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

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over 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 L Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Loving, Texas

As we traveled we realized that we would be arriving in Loving, Texas on Valentine’s Day.  How cool would that be if we could send Valentine’s cards, with a Loving, Texas postmark on February 14?  But, sadly, it wasn’t to be.  We did get there on Valentine’s Day with a bunch of valentine cards.  Since the post office was closed, we just dropped them in the box outside.  No postmark from Loving…just North Texas.  Boo!  We tried!

Loving, Texas Post Office
Landen holding all of the Valentines to be sent from Loving, Texas. They WERE sent from there.
This Baptist church is always Loving…
We didn’t eat here, but there is apparently a Loving Cafe. I wonder if they make everything lovingly.

Lazy D Restaurant – Taylor, Nebraska

We went through Taylor, Nebraska in order to see the Taylor Villagers, life size paintings of life as it used to be in the small community of Taylor.  Most businesses have one or villagers attached to their business.  Lazy D was one of these.

Lazy D Restaurant, Taylor, Nebraska

Lexington Hotel Old Neon Sign – Gallup, New Mexico

This old neon sign is a vestige of the old Route 66 era.  Built in 1931, the hotel operated through about 1999.  The sign remains.

Lexington Hotel old neon sign, Gallup, New Mexico

Lewis and Clark across America

Lewis and Clark Historic Trail in Nebraska
Lewis and Clark Trail in Seaview, Washington
Lewis and Clark Motel in Bozeman, Montana
Lewis and Clark in Old Shawneetown, Illinois
Lewis and Clark statues in Buffalo, Wyoming

The Little Friendly Climax Market – Climax Springs, Missouri

As we drive westward through Missouri, we hopped on to Missouri 7 to head to Tightwad, Missouri.  Along the way we drove through Climax Springs and saw this fun little store.  They were closed, but the signs were great.

The Little Friendly Climax Market, Climax Springs, Missouri
Little Friendly Climax Market, Climax Springs, Missouri

Long Beach, Washington

The Long Beach Peninsula is supposedly the longest beach in the United States.  Located off of US 101, it is a lovely beach and you can even drive on the beach.  The beach is about 28 miles long continuously and so they claim it to be the longest.  The town is also home to the World Kite Museum, some Lewis and Clark history and Cape Disappointment.

Long Beach, Washington
Long Beach Sign in Long Beach, Washington
Giant frying pan in Long Beach, Washington

Little Bighorn Battlefield – Crow Agency, Montana

In our efforts to hit National Parks and Monuments on the road trip for the kids to get Junior Ranger Badges, we made a stop at Little Bighorn.  We took our time, watched the historical movie about the Battle of Little Bighorn, which is sometimes referred to as “Custer’s Last Stand.”  Sadly, the biggest thing we learned was how the U.S. Government of the day really had no idea about the Native Americans there.

Little Bighorn National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana
Little Bighorn National Cemetery
Sumoflam at Little Bighorn

Lincoln Heritage Trail – near Old Shawneetown, Illinois

The Lincoln Heritage Trail is about a 1000 mile trail from Kentucky and then through Indiana and Illinois.  It goes through the many towns with historical ties to Abraham Lincoln.  When we were in Old Shawneetown, Illinois, I took a shot of the sign there.

The Lincoln Heritage Trail in Illinois

La Loma Motel – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Yet another photo of an old Route 66 neon sign.  Many of the New Mexico towns along Route 66 have historic neon signs.

La Loma Motel in Santa Rosa, new Mexico

Lombard Street – The World’s Crookedest Road – San Francisco, California

Lombard Street in San Francisco
View of Lombard Street from above
View of San Francisco from Lombard Street

Langlois, Oregon

On our trip south on US 101, we made a stop in Langlois, Oregon to visit with some old friends.  I had never been here and we found this to be a lovely little town.  The citizens claim that their town should be World Famous because 1) It is one of only five towns named Langlois in the world, 2) they believe that the name, a derivative of the French “L’anglais,” meaning the Englishman and 3) because their “Greasy Spoon Cafe,” is one of only eight so-named places in the world.   I really wanted to get breakfast at The Greasy Spoon, but they were closed for remodeling.

Welcome to Langlois, Oregon
Langlois, Oregon Post Office
The Famous Greasy Spoon Cafe in Langlois.
Ocean View road in Langlois, Oregon. Drive up to the top of the road for a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean
The lovely ocean view from Langlois, Oregon

Lois’s Drive-In – Wenatchee, Washington

I couldn’t resist grabbing a shot of this old drive-in cafe, which is obviously no longer in business. The foggy mountains in the background make it so much more unique.

