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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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

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A to Z Challenge: The J 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

J The J Towns

Jamestown, North Dakota

World's Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
The Chuckwagon Cafe - serving a 4 Meat Buffet
The Chuckwagon Cafe – serving a 4 Meat Buffet

One of my fun places to stop in North Dakota is Jamestown. It is known as the “Buffalo City” and one can find all kinds of Buffalo things, including “the World’s Largest Buffalo” statue and  the National Buffalo Museum.  It was commissioned in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman, and built by art students from Jamestown College, under the supervision of art instructor and designer, Elmer Peterson. It is visible from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed with stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh and is one of the giants across the US. See more about my visit to Jamestown HERE.

Joseph, Oregon

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Joseph, Oregon is the Gateway to Hell’s Canyon
A view of Hells Canyon
A view of Hell’s Canyon near Joseph, Oregon
The Spirit of Joseph by Steve Parks
Sumoflam with “The Spirit of Joseph” Eagle sculpture in Joseph, OR. Sculptor was Steve Parks
Sacajawea Peak
A view of Sacajawea Peak near Joseph, Oregon
Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake near Joseph, OR

Known as “The Little Switzerland” of the United States, Joseph, Oregon is a scenic town on the shores of the lovely Wallowa Lake. I visited this community in 2007 and was enthralled by the beauty.  Like many towns, they have an art walk with many fine outdoor sculptures, including the intricate eagle sculpture “The Spirit of Joseph” by Steve Parks.  Joseph was named after Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce Tribe.  Joseph is also about an hour away from the awe inspiring Hell’s Canyon. Despite the grandeur and wide expanses of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Hell’s Canyon has been carved much deeper by the Snake River. The canyon is about 100 miles in length and there is one 40 mile section that is nearly 5500 feet deep. But the steepest point from river to rim is at Granite Creek. This is an amazing 7900 foot deep section of the canyon!! The widest expanse across the canyon is 10 miles. The Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway is an awesome way to spend a day driving and taking in the wonderful views.  See more about my NW Oregon  and SW Washington roadtrip from 2007 HERE.

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana
Welcome to Jeffersonville, Indiana
One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
One of the many floodwall murals of Jeffersonville, Indiana
Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center
Jeffersonville, Indiana Visitors Center
Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN
Louisville as seen from across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, IN
Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN
Meriwether Lews meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio near present day Clarksville, IN
Gargoyle at Industrial Terrorplex
Gargoyle at Industrial Terrorplex (added especially for my Gargoyle loving friend and author Tui Snider)

Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY is the river town of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Two different cities and a shared river and bridge.  In September 2013 , with camera in hand,  I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville.  The town has a series of floodwall murals which are delightful to walk along and see. Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew.  This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012.  Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world. Jeffersonville is also home to The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner.  A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me. See more about this unique Ohio River town in my 2013 post HERE.

Juneau, Alaska

Downtown Juneau Alaska
Downtown Juneau Alaska
Cruise Ship in Juneau
Cruise Ship in Juneau as seen from OUR Cruise Ship at 5:30 AM
Juneau Tram
Mount Roberts Tramway
View of Gastineau Channel as seen from top of mountain
View of Gastineau Channel as seen from top of mountain
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

One of the few places you cannot get to on a backroad by car is Juneau, Alaska.  Only accessible via air or boat, we visited while on a cruise in June 2004 with other family members.  Sitting along the Gastineau Channel, the town is picturesque and touristy.  It is the gateway to Mendenhall Glacier as well.  Mendenhall Glacier is about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. We also took the Mount Roberts Tramway to the top of the mountain and enjoyed a spectacular view.  The tramway’s cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest to the Mountain House, offering expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The Tramway is one of the most vertical tramways in the world. See the entire report of this trip HERE.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

"Howdy Stranger" Sign at Teton Pass summit
“Howdy Stranger” Sign at Teton Pass summit
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Jackson Hole Valley as seen from Teton Pass
Antler Arch of Jackson
Antler Arch of Jackson
The famous Cowboy Bar neon sign
The famous Cowboy Bar neon sign
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge
Grand Tetons as seen from outside Jackson, WY
Grand Tetons as seen from outside Jackson, WY

One of my FAVORITE places in the US is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It is the gateway to the Grand Tetons National Park and is a beautiful town nestled in a picturesque valley. See my full post from a 2013 visit HERE.  It is one my “Heaven on Earth” places.

