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

 

Mystic Pizza – Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

Moon Township, PA

Township of Moon, PA

Muscovy Duck – Damascus, Virginia

A unique Muscovy duck in the river in Damascus

Mammy’s Cupboard – Natchez, Mississippi

Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard Dining Room – Much bigger than it looks on the outside

Mail Pouch Barns – Brinkhaven, Ohio; Friendly, West Virginia; Hargett, Kentucky

Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mail Pouch Barn in Friendly, WV
A rare Mail Pouch barn sighting in Hargett, KY

Billy Tripp’s Mindfield – Brownsville, Tennessee

Sumoflam at Tripp’s Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
A portion of the Mindfield Cemetery in Brownsville, TN
Mindfield Cemetery, Brownsville, Tennessee

Mr. Roger’s T-Rex Statue – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mr. Rogers T-Rex

Mountain Bluebird – The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

A Mountain Bluebird perched on a fencepost in the Badlands

Mac the Moose – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Monument Valley – Utah

Monument Valley, Utah
Enjoying the splendor of Monument Valley in southern Utah and Northern Arizona around 1983

Monongahela Incline – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the Monongahela Incline
Monongahela Incline going up
Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh

Maid of the Mist – Niagara Falls, Ontario

The Maid of the Mist at the bottom of Niagara Falls filled with tourists

Melt Eclectic Cafe – Cincinnati, Ohio

Melt in Cincinnati
Melt Cafe

Metal Green Bay Packer – Pagac’s Bar – Ashland, Wisconsin

Robotic scrap metal quarterback. The guy in the bar said you can plug it in and it actually moves!

Mayan Ruins – Tulum, Mexico

Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

Midlothian Castle – Burk’s Falls, Ontario

Midlothian Castle
Headstone on one of the Gates to Midlothian Castle

Home of Mayberry – Mount Airy, North Carolina

Snappy Lunch – Mt. Airy, NC
Mayberry on Main
Mayberry Cheese

Mount Rainier National Park – Greenwater, Washington

Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Mt. Rainier in Washington – visited in 2015
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the background

Migrating Snow Geese – Arkansas

Snow Geese everywhere
Ran into a HUGE flock of migrating snow geese in central Arkansas

Medicine Hat, Alberta

Giant Teepee in Medicine Hat, Alberta

Mickey Mantle Statue – Commerce, Oklahoma

Mickey Mantle Statue in Commerce, Oklahoma

Memorial Falls near Great Falls, Montana

Memorial Falls near Great Falls, MT

Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

The Meerkats are my favorite animal at the zoo. This one posed for me!
Lounging Meerkats at Henry Doorly Zoo

Metropolis, Illinois

Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman
Giant Grocer Statue in Metropolis, IL

Dinosaur Tracks – Moenave, Arizona

Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
The kids at the Dinosaur tracks in Moenave, AZ near Tuba City (July 1993)

Mama Santa Pizzeria – Little Eatery – Cleveland, Ohio

Sumoflam with Mama Santa’s owner Papa Tio
Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa Restaurant in Cleveland, OH

Montour Trail – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Montour Trail – Canonsburg, PA

Miner’s Memorial Mural – Ironwood, Michigan

The men in Miner’s Memorial Mural represent the thousands of men who worked in the Gogebic Range Mines of Michigan and Wisconsin.
A section of the Miner’s Memorial Mural in Ironwood, which was completed in 2012

Mt. Fuji – near Fujinomiya, Japan

Enjoying wintertime at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji, near Fujinomiya, Japan in 1987
Mt. Fuji, Japan as seen from my airplane seat in 1990 as I flew to Tokyo from Oita.

