AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The D 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 D Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Dinosaurs

Seems like whenever you get near a trading post a fun place, there always seems to be a dinosaur or two hanging around.  I have dozens and dozens from previous road trips. Here are a few I got on our 8154 Trip.

Clean up your Dog Poop (or should it be Dino Poop?) at Nipton Trading Post, Nipton, CA
Scary dinosaur as seen in Holbrook, AZ
A bunch of Dinosaurs at the Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
A Gnarly Dino hanging around Uranus, Missouri
Scrap Metal T-Rex in Sebastapol, California
Dinosaurs at Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, Arizona

Dr. Pierce’s Barn Sign — Waterville, Washington

Barn signs are very common in the eastern United States (think Mail Pouch Tobacco or Rock City or Meramec Caverns).  In all of my travels in the western United States, I rarely see them.  However, on this trip I saw two barns with the Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery painted on them.  One is in bad shape and hard to get to for a photo, but this one in Waterville, Washington is a classic.

So, Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce (1840-1914) was one of the more successful 19th century Snake Oil Quacks.  He first started his pharmaceutical entrepreneurship in Buffalo N.Y. pushing his own “blood purifier” known as Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery.  He, and his son, Valentine Motts Pierce (1865 -1942)  successfully sold the elixir for 90+ years.  You can still find old bottles and boxes of this in some antique stores and museums.

Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery Barn Sign in Waterville, Washington

Devil’s Elbow, Missouri

Route 66 has many iconic stops along the route from Chicago to California.  In Missouri, one of the more famous ones is Devil’s Elbow, which is also famous as a quirky town name.  Situated on the Big Piney River, a few miles east of St. Robert, Missouri, on Route 66,  the small unincorporated community was named for the big “devil of an elbow” bend in the river.

The place has a post office, though it was destroyed during the flood of May 2017.  It has since been added to Shelden’s Market which also serves as a souvenir shop and local gathering spot.

Obviously, as close as I was, I couldn’t resist a stop, though the market and post office were closed on the Sunday morning we came by.

Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Devil’s Elbow Post Office

Dutch Mill Diner – Tillamook, Oregon

We were in Tillamook late and had made a stop at the world famous Tillamook Creamery.  But, we also had to drive through town.  I was excited to see the Dutch Mill Diner and its classic neon sign. What a bummer that they were closed the evening we drove by.  This is one of those classic 1950s-style diners with the black and white checkerboard tiled floors, cushy booth seats and soda fountain stools.  Would have been a fun stop.

A fun name and a classic neon sign at the Dutch Mill Diner in Tillamook, Oregon

Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room – Caddo Lake, Texas

I have already mentioned in a couple of this years’ posts that we took a fun swamp cruise with my friend Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours in Uncertain, Texas.   During that ride in mid-February, one of the more unique places we saw on the swamp ride was Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, an old run down shack on stilts in the middle of the swamp.  I think the only way to even get there is by boat.

The story of the place says that the building was originally built in the 1800s but became a popular place during the days of Prohibition (from about 1919-1933) . Back then, Marion County (where Uncertain is located) was a dry county, so this place was built across the water in Harrison County, where people could get a drink.

On closer inspection, you can also see their “House Rules” on a sign next to the place.  See the photos below.

Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, Caddo Lake, Texas
Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room
Dick and Charlie’s House Rules

Direction / Mileage Sign Posts

I always get a kick out of the sign posts that point in the direction of a place and provide the mileage.  In some cases, they are just made for directional purposes.  Here are a few I ran across on this trip.

Direction Sign found in Nipton, California
Direction Sign Post in Raymond, Washington
Neighborhood signs in Seabeck, Washington
More Seabeck Signs

Desert Skies Motel – Classic Route 66 Neon Sign –  Gallup, New Mexico

Desert Skies Motel Classic Neon Sign, Gallup, NM

Davey, Nebraska

We were on the third day of our long trip when we came upon the small community of Davey, Nebraska.  What a place for a Selfie (since my name is David…duh).  And with a number 1 on it to boot!

The small community apparently has about 150 people, but they do have a classic old Post Office. The town was founded in 1886 and was named after one of the local pioneers, Michael Davey.

I was thrilled to come across Davey, Nebraska
Davey, Nebraska Post Office

Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California

Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California

Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. – San Francisco, California

Lots of rail cars in San Francisco.  This was on the side of one of them.

Dallas and Railway Terminal on side of rail car in San Francisco

Diner Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Diner sign in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Dairy Queen Sign – Williams, Arizona

I was kind of excited to run across this classic old Dairy Queen sign in Williams, Arizona on the trip.