Janesville, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)

Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI
Bessie the Cow in Janesville, WI

Another of the interesting towns in Wisconsin, Janesville is not too far from Madison and north of Beloit.  The town has big cows and cheese factories as well as a great history.  Definitely worth a visit.

Jackson Center, Ohio (Honorable Mention)

Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio
Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio
Wally Byam Caravan Club HQ in Jackson Center
Wally Byam Caravan Club HQ in Jackson Center
Sumoflam hanging at the Airstream Visitor's Center
Sumoflam hanging at the Airstream Visitor’s Center

Jackson Center, Ohio is the home of the Airstream Factory. Everyone has seen these iconic trailers on the roads.  This is where they come from.  They give tours!!  Check out a report about my visit there in May 2008 right HERE.

Jamaica Beach, Texas (Honorable Mention)

Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Jamaica Beach Water Tower
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation
Pelicans in formation reminded me of Jet Planes in formation

On one end of Galveston Island in Texas is Jamaica Beach, with nice beaches, condos to stay in and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico.  Brown pelicans are in the air everywhere.  See my 2014 post with many pelican shots and lots of views of the beautiful gulf coast HERE.

Jamestown, New York (Honorable Mention)

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Lucille Ball Birthplace
Lucille Ball Birthplace

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include another Jamestown.  (And yes, I have also been to Jamestown, VA to see the old Jamestown history!!) Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of iconic TV star Lucille Ball.  There is Lucy and Desi stuff all over town.  We didn’t have time to visit the Lucy-Desi Center, but I did at least get shots of the facilities and the murals.  See my full report about my New York trip to Jamestown and other places nearby by clicking 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)

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A Whirlwind Trip to Palmyra, NY and the Hill Cumorah Pageant

Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Lunchtime on a Skyscraper by Sergio Fernari – Williamsville, NY

My wife and I took a quick whirlwind trip to Palmyra, New York this past weekend (July 19-21, 2013) to attend the spectacular Hill Cumorah Pageant, which is presented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Naturally, along the way we made a few stops.  The three day trip was a lot of driving and a lot of fun.  Following is a map of the trip.


View Larger Map – Lexington, KY to Palmyra, NY and back

The first part of the drive was straight up through Cincinnati and Columbus with just a small gas stop in Grove City, Ohio. I have traveled these roads so often, I think I have run out of places to see. (Actually, I am sure there are a number of smaller roads I could still do!!).  We stopped overnight in the Akron, with a quick stop in Green, Ohio to have dinner at Menches Brothers, the Inventors of the Hamburger and the Ice Cream Cone.

Menches Bros. in Green, Ohio
Menches Bros. in Green, Ohio

According to Menches Brothers history, “History recorded that Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork for their sausage patty sandwiches at the 1885 Erie County Fair. Their supplier, reluctant to butcher more hogs in the summer heat, suggested they use beef instead. The brothers fried some up, but found it bland. They added coffee, brown sugar, and other ingredients to create a taste that stands distinct without condiments. They christened this sandwich the “hamburger” after Hamburg, New York, where the fair was being held. At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, Frank and Charles baked waffles in Parisian waffle irons and topped them with ice cream. They then had an idea to wrap the warm waffle around a fid, a cone-shaped splicing tool for tent ropes. The waffle cooled and held its shape to provide an edible handle for eating ice cream. Returning home to Akron, the Menches began production of “premium” cones at their Premium Popcorn Works factory.” Menches currently has 50 different varieties of burgers on their menu.

Sumoflam at Menches Brothers
Sumoflam at Menches Brothers
Menches Brothers
Menches Brothers

Interestingly, neither my wife or me tried their hamburgers, which still use the original recipe.  I tried their Perogie Pizza, which is also fairly famous.  It is a pizza made with garlic mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese and bacon.  And really yummy!

Famous Perogie Pizza at Menche's
Famous Perogie Pizza at Menche’s
Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti at Menche's
Spinach and Mushroom Spaghetti at Menche’s
The 50 Chart at Menches Brothers - competition to see who can eat all 50 varieties of Menches Burgers
The 50 Chart at Menches Brothers – competition to see who can eat all 50 varieties of Menches Burgers

As for the actual inventor of the hamburger — I have been to Seymour, Wisconsin where Charlie Nagreen claims to have invented the hamburger (see my original post about this).  Further, Wikipedia has a great entry about the various claims (see Wikipedia article). Ironically, both the Menches and Nagreen make their claims ca. 1885. One thing is for sure, there was nobody with the name of McDonald that has a claim on the first hamburger!!

