AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The Z Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the Z Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Getting a Bucket list item Knocked Out

Though there are few places in the U.S. that start with a Z, one of the most well-known has generally been only a pipe dream for me.  Well, on the 8154 road trip, I finally got to this place.  And, not only that, I got an additional one that wasn’t even on the radar.  I don’t think many people have ever hit these two places in one road trip! See below for more details.

Zzyzx, California

As a purveyor of strange and unique place names in the U.S., this place has been on my radar for years.  In February 2020, I finally got there…at least to the highway sign, which is really the famous part. (Have you seen my first book yet?)

Zzyzx Road Sign at Exit 239 on Interstate 15 east of Baker, California

So, there is indeed a story behind the name of Zzyzx.  The place was formerly known as Soda Springs and had a natural mineral springs.  It has been an area with human activity for centuries.  But, the place changed in 1944 when a guy named Curtis Howe Springer established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres.  He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the desert.  But why Zzyzx?  Springer wanted the name to be remembered as the last word in the English language.  The settlement and the Zzyzx Spring as a water feature, were approved as a place name by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names on June 14, 1984. It is, alphabetically, the last place name in their lexicon.

Selfie by the Zzyzx Road Exit in California – PROOF I was there!

We did not take the 4.5-mile-long road through the Mojave Desert to the old settlement and spa due to time schedule.  But, it was the sign I wanted anyway.

Zuzax, New Mexico

Honestly, I had never heard of Zuzax, New Mexico.  It was never on my radar.  In fact, as we passed the exit on Interstate 40 just east of Albuquerque, I had to pull over quickly so I could get the sign.  Indeed, I thought to myself at the time that there may not be anybody else that has documented a  visit to the Zzyzx exit and the Zuzax exit in the same trip!  So, this may be a back roads piece of history.

Zuzax exit on Interstate 40 east of Albuquerque

Around 1956 a guy named Herman Ardans opened a curio shop on Route 66 and made up the name Zuzax so it would capture people’s attention and also be the last entry in the phone book. When Ardans was asked by customers about the origin of the name, he often told them that it referred to the Zuzax Indians.  Though his curio shop is long gone, the Zuzax exit remains.

Zion, Kentucky

We did pass one more exit on our road trip that began with a Z.  It is a much more common name.  Located on the western outskirts of Kentucky in Henderson County, it is an ironic place to finish up my 2020 A to Z Challenge… right back in Kentucky where the 8154 Mile Epic Road Trip began.

Zion got its start with some settlers and by 1906 had a population of 300. There were three churches established in the community.  It is now a small dot on the map.

Zion, Kentucky

And so ends my A to Z Challenge.  I hope that you have enjoyed the ride, all the stories and all of the photos.  If you did, it is my hope that you will register on my site and look forward to my forthcoming book titled “8154.”

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The Y Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the Y Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

EnjoY the rYde  as we drYve Across America – Part Two

Throughout the course of our 8154 Road Trip, there was not anything with an X or a Y in it.  So, I thought I would take readers on a Virtual Road Trip along the highways of America as seen from our eyes. Part One took readers from Kentucky to Idaho. Part Two today will hit the remainder of our trip.  So, travel along with us and check out the scenery from our 23 day trip from Kentucky to Washington, down the Pacific Coast and east through the southwest and Texas. Enjoy the Ride!

Washington Highways

US Highway 2 near Reardan, Washington
Downtown Davenport, Washington
US Highway 2 west of Davenport, Washington
Downtown Hartline, Washington on US Highway 2
US Highway 2 east of Waterville, Washington
US Highway 2 west of Waterville, Washington
Approaching the Cascades on US Highway 2 near Orondo, Washington
US Highway 2 along Lake Wenatchee in East Wenatchee, Washington
Lake Wenatchee as seen from US Highway 2 in East Wenatchee, Washington
Driving on US Highway 2 in Leavenworth, Washington
Downtown Leavenworth, Washington
US Highway 2 west of Leavenworth, Washington on the way to Stevens Pass
US Highway 2 west of Leavenworth, Washington on the way to Stevens Pass
Snow-covered roadside on US Highway 2 at Stevens Pass in Washington
Heading downhill from Stevens Pass on US Highway 2 in Washington
WA Hwy 522 near Monroe, Washington
Tall tree lined Long Lake Road in Port Orchard, Washington
View of Hood Canal from Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck, Washington
Downtown Shelton, Washington
Tree-lined WA Hwy 3 south of Shelton, Washington
Bridges over the Chehalis River on Washington Hwy 107 in Montesano, Washington
US Hwy 101 north of South Bend, Washington
Forested US Highway 101 near South Bend, Washington
Crossing the Astoria – Megler Bridge on US 101 from Chinook, Washington into Oregon

