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


Not many Q items, so I may just add a few QUIRKY places & things!

The Hobbit Hole – a unique and quirky shop in Fayetteville, WV
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
Lovely quirky Airstream in Austin, TX
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
Porter’s Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
Lions and tigers and eagles Oh My – our first offbeat attraction at Wilson’s Gift Shop in Ansted, WV – August 1995
The Thing’s Outhouse — Great Seats Available – Dragoon, Arizona
The Outhouse Gift Shop – Ronks, PA
Booger Hollow Double Decker Outhouse – Booger Hollow, Arkansas

Quan Am Statue – Sugar Land, Texas

Giant 72′ tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, TX
Sumoflam at Quan The Am Bo Tat
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

Quartzsite, Arizona

The Grave Marker for Hi Jolly in Quartzsite
Quartzsite, AZ

Quicksand, Kentucky

Quicksand Bridge in Kentucky

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


O is for Offbeat Oddities – #atozchallenge

For me there is a difference between “Offbeat” and “Quirky.”  I like to look at things that are offbeat as being similar to something conventional or recognizable, but just somewhat off.  On the other hand, quirky is closer to non-conventional and sometimes even absurd (my Q post will focus on Quirky).

Oddville, Kentucky

When I am traveling I love looking at the beauty and nature around me, but I also seek out the offbeat and quirky.  One source I always use to help me find these locations is the Roadside America app. This app covers all 50 states and most of Canada and includes almost anything offbeat, odd, quirky and even downright outlandish and ridiculous. There are literally 1000s of sites and things to find and this makes for something fun on a roadtrip.

Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati
Mushroom House front side

So, what do I mean by offbeat?  Let’s take houses for instance.  The normal home is brick and mortar, or a trailer home.  But how about a flying saucer or a house that looks like mushrooms?  A trip to the Cincinnati area offers up both of these.

First, there is a house in Cincinnati literally referred to as the “Mushroom House.”  It is built almost completely out of either natural materials or recycled materials.

It is like a house…it is a house.  But it certainly looks different than the “normal” human abode.

A view of Cincinnati’s Mushroom House
Beam Me Up Scotty at the Front Door of Futuro House

Then there are the homes that look like flying saucers.  Called “Futuro” homes, there were many built in the 1960s by a company in Finland.

Across the river from Cincinnati, on a hill in Covington, KY overlooking the Ohio River and US Interstate 75, sits a Futuro House.  It is in a regular neighborhood and stands out like a sore thumb.  If you look carefully off to your right from the Interstate driving south out of Cincinnati right after crossing the Ohio River, you will see it.

The Futuro House in Covington, KY
Beer Can House, Houston, TX

Finally, take a tripdown to Houston for another Offbeat house…the house built totally out of Beer Cans!

Basically done as an art project, this house is also lived in and is built out of 1000s of aluminum beer cans.

I think the owner’s name must be Bud Weiser??

Beer Can House Front
Beer Can House
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

But houses aren’t the only offbeat places.  If one looks hard the discovery of offbeat eateries can also come to the fore.  Like the houses, these are normal in most respects, but there is just something a tad different.

For instance, there is a great place in Portland, Oregon called Voodoo Doughnut.  The main shop (yes, there are now a few of them) is located downtown and there are lines there 24/7.  They make a great variety of doughnuts and even a few offbeat ones, such as the actual Voodoo Doughnut, which is a person shaped doughnut, covered with chocolate and filled with raspberry filling.  It is stabbed with a pretzel stick…yes, like a Voodoo Doll!

The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stick!
It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

Then there is the other offbeat thing…the original shop also has a chapel and some of the bakers are ALSO ordained ministers.  You can be married at Voodoo Doughnut legally and be surrounded by chapel-esque stained glass and everything!

Voodoo Doughnut Stained Glass
Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie
Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls

Head on over to Missouri for another unique treat.  There is a restaurant in Ozark, Missouri (and another near Branson) called Lambert’s Cafe.  These huge facilities cater to tourists and buses.  They offer a variety of yummy meals and have a few things served “home style” – wheeled in on carts and served out of pots at the table (including black-eyed peas, potatoes, tomato stew and more).

But what really makes them famous are their “Throwed Rolls.” And this is where they fit into the Offbeat category.  Literally, they come to the middle of an area in the restaurant, ask who wants rolls and then throw them across the room to you.  You miss them, too bad…

Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place
The Throwed Rolls with Sorghum – yummy!

Then there is the offbeat looking restaurant in Mississippi with amazing lunch offerings…

Sumoflam at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Mammy’s Cupboard Dining Room – Much bigger than it looks on the outside
Sumoflam and MSR Pyramid in Nekoma, ND

Convention gets thrown out the door when visiting a facility just outside of Nekoma, ND.  There is a huge cement pyramid in the middle of nowhere.  Seemingly deserted (but fenced off), this used to be an old military facility.

The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex was the United States’ first operational ABM (anti-ballistic missile) defense system.  The pyramid included radar and other defense systems.  Now unused, it sits in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota and is an imposing offbeat site.

The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
The Pyramid Shaped MSR of the Mickelson facility
The famed North Dakota pyramid, a vestige of the cold war, as seen from ND Hwy 1 south of Nekoma, ND

And a bank is a bank is a bank…right?  What about one for tightwads?

Then there is place called Tightwad in MO and they even have a bank!
National Mustard Museum Sign, Middleton, WI

Next are museums.  There are hundreds of museums in the United States, but some are more offbeat and unique than others.  Take the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI.  Chock full of mustards from around the world, one can buy a lifetime supply of mustards and never have the same flavor twice.

