Everywhere a Sign – Some WELCOME Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Well, the Blogging Challenge is winding down.  It has been a wild and wacky challenge for me.

Through the month I have provided readers with a wide variety of wonderful signs which I wandered upon during the year.  As I do with all of my posts, I try to be witty and wry in my presentation. I hope that I have brought out the wanderlust in my readers as well.  This post will be all about Welcome Signs. Please now enjoy my special edition of W Signs from my travels over the years.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Welcome Signs Everywhere!

Welcome to my happy place…traveling everywhere

I love feeling welcome in places!  Perhaps one of my bigger “collections” of place signs along the highways of America are the Welcome signs to states, communities and places.  Here are just a few of the dozens and dozens have wandered upon in my travels.  This post features welcome signs taken from 2005 to present.  Want everyone to feel Welcome.

Welcome to my Welcome Blog Post
Welcome to Oklahoma

 

Welcome to Carew Tower Sign in Carew Tower Elevators, Cincinnati
Welcome to Henry, Illinois
Welcome to Kentucky, home sweet home
Welcome to Dime Box, Texas
Welcome to Zelienople-Harmony, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Kingston, Washington
Welcome to Punkyville, Kentucky… near Falmouth, Kentucky

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

Welcome to Nevada sign in Denio, Nevada
Welcome to Leavenworth, Washington
Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Welcome to Gauley Bridge, West Virginia
Welcome to Cave City, Kentucky… gateway to Mammoth Cave National Park
Welcome to Tonica, Illinois
Welcome to the Monongahela Incline in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Millersburg, Ohio
Welcome to Butte, Montana
Welcome to Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Welcome to Dublin, OH, Home of Wendy’s
Welcome to Estill County, Kentucky
Welcome to Santa Claus, Indiana
Welcome to West, Texas
Welcome to Alligator, Mississippi
Welcome to Silver Gate, Montana
Welcome to Choteau, Montana sign
Welcome to Metropolis, Illinois
Welcome to the Rockpile Museum in Gillette, Wyoming
Welcome to Council Bluffs, Iowa
Welcome to New Mexico at Raton Pass
Welcome to Damascus, Virginia
Welcome to Wyoming sign on US 30
Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa
Welcome to Winner, South Dakota – Pheasant Capital of the World
Welcome to Hope, Arkansas – birthplace of Bill Clinton
Welcome to Pittsburgh
Welcome to Viborg, South Dakota
Welcome to Hell, Michigan
Welcome to Peculiar, Missouri
Welcome to Sisters, Oregon
Welcome to Yellville, Arkansas
Welcome to Boring, Oregon
Welcome to Earth, Texas
Welcome to Vulcan, Alberta sign in Klingon
Welcome to Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut
Welcome to Seymour, Wisconsin Home of the Hamburger
Welcome to Pella, Iowa
Welcome to Montana in West Yellowstone
Welcome to Clallam Bay and Sekiu, Washington
Welcome to Stanley, Idaho
Welcome to Colorado at WY 789 and CO 13
Welcome to Bemidji, Minnesota
Welcome to Crawford, Nebraska
Welcome to Sharkheads in Biloxi Beach, Mississippi
Welcome to Salem Sue in New Salem, North Dakota
Welcome to Paris, Tennessee Catfish – they claim to be the Catfish Capital
Welcome to Real Goods, a great store in Hopland, California
Welcome to Kountry Korner’s Krazy Kreatures in Kingston, Washington
Welcome to Orr, Minnesota
Welcome to Mena, Arkansas
Welcome to White Castle, Louisiana
Welcome to New Hampshire in Sept 2015 – State #49!
Welcome to Gourdough’s Donuts in Austin, Texas
Welcome to Vermont, near Brattleboro on Vermont Hwy 142 — the 50th state I visited
Welcome to Kansas
Welcome to Alvin, Texas, hometown of Nolan Ryan
Welcome to West Virginia
Welcome to Kensington District of Toronto, Ontario

 

