A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

ABanner600

The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

BBanner700

The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

CBanner

The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

DBanner

The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

EBanner

The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

FBanner

The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

GBanner

The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

HBanner

The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

IBanner

The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

JBanner

The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

KBanner

The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

LBanner

The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

MBanner

The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

NBanner

The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

OBanner

The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

PBanner

The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

QBanner

The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

RBanner

The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

SBanner

The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

TBanner

The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

UBanner

The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

VBanner

The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

WBanner

The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

XBanner

The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

YBanner

The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

ZBanner

The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

(93)

A to Z Challenge: The I Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

I The I Towns

Indian Head, Saskatchewan

Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada
Indian Head Side View, Indian Head, SK, Canada

It is interesting that three of my I Towns in this post have something to do with Indians (American Indians) and so I am starting off in Canada at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Indian Head is anchored against the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway just 65 km east of Regina.  The town was both a railroad hub and is in the center one of the wheat producing areas of Canada. The Indian Head statue (shown above) was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985. The statue is 18 feet high (the head itself is 10 feet tall). It weighs approximately 3,500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement. The statue was designed by sculptor Don Foulds of Saskatoon. It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

hbaranim

Intercourse, PA Sign - the most stolen town sign in the US
Intercourse, PA Sign – the most stolen town sign in the US
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
An Amish Buggie speeds by in Intercourse
An Amish Buggy speeds by in Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish buggies can be seen everywhere in and around Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities
Amish Buggy Interior with all of the amenities

Contrary to those with dirty minds, Intercourse was formerly known as “Cross Keys”, which was founded in 1754. The name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. There are several explanations concerning the origin of the name of Intercourse, but none can really be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town along the Old Philadelphia Pike. The entrance to the race course was known as “Entercourse”. Some suggest that “Entercourse” gradually evolved into “Intercourse”. There are others, but perhaps the most quantifiable to me comes from the “old english” language which was is use in the early 1800’s. It refers to the “fellowship” or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time. The Amish are really quite a social people and are well known for working as groups to raise barns, etc.   The town’s sign is considered the most frequently stolen town sign in the US and is now on a pole that is difficult to get to.  You can read more about my visit to Intercourse and Amish Country in central Pennsylvania back in 2008 HERE.

Ironwood, Michigan

Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Famed Hiawatha Statue of Ironwood, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America's tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
Downtown Ironwood looking towards the giant Hiawatha statue
A sign from the past...Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A sign from the past…Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI

Ironwood, Michigan was the starting point of my massive US Highway 2 Roadtrip across half of the US Continent back in 2014. I started in Ironwood, which is on the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it sits on the border with Wisconsin. Ironwood has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States (it stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town). They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see. Its actually a great place to visit. As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station.  See more about my visit to Ironwood and my drive on US Highway 2 HERE.

Independence, Missouri

A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
A mural of Harry Truman on a Law Office in Independence, MO painted by David McClain. Truman was born in Independence
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held
Liberty Jail is where LDS Church founder and leader Joseph Smith was held…it is nearby Liberty, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila's Hair Museum in Indeendence
A small wreath made of hair as can be seen at Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO
A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO

Independence is one of the great historical towns in Missouri. Decorated with murals all over town, filled with history and nearby in Liberty is the home of a major LDS (Mormon) Church Museum. It is the birthplace of American President Harry Truman.  Lewis and Clark ventured here in the 1800s and many pioneers came here on the Mormon, California and Oregon trails. It is also home to one of America’s really quirky museums in Leila’s Hair Museum.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen five.
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Snake River in Idaho Falls
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls...great wooden sculptures
Wild West Designs in Idaho Falls…great wooden sculptures
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Idaho Falls Temple of the LDS Church
Yummy House Chinese - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House Chinese – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty's Hamburgers - Old Americana
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Old Americana

I try not to include too many “big” cities in these posts, but I wanted to include Idaho Falls.  Its a nice place to visit and has plenty to see. There are vintage restaurants and burger places, such as Scotty’s above, a beautiful Mormon temple, one of the 55 Peter Toth wooden carved “Whispering Giants” Indian Statues and more. The Snake River runs through the middle of town with some wonderful waterfalls (thus Idaho Falls).  You can see more about my 2013 visit there by clicking HERE.

Iona, Idaho (Honorable Mention)

Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm
Turbines from the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm

On a hill just northeast of Idaho Falls is another small town called Iona, a town settled by Mormon pioneers in 1884. It is now home to the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm. There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day.  This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.

Inverness, Montana (Honorable Mention)

Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
Sumoflam and the Dino near Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT
The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT

Driving along US Highway 2 in northern Montana near Rudyard, is the small community of Inverness. It was named by “Scotty” Watson, pioneer stockman, in memory of his native town in Scotland. The Scottish town is located on the inlet to Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness monster. There is a population of about 55 living there, including sculptor Byron Wolery who made an interesting scrap metal dinosaur that greets passersby near Rudyard.  They have their own “monster” now! See more about the Hi Line drive of Montana HERE.

Iron River, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)

Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River, Wisconsin
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI
Iron River Mural in Iron River, WI

West of Ironwood, MI on US Highway 2 is the small town of Iron River, Wisconsin. This small town has a huge mural done by the same artists that did a number of lovely murals in Ashland, Wisconsin. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club. The town is proud to claim 96 Lakes, 12 Trout Streams, 4 Rivers, 500 miles of groomed ATV trails, Chequamegon National Forest, North Country Hiking Trail and many more great hiking trails, Camba Mountain Biking Trail System, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Waterfalls, Fishing, Birding, Berry Picking, Wildlife and Summer Sunsets. I hope to visit the area again in the future on a more extended visit.  See more HERE.

Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Learn More About the A to Z Challenge and visit hundreds of other participating blogs (click logo below)

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

(62)

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……

 

(370)