The original Mustard Museum was located in Mt. Horeb, WI, but later moved to Middleton, to be in a much larger facility. A condiment lover’s  dream.

Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin
MBA Degree (Master of Bad Attitude) from the Mustard Museum’s Poupon University (Poupon U)

There are also other fun museums out there.  How about these?

Jell-o Museum in LeRoy, New York
Spoon Ceiling at JELL-O Museum
Sumoflam at Spam Museum in Austin, MN
Spam Museum Billboard – Austin, MN
Spam Museum – Austin, MN
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID
World’s Largest Potato Chip – 23″ x 14.5″ at the Idaho Potato Museum

And then there is the actual Oddity Place of all Oddity Places… a museum of Oddities in Seattle, WA called “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.”

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA

Finally, what’s in a town?  There are some offbeat towns out there.  Many towns have unique names, but some of these are really offbeat and odd.

Odd, West Virginia Post Office
Oddville United Methodist Church, Oddville, KY
Peculiar, Missouri
A Peculiar Church

Some are totally Uncertain….

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX
Yes, there is a Church of Uncertain!!

And lastly, a town that actually changed its name to a major sponsor…also in Texas.

DISH Town Hall, DISH, Texas
DISH, Texas

Indeed, there is much offbeat in America and this is just a small sampling of the savory and unsavory offbeat oddities of our wonderful country.  Is there anything Normal?

Normal, IL


A to Z Challenge: The Q 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

QThe Q Towns


Quincy, Illinois

Welcome to Quincy, Illinois
Welcome to Quincy, Illinois
Bayview Bridge in Quincy, Illinois
Bayview Bridge in Quincy, Illinois

I mentioned the town of Nauvoo, Illinois in my N Towns post a few days ago.  Just down Illinois 96 south of Nauvoo is the town of Quincy, Illinois.  Like Nauvoo, or Hannibal, Missouri, this is a river town.  Full of amazing architecture and history, its a nice place to visit.  I last visited with my family on a trip to Nauvoo back in the late 1990s. We visited on a genealogy excursion as my adoptive mother’s ancestry was also here — the Hanks Family.  Ironically, they lived in Quincy about the same time the Mormons were being persecuted and driven from Nauvoo.  Apparently many of the citizens of Quincy were sympathetic to the Mormon cause and offered their homes to the homeless Mormons before they headed west. I have often wondered if the Hanks family was one of these kind folks.  If you plan on a trip to Nauvoo, definitely take a day and cruise around Quincy.  You’ll be glad you did.

Quartzsite, Arizona

Welcome to Quartzsite, AZ
Welcome to Quartzsite, AZ
The Grave Marker for Hi Jolly in Quartzsite
The Grave Marker for Hi Jolly in Quartzsite

Long before I began writing blog posts, I made a trip to California and passed through Quartzsite, Arizona.  It is one of those places I would like to return to someday. It is located at the crossroads of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Los Angeles, and US Highway 95 between Lake Havasu City and Yuma. This area was a gathering place for pioneers on their way to the rich gold fields in California, a way station and hub of activity for travelers going in every direction.  One site in town worth looking into is the marker for Hi Jolly (aka Hadji Ali) became one of the first camel drivers ever hired by the US Army to lead the camel driver experiment in the Southwest. Hi Jolly became a living legend until his death in Arizona in December 1902.

Queen City, Ohio (aka Cincinnati)

Cincinnati Skyline at night as seen from across the Ohio River in Newport, KY
Cincinnati Skyline at night as seen from across the Ohio River in Newport, KY
Ohio River as it flows through Cincinnati, OH
Ohio River as it flows through Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati's "The Singing Mural" (detail) by C.F. Payne
Cincinnati’s “The Singing Mural” (detail) by C.F. Payne
"The Migration of Tradition" by Tina Westerkamp on Race St. in Cincinnati
“The Migration of Tradition” by Tina Westerkamp on Race St. in Cincinnati
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
Sumoflam at Findlay's Market in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati
Sumoflam at Findlay’s Market in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati
The old Union Terminal in Cincinnati, now the Museum Center
The old Union Terminal in Cincinnati, now the Museum Center

I had planned not to add any large cities to these posts, but rather those found on the back roads of America.  But, I needed more Q Cities and Cincinnati is known as “The Queen City.”  The classic nickname “Queen City” is taken from the 1854 poem Catawba Wine. In it, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of the city: “And this Song of the Vine, This greeting of mine, The winds and the birds shall deliver, To the Queen of the West, In her garlands dressed, On the banks of the Beautiful River.” In the 1850s, Cincinnati was the largest westernmost inland city from the East Coast.  There are many wonderful things to see in Cincinnati — a great zoo, fabulous museums, dozens of impressive murals on the sides of buildings and more. Check out one of my posts about Cincinnati HERE or maybe THIS ONE.

Quicksand, Kentucky (Honorable Mention)

Quicksand Bridge in Kentucky
Quicksand Bridge in Kentucky

One place I have yet to visit in Kentucky is the small community of Quicksand, Kentucky.  At one point in the early twentieth century it was the worlds largest lumber producer with its many sawmills. All the sawmills were closed by 1923. Its post office closed in 1996, but it is the home of the University of Kentucky’s Robinson Experimental Substation.  The small town sits alongside the North Fork of the Kentucky on Kentucky Highway 15 south of Jackson, Kentucky. I will visit there soon on a day trip.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]