D is for Diners, Dives and Drive-ins – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

Road trips would never be the same without the opportunity to stop at local diners, dives and drive-ins (OK…I gotta give credit to Guy Fieri). Food is such an important part of a road trip. Obviously, no matter where one drives they always come across the chain shops like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. With those places, the food you get is always the same.

At Nashville’s oldest eatery – Elliston Place Diner – Featured in Antsy McClain’s video
Midway Diner sign on a barn

But, for me, the real joy is stopping at a local Mom and Pop shop or local Drive-In and trying out the fare. Someplace well known in that little town or region, but maybe not known anywhere else.

My good friend, singer/songwriter/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain did a song a few years ago called “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More” in respect for these places that are quickly becoming a dying breed.  (see the video)

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis

There used to be more flavor in this country that I roam
I feel like I’m a stranger, no place to call my home
I can eat the same cheeseburger from New Mexico to Main
The same darn cup of coffee, just to link in someone’s chain
No, mom-and-pop don’t work here no more
Antsy McClain

You Are What you Eat Cafe – Boring, Oregon

So, when I am on the road I really make an effort to find the local places to eat and I have found many of them across this wonderful country of ours. For example, there is “Cozy Drive-In” in Springfield, IL which supposedly is famous because of its creation of the corndog.

Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s

Then there’s the place in Missouri called Lambert’s Cafe that is famous for its “Throwed Rolls.” Or how about the diner outside of Natchez, Mississippi that looks like an old 1930s black woman servant on the outside and service homemade sandwiches on homemade bread with deserts of homemade pie and cake? And how can I forget “Hillbilly Hotdog” in West Virginia or the unique burger joint called Fat Smitty’s that is plastered with dollar bills in Washington. And what about The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas?

Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the Homewrecker
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s ceiling covered with money.
The Shack Burger Resort storefront – Texas style fun in Cypress, TX
Outdoor eating area at The Shack
Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez, MS on US 61
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Commerce, Oklahoma

Along the road there are always the burger joints, the ice cream places, and the roadside cafés. One never knows what they will get in some of these places.  But, chances are the food will be much better than what one will get at a fast food chain place.

And each of these local places has their “speciality,” such as the Ku-Ku burger at Waylan’s in Commerce, OK on Route 66.

Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Wimpy’s Burgers – Keller, Texas
Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe

I recall visiting the “Tightwad Café” in Tightwad, MO. Amazing breakfast made for a king and not a miserly tightwad. The only indication that it was a “tightwad” type of place was that they only took cash — no credit cards.

But check out the food.  This giant breakfast was very affordable and kept me filled up for a good part of the day.

Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

Of course, there are the barbecue places. Oh yes, the myriad barbecue places across this country. I have had barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. In fact, one of my favorites was in Paris, Ontario in Canada!! And they’re all different and wonderful.

 

Camp 31 Bar-B-Que – Paris, Ontario
Oklahoma Joe’s Neon in Kansas City, KS

One such great barbecue place is Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. The café is inside a gas station and people are always waiting in line out the door to get their famous barbecue. And when I finished, my friend Brad Sweeten, and athletic director at one of the high schools in Kansas City, Missouri, took me to a local ice cream place that makes ice cream cones as tall is the Empire State building.

Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg in Heidelberg, ON

Honestly, I could write about the dozens and dozens of places I’ve visited over the years. Every single place has its own personality and tasty cuisine.

Following are a few of the photos of the diners, dives and drive-ins that I visited over the years.  I have dozens that you can read about in my blog.  I only have room to include a few.  One piece of advice though… don’t go looking for a sandwich in Sandwich, NH.  Been there…failed that.  No sandwiches in Sandwich.

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
In the Country Bakery and Eatery on the outskirts of Damascus, VA
A Pal’s Sudden Service building. Lots of fun and it looks like the food is great too. Bristol, TN
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Story Inn, Story, Indiana
Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana (Cheap Drinks and Lousy Food)
Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco
Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY

 

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Travel #TBT: Jan. 2010 – A Weekend in KC and St. Louis

A weekend in St. Louis/Kansas City – Jan. 14-17, 2010

January 14, 2010: ROAD TRIP!!  After quite a hiatus on road trips, I finally took one.  Now that I am working for iHigh.com (was until 2012) I do have occasion to take a trip or two for support.  In this instance I was to travel to Kirkwood High School in St. Louis to Live Stream a basketball tournament on January 15, and then travel to Kansas City to Live Stream a large wrestling tournament at Center High School.  Naturally, along the way both there and back I made some side trips, as is always my custom, but in this case I did not veer too far off the beaten path.

