alamogordo, NM.

Travelers along U.S. 54 between Alamogordo and Tularosa have seen it since late 2013 at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch.

Definitely worth a photo stop!!

 

Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman
Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman

7. Superman stuff everywhere – Metropolis, IL

Flying Superman Statue in Metropolis
Flying Superman Statue in Metropolis

We all know that Superman lived in Metropolis.  But, this Metropolis in Illinois looks nothing like the NYC style Metropolis of the movies.  Despite this, like Vulcan above, the town has taken on the persona and has Superman everywhere.  Even has the Daily Planet as the newspaper!

Giant Superman Mural with all of the Supermen
Giant Superman Mural with all of the Supermen
Giant Superman with not so giant Sumoflam
Giant Superman with not so giant Sumoflam

8. Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, MI

The creation of Ukranian born Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland still brings in vistors to Detroit
The creation of Ukranian born Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland still brings in vistors to Detroit

A little bit of magic is hidden in the backyard of a small two-story residence on Klinger Street in the Detroit area of Hamtramck. Known as “Hamtramck Disneyland”, the offbeat artistic vision of former homeowner Dmytro Szylak, who passed away on May 1, 2015. Szylak began to convert his backyard into an art yard after retiring from General Motors in 1992. 

A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard - Hamtramck Disneyland
A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard – Hamtramck Disneyland

The quirky nature of Szylak’s creations still causes some controversy, but many consider it a local tourist attraction.  I concur. I visited his place in 2008 and found his collection fascinating.

 

Hamtramck Disneyland in 2008 - Detroit
Hamtramck Disneyland in 2008 – Detroit

9. The Mushroom House – Cincinnati, OH

The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati

In my opinion, one of the quirkiest places in Cincinnati, the Mushroom House is located in the Hyde Park District at the corner of Erie Ave. and Tarpis Ave.  It was created by architect/artist Terry Brown (who died in a car accident in Texas in 2008).  As a professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati, Brown created the building with the help of university students from 1992 to 2006.

A view of Cincnnati's Mushroom House
A view of Cincinnati’s Mushroom House

The house was built using a variety of materials including wood, colored glass, shell, ceramics, and various metals.  Care was taken to craft these materials into irregular shapes like those found in nature.

Mushroom House back side
Mushroom House back side
Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati
Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati

10. Home of the Jackalope – Douglas, WY

Large Jackalope - Douglas, WY
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY

Douglas, Wyoming  is the “Jackalope Capital of the World.”  Everywhere you look in town there is a  jackalope lurling somewhere.  There is even one up on a hill overlooking Interstate 25.

 

A cuddly Jackalope
A cuddly Jackalope

The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns. Ironically, the word “jackalope” is a mix of “jackrabbit” and “antelope”, although the jackrabbit is not a technically a rabbit, and the American antelope is not technically an antelope.

Jackalope Crossing
Jackalope Crossing
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY
And a Sumoflamalope was also spotted in Douglas, WY

There are dozens of other obscure but fun quirky sites in the America’s.  Visit my blog or my favorite home of the roadside quirkies – Roadside America – to find more of these.  You’ll enhance your travel experience!!

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