AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – Reflections #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each of my entries highlighted a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  If you missed any of the posts, check out my page with all of the links HERE.  I will reflect back on this past month’s posts.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

What a Whirlwind!

CA 198 in Sequoia National Park

Throughout the month of April I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  It was my fourth straight year, but this one was really my most interesting yet.  Beginning in March the Coronavirus hit the world.  I am amazed how a microscopic thing could have such a massive impact on the world.  The world was shut down effectively, but the internet and the opportunity to post content was not.

Patrick Amiot – “Crow Bar” in Sebastapol, CA

It has been a whirlwind.  What made it more so was knowing (in hindsight) that while the coronavirus was hitting the U.S. in Washington and California back in January and February while I was traveling out there with my daughter and her three children.  Many of the places we visited, including massive National Parks like the Grand Canyon, were eventually closed.  In fact, as of this writing, many are still closed.  Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are closed all over the country.  Interstate travel bans are in effect across most states.  As of this writing on May 5, 2020, nearly 70,000 Americans have died of this virus since mid-February…while we were still traveling!!

I am both amazed and grateful that we are all home and safe. And brought back a boat load of memories.


Interstate 90 at the Montana / Idaho border in late January 2020

I really like to share my travels with the world and the A to Z Challenge provides a great platform to share these with many people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Family at the Grand Canyon

Over the course of the past month I posted my 26 posts and included over 300 photos and dozens of unique stories of the places we saw on our epic road trip.  Thus far I have had over 20 comments from readers and well over 200 views of the posts.  I am thrilled for the visits and the experience.

What did you miss?

If you haven’t visited any of my posts, I shared a link to a page that has all of the links at the top of this post.  Please visit it and click on any of the links.  In the mean time, what did you miss?

Montana Highway 1 near Opportunity, Montana
  • A road trip of 8154 miles across 20 states in 21 days
  • Lovely photos of wildlife like eagles, bison, prairie dogs, seagulls and more
  • Amazing scenery from all kinds of geography including mountains, deserts, oceans and massive forests
  • Visits to over a dozen National Parks and Monuments
  • Stories and photos of many unique and quirky road side attractions
  • Visits, photos and stories about towns with unique names
  • A few fun and unique places to eat
  • An opportunity to learn about a different perspective on the amazing diversity of these United States
Pacific Coast as seen from Long Beach, Washington
welcome to Happy, Texas
Bald Eagle, taken on US Highway 2 near Davenport, WA
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Mount Rushmore as seen from a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. The tunnel was built intentionally to frame the monument
Joshua Trees near Baker, CA
Martian Soda anyone?
Sandhill Cranes in West Texas
Paul Bunyan in Klamath, California
San Francisco CA
Uranus Fudge Factory, St Robert, Missouri
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Caddo Lake bayou near Uncertain, Texas


I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at



AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The T Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the T Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Tillamook Creamery – Tillamook, Oregon

Driving down US Highway 101 in Oregon, you can drive through the town of Tillamook.  There you will find the Disneyland of Ice Cream places.  Tillamook Creamery is huge and it is a giant tourist attraction.  There are self-guided tours to see how cheese is made (along with samples!).  You can read the history. You can buy all sorts of Tillamook souvenirs.  And then there is the Ice Cream.  They also sell some uniquely-flavored sodas – Stubborn Soda – on tap in their large dining room. Stubborn is a line of crafted sodas made with high-quality ingredients and unexpected flavor combinations and is a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

Tillamook Creamery – Tillamook, Oregon
Discover Tillamook
Tillamook Creamery Dining Area
Unique Stubborn Sodas at Tillamook Creamery
Ice Cream anyone?


Tennessee Welcomes You – Memphis, Tennessee

Boom or Bust Byway – Trails & Byways Sign – Vivian, Louisiana

Louisiana has a number of scenic / historic byways.  On our trip we drove along the Boom or Bust Byway, which takes you down Louisiana Highway 2 and pays tribute to the fortunes made and lost in the oil industry. We followed the highway from Vivian to Oil City.

Trails and Byways sign in Vivian, Louisiana

Town House Motel Vintage Sign – Matador, Texas

Town House Motel Old Neon Sign – Matador, Texas

The Tribune Smokehouse Restaurant – Davenport, Washington

Tribune Smokehouse Restaurant – Davenport, Washington

Turkey, Texas

Turkey, Texas is one of those fun-named towns.  Texas has a load of them.  In fact, on the same day that we went through Turkey, we visited places named Happy, Matador and Loving, among others.  This small town of just over 400 people was the home of country swing singer Bob Wills. Because of this, they call themselves the Western Swing Capitol of the World. It is also home to the first Phillips 66 service station built in Texas.

Turkey, Texas
Downtown Turkey Texas from Texas Hwy 86
Turkey, Texas Post Office
Turkey General Store
Tex Ritter and Bob Wills Poster in Turkey, Texas
Turkey Water Tower
This is a Turkey in Turkey, Texas

The Beetles T-shirt – Cambria, California

Cambria, California is a lovely (but expensive) little town on California Highway 1.  Known for the Hearst Castle, it is also a favorable location for surfers, as evidenced by this t-shirt.

The Beetles T-shirt found in Cambria, California

Texico, New Mexico

We drove through Texico, New Mexico on our way to Muleshoe, Texas.  It is located on the New Mexico – Texas border with the town of Farwell, Texas.  A set of railroad tracks divides the two towns.

Texico, New Mexico
Texico Water Tower

Tightwad, Missouri

I have written loads about this town over the years.  We drove through on this trip as well.  It had been nearly eight years since I had visited this strange-named town in south central Missouri.  When I last visited, the Tightwad Bank was still in business (now closed) and there was a Tightwad Cafe (now an antique shop).   The 2010 US Census indicated 64 people lived in Tightwad.

Welcome to Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad Bank Sign

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – Tacoma, Washington

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is certainly one of America’s beautiful Suspension Bridges.  There are twin bridges that span fromthe city of Tacoma to the Kitsap Peninsula.  When the bridges were built in 1940 and 1950, they were the third-longest suspension bridges in the world behind the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco) and the George Washington Bridge (New York City). Since then, others have been built and it is now the fifth longest suspension bridge in the United States at 5,979 feet long.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – Tacoma, Washington
Another view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Taylor, Nebraska

You have to really plan on going to Taylor, Nebraska if you want to get there.  It is not on any major highways.  But, it has a unique draw for the Taylor Villagers, over 100 life-size paintings that “Capture the Spirit of Our Past.”  The local Sandoz family has been painting these since 2003.  There is now a map available to look for these unique folk throughout Loup County, Nebraska.

Welcome to Taylor, Nebraska
Taylor Villagers on a stroll
Taylor Villagers at work
Taylor Villagers admiring the candy store
Taylor Villagers shopping
Taylor Villager churning butter


Taylor, Nebraska Post Office

Tower Motel Vintage Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Tower Motel Vintage Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Trees of Mystery – Klamath, California

While driving the Avenue of the Giants through the Redwood National and State Parks in California, we drive by the Trees of Mystery.  We didn’t have a lot of time, but I had to stop for some shots of the giant Paul Bunyan.  What a place.

Trees of Mystery – Klamath, California
Sleepy Indian Sculpture at Trees of Mystery
Selfie with giant Paul Bunyan and Babe, the big blue ox at Trees of Mystery

Tulia, Texas

Tulia was a drive through town.  I found the Welcome to Tulia pillar in the middle of town to be interesting.  Turns out that there are other Texas towns in west Texas with similar pillars.

Welcome to Tulia, Texas

Texas Highways

Texas is a big state!  Even driving across from west to east in north Texas, there are lots of highways. Here are some of them.

Texas Hwy 49 Jefferson, Texas
Texas Highway 97 near Flomot, Texas
Texas Highway 43 near Karnack, Texas
Texas Highway Signs in Muleshoe, Texas
Texas Hwy 49 at Texas – Louisiana Border near Vivian, Louisiana
Texas Farm Road 1760 at Texas – New Mexico Border in Farwell, Texas
Texas Farm Road 1075 – Happy, Texas
Texas 1919 near Seymour, Texas
Texas 1919 in Crowell, Texas
Texas Hwy 70 in Turkey, Texas

Teepees – Crow Agency, Montana

Teepees in Crow Agency, Montana

Trails End Motel Vintage Neon Sign – Sheridan, Wyoming

Trails End Motel in Sheridan, Wyoming

Wild Turkeys – Custer, South Dakota

Wild Turkeys near Custer, South Dakota

Twin City Lines – San Francisco, California

Twin City Lines logo on Street Car in San Francisco, California


I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at



AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The P Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the P Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Today’s post is extra long.  Lots of P Stories out there.  Some fun variety below.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride!

