AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The W 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 W Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Wyoming

Another of the 20 states we visited on our 8154 Trip.  Sadly, we passed this sign in the evening, so it was dark.  Welcome to Wyoming.

Welcome to Wyoming

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona

One of the more iconic throwbacks to Route 66 travel (and other travel for that matter) is the Wigwam Motel (also called the Wigwam Village). Built in the 1930s and 1940s, the rooms are designed liked teepees.  (See some history here) Originally there were seven of these built across the country with two in Kentucky, and then one each in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana and California.  As of this writing, only three remain: One in Cave City, Kentucky (near Mammoth Cave National Park), one in Holbrook, Arizona on Route 66 (near Petrified Forest National Park) and the other on the city boundary between Rialto and San Bernardino, California, also on Route 66.  I have written about the one in Cave City, officially known as Wigwam Village #2, in a previous post in 2008.  My family actually rented five units in July 2017 as part of a family reunion.

Hanging with Grandkids at Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY in 2017

These villages were originally developed by a guy named Frank A. Redford in the 1930s.  He even had the design patented in 1936.   The first of them was built in Horse Cave, Kentucky in 1933, but it closed in 1935 after Redford built a larger one in Cave City in 1937.  This one consisted of 15 Teepees.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1988. (Facebook Page)

Wigwam Village, Cave City, KY

Wigwam Village #3 was built in New Orleans in 1940, but went out of business in 1954. Wigwam Village #4 was built in Orlando, Florida in 1948 and had 27 guest rooms. It was razed in 1974. Wigwam Village #5 was built in Bessemer, Alabama in 1940 and had 15 Wigwams.  It went out of business in 1964. Wigwam Village #7 was built by Redford in 1947 in Rialto, California on Route 66.  It has gone through times of disrepair, but was renovated in 2005. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

You can sleep in a Wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona

The one in Holbrook, which is the subject of this story, is officially listed as Wigwam Village #6.  This particular one was built in 1950 by Chester E. Lewis and is probably the most famous of all of them due to its location on Route 66 and close to the Petrified Forest National Park.  Lewis had purchased the rights to Redford’s design as well as the rights to use the name.  Lewis came up with a novel idea for paying Redford.  He installed coin-operated radios in each room and every dime inserted for the 30 minutes of play time would be sent to Redford as payment.

This location has 15 Wigwams and can still be rented.  In keeping with the authenticity of the originals, there are no telephones, internet or other modern amenities, though they do offer air conditioning and cable TV.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in May  2002.

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ

Wig Wam Pub & Texas BBQ – Bremerton, Washington

Speaking of WigWams, on our 8154 trip, I got to visit with one of my close friends from high school while out in Washington.  Since I was in Port Orchard and he lived close by, we decided to meet at the Wig Wam Pub in Gorst (actually in Bremerton).

WigWam Pub & Texas BBQ, Bremerton, Washington
Collection of Beer Tap Handles hangs on the ceiling
Lots of stickers
Having dinner with my high school pal Alex Milne. We had not seen each other for 47 years.
Inside of Wig Wam
Dinner at the Wig Wam – BBQ Chicken, baked beans and creamy good potato salad.
Definitely a Happy Place

Wahoo, Nebraska

Wahoo is one of the places that was not in the plan.  We just happened to drive by and I had to stop.  I always love a unique town name and Wahoo certainly fits the bill.  The town was founded in 1870 and the name apparently comes from the eastern wahoo, a shrub found on the banks of Wahoo Creek. Apparently, the term “wahoo” was what the indigenous people called the deciduous shrub.

Wahoo, Nebraska
Welcome to Wahoo, Nebraska
Patriotic Wahoo Water tower

Windmill Country – Hyannis, Nebraska

Driving through the Nebraska Sandhills, we went through the small community of Hyannis (which I wrote about in my H Stories).  There were signs welcoming people to Windmill Country.  The town is home to the Hyannis Windmill Days, a weekend celebration that started in 1989.  Not sure why they call it Windmill Country however.  I think that Nebraska City may be a better choice since they are the home of the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum (which I wrote about a few years ago)

Welcome to Windmill Country – Hyannis, Nebraska

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is one of my favorite stopover places.  A unique town nestled in the mountains of the Silver Valley in the Idaho Panhandle.  In 2004 then Mayor Ron Garitone proclaimed Wallace to be the Center of the Universe.  He had a manhole cover specifically made to mark the exact spot. Every September the town celebrates the Center of the Universe.

While in Wallace, we also stopped for some hand thrown pizza.  It was great!

Welcome to Wallace, Idaho
Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
Center of the Universe Manhole Cover
Having pizza in Wallace, Idaho
Downtown Wallace, Idaho

Washoe Theatre – Anaconda, Montana

Driving through Anaconda, Montana, I came across another great theatre marquis.  This time it was for the Washoe Theatre, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was designed in 1930 in the Nuevo Deco style and apparently has a lavish interior.  It was also designed to have near perfect acoustics.

