Z is for Zeal – #atozchallenge

I am a zealous traveler. I travel passion and with all the gusto I can.  A roadtrip with me can be grueling, but it is always fun.  Indeed, I travel with the intent of creating many good memories.  Many call me a Road Warrior. Well, I love that term. I travel with zeal.

When on roadtrips, I like to be up with the sun and travel until the sun goes down.  I stop for the night wherever I am at sundown…I can’t take many pictures at night now can I?

Taking photos along the way
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

In my zealous travels, I have visited all 50 states and a few Canadian Provinces. I have at least one photo of me in almost all of them…a few exceptions where I traveled to those places years ago and the photos either were lost or were never taken (Nevada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts…at least).  But in recent years, I have become the “Shamelessly Self-Proclaimed Selfie King” and have tried to record my travels digitally, and include selfies along the way.

Without further adieu, following are selfies/photos of me in every state and Canadian Province I have visited (where I have photos).  I have throw some “Road Warrior” and “Traveling with Zeal” pics in along the way for fun.

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ
Am I Normal? Who knows?

ALABAMA

Visiting Alabama with some of my grandchildren in early 2017

ALASKA

On Glacier Bay in Alaska in 2004

ARIZONA

Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983

ARKANSAS

Welcome to Arkansas
Found Friendship in Arkansas

CALIFORNIA

At Golden Gate Bridge in in San Francisco, CA May 2015

COLORADO

Welcome to Colorado WY 789 and CO 13
Sitting high up on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 1990 looking down at a crystal lake

CONNECTICUT

Mystic, CT Amtrak Station in Sept 2015

DELAWARE

Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986. Visited in 2016 during Christmas Holiday

FLORIDA

Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990

GEORGIA

Stone Mountain, GA in 2015

HAWAII

Well…I used to have a photo of me hitting a golf ball at Mililani Golf Course in Honolulu.  Can’t find it…..

IDAHO

At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID

ILLINOIS

A visit to Illinois in 2014
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL in 2014

INDIANA

Santa Claus, IN, Christmas 2015
Story General Store, Story, IN

IOWA

World’s Largest truckstop is in Iowa. Been there three times

KANSAS

Little House on the Prairie in Eastern Kansas with the family in 1993

KENTUCKY – My Home Sweet Home since 1993

Visiting Cumberland Falls in Kentucky with grandchildren in 2016
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November 2016

LOUISIANA

Entering Louisiana in 2014
Visiting Troy Landry of Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA in 2014

MAINE

Visiting the beautiful lighthouse on the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine in 2015

MARYLAND

Ocean City, MD in December 2016

MASSACHUSETTS – I last visited Massachusetts in 1990 on a trip to Boston.  Photos were taken, but got long lost….

MICHIGAN

On the blazing Hell Bench in Hell, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet in Ironwood, MI

MINNESOTA

Sumoflam in Floodwood, Minnesota
Bemidji, MN in 2014 — one of my bucket list places

MISSISSIPPI

On the Blues highway in Mississippi in 2014
One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS
Chunky, MS

MISSOURI

Welcome to Missouri
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
Finding Success in Missouri

MONTANA – Lived in this wonderful state from 1970-1973

Hitting Montana on a road trip in 2014
At the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, still on US 89 in Montana

NEBRASKA

Visiting Nebraska in 2015
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

NEVADA – I have visited a few times but don’t think I ever got any photos.  Oh well.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Welcome to New Hampshire in Sept 2015 – State #49!

NEW JERSEY

Welcome to Hoboken, NJ
Photo of NYC taken from Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ

NEW MEXICO

Welcome to New Mexico at Raton Pass
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

NEW YORK

In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

NORTH CAROLINA

Jos with Grampz at rest area in North Carolina – April 2013

NORTH DAKOTA

Welcome to North Dakota
On the Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota in 2013
Rugby, ND in 2014

OHIO – I was born in Little Italy in Cleveland.  Home sweet home.

My first home – 2072 Murray Hill Road, now home of the Murray Hill Market
Sumoflam at the place of his birth
I found Novelty in Ohio

OKLAHOMA

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014
Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

OREGON

At Multnomah Falls in Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA

Smile…you are in Pennsylvania…so I smiled!
Found Prosperity in PA

RHODE ISLAND – Only visited once way back in 1988.  No photos.  Actually drove through.  Need to stop again!!

