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

 

Only, Tennessee

This way to Only, TN
The one and only Only Baptist Church

Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona, Arizona

Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982
A Century plant in bloom with the scenic Red Rock country of Sedona below. This was taken at the top of Schnebly Hill Road in 1983

Ostriches  – Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim

Otterville Falls – Otterville, Ontario

Otterville Falls in Otterville, Ontario, Canada

Owl Heads Grocery – South Irvine, Kentucky

Owl Heads Grocery in South Irvine. Love the sign!

Oculus – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Oculus by Broward Hatcher, at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs

Family Home For 4 Years – Oita, Japan

Making a New Year’s TV Show in Oita
The village of Usuki, also in Oita, is home of a famous Buddha statue. It is also the original landing place of the Dutch when they first arrived in Japan in the 1600s.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Catching the sunrise with grandchildren Jos and Rockwell at Old Orchard Beach

Odd, West Virginia

Odd, West Virginia Post Office
Odd School Road takes you into the town of Odd, WV

Orca Art – Seattle, Washington & Port Orchard, Washington

Orca Wall Art in Seattle
Undersea World mural in Port Orchard
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium

Dignity: Of Earth & Sky: Oacoma/Chamberlain, South Dakota

Dignity is a stainless steel, 50-foot-tall statue was specifically designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.
Sumoflam at the base of the amazing statue called Dignity which overlooks the towns of Chamberlain and Oacoma in South Dakota.

Omaha, Nebraska

Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Giant Wall Mural in Little Mexico district of Omaha
Old Zesto Neon near the Omaha Zoo

Over-the-Rhine District – Cincinnati, Ohio

Historic buildings in the Over-the-Rhine district

Orin, Wyoming

US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming

Orange Moose Bar & Grill – Black River Falls, Wisconsin

Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI

Olympia, Washington

Washington State Capital Building – Olympia, Washington
A wonderful Super Hero Mural located in Downtown Olympia, Washington
An Octopus mural, one of many wall murals in Olympia

Oldest Lake in America – Clear Lake, California

A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America

Once in a Millennium Moon – America’s tallest wall mural – Shreveport, Louisiana

Tallest wall mural in US “Once in a Millennium Moon” is 14 stories tall…in Shreveport, LA

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg

Okay, Oklahoma

Sumoflam – An Okay Parent
This is an Okay Police Department
This church caters to Okay followers

Our Lady of the Rockies – Butte, Montana

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies info sign at Butte Overlook

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, Kansas & Kansas City, Missouri

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in a gas station – Kansas City, KS
The waiting line at Oklahoma Joe’s
Stopped in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s in KC, MO

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Towpath Bike Trailhead

Oddville, Kentucky

Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville United Methodist Church, Oddville, KY

Oil Springs, Ontario

Oil Springs, Ontario – The location of the First Commercial Oil Well in North America
Scrap Metal Art in Oil Springs, Ontario
Oil Springs Scrap Metal Art

Off the Beaten Path Ice Cream – Damascus, Virginia

Off the Beaten Path Ice Cream in Damascus, VA
Ice Cream Chart in Off the Beaten Path… LOL

Annual Oshawa Rib Fest – Oshawa, Ontario

Davor Zuder and some smokin’ ribs at Oshawa Rib Fest in Ontario in 2008
BBQ Pitmaster Oliver Zuder showing off his trophy at the Oshawa Ribfest in 2008 in Ontario

Ocean City, Maryland

Old Paradise Cafe sign in Ocean City. What is a beach resort town without a flamingo or two?
Christmas sunrise near Ocean City, Maryland with a dolphin swimming by
Ocean City, MD in December 2016

Olympic National Park – Washington

Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park as seen from Hwy 104

Onalaska, Wisconsin

I-90 Near Onalaska, Wisconsin

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska
Big Moose at Ole’s (and one with antlers too)

Ohio Valley Steelworkers Statue – Steubenville, Ohio

Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis

Opal, Wyoming

Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Old Mercantile Building, Opal, WY

Ore Dock Mural – Ashland, Wisconsin

The Ashland Oredock Mural in Ashland, WI

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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R is for Roadsigns – #atozchallenge

Anyone who drives on a road, whether city street or an interstate highway, always depends on roadsigns and street signs to find their way. In this age of GPS, we sometimes miss the turns because we’re not looking for the roadsigns.

Well, on the back roads of America there are many fun and unique roadsigns. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be that way as places were named certain names sometimes as far back as the 1600s and 1700s. But, sometimes neighborhood designers throw in funny names for streets or neighborhoods.

Charm, Ohio
Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

In this post I want to take a look at some of the roadsigns I have come across in my travels. Indeed, that has been one of my fun challenges. As I have noted on one of my pages, I am a “Collector of Places.” I can collect roadsigns, street signs and directional signs with the snap of a camera shutter. And that is what I do.

