I is for Ingenuity – #atozchallenge

I am always intrigued about the ingenuity of humans. Their ability to build and create things that solves problems for them.

There are many examples of ingenuity to can be seen on the back roads of America. Whether it be bridges or towers or buildings. There is always something unique and interesting to see.

Tuckhannock Viaduct – Nicholson, Pennsylvania
Nicholson’s welcome sign features the Viaduct

One of my brightest memories of fascination comes from a town in eastern Pennsylvania called Nicholson. In this town, the train company needed a solution to get the train up high to pass by as the town was down in the valley. So, a giant viaduct was built. Called the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, this giant structure. towered over the town and allowed the trains to pass by way up on top of the town nestled below in the valley. To realize that this was built in 1915 is amazing to me. It is 2375 feet long, 240 feet tall and 34 feet wide. Yes, 24 stories tall!!!!! The bridge was built as

The viaduct is dizzying when looking up from below

part of the Clark’s Summit-Hallstead Cutoff, which was part of a project of the Lackawanna Railroad to revamp a winding and hilly system. This rerouting was built between Scranton, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York. All thirteen piers were excavated to bedrock, which was up to 138 feet below ground level. Almost half of the bulk of the bridge is underground. The bridge was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and was designed by Abraham Burton Cohen. Construction on the bridge began in May 1912, and dedication took place on November 6, 1915.

Tuckhannock Viaduct towers over the small town of Nicholson, PA
Cleveland’s tallest buildings

One needs only go to some of the older big cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Cincinnati, to see the tall buildings that were built in the 1930s and 40s. Naturally, these were to accommodate offices are in a crowded area. The building designs were amazing and are still beautiful to look at.

I really love the older buildings as they were obviously much more difficult to build and their architecture is so reminiscent of the times. I guess I grew up watching the old Superman movies and saw the old buildings used in these.

New York City 1959 (from an old family picture – I was actually there when this was taken.  Only 3 years old)
New York City, 2013 – taken from Hoboken, NJ
Cincinnati Skyline with its old buildings and numerous bridges
The Ascent at Roebling’s in Covington, KY across the river from Cincinnati

But not all of the buildings are old. There is a unique condominium structure that was built in Covington, which is a suburb of Cincinnati across the Ohio River into Kentucky. The structure is unique in its architecture.  And the amazing PPG Building in Pittsburgh really blows my mind…a true glass castle!

 

A view from below One PPG Place
Bridge over Mississippi River at Cairo, IL

I have also grown a fascination with bridges. These are massive structures that cross rivers great and small. In Cairo, Illinois there are two massive and Long Bridges. Cairo is where the confluence of the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River is at its deepest and widest point here and when going south through this area one must cross a bridge over the Ohio and then over the Mississippi. These bridges are amazing and it stuns me that the traffic and the years have not worn these bridges away.

The New River Bridge in West Virginia is THREE Statues of Liberty high above the river.  An amazing feat of engineering.

River Crossing near Cairo, IL
A view of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland
High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta was built in 1909. It is 5327 feet long and the largest of its type in the world
Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900 in Cut Bank, Montana
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington
Bridges of Pittsburgh
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia in August 1995
Green Bridge near Redcliff, Colorado

I once crossed over a bridge in a valley in the mountains of Colorado (see above). This bridge to was stunning to me is you come down off of the hill and see the bridge down below. I wondered out loud at the time how engineers could fulfill this feat.

Golden Gate Bridge in 2016

Another of the great and fascinating Bridges is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not only is it massive like the bridges in the east, it is also crossing over a giant bay and must also be earthquake proof.

Delaware Seashore Bridge
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH

 

Some of the newer bridges are more unique and have their own kind of personality. The bridge crosses the bay in Delaware was stunning to me. I was fortunate enough to be at this bridge during sunset and cut the lovely photo of it above.

Many of the newer bridges have dozens of cables attached to large pillars.  They look futuristic and are cool to drive over.  I have seen quite of a few of these in recent years.

