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

 

Judy Garland Birthplace – Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN

Jakeman’s Maple Syrup – Beachville, Ontario

Jakeman’s Maple Products – Beachville, Ontario
Jakeman’s Sign

Jackalopes Everywhere – Superior, Wisconsin; Wall, South Dakota; Douglas, Wyoming; Fort Worth, Texas

Jackalope Crossing
A cuddly Jackalope at Wall Drug, SD
A Jackalope Bird or something at Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Douglas, Wyoming Jackalope
Jackalope on top of a car dealership in Ft. Worth, TX

Jungle Jim’s Restroom – Cincinnati, Ohio

Jungle Jim’s Restroom entrances are deceptive. They actually lead to immaculate huge restrooms.

Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Waldo, Arkansas

Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Waldo, Arkansas

Jolly, Texas

Jolly, Texas
I am being Jolly – I think

Juke Boxes – Mel’s Diner – San Francisco, California

Rockola Juke Boxes line the store and fill it with 50s and 60s music

Jerry Siegel / Joe Schuster – Creators of Superman – Cleveland, Ohio

Story of Superman at Joe Shuster’s former home
Superman Street signs at the corner of Kimberley and Parkwood in Cleveland – Jerry Siegel Lane and Lois Lane
A plaque in front of the Jerry Siegel house gives the history of his work.
Action Comics blowups at Joe Schuster Home
Amor St. has become Joe Shuster Lane. It too is on Parkwood (known also as Lois Lane)

James Frank Kotera – JFK The Twine Ball Man – Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

James Frank Kotera – JFK – The Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI

Jumbo the Elephant Statue – St. Thomas, Ontario

Sumoflam with Jumbo in 2008

JELL-O Museum – Le Roy, New York

JELL-O Museum in LeRoy, New York
Head shot of JELL-O Cow in Leroy, NY

Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk – Riverside, Iowa

Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA

Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin

Another of the premiere roadside attractions in America!!

Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
20 foot tall Jurustic Park dragon in Marshfield, WI
Jurustic Park

J.C. Penney Mother Store – Kemmerer, Wyoming

Where it all started

J.C. Penney Mother Store

Jesus in Cowboy Boots – Evergreen Cemetery – Paris, Texas

The famed “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” monument at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX

Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota

Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN

Jerusalem Rocks – Sweetgrass, Montana

Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass, Montana
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass
Sumoflam at Jerusalem Rocks in December 2012

Juneau, Alaska

Downtown Juneau Alaska
Cruise Ship in Juneau

Jelly Belly Room – Santa’s Candy Castle – Santa Claus, Indiana

One of the Jelly Belly Walls
SCORE! Tabasco flavored Jelly Belly candies!! How exciting!

John Wayne House – Winterset, Iowa

Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
John Wayne Drive, Winterset, Iowa

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Welcome to Jeffersonville
The Howard House – one of 12 floodwall murals in Jeffersonville

Three Jamestowns – Jamestown, New York; Jamestown, North Dakota; Jamestown, Virginia

Large Lucy Mural in Jamestown, NY painted by Gary Peters Jr. and Gary Peters Sr.
Lucy Desi Museum – Jamestown, NY
Frontier Village, an old-timey Western Village in Jamestown, ND
World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND
My sons Seth and Sol on deck of one of the ships in Jamestown, VA in August 1995
Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995

Joplin, Montana

Joplin, Montana…Biggest Little Town on Earth

James Garfield Monument – Lake View Cemetery – Cleveland, Ohio

James Garfield Statue inside Garfield Monument
The James Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland

Jackalope Capital of the World – Douglas, Wyoming

Get your Jackalope Hunting License Here

My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY
New Douglas Chamber of Commerce Logo with a Jackalope
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye

Joseph Smith Cabin – Palmyra, New York

LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY

Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers – Rexburg, Idaho

Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger

Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Yummy Dutch Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
Jackson, Wyoming and Ski Slope
Antler Arch of Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Joe Mama’s Fine Italian – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joe Mama’s Fine Italian Restaurant

Jacobson Park – Lexington, Kentucky

My Happy Place

Lovely parhelion (sun dog) over Jacobson Lake in December 2016
Winter sunrise at Jacobson Park
Fall at Jacobson Park

Jamaica Beach – Galveston, Texas

Jamaica Beach Water Tower

Jesus of the Ozarks – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Joseph, Oregon

Sacajawea Peak – Joseph, Oregon
Giant Eagle Statue – Joseph, Oregon

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

 

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Q is for Quirky – #atozchallenge

There is a difference between quirky and offbeat in my mind.  Quirky is typically off the chain and unexpected, or even downright weird.  On the other hand, as noted in my O is for Offbeat post, the offbeat and odd things are typically recognizable.