Prairie Dogs – Custer State Park in South Dakota

As we entered Custer State Park from Wind Cave National Park, we came across a huge Prairie Dog town.  There were hundreds of them.  My grandkids were thrilled. And so was I. Here are a couple of the photos.   Basically, a prairie dog is considered a ground squirrel.

Prairie Dogs in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Prairie Dogs in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Prairie Dogs

Point Defiance Park – Tacoma, Washington

While in Port Orchard visiting my daughter and her family, we heard about how beautiful Point Defiance Park is.  Indeed, it has a lovely drive, much of it one-way, through the park.  The park was designated as such back in 1888 when then President Grover Cleveland signed a bill granting the city of Tacoma the right to use the 640 acres of an undeveloped federal military reservation.  Later, in the 1950s a zoo was opened on part of the property and it is a lovely, flower and plant-filled facility.   The Five Mile Drive, much of which is one-way, provides some amazing scenery and opportunities to see all kinds of wildlife. On our trip we saw deer, raccoons and bald eagles.

Point Defiance Park – Tacoma, Washington
One way road through the pines in Point Defiance Park
Keep Wildlife Wild signs are all over Point Defiance Park
A raccoon hides in the woods in Point Defiance Park
Lovely drive in Point Defiance Park
Tacoma Narrows bridge as seen from Point Defiance Park
Bald Eagle as seen leaving a tree in Point Defiance Park
Tall Pines in Point Defiance Park

Port Orchard, Washington

My oldest daughter lives in Port Orchard, Washington.  I like this “Welcome to Port Orchard” sign.

Welcome to Port Orchard, Washington

Panhandle Plains Wildlife Trail – Muleshoe, Texas

On our visit to Muleshoe National Wildlife Reserve in Muleshoe, Texas, we drive along the Panhandle Plains Wildlife Trail. An extensive number of roads in the Texas Panhandle, we took the Muleshoe Loop in search of Sandhill Cranes.

Panhandle Plains Wildlife Trail sign as seen in Muleshoe, Texas

Phillips 66 Station – Turkey, Texas

This was the first Phillips 66 station in Texas, and it opened in July 1928.  It has old pumps installed.

Historic Phillips 66 Station – Turkey, Texas

Peculiar Way – Peculiar, Missouri

How can I neglect adding a sign for Peculiar, Missouri.  On other trips, I have visited the town in the past.  Always a peculiar visit.

Peculiar Way – road to Peculiar, Missouri

Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway – Anaconda, Montana

Montana Highway 1  was named the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway and is a 64-mile drive from Opportunity, Montana (see my O stories page) through Anaconda, Philipsburg (see below) and all the way to Drummond. The road climbs into the mountains and is a beautiful alternative to Interstate 90 when driving from Butte to Missoula.  I know we loved the drive.  And our stops at Opportunity,  Ohrmann’s Art Gallery and Philipsburg made it all the more worth the trip.

Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway – Montana Hwy 1 near Anaconda, Montana
Pintler Highway – Montana Highway 1
Pintler Highway near Anaconda
Old barn in the Flint Creek Valley as seen from the Pintler Highway
Pintler Highway scene
Pintler Highway near Drummond, Montana
Snowy scene near Pintler Highway

The Pigtail Bridges – Custer, South Dakota

Most of the year you can drive from Custer State Park in South Dakota, north on US Hwy 16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road.  Fortunately for us, we were able to do so during our trip as it opened the morning we were there after being closed for two weeks because of snow.  One of the unique sections of the drive is the Pigtails and the bridges.

The Pigtail Bridges – Iron Mountain Road, US 16A, near Custer, South Dakota
Pigtail Road and bridge on Iron Mountain Road, US Hwy 16A

Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook Arizona

On our road trip we visited a number of National Parks and Monuments so that the kids could get their Junior Ranger Badges.  One of these was the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona.  Lots of nice desert scenery and, of course, petrified wood.

With Grandkids at Petrified Forest National Park, near Holbrook, Arizona
Petrified Wood at the Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Wood and Painted Desert – Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

Paul Bunyan Carving – Three Rivers, California

I always like surprises when I am on the road.  The Paul Bunyan of Three Rivers, California was one of these.  We drive through Three Rivers on our way to Sequoia National Park.  It just so happened that this 16 1/2 foot tall Paul Bunyan was carved from a single sequoia tree.  It was carved in 1941 and 1942 by sculptor Carroll Barnes (1906-1997).   This Paul Bunyan sculpture is considered to be the largest sculpture ever made by anyone from a single fallen sequoia.  This singular statue brought fame to the Iowa-born transplant to Three Rivers.  He died in 1997 in Sebastapol, California.