SOUTH CAROLINA

On the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina in 2013

SOUTH DAKOTA

Visiting South Dakota for the 4th or 5th time in 2013
Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

TENNESSEE

Visiting Tennessee in 2014 on my way to Galveston
Welcome to Bristol. I took this from the Tennessee side of the road.

TEXAS

Visiting Texas in 2014
We visited Texas in October 2016. This was in Texarkana, TX
Sumoflam visits Austin, Texas

UTAH – Graduated High School in Murray, UT in 1974

Graduated from Murray High School in 1974
At Monument Valley in Utah in 1982
Welcome to Salt Lake

VERMONT – My 50th state visited — made it in 2016

State Number 50 – At NH/VT border in Brattleboro, VT

VIRGINIA

Welcome to Virginia…taken in early August 2016
At the Cross Roads of the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trails

WASHINGTON

Neah Bay, Washington – the northwestern most point in the continental US
Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market – what a place!

WEST VIRGINIA

Welcome to West Virginia!
Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin welcomes Sumoflam on US Route 2
With the famed Hodag in Rhinelander, WI

WYOMING

Wyoming’s Wildlife?
Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

WASHINGTON DC

Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Washington DC 2016

ONTARIO, CANADA

Sumoflam at Screaming Heads in Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Customers Needed – Toronto, Ontario

SASKATCHEWAN

Welcome to Saskatchewan

MANITOBA

Virden, Manitoba
At an oil well display in Virden, Manitoba

ALBERTA

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)

 

 

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S is for Super Statues – #atozchallenge

There are some super huge statues in this country. Giant behemoths that can be seen from far away.

Perhaps there is no place better for BIG than in Texas, where everything is supposedly bigger.  Texas actually has three of the tallest statues in the United States, including two that honor the great Texas heroes Sam Houston and Stephen Austin.  All three giant free standing statues exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base). This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant
“World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”

Sumoflam with Big Sam Houston towering behind him in Huntsville, TX

The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas home of Sam Houston State University.  This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet. It was built in 1994.

This giant Sam Houston statue can be seen from far off when driving on Interstate 45, especially coming from the south.  It stands on the right looking over the interstate proudly.

This statue, along with the one of Stephen Austin were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes from his Sculpturworx Studio.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288 near Angleton, TX
Stephen F. Austin – the Father of Texas

Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too.   Adickes agreed to do the statue, which was named “The Father of Texas,” at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD.  By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections  of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.

Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet.  It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.

The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas

The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes. Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.

A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one. By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.

Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving. After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue. According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony. She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.

Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior. She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.

Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to

Keeper Of The Plains WichitaKS2
Keeper of the Plains in WIchita, KS

Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants. Following are some of the others I have visited over the years.

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990
Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States. It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet. This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi. I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo above was taken in December 1991.

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT

The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana. Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte. I took the photo above in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR
Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I got to visit this statue in 2012.

KeeperOfThePlainsWichitaKS1
Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, KS

The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet. This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. I visited this in 2012.

HiawathaIronwoodMI4
Hiawatha, Ironwood, MI

The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant. Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds. Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie Iron Mine.

Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN
Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN

An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant. This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it. I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture above is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.

MarkTwainNewLondonMO1
Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

One of the last “giants” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO. This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”

 

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B is for Back Roads – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

I live to travel the back roads of America. These are the core of my travels around the United States and Canada. They always offer the best of everything: scenery, traffic conditions and a myriad of surprises.

 

A gravel road south of Belvidere, SD
A road approaching a checkerboard wheat farm near Cut Bank, MT

To me, the definition of a back road is anything that is not an interstate highway. However, I prefer the kind that are two lane and in many cases don’t even have stripes down the middle. Those are the best! I am even happy to be on a gravel road at times!

In this day of GPS maps and tracking, taking a back road is all the more opportune! If I take a road and get lost, I can typically depend on my GPS to get me back on the road where I’m going.  But, more often than not, I don’t care where I’m going, I just want to see where I’ve been.