Daffin's Candy Store - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Daffin’s Candies – Sharon, Pennsylvania
Sharon, Pennsylvania
Sharon, Pennsylvania

After a good night’s rest we were on the road eastward.  Our firs stop was in Sharon, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour east of the Akron area and just over the border from Ohio.  Sharon is the home of Daffin’s Candies, which claims to be the “World’s Largest Candy Store.”  It is also home to the “Chocolate Kingdom.”

Daffin's rows of Candy Cases
Daffin’s rows of Candy Cases
Chocolate candy cases at Daffin's in Sharon, Ohio
Chocolate candy cases at Daffin’s in Sharon, Ohio

The 20,000 square foot store is chock full of every candy imaginable, including a huge variety of chocolates.  I saw some candies I hadn’t seen in years.

Aisles of packaged and single candies at Daffin's
Aisles of packaged and single candies at Daffin’s

The original candy store was started in 1903 by George Daffin in Woodsfield, Ohio.   After a couple more moves over the years, the store made its way into downtown Sharon, Ohio in 1947.  It was also the factory for making the chocolates at that time.  They eventually got so busy they had to move.  Besides the store, they now also have a 30,000 square foot factory.

Paul Daffin statue - 3rd Generation owner and idea man behind the Chocolate Kingdom
Paul Daffin statue – 3rd Generation owner and idea man behind the Chocolate Kingdom
Chocolate Kingdom entrance at Daffin's
Chocolate Kingdom entrance at Daffin’s

For me, the drawing card to Daffin’s was not necessarily the size of the store, but rather the unique “Chocolate Kingdom” housed in the back of the store as it fits the whimsy and quirky characteristics of places of I like to visit. The Chocolate Kingdom includes large chocolate animals and two large castles, and an entire miniature village with chocolate houses and railroads. The big drawing cards are a 400-pound chocolate turtle, a 125-pound chocolate reindeer and 75-pound chocolate frog, not to mention a few other animals. There are also chocolate castles, a train, a village, and a Ferris Wheel.

Sumoflam at the Chocolate Kingdom in Daffin's
Sumoflam at the Chocolate Kingdom in Daffin’s
Famous 400 pound chocolate turtle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Famous 400 pound chocolate turtle and his frog friend in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s
Chocolate Rhino in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Chocolate Rhino in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s
Chocolate Animals at Daffin's
Chocolate Animals at Daffin’s
Another chocolate castle at Daffin's
Another chocolate castle at Daffin’s
Chocolate Castle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin's
Chocolate Castle in Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s

After picking up a few pieces of chocolate, we were on the road again.  While in Sharon I saw a unique building with some cool lamps.  Also saw a nice wooden sculpture across the street from Daffin’s.

Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin's in Sharon, PA
Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin’s in Sharon, PA
Buhl Mansion in Sharon, Pennsylvania
Buhl Mansion in Sharon, Pennsylvania

The Buhl Mansion is considered one of America’s Top 10 Most Romantic Inns and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by noted Youngstown architect Charles Owsley (1846–1935) and built in 1891. It is a 2 1/2-story, ashlar sandstone residence with Richardsonian Romanesque style features. It features round arches, steep gable wall dormers, an inset porch with heavy arches, stone finials, and several turrets with copper capped spires.

Buhl Mansion Lamps
Buhl Mansion Lamps

From Sharon we headed east on US 62 through Hermitage and Mercer to I-79 and then headed north.  This is a very scenic stretch of interstate as it goes through the beautiful hills of the Allegheny Plateau with the offering of plenty of rural scenery.  We proceeded north until we got to the Meadville exit (147A) so we could stop and see an assemblage of artwork on the roadside….all made from road signs.

Stop Sign Flower in Meadville, PA
“Stop-Flower” in Meadville, PA

Signs & Flowers is a garden of 12 large flowers made of recycled road signs and landscaping at the PennDOT storage lot in Meadville (photos below). In the spring and summer of 2001, Allegheny College art students, under the direction of art professor Amara Geffen, designed and planted the “garden,” which has quickly become a popular attraction for local residents and tourists. In the summer of 2002 Geffen’s students continued the project by constructing a 200-foot sculptural fence Read Between the Signs on the PennDOT property along Hwy 322 (photos below).

