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

 

The Nutt House Hotel – Granbury, Texas

Who would stay in the Nutt House Hotel?

Nice, California

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

New River Gorge – Victor, West Virginia

A view of the New River Gorge in West Virginia taken in 1995
New River Gorge Bridge – One of the largest Arch bridges in the United States

Neah Bay, Washington

At Neah Bay in the northwesternmost corner of the contiguous United States in 2015
Looking out at Wa’atch Point, which is a cape off the northwestern peninsula near Neah Bay

Nashville, Indiana

One of the many kitschy shops in Nashville, Indiana. Really a fun place to visit

Not the Hotel California – Lima, Montana

“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana

Nicholson Bridge (Tuckhannock Viaduct) – Nicholson, Pennsylvania

Tuckhannock Viaduct – Nicholson, Pennsylvania
The viaduct is dizzying when looking up from below

Nekoma Pyramid – Nekoma, North Dakota

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

Nada Tunnel – Slade, Kentucky

The rough hewn stone Nada tunnel near Slade, Kentucky

Niagara Falls – Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls

Novelty, Ohio

I found Novelty in Ohio
Novelty Post Office

Normal, Illinois

Am I Normal? Who knows?
A Normal Water Tower

Nikko Shrine – Nikko, Japan

Perhaps the best “old shrine” in Japan, Nikko has been around for centuries. This is north of Tokyo. I visited Nikko in 1990.
The colorful pagoda in Nikko

National Mustard Museum – Middleton, Wisconsin

National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI
Poupon U Degree from the Mustard Museum – I got my MBA (Master of Bad Attitude)

North Bend Rail Trail – Cairo, West Virginia

My wife Julianne and her sister Laura at the North Bend Rail Trail HQ in Cairo, WV

Naches Tavern – Greenwater, Washington

Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Dollar Bills on the walls at Naches Tavern

Newport, Oregon

Giant Mural on outside of Mo’s in Newport, Oregon
Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Salem Sue – New Salem, North Dakota

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

Northside Murals – Cincinnati, Ohio

Large Mural on side of building representing the Northside district
Tall mural on side of a building in Cincinnati’s Northside

Nagasaki, Japan

Remains from A-Bomb in Nagasaki in 1988
Japans second most famous China Town (Tokyo’s is first). This one is located in Nagasaki

JJ’s Cafe – Newell, South Dakota

J J’s Cafe in Newell, SD
Sign at the door of TJ’s Cafe in Newell, SD. Bear in mind this is sheep country.

Nitro, West Virginia

Nitro WW I museum – Nitro, WV
Big Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox in Nitro, WV

Nolan Ryan Statue – Alvin, Texas

Sumoflam with Nolan Ryan in Alvin, TX
Welcome to Alvin, Texas, hometown of Nolan Ryan

New Orleans, Louisiana

Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 2011

Nebraska City, Nebraska

Sapp’s Coffee Pot Water Tower in Nebraska City
Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure – Nebraska City, Nebraska
Downtown Nebraska City

Nauvoo, Illinois

The completed LDS Nauvoo Temple in 2002

The Jay Vintage Neon – Needville, Texas

The Jay Cafe in Needville, Texas. Vintage neon sign

Mark Twain Statue – New London, Missouri

Mark Twain Statue in New London, Missouri

Willie Nelson Shrine – LSA Burgers – Denton, Texas

Willie Nelson Shrine at LSA Burger Co. in Denton, TX
Willie Nelson Portrait above his shrine

Nanobozho Muffler Man – Bemidji, Minnesota

Nanobozho, Muffler Man Indian in Bemidji, MN

Number Hill – Arco, Idaho

Number Hill – Arco, ID

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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S is for Super Statues – #atozchallenge

There are some super huge statues in this country. Giant behemoths that can be seen from far away.

Perhaps there is no place better for BIG than in Texas, where everything is supposedly bigger.  Texas actually has three of the tallest statues in the United States, including two that honor the great Texas heroes Sam Houston and Stephen Austin.  All three giant free standing statues exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base). This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant
“World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”

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

The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas home of Sam Houston State University.  This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet. It was built in 1994.

This giant Sam Houston statue can be seen from far off when driving on Interstate 45, especially coming from the south.  It stands on the right looking over the interstate proudly.

This statue, along with the one of Stephen Austin were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes from his Sculpturworx Studio.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288 near Angleton, TX
Stephen F. Austin – the Father of Texas

Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too.   Adickes agreed to do the statue, which was named “The Father of Texas,” at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD.  By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections  of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.

Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet.  It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.

The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas

The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes. Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.

A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one. By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.

Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving. After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue. According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony. She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.

Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior. She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.

Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to

Keeper Of The Plains WichitaKS2
Keeper of the Plains in WIchita, KS

Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants. Following are some of the others I have visited over the years.

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990
Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States. It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet. This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi. I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo above was taken in December 1991.

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT

The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana. Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte. I took the photo above in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR
Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I got to visit this statue in 2012.

