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.
Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.
Road trips would never be the same without the opportunity to stop at local diners, dives and drive-ins (OK…I gotta give credit to Guy Fieri). Food is such an important part of a road trip. Obviously, no matter where one drives they always come across the chain shops like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. With those places, the food you get is always the same.
But, for me, the real joy is stopping at a local Mom and Pop shop or local Drive-In and trying out the fare. Someplace well known in that little town or region, but maybe not known anywhere else.
My good friend, singer/songwriter/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain did a song a few years ago called “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More” in respect for these places that are quickly becoming a dying breed. (see the video)
“There used to be more flavor in this country that I roam I feel like I’m a stranger, no place to call my home I can eat the same cheeseburger from New Mexico to Main The same darn cup of coffee, just to link in someone’s chain No, mom-and-pop don’t work here no more”
So, when I am on the road I really make an effort to find the local places to eat and I have found many of them across this wonderful country of ours. For example, there is “Cozy Drive-In” in Springfield, IL which supposedly is famous because of its creation of the corndog.
Then there’s the place in Missouri called Lambert’s Cafe that is famous for its “Throwed Rolls.” Or how about the diner outside of Natchez, Mississippi that looks like an old 1930s black woman servant on the outside and service homemade sandwiches on homemade bread with deserts of homemade pie and cake? And how can I forget “Hillbilly Hotdog” in West Virginia or the unique burger joint called Fat Smitty’s that is plastered with dollar bills in Washington. And what about The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas?
Along the road there are always the burger joints, the ice cream places, and the roadside cafés. One never knows what they will get in some of these places. But, chances are the food will be much better than what one will get at a fast food chain place.
And each of these local places has their “speciality,” such as the Ku-Ku burger at Waylan’s in Commerce, OK on Route 66.
I recall visiting the “Tightwad Café” in Tightwad, MO. Amazing breakfast made for a king and not a miserly tightwad. The only indication that it was a “tightwad” type of place was that they only took cash — no credit cards.
But check out the food. This giant breakfast was very affordable and kept me filled up for a good part of the day.
Of course, there are the barbecue places. Oh yes, the myriad barbecue places across this country. I have had barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. In fact, one of my favorites was in Paris, Ontario in Canada!! And they’re all different and wonderful.
One such great barbecue place is Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. The café is inside a gas station and people are always waiting in line out the door to get their famous barbecue. And when I finished, my friend Brad Sweeten, and athletic director at one of the high schools in Kansas City, Missouri, took me to a local ice cream place that makes ice cream cones as tall is the Empire State building.
Honestly, I could write about the dozens and dozens of places I’ve visited over the years. Every single place has its own personality and tasty cuisine.
Following are a few of the photos of the diners, dives and drive-ins that I visited over the years. I have dozens that you can read about in my blog. I only have room to include a few. One piece of advice though… don’t go looking for a sandwich in Sandwich, NH. Been there…failed that. No sandwiches in Sandwich.
The best and worst part of a long road trip is the coming home part. Its always nice to be at home in my own bed after a grueling trip across the country. But, it is bittersweet. All of the adventures, sights, sounds and exhilaration are behind me. The last leg of the trip is usually on the Interstates to get home as quickly as possible (with a few brief stops along the way). This trip was no different. My trip home was the “long way home” as it covered over 870 miles on the last day as I traveled straight from Grand Island, Nebraska to Lexington (via Kansas City and St. Louis in order to visit a friend in KC).
I started off early on this May 29 (Thursday) morning cruising east on Interstate 80. It was a beautiful morning drive with a bit of mist in the air providing for some nice scenes from the highway.
My first stop was in York, Nebraska. I had to stop for a rest stop and to get a photo of the uniquely colored water tower.
From York the interstate continued east to Lincoln, the capitol city of Nebraska. It is home to the historic Capitol Building, a towering 400 foot tall building that can be seen for miles. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932. The building is not the tallest state capitol in the country. That goes to the Louisiana State Capitol, which is 450 feet tall. Nonetheless, the “Skyscraper of the Plains” is quite impressive.
Of course, Nebraska is the “Cornhusker State” and there are plenty of corn fields to be seen from the highway.
Not too far south of Nebraska City, I-29 crosses into the far southwest corner of Iowa and through the small town of Hamburg, which basically hugs the borders of Missouri to the south and Nebraska to the west.
Perhaps the real treat in Hamburg is Stoner Drug…yes, a strange name for a drug store. But this particular shop also houses an old fashioned Soda Fountain, which is rare to find nowadays. Even has the little spinning chairs and they make MALTS too.
Heading south from Hamburg you are almost in Missouri immediately.
My main purpose for heading south to Kansas City was to visit with my good friend Brad Sweeten, the Athletic Director at Center High School in Kansas City, MO. I stopped in for a visit and lunch at one of his favorite places (and mine too), Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que. My last trip we visited their store in a gas station. This time it was at their new place…still plenty of lines.
After my brief stopover in Kansas City is was time to fly on home down the Interstate. As I drove through Missouri, the clouds were amazing…giant cumulonimbus clouds were framed by the blue background of the sky.
After a hearty meal, a short night of sleep and a lot of driving already, it was time for a nap….even Road Warriors need to sleep!!
After my brief 30 minute power snooze, I was back on the road with only one other planned stop to see a Paul Bunyan looking Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO.