(Editor’s Note: For my 2019 posts, I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018. I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018. These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)
I am always Interested in the Incredible variety of unique places in this expansive country of ours. Through my over 13,000 miles of travel in 2018 I saw thousands of signs for roads, places, shops, etc. There aren’t too many that begin with the letter I but I did find some…because I had this challenge in mind as I traveled. So, here are the three or four I signs I found in 2018. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.
I have seen hundreds and hundreds of town signs over the years, but this was the first time I have found a location name that is an abbreviation. Granted, there are towns with their nicknames, such as Chi-town for Chicago or Philly for Philadelphia. But, what does I.X.L. mean? Maybe it refers to my travel writing? (Do I X L?)
I.X.L. is a small place with a population of about 51 (in 2010). The town was incorporated in 2001 and is an historical freedman’s town. According to the town’s website explains that the actual name comes from the fact that the town site is on a strip of Cherokee land famous for the Oklahoma Land Run. The name stands for Indian Exchange Land. The town’s population is 100% African-American (thus a “freedman’s town”), with Joan Partridge as the current mayor.
Iowa River Greenbelt, Iowa Falls, Iowa
As I travel across the country, I typically make plans to find the wonderful Whispering Giants by Peter Toth (see my post about these). One of the nearly seventy of these is located in Iowa Falls, Iowa on the Iowa River Greenbelt. The Greenbelt runs along the Iowa River in Hardin County, Iowa from Alden, Iowa to Eldora, Iowa. Unfortunately, I was there in the midst of a snowstorm, so all I got to see was the sign and the Iowa Falls Whispering Giant.
Imagine Art Gallery, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
In 1964 the Beatles made their first visit to the U.S. On this trip they passed through the small town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (see my post about this). At the time, Imagine Art Gallery owner Carrie Snapp, was head of The Beatles local fan club when the Beatles made their surprise stop-over at the Walnut Ridge airport, between their Dallas and New York concerts. Nowadays Carrie runs a shop with a load of art, including lots of Beatle’s memorabilia. She even has copies of some of the original color photos from the Beatles 1964 stop-over.
Located at the intersection of Abbey Road and Main Street, it is part of a complex of shops and businesses that celebrate the Beatles’ visit some 55 years after the event. If you like the Beatles, this is a must-stop place.
That’s it for the I signs. Imagine the indulgence had I included more….
Like what you see here? 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!!
One thing that we all see when traveling America’s highways is signs. All kinds of them: road signs, exit signs, mile markers, billboards, “Welcome to Our Town” signs and the massive assortment of business signs from fast food places to local eateries. Indeed, our eyes and minds are deluges with them!
Over the course of my 6000 mile road trip to Washington State and back, I probably saw way more than a sign a mile (on average). Yes, there are many places with no signs, but then, there are others, such as going through small towns, where they are in abundance.
This post presents a variety of signs from the road. This “eye-candy” is just one more fun piece of the travel puzzle. Discovering new signs, whether they be unique neon signs advertising local burger joints to the unique town signs and water towers, these signs are the little “color fillers” on the grand expanse of two lane highways zig-zagging this nation.
Follow me along on this colorful journey (in no particular order) to see some of the signs I saw along the way. And watch for the occasional Wall Drug sign to pop up on the ride (just like they do on I-90).
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
I have posted about the Trail of the Whispering Giants in earlier posts, but my April 2018 trip afforded me the opportunity to double my visits from the past as I was able to create a route that let me hit six more of them as I traveled west to Washington and then back. In this post I will feature the new ones I visited, but will also include a brief view of the others I have visited in past years.
Peter “Wolf” Toth, a Hungarian-born sculptor now living in the United States, began creating a series of wooden sculptures to honor Native Americans and placed them in almost all 50 of the US States and some in Canada as well. He called these collectively the “Trail of the Whispering Giants.” His first one was built in La Jolla, California in 1972. The second of them was created and placed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. By 1988 he had created 58 Whispering Giants with at least one in every U.S. state, though some have disappeared since. Each of the creations are numbered in the order Peter Toth created and placed them.
My goal in my travels has been to try to route my trips such that I can visit as many of these as possible. Doing a cross country road trip on back roads facilitates this opportunity fairly well, as long as I don’t have to go too far out of my way or weather doesn’t stop me. I planned on eight visits on this trip and made six. Two of the statues are no longer in existence, both apparently victims of bad weather.
There are instances where Mr. Toth has gone back and replaced them and/or repaired damaged ones. But some don’t get replaced or, at least have not yet been to this point.
#61 – Ho-Ma-Sjah-Nah-Zhee-Ga – Allen Park, Ottawa, Illinois
My first stop on the trip was in a park along the Illinois River near Ottawa, IL. This was created in May 1989 and stands 13 feet tall.
#62 – Chief Walks with the Wind – Starved Rock State Park near Utica, IL
Just a short drive from Ottawa is the lovely Starved Rock State Park, near Utica, Illinois. Apparently, Mr. Toth likes this area as he put up three of his Whispering Giants in close proximity to each other. The “Chief Walks With the Wind” stands 20 feet tall and sits in front of the State Park visitor center. A drive around the state park shows off a number of other impressive wood carvings by other artists.
#16 – Hopewell Giant – Village of Hopewell, Illinois
The Hopewell Giant is the 16th sculpture that Mr. Toth created. It was put up in October 1975. It sits up on a bluff at the entrance of the Village of Hopewell. This statue is about 30 feet tall and overlooks the Illinois River valley below. Apparently the Hopewell Indian Nation lived along the Illinois River nearly 3000 years ago.
#68 – Veteran’s Memorial – Iowa Falls, Iowa
The Whispering Giant of Iowa Falls, Iowa doesn’t seem to have a name. As well, the current statue, which is #68 on the list was put up in 1999 to replace #28. This one is 30 feet tall. Unfortunately, it was snowing in Iowa Falls when I arrived and there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Needless to say, I didn’t trudge through the snow to get a selfie with this one.
#57 – Ikala Nawan – Astoria, Oregon
On my return trip home, I had planned on visiting the Whispering Giants in Victoria, WA, Astoria, OR and Hillsboro, OR. Unfortunately, the only one of the three remaining is the Astoria Giant, named Ikala Nawan. This 18 foot tall cedar giant sits in a narrow strip of park off of US Highway 101 in the lovely town of Astoria.
#52 – Chief Wasatch – Murray Park, Murray, UT
By mid-April I was in my old stomping grounds of Murray, UT. I gradated high school in Murray and spent many a day in Murray Park playing church softball. At that time, Chief Wasatch was not set up. Peter Toth created this guy in November 1985 right at the entrance to Murray Park, overlooking State Street, the main drag through town. It was nice visiting the park after a more than 40 year hiatus. Chief Wasatch is 23 feet tall and made of cottonwood, one of the most common trees in the area.
And thus completes my report of the six Whispering Giants I visited during my trip in April. Following are photos I have taken of others in my past travels. Their number and location is in the photo caption.
#32 – Red Lodge, Montana
#37 – Idaho Falls, Idaho
#21 – Ocean City, Maryland
#69 – Bethany Beach, Delaware (replaced #22)
#50 – Paducah, Kentucky
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late May or early June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.