 

William H. Harsha Bridge from Maysville, KY into Ohio.
Rexburg, Idaho LDS Temple

Ingenuity is this not stop just at skyscrapers and bridges. There are many religious structures that can be seen across the country that are also amazing feats of engineering. Take for instance today LDS temple in Salt Lake City. The stones gathered to build that building came from the canyons and had to be hauled by horse drawn wagons.

Many of the other LDS temples are also spectacular.  But they are not the only religious buildings.

Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson

The old church in Tucson, Arizona called San Xavier del Bac, was built in the 1700s and one can only wonder how the Spaniards built this beautiful and unique structure in the middle of the desert.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ
St. Mary’s Basilica, Marietta, OH
Central Presbyterian in Cambridge, ON
Hoover Dam and Bridge (photo credit hdrinc.com)

I have crossed over the Hoover Dam in Nevada and the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona numerous times. These are some of the largest dams in the United States and when you stand on the edge and look down it is dizzying. And to think that these damn’s were built in the 1940s and 1950s is amazing. The ingenuity of the engineers that designed and manage the construction of these is beyond words to me.

On the top of the world on Beartooth Highway that borders Wyoming and Montana south of Red Lodge, MT
Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982. You can see hairpin turns at right

And finally, some of the highways themselves are stunning pizza engineering. Have I overused those words already? The Beartooth Highway in northern Wyoming and the highways that go across the Rocky Mountain National Park are a couple prime examples of this. Even the winding hairpin turns of Oak Creek Canyon Road from Flagstaff to Sedona are quite amazing.

Ingenuity from the 1880s — Longest Covered Bridge in Canada, West Montrose Covered Bridge, West Montrose, ON opened in 1881

Though I am more drawn to the unique and quirky things to see around the country and perhaps closer to the nature of birds and animals and trees and clouds, I am nevertheless grateful and overwhelmed by the ingenuity of humans in the spirit of design and innovation. What needs only open their eyes on the highway and think about some of the things that have been built whether they are bridges, buildings or even monuments to fallen heroes. There is always inspiration to be seen and felt from the ingenuity of the human spirit.

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FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 1: Restaurants and Cafes on the Less Beaten Paths

Maid Rite - Lexington, MO
Maid Rite – Lexington, MO

One of the important facets of traveling the less beaten paths of America (and Canada) is the food.  As I travel the country, I look for good food at local places. This post covers some of the restaurants, steak houses, cafes and fine (or semi-fine) dining places.  Subsequent FOOD posts will include Diners/Drive-Ins, Barbecue Joints, Burger Places and Bakeries/Donut Shops.

FoodBig
Food – Cozy Dog, Springfield, Illinois

Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Ric's Grill - Lethbridge, Alberta Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Ric's Grill - Dinner in a Water Tower
Ric’s Grill – Dinner in a Water Tower

Ric’s Grill is one of those REALLY unique places to eat.  I visited Lethbridge on a cross-country trip from Kentucky to Washington in 2005.  I have friends in Lethbridge who took us here for dinner.

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

Though it looks strange from the outside, actually, the atmosphere and food is very high class.  This is a top notch steak house with fancy china, excellent waiters and delectable food. There are 11 Ric’s Grills in western Canada, though this is by far the most unique one.

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole's Big Game Steakhouse - Paxton, Nebraska
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse is a unique steak house in the small town of Paxton, Nebraska.  Opened on August 9, 1933 (the day after prohibition ended) as a bar by Rosser O. Herstedt (locally known as “Ole”).  Originally stared as a tavern, Ole and his friends would talk about their hunting trips.  Then, in 1938 Ole bagged a nice buck and was so proud of it he had it displayed in the tavern.  This was the first of many animals to make their way into the tavern that later became Ole’s Steakhouse and Lounge.  Ole’s also serves breakfast.

Polar Bear at Ole's
Sumoflam with Polar Bear at Ole’s

So, now one can sit and enjoy a wonderful steak with a moose or an elephant or a buffalo peeking over your shoulder.

Giraffe hangs around at Ole's
Giraffe hangs around at Ole’s
Big Moose at Ole's (and one with antlers too)
Big Moose at Ole’s (and one with antlers too)

All totaled there are over 200 mounts now showcased at Ole’s with animals from all over the world.

