A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

ABanner600

The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

BBanner700

The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

CBanner

The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

DBanner

The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

EBanner

The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

FBanner

The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

GBanner

The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

HBanner

The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

IBanner

The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

JBanner

The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

KBanner

The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

LBanner

The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

MBanner

The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

NBanner

The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

OBanner

The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

PBanner

The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

QBanner

The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

RBanner

The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

SBanner

The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

TBanner

The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

UBanner

The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

VBanner

The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

WBanner

The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

XBanner

The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

YBanner

The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

ZBanner

The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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A to Z Challenge: The M Towns #atozchallenge

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

MThe M Towns

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

Welcome to Mt. Horeb, WI
Welcome to Mt. Horeb, WI
A giant troll sculpture greets you at the Mount Horeb Welcome Center. Created by Wally Keller
A giant troll sculpture greets you at the Mount Horeb Welcome Center. Created by Wally Keller
Ahhh..trolls
Ahhh..trolls
Another Mt. Horeb Troll - for good measure
A Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant, Mt. Horeb, WI
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant, Mt. Horeb, WI

There is no better place to catch some trolls than in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Indeed, the main attraction for the town are the trolls. The town has created a “Trollway” along Wisconsin Highway 151 with many large carved wooden trolls visible from the road. Many of these were created by local artist Michael Feeney. We found a few on our visit….  Click here for a nice map of the town, with all of the trolls and other attractions.  Click HERE to read more about my 2012 visit and see more trolls.

Meadville, Pennsylvania

Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers
Sumoflam and Road Sign Flowers
Road Sign Flower Garden in Meadville, PA
Road Sign Flower Garden in Meadville, PA
Stop sign flower in Meadville, PA
Stop sign flower in Meadville, PA
Balloons and more
Balloons and more
Roadsign art in Meadville
Roadsign art in Meadville

Traveling Interstate 79 North towards Pittsburgh, you can hop off of Exit 147 onto US Highway 19 and head towards Meadville.  Not too far off from there you will run into something interesting.  Along the road there is a giant menagerie of roadside art…all made from repurposed roadsigns that PennDOT had donated. Signs & Flowers is a garden of 12 large flowers made of recycled road signs and landscaping at the PennDOT storage lot in Meadville (photos below). In the spring and summer of 2001, Allegheny College art students, under the direction of art professor Amara Geffen, designed and planted the “garden,” which has quickly become a popular attraction for local residents and tourists. In the summer of 2002 Geffen’s students continued the project by constructing a 200-foot sculptural fence Read Between the Signs on the PennDOT property along Hwy 322.  See more photos and more of the story HERE.

Metropolis, Illinois

Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman
Welcome to Metropolis, home of Superman
"Super" Family Trip - Metropolis, Illinois
“Super” Family Trip – Metropolis, Illinois
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL
The Giant non-Superman Statue in Metropolis, IL
The Giant non-Superman Statue in Metropolis, IL

Many of us have grown up hearing the name “Metropolis” and associating with the big city that Superman.  Well, there is actually a town in Illinois called Metropolis and they celebrate their Superman status with an entire town square dedicated to Superman and a newspaper called the Planet. See more in my post about Metropolis from 2012 HERE.

Marshfield, Wisconsin

Jurustic Park
Jurustic Park
Welcome to Jurustic Park
Welcome to Jurustic Park
20 foot tall Jurustic Park dragon in Marshfield, WI
20 foot tall Jurustic Park dragon in Marshfield, WI
Clyde Wynia, the creator of Jurustic Park and the artist behind all of the work
Clyde Wynia, the creator of Jurustic Park and the artist behind all of the work

Marshfield, Wisconsin is located just north of US Highway 10 smack in the middle of Wisconsin.  And, about four miles north of Marshfield, you can turn off onto Wisconsin Highway 97 and then onto Highway E on the north edge of Marshfield at the Wal-Mart stoplight. Go north past Menards 3 1/2 miles to Sugarbush Lane for 1/2 mile and you will see strange metal sculptures — you are then at Jurustic Park, the brainchild of former attorney Clyde Wynia. Once you get there and park, you will likely be met by Clyde and he will give you the ultimate tour, tell you the stories (both real and made up all intermingled) and will demonstrate and explain some of his nearly 1000 pieces.  I asked him how many he has made and he said he has never counted them!! Jurustic Park is a MUST SEE destination if you are anywhere near. See my detailed post from 2012 about Clyde and Jurustic Park HERE.

Moenave, Arizona

Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
Moenave Dinosaur Tracks near Tuba City, AZ
Another view of the many tracks at Moenave.
Another view of the many tracks at Moenave.

In the early 1980s I was a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Many of my tours took visitors to the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations in Northern Arizona.  One of first stops on these specific trips was at a little place known as Moenave, which is just off of US Highway 160 a few miles east of US Highway 89 north of Flagstaff.  Not too far up Hwy 160 on the left there is a turn off to the Dinosaur Tracks.  This spot on the Navajo Nation may be one of the most well preserved dinosaur track fossils around and, with probably close to 200 tracks, it may also be one of the biggest sites.  The site has become so popular, that the Navajo Nation may soon be creating a small visitor center and a fence to protect the site from vandals.  Currently you can still visit these for free, but it is advisable to leave a tip to the kind Navajo folk that “guide” you among the tracks.  Bear in mind that you’ll need to take what they claim about the tracks with a grain of salt.  Though paleontologists have verified these as authentic, there are no T-Rex tracks and no dinosaur poop on the site.  Just a number of three toed tracks.