KeeperOfThePlainsWichitaKS1
Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, KS

The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet. This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. I visited this in 2012.

HiawathaIronwoodMI4
Hiawatha, Ironwood, MI

The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant. Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds. Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie Iron Mine.

Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN
Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN

An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant. This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it. I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture above is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.

MarkTwainNewLondonMO1
Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

One of the last “giants” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO. This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”

 

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Three Texas Giants – Giant Statues of Southern Texas

Stephen Austin Angleton
Sumoflam with the 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas

Texas is the home to three giant free standing statues, all of which exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base).

This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.

The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas.  This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet.

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas
77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

The second tallest of the giants is the 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin “Father of Texas” Statue in Angleton, TX.

The 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas
The 76 foot tall Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton, Texas

The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes.  Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.

The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
ThreeGiantsMap
Map of the Three Texas Giants

Back in June 2014 I had occasion to visit all three of the statues in the same day as I began a road trip home from a family reunion in Galveston (there will be some posts about that trip soon).  Since my plan was to get to Austin for the evening, I drove from Galveston to Angleton first, then into Sugar Land in the outskirts of Houston and finally north to Huntsville.  The visit to all three of these was well worth it!

A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

The statues of Stephen Austin and Sam Houston were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes form his Sculpturworx Studio.  Adickes has created a number of giants, including a huge sculpture of the Beatles (36 feet tall) and a number of Presidents’ busts (each about 12 feet tall), many of which can be see at his studio in Houston (see map)

The Beatles statues by David Adickes in Houston (photo from http://365thingsinhouston.com)
The Beatles statues by David Adickes in Houston (photo from http://365thingsinhouston.com)

I had hoped to have time for a visit there on my trip through Houston, but couldn’t get there on this trip.  Hopefully I will have another opportunity to visit.

Sam Houston - The First Texas Giant
“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston – The First Texas Giant

 “Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant
“World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”

The first of the giants was built in 1994 just off of Interstate 45 near Huntsville, Texas. The sculpture itself is 67 feet tall, and then it sits atop a base that adds an additional ten feet.  The locals have nicknamed him “Big Sam.”

Sumoflam with Big Sam towering behind him
Sumoflam with “Big Sam” towering behind him
"Big Sam" in Huntsville, TX
“Big Sam” in Huntsville, TX

According to the Huntsville Visitor’s Center, Sculptor David Adickes needed 30 tons of concrete and two years to work on the project. The statue was dedicated on October 22, 1994. Every year, between 50,000 and 65,000 people visit the huge tribute.  Adickes was born in Huntsville, Texas. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with degrees in both math and physics in 1948, Adickes went to the Kansas City Art Institute. He studied painting there, and then went to Paris where he studied art for two years. In 1957, he lived for a year in Japan and then traveled extensively over the next 10 years in the Far East, Mid East, Europe, Russia and North Africa.

Rear view of "Big Sam"
Rear view of “Big Sam”

Big Sam consists of five layers of concrete laid over steel mesh attached to a welded steel framework. There is a great page with diagrams about the building of this statue HERE.

Replica of Sam Houston head at the visitor center
Replica of Sam Houston head at the visitor center

There is a replica of Sam Houston’s head at the Visitor’s Center, which is reminiscent of David Adickes’ other Presidential heads.

Stephen F. Austin Statue near Angleton, Texas
Stephen F. Austin Statue near Angleton, Texas

“The Father of Texas” – Stephen F. Austin Statue – The Second Texas Giant

Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too.   Adickes agreed to do the statue at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD.  By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections  of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.

Stephen F. Austin - the Father of Texas
Stephen F. Austin – the Father of Texas

Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet.  It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288
Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288

The visitor’s center here does not always have a volunteer to assist, but there is a nice path around the park that provides a number of different views from the park.

Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

 Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one.  By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.

Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia.  She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving.   After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue.  According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

Another view of the 72 foot tall statue of Quan Am
Another view of the 72 foot tall statue of Quan Am

The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony.  She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.

Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior.  She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.

Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to

Keeper Of The Plains WichitaKS2
Keeper of the Plains in WIchita, KS

Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants.  Following is a list from Wikipedia (which does need some updating as two of the above are not on it).

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990

Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States.

It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet.

This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi.

I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo on the left was taken in December 1991.

 

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT

The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana.

Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte.

I took this photo in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.

I have not visited the third largest, which is the National Monument of the Forefathers in Plymouth, MA, which stands 81 feet tall.  The fourth largest is the Golden Driller in Tulsa, OK, standing 75 feet tall.

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR
Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs.

I got to visit this statue in 2012

 

 

KeeperOfThePlainsWichitaKS1The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet.

This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers.  I visited this in 2012.

HiawathaIronwoodMI4The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant.  Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds.

Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie .Iron Mine.

Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN
Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN

An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant.

This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it.

I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture at left is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.

MarkTwainNewLondonMO1
Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

One last “giant” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO.

This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”

 

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