Dairy Queen Sign in Williams, Arizona

Dirt Roads

While in Western Texas I had wanted to visit the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge and the neighboring Grulla National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Mexico (which is administered by the Muleshoe NWR).  There were supposedly large numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the area and I hoped to get some photos.

As we left our overnight stay in Clovis, New Mexico and made our way to Texico, New Mexico, we found that the road to Grulla was along a nearly twenty mile long, well-maintained dirt road aptly named Stateline Road as it went down the Texas – New Mexico border.  The road was nearly 20 miles from Texico / Farwell to Grulla.

Stateline Road between Farwell, Texas and Texico, New Mexico
Stateline Road
Stateline Road between Texas and New Mexico

Deer as seen near Muleshoe, Texas

We saw this buck while driving on the Stateline Road dirt road
A second buck was just down the road

Dimmitt, Texas

Welcome to Dimmitt, Texas.  I mention Dimmitt because it was near here that we crossed the MAJOR migration paths of both Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese.   As well, the town is located on the old Ozark Trail which ran from St. Louis, Missouri to El Paso, Texas.

Dimmitt, Texas
Migrating Sandhill Cranes as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86
Migrating Snow Geese as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86

Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, California

For the small community of Nipton, California, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, there is really a lot to be seen.  I am always in favor of some fun metal sculptures, especially when they are colorful.

Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, CA

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 C 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 C Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas

In my “A Stories,” I mentioned Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours and his great boat rides through the swamps of Caddo Lake in northeast Texas.  In this post, I am dropping a few photos of this beautiful swamp, as we saw it in February 2020. Caddo Lake is a 25,400-acre lake and bayou on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo, who lived in the area until around the 19th century. It is a protected wetland and includes one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States.

Caddo Lake – Uncertain, Texas
Caddo Lake bayou
Bald Cypress of Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake Texas
Having fun on a boat ride in the swamps of Caddo Lake

Caprock Bison Co. – Quitaque, Texas

In my “B Stories” post yesterday I commented on the “Bison Capitol of Texas.”  One of the big Bison companies in Quitaque, Texas is the Caprock Bison Company.

Caprock Bison Company – Quitaque, Texas

Cambria, California

We were fortunate that a friend of ours in Cambria, California offered us a place to stay on our way down CA Highway 1.  Cambria was actually our stopping point south on the Pacific Coast as we then headed east for the long return home.  Cambria is a small town.  Gas was very expensive.  But the scenery of the ocean, the beautiful, tall windswept trees and the fun, light atmosphere was wonderful.

Cambria, California
Unique pines in Cambria, CA
More unique pines of Cambria

Coos Bay, Oregon

On our drive south along US 101 from Port Orchard, Washington, we drove through the town of Coos Bay, Oregon.  We stayed overnight in North Bend, Oregon, which is just north and a twin city to Coos Bay.

Coos Bay, Oregon
Large ship mural in Coos Bay, Oregon (you can see the size by looking at the person in the bottom left of photo)
The Old Tioga Hotel building in Coos Bay.

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

As I have often noted, Carhenge is one of my favorite tourist attractions in the United States.  I included a chapter about it in my third book (see the book here).  I had a book signing in January 2020 and spent the night in Alliance and the next morning we drove out on a bitter cold and snowy morning to catch the sunrise before heading north to South Dakota. This is what we saw.

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Closeup of a portion of Carhenge
January sunrise at Carhenge

California

Over my many years of travel, I had visited California on a number of occasions.  However, my February trip coming south from Oregon was my first visit to Northern California.  So, Welcome to California!

Welcome to California

California Balsamic – Ukiah, California

While driving south on US 101 in California, we eventually made our way into Ukiah, California where we ultimately spent the night.  However, the main reason for this visit was to get over to see Thomas Allen and his California Balsamic Company.  My wife had heard about this company from some of her Whole Food Plant Based groups and wanted me to pick up a few bottles.  Well, Thomas has created a sort of Baskin Robbins of Balsamics with many vegan and other options.  I was amazed at the flavors.  They use only high quality Trebianno and Spirgola grapes that come from Modena, Italy.  While there, Thomas kindly gave us a tour of his facility and tastings of many of their wonderful flavors.  I HIGHLY recommend his product!!

In fact, I spoke with Thomas today and he informed me that they have a HUGE April (2020) special going on.  So, if you like Balsamic Vinegar, please jump over to https://californiabalsamic.com/ and check out the April Stay At Home Special.  You can also call Thomas with questions.  His number is on the website.  Tell him Sumoflam sent you.

Thomas Allen, owner of California Balsamic in Ukiah, California
Some of the many flavors of California Balsamic
California Balsamic

Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Welcome to Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park – Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park is in western South Dakota has some wonderful drives, especially the famous Wildlife Loop Road which travels though 18 miles of grasslands and pines and offers opportunities to see wild bison (see my photos in my “B Stories” from yesterday’s post), elk, prong-horned antelope, deer and even the adorable little prairie dogs.  And, if you have young kids, the state park offers the opportunity to get a Junior Ranger badge, much like the National Park programs.