Signs & Flowers in Meadville, Pennsylvania
Signs & Flowers in Meadville, Pennsylvania

Under the direction of Professor Geffen, art apprentices worked in collaboration with PennDOT welders, road crew and heavy equipment operators to create a sculptural garden that speaks of our human impact on the planet. Twelve enormous (10′-12′ high) road sign flowers and rolling mounds echo natural forms.

Blue Flower in Meadville, PA
Blue Flower in Meadville, PA
Detour Flower
Detour Flower
Road Closed Flower
Road Closed Flower
Side view of Signs & Flowers
Side view of Signs & Flowers
Road sign Roses
Road sign Roses
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers

Just a couple of blocks away is the Read Between the Signs work. This work is a 1,200’ x 9’ sculptural relief constructed from reclaimed road signs that is located at the gateway into Meadville.  This is really quite amazing work considering the media used to make it. (Some of the photos below were taken during a trip through here in 2011 – thus the snow…)

Balloons (less than 10 tons)
Balloons (less than 10 tons!!)
Couthouse
Courthouse and tree
Train and signs
Train and signs
Singing Cowboy
Singing Cowboy
Roller Coaster
Roller Coaster
Store front signage
Store front signage
Which Way? Tree
Which Way? Tree
Grazing
Grazing in a Litter Free Zone
Ferris Wheel
Ferris Wheel

After the little “Sign Break” in Meadville, we were back on the road to New York.  We made it to I-90 and zipped on past Erie and Buffalo with an occasional nice view of Lake Erie to the north of us.  By 3 PM we were a bit hungry so we took the Pembroke Exit off of the Toll Road to find somewhere to eat.

Pembroke, New York
Pembroke, New York

Just near Pembroke, in the small town of Corfu, we came upon Kutter’s Cheese Factory.  This one made me laugh!!

Kutter's Cheese in Corfu, New York
Kutter’s Cheese in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter's Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter’s Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York

From Kutter’s we drove down the road to the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant, also in Corfu.  This rustic little restaurant/bar is built along the Indian Falls of Tonawanda Creek, which flow over the Onondaga Escarpment. Though not huge, the falls are certainly scenic. The falls are a curtain falls with a height of about 20 feet and a crest width of roughly 100 feet.

Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Restaurant - Corfu, NY
Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant – Corfu, NY
Rustic Indian Falls Restaurant
Rustic Indian Falls Restaurant

The restaurant has a nice room with open windows that overlooks the falls.  We enjoyed our lunch with the sounds of rushing water and a great view.  In fact, the best view of the falls is from this little restaurant.

Indian Falls as seen from a window in the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls as seen from a window in the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant

We did have a nice lunch by the way…  Their Sweet Potato Fries are sweetened and then come with a nice cinnamon sugar butter dipping sauce.

Sweet Potato Fries at Log Cabin Restaurant
Sweet Potato Fries at Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Indian Falls Log Cabin
Prime Rib Sandwich at Log Cabin Restaurant
Prime Rib Sandwich at Log Cabin Restaurant

After lunch we continued east to Palmyra, New York and the Hill Cumorah Visitor’s Center. We arrived around 6:30 PM.  The Pageant would not start until around 9:15 PM, so we hung around, relaxed, and I took pictures of what was going on.

Hill Cumorah Cast
Hill Cumorah Cast

The Hill Cumorah Pageant began in the early 1920’s when a small group of missionaries from New York City gathered for the Cumorah Conference at the Joseph Smith Farm in Palmyra to celebrate Pioneer Day, the day when Brigham Young first entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  In July of 1934, the conference was moved from the Farm to the Hill Cumorah, the large hill behind the visitor’s center.  Today the Pageant, with its incredible staging, lighting, special effects and colorful costuming is still carefully designed to keep its message about Jesus Christ both simple and pure.  I actually plan on writing a more complete post about the Pageant with many photos soon. (Link will be here when completed)

Sumoflam poses with the actor who portray's the wicked King Noah from the Book of Mormon
Sumoflam poses with the actor who portray’s the wicked King Noah from the Book of Mormon
One of the actors who portrays the prophet Lehi, who led his family out of Jerusalem
One of the actors who portrays the prophet Lehi, who led his family out of Jerusalem
Angels trumpet in the beginning of the performance
Angels trumpet in the beginning of the performance
Moon glows behind one of the towers used for lighting of the production
Moon glows behind one of the towers used for lighting of the production

The performance was a grand spectacle and very moving.  I have been to other LDS Church Pageants (in Mesa, AZ; Manti, UT and Nauvoo, IL), but this one was perhaps the most amazing of all of them with fires, mists, volcanoes and storms all on the stage.

