A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The T Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.


Talent, Oregon

Welcome to Talent, Oregon
Talent Mural
Talent Police

Tee Pee Motel – Wharton, Texas

Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX
Sumoflam at the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX

Thoroughbred Park – Lexington, Kentucky

Thoroughbred Park, Lexington, KY
Horse and jockey racing down the track. Perhaps my favorite photo of all from Thoroughbred Park

Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad, MO
Tightwad Bank – no longer in business, but was fun to see while there

Tornado, West Virginia

Tornado, WV
Tornado Church

Top of the World Store – Beartooth Pass – near Cody, Wyoming

Welcome to Top of the World Store on Beartooth Pass Highway north of Cody, Wyoming.
Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

Tulum, Mexico

Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

Tews Falls – Hamilton, Ontario

Tews Falls in Hamilton, Ontario
Tews Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

Trailer Park Eatery – Austin, Texas

Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
Trailer Park Eatery. Check out the Airstreams!

Teddy Rides Again – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Enchanted Highway Stop #6 – Teddy Rides Again
Sumoflam at Teddy Rides Again

Two Medicine Dinosaur Center – Bynum, Montana

Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum, Montana

Texas Instruments Sculpture – LSA Burger Co. – Denton, Texas

Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
A section of the Texas Instruments

Three Sisters – Sisters, Oregon

Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sister’s Oregon

Toad Suck, Arkansas

Toad Suck, Arkansas
Sumoflam in Toad Suck, AR

Trillium Woods Provincial Park – Woodstock, Ontario

A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park

Torch, Ohio

Torch, Ohio

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – Tacoma, Washington

Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Turkey Vultures – McKee, Kentucky; Versailles, Kentucky; Taylorsville, Kentucky

Turkey Vultures guard their meal near McKee, KY
A Turkey Vulture, also called a buzzard, flying way overhead in Versailles, KY
Turkey vulture gathering on a road in central Kentucky

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis

Trail Town USA – Damascus, Virginia

Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.
At the Cross Roads of the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trails

Ten Sleep, Wyoming

Crazy Woman Cafe in Ten Sleep, Wyoming
Ten Sleep Canyon on US 16 near Ten Sleep, WY

Thronehenge – Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden – Calvert City, Kentucky

Thronehenge in the Hillbilly Garden

Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Tomahawk, WI
Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI

Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

Texan Motel neon in Raton, New Mexico

Teton Drive In – Rexburg, Idaho

The old Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

This Way and That Way – Lake Jackson, Texas

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
This Way U Turn
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

Taughannock Falls – Ulysses, New York

Taughannock Falls in New York

Turtle Twist Ice Cream – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg, PA

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora, South Dakota

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Teepee Cafe – Bonesteel, South Dakota

TeePee Cafe – Bonesteel, South Dakota

Taisekiji – Fujinomiya, Japan

One of the huge buildings of Taisekiji in Fuji-no-miya (ca. 1978)
Towering pillars of Taisekiji. Notice the little dots at the bottom…those are people. (ca. 1978)

Tower Rock State Park – Cascade, Montana

Missouri River in Tower Rock State Park
Hardy Bridge in Tower Rock State Park

Tioga, Texas

Tioga, Texas – Birthplace of Gene Autry
Tioga Heritage Museum
Rustic shopping area of Tioga, Texas

Tallman Hotel – Upper Lake, California

The Tallman Hotel
Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA

Tersier (Actually called a Tarsius) – Bohol, Philippines

A Tersier on Bohol

Tunica, Mississippi

Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

Thorncrown Chapel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Tom Sawyer’s Fence – Hannibal, Missouri

My two sons, Seth and Solomon, at Tom Sawyer’s Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001

Threadgill’s – Austin, Texas

Threadgills in Austin
Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill’s

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Truth or Consequences, NM
NM 152 near Truth or Consequences, NM

Two-Tailed Walleye – Shell Lake, Wisconsin

Two Tailed Walleye Statue in Shell Lake
Sumoflam with the Shell Lake Two-Tailed Walleye

Train Murals – Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; Ravenna, Kentucky; Glasgow, Montana

Train Mural in Gauley Bridge painted by Nancy Lane to commemorate the rich rail heritage of the town.
A large mural of a train welcomes visitors to Ravenna, KY
Train mural in Glasgow Montana on the side of a building

Texas Pipe Supply – Houston, Texas

Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas

Twin Buttes – Atomic City, Idaho

Twin Buttes near Atomic City as seen heading west to Arco, ID

Three-Legged Willie – Georgetown, Texas

Statue of Three-Legged Willie in Georgetown, TX

Totem Poles – Neah Bay, Washington; Blueberry, Wisconsin; Ketchikan, Alaska; Superior, Wisconsin

A totem pole in Neah Bay, WA
Scrap Metal totem pole outside of Blueberry, WI Antique store
Sumoflam with a Totem Pole in Ketchikan
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin

Troll City – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Welcome to Mt. Horeb, WI
Another Mt. Horeb Troll (or two?)
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant, Mt. Horeb, WI
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure

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, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2


Houston to Austin: The Scenic Route

IMG_7418This is the second part of my Galveston return trip journey (see first post if you missed it).  After a night in Houston with my Uncle, I was back on the road through Houston and on to Austin, the long and scenic route….

My route from Houston to Austin ... the long and scenic route
My route from Houston to Austin … the long and scenic route

I chose this roundabout way through the heart of Texas in order to enjoy the unique Texas scenery and perhaps run into some of those quirky things that little towns have.  Initially, I had a business meeting scheduled in Conroe, but it fell through, so I headed to Huntsville, but, as I checked the map I noticed that not too far from Conroe was a small town called Cut and Shoot, Texas.  Voila!!  An unexpected town name treat!

