Tag Archives: Houston TX

The Year in Travel: 2016 from A to Z

The year 2016 was not a banner year for travel for me as there were no super long  cross country trips taken like I had done form 2012-2015. However, over the course of the year we did take a number of smaller trips and a couple of fairly long trips. I visited 11 states during the year and made it to some places where I hadn’t been for nearly 30 years. Even made it into towns from A (Abingdon, VA) to Z (Zanesville, OH) and one with an X too (Xenia, OH)!!

Here is a map that includes many of the places:

Abingdon, VA – Eastern terminus of the Virginia Creeper Trail
Zanesville, Ohio home of the Y Bridge
Julianne and David at Xenia Station on the Little Miami Scenic Trail

During the course of the year we visited a few major cities including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We also visited Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.

Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington
Julianne and Laura at the North Bend Rail Trail HQ in Cairo, WV

A good portion of my travel in 2016 was related to rails to trails bike trails that my wife Julianne had desired to ride. We visited some lovely bike trails in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. While Julianne rode, I would take the back roads and meet her along the trails. This was until I got my own bicycle on my birthday in October.

All of us at Whitetop Station at the beginning of the 10 mile downhill Virginia Creeper Bike Trail near Damascus, VA
Flying to Houston from Cincinnati

We took one flight during the year which was to Houston to celebrate a calling for my son in church and to visit our grandsons. In late October, we also drove to Fort Worth, Texas for the funeral of my father. Not as joyous a trip, but we did visit a few locations along the way for fun.

Visiting my youngest grandchild Sam in Houston
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

Our trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh were predominantly because Julian sister Laura had moved from Idaho to the Pittsburgh area. So she met Julianne on a couple of the bike ride trips. She and Julianne also attended a conference at the Kirtland Temple and while they were there, I visited my family in Little Italy in Cleveland and also took some tours around the city with my sister Tina and her husband Jim.

Riding with Tina and Jim around Cleveland
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple
Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh

Then we visited Laura in Pittsburgh, we got to see a number of wonderful things in Pittsburgh including the Monongahela Incline, hey unique rail type system that pulled us up to the top of Mt. Washington where we had spectacular views of the city of Pittsburgh and the three rivers down below.

Bridges across Pittsburgh
Classic Neon of famed Dumser’s Drive-In in Ocean City, MD

The year ended on a high note as we took a long trip to Ocean City, MD where we stayed with Julianne’s sister and her husband Richard and their daughter for about a week on the beach. It was a wonderful trip! It was during this trip that we also visited Washington DC and the large LDS Washington DC Temple with all of its amazing Christmas lights. I also made my way up to Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, both of which I had not visited since the 1980s.

Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986
Washington DC Temple at Christmas
The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC
Old Paradise Cafe sign in Ocean City. What is a beach resort town without a flamingo or two?
I think I counted about 12 themed mini golf places on the main drag in Ocean City, including dragons, pirates and dinosaurs.
Township of Moon, PA (I have also been to Earth, TX, Mars, PA, Jupiter, FL and even Vulcan, AB

Of course, whenever we take road trips I always try to find the unique and the unusual whenever possible. And most of our trips were not immune from my searching to do so. On our trips visited such wonderful places as Friendly, WV, Prosperity, PA, Novelty, OH, Happy, KY, Eighty Four, PA and a few other unique named towns as indicated in photos below.  I even located a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio and a Bliss Happens Lane in Maryland!

Made it to Hope, AR, just before the 2016 elections. Hope is the home of former President Bill Clinton.
Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office
Happy Happy Happy…yes, there is a Happy, KY
I found Novelty in Ohio…
…and found Prosperity in PA
There is a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio
A Sugar and Water corner is in Chillicothe, OH
No Name Street in Millersburg, OH
Lost? Try going the Udder Way, This is in Yellow Springs, OH at Young’s Dairy
And I found where Bliss Happens in Maryland
Reuben Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries at In the Country in Damascus, VA

During the year we often ate at places that were focused on bicyclists and motorbike enthusiasts. One such location was in Oregonia, OH. It was way out of the way to get to. Then there was the place on the Virginia Creeper Trail which was almost impossible to get to my car but was built specifically for the bicyclists coming down the Virginia Creeper Trail.