Lexington, KY to Santa Claus, IN then St. Louis then Kansas City and back via Liberty, Independence and Lexington, MO

My first stop along the way was in Santa Claus, Indiana.  Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, Indiana and I believe it is the only town named Santa Claus anywhere.  According to the Wikipedia article about Santa Claus, the town was established in 1854. In 1856, when the town (then known as Santa Fe, pronounced “fee”) was working to
establish a Post Office, the US Postal Service refused their first application as there was already another Santa Fe, Indiana. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected.  Currently the town claims to have the world’s only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, Indiana
Welcome to Santa Claus, Indiana
Santa Claus, Indiana Post Office
Santa Claus, Indiana

 Santa Claus is a small town, but does have an amusement park a unique shopping center and Santa Claus statues everywhere.

Santa Claus lamp post…great even in the summer!
Santa’s Lodge Resort in Santa Claus, IN
A grumpy Santa statue in Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus Town Hall
Santa Claus benches
Yes, there is a Christmas Store in Santa Claus…surprise, surprise
Giant Santa Claus statue on top of a hill in Santa Claus, IN
The roller coaster at Holiday World amusement park in Santa Claus, IN
There is even a large Frosty the Snowman statue in town

After filling my eyes with Santa Claus and filling the car’s tank with fuel, I was back on I-64 heading west to St. Louis.  The drive was fairly
uneventful.  I had to be at Kirkwood High School in time for an evening basketball game which was part of the Denver Miller
Tournament
, in honor of the former Kirkwood basketball coach.  The
funny part of the story is that one of my college roommates from BYU back in 1978 had graduated from here and also had been a kicker.  I searched the high school for any sign of Ray Heyman’s name and actually found it on a plaque of football lettermen from 1973.  Ray is now an attorney in Arizona and doing very well.

After the game, I headed off to the hotel for the night.

January 15, 2010: I was up early the next morning to head to St. Louis to meet one of my friends who had moved from Lexington.  We headed out to a diner in St. Louis known as Goody Goody Diner.
As with all other adventures I take, I look for interesting locations to chow down and this one was a doozy!!  Located on Natural Bridge Rd., it appears to be in the industrial part of town.  The Diner has been around since 1948 and has gone through numerous hands.  It is purportedly in the same location as the original A & W Root Beer stand in St. Louis, which was opened in 1931. The A & W had car hops and the tradition continued with Goody Goody diner until the early 1970s. Currently the diner is owned by Richard and Laura Connelly. Richard’s father purchased the diner in 1954 and it has been in the
family ever since.

Goody Goody’s Old Fashioned Neon Sign
Richard Connelly, owner of Goody Goody
The traditional old diner coffee cup sign at Goody Goody Diner

The diner has typical diner fare, but they also have their own specialties.  They are famous for their “Wilbur” omelet,  which is filled with hash brown potatoes, green peppers, onions and tomatoes.  Then it is covered with chili and Cheddar cheese.  It also comes with sides…I ordered the grits and an English muffin.  The omelet was FABULOUS and really not too costly either.  My friend Steve tried the fried chicken and waffles. That looked pretty good as well.

Goody Goody’s Wilbur omelet, with grits and an English Muffin
The “Wilbur” omelet
Traditional chicken and waffles at Goody Goody
Sumoflam getting ready to enjoy his “Wilbur” omelet
Traditional diner counter seating is still in use at Goody Goody
Goody Goody sign
Clientele fill the seats at Goody Goody
Not sure where it got the name, but the atmosphere and food were both deserving of the name Goody Goody!!
In my continuing quest for murals and wall art, I saw two pieces on the same wall on a building next door to Goody Goody’s (see other one below)
Trumpet Wall Art – St. Louis Jazz

After a good meal and some time with my friend Steve, I was back on my way Kirkwood for another game.  Along the way I visited the quaint town of Kirkwood and drove to the Laumeier Sculpture Park which had some large art.  It was a pleasant diversion. The Laumeier Park was established in 1972 and over the years has grown to over 105 acres.  It was one of just a few open air art museums in the world.  I took numerous photos of the art work.  Following are just a few samples. There is a map of the entire outdoor park/museum
here
.