Lois’s Drive-In, Wenatchee, Washington

Lookout Pass – border of Montana and Idaho on Interstate 90

Lookout Pass is a mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of the northwestern United States. In the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of the Bitterroot Range, the pass is on the border between Idaho and Montana, traversed by Interstate 90 at an elevation of 4,710 feet above sea level.  It was packed with snow on our trip.  I like that it is Exit 0 as well.

Lookout Pass in Montana

Leavenworth, Washington

Travel on US Route 2 in Washington and chances are you will drive through Leavenworth, a wonderful little Bavarian-style village nestled near the gateway of the Cascade Mountains. All of the buildings and signs in the town are set in Bavarian scripts and there are many unique shops.  It is one of those places where you could spend all day shopping, walking around and breathing in the fresh mountain air.

Welcome to Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth in the mountains
Some of the signage of Leavenworth, Washington

Louisiana Highway 1 – Vivian, Louisiana

After our visit to Caddo Lake in Texas, we drive around the lake in Louisiana so we could add another state to our 20 state road trip. We too Highway 1 through Vivian as we headed north.  Here are a couple of shots.

Welcome to Louisiana
Louisiana Routes 1 and 2 near Vivian, Louisiana
Drive down Louisiana Hwy 1 near Vivian, Louisiana

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

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over 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 H Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Hamburg, Iowa

Hamburg, Iowa is a small town just off of Interstate 29 and a few miles north of the Missouri border and a miles southeast of the Nebraska border.  The small town is quaint and has some great places to visit. Along with the scenes below, I should note that it is home to Stoner Drug and more.

Hamburg, Iowa mural
Welcome to Hamburg, Iowa
Hamburg Market

Hogdaddy’s Saloon – Old Shawneetown, Illinois

Don’t know much about this place, but it had a great wall advertisement!

Hogdaddy’s Saloon in Shawneetown, IL

Happy, Texas

On this long 8000 mile trip, one place set into ice in my agenda was Happy, Texas.  I am always looking for something happy.  I love their mantra: The Town Without a Frown.  Happy is not a big place.  It only has about 680 people.  Its name is derived from a local stream called Happy Draw, which was named by 19th Century cowboys who were happy to find water there.  Hopefully, some of the photos below will make you happy!

Welcome to Happy, Texas
Sumoflam is Happy
Happy, Texas Post Office
Happy Self Storage
Happy Game Room
Happy Center, Happy, Texas
Yes, even a Happy Cemetery in Happy, Texas
Happy Water Tower, Happy, Texas

Hyde and Lombard – San Francisco, California

Want to take Lombard Street, the Crookedest Street in the World?  Well, you need to get to Hyde and Lombard up on the hill first.

Hyde and Lombard in San Francisco

Hartline, Washington Post Office

This is one of those unique Post Offices.  The sign looks plenty old as does the building. Hartline is a small community on US Highway 2 a few miles northeast of Coulee City.  Only has a population of 151.

Hartline, Washington Post Office

Haufbrau House – Bozeman, Montana

I lived in Bozeman, Montana from 1971 to 1973.  On this road trip I stopped there to enjoy a dinner with some high school friends.  We enjoyed some amazing burgers at the Haufbrau House, a bar and grill that has been around since the 1960s. If you are in Bozeman, stop by this rustic place and order their Lanny Burger…it is awesome!

Haufbrau House, Bozeman, Montana
Checking out the Haufbrau menu
Haufbrau House interior
Dinner with old high school friends at the Haufbrau House in Bozeman
Happy at the Haufbrau

Halsey, Nebraska

Halsey is another very small community located on Nebraska Highway 2 in the sandhills of the state.  Less than 100 people live here, but they are proud of their hand planted forest.

Welcome to Halsey, Nebraska

Ha Ha Tonka Cut Thru in Camdenton, Missouri

We were driving through the Ozark tourist town of Camdenton when we saw the sign below.  I had to turn around to get a shot.  This drive was likely named for the Ha Ha Tonka State Park, home of the Ha Ha Tonka Castle, which we did not have time to visit.

Ha Ha Tonka Cut Thru in Camdenton, Missouri

Hotel Waterville – Waterville, Washington

The small community of Waterville is in central Washington on US Highway 2.  While driving through I saw this old neon sign and had to snap a shot.