Sumoflam with Laman and Lemuel, sons of Lehi
Sumoflam with Laman and Lemuel, sons of Lehi

After the pageant we headed back towards Buffalo, New York for an overnight stay in Williamsville, NY.  Though over an hour away, it was the closest place to find a reasonably priced motel.  The pageant draws visitors from all over the U.S. and hotels are filled a year in advance or more.

Memorial Statue in memory of the victims of Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009.  This is located in Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY
Memorial Statue in memory of the victims of Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009. This is located in Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY

The small village of Williamsville is replete with numerous bronze works of art thanks in great part to the hotel and restaurant entrepreneur Russell J. Salvatore, the owner of a number of places in the area (along with his family).

Russell J. Salvatore Statue in Williamsville's Patriots and Heroes Park
Russell J. Salvatore Statue in Williamsville’s Patriots and Heroes Park
Tribute statue for firefighters during the attacks on New York's World Trade Center.  This is located in the Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY
Tribute statue for firefighters during the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. This is located in the Patriots and Heroes Park in Williamsville, NY

Perhaps the most unique of all of the pieces in the area is the Lunchtime on a Skyscraper sculpture by Sergio Furnari, which is based on a popular photograph taken by Charles C. Ebbets in 1932.  An Italian sculptor, Furnari owned a mobile tourist attraction which he took around New York and which he created himself. Sergio made his living driving it around New York and selling souvenir versions of the statue to people. Russ Salvatore offered to buy it from him and eventually purchased it for $50,000 and then paid to have it moved to the front of his Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville.

Lunchtime on a Skyscraper in Williamsville, NY
Lunchtime on a Skyscraper in Williamsville, NY
Rear view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Rear view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper

Once the ten-ton crane positioned the sculpture, Russ then hired local mural artist Tim Martin to create a mural of New York City below the men. The hand-painted billboard makes the statue look authentic, as if they are truly eating lunch 38 stories up in the sky.

Another view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Another view of Lunchtime on a Skyscraper
Closeup of Tim Martin mural that is at bottom of sculpture
Closeup of Tim Martin mural that is at bottom of sculpture

There are a couple of other unique sculptures

Large buffalo statue made out of stone at Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Large buffalo statue made out of stone at Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Bronze of children playing in front of Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Bronze of children playing in front of Garden Palace Hotel in Williamsville, NY
Children playing - sculpture in Williamsville, NY
Children playing – sculpture in Williamsville, NY

After breakfast we were on our way home again.  I always like to take a different route whenever possible, but we also had our schedule to consider.  Nonetheless, we dropped south towards Jamestown, NY.  We went west on I-90 until the Fredonia exit and then south on NY Hwy 60 towards Jamestown.

Town of Gerry, NY
Town of Gerry, NY

Along the way we drove through the small town of Gerry, NY.  I had to stop for a photo as one of my good friends in Lexington is named Gerry.  Took this in his honor!! (Hope you are reading Gerry!)

Lucille Ball Birthplace - Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Birthplace – Jamestown, NY

Jamestown, New York is the birthplace of iconic TV star Lucille Ball.  There is Lucy and Desi stuff all over town.  We didn’t have time to visit the Lucy-Desi Center, but I did at least get shots of the facilities (The Lucy Desi Museum and the Desilu Studios) from the outside.

Desilu Studios - Jamestown, NY
Desilu Studios – Jamestown, NY
Lucy Desi Museum - Jamestown, NY
Lucy Desi Museum – Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Theatre in Jamestown, NY
Lucille Ball Theatre in Jamestown, NY
Desilu Playhouse - Jamestown, NY
Desilu Playhouse – Jamestown, NY
Jamestown Banner advertising Lucille Ball Festival
Jamestown Banner advertising Lucille Ball Festival
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York
Big wall photo of Lucy and Desi in Jamestown, New York

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get to see her grave marker in the cemetery.  I did get a shot of a huge mural however…  The mural was done by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr. and completed in October 2012.

