During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
The I Towns
Indian Head, Saskatchewan
It is interesting that three of my I Towns in this post have something to do with Indians (American Indians) and so I am starting off in Canada at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Indian Head is anchored against the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway just 65 km east of Regina. The town was both a railroad hub and is in the center one of the wheat producing areas of Canada. The Indian Head statue (shown above) was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985. The statue is 18 feet high (the head itself is 10 feet tall). It weighs approximately 3,500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement. The statue was designed by sculptor Don Foulds of Saskatoon. It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.
Contrary to those with dirty minds, Intercourse was formerly known as “Cross Keys”, which was founded in 1754. The name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. There are several explanations concerning the origin of the name of Intercourse, but none can really be substantiated. The first centers around an old race track which existed just east of town along the Old Philadelphia Pike. The entrance to the race course was known as “Entercourse”. Some suggest that “Entercourse” gradually evolved into “Intercourse”. There are others, but perhaps the most quantifiable to me comes from the “old english” language which was is use in the early 1800’s. It refers to the “fellowship” or social interaction and friendship which was so much a part of an agricultural village and culture at that time. The Amish are really quite a social people and are well known for working as groups to raise barns, etc. The town’s sign is considered the most frequently stolen town sign in the US and is now on a pole that is difficult to get to. You can read more about my visit to Intercourse and Amish Country in central Pennsylvania back in 2008 HERE.
Ironwood, Michigan was the starting point of my massive US Highway 2 Roadtrip across half of the US Continent back in 2014. I started in Ironwood, which is on the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it sits on the border with Wisconsin. Ironwood has a number of unique things to see including a giant Hiawatha statue which is touted to be the biggest Native American Indian statue in the United States (it stands 52 feet tall in the midst of a park in town). They also have some nice murals and a few other unique things to see. Its actually a great place to visit. As the name implies, Ironwood is a town that was settled due to iron mining. It’s history goes back to the 1800s. There are a couple of monuments to the iron workers in this town including a beautiful mural with paintings of the faces of almost 100 of the former iron workers. There is also a nice chainsaw carved sculpture in front of the old train station. See more about my visit to Ironwood and my drive on US Highway 2 HERE.
Independence is one of the great historical towns in Missouri. Decorated with murals all over town, filled with history and nearby in Liberty is the home of a major LDS (Mormon) Church Museum. It is the birthplace of American President Harry Truman. Lewis and Clark ventured here in the 1800s and many pioneers came here on the Mormon, California and Oregon trails. It is also home to one of America’s really quirky museums in Leila’s Hair Museum.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
I try not to include too many “big” cities in these posts, but I wanted to include Idaho Falls. Its a nice place to visit and has plenty to see. There are vintage restaurants and burger places, such as Scotty’s above, a beautiful Mormon temple, one of the 55 Peter Toth wooden carved “Whispering Giants” Indian Statues and more. The Snake River runs through the middle of town with some wonderful waterfalls (thus Idaho Falls). You can see more about my 2013 visit there by clicking HERE.
Iona, Idaho (Honorable Mention)
On a hill just northeast of Idaho Falls is another small town called Iona, a town settled by Mormon pioneers in 1884. It is now home to the Wolverine Creek Wind Farm. There are 43 turbines, which can be seen from Rexburg on a clear day. This site produces about 64.5 Mw of power.
Inverness, Montana (Honorable Mention)
Driving along US Highway 2 in northern Montana near Rudyard, is the small community of Inverness. It was named by “Scotty” Watson, pioneer stockman, in memory of his native town in Scotland. The Scottish town is located on the inlet to Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness monster. There is a population of about 55 living there, including sculptor Byron Wolery who made an interesting scrap metal dinosaur that greets passersby near Rudyard. They have their own “monster” now! See more about the Hi Line drive of Montana HERE.
Iron River, Wisconsin (Honorable Mention)
West of Ironwood, MI on US Highway 2 is the small town of Iron River, Wisconsin. This small town has a huge mural done by the same artists that did a number of lovely murals in Ashland, Wisconsin. They began this project in 2006 sponsored by the Iron River Lion’s Club. The town is proud to claim 96 Lakes, 12 Trout Streams, 4 Rivers, 500 miles of groomed ATV trails, Chequamegon National Forest, North Country Hiking Trail and many more great hiking trails, Camba Mountain Biking Trail System, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Waterfalls, Fishing, Birding, Berry Picking, Wildlife and Summer Sunsets. I hope to visit the area again in the future on a more extended visit. See more HERE.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.