Welcome to Custer State Park
Custer State Park visitor’s center
Some of the scenery in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Pronghorn Antelope relax in the grasslands of Custer State Park
A bison grazes in Custer State Park

Carrot Cake Soda – Nipton Trading Post, California

Yesterday I posted about Bacon Soda.  How about some Carrot Cake soda, which I also found at the Nipton Trading Post in Nipton, CA.  See yesterday’s post to learn more about the company that produces these unique flavors.

Carrot Cake Soda as seen in Nipton, California

The Chowder Stop – Long Beach, Washington

By the time we got to Long Beach in southern Washington, it was lunch time.  We drove around this very touristy looking town for a place to eat.  Being the winter season, many places were closed, but NOT the Chowder Stop!  And on a cold winter day, who wouldn’t want some tasty chowder?  Let me tell you…their chowder is so thick that you can stand a spoon up in it!!  NO JOKE!

The Chowder Stop in Long Beach, Washington
Chowder so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.  So very yummy!

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is a quaint little town nestled in the mountains of southwestern Idaho.  We stopped there for dinner (had some great pizza!) and also to get some shots of the Center of the Universe manhole and signs.  According to a writeup on RoadsideAmerica.com, “On September 25, 2004, mayor Ron Garitone of Wallace issued a proclamation that his town’s intersection of Bank and 6th Streets was the “Probalistic Center of the Universe.”   You can read the rest of the story on their website.  (Visit their site and give those guys lots of love!)

Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
The Center of the Universe manhole in the main downtown intersection of  Bank Street and Sixth Street in Wallace, Idaho

Clearmont, Wyoming

There is really nothing special about Clearmont, Wyoming, but we did drive through the small community.  The Historical Center had a nice little mural on the oldish building.

Clearmont, Wyoming
Welcome to Clearmont, Wyoming

Covellite Theatre – Butte, Montana

I love getting photos of old Theatre and Movie marquees.  This one we saw in Butte, Montana

The old Covellite Theatre in Butte Montana

Coulee City, Washington

Coulee City runs along a the southern banks of a the huge Banks Lake on US Highway 2 in central Washington State.  This is beautiful country.  I loved the welcome sign for Coulee City.

Welcome to Coulee City, Washington

Campbell, California

I have friends that live in Campbell, California, so we dropped by to visit them.  Campbell is proud of its old-fashioned water tower, one of only a few like it remaining in California.  Obviously, as much driving as I do on America’s back roads, I have seen others like it in other states.  But, to honor this lovely historic town, I am including a photo of it here.

Campbell, California
The famous Campbell Water Tower
One of a few murals that can be found in Campbell, California

Coca-Cola Ghost Sign in Tulia, Texas

There are likely hundreds of Coca-Cola murals dotting this huge country.  Caught this really classic one in Tulia, Texas

Coca-Cola Mural in Tulia, Texas

Country Friends Antiques Retro Signage in Moriarty, New Mexico

All along US Route 66 there is unique and fun signage.  This old retro starburst sign was likely for a motel in the 1960s, but now it is the sign for the Country Friends Antique shop in Moriarty, New Mexico.

Retro signage in Moriarty, New Mexico at Country Friends, Antiques

Crowell, Texas

I don’t post photos of every little town we drive through, but I am a big fan of Americana singer Rodney Crowell and this reminds me of him.  I don’t believe that there is any relationship.  Crowell is on US Route 70 a tad southwest of the Texas panhandle.  It is a typical small Texas town as the main street photo below shows.

Welcome to Crowell, Texas
Main Street in Crowell, Texas

Cormorants

I always like wildlife.  At home in Lexington, Kentucky, I get to watch cormorants do their thing almost daily.  Its always nice to see this unique diving birds in other environments.

Cormorants relaxing on a rock in Santa Cruz, CA
A Cormorant dries its wings high up in a tree in Caddo Lake swamp in Texas

Comet II Restaurant – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

All along Route 66 one can find throwback neon signs.  This classic neon for a restaurant is located in the Route 66 town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Comet II Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

City Drug Store – Happy, Texas

I visited Happy, Texas because it was, well, Happy!  The main street had many happy places, like the Happy Self Storage which was located in the old City Drug Store building.  In this case, I took this shot because I really liked the old brick building with the hand painted sign.

City Drug Store in Happy, Texas

Colors of the West – Williams, Arizona

Another nice example of throwback neon signage on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona is the Colors of the West sign.  They apparently sell Native American goods, such as pottery, rugs and quilts.