Laumeier Sculpture Park in Kirkwood, MO
Ernest Trova – Profile Canto VI, 1974
Armand P. Arman – La Libellule, 1996
Mark di Suvero – Tumbleweed, 1978-95
Anthony Caro – Java, 1976
Mark di Suvero – Destino, 2003
Bro. Mel Meyer – Chairs, 1996 (located downtown Kirkwood)

After the little drive I then went and videoed the basketball games and then drove most of the evening to Kansas City, arriving there shortly after midnight.

January 16, 2010: It was another early day for me…to bed at 1 AM and up at 6 AM.  This entire day would be spent at Center High School in Kansas City to coordinate and manage live streaming a 16 team wrestling tournament on 6 mats.  We would be trying something not done before by iHigh…basically run 6 Live Streams from one location simultaneously for nearly 9 hours.  After we got all set up and cleared up a few glitches, we were rolling.   Center HS had provided some football players to assist in manning the cameras.  Athletic Director Brad Sweeten worked with me most of the day in the coordination and monitoring.  It was a great success.  We had some great stories, like the father in Afghanistan who got to watch or the grandfather in Ohio who saw his grandson wrestle (and win the championship in his weight class) for the first time ever.  This is why I love my job!! 

After the tournament was over, Coach Sweeten and I headed to a local restaurant to enjoy what Kansas City is famous for…Barbecue.  It was great and so was the company.  Finally, by 11 PM I was back in bed at the hotel. The next day would be an early departure to head back home via a few more places.

January 17, 2010: I would head back home to Lexington today, but once again would hit a few back roads and catch a few more bits of America as I like to see it.  My first stop was heading north into
Kansas City for a drive by the art museums there.  Like St. Louis, there is some interesting out door artwork…more specifically giant shuttlecocks (or badminton birdies).  In July 1994, Shuttlecocks, the first outdoor sculpture commissioned for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, was installed in the Kansas City Sculpture Park, which is part of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The shuttlecocks were created by internationally known Dutch artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and were a  gift to the Museum.  Altogether there are four shuttlecocks, each 17 ft. 11 in. high x 15 ft. 1 in. crown diameter and 4 ft. nose diameter, located in different positions on the grounds of the museum. Oldenburg and van Bruggen have done all sorts of large and whimsical works around the world.  I sure hope to see more in the future!!

“Shuttlecocks” by Claes Oldenburg & Cossje van Bruggen at Kansas City Sculpture Park
“Shuttlecocks” by Claes Oldenburg & Cossje van Bruggen at Kansas City Sculpture Park
“Shuttlecocks” by Claes Oldenburg & Cossje van Bruggen at Kansas City Sculpture Park

There were a number of other unique works of art surrounding the old and new sections of the art museum.  I did not venture in as it was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, but I did see a couple more interesting pieces.  The first of the pieces to catch anyone’s eye is the gigantic “Spider” sculpture by French artist Louis Bourgeois. This eerie bronze sculpture was built in 1996 and sits at the entrance of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.  It stands over 11 feet tall and really is spooky.

“Spider” by Louis Bourgeois at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City
Another view of “Spider” by Louis Bourgeois at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City
Another interesting sculpture at Kemper (name and artist unknown)

After seeing just a few of the works of art at the sculpture parks in St. Louis and Kansas City, I am determined to get to others in the U.S. on my travels in the future.  I hope to see the Franconica Sculpture Park
in Franconica, MN and the Porter Sculpture Park near Montrose, SD (which I did see in 2012), among others.

After the interesting venture into art, I headed north to Independence, MO, site of some Mormon Church History.  Along the way I came across the somewhat famous and unique Leila’s Hair
Museum
.  I have seen this place noted in Roadside America and also on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Well, I found the place, but it is closed on
Sundays.  The only sign is the one below…it was in a plastic folder taped on the door.

Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, MO

Also on my drive thru Independence I came across this all painting.
Independence is the home of President Harry Truman and this wall painting depicts the famous Chicago Tribune article that mistakenly proclaimed that Dewey had defeated Truman.  The mural sits on the side of the Welch, Martin and Albano law office in downtown Independence.

Harry Truman wall mural in Independence, MO

From Independence I then drove to Liberty, MO.  My main objective there was to see the Liberty Jail Historic Site, where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was held. Unfortunately, I pulled into Liberty at 8:30 AM and the Visitor’s Center didn’t open until 9, so I didn’t get the chance to go in.  But, it was nice to finally get there.  Joseph Smith spent almost 5 months in this jail while awaiting trial and received three revelations (Sections 121, 122 and 123) which are included in the Church’s Doctrine and CovenantsOne of the scriptures has always been inspirational to me: in D&C 121:7-8 “. . . if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  Joseph Smith suffered some tortuous times in his life and this was definitely one of them.

Liberty Jail in Liberty, MO

Not too far from the Liberty Jail are some interesting murals on the Clay County Offices. On one corner is a painting that appears to depict Lewis and Clark. Then there are some unique ceramic murals that adorn the walls of the office building. Each ceramic mural,  originally installed in 1984, depicts figures and events from Clay County’s past.

Lewis & Clark Mural painted by Liberty artist David McClain
A portion of Lewis & Clark Mural painted by Liberty artist David McClain Located on the side of the Clay County Detention Center
These are some of the ten ceramic murals on the wall of the Clay County Public Safety Building in Liberty, MO. They depict the history of the county. Above is “Scales and Rails” which depicts the Watkins Mill of 1860, Cook Paint & Varnish in 1913, Ralston Purina in the 1940s, Claycomo Ford Assembly Plant in 1951, and the A.S.B. Bridge built in 1912.
This is the Clay Country War Memorial which shows the white doves of Anguish (on the left) and Serenity (on the right). Flanked by the white doves, soldiers from Missouri in all the great wars remind us of the price freedom requires — death. As the North gestures to the South, the sallow image of Col. Alexander Doniphan and his entourage march into history.
The shots above and below are closeups of some portions of the ceramic murals that depict many of the former residents of Clay County

After the visit to Liberty, my next stop was in Lexington, Missouri, famed for the Civil War Battle of Lexington.  I drove by the visitor’s center but did not have time to go in.  That’ll have to be on another trip.

Battle of Lexington Visitor’s Center and Plaque commemorating the battle

Click here for a brief of history of this battle. The town of Lexington had a few other notable things, including a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.

An eagle was the centerpiece of a war heroes monument
Lady Liberty stood watch in downtown Lexington, MO
A mural found in Lexington, MO depicting the some of the history of this river town

Perhaps the most delightful thing about driving the less beaten paths of America are the rustic and natural sites along the way.  As we speed by on the freeways we miss so much.  Here are just a few of the things I saw along the way home from Lexington, MO to Lexington, KY.

An old vine entwined windmill sits lonely in a field on a backroad east of Liberty, MO
Saw this old tree shrouded in fog on a back road in Missouri
Found this interesting tree on a clump of dirt. The fog made it more mysterious
Along the way on back roads we see the history of this country. This is an old Maid-Rite Sandwiches sign near Lexington, MO
An old rural ruin along the road…someone’s dream home at one time

And finally, along the road I came across a flock of Flamingos.  As a true Trailer Park Troubadour Flamingohead, I could not pass up the opportunity to capture a few shots of these silly pink birds at what appeared to be a Biker Joint.

Pink flamingos at the Hawgs and Heifers Bar
More pink
This is a biker bar and grill located in Fayette, MO. They claim to have good food (unlike Stoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana)

Some roadside guidance provided by……

 

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Vintage Neon Everywhere

Old Mojo Gas Sign - Rock Springs, Wyoming
Old Mojo Gas Sign – Rock Springs, Wyoming

Everywhere I go I see old neon.  These signs remind me of the my youthful days in the 1960s and 70s when we traveled.  Alas, for many, the only signs they see are the same unoriginal fast food, gas station and motel chain signs all over the place.  But, in the by gone days there were few McDonald’s and Motel 6 spots.  Instead, there were the little cozy motels with the old metal chairs in the front and the unique neon signs.  There were the local burger joints with their big shiny signs.  And there were the drive in movie theaters and the downtown theatres with their unique names.  Here is a trip down memory lane with neon I have captured along the less beaten paths and just a few comments, when appropriate.