Washoe Theatre – Anaconda, Montana

Window Rock, Arizona

On this trip, we didn’t actually drive into Window Rock, which is the government capital of the Navajo Nation.  But, I wanted to grab this sign, both for the landscape behind it and the Indian Highway 12 arrowhead logo.

Window Rock, Arizona

Waterville, Washington

Waterville, Washington is in the heart of Washington’s wheat country and is located on US Highway 2.  The small museum in town has an interesting Dowser statue that was created by Pateros, WA Sculptor Richard Beyer.

Waterville, Washington
The Water Dowser by sculptor Richard Beyer, completed in 1966.
Dr. Pierces Golden Discovery Barn Sign in Waterville, WA
Picturesque historic Douglas Church in Waterville, WA
US Route 2 near Waterville, Washington

World Museum of Mining – Butte, Montana

Butte is an old mining town and so, should be home for a mining museum.  Unfortunately, on the day we drive through, it was not open.  But, the entrance gate for the World Museum of Mining is classic.  The museum was founded in 1963 and is one of the few museums in the world located on an actual mine yard.

World Museum of Mining – Butte, Montana
Welcome to the World Museum of Mining

Worms, Nebraska

Welcome to Worms! Yes, there is a town named Worms!  This place was on my radar for our 8154 Road Trip and, to me, was a must see.  Though only about 40 people live here and there is no green town sign for it, it was well worth it.  It is home to a biker bar called Nitecrawlers (see my N Stories) and has a couple of unique murals.  The town was supposedly named after Worms, Germany.  It was actually settled by Germans as early as 1874.

Worms, Nebraska

World’s Tallest Thermometer – Baker, California

Baker, California is fun place with the Mad Greek Cafe, Alien Beef Jerky with its Alien Statues and UFOs and other fun.  But, it is really known for its giant thermometer.  This amazing landmark stands 134 feet tall and can measure up to 134°F (57°C).  It commemorates the record 134°F temperature recorded in nearby Death Valley on July 11, 1913.

The tall thermometer was build in 1991

World’s Tallest Thermometer – Baker, California
World’s Tallest Thermometer sign in Baker, California
Sumoflam at the World’s Tallest Thermometer

Wind Cave National Park – Hot Springs, South Dakota

Visitor Center – Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Wilbur, Washington

Wilbur, Washington on US Route 2, including an homage to Charlotte’s Web

Welcome to Wilbur, Washington
Old Wilbur, Washington marker
Wilbur, Washington welcome center. Charlotte’s web reminder

Williams, Arizona

Old Route 66 town in Arizona…  Williams, Arizona.

Welcome to Williams, Arizona
Route 66 in Williams, Arizona

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

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 https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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

 

Kutter’s Cheese Factory – Corfu, New York

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

Kaskaskia Dragon – Vandalia, Illinois

Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL
Kaskaskia Dragon Breathes Fire in Vandalia, IL

Ketchikan, Alaska

The road in Ketchikan, AK ends with a cruise ship
Road up on stilts in Ketchikan, Alaska

King Kong Burgers – Omaha, Nebraska

King Kong Burgers in Omaha, near the Omaha Zoo

Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry – Port Orchard, Washington

Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard

Kensington District – Toronto, Ontario

Kensington Ave. in Toronto
King of Kensington
Welcome to Kensington

Kumano Magaibutsu – Kunisaki Peninsula – Oita, Japan

Some of Japan’s oldest stone carved Buddhas can be seen at Kumano Magaibutsu park in Oita

King’s Island – Cincinnati, Ohio

King’s Island Amusement Park north of Cincinnati, OH

Kool Breeze Motel – Irving, Texas

Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum – Nebraska City, Nebraska

Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
Kregel ELI Windmill framed by a flag on 9/11 in Nebraska City, Nebraska

Kabetogama Lake – International Falls, Minnesota

Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park
Kabetogama Walleye

Key Tower – Cleveland, Ohio

Key Tower (R – 947 feet) and Terminal Tower (L – 771 feet)

Kemmerer-Diamondville, Wyoming

Welcome to Kemmerer Diamondville
Antler Motel Neon Sign in Kemmerer. Love old neon signs.

Keelboat Park – Bismarck, North Dakota

Lewis and Clark Sculpture – Keelboat Park

Horse Racing at Keeneland – Lexington, KY

Horse Racing at Keeneland

Kanahwa Falls – Glen Ferris, West Virginia

Kanawha Falls in Glen Ferris, WV
Another shot of Kanawha Falls

Kremlin, Montana

Kremlin Post Office, Kremlin, Montana
Kremlin, Montana — USA Style

Kumamoto Castle – Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto, Japan

Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, Washington

Kountry Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, WA
A couple of wood carved folk at Kountry Korners
With my Eagle pal

Kadoka, South Dakota

Kadoka, South Dakota water tower
Old Wagon Wheel Motel Neon Sign in Kadoka
Flag Bench in Kadoka, South Dakota