In the Country Bakery and Eatery on the outskirts of Damascus
At Damascus Old Mill Inn in Damascus
The Little River Cafe in Oregonia, OH is most easily reached by bike. It is literally on the side of the trail. The road to Oregonia is way out of the way.
Elliston Place Diner in Nashville

In August, we got to visit Nashville and hang with my good friend and musician Antsy McClain. He took us around with a few other “field trippers” and showed us some of the sites of Nashville including music Row, some music dives and some good places to eat including the oldest diner in Nashville. We also have the unique chance to sit in a recording studio with Antsy and sing back up vocals on one of his songs!

Hanging with Antsy McClain at a dive in Nashville
Had lunch at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville. Great food and a large collection of one of a kind Antsy McClain art on coffee cups
Antsy McClain art on Coffee Cups — one of dozens of original pieces on display at Flatrock Coffee in Nashville
The Antsy Backup gang at the recording studio in Nashville
Sanders Cafe in Corbin, KY. Birthplace of the KFC Special Recipe

During the course of the year, I also took a few “staycation” trips within Kentucky. This included one on the bike trail with Julianne, but also to Ravenna,  where I visited hey famed café called the Wigwam. I also took a fun trip with my grandchildren and my daughter Marissa down to Cumberland Falls and then on into Corbin to visit the Harlan Sanders museum and restaurant which is where the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken got it start. During the fall I took a solo trip up into Red River Gorge to get pictures of the fall colors. I was about a week too late to get most of them, but that was because we were in south eastern Virginia on the Creeper Trail to see the beautiful colors down there.

Birthplace of KFC
Visiting Cumberland Falls with my daughter and her kids.
The Colonel and Me at Sanders Cafe
The fall colors as seen from the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, VA
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November
Colorful trees and leaves line a small road in Red River Gorge
Story of Superman at Joe Shuster’s former home

Some of the other more unique places that I got to see over the past year would include the “Birthplace of Superman,” which was in Cleveland, as well as the house where the movie “A Christmas Story”  was filmed. Also while in Ohio, I visited the world’s largest geodesic dome in Novelty, OH. That was fascinating.

Of course, I can’t neglect to mention the visit to Little Italy to see my birthplace and family.  I ate fine Italian cuisine at Mama Santa’s and had a great time seeing other sites there. Its the best Little Italy in the US!

Cleveland Water Tower
Murray Hill Rd….where I was born. Little Italy
Sumoflam with Mama Santa’s owner Papa Tio
The Wendy’s Original $150,000 Crystal Cheeseburger created by Waterford Crystal

During the year I also visited two fast food restaurants that had included museums in them. The Wendy’s restaurant in Dublin, OH had a whole section built in there with the history of Wendy’s and a large statue of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. In Canonsburg, PA, there is a McDonald’s restaurant that includes dedications and memorabilia of Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, both of whom grew up in Canonsburg.

Home of Wendy’s
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
Sumoflam with Dave Thomas statue in Dublin, OH
Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg, PA McDonald’s
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald’s

It was fun for me to visit Xenia, OH and see the murals and the architecture and then also travel around some of the other areas nearby with Julianne and her sister and/or our grandchildren who rode  their bikes along some of the bike trails including the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

We visited the Little Miami Scenic Trail twice and each time had a great time.

Julianne, Marissa and the kids on the Little Miami Scenic Trail near Beatty Station, OH
We stopped at Young’s Dairy for some fresh ice cream on this hot day
One of Peter Toth’s 50+ Whispering Giants…this one in Ocean City, MD

Overall, I have to say it was a wonderful year. I saw dolphins swimming at sunrise on Christmas morning in the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland. We got to visit some of our great national historical sites in Washington DC. On many of the trips, it was fun to travel with the grandchildren and see the delight in their eyes they saw big waterfalls, giant statues and other interesting places.