Welcome to Whitetop, Virginia
Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986. Visited in 2016 during Christmas Holiday
Welcome to Heini’s Cheese Factory in Charming, Ohio
Welcome to Uranus, Missouri
Welcome to Hopkinsville, KY for the Solar Eclipse 2017
Welcome to Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
Welcome to Huntsville, Texas
Welcome to Wilsall, Montana (with the Welcome Bird on top of the sign!)
Welcome to Crookston mural in Crookston, Minnesota
Welcome to Cokeville, Wyoming
Welcome to Gregory, South Dakota
Welcome to Mars, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Talent, Oregon
Welcome to Pascagoula, Mississippi, Birthplace of Jimmy Buffet
Welcome to Waterville, Washington
Welcome to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska … from my wife
Welcome to the Guitar Walk at Cavanaugh Park in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Welcome to Dienner’s Country Restaurant in Amish Country, Ronks, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Granbury, Texas
Welcome to North Dakota
Welcome to Hugo, Oklahoma… home of the country’s only cemetery dedicated to Circus Performers
Welcome to North Carolina
Welcome to Papa Joe’s Oasis, Crescent Junction, Utah
Welcome to Hochatown, Oklahoma
Welcome to Doolittle, Missouri
Welcome to Nitro, West Virginia
Welcome to Hipp Station of the Holmes County Rails to Trails in Millersburg, Ohio
Welcome to Pierre Part, LA, home of the TV Show Swamp People
Welcome to the Oyster Capital of the World, South Bend, Washington
Welcome to the Corn Palace…Mitchell, South Dakota
Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama with some of my grandchildren in early 2017
Sumoflam in Floodwood, Minnesota
Welcome to Luling, Texas
Welcome to Washington, Pennsylvania
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming!!
A giant troll sculpture greets you at the Mount Horeb, Wisconsin Welcome Center. Created by Wally Keller
Welcome to Oacoma, South Dakota
Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
Welcome to Hemingford, Nebraska
Welcome to Saco, Montana, birthplace of 1960s newscaster Chet Huntley
Welcome to Nekoma, North Dakota
Welcome to Jackson Center, Ohio. Home of Airstream
Welcome to Rabbit Hash, Kentucky
Nicholson, Pennsylvania’s welcome sign features the famous Viaduct
Welcome to Chelsea, Michigan
Welcome to Lost Springs, Wyoming Population 1 in 2007. Population 4 in 2017.
Welcome to Chinook, Montana
Welcome to Dallas, South Dakota where the main street goes under the water tower
Welcome to Buffalo, Wyoming
Welcome to Salida, Colorado
Welcome to Swedesburg, Iowa
Welcome to Steubenville, Ohio, a small town full of murals and history
Welcome to Montana on US Route 2 heading west
Welcome to Missouri
Welcome to Salt Lake City, Utah
Welcome to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas…home of the Rock N Roll Highway
Welcome to Wall, South Dakota, home of Wall Drug. Now you know where the heck it is.
Welcome to Many, Louisiana Not just a few here!
Welcome Sign in Indianapolis, Indiana
Welcome to Gold Bar, Washington Gateway to the Cascades
Welcome to Virden, Manitoba
Welcome to Saskatchewan
Welcome to Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007 (look for me…)
Welcome to Beachville, Ontario…birthplace of Baseball
ENJOY!

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

Everywhere a Sign – Some P Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Perfection is not something I seek on a road trip.  Play is the key word for me.  Driving from here to there on a back road is like playing.  The game of discovery is so much fun. And I am passionate about the places I venture into, whether it be a small country community on a narrow two-lane road or a big city amid the proud tall-standing buildings.  Pure passionate playfulness. And here are some of the interesting P signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Putnam’s One-Stop Bait Shop Sign, Rogersville, Alabama

Putnam’s One stop Bait Shop, Rogersville, Alabama
Putnam’s Shad Guts
Putnam’s Fiddle Worms

Driving to Houston through Alabama brought plenty of surprises.  It was my first trip into this section of Northern Alabama.  We drove down Alabama 101 from Lexington, Alabama towards the Tennessee River crossing at Wheeler Dam.  Just before we got there, I came across this old bait shop just south of the intersection of AL 101 and US Highway 72.  The old faded mural on the side of the building is what grabbed me.  The Fiddle Worms and Shad Guts on the front of the building were the final clinchers.  What in the world is a fiddle worm?  What the heck are Shad Guts? (No, I am not a fisherman).

