June 2019: The Great Southwest Trek

On June 5 I departed home on a 10 day adventure to the southwest U.S.  I had made plans with my sister Sherry to accompany her and her family to Tucson and Albuquerque to visit our brothers Aaron and Gary, both of whom neither of us had seen on over 20 years.

Red Rock Crossing in Sedona, Arizona
Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona

I love my road trips.  But I really looked forward to this one as much of it would take me to many of my old stomping grounds.  Plans were to visit Aaron in Tucson, then go up to Flagstaff, via Sedona, for a couple of days of touring around there and then off to Albuquerque to visit Gary.

San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff, Arizona

I was really excited about the Flagstaff part.  From 1980 to 1984 we lived in Flagstaff, where I attended Northern Arizona University and, for three years, worked as a Tour Guide/Driver for the Gray Line Tours franchise called Nava-Hopi Tours.  That job was always one of my favorites as I got to take people from all over the world to see parts of the world that were fascinating.  The geography and geology of the area is world-renown. The history, with the ancient American relics and the present day Native American Navajo and Hopi tribes and their life styles were also fascinating.  I really was excited to visit many of the places I had not visited since the 1990s, when I took a return trip up there after getting back from Japan.

Delight, Arkansas
Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona
31 Miles an Hour in Trenton, Tennessee
Grand Canyon

This ten day adventure took me over 6000 miles of highway and through nine states.  During the trip we got to visit two National Parks (including Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest) and four National Monuments (White Sands, Sunset Crater, Wupatki, Montezuma Castle).  We visited mountain tops and deserts and saw a lot of great scenery.

It has taken a while to compile much of the road trip fun.  Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks I will be able to get a few fun posts out about what will likely be my big road trip for 2019.

Welcome to New Mexico
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona

Watch for detailed posts on the road trip and the many places.  ENJOY THE RIDE!

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I now have three books available about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see all of them at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Book 3 was published and available on August 24, 2019.

 

Book Cover for Book 3 – Cover Art and design by Antsy McClain

(12)

Everywhere a Sign – Some U Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Its a unanimous understatement to say that I love traveling the back roads of America looking for the interesting and unique. It is ultimately my utmost passion (well, besides my family and my grandchildren).

I will also do something in this post. I will be posting some of the US Highway signs I have picked up, most specifically in 2018. I’ll explain down below.  I hope you enjoy some of the U Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Uranus, Missouri

Welcome to Uranus Missouri
Uranus, Missouri water tower
Thanks for Picking Uranus
Sounds yummy
Help Keep Uranus Clean
The Best Fudge Comes from Uranus
Uranus Parks T-shirt

Might as well start this post on a humorously low point.  Yes indeed, there is a place in Missouri called Uranus. And yes, it is pronounced “Your Anus” (and by the way, I heard a question on Jeopardy recently and Alex Trebek pronounces it that way).  And yes, the main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory where all of the employees (affectionately referred to as Fudge Packers) all yell out “Welcome to Uranus” when you walk into the shop.  Indeed, the owners and creators made sure it was quite the attraction.  Rather than go into detail on this post (I think the pictures above give you enough hints), please go visit my detailed post about Uranus from last year.  You can see more about Uranus here.

US Highway Shields / Route Markers

US Route 61 in Mississippi, also known as The Blues Highway (taken in 2017)

OK.  You are probably thinking “How can looking at numbers on signs be interesting?”  And, I would give that to you.  To many they probably aren’t.  But look at the signs…they look like shields or badges.  And, to me, as a collector of road trip memories (via photos and memories), these are like Boy Scout merit badges.  I am always after yet another number for my collection.

For consistency, in my blog I refer to them as US Highways, though they are called Route XX in other places…ala Route 66.  But, they are definitely interchangeable.

US Highway 1 signs in Baltimore, Maryland. US Highway 1 actually goes along the east coast from Key West, Florida to Fort Kent, Maine… a total of 2,369 miles.