Christmas morning sunrise in Ocean City , MD and greeted by a dolphin in the foreground.
Delaware Seashore Bridge
Another Peter Toth Whispering Giant in Bethany Beach, DE
Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY

On a final note, I have to say that we did visit a few interesting places to eat. A great taco place in Houston, and, as I mentioned before, the Wigwam in Ravenna, KY.  Also of note were the Crabcake Factory in Ocean City, MD and a Japanese place with a unique name Saketumi, in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Japanese food at the Saketumi Asian Bistro in Rehoboth Beach, DE
Enjoyed a nice Amish Buffet in Ronks, PA on the way back from Maryland

As I start a new position in new venture 2017, I look forward to traveling. The new company (PrecisionHawk) is in Raleigh, NC and so I will be taking a trip there in early January. Who knows what other delights I will find in 2017.

Following are a few other random shots from my trips in 2016:

Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH
We visited Texas in October. This was in Texarkana, TX
A shot with Elvis in Memphis
A large mural of a train welcomes visitors to Ravenna, KY
The Washington Court House in Washington Court House, OH was one of many unique buildings I got to visit in 2016
Cleveland Fire Memorial
Assawoman Dr. in Ocean City, MD
Visited Moon, PA in 2016. Visited Earth, TX in 2011. Earth vs Moon Police!
World’s largest Geodesic Dome in Novelty, OH
Many Unique Restaurants could be found in Ocean City and up in Delaware…
Fun with my wife at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia – taken when we visited the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
An old Mail Pouch barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Of course, you can always come across unique shop names, like this one in Houston
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail in Ohio
A Pal’s Sudden Service building. Lots of fun and it looks like the food is great too.
The Got Muchies Truck in Royalton, KY. Too funny for words
Had to add this sign…this place was one of our true 2016 highlights!
The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven.
Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.
Korean War Memorial in Zanesville, OH… hundreds of real helmets
Welcome to 84 Country – Eighty Four , PA
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop in Ohio
Holmes County Trail is in the middle of Amish Country. The Bike Trail is shared with Amish Buggies
Hiker painting on a restroom wall in Damascus

 

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Car Art: Cars in art around the US




DSC_9365One of the more unique American traditions along the Less Beaten Paths is the recycling of auto parts for art. Indeed, a couple of the most famous roadside attractions in the US are made from cars. This post will look at a few pieces of “car art” that I have seen over the years and, then, at the end, I will note a few others that are out there and worth a visit from all of us — some that I hope to get to over the next couple of years.

"Spindle" by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008
“Spindle” by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008

Probably one of the two most famous Car Art pieces that I am aware of, this car shish-kabob called “Spindle” and created by artist Dustin Shuler (1948-2010), became ultra famous after being featured in Wayne’s World. It has also been featured in on the cover of a book (called Oddball Illinois: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places), on postcards, state tourist brochures, and maps. It was originally commissioned by the shopping center owner, David Bermant, who donated his BMW car to be placed second from the top of the sculpture.Shuler himself owned the red 1967 VW Beetle that crowned the sculpture.The foundation of the sculpture reached nearly 30 feet into the ground; the cost of erecting it was over $75,000.

Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007
Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007

The cars on a spike never did res well with some of the citizens of Berwyn, Illinois, and thus in 1990 they voted overwhelmingly for it to be removed. Nevertheless, the Mayor argued that it drew tourism to town and had become an icon. The owner of Cermak’s Shopping Center argued the same. But, alas, in July 2007, it was announced that the shopping center was to be redeveloped and that the site of the sculpture was earmarked for a new Walgreens store. New controversy ensued and finally, in May of 2008 the structure was taken down.

The impaled cars on the spindle, from top to bottom, were:

  1. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, red
  2. 1976 BMW New Class, silver License Plate reads “DAVE”
  3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
  4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
  5. 1978 Ford Mustang, white over blue
  6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
  7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
  8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis, black
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.

When I was at Cermak’s in 2007 I actually made a video of Spindle along with some of the other art at Cermak’s. Here it is….