Wooden Paul Bunyan carving in Three Rivers, California
Big Paul Bunyan Wooden statue by Carroll Barnes in Three Rivers, California
Front view of Paul Bunyan

Pine Tree Restaurant – Shelton, Washington

I am always on the hunt for murals of all kind.  Came across this wall advertisement/mural for the Pine Tree Restaurant in Shelton, Washington.

Pine Tree Restaurant Mural in Shelton, Washington

Painted Desert – Holbrook, Arizona

I noted above that we visited the Petrified Forest National Park on our return trip home.  There are two main visitor’s centers for the park.  One is actually for both the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  We visited both visitors centers and took a drive down the roads.  Here are a couple of Painted Desert (Chinle Formation) hills.

Painted Desert near Holbrook, Arizona
Painted Desert near Holbrook , Arizona

Philipsburg, Montana

Another delightful find for us was our stop in Philipsburg, Montana, an old mining town in the mountains on Montana Highway 1.  It used to be a silver and sapphire mining town.  Now, its a fun stop with some unique shops, including a wonderful large candy store.

Welcome to Philipsburg, Montana
Welcome to Philipsburg, Montana
Road through Philipsburg, Montana
Lovely architecture in Philipsburg, Montana

Pringle, South Dakota

Driving north from Alliance, Nebraska on our way to Wind Cave National Park on South Dakota Hwy 89, we came across the small town of Pringle, a stop for me because of the fun name (you know, like Pringles Potato Chips).  It was a welcome stop as we needed a restroom break and,  as it turned out, the place also provided a unique and quirky place for us as well.   The town, now almost a ghost town, was named for cattleman W.H. Pringle.  It was originally a stage stop on the Sudney-Custer Trail which was a stage coach route from Nebraska to Cheyenne.

This day we discovered that it is also home to a unique bicycle sculpture, claimed to be the largest bicycle sculpture in the world.  I have no idea who made this sculpture.

Welcome to Pringle, South Dakota
Some of the old buildings in Pringle, South Dakota
Bicycle Sculpture in Pringle, South Dakota
Alternate view of the huge bicycle sculpture in Pringle

Pop’s Greasy Spoon sign – Texico, New Mexico

I am always a sucked for unique signs. On our drive through Texico, New Mexico, I saw this sign for Pop’s Greasy Spoon.   I have no idea if there is a real place.  An internet search shows this sign popping up all over the place.  There was a food truck in Harrisonburg, Virginia that uses the logo and name.  But not sure if it is the origin.

Pop’s Greasy Spoon Cafe in Texico, New Mexico

Petrified Wood Building – Matador, Texas

Matador, Texas is a unique small town with a flavor of its own.  In the 1930s a guy named Luther Bedford “Bob” Robertson built a service station.  He later added an oil derrick and a cafe, which was built of stone and petrified wood. Known as “Bob’s Oil Well,” it became well known for people driving on US Highway 70 or Texas Highway 70.   After Robertson died in 1947, the place fell into disrepair.  Though closed now, the cafe still stands as a monument to yesteryear in the Texas Panhandle.

Big building made of Petrified Wood in Matador, Texas

Public Transport – San Francisco, California

Go to San Francisco and you’ll see all sorts of old-fashioned vintage streetcars.  The San Francisco Municipal Railway has collected these vintage streetcars from all over and currently have over 20 of them.  Learn more about them on the Market Street Railway website. The one pictured below was originally from Kansas City.

Public Transport in San Francisco, California

Port of Port Orford – Port Orford, Oregon

After visiting with some friends in Langlois, Oregon, we were told by them to take a drive up the hill to Port Orford to see a splendid view of the Pacific Ocean (see pics of that a but further down in this post.)  It turns out that Port Orford is a small community in the natural harbor of Port Orford Bay.  We didn’t drive into the town, but I did catch the sign.

Welcome to Port Orford, Oregon

Pecos Theatre – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Santa Rosa is one of those vintage Route 66 towns in New Mexico.  It is chock full of old neon signs and is home to the Pecos Theatre, which was originally opened in 1917 as the El Paso Tiempo Theatre.  When originally opened in it had 350 seats, but was retrofitted in 2019 with 126 leather chairs with retractable armrests and Dolby sound. The sign is classic.