Petrified Wood Gas Station, Decatur, Texas

Petrified Wood Gas Station, Decatur, Texas
Sumoflam at the Petrified Wood Station

This place was on my MUST SEE bucket list for a number of years and I finally got to see it last summer on my way back to Kentucky from a visit to Texas with my granddaughter.  Sitting on the local business route of US Highways 81/287 is an old gas station and Tourist Camp faced with Petrified Wood. It is a nostalgic throwback to the early days of road travel.  It is no longer a functioning gas station, but it is a symbol for the town of Decatur.   According to a history of Wise County, Texas, this station was built in 1927 by E.F. Boydston, a local businessman in the county.   Initially, he built a wooden shed for travelers as well as a couple of cabins.  He allowed visitors to build campfires on the spot.  By 1931 he had built three wooden cabins with garages.  It was called the Texas Tourist Camp at the time. Then, for some reason, maybe looks, he faced his station and the three cabins with petrified wood in 1935 after the highway was widened.   The Boydston family ultimately sold the property in 1988.    On a side note, there is a legend that Bonnie and Clyde stayed at the tourist camp during their runs from the law.

Papa Joe’s Stop & Go, Crescent Junction, Utah

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction – fun “tourist trap”
Papa Joe’s Oasis, Crescent Junction, Utah

Crescent Junction, Utah is called such because it is the junction of US Highways 191, 50 and 6.  Traveling on Interstate 70 east from Green River, Utah towards Grand Junction, Colorado, Crescent Junction sends US 191 south towards Moab while US 50/6 continue east.  At the Junction, which really is in the middle of the eastern Utah desert, there is not much.  Need a restroom break, water, drinks, snacks?  Papa Joe’s offers all of this and more.

Like many other “tourist traps,” this place offers many goodies, Utah souvenirs, has alien cut outs, an old replica of the Scooby Doo Magic Van, and has recently opened a second building to carry Beef Jerky products.

Only recommendation…you may want to avoid buying gas.  Get your gas in Green River, Moab or Grand Junction.  Papa Joe likes to price gouge a bit on the car juice.

Powder River Lanes, Broadus, Montana

Powder River Lanes, Broadus, Montana

Old bowling alleys always provide some fun sign shots.  Back in the 1960s bowling was a big thing.  Many people enjoy the sport (my hand is raised as one of them), but you don’t see many new ones going up.  The old vintage signs are always a kick.  I saw this one in Broadus, Montana on my northwest from South Dakota towards Billings on US Highway 212. Nowadays, casinos are a big thing and Montana has hundreds of small casinos.  There is one in this old bowling alley.

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Cosmopolis, Washington

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, US 101, Cosmopolis, Washington

Both Washington and Oregon have a Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.  I was able to drive part of Washington’s in 2018. The Washington version of the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway is a 350 mile drive starting in Olympia, Washington. From there it outlines the entire Olympic Peninsula, and then meanders through Olympic National Park and its lush rain forests.  It continues along ocean beaches beginning at Olympia’s Ruby Beach, then extends south to the border with Oregon, ending near Long Beach, Washington. Some of the route also goes along US Highway 101.  I would love to drive the entire route someday.

Portway Tavern, Astoria, Oregon

Portway Tavern, Astoria, Oregon

This is another of those places with a unique business sign. I didn’t stop into the Portway Tavern, located in the VERY scenic town of Astoria in northwest Oregon.  It is one of those places with a colorful history, dating back to the 1920s, when the place was established by Victor Jarvinen. It has a number of unique stories and myths and claims to be the oldest tavern/saloon west of the Rockies.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: Miscellaneous Leftovers

Steven’s Pass – Washington

On a long road trip like the one I did in April, there are so many places visited, but some didn’t fit into a post for one reason or another.  Here are some odds and ends leftovers from my 6000 mile cross country trek through 14 states.  There is really no rhyme or reason, but the opportunity to address these places in a little more depth.

Papa Joe’s Stop & Go – Crescent Junction, Utah

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction – fun “tourist trap”

Out in the middle of nowhere in Utah is the small place called Crescent Junction at the junction of I-70 and US 191.  There is really not much there and it is basically a tourist-trappy stopover point for folks heading to and from the lovely canyons of Moab.  At the center of it all is Papa Joe’s Stop & Go.  Called a C-Store (short for Convenience Store), Papa Joe has a number of unique “attractions” in store.

