A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The R 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.

 

Ric’s Grill – Steak in Water Tower – Lethbridge, Alberta

Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta
Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Route 66 Soda / Route Beer – Mokena, Illinois

Route 66 “Route Beer”

Rabbit Hash, Kentucky

Welcome to Rabbit Hash, KY
Sign at Rabbit Hash Road
The Old Rabbit Hash General Store. It burned down in 2016 and had to be rebuilt.

Restroom Hiker Mural – Damascus, Virginia

Hiker painting on a restroom wall in Damascus

Other Restroom Fun – Story, Indiana; Hopland, California; San Francisco, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Cypress, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Ashland, Montana; Frenchglen, Oregon

A sign outside the restrooms at the Story Inn in Story, Indiana
The sign talking about “Weird Restrooms” at Real Goods in Hopland, CA
There were also a number of tile mosaics. This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor’s center
Tavern of Little Italy Restroom is plastered with the history of Little Italy in Cleveland
Men’s Stall Door in restroom at Burger Shack in Cypress, Texas
Jungle Jim’s Restroom in Cincinnati have entrances that are deceptive. They actually lead to immaculate huge restrooms.
Men’s Restroom at Mo’s in Reedsport, Oregon
Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the “Cleanest Restrooms on I-29”
Restroom Door in a Convenience Store in Ashland, Montana
Sometimes even a place like this looks heavenly – the ceramic toilet is a planter. The real place is in the outhouse. Frenchglen, Oregon

Rock City – near Valier, Montana

Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City, Montana

Geographical Center of North America – Rugby, North Dakota

Rugby, ND – The Geographic Center of North America
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND

Real Goods Store – Hopland, California

Welcome to Real Goods
A view of the Real Goods Store
Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer

Riscky’s Steakhouse and BBQ – Fort Worth, Texas

Riscky’s Steakhouse – Ft. Worth, Texas
Riscky’s BBQ – Ft. Worth

Rudyard, Montana

Rudyard Welcome Sign
Sumoflam and Dino – near Rudyard, Montana

Ragged Falls – Algonquin National Park, Ontario

Ragged Falls in Algonquin National Park in Ontario

Rosie the Fish – Sekiu, Washington

Sekiu’s somewhat famous “Rosie” welcomes you to the town

Red Squirrel – Nebraska City, Nebraska

A red squirrel with a mouthful in Nebraska City, NE

Rising Eagle Sculpture – Bismarck, North Dakota

Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND

Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois

Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois

Royal Motel – Ironwood, Michigan

A Route 66 type of vintage neon sign at the Royal Motel in Ironwood, MI

Riverside, Iowa

Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Live Long and Prosper – Sumoflam and the Starship Riverside

Random Road – Cleveland, Ohio

Mayfield Road and Random Road, by the little park in Little Italy

Romance, Missouri

Road to Romance
Romance Baptist

Roseman Covered Bridge – Winterset, Iowa

Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa

Raton, New Mexico

Raton Theatre in Raton, NM
Main Street in Raton, New Mexico
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM

Rio Brazos Dance Hall – Granbury, Texas

Rio Brazos Dance Hall – Granbury, Texas (now closed)

Roxy Theatres – Choteau, Montana; Langdon, North Dakota; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Shelby, Montana

Roxy Theatre in Choteau, Montana
ROXY Theatre in Langdon, ND
New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana

Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming

Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming

Roosters Roosters – Needville, Texas; E. Peoria, Illinois; Seymour, Missouri; Eldon, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Granbury, Texas

A big metal rooster sits in front of the Jay Cafe in Needville, Texas..doesn’t look like a jay to me.
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria
Uncle Rooster’s Big Rooster on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri
Metal Rooster in McIntosh, MN
Red Rooster (looks white to me) – Red Rooster Collectibles Eldon, IA
Giant Rooster greets you at Joe’s Cafe entrance in Greg Freeman Park, St. Louis
Big Rooster in Granbury, Texas

Roadhouse Relics – Austin, Texas

Roadhouse Relics Wall Sign in Austin

Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky

Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky

Regent, North Dakota – Home of the Enchanted Highway

Welcome to Regent and Enchanted Highway Road Map
Enchanted Highway Gift Shop in Regent, ND – closed the day were there