Perhaps just as famous is the “Cadillac Ranch” near Amarillo, Texas. Like the “Spindle“, this site has had controversy and has been featured in movies, advertisements, comics, etc. It is most certainly one of the most well known Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

Cadillac Ranch as seen from Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch as seen from Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas

It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, supposedly at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

The cars have gone through numerous iterations…completely black, completely white, stc., when used for ads and commercials. But, soon thereafter, the tourists with the spray paint cans make their way to make their marks on the cars. So, this ends up being a “stationary attraction” always in a state of change.

Bottom of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
Underside of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo

Due to the popularity of Cadillac Ranch, there have been a few imitators, none of which I have been to yet, but hope to get to sometime in the near future. These include:

VW Slug Bug Ranch – Conway, Texas

Slug Bug Ranch - this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com
Slug Bug Ranch – this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com

The Slug Bug Ranch consists of five VW Beetles buried nose first in the ground. There is also an older 1930s car on the site. As with Cadillac Ranch, people have left their mark in spray paint.

 

 

 

Combine City – Canyon, Texas

Combine Ranch
Combine Ranch – photo borrowed from Lovin Our Life Blog

This place even has their own website (see combinecity.com). According to their site, “Combine City began with one Combine Harvester planted in the ground. Over time, that solitary Combine has welcomed 13 more. In total, 14 Combines are planted, standing as a tribute to the great nature of the West Texas farmer.” Unlike Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, Combine City does not allow folks to come in and spray paint.

 

Airstream Ranch – Dover, Florida

Airstream Ranch - located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida
Airstream Ranch – located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida

Indeed, this is not cars…it is Airstreams, but these are a great addition to this collection. These are located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida and have been the subject for many photos in the past. My good friend, the musician Antsy McClain has actually done a photo shoot here for some Trailer Park Troubadours stuff (see below).

 

Antsy McClain - Airstream Ranch
Antsy McClain – Airstream Ranch

Like Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, the Airstream Ranch has not been without controversy. Neighbors have argued that it was unsightly, but, ultimately, the Tourist Attraction and Art Factors won out.

Like the other sites, this attracts tourists from all over and has been used in advertisements, etc.

The historic value of Airstreams in travel always leads to an interest in these aluminum domiciles on wheels. There are rallies all over the country and one can always see them on the road. Indeed, many are happy to be “Living in Aluminum” and following the Aluminum Rule – “Thou Shalt Enjoy the Ride”

 

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry's Rabbit Ranch - Staunton, Illinois
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is one of those iconic Route 66 stops on the back roads of America. Located just west of Interstate 55 in southern Illinois (and a short drive north of St. Louis), it lies along the old Route 66. Along with tons of Route 66 memorabilia, they have a set of buried cars.

 

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

Carhenge - May 2014
Carhenge – May 2014

As with the others above, there are buried cars, but, in this case the creators of Carhenge tried to emulate the famed Stonehenge of England. They too have their own website, including a history of the Jim Reinders creation. This 1987 piece of Car Art has 38 automobiles and there are other pieces of Car Art on “Car Art Reserve”. Like the locations above, Carhenge has been the subject of numerous commercials and film productions.

All of the locations above are big tourist attractions for the back roads adventurer seeking the offbeat and quirky. But, there are many other smaller pieces of car art and/or “car displays” around the country, many of which I have had the opportunity to see. Here are a few.

Flattened Car - Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois
Pinto Pelt – Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois

The flattened car (called “Pinto Pelt“) is another creation by Spindle artist Dustin Shuler and is also located in Cermak’s Plaza. This too went the way of the world apparently in the reconstruction project in Berwyn’s once famous shopping center.

Art Car Museum - Houston, Texas
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum in Houston, Texas is dedicated to true Art Cars, those cars that have had art added to them. According to the “Art Car Manifesto“, “an art car is a motor-driven vehicle which a car artist alters in such a way as to suit his own aesthetic. In other words, the artist either adds or subtracts materials of his own choosing to or from the factory model or he may renovate an earlier model to revive a beauty and style that once was. The result is a vehicle which conveys new meaning through design, mechanical or structural changes, renovation, and/or the addition of new images, symbols or collage elements.”