US Highway 1 is the easternmost route in the US and runs north-south (as do ALL odd numbered highways) along the Atlantic Coast.

The first highways were numbered with this universal system in 1925.  Nowadays,  the U.S. Numbered Highways (or Routes) are the original interstate highways, dating back to 1926. U.S. Highways are numbered in a grid: even numbered for east–west routes (with the lowest numbers along Canada) and odd numbered for north–south routes (with the lowest numbers along the Atlantic Ocean). Three-digit highways, also known as “child routes,” are branches off their main one- or two-digit “parents” (for example, U.S. Route 202 is a branch of U.S. Route 2). However, US 101, rather than a “child” of US 1, is considered a “mainline” U.S. Route.

US Highway 2 in Hurley, Wisconsin (taken in 2016)
US Highway 2 at Stevens Pass in Washington

US Highway 2 is the northernmost long highway in the United States.  Completely, it covers 2,571 miles from east to west, starting in Houlton, Maine and ending in Everett, Washington.   In 1926 it was intentionally split.  The eastern section ends in Rouses Point, New York, where it meets US Highway 11.  Then, the highway kicks in again in St. Ignace, Michigan and traverses across the northern US, ending in Everett, Washington.  I have actually driven (at different times) the entire length of US Highway 2 from Ironwood, Michigan to Everett, Washington.

US Highway 101 in Southern Washington

US Highway 101 was the only original highway to have a three digit number.  This is the westernmost north-south highway and runs from Port Angeles, Washington to Los Angeles, California for about 1,550 miles.  In some places it is nicknamed the Pacific Coast Highway and in California it is also called the El Camino Real (the Royal Road).  I have been on portions of this highway in Washington, Oregon and California.

US Highway 90 near Garwood, Texas

Like US Highway 2, US Highway 90 is the original southern route going east-west.   It basically begins in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and ends in Van Horn, Texas.   It has a length of about 1,633 miles and, in some places is called the Old Spanish Trail.  I have driven portions of this highway in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, most of it in 2018 when I drive to Houston via Mobile, Alabama, through Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi, Lafayette, Louisiana and as far west as San Antonio.

Route 66 – Getting my kicks
Route 66 in Missouri … near Rolla, Missouri
Visiting Route 66 in White Oak, Oklahoma
Historic Route 66 in Staunton, Illinois

Though I have not even come close to gaining all of the “badges,” I have many.  Following are a few of the other US Highways I have been on.  Just for your interest…my favorites are (in order)…  US 2 (from Wisconsin to Washington), US 89 (from northern Montana to Southern Arizona), US 66 (naturally), US 61 (along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Mississippi), US 50 (another cross-country east-west highway that cuts through the heart of America for over 300 miles from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California), US 101, US 60, which cuts across the heartland of the United States and sometimes joins with Route 66, and finally, US 31 (which runs from Northern Michigan to Mobile, Alabama including a long stretch through Kentucky).  But, I love many more of them!

Following are a few random photos I took in 2018 to add to my “badge collection” of US Highway Signs.

US Highway 68 taken in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. This highway runs for 560 miles from Toledo, Ohio to Reidland, Kentucky
US Highway 177 taken near Byars, Oklahoma. This is a spur of US Hwy 77 and goes for 233 miles from South Haven, Kansas to Madill, Oklahoma
US Highway 81 in Ringgold, Oklahoma

US Highway 81  is a major north-south highway that extends for 1220 miles in the central United States and is one of the earliest United States Numbered Highways established in 1926 by the US Department of Agriculture Bureau of Public Roads.  It begins in the north near Pembina, North Dakota at the U.S./Canada border and ends in Fort Worth, Texas at Interstate 35W.

US Highway 287, also pictured above, is a north–south (physically northwest–southeast) United States highway that stretches for 1,791 miles.  It serves as the major truck route between Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. The highway is broken into two segments by Yellowstone National Park, where an unnumbered park road serves as a connector.  I have actually been on many portions of this road.