OLD MOTELS

Chinook Hotel - Chinook, Montana
Chinook Hotel – Chinook, Montana

Of all of the unique neon signs, perhaps the hotel and motel signs are the most fun and bring back the fondest memories.  My first ever motel stay was in some non-descript motel in Amarillo, Texas in 1968.  At the time I was only 12.  It was exciting to sleep in a motel bed, see the paper covered drinking glasses, taste the strange tasting water, sit on the metal rockers on the front porch.  We watched the news and stock reports on the local television and ate pancakes at a local cafe before heading to our new home in Richardson, Texas (we were moving from Albuquerque, so yes, we were on Route 66 back then).

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana
Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Cave Land Motel - Cave City, Kentucky
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky
Log Cabin Motel - Ashton, Idaho
Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone, Montana
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana
D-K Motel - Arco, Idaho
D-K Motel – Arco, Idaho
Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, South Dakota
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, South Dakota
4 Winds Motel - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4 Winds Motel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana  The sign is all that remains
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana The sign is all that remains
Generic Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Generic Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri.  Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri. Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Motel in Havre, Montana
Motel in Havre, Montana
Palace Hotel - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Palace Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Antler Motel - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Antler Motel – Kemmerer, Wyoming
Texan Motel - Raton, New Mexico
Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

And to round off the trip, how about one of the more famed ones….

Sleep in a Wigwam - Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Goody Goody - St. Louis, Missouri
Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

After a nice evening a a comfy motel, what is better than starting the day off with a great breakfast at a diner, a pancake house or a local cafe. The servings are always big, the mom and pop service is better than any fast food joint.  Of course, while on the road you can also stop for lunch and even a big dinner, in some cases even more than you can manage if you are willing to take the chance (think Amarillo, Texas!!)

Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas
Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas They have a giant rooster on the roof there too!
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon
Royal Donut - Danville, Illinois
Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois
Crystal Cafe - Raton, NM
Crystal Cafe – Raton, NM
Golden Burro Cafe - Leadville, CO
Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO
Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, OH
Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, OH
Lil' Cafe - Commerce, Oklahoma
Lil’ Cafe – Commerce, Oklahoma
Irma Restaurant and Grill - Cody, Wyoming
Irma Restaurant and Grill – Cody, Wyoming
Pickle's Place - Arco, Idaho
Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho
Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota

How about some burgers for lunch?

Wimpy's Hamburgers - Dallas, Texas - I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today....
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….
Paul's Hamburgers - Kansas City, Kansas
Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Miami, Oklahoma
Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Frostop Root Beer - Ashton, Idaho
Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho
Schroeder's Drive-In - Danville, Illinois
Schroeder’s Drive-In – Danville, Illinois

Perhaps you want to try an ORIGINAL Cozy Dog….a Route 66 Classic indeed.  This one deserves two photos

Cozy Drive-In - Home of the Cozy Dog - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In – Home of the Cozy Dog – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In - Springfield, Illinois  The sign says it all
Cozy Drive-In – Springfield, Illinois The sign says it all

Don’t want a burger or a corn dog?  How about a Maid-Rite Sandwich?

Maid-Rite Sandwiches - Lexington, Missouri
Maid-Rite Sandwiches – Lexington, Missouri

Or perhaps some great authentic Bar-B-Q?

Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

And a little Ice Cream for an afternoon treat….

Zesto - near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Zesto – near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Jimmy's Ice Cream - Waldo, Arkansas
Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Stamps, Arkansas

Okay.  So this next one is not neon.  But it is certainly Vintage.  And who can resist stopping for an ice cream at a place that LOOKS like an Ice Cream?

M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, Illinois
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, Illinois

There are lots of places that you can get dinner…many of the old neon places are a combo bar/grill or bar/restaurant.   And many have unique signs.  Personally, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have certainly enjoyed a few good meals at some of these kinds of places.