Welcome to Papa Joe’s
Mystery Machine replica (from Scooby-Doo) — flat tire and all
Another funky van at Papa Joe’s
The usual Tourist Trap fare — I have seen this around the country
Gotta get a cup… maybe?
Skullduggery – lots of skeletonesque souvenirs
A Gnasty Gnome…
Crop Circle Popcorn – Strawberry Lemonade
Caramel Crop Circle Popcorn
Sumoflam and alien in Bad Ass Joe’s

The main store has all of the amenities… a restroom (if you are a paying customer of course — but face it, water is in short supply out here), drinks and food and quirky and kitschy knick-knacks and then there is the “gourmet” crop-circle popcorn.  Recently he has opened a second building next door that he is calling “Bad Ass Joe’s Jerky” and it has a UFO-esque theme complete with life size cutouts of Star Wars characters and aliens.

Inside the Jerky Store
Souvenirs
Papa Joe’s “Lightning McQueen”

If you get online, you will see many nasty reviews of the place.  And, honestly, Joe and his gal are really not the friendliest sorts.  But, I am always the optimist and try to find the good out there.  The place offers some fun photo ops, the “gourmet” popcorn is OK.  Prices are quite high, but then, I have been to dozens of places like this across the country.

He has a replica Mystery Mobile from Scooby-Doo, a South Park themed car, a Lightning McQueen “replica (actually an old Toyota Camry) and some other odds and ends.  They are all in poor repair.  Mystery Mobile has a flat tire (or two).  But heck…its quirky.  Just make sure you are filled up with gas BEFORE you get there.

Belle Inn – Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Belle Inn – Belle Fourche, SD

You know you have found THE PLACE to eat when the sign in the door tells Cowboys to “scrape shit from boots before entering.” When I stayed the night in Belle Fourche I sought after a locally owned place that would perhaps have some comfort food.  I found that place in Belle’s Inn.  Not just burgers, but other things like chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, etc.

Sign at Belle Inn front door
A scene from inside the Belle Inn – Be Nice or You’ll Get the Boot
Belle Inn – Comfort Food

There were only four staff members when I got there.  The chef looked like a renegade biker (and turns out that indeed he was!!  From Lead, SD — but he didn’t like his Harley. Preferred his Kawasaki!).  The food was good…freshly made chicken fried steak, onion rings, mashed potatoes.  And it was indeed a comfortable price.

Kreative Korners Krazy Kreatures – Kingston, Washington

Kreative Korners Krazy Kreatures

I am a sucker for wood carving.  And this little collection is a trip!

After we had gotten off of the Ferry in Kingston and were driving to Port Orchard, WA, this place just suddenly showed up on a corner.  I had to turn around and do my thing.

Some fun stuff here.  Most of the carvings are pretty well life size — five or six feet tall.

Some of the Kreatures
Found her! – She’s a mermaid
A bearded guy and a burger bearing bear
Gotta have an eagle!!
A Fish in Jeans…. whaddya call this guy?
Mmmm….. Ice Cream (well, not really)

Murals and Metal Art – Ottawa, Illinois

Detail of “Day of the Great Debate” by Don Gray in Ottawa, Illinois

Yet another town with lots of murals, this is Abraham Lincoln country and Ottawa was where the great debate between Lincoln and Douglas took place.  Murals and park statues depict the scene and the history.

Ottawa calls their mural art projects “A Brush With History,” a program which began in 2002.  There are now eight or nine murals in town including the massive “Day of the Great Debate” mural by artist Don Gray.

Day of the Great Debate mural by Don Gray in Ottawa, Illinois

Some of the other murals I found in my quick drive through town include the following:

Peltier Glass Factory mural by E. Colin Williams and Murals by Jericho.
A Section Ottawa as a Canal Town mural by Gregory Ackers
More detail of Ottawa as a Canal Town
A section of the mural Ottawa’s Earliest Residents by Roger Cooke Fine Arts
The head detail from “Bending”

But murals aren’t all that is in the town.  Over in Allen Park, along the Illinois River, I found one of the Whispering Giants.  While there, I also discovered two big metal sculptures, which I didn’t know anything about. Created by native artist, Mary Meinz-Fanning, these historical art structures were fashioned from parts of Ottawa’s old Hilliard Bridge, originally built in 1933. Ms. Meinz-Fanning built these two to commemorate the bridge: the yellow sculpture is named “Reclining” and the red one is known as “Bending”.

Reclining Sculpture by Mary Mary-Meinz Fanning – Allen Park in Ottawa, Illinois
Bending by Mary Meinz-Fanning in Ottawa, Illinois

Cheyenne Murals in a Sinclair Convenience Store – Ashland, Montana

Men’s Room Door at the gas station

I had to stop for drinks and gas while on US Highway 212.  I was driving over the pass and stopped in Ashland, Montana, which sits in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.  Went into this little Sinclair gas station in the small town and was stunned by the fabulous art.  Turns out the guys working the registers and managing the store were also the artists.