US Highway 271 near Arthur City, Texas. It is about 297 miles in length from Tyler, Texas through Oklahoma to Fort Smith, Arkansas
US Highway 183 near Florence, Texas. It was the last route to be completely paved (in 1967). It runs north-south for 1250 miles from Refugio, Texas to Presho, South Dakota. I have been on many sections of this highway over the years.
US Highway 51 near Dyersburg, Missouri.

US Highway 51 is another major south-north United States highway that extends 1,277 miles from Laplace, Louisiana, to Hurley, Wisconsin on the  Wisconsin–Michigan state line where it ends in a T interchange with US Highway 2 near Ironwood, Michigan.  I actually stood at that very corner for my US Highway 2 photo (see above).

US Highways 79 and 190 in Milano, Texas

US Highway 79 is officially considered and labeled as a north-south highway, but it is actually more of a diagonal northeast-southwest highway. The highway’s northern/eastern terminus is in Russellville, Kentucky, at an intersection with U.S. Highway 68 and KY 80.  I have driven US 79 from Russellville all the way through Clarksville and Paris, Tennessee and then on to Memphis (where I took US Highway 61 south into Mississippi).  On other trips, I have taken US 79 in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  US Highway 79 covers about 855 miles.

US 190 has been around since 1926.  It covers about 875 miles as an auxiliary route to US Highway 90.  It starts in Slidell, Louisiana and ends in Iraan, Texas.  It passes through Baton Rouge as well as Huntsville and Temple, Texas.  I have driven a good portion of US Highway 190.

US Highway 58 near Damascus, Virginia

This is a beautiful stretch of highway starting at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee and heading about 508 miles across southern Virginia eventually to Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia.  At one time or another I have driven the entire length of this highway.

US Highway 89 and US Highway  2 meet up in northern Browning, Montana

US Highway begins in the northernmost region of Montana north of Babb on the Canada/Montana border. It goes south ending in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Over the course of my life I have traveled every inch of this 1,252 mile highway which was first established in 1926.  I would argue that this is one of the most scenic highways in the United States.  It passes seven National Parks (thus the nickname the National Park Highway.  These include, among others, Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and the Grand Canyon.  Along the route it also passes a number of scenic National Monuments as well.  In fact, National Geographic magazine has called this the “No. 1 Driver’s Drive in the World.”  I would concur.  You can experience mountains, high plains, deserts and canyons on this route.

US Highway 60 on Midland Trail in West Virginia

Last sign for this post is a biggie.  US Highway 60 is an east–west United States highway, traveling 2,670 miles from southwestern Arizona to the Atlantic coast in Virginia. Despite the final “0” in its number, indicating a transcontinental designation, the 1926 route formerly ended in Springfield, Missouri, at its intersection with Route 66.

US Highway 60 cuts through West Virginia as the Midland Trail and also passes through Central Kentucky and westward.  I have driven the entire length from Norfolk, Virginia through Lexington, Virginia and on through West Virginia, Kentucky into Cairo, Illinois.  This has been a major route for me for many years, especially since it extends out of Lexington both east and west.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

(31)

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

 

Gronk’s Grill and Bar – Superior, Wisconsin

Gronk’s Grill and Bar in Superior, WI
The fickle finger of fate at the entrance of Gronks in Superior, WI

Gettysburg National Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Sons Seth and Solomon at the Gettysburg Museum, July 4 1998

Glacier Bay National Park – Gustavus, Alaska

Purple Mountain Majesties – near Glacier Bay, Alaska
On Glacier Bay in Alaska in 2004

Galata Motel Neon – Galata, Montana

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana

Geno’s Steak & Cheese – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Grilling the steaks at Geno’s in Philadelphia