Sumoflam with tusk and lion
Sumoflam with tusk and lion

Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – Ozark, Missouri

Another fun place to eat and enjoy a great meal is Lambert’s Cafe, the home of “Throwed Rolls”.  I have been to the two restaurants in Sikeston and Ozark, Missouri (which is near Branson). They have one more in Alabama.

Lambert's Cafe - The Home of Throwed Rolls - in Ozark, Missouri
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Home of Throwed Rolls
Home of Throwed Rolls

So, why “Throwed Rolls”?  I am not sure, but Lambert’s serves the side dishes family style, all you can eat.  The seating arrangement is in a big square with an open center for the staff to bring in the food and throw the rolls.

Throwing the Rolls
Throwing the Rolls
Lambert's Rolls in Flight
Lambert’s Rolls in Flight

If you miss the flying rolls, too bad….   But, there will be more.  According to their website’s Fun Facts, their ovens turn out rolls from 9:15 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. usually without stopping. and they average baking 520 dozen rolls per day, for a grand total of 2,246,400 individual rolls. in one year.  Pass the butter please!!

Bringing the "Pass Arounds" at Lambert's
Bringing the “Pass Arounds” at Lambert’s

Besides the rolls, Lambert’s also has what they call “Pass Arounds”, sides that come with the meal and include Black-Eyed Peas, Fried Okra, Macaroni & Tomatoes, Fried Potatoes & Onions and unlimited Sorghum to go on the rolls.

Passing the potatoes
Passing the potatoes at Lambert’s

Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario

If you are in the mood for some awesome Greek food in a totally Greek atmosphere, then try the Astoria Shish Kebob House in Toronto’s Greek Town.  We went to Greek town on a whim and fell in love with this place.  We enjoyed Saganaki (pan-fried and flaming kefalotyri cheese) and then shish kebob with some of the most savory tadziki sauce my tongue has experienced.

Astoria Shish Kebob House - Toronto, Ontario
Astoria Shish Kebob House – Toronto, Ontario
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto
Astoria on Danforth in Toronto

Saganaki is a small Greek frying pan that is best used for frying a variety of sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Astoria uses kafalotyri, which is a hard and salty cheese.  When fried it actually flames and that is how they bring it to the table.

Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria
Making Saganaki Fried Cheese at Astoria – OPA!!
The final product - fried cheese - delectable!!
The final product – fried cheese – delectable!!

Astoria serves a variety of shish kebob and we tried some.  It too was YUMMIFEROUS!!

Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria
Lamb Shish Kebob at Astoria

While at Astoria, I got to meet the owner, who loves having his photo taken with patrons, including numerous celebrities. I am now included in the menagerie!!

Hanging with the owner of Astoria
Hanging with the owner of Astoria – OPA!!

Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo's Seafood - Newport, Oregon
Mo’s Seafood – Newport, Oregon

Mo’s Seafood is not a fancy place in terms of the dining area.  It is nice inside, but the tables are picnic tables.  But don’t let that fool you.  Their seafood is amazing.

Giant Mural on outside of Mo's in Newport, Oregon
Giant Mural on outside of Mo’s in Newport, Oregon

Mo’s gets its name from Newport native Mohava Marie Niemi, who started the restaurant in 1946 with her partner Freddy Kent.

Mo's Interior
Mo’s Interior

Mo’s is especially famed for the luscious and buttery clam chowder.  Indeed, they claim it to be World Famous, and I can see why.  So, I ordered the Halibut (so I could say I came to Mo’s just for the halibut”, but also enjoyed the creamy buttery clam chowder, which was almost so thick my spoon could stand up in it!!

Mo's Halibut with their "world famous clam chowder"
Mo’s Halibut with their “world famous clam chowder”

It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience to see the Pacific Ocean out the window while enjoying the bounty of the ocean inside.