Obviously, there is a fine line between what is quirky and what is offbeat.  I think we all make those determinations ourselves.  In this post, I will offer up a few Quirky things…those that I think are beyond offbeat and into the realm of quirky.

“Cyclisk” – Obelisk made out of bicycle parts in Santa Rosa, CA
Sumoflam at the base of “Cyclisk”

I’ll start off with a biggie…a giant obelisk made completely of bicycle parts.  Why quirky?  Because who would ever think of making a 65 foot tall statue totally out of bicycle parts?

The artwork, entitled “Cyclisk” was created in 2010 by Petaluma, California-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector and weighs about 10,000 pounds. It is made from roughly 340 recycled bicycles collected from local nonprofit community bike projects. It took nearly four months of welding to manufacture.

In fact, there are many “quirky”  scrap metal art projects to be seen around this country.  Some are small and others, like Cyclisk, are huge.

Sumoflam at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, WA in 2007
Mike Hammond and his “metal band”

One such example at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, WA.  Owner Mike Hammond is a muffler repairman, a musician and a metal artist.  I visited his shop back in 2007.

I first met Mark at a Trailer Park Troubadours concert the night before in Dayton, WA.  After talking with him, we headed south to Walla Walla to check out his quirky art. What a load of fun that was!

A Pink Flamingo made from muffler and car parts
Heavy Metal Guitarist

Since then, over the past 10 years, I have run into other quirky metal art in diverse places.  You never know what you’ll see on the back roads of America!

Robotic scrap metal quarterback at Pagac’s Bar near Ashland, WI
Silver Moon Plaza Ornamental Metal Work in Chillicothe, MO
Metal Motorcycle Sculpture in Sturgis, SD
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone, ND
Metal Cowboy Ostrich with cowboy boots and cowboy hat in Salida, CO
Scrap Metal Horses – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Farmer – Oil City, Ontario
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band – Hico, Texas
Blackfeet Chiefs guard the eastern gateway to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana
A Scrap Metal Sculpture in Bemidji, MN
A hodge podge of scrap metal art at Porter’s Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD

I could likely post a hundred more pieces of scrap metal art found around the country, but there are other quirky places to cover.

Screaming Heads – Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Screaming Heads Convention

Perhaps one of the most unusual and quirky places I have ever been to is the Screaming Heads of Midlothian Castle in Burk’s Falls, Ontario, not too far from Algonquin National Park. This entire project was begun by school teacher and artist Peter Camani.  He is a Secondary School teacher, but has also spent over 25 years constructing Monolith-like sculptures in the shape of giant heads, which are scattered throughout the property. A two-headed dragon sits atop the chimney of his Midlothian Castle and he has a version of the See/Say/Hear No Evils greet visitors.

More Screaming Heads

There are more than 100 “screaming head” sculptures, each one at least 20 feet in height. According to Wikipedia, Camani says he “built his otherworldly creations as a warning about environmental degradation. With his paintings already hanging in such coveted places as the Vatican and Buckingham Palace, he decided to focus his energy on realizing a vision of significantly larger proportions.”  See my original post HERE.

Sumoflam at Screaming Heads in Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Screaming Trees
Headstone on one of the Gates to Midlothian Castle

Of course, there are also quirky sculptures to be found all over the place, just like the metal ones. Here are a couple more I have come across.

Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
Thunderbird Sculpture in Bismarck, ND
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl in Danville, IL
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Mid-America Center Art in Council Bluffs, IA
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
At the “Filed of Corn” – Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH

Quirky is not only centered on art.  There are many quirky places. I came across Boudreau’s Antiques on US Highway 2 near Odanah, WI that was covered with “stuff.”  That alone was a drawing card for me to drop by…but alas, it was closed.