Happy Chief art in the Gas Station in Ashland, MT
An eagle on the all and the women’s restroom
A Sumoflam Staredown!!

Bear in a Box Wood Carvers – Allyn, Washington

Sumoflam and Justin Howland at Grizz Works in Maple, WI.  (2014)

A few years ago I was driving on US Route 2 through Maple, Wisconsin when I ran into a place called Grizz Works.  It was filled amazing chainsaw wood carvings of bears and other unique characters.  I had to feature it on its own post.

On my trip in April, driving down Washington Highway 3 into Allyn, Washington I ran into Bear in a Box, another “must stop and get photos” wood carving place.  Their work was a tad more whimsical than was Grizz Works, but amazing nonetheless.  I loved it.

Bear in a Box – Allyn, WA
Sumoflam at Bear in a Box, Allyn, WA
One of the whimsical Sasquatch carvings at Bear in a Box
Bear in a Box Bear, Allyn, WA
Unique horse carving at Bear in a Box
Another Bear in the Box Horse (and an eagle in the background)
Bear in the Box Owl
Staring down the Sasquatch
Totem Poles at Bear in a Box
Old Smiley the Sasquatch….I love this one.
Bear in a Log at Bear in a Box

Orval’s Used Cars – Delta, Colorado

Orval’s Used Cars – Delta, CO

On my drive down US Route 50 in central Colorado, I came across a most unexpected scene in Delta, Colorado.  I found a “Used Car” lot that carried a couple dozen or more REALLY used cars.  I am talking about antique classics.

In my travels I have come across these kinds of old cars dotting the scenery here and there, and usually only one or two, and sometimes three.  But, in this unique lot in Delta, an out of the way little town in out of the way Colorado, I would have never imagined I would see the collection like this guy had.  In fact, I was so amazed by the collection that I forgot to get a photo of the place’s sign.  But, the place does have a name — Orval’s Used Cars.  And it is like a walk back in time.

Some of the cars in Orval’s
Old Trucks in Orval’s
Some really old fixer uppers in Orval’s
More cars from Orval’s

Murals and Wall Art – Delta, Colorado

Old Egyptian Theater in Delta, Colorado.  Originally built in 1928

While on the subject of Delta, Colorado, a nice little town that came about originally to be a trading post for the Ute Nation and later was the home of Fort Uncompahgre, I should add some of the great murals that can be found here.  I was not able to get all of them, but here are a few.

I am also adding a photo of the lovely Egyptian Theater of Delta, which was built in 1928 and remodeled in the 1990s.  Unusual to find something like this in a small town in the middle of Colorado.

Delta City of Murals mural – “Train’s Arrival” by Seth Weber and Phil Wassell (16′ x 32′)

Delta, like other cities with a number of murals, calls itself the City of Murals as the town boasts at least 15 murals that dot the small city of about 8000.

One of Delta’s many murals – West Elk Wilderness by Ginny Allen
Anna-Dora Opera House Mural by W. Richard Doherty
Mural in Delta, Colorado – Greetings from Delta by Lee Bowerman
Old Advertisement mural in Delta, Colorado

Starved Rock State Park – Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL

On my first day of my 6000 mile long road trip across America, I had hoped to hit the three Peter Toth “Whispering Giants” carvings in Central Illinois since they were relatively close to each other.   One of these was located in Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby and Utica, Illinois and not too far from Ottawa (see above).

A Starved Rock Carving
Visiting the Whispering Giant at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois

I had never heard of the park, but some tout it as the #1 Attraction in the State of Illinois (at least, that is what the park says on its website).  I drove around on the main road to find the Peter Toth giant and discovered a number of other wood carvings along the road, a nice lodge and more.  Sadly, this is one of those parks that deserves an all day visit and I couldn’t do that.  The park is apparently full of trails to waterfalls and gorges and more.  All I got to see was a few of the wood carvings and the main lodge.  This is certainly a “visit again” place in the future.

A Boy Scout Carving at Starved Rock
Foxridge Carving at Starved Rock
One of the unique signs at the park. Make sure you know to stay away from the river
A Raccoon Home Sculpture at Starved Rock

ENJOY THE RIDE!  CHOOSE HAPPY!

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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late  June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2