Multnomah Falls – Multnomah County, Oregon

At Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Mud Street Cafe – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The unique and quaint Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR
Cozy Mud Street Cafe

Memphis Egg – Memphis, Tennessee

With the famous Memphis Egg in 2007

Mothman Museum – Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Glowing Red Eyes of the Mothman
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV

Mel’s Diner – San Francisco, California

Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco

Mapleton Taxidermy and Cheese Shop – Mapleton, Ontario

Taxidermy and Cheese Store
Taxidermy and Cheese

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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Z is for Zeal – #atozchallenge

I am a zealous traveler. I travel passion and with all the gusto I can.  A roadtrip with me can be grueling, but it is always fun.  Indeed, I travel with the intent of creating many good memories.  Many call me a Road Warrior. Well, I love that term. I travel with zeal.

When on roadtrips, I like to be up with the sun and travel until the sun goes down.  I stop for the night wherever I am at sundown…I can’t take many pictures at night now can I?

Taking photos along the way
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

In my zealous travels, I have visited all 50 states and a few Canadian Provinces. I have at least one photo of me in almost all of them…a few exceptions where I traveled to those places years ago and the photos either were lost or were never taken (Nevada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts…at least).  But in recent years, I have become the “Shamelessly Self-Proclaimed Selfie King” and have tried to record my travels digitally, and include selfies along the way.

Without further adieu, following are selfies/photos of me in every state and Canadian Province I have visited (where I have photos).  I have throw some “Road Warrior” and “Traveling with Zeal” pics in along the way for fun.

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ
Am I Normal? Who knows?

ALABAMA

Visiting Alabama with some of my grandchildren in early 2017

ALASKA

On Glacier Bay in Alaska in 2004

ARIZONA

Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983

ARKANSAS

Welcome to Arkansas
Found Friendship in Arkansas

CALIFORNIA

At Golden Gate Bridge in in San Francisco, CA May 2015

COLORADO

Welcome to Colorado WY 789 and CO 13
Sitting high up on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 1990 looking down at a crystal lake

CONNECTICUT

Mystic, CT Amtrak Station in Sept 2015

DELAWARE

Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986. Visited in 2016 during Christmas Holiday

FLORIDA

Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990

GEORGIA

Stone Mountain, GA in 2015

HAWAII

Well…I used to have a photo of me hitting a golf ball at Mililani Golf Course in Honolulu.  Can’t find it…..

IDAHO

At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID

ILLINOIS

A visit to Illinois in 2014
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL in 2014

INDIANA

Santa Claus, IN, Christmas 2015
Story General Store, Story, IN

IOWA

World’s Largest truckstop is in Iowa. Been there three times

KANSAS

Little House on the Prairie in Eastern Kansas with the family in 1993

KENTUCKY – My Home Sweet Home since 1993

Visiting Cumberland Falls in Kentucky with grandchildren in 2016
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November 2016

LOUISIANA

Entering Louisiana in 2014
Visiting Troy Landry of Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA in 2014

MAINE

Visiting the beautiful lighthouse on the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine in 2015

MARYLAND

Ocean City, MD in December 2016

MASSACHUSETTS – I last visited Massachusetts in 1990 on a trip to Boston.  Photos were taken, but got long lost….

MICHIGAN

On the blazing Hell Bench in Hell, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet in Ironwood, MI

MINNESOTA

Sumoflam in Floodwood, Minnesota
Bemidji, MN in 2014 — one of my bucket list places

MISSISSIPPI

On the Blues highway in Mississippi in 2014
One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS
Chunky, MS

MISSOURI

Welcome to Missouri
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
Finding Success in Missouri

MONTANA – Lived in this wonderful state from 1970-1973

Hitting Montana on a road trip in 2014
At the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, still on US 89 in Montana

NEBRASKA

Visiting Nebraska in 2015
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

NEVADA – I have visited a few times but don’t think I ever got any photos.  Oh well.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Welcome to New Hampshire in Sept 2015 – State #49!

NEW JERSEY

Welcome to Hoboken, NJ
Photo of NYC taken from Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ

NEW MEXICO

Welcome to New Mexico at Raton Pass
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

NEW YORK

In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

NORTH CAROLINA

Jos with Grampz at rest area in North Carolina – April 2013

NORTH DAKOTA

Welcome to North Dakota
On the Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota in 2013
Rugby, ND in 2014

OHIO – I was born in Little Italy in Cleveland.  Home sweet home.