Mystic, Connecticut

Welcome to Mystic, CT
Welcome to Mystic, CT
Mystic, CT signpost
Mystic, CT signpost
4 Roosevelt Bistro Thai Restaurant in Mystic, CT
4 Roosevelt Bistro Thai Restaurant in Mystic, CT
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

Connecticut offer many unique treasures, and one of them is most certainly Mystic, which sits on US Highway 1, just south of I-95.  The town is on the Block Island Sound and is not too far from the northeastern stretches of Long Island in New York.  We visited Mystic in 2015 as part of our New England visit/adventure.  I was more interested in seeing the site of the 1980s movie Mystic Pizza, but also found that the small town has an awesome seaport with some tall sail ships, a fairly well known (though expensive) aquarium, a submarine museum, and even a nearby dinosaur park in Montville.  It certainly deserves more than the couple of hours we devoted to the town. By the way, we have heard that you don’t want to try the pizza.  But, I would advise you try the Thai at the 4 Roosevelt Bistro, which we discovered on our drive into Mystic and turned around after our drive thru town to go grab lunch there.  It was a pleasant surprise to know that they also had a good number of vegan and vegetarian items on the menu, which made most of us happy.  See more details of our visit to Mystic an other areas in New England HERE.

Montrose, South Dakota

Porter's Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
Porter’s Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
A skeleton keeping guard at Porter's Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
A skeleton keeping guard at Porter’s Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
Sixty foot tall bull head can be seen for miles.
Sixty foot tall bull head can be seen for miles.
Oddball upside down giant hammer at the Porter Sculpture Park
Oddball upside down giant hammer at the Porter Sculpture Park
Porter Sculpture Park as seen from a Google Satellite image
Porter Sculpture Park as seen from a Google Satellite image

Back in 2013 I was on a return trip home from Idaho with my wife.  We had left Mitchell, South Dakota (see below) were driving east on I-90 toward Sioux Falls.  Unbeknownst to me, in the small town of Montrose, South Dakota, right off the freeway (near Exit 374), there was an unusual site.  I actually pulled onto the shoulder to get out and get shots of what is known as the Porter Sculpture Park, which includes an amazing 60-foot tall bull’s head, which is what got me.  For some reason I had overlooked this one!!   You can see more about my trip HERE.

Minot, North Dakota

Sumoflam at the replica of the Gol Stave Church in Minot, ND
Sumoflam at the replica of the Gol Stave Church at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot, ND
The 30 foot tall Dala Horse at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot
The 30 foot tall Dala Horse at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot

Once again, in the Dakotas, there is so much to see.  On a 2014 trip west to Montana, I made a stop in Minot, ND, which is on US Highway 2 in western North Dakota. This city is home to the North Dakota State Fair, but, of more interest to me is their celebration of Scandinavian heritage. The annual Norsk Hostfest is the largest festival of its kind in North America and is a tribute the area’s Scandinavian heritage. The Scandinavian Heritage Park is home to a replica of the beautiful Gol Stave Church which currently sits at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, Norway.  You can see more about this trip across North Dakota on US Highway 2 HERE.

Mitchell, South Dakota

World's Only Corn Palace
World’s Only Corn Palace
Sumoflam at the Corn Palace
Sumoflam at the Corn Palace
The Corn Palace - 2013
The Corn Palace – 2013

Back in South Dakota again, you can’t miss out on the Corn Palace of Mitchell, SD.  It is one of those iconic must see roadside attractions. Originally built in 1892 as the “Corn Belt Exposition,” it became an iconic landmark and attraction in Mitchell after 1921.  Every year the exterior decorations are stripped and a new theme is created. The work is done by local artists. The artists use 13 different colors or shades of corn to decorate with. Typically there are over 275,000 ears of corn used annually on the murals. There is a nice list of the history of the murals here.  Definitely worth a visit if you are on Interstate 90 in eastern South Dakota.

Mapleton, Ontario (Honorable Mention)

Taxidermy and Cheese Store
Taxidermy and Cheese Store
Taxidermy and Cheese
Taxidermy and Cheese all in one stop!

The small community of Mapleton, Ontario is one of those “blink you miss it places.  However, it is also one of those unique and offbeat places, featuring the Mapleton Taxidermy and Cheese Shop.  See my 2012 post for more details HERE.

Medina, New York (Honorable Mention)

Big Apple Medina, NY
Big Apple Medina, NY
Culvert Road tunnel UNDER the Erie Canal
Culvert Road tunnel UNDER the Erie Canal
Culvert Road Tunnel under Erie Canal
Culvert Road Tunnel under Erie Canal

Clear up in northern New York, not too far from Niagara Falls, is a small town called Medina which is home to TWO unique oddities. The most well known is the Culvert Road Tunnel, which is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not (one of my site sponsors) featured site. This is the only place one can “cross” the Erie Canal by going UNDER it!!  Also, if you thought the Big Apple was in New York City, think again, the real Big Apple sits beside a bridge.  The apple was sculpted by artist Richard D. Banninster in 1999.  See my whole 2008 story about both attractions HERE.

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Honorable Mention)

Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Back up in Canada, the town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is home of the world’s largest moose statue, named Mac the Moose.  I first visited there as a high school junior for a band tour in the 1970s BEFORE the moose.  I once again made my way to Moose Jaw in 2007.  Touted as the World’s Largest Moose, Mac stands 32 feet tall and weighs in at 10 tons.  He was made by Saskatoon artist Don Foulds in 1984. Mac is considered to be one of the most photographed roadside attractions in all of Canada.  See more about my 2007 visit HERE.

Mars, Pennsylvania (Honorable Mention)

Welcome to Mars
Welcome to Mars
Mars, PA
Mars, PA

Finally, for you outer space and alien lovers, you can visit Mars, Pennsylvania and see their out of this world spaceship in the city park downtown.  Residents of Mars are often called “Martians”, or “Planets” because of the high school team name, which is actually the “Fightin’ Planets.” See my post about Mars HERE.

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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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