Manhattan Bar - Leadville, Colorado
Manhattan Bar – Leadville, Colorado
Mint Bar and Lounge - Chinook, Montana
Mint Bar and Lounge – Chinook, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge - Butte, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge – Butte, Montana
Atomic City Bar - Atomic City, Idaho - no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Atomic City Bar – Atomic City, Idaho – no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Elk Bar and Good Food - Chinook, Montana
Elk Bar and Good Food – Chinook, Montana
Steaks - what more needs to be said? - near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Steaks – what more needs to be said? – near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Riscky's Steakhouse - Fort Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Fort Worth, Texas
Lariat Saloon - Buena Vista, Colorado
Lariat Saloon – Buena Vista, Colorado

And let’s not forget two of the most iconic vintage neon places for travelers….

Cowboy Bar - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big Texan Steak House - home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) - Amarillo, Texas
Big Texan Steak Ranch – home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) – Amarillo, Texas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more ethnic in the evening….

Joe Mama's Italian - Time for Fine Eats - Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
Joe Mama’s Italian – Time for Fine Eats – Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
El Fenix Restaurant - Best Tex-Mex in Texas - downtown Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Restaurant – Best Tex-Mex in Texas – downtown Dallas, Texas
Hung Far Low - Famous Chop Suey and Famous name - Portland, Oregon
Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon

Or perhaps just a late night Philly Cheese Steak?  How about two choices and they are just across the street from each other in the triangle….(I actually tried one at each place on the same evening – add the whiz!)

Geno's Cheese Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Movie Theaters, Drive-In Theaters and Music Halls

Teton Drive-In - Rexburg, Idaho
Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

Perhaps you have had a long day on the road and need a break from motel room TV.  A visit to an old drive in theater with some popcorn and thus fuzzy little speakers hanging in your window will do ya.

Too cold outside?  Then there are some classic old movie theaters around that show some cool movies or maybe even will have a live band playing in them. Many of the old theaters are multi-purpose nowadays, but their old neon signs still draw you in and bring back the memories of 1960s childhood.

Following are a few classic looks with neon I have seen over the years as I travel the back roads of America.

 

Plaza Theatre - Glasgow, Kentucky
Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Lund Theatre - Viborg, South Dakota
Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota
Liberty Theatre - Vandalia, Illinois
Liberty Theatre – Vandalia, Illinois
Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
The Blue Room - Kansas City, Missouri
The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri
Pix Theatre - Winner, South Dakota
Pix Theatre – Winner, South Dakota
Westside Theatre - Newman, California
West Side Theatre – Newman, California
Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Kentucky
Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, Kentucky
Fox Theatre - Detroit, Michigan
Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan
Skyline Theatre - Rudyard, Montana
Hi-Line Theatre – Rudyard, Montana
El Raton Theatre - Raton, NM
El Raton Theatre – Raton, NM
Fischer Theatre - Danville, Illinois
Fischer Theatre – Danville, Illinois
Orpheum Theatre - Wichita, Kansas
Orpheum Theatre – Wichita, Kansas
Leeds Theatre - Winchester, Kentucky
Leeds Theatre – Winchester, Kentucky
Bing Crosby Theatre - Spokane, Washington
Bing Crosby Theatre – Spokane, Washington

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY OTHER PLACES

Pelo's Sundries - LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)
Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Sure, I meant it when I included “Sundry” in this section.  That term seems old fashioned now, but the old five-and-dime shops had “sundry” items.  There were also the old drug stores that sold magazines, had fountains in the shop and they sold “sundries.”

I also include the “various” in here since there are a few odds and ends neon signs that I  want to include in this section.

The famous Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
The famous Pike Place Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas.  They also do shoe repairs
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas. They also do shoe repairs
Arco City Hall - Arco, Idaho - First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Arco City Hall – Arco, Idaho – First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Boring Rexall Drugs - Warsaw, Missouri
Boring Rexall Drugs – Warsaw, Missouri
The Old Drugs Store - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
The Old Drugs Store – Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Now, wasn’t that just a yummy adventure through the past?

Yummy House - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

(1894)