Art Car Museum
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum website has a great Photo Gallery of some of the more unique cars featured at the museum. When I visited in 2010 the museum was not open so I didn’t get a chance to get any good car shots. But, along the way I have found a couple on my own…

Art Car at Third Street Stuff - Lexington, Kentucky
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington

Some of the more unique pieces utilizing cars as art that I have come across in my travels:

The Smoke Sax - Houston, Texas
The Smoke Sax – Houston, Texas

The Smoke Sax” was built in 1993 by artist Bob Wade of Austin, TX. It is 70 feet tall and is made of an oil field pipe, an upside down Volkswagen Beetle, beer kegs, canoe, hub caps, a surf board and chrome. Until March 2013 this was located at the Horn Bar and Grille on Richmond Avenue in Houston, TX. However, in March 2013 it was disassembled and will be eventually added to the unique folk art center called the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. They also are the sponsor of the Houston Art Car Parade.

VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax

Clear across the country in Wolf Creek, Oregon an artist has created two Spider Bugs out of old Volkswagens. Roadside America covered these and, it turns out that these are not the only ones around. There are actually dozens of them. The website Weburbanist has a fine page dedicated to a number of these from around the U.S. including Oklahoma, Idaho, California, Ontario, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and even in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Spider Volkswagen - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Volkswagen – Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Car - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Karmann Ghia – Wolf Creek, Oregon

Heading back eastward one can venture into Kadoka, South Dakota, near the Badlands National Park and see a unique piece of art made from car parts, including a smashed car as a base…

"Scrappy" the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang - Kadoka, South Dakota
“Scrappy” the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang – Kadoka, South Dakota

Then there is the old truck with a Giant Potato on it at The Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho

The Spud Drive-In - Teton Valley, Idaho
The Spud Drive-In – Driggs, Idaho

More emulation of Cadillac Ranch can be found at the now closed down Rio Brazos Music Hall in Granbury, Texas

Rio Brazos Dance Hall - Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Old Trucks - Rio Brazos Music Hall - Granbury, Texas
Old Trucks – Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas

Commerce, Oklahoma, one of those Route 66 touristy towns has used parts of cars for advertising

Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma
Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma

Then there are the places with Cars on roofs and signs and walls to draw people in:

Big Daddy's Restaurant - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s Restaurant – Lake Norman, North Carolina

Big Daddy’s is located in the heart of NASCAR Country in North Carolina. And to prove it they have a number of cars on their roof and on their lot.

Big Daddy's - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s – Lake Norman, North Carolina

The Route 26 Mart in Scottsbluff, Nebraska touts itself as an Americana Convenience Mart and has on old finned Chevy on its roof to pull you in….

Route 26 Mart - Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Route 26 Mart – Scottsbluff, Nebraska

The Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo, South Dakota tries to draw you in with advertising some of the unique cars…

Pioneer Auto Show - Murdo, South Dakota
Pioneer Auto Show – Murdo, South Dakota

Angel’s Diner in McAlester, Oklahoma uses old cars to advertise their 60’s themed restaurant and Happy Days Motel.

Angel's Diner - McAlester, Oklahoma
Angel’s Diner – McAlester, Oklahoma

Of course, what would a Car Art post be without limos with Longhorns on their hoods??

Longhorn Limo - at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limo – at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, home of the 72 Oz steak, offers rides in their Longhorn Limos.

Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas

I have run across a couple of places where cars have been integrated into the buildings. Here is one example from western Oregon:

Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon
Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the iconic and well known Nash AirFlyte that sits outside of Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa, better known as the home of the History Channel’s American Pickers.

Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa

The only Corvette Factory in the world is in my home state of Kentucky, in Bowling Green. They are also the home of the Corvette Museum and they have a nice one on a pedestal…

Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Finally, there are all of those old trucks and cars that scatter the landscape in yards and fields around the U.S. These can be seen on back roads and some are obviously used as yard decor…

Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old Car with mannikin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car with mannequin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota

I have a dozen more of these, but I think you get the “pictures.” So, get out and Enjoy the Ride and be on the watch out for those old vehicles that helped someone else Enjoy the Ride in the past!!!