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Large Lucy Mural as seen from downtown Jamestown, NY
Large Lucy Mural as seen from downtown Jamestown, NY
Old buildings in Jamestown, NY
Old buildings in Jamestown, NY

From Jamestown we headed west on Interstate 86, also known as the “Southern Tier Expressway.”  This used to be US Rte 17, but, as of 2013, much of this has been converted to interstate.  The section we were on goes all the way to Lake Erie and is a very scenic drive. We eventually hit I-90 in Erie, PA and then headed south to I-79, which we followed towards Pittsburgh.  Along the way we were stuck in a huge traffic jam due to road construction near Moraine State Park (Exit 99) in Pennsylvania.  It did allow me time to get some wildflower photos from the car….

Wildflowers on I-79 south of Worth, PA
Wildflowers on I-79 south of Worth, PA
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflower on I-79
Wildflower on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79
Wildflowers on I-79

The rural scenery is also wonderful on I-79 as it rolls through the Allegheny Plateau.

Farm near Harmony, PA on I-79
Farm near Harmony, PA on I-79
Rows of corn in Western Pennsylvania as seen off of I-79
Rows of corn in Western Pennsylvania as seen off of I-79

We eventually got off at Exit 88.  I wanted to visit the town of Zelienople, chiefly because I had not been to a town that started with the letter Z (as far as I could recall – turns out I had been to Zanesville, Ohio in the past and we passed through Zanesville all on our way back on this trip too!! – 2 Z Towns in one day). Taking the road to Zelienople, we passed a turn to Harmony, Pennsylvania.  Seemed to me that our church founder Joseph Smith had spent time in Harmony, so we decided to drop in.  As we looked at the historic buildings we saw nothing there about our church.  So, we Googled it and found out that the “old” Harmony, PA is now called Oakland (in NE Pennsylvania).  Nonetheless, THIS Harmony was a quaint little town and was worth the visit anyway.  Zelienople and Harmony actually share a Chamber of Commerce and are practically one in the same place. The towns are located in the Connoquenessing Valley.

Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, PA
Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, PA
Rustic old barn in Harmony, Pennsylvania
Rustic old barn in Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log Cabin - Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log Cabin – Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log House in Historic Harmony, Pennsylvania
Old Log House in Historic Harmony, Pennsylvania

Harmony is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The area was settled by a German religious group known as Pietists, who broke off from the Lutherans and came to America in 1804. The first group of settlers arrived in Harmony in November 1804 and erected nine log cabins. They also laid out the town with three streets running north and south with three streets running east and west with a large diamond in the center. (More History here)

Harmony Museum - Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony Museum – Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony, Pennsylvania
Harmony, Pennsylvania

From Harmony we returned to I-79 and continued south and then west on US 22 towards Steubenville, OH, crossing a narrow strip of West Virginia. There is about a 5 mile section of West Virginia’s panhandle that is squeezed between Pennsylvania and Ohio.  We stopped in Weirton, WV for lunch) through However, it is actually not the narrowest neck of land in the U.S.  My research shows that the panhandle of Maryland’s mountainous western area is a geographic anomaly, a 1-mile-wide strip between Pennsylvania and West Virginia (near Cumberland).  As for Weirton, WV, it too has some geographic significance. The town extends from the Ohio border on the west to the Pennsylvania border on the east. This makes it the only city in the United States that borders two other states on two sides, and its own state on the other two sides.

Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH

My main reason for the stop in Steubenville was to get a photo of the huge Dean Martin mural.  I had been to Steubenville (also known as the “City of Murals“) once before (in 2008) and had many of the murals (see the full post here).  But the Dean Martin mural eluded me (I had added a photo to my post that I found elsewhere).  This time I did find it…

Sumoflam and Dean Martin
Sumoflam and Dean Martin

Dean Martin was originally born Dean Crocetti and is Steubenville’s most celebrated citizen. They have a Dino Festival in town every June.  The Mural below was painted in 1998 by Robert Dever.

Dean Martin mural in Steubenville painted by Robert Dever
Dean Martin mural in Steubenville painted by Robert Dever

From Steubenville we followed the scenic drive along the Ohio River, passing through Brilliant, Ohio… (love the name).

Welcome to Brilliant, OH
Welcome to Brilliant, OH

From Brilliant we continued south through Columbus and on to Lexington.  What a whirlwind trip!!

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