My first home – 2072 Murray Hill Road, now home of the Murray Hill Market
Sumoflam at the place of his birth
I found Novelty in Ohio

OKLAHOMA

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014
Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

OREGON

At Multnomah Falls in Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA

Smile…you are in Pennsylvania…so I smiled!
Found Prosperity in PA

RHODE ISLAND – Only visited once way back in 1988.  No photos.  Actually drove through.  Need to stop again!!

SOUTH CAROLINA

On the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina in 2013

SOUTH DAKOTA

Visiting South Dakota for the 4th or 5th time in 2013
Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

TENNESSEE

Visiting Tennessee in 2014 on my way to Galveston
Welcome to Bristol. I took this from the Tennessee side of the road.

TEXAS

Visiting Texas in 2014
We visited Texas in October 2016. This was in Texarkana, TX
Sumoflam visits Austin, Texas

UTAH – Graduated High School in Murray, UT in 1974

Graduated from Murray High School in 1974
At Monument Valley in Utah in 1982
Welcome to Salt Lake

VERMONT – My 50th state visited — made it in 2016

State Number 50 – At NH/VT border in Brattleboro, VT

VIRGINIA

Welcome to Virginia…taken in early August 2016
At the Cross Roads of the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trails

WASHINGTON

Neah Bay, Washington – the northwestern most point in the continental US
Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market – what a place!

WEST VIRGINIA

Welcome to West Virginia!
Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin welcomes Sumoflam on US Route 2
With the famed Hodag in Rhinelander, WI

WYOMING

Wyoming’s Wildlife?
Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

WASHINGTON DC

Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Washington DC 2016

ONTARIO, CANADA

Sumoflam at Screaming Heads in Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Customers Needed – Toronto, Ontario

SASKATCHEWAN

Welcome to Saskatchewan

MANITOBA

Virden, Manitoba
At an oil well display in Virden, Manitoba

ALBERTA

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)

 

 

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G is for Grandeur – #atozchallenge

The United States is a vast and diverse country. From sea to shining sea there are sweeping vistas and spectacular scenes of nature.

The grandeur of this country is not seen on the interstate highways, but on the back roads and the gravel roads that have woven the fiber of this country.

Grandeur as seen on a back road in North Dakota – The Enchanted Highway
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge

I am always awestruck by the superb landscapes that one can witness on the back roads. Some of these landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains, are known by everybody. But there are so many more spectacles to feast your eyes upon.

When speaking of grandeur, perhaps one of my most favorite locations is Monument Valley in the northwest corner of Arizona and the southwest corner of Utah. Located within the Navajo Indian reservation, this amazing natural wonder has been the backdrop for many movies and television commercials. And one can only stand in a location or another and must turn their head from left to right to catch the full glory of this spectacular wonder of nature.

Visiting Monument Valley with my family in 1993
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona
Sumoflam at Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona in 1990
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona, ca. 1983

Not too far from there and also on the Navajo Reservation is a much lesser known, but in another way very spectacular sight. Called Coal Mine Canyon, it is a hidden gem off of a two lane highway east of Tuba City, AZ.

Coal Mine Canyon is filled with a variety of HooDoos…ghost like rock formations that can form eerie shadows and spooky formations at night.  The view goes on for miles into Blue Canyon.  In any other state, this might be a National Park or Monument.  It is just one more canyon in Arizona.

Sitting high up on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 1990 looking down at a crystal lake,

Head north into Colorado and take a ride up to Mount Evans north of Denver. Nearly 13,000 feet up, it offers up an amazing view of the mountains and lakes below.