A weekend in St. Louis/Kansas City – Jan. 14-17, 2010
January 14, 2010: ROADTRIP!! After quite a hiatus on road trips, I finally took one. Nowthat I am working for iHigh.com(was until 2012)I do have occasion to take a trip or two for support. In this instance Iwas to travel to Kirkwood High School in St. Louis to Live Stream a basketballtournament on January 15, and then travel to Kansas City to Live Stream a largewrestling tournament at Center High School. Naturally, along the way boththere and back I made some side trips, as is always my custom, but in this case I did not veer too far off the beaten path.
My first stop along the way was in Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, Indiana and I believe it is the only town named Santa Claus anywhere. According to the Wikipedia article about Santa Claus, the town was established in 1854. In 1856, when the town (then known as Santa Fe, pronounced “fee”) was working to
establish a Post Office, the US Postal Service refused their first application as there was already another Santa Fe, Indiana. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected. Currently the town claims to have the world’s only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus.
Santa Claus is a small town, but does have an amusement park a unique shopping center and Santa Claus statues everywhere.
After filling my eyes with Santa Claus and filling the car’s tank with fuel, I was back on I-64 heading west to St. Louis. The drive was fairly
uneventful. I had to be at Kirkwood High School in time for an evening basketball game which was part of the Denver Miller
Tournament, in honor of the former Kirkwood basketball coach. The
funny part of the story is that one of my college roommates from BYU back in 1978 had graduated from here and also had been a kicker. I searched the high school for any sign of Ray Heyman’s name and actually found it on a plaque of football lettermen from 1973. Ray is now an attorney in Arizona and doing very well.
After the game, I headed off to the hotel for the night.
January 15, 2010: I was up early the next morningto head to St. Louis to meet one of my friends who had moved from Lexington. We headed out to a diner in St. Louis known asGoody Goody Diner. As with all other adventures I take, I look for interesting locations to chowdown and this one was a doozy!! Located on Natural Bridge Rd., it appearsto be in the industrial part of town. The Diner has been around since 1948and has gone through numerous hands. It is purportedly in the samelocation as the original A & W Root Beer stand in St. Louis, which was opened in1931. The A & W had car hops and the tradition continued with Goody Goody dineruntil the early 1970s. Currently the diner is owned by Richard and LauraConnelly. Richard’s father purchased the diner in 1954 and it has been in the family ever since.
The diner has typical diner fare, but they also have their own specialties. They are famous for their “Wilbur” omelet, which is filled with hash brown potatoes, green peppers, onions and tomatoes. Then it is covered with chili and Cheddar cheese. It also comes with sides…I ordered the grits and an English muffin. The omelet was FABULOUS and really not too costly either. My friend Steve tried the fried chicken and waffles. That looked pretty good as well.
After a good meal and some time with my friend Steve, I was back on my way Kirkwood for another game. Along the way I visited the quaint town of Kirkwood and drove to the Laumeier Sculpture Park which had some large art. It was a pleasant diversion. The Laumeier Park was established in 1972 and over the years has grown to over 105 acres. It was one of just a few open air art museums in the world. I took numerous photos of the art work. Following are just a few samples. There is a map of the entire outdoor park/museum
After the little drive I then went and videoed the basketball games and then drove most of the evening to Kansas City, arriving there shortly after midnight.
January 16, 2010: It was another early day forme…to bed at 1 AM and up at 6 AM. This entire day would be spent atCenter High SchoolinKansas City to coordinate and manage live streaming a 16 team wrestlingtournament on 6 mats. We would be trying something not done before byiHigh…basically run6 Live Streams from one locationsimultaneously for nearly 9 hours. After wegot all set up and cleared up a few glitches, we were rolling. Center HShad provided some football players to assist in manning the cameras. Athletic Director Brad Sweeten worked with me most of the day in thecoordination and monitoring. It was a great success. We had somegreat stories, like the father in Afghanistan who got to watch or thegrandfather in Ohio who saw his grandson wrestle (and win the championship inhis weight class) for the first time ever. This is why I love my job!!