Part of the front display of a “collectibles” shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2
Part of a car hood attached to the building at Boudreau’s Antiques
Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI

And they don’t have to be antique shops either.  How about the quirkiest of all eateries in the US…  Hillbilly Hot Dog in West Virginia?

Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hillbilly Hot Dogs long view
Hillbilly Hot Dogs from the front

And another of the quirky treasures of this country is the Hamtramck Disneyland in Hamtramck, MI, near Detroit

A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard – Hamtramck Disneyland
Hamtramck Disneyland in 2008 – Detroit
The creation of Ukranian born Dmytro Szylak, Hamtramck Disneyland still brings in visitors to Detroit

Along these same lines of quirkiness is a family yard in Woodstock, Ontario.

Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woodstock, ON is One of Ontario’s premier “roadart” places
Cliff Bruce Warning Sign
Old Cowboy Statue at Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill

Then there are places that defy description.  One such uber-quirky place is Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN.

Sumoflam at Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Mindfield Cemetery, Brownsville, Tennessee

One man’s life dedication to his parents draws people from all around to see this unique and absolutely quirky massive structure made of steel pipes and steel pieces and a large painted water tower that says “Mindfield Cemetery.” This large piece of art work is the work of one Billy Tripp, who, in 1989 began creating this monument to his parents.

This place must have taken 1000s of hours to build and it is an absolute maze of metal.  I was fascinated.

Billy Tripp’s Mindfield in Brownsville, TN
A solitary chair way up high on the Mindfield
A kind of Totem pole at the Mindfield

And another place, in Meadville, PA has hundreds of pieces of art created from old repurposed roadsigns.

Road Sign Flower Garden in Meadville, PA
One of many roadsign flowers

Signs & Flowers is a garden of 12 large flowers made of recycled road signs and landscaping at the PennDOT storage lot in Meadville. 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

Roadsign Art in Meadville
Roadsign art in Meadville
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers
Stop sign flower in Meadville, PA

I am assuming by now that you, the reader, has determined that there are some really over the top quirky places out there.  Though Hillbilly Hot Dog takes the place for quirky eateries, a couple of burger joints in Washington and Texas take a close second and third.

Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA

The outside of Fat Smitty’s is quirky enough.  But go inside and there are many more surprises….1000s of them hanging all over the place.

Fat Smitty’s ceiling covered with money.
Legal Tender Wallpaper at Fat Smitty’s
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty’s

And in Cypress, TX there is the Shack Burger Resort, another over the top hall of quirky eating.

The Shack Burger Resort storefront – Texas style fun in Cypress, TX
Selfie Fun at the Shack
Outdoor eating area at The Shack
The Shack Playground
The Rustic Sink in the Men’s Room at The Shack

Head to Cincinnati for the quirkiest grocery store experience you may ever get.  Jungle Jim’s is more than a grocery store, it’s a destination! There is over 200,000 square feet of shopping and 10s of 1000s of product choices from all over the world….  and the most unique restroom entrance in any store.

Jungle Jim’s Restroom entrances are deceptive. They actually lead to immaculate huge restrooms.
The sign talking about “Weird Restrooms”
This “weird restroom” has recycled toilet tank lids that cover the wall. Other recycled items can be found within as well. Located at Real Goods in Hopland, CA
Tavern of Little Italy Restroom is plastered with the history of Little Italy in Cleveland
A sign outside the restrooms at the Story Inn in Story, Indiana
Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

I guess I need to add the quirkiest 30 mile drive in the United States as the last piece.  That would be the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota. Some humongously quirky pieces of art along a 30 mile stretch of road north of Regent, ND.

This is one of my all time favorite tourist destinations.  Took me many years to finally get there, but I am glad I did.  I have a great detailed post about this on my blog if you are interested.  See it here.

Sumoflam visiting the Tin Family, another large set of metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway
Giant Scrap Metal Fish – by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family – by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Gate to Enchanted Highway – Geese in Flight – This is REAL HUGE

By the way, Geese in Flight has been listed as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world by the Guinness World Book of Records. This piece was erected in 2001 and weighs over 78 tons.  The main structure is 154 feet wide and 110 feet tall.  The largest goose has a wingspan of 30 feet.  On a clear day this structure can be seen from nearly 5 miles away!

Lovely quirky Airstream in Austin, TX

So much quirk and so little time and space.  Time to take a breather and enjoy the ride…through quirkville.

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