Colors of the West shop in Williams, Arizona

Cruiser’s Cafe 66 – Williams, Arizona

And finally, another Route 66 Neon sign in Williams, AZ.  Had we had the time, I would have loved to have stopped here to eat. You can see more about Cruiser’s at https://www.cruisers66.com/

Cafe 66 Neon Sign, Williams, AZ

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 A 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 A Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Alcatraz Island – San Francisco, CA

While in California in mid-February, we visited San Francisco and viewed Alcatraz Island, the famed island-prison, from afar.

Visit Alcatraz
Alcatraz Prison on an island in the bay.

Avenue of the Giants, near Pepperwood, CA and other northern locations

On this trip we drove US Highway 101 all the way from northern Washington, though Oregon and all the way to Santa Cruz, CA, where we took Highway 1.  Along the way, in northern California, in the Redwood Forest, we took Avenue of the Giants, a nice 31 mile drive through the giant redwoods. Following are few shots from this lovely drive through amazing giant redwood trees.

Avenue of the Giants, northern California
Sumoflam Selfie on the Avenue of the Giants
Avenue of the Giants near Scotia, CA
Avenue of the Giants near Scotia, CA

Anaconda, Montana

Our trip from Kentucky eventually took us through Montana on our way to Washington.  Taking back roads, we took a drive through the historic mining town of Anaconda, Montana.

Welcome to Anaconda, Montana
Anaconda, Montana

Alliance, Nebraska

Alliance, Nebraska is the home of the famed tourist attraction Carhenge.  I wrote about Carhenge in my third book and, as a result, I was invited to do a book signing at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance.

The Alliance Theater, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

Awesome Possum Flea Market – Hamburg, Iowa

Always fun to find unique store fronts.  We found the Awesome Possum Flea Market in Hamburg, Iowa. Despite being almost late January, they were still playing Christmas music on a loud speaker outside of the store.

Awesome Possum Flea Market

Aaron Applebaum – Swamp Tour Guide Extraordinaire – Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas

On our return trip home we stopped in Uncertain, Texas to take a swamp tour, our second one, with Aaron Applebaum, who runs Mystique Tours and gives boat rides year-round through the swamps of Caddo Lake.  Aaron is very friendly and knows the swamp well.  You are in very good hands with him.  My good friend and fellow travel writer Tui Snider and her husband Larry, joined us on this trip.

Taking a swamp ride with Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours. In this photo are Lyla, Joselyn, Marissa, and Landen Noe, Aaron Applebaum, Larry and Tui Snider and me.
Hanging with Aaron Applebaum

Animals Are Wild – Sequoia National Park, California

Be warned, when you are in the national parks and national forests, animals are wild and should not be fed or touched.  The sign below tells it all.

All Park Animals are Wild — Sequoia National Park, California

Alien Fresh Jerky and Crazy Giant Aliens – Baker, California

A drive through Baker, California offers the unwitting tourist a delightful mix of eye-candy and tasty treats.  Sadly, when we got to Baker, Alien Fresh Jerky was closed, but we still got to see the fun.  Watch out for Aliens!!

Alien Fresh Jerky, Baker, CA
Alien Fresh Jerky Shop, Baker, CA
Watch for the aliens. Look carefully and you might see a strange human reflection.
Alien Street Lamp… Peace Out
Try the Invisible Jerky

Arrowhead Motel – Hyannis, Nebraska

Another of the many unique signs discovered on the backroads of America.  This one was in the small town of Hyannis, Nebraska

Arrowhead Motel sign in Hyannis, Nebraska

Audubon Parkway – near Owensboro, Kentucky

We left from Kentucky and, on part of the trip form Lexington, we took the Audubon Parkway, which was named after John James Audubon, the famed bird artist, who was from Kentucky.

Audubon Parkway, Kentucky

Alibi Pub and Eatery – Wilbur, Washington

Wilbur, Washington is a small town on US Route 20 west of Spokane.  I liked the store front, so here it is.  Alibi Pub has a Facebook page.

Alibi Pub and Eatery in Wilbur, WA

Alioto’s Restaurant, 8 Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

I love unique signs.  Driving through the Fisherman’s Wharf district of San Francisco, I saw this fishy sign.  Sure wish we could have stopped to eat here.  Looks good.  Check out Alioto’s on their Website.

Aliotos Neon Sign, San Francisco

Ardmore, South Dakota

Drive across America and you will see many small towns, like the ghost town of Ardmore, South Dakota which sits on SD 71 just north of the Nebraska border in the Ogalala National Grassland.

Ardmore, South Dakota

Arkansas

One of the twenty states we drive through.  Welcome to Arkansas!

Welcome to Arkansas

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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