Kentucky Stonehenge – Munfordsville, Kentucky

Kentucky Stonehenge Sign
Sumoflam at Kentucky Stonehenge

Keeper of the Plains – Wichita, Kansas

Keeper of the Plains – 50 foot tall statue in Wichita

Kings Hill Pass – Meagher County, Montana

Sumoflam at Kings Hill Summit in Montana

Killbuck, Ohio

Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail in Ohio
Welcome to Killbuck

Keystone, South Dakota

Welcome to Keystone, SD

Ketchum, Idaho

Gnome on a Bike – loved this graphic on a bike shop in Ketchum
Pioneer Saloon – Ketchum, Idaho

Kansas City, Missouri

The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri

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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H is for History – #atozchallenge

One cannot travel any road in America or Canada without running into some sort of historical site, monument or building.  That is part of the fun of a back road adventure.  Our country of 2017 is defined in great part by the history of the country dating back to the 1600s (and earlier if you count the Native Americans).

Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park.  This is one of many Lewis and Clark Monuments across the United States.
Monument in Beachville, Ontario commemorating the first baseball game in Canada.

Dotting the roads of America are historical markers that tell about events that occurred in that exact location or nearby. There are literally 1000s of these. In the eastern US many of them are about Civil War incidents while in the west many are related to Indian Wars, Lewis and Clark or pioneers.  They are often interesting to stop and read.  As a History/Geography major in college, I have found these to be a sort of “roadside wikipedia.”

Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
The Overland Trail historic Sign
Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border
Rugby, ND in 2014
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS – One of many markers along the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

When traveling through the heart of the country, one can come across a myriad of monuments and historical sites dedicated to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark…better known as just Lewis Clark.  From May 1804 to September 1806, these two, accompanied by 29 or 30 others, in what was named by then President Thomas Jefferson as the “Corps of Discovery.” They left Camp Dubois (near St. Louis) and ventured westward to the Pacific Coast.  In my travels I have come across dozens of monuments, plaques, museums and other places all dedicated to or referencing this amazing expedition.  Their pioneer spirit has always amazed me.

One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A plaque commemorating a Lewis and Clark Campsite near Elk Point, South Dakota
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library

Of course, after them went the pioneers.  There were those who followed the Oregon Trail.  Others, chiefly the Mormons, forged their own trail, now called the Mormon trail.  In the south there was the famed Santa Fe Trail.  Then, along the way there were other smaller, lesser known trails, such as the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, and others.  Travel the roads that follow these trails and an abundance of unique history can be seen.  As a member of the LDS Church (Mormon) I have been able to visit many church historical sites.

A sculpture of a pioneer/trapper overlooks the Shields Valley in Montana
Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, ID
LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY
Martins Cove in Wyoming, part of the Mormon Handcart Trail
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park

Across a good portion of the southeast and all the way into Ohio and Pennsylvania, one will come across a plethora of Civil War related monuments, historical sites and otherwise.   Many sites have annual Civil War reenactments.

The big parks such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg are huge and have a ton of history.  But there are smaller ones, such as Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky that are unique in their historic perspective.

Sculpture at Vicksburg
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
One of four bronze statues that surround the large Civil War monument in Cleveland, OH. Called “At Short Range” it is a representation of the Artillery Group

In the far eastern parts of the United States one comes across places like the Jamestown Settlement and Williamsburg.  There are many others.

Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995
Kids take over the ship at Jamestown, VA – August 1995
Lucille Ball Birthplace

For fun, many cities have the “Birthplace of …” signs when you enter their small towns.  These could be famous actors, historical figures or athletes.  Typically there are monuments or statues.  I have come across many of these.  They are always a fun little side adventure.

I have come across many of these over the years.  Its always fun to “discover” the birthplaces.  (Ironically, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY…not the same as Jamestown, VA which I posted above.)  Some of the “birthplaces” are a bit on the corny side.

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
Dean Martin mural in his birthplace of Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in the 1990s
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA

Then, of course, there are the historical buildings.  Hundreds of unique courthouses and their fascinating architecture can be seen in diverse little towns and counties.  There are old churches large and small.  And many long forgotten dilapidated old buildings.  All of them tell some sort of story about the place.

I have visited dozens of courthouses around the country.  I love the old architecture.  I have some favorites.  Some are more interesting than others. I have added a few below.

 

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Woodstock, Ontario City Hall
Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Courthouse in Buena Vista, CO
Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO
Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam Gothic at the Grant Wood American Gothic House in Eldon, IA
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…
Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin

 

Finally, there are the many “oddball” or “quirky” historical sites and objects.  One never knows what they will run into in a small town.  A quaint historical museum? An oddball monument? A unique cemetery?

 

 

I have had fun discovering historical sites, quirky museums and other fun stuff.  Here are a few below.

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, NE
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV
Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013
My son Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
The Rockpile Museum in Gillette, WY

History is the fabric of our country!

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