Hotel Waterville old neon sign – Waterville, Washington

Hyannis, Nebraska

Hyannis is a small town of about 200 in western Nebraska near the panhandle. Like Halsey (see above) it is located in the sandhills of Nebraska on Nebraska Hwy 2.  It is home to the Hyannis Hotel Bar and Grill, which was built in 1898 during the heydays of cattle shipping.  It is now on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Historic Hyannis Hotel, Hyannis, Nebraska
Hyannis, Nebraska post office

Hodge Podge Cottages – Uncertain, Texas

Uncertain, Texas is a tourist location on the shores of Caddo Lake.  There are many unique places to stay, including the Hodge Podge Cottages, which, as the name reflects, offer a number of totally unique places to stay.

Hodge Podge Cottages, Uncertain, Texas
The Shipwreck Cottage of Hodge Podge Cottages

Hotel Turkey – Turkey, Texas

Now this is a place I would like to say that I stayed at.  Turkey is a cool little town to with lots of history and more.

Hotel Turkey, Turkey, Texas

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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Going to California – San Francisco to Santa Rosa

WoodflockWoodflock – a relatively unknown destination for those unfamiliar with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. For the last six years Flamingoheads from California and other places have gathered in the Sycamore Grove campground along the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA to enjoy time schmoozing with Antsy and the band and each other through music, meditation, arts and crafts and food. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the campground turns into a flamingo haven.

Singing with Antsy McClain
Singing with Antsy McClain

I have traveled with Antsy McClain on a cruise to Mexico, I have accompanied him on Field Trips in Kentucky and Texas and have toured with him and the band in Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and California, but I have never had the opportunity to attend the pinnacle of Flamingohead Fantasy trips…Woodflock. That is, until last week. And what a trip it was!

Flying on the plane to California
Flying on the plane to California

I departed on a non-stop flight to San Francisco from Cincinnati on Thursday. It was a nice four and a half hour flight with views of clouds until we got over the Rocky Mountains In Colorado and oh what a view. The snow covered peaks and the lakes…phenomenal. We went right over Mount Evans, where I have set foot in the past. How fun.

A view of the Colorado Rockies form the air.  Lovely!
A view of the Colorado Rockies form the air. Lovely!
Riding with Carla and her little dog...we were Enjoying the RIde!
Riding with Carla and her little dog…we were Enjoying the RIde!

I arrived in San Francisco at about 11:30 AM California time and was met there by my Flamingohead friend Carla, a sweet and bouncy young lady of 70. Carla had worked out a few plans for our day and our drive to Santa Rosa, where she lives.

Mural at the Golden Gate Park Visitor's Center
Mural at the Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center
At Golden Gate Park Visitor's Center in San Francisco.  Nice murals
At Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center in San Francisco. Nice murals

We left SFO and began our trip north to the city where we first visited Golden Gate Park to see the lovely mural in the visitor’s center, the beautiful flowers and a cool old Dutch windmill. The park is a beautiful inner city park with lots to see, but we had to move on to see some of the other sights. Here are a few scenes.

A portion of the Golden Gate Park mural
A portion of the Golden Gate Park mural
Another section of the mural at Golden Gate Park
Another section of the mural at Golden Gate Park
A vivid painting under a stairwell at Golden Gate Park
A vivid painting under a stairwell at Golden Gate Park
There were also a number of tile mosaics.  This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor's center
There were also a number of tile mosaics. This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor’s center

In 1901, John McLaren, together with Park Commissioners Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd, convinced the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission to build a windmill 300 yards from the ocean. This windmill could take advantage of the prevailing winds to pump water for the park’s irrigation system.   Completed in 1902 at a cost of $25,000, the North Windmill was designed by Alpheus Bull Jr., a prominent San Franciscan at the time.  Over the years it has had to go through various restorations, but the blades now function, though the pump has long been removed.

Dutch Windmill (North Windmill) in Golden Gate Park
Dutch Windmill (North Windmill) in Golden Gate Park (Photo by Carla Lockwood)
The North Windmill in Golden Gate Park
The North Windmill in Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park runs along the coast and so there are plenty of beach scenes and birds, etc.

A couple sits on the beach near Golden Gate Park
A couple sits on the beach near Golden Gate Park
A hawk or falcon watches the scene on the beach
A hawk or falcon watches the scene on the beach
A young seagull has his own perch on a light pole
A young seagull has his own perch on a light pole
Mel's Drive-in in San Francisco
Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

Our next stop was for lunch. What better place than an old fashioned diner. We stopped at the historic Mel’s Drive-in, a throwback to the 1950s both in style and cooking. Every table had a Rock-ola jukebox with 50s and 60s songs. Though working hard to change my diet, coming to this diner was risky…the meatloaf looked fabulous. But, I stuck with a large salad and a couple of rolls. No butter. Great diner atmosphere and what appeared to be great diner food.