Pecos Theatre in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Paul Bunyan at Trees of Mystery – Klamath, California

I like to consider myself an expert on quirky and offbeat roadside attractions, but, on this road trip I learned of many new attractions.  Though I knew about the Trees of Mystery attraction in the Redwood National and State Parks, I DID NOT know that there was a huge Paul Bunyan there.  So, much to my delight, as we drove by, we came across Paul and his pal Babe the Blue Ox and it was a MUST STOP for me.

I have been to many of the famous Paul Bunyans around the country, but this one is a biggie.  He stands 49 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 30,000 pounds.  His boots alone are ten feet tall!!

Paul Bunyan, Babe and Sumoflam at Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California
Paul Bunyan in Klamath, California

Plovers – Long Beach, Washington

We arrived in Long Beach, Washington on February 7.  The main objective was to see the Long Beach Arch Sign (see my L Stories post).  What I didn’t expect to see was the huge flock of plovers, a fairly well known wading bird.  I am by no means an expert on shore birds, but I believe that these are Lesser Sand Plovers.  It was fun to watch them.

Plovers in flight – Long Beach, Washington
Plovers taking off from Long Beach, Washington
A plover walks along the beach in Long Beach, Washington
A flock of plovers

Peter Iredale Shipwreck – Hammond, Oregon

My daughter Marissa had this stop added to our itinerary as a must see place.  So, we made sure to map our trip to Oregon’s Fort Steven’s State Park to see this unique attraction.

The ship Peter Iredale ran aground near Fort Stevens in October 1906.  It was a four-masted steel bark built in Mayport, England in 1890.   After a strong wind blew the ship onto Clatsop Beach, snapping her three masts, the ship was destroyed and had to be abandoned.  Historical records indicate that there were no serious injuries to the crew.

Over 100 years have passed and it still sits on the shores as a look back at history and a place for photos.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck – Hammond, Oregon
Peter Iredale Shipwreck – Hammond, Oregon

Psycho Donuts – Campbell, California

On our way south to California’s Highway 1 and Big Sur, we stopped in Cambpell, California to visit some old friend’s of mine.  They recommended we  meet at Psycho Donuts to get a treat.  Always a fan of unique donut shops, we made the morning trek over there.  I must note that I have been to other famous Quirky Donut Shops such as Voodoo Doughnut (in Portland and Eugene, Oregon and Austin, Texas) and Hurts Donut (in Frisco, Texas and Katy, Texas).  And, though Psycho Donuts only has two California locations, it still has the same kind of fun-themed donuts and a fun-themed shop.

Psycho Donuts – Campbell, California
Psycho Donuts – Campbell, California
Psycho Donuts – Open for Insanity
Psycho Donuts Menu
Anti-Valentine Donuts (Not So Sweethearts) at Psycho Donuts
Cereal Killer Donuts at Psycho Donuts
Yum…Nutella Donuts
If you are feeling anxious – use for free at Psycho Donuts

Pacific Coast scenes – US 101 / CA Hwy 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

One of the most anticipated parts of our epic 8154 mile road trip was being able to take the Pacific Coast Highway from Washington to south-central California along U.S. Highway 101 to Santa Cruz and then California Highway 1 from Santa Cruz thru Big Sur and then on to Cambria.  What a wonderful trip along the coast with overnight stops in North Bend, Oregon; Eureka, California; San Jose, California and then Cambria, California.  Following are a few scenes from that portion of our road trip.

Pacific Ocean as seen from Langlois, Oregon
Pacific Coast as seen from Long Beach, Washington
Pacific Ocean as seen from Klamath, California
Pacific Coast scene from Northern California
Beating Waves of the Pacific Ocean in Hammond, Oregon
Pacific Ocean as seen from Gold Beach, Oregon
Pacific Coast Highway scene from California Highway 1 near Big Sur, California
Pacific Coast as seen from Carmel by the Sea, California
Pacific Coast as seen from Langlois, Oregon
Beating Waves – Gold Beach, Oregon
Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California

Paducah, Texas

And then for the Kentucky connection.  Paducah, Texas, which is located south of the Texas Panhandle, was apparently named after Paducah, Kentucky by a Kentucky transplant named R. Potts, who settled in the area around 1850. He promised to give settlers land if they would vote to name the town Paducah.  In 1892 Texas’ Cottle County was organized and the town of Paducah became the county seat.

Paducah, Texas was named after Paducah, Kentucky


I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at