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.
Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona, Arizona
Ostriches – Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas
Otterville Falls – Otterville, Ontario
Owl Heads Grocery – South Irvine, Kentucky
Oculus – Council Bluffs, Iowa
Family Home For 4 Years – Oita, Japan
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Odd, West Virginia
Orca Art – Seattle, Washington & Port Orchard, Washington
Dignity: Of Earth & Sky: Oacoma/Chamberlain, South Dakota
Over-the-Rhine District – Cincinnati, Ohio
Orange Moose Bar & Grill – Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Oldest Lake in America – Clear Lake, California
Once in a Millennium Moon – America’s tallest wall mural – Shreveport, Louisiana
Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Our Lady of the Rockies – Butte, Montana
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, Kansas & Kansas City, Missouri
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Oil Springs, Ontario
Off the Beaten Path Ice Cream – Damascus, Virginia
Annual Oshawa Rib Fest – Oshawa, Ontario
Ocean City, Maryland
Olympic National Park – Washington
Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska
Ohio Valley Steelworkers Statue – Steubenville, Ohio
Ore Dock Mural – Ashland, Wisconsin
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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??
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!
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!
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…
Then there is the offbeat looking restaurant in Mississippi with amazing lunch offerings…
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.
And a bank is a bank is a bank…right? What about one for tightwads?
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.
There are also other fun museums out there. How about these?
And then there is the actual Oddity Place of all Oddity Places… a museum of Oddities in Seattle, WA called “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.”
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.
Some are totally Uncertain….
And lastly, a town that actually changed its name to a major sponsor…also in 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?
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
The O Towns
I took a trip back in 2010 which took from Bugtussle, KY to Bugtussle, TX and mainly down backroads. Along the way in Tennessee I came across a small community called Only. The community is located on Tennessee State Route 229 near Tennessee State Route 50 and Interstate 40. I got a real kick out of the Baptist Church….the Only Baptist Church. I believe this is the only place named Only in the U.S. See original post HERE.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Travel up US Highway 1 north of Boston into Maine and you will drive through the town of Old Orchard Beach, which sits on the Atlantic Coast in southern Maine. Definitely a resort town, it has just about 10,000 residents, lots of hotels and restaurants and a long beach for walks. We stayed in the Normandie Motor Inn which is literally on the beach and it was fabulous! As it was later in the evening when we arrived there, we also had to find a kid friendly place to eat and the Bell Buoy Restaurant did the trick! See my post about our 2015 trip there HERE.
Okay…so you’re thinking there is really a town called Okay and it is in Oklahoma? That’s right! Okay, OK it is and I visited there in 2013 on a return trip home from Texas. They have an Okay Police Department, an Okay Fire Department, an Okay City Hall and even a couple of Okay churches. It is an Okay place. The town only has about 600 residents, but that’s ok. The town is a few miles north of Muskogee on Oklahoma Hwy 16.
Oil Springs, Ontario
On one of my many trips home from Ontario in 2008, I made my way through the town of Oil Springs as part of the route to Michigan and south. Oil Springs’ claim to fame is their first commercial Oil Well that was established in 1858. It is also home to the Oil Museum of Canada and a number of scrap metal sculptures depicting the oil well work from the 1800s. The artwork was by a local metal worker named Murray Watson, who owns Watson’s Machine Shop in Oil Springs. You can see a much deeper history and more photos in my 2008 post HERE.
Oak Creek, Colorado
On a 2013 road trip from Rexburg, Idaho to Dallas, Texas, I ventured through the back roads of Colorado into Oak Creek, a rustic little town of about 1000 people in the Yampa Valley on Colorado Highway 131, south of Steamboat Springs. It is in a lovely setting and seemed to be a place I would have liked to have lingered longer. See more about my trip HERE.
Oacoma, South Dakota
On a different trip home in 2013, we drove through South Dakota and spent the night in Oacoma. Though not a huge place, it does have some history, especially in relation to the Lakota tribe and also as a stop for Lewis and Clark. And it has Al’s Oasis, a uniquely South Dakota style touristy traveler’s rest area. You can read more about our trip HERE.
Odd, West Virginia
So, take a trip into West Virginia and you come across a road sign that says “Odd School Road.” You gotta go down that road to see what an “Odd School” looks like and you also find a community named Odd and even and Odd Post Office. Odd huh?
Onawa, Iowa (Honorable Mention)
On my return trip from Montana in 2013, we made our way through Iowa Along the way I saw a sign for Onawa, Iowa noting it as the home of the Eskimo Pie. I had to drive through the town of about 3000 and see if we could find where it was invented. Research shows me that someone named Christian Nelson invented it in 1920. Interestingly enough, he originally called it an I-Scream Bar. He later partnered with candy maker Russell Stover to patent the product. (See History here) They also claim to have the widest Main Street in the U.S.A. Though I drove around a bit, I couldn’t find a museum or anything…but, there were the hanging banners!! I wish I could have found an Eskimo Pie!!
Oddville, Kentucky (Honorable Mention)
OK….so I had a town named Odd in West Virginia. Why not include a town named Oddville in Kentucky? There is even an Oddville Church… HA!
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.