Killdeer Road near Athens, WI
Interstate 5 near Sunny Valley, Oregon
Heading into a wind farm near Rugby, ND
On the top of the world on Beartooth Highway that borders Wyoming and Montana south of Red Lodge, MT
A road in the middle of a cornfield near Bloomington, IL

Back roads are the threads and fibers of our country. Many might travel the big interstate to get from one place to another, but sometime along the way they will need to leave the highway and get on to a smaller road to get to their final destination.  For me…the back road is ALWAYS my destination!

Back roads lead to numerous discoveries. I have driven back roads through every state in the United States (except for Alaska — I took a bus in Juneau, so does that count?) and always have come across something unique or interesting.  I have driven through cornfields in Iowa and pineapple groves in Hawaii.  I have seen many a wheat field in Montana and Saskatchewan.  I love driving the roads through the mountains of Colorado, Montana and Idaho, but am just as happy on a desert road in New Mexico or Texas.

The Road through Juneau, Alaska
Following the Amish on a road near Aylmer, Ontario in Canada
A lonely highway in south central Nebraska, near Overland
Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington

Sometimes my back road adventures are planned. I will have learned about something unique in a certain area and will try to go there via a back road. (You may want to check out my road trip from Bugtussle, KY to Bugtussle, TX — through Only, TN, for instance. See it HERE.) Other times, I just take a road and see where it leads.  And that is often the most fun!

Not every back road leads me to where I want to go. I specifically recall a time on a trip in Missouri. Driving down the highway I saw a sign pointing to Romance. And as I turned there was also a sign pointing to Romance Church. Since it was only 2 miles down the road, I decided I would take the road to romance. It was a windy, narrow little road that eventually turned into a gravel road and by the time I got to the end of the road there was a large building with some people sitting out on the porch. It looked as if it might’ve been a church at one time, but it was obviously a residence. I believe that this was once the community of “Romance.” But there was nothing there indicating such and so to this day I claim that I took a road to Romance and it was a dead end.

I took the road, but never did find Romance in Missouri in 2011
Success, Missouri direction

On a similar trip in Missouri I saw another sign to a town called Success. Obviously, my penchant for wanting to go to towns with unique names has always sent me down those roads. I turned left out of the town of Houston, MO and headed down the 16 mile road to Success. Much to my surprise, all the way along the road I could see abandoned old trailers and rusty old cars littering both sides. Granted, this is in a section of the Ozarks that is known for its poverty. I finally made it to Success and even got a photo in front of the Success Post Office. But I learned quickly, that, at least in Missouri, the road to Success is not very glamorous.

Success, Missouri

One time, on a road trip with the family through Louisiana, we came across a café in the middle of nowhere. We decided to stop and maybe try some Cajun food. They had blackened alligator! None of us had ever eaten alligator. But what was more fun was the Cajun music that was being played. There was a Zydeco band with lots of dancing and some of the dancers actually came after my children and asked them to dance. It was a wonderful and totally unplanned experience that we would’ve never seen had we not taken a back road.

Wind River Canyon, WY

Back roads always lead to somewhere, even if it is only a dead end. However, you’ll never know what’s there unless you take one! Following are a few more photos of some of the back roads I have been on.  I have hundreds of these, so this is just a sampling.  Enjoy the ride….  and preferably on a back road!

Rolling road near Gurney, WI
Downtown Ironwood, MI. Check out the giant Hiawatha Statue at the end of the road
On a quiet road near Baggs, WY
Three Turkey Vultures block the road near Gray Hawk, KY
Road leading to the Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks, Oregon
The Canadian highway near Fleming, Saskatchewan
NM 152 near Truth or Consequences, NM
The road to Alta, WY near Teton Valley, ID
Loop Road west of Sweet Grass, Montana right on the Canadian border
The highway leading to Carhenge in Alliance, NE
A local road near my home in Lexington, KY
The road through Bedias, TX
Driving along the coast in Galveston, TX
The cornfields near Adair, IA
I-80 near Green River, WY
A gravel road east of Craig, CO
Main Street in lovely Stanley, ID (yes it is a gravel road!)
SD 79 just south of the North Dakota border
The long straight highway near Cohagen, MT
Drive through the pines trees along OR 38 near Reedsport, OR
Driving in the autumn colors of Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada
The road in Ketchikan, AK ends with a cruise ship
Share the road with the Amish in Arthur, IL
The lonely road into Lost Springs, WY – Population 4

 

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