Oregon Highways

US 101 crossing the wide Columbia River from Washington into Oregon
Astoria-Megler Bridge just north of Astoria, Oregon on US Highway 101 crossing over the Columbia River
The drive through Fort Stevens State Park near Hammond, Oregon
US Highway 101 north of Bandon, Oregon
Downtown Bandon, Oregon
A Pacific Coast scene from US Highway 101 near Gold Beach, Oregon

California Highways

US 101 Trinidad, California
US 101 near Scotia, California on the approach to Redwoods National Park
CA Hwy 254 – Avenue of the Giants – in Redwoods National Park near Scotia, California
CA Hwy 254 through the Redwoods near Redcrest, California
Looking up at the Redwoods on CA Hwy 254 near Redcrest, California
US Highway 101 near Penngrove, California
The Golden Gate Bridge and US Highway 101 as seen from Mill Valley, California
Crossing Golden Gate Bridge on US Hwy 101 into San Francisco
Crossing the Bay Bridge on Interstate 80 from San Francisco, California
Driving on the California Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) near Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
A lovely view of Big Sur as seen from CA Hwy 1
CA Highway 46 east of Cambria, California
California Hwy 46 through Paso Robles, California
CA Hwy 41 near Shandon, California
California Hwy 41 near Avenal, California
California Hwy 41 near Stratford, California
CA Hwy 198 heading east towards the Sierra Nevadas near Visalia, California
CA Hwy 198 heading to the Sierra Nevada range near Exeter, California
Another view of the Sierra Nevada range from CA Hwy 198 near Exeter, California
CA Hwy 198 in Lemon Cove, California
California Hwy 198 near Three Rivers, California
After entering Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Climbing altitude in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Driving through the giants in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Driving through the giants in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Amazing giant trees in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Up high in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Driving through the giants in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Heading back down the road in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Driving into sunset on California Hwy 65 near Terra Bella, California
Sunrise on Interstate 15 heading east near Yermo, California
Interstate 15 heading into Baker, California
Interstate 15 near Baker , California
Interstate 15 east of Baker, California
Interstate 15 heading east just south of Nipton, California
Nipton Road heading to Nevada near Nipton, California
Nipton Road heading towards Searchlight, Nevada

Nevada Highways

Driving the Joshua Tree Highway, Nevada Highway 164 west of Searchlight, Nevada
Nevada Highway 164 near Searchlight, Nevada
Nevada Highway 163 near Laughlin, Nevada

Arizona Highways

Arizona Highway 68 near Bullhead City, Arizona
Welcome to Williams, Arizona on US Route 66
Arizona Highway 64 from Williams, Arizona
US Route 66 in downtown Holbrook, Arizona
Interstate 40 near Chambers, Arizona
Interstate 40 heading east into Ganado, Arizona
Interstate 40 in Ganado, Arizona

New Mexico Highways

Interstate 40 eastbound near Continental Divide, New Mexico
US Route 66 / Interstate 40 near Casa Blanca, New Mexico
Interstate eastbound heading into Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Sandia Mountains in the background
Interstate 40 heading east into Moriarty, New Mexico
Stateline Road (NM 348) between Texico, New Mexico and Farwell, Texas

Texas Highways

Texas FM 1075 near Happy, Texas
Downtown Quitaque, Texas
Downtown Turkey, Texas
Downtown Matador, Texas
Downtown Crowell, Texas
Texas FM 1919 near Seymour, Texas
Texas Highway 70 near Flomot, Texas
Interstate 20 heading east near Longview, Texas
Heading north on Texas FM 2198 near Karnack, Texas