After the tournament was over, Coach Sweeten and I headed to a local restaurant to enjoy what Kansas City is famous for…Barbecue. It was great and so was the company. Finally, by 11 PM I was back in bed at the hotel. The next day would be an early departure to head back home via a few more places.
January 17, 2010: I would head back home toLexington today, but once again would hit a few back roads and catch a few morebits of America as I like to see it. My first stop was heading north into Kansas City for a drive by the art museums there. Like St. Louis, there issome interesting out door artwork…more specifically giant shuttlecocks (orbadminton birdies). In July 1994, Shuttlecocks, the first outdoorsculpture commissioned for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, was installed in theKansas City Sculpture Park, which is part of theNelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The shuttlecocks were created by internationally known Dutch artistsClaes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggenand were a gift to the Museum. Altogether there are four shuttlecocks, each 17 ft. 11 in. high x 15 ft. 1 in. crown diameter and 4 ft. nose diameter, located in different positions on the grounds of the museum. Oldenburg and vanBruggen have done all sorts of large and whimsical works around the world. I sure hope to see more in the future!!
There were a number of other unique works of art surrounding the old and new sections of the art museum. I did not venture in as it was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, but I did see a couple more interesting pieces. The first of the pieces to catch anyone’s eye is the gigantic “Spider” sculpture by French artist Louis Bourgeois. This eerie bronze sculpture was built in 1996 and sits at the entrance of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. It stands over 11 feet tall and really is spooky.
After seeing just a few of the works of art at the sculpture parks in St. Louis and Kansas City, I am determined to get to others in the U.S. on my travels in the future. I hope to see the Franconica Sculpture Park
in Franconica, MN and the Porter Sculpture Park near Montrose, SD (which I did see in 2012), among others.
After the interesting venture into art, I headed north to Independence, MO, site of some Mormon Church History. Along the way I came across the somewhat famous and unique Leila’s Hair
Museum. I have seen this place noted in Roadside America and also on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Well, I found the place, but it is closed on
Sundays. The only sign is the one below…it was in a plastic folder taped on the door.
Also on my drive thru Independence I came across this all painting.
Independence is the home of President Harry Truman and this wall painting depicts the famous Chicago Tribune article that mistakenly proclaimed that Dewey had defeated Truman. The mural sits on the side of the Welch, Martin and Albano law office in downtown Independence.
From Independence I then drove to Liberty, MO. My main objective there was to see the Liberty Jail Historic Site, where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was held. Unfortunately, I pulled into Liberty at 8:30 AM and the Visitor’s Center didn’t open until 9, so I didn’t get the chance to go in. But, it was nice to finally get there. Joseph Smith spent almost 5 months in this jail while awaiting trial and received three revelations (Sections 121, 122 and 123) which are included in the Church’s Doctrine and Covenants. One of the scriptures has always been inspirational to me: in D&C 121:7-8 “. . . if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” Joseph Smith suffered some tortuous times in his life and this was definitely one of them.
Not too far from the Liberty Jail are some interesting murals on the Clay County Offices. On one corner is a painting that appears to depict Lewis and Clark. Then there are some unique ceramic murals that adorn the walls of the office building. Each ceramic mural, originally installed in 1984, depicts figures and events from Clay County’s past.
After the visit to Liberty, my next stop was in Lexington, Missouri, famed for the Civil War Battle of Lexington. I drove by the visitor’s center but did not have time to go in. That’ll have to be on another trip.
Click here for a brief of history of this battle. The town of Lexington had a few other notable things, including a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Perhaps the most delightful thing about driving the less beaten paths of America are the rustic and natural sites along the way. As we speed by on the freeways we miss so much. Here are just a few of the things I saw along the way home from Lexington, MO to Lexington, KY.
And finally, along the road I came across a flock of Flamingos. As a true Trailer Park Troubadour Flamingohead, I could not pass up the opportunity to capture a few shots of these silly pink birds at what appeared to be a Biker Joint.