Ronks, Pennsylvania

Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
The Outhouse Gift Shop – Ronks, PA

Russell’s Point, Ohio

Stewart’s Drive In in Russell’s Point, Ohio
Bringing out the ice cream at Stewart’s

Roswell, New Mexico

UFOs in Roswell
More Art in Roswell, NM
Need some alien stuff? Plenty in Roswell

Rexburg, Idaho

Rexburg, ID
Rexburg LDS Temple

Rocket Rest Stop – Elkmont, Alabama

At the Rocket Rest Stop in Elkmont, AL – home of a Saturn 1B. Taken in 2005
Large Saturn Rocket at Welcome Center in Elkmont, Alabama

Ride the Ducks – Seattle, Washington

Ride the Ducks in Seattle

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland
Rock and Roll Blvd. in Cleveland

Real Quiet Lane – Lexington, Kentucky

Shhh…this is a Real Quiet Lane in Lexington, KY

Red River Gorge – Slade, Kentucky

Red River Gorge near Slade, KY
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November 2016

Rachel the Golden Pig – Pikes Place Market – Seattle, Washington

Rachel the Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Redcliff, Colorado

Green Bridge near Redcliff, Colorado
Nice carved eagle in Redcliff, Colorado

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

(46)

Going to California: Real Goods Solar in Hopland, CA

Welcome to Real Goods
Welcome to Real Goods
As I mentioned in my previous post, along the way to Red Bluff and Woodflock, we made a stop at Real Goods in Hopland, CA.  The place was so unique and fun that it deserved its own special blog post.

The Real Goods Store got its start in 1978 with a focus on solar equipment. According to their website, the store was originally envisioned as a one-stop-shop where people could find everything they needed for their remote homesteads. The store began with the sale of the first retail solar panel in the United States and the humble goal of changing the world.

Setting up solar water heater on Hopi Reservation in 1990
Setting up solar water heater on Hopi Reservation in 1990
This is of particular interest to me as I worked in the Solar Water Heater industry in Japan from 1989 to 1991 for Asahi Solar Corporation.  During that 2 1/2 year stint I represented the company on visits to China and the United States, in conferences and exhibits and more.

Sumoflam with the Colorado State Stellar V, which took 9th place out of 32 cars
Sumoflam with the Colorado State Stellar V, which took 9th place out of 32 cars
We also sponsored two college solar cars in the original GM Sunrayce in 1990 (Colorado State’s Stelar V and Arizona State’s Sun Devil Cruiser) and  brought the cars and their teams to Japan to compete in the Asahi (TV/News) Solar Car Race in Kobe, Japan.  Further, during my work I assisted in the installation of the first solar water heater on the Hopi Indian Reservation.  Working with the company, I was also instrumental in the company adding solar electric panels to their new headquarters building in Oita, Japan in 1991.

real-goods-solar-living-sourcebook-1With my involvement in solar, I also purchased a copy of the Solar Living Source Book back in 1990, while attending the Solar Energy Conference in Denver, CO.   Real Goods founder John Schaeffer published his first edition of The Solar Living Source Book in 1982. It was written as a one-stop information source for renewable energy and sustainable living. The Source Book is a comprehensive reference for the layperson on renewable energy technologies and sustainable living. It is now in its 14th Edition and has sold over 700,000 copies.

Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer
Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer
Little did I know that when I visited Real Goods on this trip that I would also have the opportunity to meet and speak with John Schaeffer, the founder of Real Goods and also the author of this Solar Living Source Book.  In fact, I now have the latest edition which was kindly signed by Mr. Schaeffer and he was also kind enough to get a picture with me.

Needing to Pee? Evidence of things to come!
Needing to Pee? Evidence of things to come!
Initially, I was not aware that we would be making a stop at Real Goods (nor did I even know of its existence!).  But Carla surprised me.  Knowing my penchant for quirky and unique places, she thought this would be a good place.  As we pulled into Hopland, immediately I could tell that a unique place was coming up.  First thing I saw on the side of the road was a “Needing to Pee?” sign. HA!  I had never seen one of those before.  Other signs included:

“Real Goods Solar Living Center”

“Everything Under the Sun”

“Weird Restrooms”

“Soothing ponds and Oasis”

“Greenest Store on Earth”

Soon we were turning into the Real Goods entrance, which is also home to the Solar Living Institute. I got pretty excited about the “solar” part though didn’t have much time to look at that AND the store.