Louisiana Highways

Louisiana Highway 2 near Vivian, Louisiana
Louisiana Hwy 170 in Vivian, Louisiana
Interstate 49 heading north of Vivian, Louisiana

Arkansas Highway

Interstate 30 near Donaldson, Arkansas

Tennessee Highways

Crossing the Mississippi River and entering Tennessee on Interstate 40 near Memphis, TN

Kentucky Highway

The Bluegrass Parkway heading towards Lexington on the final leg. This is near Elizabethtown, KY

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The I Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the I Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Iowa – Welcome to Iowa

On our trip we hit a small corner of Iowa as we drove north on Interstate 29 from Missouri to Nebraska.

Welcome to Iowa

Indian City Trading Post – Houck, AZ

Drive down Interstate 40 in Arizona and you will see a load of signs like this below for the numerous trading posts.

Indian City Trading Post in Houck, AZ

Iron Mountain Road – Custer, South Dakota

Admittedly, this was one of the highlights of our entire trip.  This drive has been on my bucket list for a number of years.  However, as we got into Custer State Park in late January, we had no assurance that the road would be open because of the possibility of snow and/or ice on the road.  But, as we got into Custer State Park, we were informed that Iron Mountain Road (US 16A) had been opened just a couple of hours earlier.

This 17 mile road is such a unique drive. As the sign photo below shows, there are 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails (a road bridge which loops over its own road), 3 unique tunnels and 4 presidents (referring to Mount Rushmore, which can actually be seen through two of the tunnels.) At its highest point, the summit of Iron Mountain, the windy road hits an altitude of 5,446 feet.  There are amazing views, as you can see from the photos below.

Iron Mountain Road in northwestern South Dakota
Iron Mountain Road info sign
A scene from the curvy Iron Mountain Road
Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota
A splendid vista from the top of Iron Mountain
Some of the road winds through the trees
One of the Iron Mountain Road tunnels
Mount Rushmore as seen through one of the Iron Mountain Tunnels
A view of Mount Rushmore from the summit of Iron Mountain

Itty Bitty Inn – North Bend, Oregon

Sadly, we didn’t stay in this old (established in 1950) motel in North Bend, Oregon, just north of Coos Bay. The Itty Bitty Inn name is now one of my favorite unique motel names.  I did a little research on this motel that is located on Oregon’s very scenic US Hwy 101.  This place even has a Star Trek-themed room (click on the link above to check it out.)

Itty Bitty Inn in North Bend, WA

I Love this Town mural – Quitaque, Texas

As we drove through Quitaque, Texas on Valentine’s Day, I saw this lovely mural.  Always love a good mural.

I Love This Town mural in Quitaque, Texas

Interstate Highway Scenes

On my long road trips I really strive to avoid the Interstate highways.  I love the back roads and U.S. highways.  However, sometimes the interstates are unavoidable.  I took a few shots of our drives on the Interstates. On this trip we did hit Interstates 10, 20, 30, 40 and a number of others. Enjoy the ride!

Interstate 27 near Happy, Texas
Sunset on Interstate 15 near Barstow, California
Interstate 15 near Nipton, California
Interstate 30 is scenic with all of the trees. This shot was near Donaldson, Arkansas
Interstate 40 thru New Mexico often parallels Route 66. This scene is near Casa Blanca, New Mexico
A morning scene on Interstate 15 near Baker, California
Interstate 20 in eastern Texas near Longview, Texas
Intestate 40 near Continental Divide, New Mexico
The flatlands of Louisiana can be seen on Interstate 49 near Vivian, Louisiana
Interstate 40 scene near Ganado, AZ

Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

Welcome to Illinois

Interesting and timely church sign – Equality, Illinois

When we were on the road trip, we, like all Americans, had no idea that the COVID-19 crisis would engulf the world.  This photo was taken on January 25, 2020 in Equality, Illinois.  As I write this on April 9, the United States has hit the 80 day mark since the first case (January 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington)

An Interesting church sign in Equality, Illinois

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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