Men's Restroom at Mo's
Men’s Restroom at Mo’s
Women's Restroom at Mo's
Women’s Restroom at Mo’s

Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Armadillo Palace - Houston, Texas
Armadillo Palace – Houston, Texas

Deep in the heart of Houston, Texas is a cafe and bar and home to some good live music – The Armadillo Palace.  Protected by a 20 foot tall silver armadillo, this place is a real kick and gives you a real down home cowboy feel.

Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
Giant Armadillo at Armadillo Palace
He has his eye on you
He has his eye on you

This restaurant, owned by the Goode Company, a purveyor of a number of good restaurants in Houston covering the gamut from BBQ, seafood and Mexican, the Armadillo Palace is decorated with mounted longhorns and buffalo, has a bar with saddle seating and the western decor and photos take you back to the days of the Old West.

Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Longhorns at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
Mounted Buffalo at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
The Bear Brothers at Armadillo Palace
Saddle Bar Seating
Saddle Bar Seating

The old decor and the smell of leather just add to the flavorful and generous portions dished out at Armadillo Palace.  One of their signature dishes is Chicken Fried Steak and this slab of yummiferousness is almost as big as the plate.  Their spicy green beans and special mashed potatoes help make a rib sticking dinner!

Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Old fashioned lighting at Armadillo Palace
Leather is everywhere
Leather is everywhere
Signature Chicken Fried Steak
Signature Chicken Fried Steak – Yummiferous!!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

A few miles east of Shelby, Montana, on US Highway 2 (The Hi-Line), is a non-descript old whitewashed building with an old yellow sign (above).  The Frontier Bar and Supper Club certainly does not look like much, but once you are inside, the atmosphere is rustic and the steaks are to die for!

Frontier Bar and Supper Club - Dunkirk, Montana
Frontier Bar and Supper Club – Dunkirk, Montana

Upon arrival you are greeted by the whimsical mailbox dude.  I don’t know what to call him, but he is a work of folk art.

Frontier's Mailbox
Frontier’s Mailbox
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club
Sumoflam and the Mailbox Guy at Frontier Bar and Supper Club

The atmosphere inside is like many Montana bars.  Lots of longhorns, neon signs, a country music jukebox.  The dining room is decorated with wood paneling adorned by the many cattle ranch brands of the area.  But the best part of this place is the blackened steaks.  On this visit I had the Chipotle Blackened New York Steak…. spicy and pricy but tasty good!!

No Bull Here...
No Bull Here…
....this steak is AWESOME
….this steak is AWESOME

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM

El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery - Roswell, NM
El Toro Bravo Restaurant and Bakery – Roswell, NM (with my alien granddaughter…)

Ok…so, you mix Mexican food and aliens and you get this weird mix…only in Roswell…

Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien Mariachi guitar?
Alien bullfighters? Toro call home.....
Alien bullfighters? Toro phone home…..
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?
Alien pastries? Real Wonder Bread?

Of course, we were hungry so we had the real food….

El Toro Bravo lunch - yummy
El Toro Bravo lunch – yummy
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell...
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant and Tavern – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant - Heidelberg, Ontario
Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant in the small town of Heidelberg is family restaurant and also has a mini brewery.  Located in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite and Amish country, this place is famous not only for its Weiner Schnitzel, but also for its pig tails, something I had never had in the past.

Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg
Mini-brewery at Olde Heidelberg

But, I don’t drink the beer, just eat the good food…and here is what I had

Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Weiner Schnitzel Dinner at Olde Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Pig Tails and sauce at Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg

Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Past Time Cafe - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

Yes, there are less beaten paths in Kentucky and many of them lead to Amish Country.  Crab Orchard is in the heart of Kentucky Amish country and the Past Time Cafe is right there in Crab Orchard.

Past Time Cafe storefront - Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe storefront – Crab Orchard, Kentucky

This cafe has generous portions of country cooking and is well known for their fried catfish, their soup beans and corn bread.  The walls in the place are covered with the history of Crab Orchard and surrounding communities, including many old newspapers and photos.  Plenty to browse while waiting for a good meal.