To start off with, I want to look at a few street signs. Some of these can be pretty unique. Perhaps the most interesting story comes out of Lake Jackson, Texas. The main drag if you will is named “This Way.” And, as a matter of fact, when it gets into downtown Lake Jackson, it intersects with another road called That Way. To be sure, there is a story associated with that and I have included the plaque that sits on the street by that intersection which 16 complete explains why there is a This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson.

This Way U Turn
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

Now, if you prefer, there is The Udder Way in Yellow Springs, OH. It’s just actually a small private drive that goes into a large ice cream shop in the Little Miami River region of Ohio.

Lost? Try going the Udder Way, This is in Yellow Springs, OH

If you were more into a fantasy trip, then how about taking Wonderland Road near Upton, KY or the Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH.

Wonderland Road, Upton, KY
There is a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio
The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

If you don’t care about the name of the street, try No Name Street in Millersburg, OH.

No Name Street in Millersburg, OH

If you happen to be driving in Austin, Texas, you can find an interesting intersection at the corner of Music and Academy. Or, and yet another town in Ohio, there is an intersection of Sugar and Water in Chillicothe, OH.

Corner of Music and Academy in Austin, TX
A Sugar and Water corner in Chillicothe, Ohio

There is a Normal St. in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And there are a couple of Bugtussle street names including Bugtussle Road in Bugtussle, Kentucky and Bugtussle Blvd. in the middle of nowhereville Texas.

Normal St. in Bowling Green, KY
Bugtussle, KY
Road sign in Bugtussle, TX…the only indication you are at the intersection of FM1550 and TX34

I got a chuckle when driving through Cary, NC and came across Ten-Ten Rd.

I also came upon a Bliss Rd. in Columbia, KY, but it did not seem to bring me any bliss, until I discovered Bliss Happens Lane and Easy Street!

Bliss Rd in Columbia KY
And I found where Bliss Happens in Maryland
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA

Head to DeForest, WI and there is an Elephant Trail. Drive down that road and look carefully and you will find a giant pink elephant!

Elephant Trail in DeForest, WI

If you are not too picky, you can drive down Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY.

Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY

For a drive with a bit of zing, trying to drive down Chile Capital Lane in Hatch, NM.

Chile Capital Lane in Hatch, NM

And for a real Jurassic adventure, how about visiting the corner of Gorgosaurus Ave and T. Rex Trail in Indianapolis.

Gorgosaurus Ave in Indianapolis
T. Rex Trail in Indianapolis

One time I was driving on the back roads of Lexington, where I live, and came upon Real Quiet Lane. But shhhhh… keep it quiet OK?

Shhh…this is a Real Quiet Lane in Lexington, KY

Back in Ohio, in the Little Italy section of Cleveland, there is just a Random Road.

Random Road, Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, OH

OK, yes, since you asked, I have been to Bourbon St. in New Orleans!

Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 2011

But, perhaps the best road to take is Only Rd. in Only, TN

The Only Rd. to Only, TN
This way to Only, TN

Perhaps it’s not a road that you’re looking for, but rather a town or community. There are an abundance of fun road signs for these.

If somebody tells you to go to Hell, there is a sign for that in Michigan! If you are seeking Romance or Success, these signs will point the way for you in Missouri. And, you can also get directions to Prosperity in Pennsylvania. And you can find Talent in Oregon or Wisdom in Kentucky.

This way to Hell, MI Indeed, you can get to Hell….
I took the road, but never did find Romance in Missouri in 2011.  Turned out to be a dead end.
Success, Missouri direction
Heading to Prosperity in Pennsylvania
Talent, Oregon
You can find Charm in Ohio
And you can find Wisdom in Kentucky
If you go this route in Montana you will be able to Divide Wisdom, whatever that means

Along the way you may run into Normal, Peculiar, Odd or Oddville. You could even get stuck in Uncertain….it is one way in and one way out. Or maybe Boring.

Normal, IL
This way to Peculiar, Missouri
Odd School Road takes you into the town of Odd, WV
Or you can visit Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville Sunrise Road
Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX
Boring, Oregon

Lonely? Head to Friendship or Friendly.

Friendship, Arkansas
Friendly, West Virginia

And these are cool places to visit…

Cool, Texas
Coolville, Ohio
Santa Claus, IN

Lost? Go this way to Earth.

Muleshoe and Earth, TX

If you prefer to go to Muleshoe, maybe you would like Donkey or some other assortment of critters.

Donkey, VA near Pound, VA
One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS
Fly, Ohio
Black Gnat, KY

And a few more just for fun:

Home on the Range sign in North Dakota
Sign to Future City, Illinois…I guess it is not there yet??
Feely, Montana
Ponder, Texas
Winner, South Dakota
Truth or Consequences, NM

I guess this post is going down the drain!

Drain, OR

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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

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