Cut and Shoot City Hall
Cut and Shoot City Hall

According to the history of Cut and Shoot, the town had its unusual beginning and acquired its peculiar name in July 1912.  It was all a result of a religious confrontation and comments made by an 8 year old boy.  Today the town is incorporated and has a post office and a city all (as shown above).

Cut and Shoot Post Office in Texas
Cut and Shoot Post Office in Texas
Cut and Shoot Police
Cut and Shoot Police

From Cut and Shoot it was on to Huntsville to see what some call “The World’s Largest Statue of an American Hero.”  This is the statue of Sam Houston, called “Tribute to Courage”, it stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet.

Welcome to Huntsville
Welcome to Huntsville
Sam Houston Statue
Sam Houston Statue

According to the Huntsville Visitor’s Center, Houston Sculptor David Adickes needed 30 tons of concrete and two years to work on the project. The statue was dedicated on October 22, 1994. Every year, between 50,000 and 65,000 people visit the huge tribute.  Adickes was born in Huntsville, Texas. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with degrees in both math and physics in 1948, Adickes went to the Kansas City Art Institute. He studied painting there, and then went to Paris where he studied art for two years. In 1957, he lived for a year in Japan and then traveled extensively over the next 10 years in the Far East, Middle East, Europe, Russia and North Africa.

This is a full size replica of the head of Sam Houston that sits atop this giant statue
This is a full size replica of the head of Sam Houston that sits atop this giant statue
Sam Houston
Sam Houston

I was really amazed at the size of this one. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t see it from the same distance that I saw the Stephen Austin statue from a few days ago. Plus, when looking across the interstate, you really can get a sense of the size in relation to vehicles, as shown in the photo above. For those interested and with some time, Huntsville is also the home of the HEARTS Veterans Museum and the Texas Prison Museum. If you like Ghost Tours (and I know a couple of readers who do), then you’ll be interested in Huntsville’s Ghost Tours.

Texas Hwy 30
Texas Hwy 30

To cut through the heart of Texas, I took Texas Highway 30 west out of Huntsville towards College Station and Bryan, TX.  The first little town I passed through was Shiro.  The town was founded in 1902 by farm families in the vicinity. The settlement’s name, Shiro, was provided by postmaster Frances Marion Mayfield, who selected it from the botanical names in a nursery catalog.

Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro.
Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro.
Welcome to Shiro, TX
Welcome to Shiro, TX

There was not much to see in Shiro, but the joy of taking these back roads is seeing things like the old car below advertising a bar in Shiro.

Bare Bones Bar advertising car - Shiro, TX
Bare Bones Bar advertising car – Shiro, TX
Old Ghost Sign for Coca Cola on a wall in Shiro, TX
Old Ghost Sign for Coca Cola on a wall in Shiro, TX
Downtown Shiro, Texas
Downtown Shiro, Texas
Old Furniture Store in Shiro, TX
Old Furniture Store in Shiro, TX

From Shiro, it was westward on TX 30 towards Bryan, TX

TX Hwy 30 west of Shiro
TX Hwy 30 west of Shiro

The sky was beautiful that day. Couldn’t resist a shot…

Sky and clouds deep in the heart of Texas
Sky and clouds deep in the heart of Texas

After Bryan the highway turned into US 79/190 heading west towards Austin.  When I got to Hearne I followed 79 south towards Rockdale.

Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
Rockdale, Texas
Rockdale, Texas
Thorndale, Texas
Thorndale, Texas

When I got into Thorndale, there was this huge pyramid-looking grain elevator.  It was an unusual site.

Huge unique grain elevator in Thorndale, Texas
Huge unique grain elevator in Thorndale, Texas

After Thorndale, it was on to Hutto, home of the Hippos and the into Round Rock.

Hutto, Texas
Hutto, Texas

I didn’t have time to stop in Hutto, but I did see something pretty funny to me….  Covert Auto has a less than Covert sign….

Covert Chevrolet in Hutto, TX
Covert Chevrolet in Hutto, TX

I had to push into Austin since I was meeting my cousin for dinner in Austin.  I finally got into Austin (the town that wants to stay weird) after a fun drive through the heart of Texas.  I joined my cousin for dinner at the world famous Threadgill’s.

Threadgills in Austin
Threadgill’s in Austin
Threadgill's Home Cooking
Threadgill’s Home Cooking

Threadgill’s started off as a gas station  just north of Austin by Kenneth Threadgill in 1933.  He soon made it a beer joint for musicians to drop in after their gigs.

Howdy from Threadgill's
Howdy from Threadgill’s
Threadgill's is Cool!
Threadgill’s is Cool!

Even though I have always been known to be a music trivia wiz, I learned something new here at Threadgill’s…this was where Janis Joplin got her start as she developed her brassy style that would propel her to become the first female rock and roll superstar.

Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill's
Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill’s
Threadgill's Diner Style
Threadgill’s Diner Style

And of course, they are famous for their food too….how about Texas style Chicken Fried Steak…

Threadgill's Chicken Fried Steak
Threadgill’s Chicken Fried Steak

After dinner, we took a ride for the night life of Austin.  A couple of shots to end the day and end this post.  Next post is all about Austin and the drive to Keller.

The "Owl" in downtown Austin
The “Owl” in downtown Austin – Frost Bank Tower
Stoplight over the capital
Stoplight over the Capital