Past Times Memorabilia
Past Times Memorabilia
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Greetings from Crab Orchard
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times' famous soup beans
Salmon Patty Dinner with homemade cornbread, greens, fried potatoes and Past Times’ famous soup beans

Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Chriswell's Trails Inn - Ashton, Idaho
Chriswell’s Trails Inn – Ashton, Idaho

Ashton, Idaho is one of the southern gateways to Yellowstone National Park and is also a western gateway to the Grand Tetons.  The small Idaho town is a touristy place and on the edge of town is Chriswell’s Trails Inn restaurant.  This rustic place is a steak house and also has some other great meals.  Like Ole’s and Armadillo Palace, this place is full of mounted animals, included a rare White Buffalo Head.

I love Moose...here's the one from Chriswell's
I love Moose…here’s the one from Chriswell’s
Chriswell's Interior
Chriswell’s Interior
White Buffalo at Chriswell's
White Buffalo at Chriswell’s
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell's
Buffalo and antelope at Chriswell’s
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane
Sumoflam and the Sandcrane

Of course, the food is why we were here.  We were starved and this placed fit the bill.

Road Kill sign...their jerky
Road Kill sign…their jerky
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell's
Chicken Fried Steak at Chriswell’s

This chicken fried steak was HUGE!!  Covered the whole plate.  Of course, the potatoes were huge too and stuffed goodness!!

Old Gravy Nose - boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!
Old Gravy Nose – boy was the Chicken Fried Steak was good!!

Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad Cafe - Tightwad, Missouri
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri

I have written about Tightwad in earlier blogs, especially concerning the famous Tightwad Bank.  But, there is also a great little cafe in Tightwad called Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe.  Originally just called the Tightwad Cafe, owner Carrie Fields purchased the once Cafe and Bar from her aunt and then closed the bar.  Carrie is unabashed and very friendly, but she doesn’t take credit cards…doesn’t want to pay the fees (HA!).  But, she also insists that she is not a tightwad!

Carrie Fields, owner - Tightwad Cafe
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe
Carrie's Tightwad Cafe
Carrie’s Tightwad Cafe
Open - But No Credit Cards
Open – But No Credit Cards

Carrie was correct about the not being a tightwad part.  The meals at the cafe are not expensive and they are very large portions.  No skimping on the food!!  I had “Delmer’s Big ‘In” for breakfast this day which included 3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns and biscuits and gravy, all for about $8.00 (try to beat that McD’s!)

Tightwad Cafe Menu
Tightwad Cafe Menu
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe
Biscuits and Gravy at Tightwad Cafe

Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Mud Street Cafe - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a wonderful little town in the Ozarks.  In the midst of town is a shopping section known as the underground and housed within is the Mud Street Cafe. This is a one and all – Coffee shop, Bar and Cafe, all in one.  My wife and I visited for breakfast one nice morning in November 2012.  What a great little cafe!!

Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Mud St. Cafe Entrance
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign
Artsy Mud Street Cafe sign

Once downstairs we were enthralled by the kitschy decor.  Painted chairs, painted glass, sculptures, tapestries…decor that was nice and cozy.

Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
Coffee sign at Mud Street Cafe
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe - Practice Safe Lunch
I Love This Sign at Mud Street Cafe – Practice Safe Lunch
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Cozy Mud Street Cafe
Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe
Detailed Tapestry at Mud Street Cafe

But, the coziness was nothing compared to the food.  Freshly made HUGE muffins, fruit salads and tasty breakfast food.

Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Giant Blueberry Muffins at Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast - Mud Street Cafe
Veggie Breakfast – Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe
All the fixins at Mud Street Cafe

Just a few more places to note….

El Fenix Mexican Food - Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Mexican Food – Dallas, Texas
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant - Egg Harbor, WI
Shipwrecked Brew Pub and Restaurant – Egg Harbor, WI
Sparta House Tearoom - Sparta, Ontario
Sparta House Tearoom – Sparta, Ontario
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant – Mt. Horeb, WI
Riscky's Steakhouse - Ft. Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Ft. Worth, Texas
Enterprise Family Restaurant - Vulcan, Alberta
Enterprise Family Restaurant – Vulcan, Alberta

Coming soon – FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 2: Barbecue Places and Diners

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……


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