Sumoflam at Mel's Drive-in in San Francisco
Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

The original Mel’s Drive-in, built in the 1940s, was used for George Lucas’ classic film American Graffiti. There are now a few in the San Francisco area and even a couple, with the trademarked name and logo, at amusement parks.  Following is a brief portion of the history from their website:

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

Following is a brief portion of the history of Mel’s as taken from their website:

DSC_2290“Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs started it all back in 1947 when they built their first car hop eatery, inspired by similar restaurants serving motorists in Los Angeles. With a staff of fourteen carhops covering a 30,000 square foot parking lot, they lured the hungry with a local radio personality broadcasting a live remote. As music reverberated through car radios in the drive-ups, the curb-stepping gals of 140 South Van Ness became a new paradigm for service.

DSC_2286At all hours of the day and night, crowds of patrons that fancied dining-in-your-car came early and often. It didn’t take long for the first unit to multiply into eleven! Six Mels became landmarks in the Bay Area with additional cluster achieving their own notoriety in Stockton and Sacramento. They reigned for almost twenty years, until a parade of franchised fast food outlets finally outpaced their service. As the new philosophy of “serve yourself” began to reprogram attitude about dining, Mel’s began its gradual decline.”

A Drive Down Lombard Street in San Francisco

After a good lunch and a break, we drove around town and made our way to Lombard St., the so called Crookedest Street in the World.  The one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets has eight sharp turns that supposedly make it the crookedest street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles.  The sign at the top recommends 5 mph. There were dozens of tourists at the top of the road, all along the crooked road and even dozens more when we got to the bottom. A fun little drive, as can be seen from the video above.

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

After our little brake infused jaunt down Lombard St., we then meandered around town over to Fisherman’s Wharf.  Following are a few scenes from along the way.

Giant whale mural on a building
Giant whale mural on a building
A look towards downtown San Francisco
A look towards downtown San Francisco
Another unique mural seen along the way
Another unique mural seen along the way
Colorful houses along the streets of San Francisco
Colorful houses along the streets of San Francisco
Another colorful neighborhood with unique fountain art
Another colorful neighborhood with unique fountain art
A gull and a crow converse on a light pole in San Francisco
A gull and a crow converse on a light pole in San Francisco
Bike Rickshaws in Fisherman's Wharf
Bike Rickshaws in Fisherman’s Wharf
A proud seagull
A proud seagull
A skeleton pirate guards the entrance to a shop in Fisherman's Wharf
A skeleton pirate guards the entrance to a shop in Fisherman’s Wharf
Buildings upon buildings in the Presidio District of San Francisco
Buildings upon buildings in the Presidio District of San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the approach from San Fraancisco
Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the approach from San Fraancisco
On the north end of Golden Gate Bridge
On the north end of Golden Gate Bridge

From Fisherman’s Wharf we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was plenty of construction going on so traffic was slow going. But, once we got to the bridge the fog began to sneak in above the bridge…a beautiful sight. We crawled across the bridge, which was covered in foot traffic as well. Truly a major attraction.

San Francisco as seen from across the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco as seen from across the Golden Gate Bridge
A paddle boarder in the bay with the city behind her
A paddle boarder in the bay with the city behind her

Once across the bridge we found the viewing area which offered not only a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but an expansive view of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower and more. And the weather was perfect.

A gorgeous view of the expansive and historic Golden Gate Bridge
A gorgeous view of the expansive and historic Golden Gate Bridge
A panorama of the bridge and the city
A panorama of the bridge and the city
Shrouded in fog
Shrouded in fog

I was last in San Francisco in 2009 with Antsy McClain when he and the band performed at the Great American Music Hall (see video below). But we didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the bridge.  So it was an awesome opportunity.

A pelican in flight over the bay
A pelican in flight over the bay
Headed north on US 101
Headed north on US 101

After the bridge we made our way into Novato to join another Flamingohead sweetheart, Ione, who would be lending me her RV (nicknamed IRV) for the weekend in Red Bluff.  We had some great Chinese food at the China Palace and then joined together for a fun picture to memorialize the occasion.

Heading to Novato, CA on US 101
Heading to Novato, CA on US 101
After dinner photo with Ione and Carla at the China Palace in Novato.  The meal was excellent...the company was amazing!!
After dinner photo with Ione and Carla at the China Palace in Novato. The meal was excellent…the company was amazing!!

After dinner, Carla drove us up to her doublewide trailer in Santa Rosa, CA.  She Lives in Aluminum and is happy there in Lot #36 …see the video below if you don’t get it!! (Taken in 2009 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco…video by Sumoflam)

A nice 2500 mile day!

Next post will cover Santa Rosa to Ukiah to Red Bluff!

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