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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you don’t care about the name of the street, try 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.
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.
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!
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!
If you are not too picky, you can drive down Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY.
For a drive with a bit of zing, trying to drive down 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.
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?
Back in Ohio, in the Little Italy section of Cleveland, there is just a Random Road.
OK, yes, since you asked, I have been to Bourbon St. in New Orleans!
But, perhaps the best road to take is Only Rd. in 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.
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.
Lonely? Head to Friendship or Friendly.
And these are cool places to visit…
Lost? Go this way to Earth.
If you prefer to go to Muleshoe, maybe you would like Donkey or some other assortment of critters.
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?