Greater “Booming” Prairie Chicken Statue – Rothsay, Minnesota

Greater Prairie Chicken Statue – Rothsay, MN

George Washington Statue – Great Falls, Montana

George Washington at mall in Great Falls

Giraffe at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas

Giraffe Eye taken at Fossil Rim

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Bridge in 2016
At Golden Gate Bridge in in San Francisco, CA May 2016

Glenn Goode’s Big People – Gainesville, Texas

Glenn Goode’s Big People
Sumoflam at Glenn Goode’s Big People in Gainesville, TX

Greedy Kitty Restaurant – Toronto, Ontario

Greedy Kitty Restaurant – Chinatown in Toronto

Glove Capital of the World – Chillicothe, Missouri

Part of Window in Time -Glove Capital of the World

Gold Pavilion (Kinkakji) – Kyoto, Japan

Visiting the Gold Pavilion “Kinkaku Ji” in Kyoto in 1987

Glacier National Park – Babbs, Montana

First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babbs, Montana

Grasshoppers in the Field – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Giant Grasshopper at Stop #3, “Grasshoppers in the Field”4

Giant FREE Rubber Stamp – Cleveland, Ohio

Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, Colorado

Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO

Guitar Walk at Cavanaugh Park – Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

The Guitar Walk recognizes some famous musicians who had performed along US 67

Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, California

I got to visit the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco as part of Antsy McClain’s tour team. Great music hall

Grant Woods “American Gothic” House – Eldon, Iowa

Sumoflam Gothic at the Grant Wood American Gothic House in Eldon, IA

Greenwater, Washington

10 foot tall Sasquatch carving at Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

Goody Goody – St. Louis, Missouri

Gregory, South Dakota

Giant Pheasant in Gregory SD

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River – Cameron, Arizona

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River, ca. 1983

Gasoline Pump Art – Story, Indiana

Gasoline Pump Art Sculpture in Story, IN

German Driving School Car Models – DFW Elite Toy Museum – Haltom City, Texas

With one of the rare German-made Driving School Models built in the 1950s by Werner Degener

Gator Chateau – Jennings, Louisiana

The Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA
Baby Gator at Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA

Gravel Switch, Kentucky

Amish Buggies in Gravel Switch

Gateway Arch National Monument – St. Louis, Missouri

Gateway Arch as seen from Malcolm W. Marin Memorial Park in E. St. Louis, IL

Guardians of Traffic – Cleveland, Ohio

Guardians on Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant, Mt. Horeb, WI

Geographic Center of North America Monument – Rugby, North Dakota

Monument for the Geographic Center of North America in Rugby, ND

Gifu Castle – Gifu, Japan

Gifu Castle in Gifu Japan (ca. spring 1977)

Great Texas Supper Mural – LSA Burger Co. – Denton, Texas

The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

Giant Baseball Bat – Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville

Grand Teton National Park – Driggs, Idaho

Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho

Gnaw Bone, Indiana

A place called Gnaw Bone in Indiana

Grave Creek Mound – Moundsville, West Virginia

Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville, WV

Grand Trunk Railway – Caledonia, Ontario

Caledonia and Grand Trunk Railway

Grizz Works – Maple, Wisconsin

Sumoflam and Justin Howland at Grizz Works in Maple, WI. Giant Grizzly is amazing! He makes yard art

Gol Stave Church – Minot, North Dakota

Sumoflam at the replica of the Gol Stave Church in Minot, ND

Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983

Great Falls of the Missouri – Great Falls, Montana

Great Falls of the Missouri in Great Falls, MT

Graceland – Memphis, Tennessee

Going to Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee January 2001

Galveston, Texas

Sumoflam enjoying the beach in Galveston

Geese in Flight – Enchanted Highway – Dickinson, North Dakota

“Geese in Flight” – Stop #1 on Enchanted Highway. Off of I-94, Exit 72

Winking Smiley Water Tower – Grand Forks, North Dakota

Winking Smiley on backside of Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND

Gates of the Mountains – near Helena, Montana

Man and Dog with Gates of the Mountains

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

 

(28)