The Beartooth Range in northern Wyoming.
At Beartooth Level — looking at the mountains from the top of the world

Not to be outdone in the words of grandeur, is the scenic highway that traverses the Bear Tooth Range along the Montana and Wyoming border. I have only been there once and it was in the very early spring on the first day the road was open. There were still piles of snow on both sides of the road. But the expanse of the mountains left me in awe.

 

An antelope and her calves run through the grasslands near Craig, CO
SD 63, a gravel road, runs through northern South Dakota’s grasslands and badlands

But grandeur is not just mountains or spectacular geologic formations. I can drive through the plains of North Dakota or South Dakota and experience miles and miles of grasslands.

I have driven through these great plains in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. To some, the drive through these vast grasslands might be considered boring. To me, the vast expanse of grasslands is stunning.

The Oyate Trail highway in southern South Dakota
Wide Open Spaces near Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Mountains and grasslands near Glacier National Park and Bynum, Montana
Expansive views across Wyoming
Sandhill Cranes fly over high plains near Dell, MT
Expansive corn fields in central Missouri
Atlantic Sunrise in Maine

Then there is the grandeur of the oceans. I have been blessed to have been able to see the Pacific Ocean from the northern parts of Washington and Oregon all the way to the coast in Southern California. I have also seen the Atlantic Ocean from points in Maine all the way south to Florida. The amazing sunrises and sunsets over the water provide unspeakable grandeur and a glorious feeling.

Like the oceans, the Gulf of Mexico offers similar sights. Nothing like witnessing the spectacle flocks of pelicans flying in sync overhead.

Christmas sunrise near Ocean City, Maryland with a dolphin swimming by
Waves crash on the Pacific Ocean in the northwestern-most point in the continental US near Neah Bay, WA
Brown pelicans fly in synchronized formation over the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, TX
A hoodoo at Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming

The most gratifying part of experiencing grandeur for me is that every back road and numbered highway offers a peek at splendid views. One needs only crest to the top of a hill and laid out before your eyes are wonderful scenes like that of Hells Canyon in Oregon, or in Hell’s Half Acre in the middle of Wyoming. Drive along a two Lane highway in the eastern United States in the fall and you get to the top of the hill and see nothing but spectacular fall colors as far as the eye can see.

 

Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming
Hells Canyon in northeast Oregon is actually wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon
View of Cincinnati, OH

But the grandeur is not just in nature. From a different perspective, the views of the skyline of a big city offers its own brand you were. Whether enjoying the skyline of Manhattan from across the river in Hoboken, NJ to witnessing the scene of riverine cities such as Pittsburgh or Cincinnati from the top of a hill, one gets a sense of how small they really are.

Three of my grandchildren look out at the lights of New York City from Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ
A panoramic shot of Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington
Seattle as seen from a boat in the Puget Sound
Massive bald cypress forests in Caddo Lake in NE Texas

I am grateful to live in these United States and my heart is filled with joy that I have been able to travel many a back road and experience the grandeur of this country.

With each new road comes a new experience. I still have yet to personally experience the special nature of Yosemite National Park or the giant sequoia trees of Northern California. But I have seen the vast expanses filled with volcanoes in Hawaii or the old volcano cones in New Mexico and Arizona.

Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho
Humongous field of sunflowers in Central Kentucky. This too offers a feeling of grandeur

I have driven the long highway over Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana and over the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. These man-made spectacles still offer a sense of grandeur.

The river into Juneau, Alaska as seen from a mountain top near Juneau
Fall colors as seen from a highway near Damascus, VA in 2016
Fall colors in horse farm country on a small road near Lexington, KY
Grand scene of the Badlands National Park
Visiting White Sands, NM in 2013
Bison relax in a wide field with antelope grazing in the background. Taken form the road in Yellowstone National Park
Sawtooth Mountains as seen from Stanley, ID
Two Medicine River canyon in Montana
Rock City in Central Montana
Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia
The grandeur of nature with sunbeams shining over a lake in Kentucky

So, get out on the road and experience this country for yourself.

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