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 1: Restaurants and Cafes on the Less Beaten Paths

Maid Rite - Lexington, MO
Maid Rite – Lexington, MO

One of the important facets of traveling the less beaten paths of America (and Canada) is the food.  As I travel the country, I look for good food at local places. This post covers some of the restaurants, steak houses, cafes and fine (or semi-fine) dining places.  Subsequent FOOD posts will include Diners/Drive-Ins, Barbecue Joints, Burger Places and Bakeries/Donut Shops.

FoodBig
Food – Cozy Dog, Springfield, Illinois

Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Ric's Grill - Lethbridge, Alberta Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Ric's Grill - Dinner in a Water Tower
Ric’s Grill – Dinner in a Water Tower

Ric’s Grill is one of those REALLY unique places to eat.  I visited Lethbridge on a cross-country trip from Kentucky to Washington in 2005.  I have friends in Lethbridge who took us here for dinner.

Ric's Grill - Lethbridge, Alberta
Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Though it looks strange from the outside, actually, the atmosphere and food is very high class.  This is a top notch steak house with fancy china, excellent waiters and delectable food. There are 11 Ric’s Grills in western Canada, though this is by far the most unique one.

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole's Big Game Steakhouse - Paxton, Nebraska
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse is a unique steak house in the small town of Paxton, Nebraska.  Opened on August 9, 1933 (the day after prohibition ended) as a bar by Rosser O. Herstedt (locally known as “Ole”).  Originally stared as a tavern, Ole and his friends would talk about their hunting trips.  Then, in 1938 Ole bagged a nice buck and was so proud of it he had it displayed in the tavern.  This was the first of many animals to make their way into the tavern that later became Ole’s Steakhouse and Lounge.  Ole’s also serves breakfast.

Polar Bear at Ole's
Sumoflam with Polar Bear at Ole’s

So, now one can sit and enjoy a wonderful steak with a moose or an elephant or a buffalo peeking over your shoulder.

Giraffe hangs around at Ole's
Giraffe hangs around at Ole’s
Big Moose at Ole's (and one with antlers too)
Big Moose at Ole’s (and one with antlers too)

All totaled there are over 200 mounts now showcased at Ole’s with animals from all over the world.

Sumoflam with tusk and lion
Sumoflam with tusk and lion

Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – Ozark, Missouri

Another fun place to eat and enjoy a great meal is Lambert’s Cafe, the home of “Throwed Rolls”.  I have been to the two restaurants in Sikeston and Ozark, Missouri (which is near Branson). They have one more in Alabama.

Lambert's Cafe - The Home of Throwed Rolls - in Ozark, Missouri
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Home of Throwed Rolls
Home of Throwed Rolls

So, why “Throwed Rolls”?  I am not sure, but Lambert’s serves the side dishes family style, all you can eat.  The seating arrangement is in a big square with an open center for the staff to bring in the food and throw the rolls.

Throwing the Rolls
Throwing the Rolls
Lambert's Rolls in Flight
Lambert’s Rolls in Flight

If you miss the flying rolls, too bad….   But, there will be more.  According to their website’s Fun Facts, their ovens turn out rolls from 9:15 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. usually without stopping. and they average baking 520 dozen rolls per day, for a grand total of 2,246,400 individual rolls. in one year.  Pass the butter please!!

Bringing the "Pass Arounds" at Lambert's
Bringing the “Pass Arounds” at Lambert’s

Besides the rolls, Lambert’s also has what they call “Pass Arounds”, sides that come with the meal and include Black-Eyed Peas, Fried Okra, Macaroni & Tomatoes, Fried Potatoes & Onions and unlimited Sorghum to go on the rolls.

Passing the potatoes
Passing the potatoes at Lambert’s

Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario

If you are in the mood for some awesome Greek food in a totally Greek atmosphere, then try the Astoria Shish Kebob House in Toronto’s Greek Town.  We went to Greek town on a whim and fell in love with this place.  We enjoyed Saganaki (pan-fried and flaming kefalotyri cheese) and then shish kebob with some of the most savory tadziki sauce my tongue has experienced.

Astoria Shish Kebob House - Toronto, Ontario
Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto

Saganaki is a small Greek frying pan that is best used for frying a variety of sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Astoria uses kafalotyri, which is a hard and salty cheese.  When fried it actually flames and that is how they bring it to the table.

Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria
Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria – OPA!!
The final product - fried cheese - delectable!!
The final product – fried cheese – delectable!!

Astoria serves a variety of shish kebob and we tried some.  It too was YUMMIFEROUS!!

Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria
Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria

While at Astoria, I got to meet the owner, who loves having his photo taken with patrons, including numerous celebrities. I am now included in the menagerie!!

Hanging with the owner of Astoria
Hanging with the owner of Astoria – OPA!!

Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo's Seafood - Newport, Oregon
Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo’s Seafood is not a fancy place in terms of the dining area.  It is nice inside, but the tables are picnic tables.  But don’t let that fool you.  Their seafood is amazing.

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

Mo’s gets its name from Newport native Mohava Marie Niemi, who started the restaurant in 1946 with her partner Freddy Kent.

Mo's Interior
Mo’s Interior

Mo’s is especially famed for the luscious and buttery clam chowder.  Indeed, they claim it to be World Famous, and I can see why.  So, I ordered the Halibut (so I could say I came to Mo’s just for the halibut”, but also enjoyed the creamy buttery clam chowder, which was almost so thick my spoon could stand up in it!!

Mo's Halibut with their "world famous clam chowder"
Mo’s Halibut with their “world famous clam chowder”

It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience to see the Pacific Ocean out the window while enjoying the bounty of the ocean inside.

Men's Restroom at Mo's
Men’s Restroom at Mo’s
Women's Restroom at Mo's
Women’s Restroom at Mo’s

Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Armadillo Palace - Houston, Texas
Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Deep in the heart of Houston, Texas is a cafe and bar and home to some good live music – The Armadillo Palace.  Protected by a 20 foot tall silver armadillo, this place is a real kick and gives you a real down home cowboy feel.

Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
He has his eye on you
He has his eye on you

This restaurant, owned by the Goode Company, a purveyor of a number of good restaurants in Houston covering the gamut from BBQ, seafood and Mexican, the Armadillo Palace is decorated with mounted longhorns and buffalo, has a bar with saddle seating and the western decor and photos take you back to the days of the Old West.

Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
Saddle Bar Seating
Saddle Bar Seating

The old decor and the smell of leather just add to the flavorful and generous portions dished out at Armadillo Palace.  One of their signature dishes is Chicken Fried Steak and this slab of yummiferousness is almost as big as the plate.  Their spicy green beans and special mashed potatoes help make a rib sticking dinner!

Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Leather is everywhere
Leather is everywhere
Signature Chicken Fried Steak
Signature Chicken Fried Steak – Yummiferous!!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

A few miles east of Shelby, Montana, on US Highway 2 (The Hi-Line), is a non-descript old whitewashed building with an old yellow sign (above).  The Frontier Bar and Supper Club certainly does not look like much, but once you are inside, the atmosphere is rustic and the steaks are to die for!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Upon arrival you are greeted by the whimsical mailbox dude.  I don’t know what to call him, but he is a work of folk art.

Frontier's Mailbox
Frontier’s Mailbox
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club

The atmosphere inside is like many Montana bars.  Lots of longhorns, neon signs, a country music jukebox.  The dining room is decorated with wood paneling adorned by the many cattle ranch brands of the area.  But the best part of this place is the blackened steaks.  On this visit I had the Chipotle Blackened New York Steak…. spicy and pricy but tasty good!!

No Bull Here...
No Bull Here…
....this steak is AWESOME
….this steak is AWESOME

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery - Roswell, NM
El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM (with my alien granddaughter…)

Ok…so, you mix Mexican food and aliens and you get this weird mix…only in Roswell…

Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien bullfighters? Toro call home.....
Alien bullfighters? Toro phone home…..
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?

Of course, we were hungry so we had the real food….

El Toro Bravo lunch - yummy
El Toro Bravo lunch – yummy
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell...
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant and Tavern – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant - Heidelberg, Ontario
Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant in the small town of Heidelberg is family restaurant and also has a mini brewery.  Located in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite and Amish country, this place is famous not only for its Weiner Schnitzel, but also for its pig tails, something I had never had in the past.

Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg
Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg

But, I don’t drink the beer, just eat the good food…and here is what I had

Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg

Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Past Time Cafe - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Yes, there are less beaten paths in Kentucky and many of them lead to Amish Country.  Crab Orchard is in the heart of Kentucky Amish country and the Past Time Cafe is right there in Crab Orchard.

Past Time Cafe storefront - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe storefront – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

This cafe has generous portions of country cooking and is well known for their fried catfish, their soup beans and corn bread.  The walls in the place are covered with the history of Crab Orchard and surrounding communities, including many old newspapers and photos.  Plenty to browse while waiting for a good meal.

Past Times Memorabilia
Past Times Memorabilia
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times' famous soup beans
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times’ famous soup beans

Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Chriswell's Trails Inn - Ashton, Idaho
Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Ashton, Idaho is one of the southern gateways to Yellowstone National Park and is also a western gateway to the Grand Tetons.  The small Idaho town is a touristy place and on the edge of town is Chriswell’s Trails Inn restaurant.  This rustic place is a steak house and also has some other great meals.  Like Ole’s and Armadillo Palace, this place is full of mounted animals, included a rare White Buffalo Head.

I love Moose...here's the one from Chriswell's
I love Moose…here’s the one from Chriswell’s
Chriswell's Interior
Chriswell’s Interior
White Buffalo at Chriswell's
White Buffalo at Chriswell’s
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell's
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell’s
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane

Of course, the food is why we were here.  We were starved and this placed fit the bill.

Road Kill sign...their jerky
Road Kill sign…their jerky
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell's
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell’s

This chicken fried steak was HUGE!!  Covered the whole plate.  Of course, the potatoes were huge too and stuffed goodness!!

Old Gravy Nose - boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!
Old Gravy Nose – boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!

Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad Cafe - Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

I have written about Tightwad in earlier blogs, especially concerning the famous Tightwad Bank.  But, there is also a great little cafe in Tightwad called Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe.  Originally just called the Tightwad Cafe, owner Carrie Fields purchased the once Cafe and Bar from her aunt and then closed the bar.  Carrie is unabashed and very friendly, but she doesn’t take credit cards…doesn’t want to pay the fees (HA!).  But, she also insists that she is not a tightwad!

Carrie Fields, owner - Tightwad Cafe
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe
Carrie's Tightwad Cafe
Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe
Open - But No Credit Cards
Open – But No Credit Cards

Carrie was correct about the not being a tightwad part.  The meals at the cafe are not expensive and they are very large portions.  No skimping on the food!!  I had “Delmer’s Big ‘In” for breakfast this day which included 3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns and biscuits and gravy, all for about $8.00 (try to beat that McD’s!)

Tightwad Cafe Menu
Tightwad Cafe Menu
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe

Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Mud Street Cafe - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a wonderful little town in the Ozarks.  In the midst of town is a shopping section known as the underground and housed within is the Mud Street Cafe. This is a one and all – Coffee shop, Bar and Cafe, all in one.  My wife and I visited for breakfast one nice morning in November 2012.  What a great little cafe!!

Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign

Once downstairs we were enthralled by the kitschy decor.  Painted chairs, painted glass, sculptures, tapestries…decor that was nice and cozy.

Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe - Practice Safe Lunch
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe – Practice Safe Lunch
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe
Detailed Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe

But, the coziness was nothing compared to the food.  Freshly made HUGE muffins, fruit salads and tasty breakfast food.

Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast - Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast – Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe

Just a few more places to note….

El Fenix Mexican Food - Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Mexican Food – Dallas, Texas
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant - Egg Harbor, WI
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant – Egg Harbor, WI
Sparta House Tearoom - Sparta, Ontario
Sparta House Tearoom – Sparta, Ontario
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant – Mt. Horeb, WI
Riscky's Steakhouse - Ft. Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Ft. Worth, Texas
Enterprise Family Restaurant - Vulcan, Alberta
Enterprise Family Restaurant – Vulcan, Alberta

Coming soon – FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 2: Barbecue Places and Diners

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……


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