MetalSculpture
Sumoflam with “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris
First thing that caught my eye as we pulled into the parking lot was a giant metal sculpture which looked like a dragon with a square Victrola speaker head.  Turns out that this sculpture is called “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris.  I am always enthralled by scrap metal sculptures such as this (and sometimes these are plain metal sculptures…not made from scrap metal).  this one was a doozy!

The sign talking about "Weird Restrooms"
The sign talking about “Weird Restrooms”
From there I went to the store.  They were supposed to have “Weird Restrooms,” which would be a “must see” quirky adventure for me.

I needed to use the restroom anyway…the red sign provoked me, I promise!

DSC_2463
Explanation of Weird Restrooms

The "weird part" is the recycled toilet tank lids that cover the wall.  Other recycled items can be found within as well.
The “weird part” is the recycled toilet tank lids that cover the wall. Other recycled items can be found within as well.
I also caught an interesting sign in the restroom, though there were no examples of this to be seen in the restroom.

The Toilet Sink sign...there were none here...
The Toilet Sink sign…there were none here…

Caroma2
…but we have one!! Our Caroma Profile Smart toilet
I got a kick out of “The Toilet Sink” sign.  Many probably don’t get it, but I can assure that Julianne and I do get it.  We actually HAVE ONE!!  When we remodeled our home a couple of years ago, we were going to have a small half bath. We thought back to our days in Japan and VOILA! We found one here in the use made by Caroma called a Profile Smart toilet. A bit pricey but perfect for our needs.
caroma1
The Caroma Profile Smart has a dual flush system too in order to conserve water. We may have the only one like it in Lexington, KY
Just around the corner from the “Weird Restroom” is an even stranger contraption, a funky drinking fountain…

The funky drinking at real Goods
The funky drinking at Real Goods

Grow-thru Cars at Real Goods (photo courtesy of roadsideamerica.com)
Grow-thru Cars at Real Goods (photo courtesy of roadsideamerica.com)
And, from what I understand, there are many other quirky things I missed on the grounds (due mainly to our lack of time there) including trees growing out of cars (The Memorial Car Grove).  This is where the rusting hulks of 50s and 60s “gas hog” cars have been turned into planter boxes for trees and flowers! These ‘grow-thru cars‘ are a fitting counterpoint to the ‘drive thru‘ redwood tree a hundred miles north. I am sorely disappointed to have missed this one since I have been to a number of other car art places such as Carhenge, Cadillac Ranch, Rabbit Ranch and “Spindle” (which no longer exists).

A view of the Real Goods Store
A view of the Real Goods Store

Another view of the Real Goods Store
Another view of the Real Goods Store
The inside of the store is a menagerie of uniqueness with all sorts of items that homesteaders can use.  They have bee keeping equipment, composting toilets, self help books, solar chargers, etc.  Truly a fascinating, one-of-a-kind store (and website).

Bees working in the "see thru" working beehive at Real Goods Store
Bees working in the “see thru” working beehive at Real Goods Store
I was fascinated with the ‘see thru” working beehive.  I have never seen anything like it and to watch the bees hard at was amazing!!

They also sell all of the equipment needed to do your own beehives.

A larger view of the hive....truly an amazing site
A larger view of the hive….truly an amazing site
Real goods is probably the most comprehensive TRUE “do-it-yourself” store I have ever seen.

Beekeeping for Dummies...yes, there is a book for that
Beekeeping for Dummies…yes, there is a book for that

Another view of products in the Real Goods Store
Another view of products in the Real Goods Store

Need hats?  They have plenty of them at Real Goods
Need hats? They have plenty of them at Real Goods

Real Goods Store
Real Goods Store
I am really glad to have been able to stop here and recommend that anyone driving along the Redwood Highway (US Hwy 101) near Hopland, CA stop by this unique store and Solar Education Center.  Unlike me, plan a couple of hours rather than a quick 30 minute stop!!

 

(635)