A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

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The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

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The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

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The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

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The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

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The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

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The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

YBanner

The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

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The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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A to Z Challenge: The P Towns #atozchallenge

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

PThe P Towns

 

Pella, Iowa

Welcome to Pella
Welcome to Pella
Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA - the largest working windmill in the United States
Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States
Jaarsma Bakery - Pella, Iowa
Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Unique building corner in Pella, IA
Unique building corner in Pella, IA

There are a few towns claiming some Dutch heritage, but not many like Pella, Iowa.  Home of the largest working Dutch windmill in the United States (and a few smaller ones as well), a couple of authentic Dutch bakeries and a Dutch bologna deli, etc., the town is a great place to visit.  It is also home to the Pella Window Factory!  See a more complete post about Pella HERE.

Peculiar, Missouri

Welcome to Peculiar, MO
Welcome to Peculiar, MO
And let's not forget...A Peculiar Water Tower
And let’s not forget…A Peculiar Water Tower
A Peculiar Church
A Peculiar Church
A Peculiar Police Car
A Peculiar Police Car
Peculiar Post Office
Peculiar Post Office

In some of my earlier A to Z Challenge posts,  I included the towns of Boring, Oregon, Normal, Illinois and Odd, West Virginia.  Now I add to these, the town of Peculiar, Missouri.  Unlike Boring, which was named after a man named Boring, the town of Peculiar came about their town name in a peculiar way.  The community’s first postmaster, Edgar Thomson submitted as his first choice for a town name, “Excelsior,” but it was rejected because it already existed in Atchison County. Several other choices were also rejected. The story goes that the annoyed Thomson wrote to the Postmaster General himself to complain saying, among other things, “We don’t care what name you give us so long as it is sort of ‘peculiar’.” Thomson submitted the name “Peculiar” and the name was approved. The post office was established on June 22, 1868.  See my original 2012 post HERE.

Pierre Part, Louisiana

Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Swamp People Truck at Duffy's Bait Shop in Pierre Part
Swamp People Truck at Duffy’s Bait Shop in Pierre Part
Visiting Troy Landry in Pierre Part, LA in 2014
Visiting Troy Landry in Pierre Part, LA in 2014
P'MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
This was the closest thing I saw resembling a gator when in Pierre Part
This was the closest thing I saw resembling a gator when in Pierre Part

Back in August 2010 a new TV Series began on the History Channel that got me hooked, literally. Called “Swamp People,” the series focuses on various teams of alligator hunters. Some episodes also feature other aspects of the social and sporting life of the swamp, including fishing and hunting for other animals. I was thoroughly engaged. In fact, I distinctly recall while watching one of the early broadcasts in 2010, telling my wife “One day I am going to Louisiana on a road trip and meet Troy Landry in Pierre Part.” It was one of my “bucket list” dream trips, though I figured the reality would never materialize.  But it did come true, and you can see that I actually met Troy Landry and got to “Choot Him.”.  You can read the whole story HERE.

Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Mothman Museuam in Point Pleasant, WV
Mothman Museuam in Point Pleasant, WV
The Mothman by Robert Roach, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia
The Mothman by Robert Roach, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Dafford's History Mural in Point Pleasant.
Dafford’s History Mural in Point Pleasant.

A drive along the Ohio River on either the Ohio or West Virginia sides provides many unique places to visit.  Perhaps the MOST unusual place is Point Pleasant, WV, which is on WV Highway 2.  The town is home to an impressive set of Flood Wall Murals depicting the history of the area and is also home to the Mothman Museum, which features displays about the mythical and mysterious Mothman.  The town is also full of history, including Fort Randolph.  See more about my visit in 2008 HERE.

A Tale of Three Towns Named Paris

Welcome to Paris, Kentucky
Welcome to Paris, Kentucky

I have actually been to SIX places named Paris in my travels, including the three below in Ontario, Texas and Tennessee. Paris, Kentucky is also a neat place and is home to some of the world’s finest thoroughbred farms. Then there is Paris, Idaho, which is where my mother in law grew up.  Full of Mormon history and the lovely scenery of Bear Lake and the Snake River .  I have also driven through Paris, Missouri a couple of times.  There are apparently 23 towns in the United States named Paris (see this link).  The three below have a great deal to offer, so I mention them in more detail.

Paris, Ontario

Welcome to Paris, Ontario
Welcome to Paris, Ontario A nice place to live
Downtown Paris, Ontario
Downtown Paris, Ontario
A view of Paris and the river
A view of Paris and the river
Homes and businesses along the river in Paris
Homes and businesses along the river in Paris
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell received first long distance phone call in Paris in 1876
Camp 31 Bar-B-Que - Paris, Ontario
Camp 31 Bar-B-Que – Paris, Ontario

During my stint working in Ontario in 2008, I lived in a flat in Paris, Ontario for a good part of that time.  Paris is a beautiful town that is cut in half by the scenic Grand River, which I lived a stone’s throw away from. Some actually refer to it as the prettiest town in Canada. Many of the buildings are built with Cobblestones, which adds to the beauty.  There are some great places to eat there as well, especially the Camp 31 BBQ place.  Honestly, it is the best BBQ place I have ever eaten at. See my detailed 2008 post about Paris, ON HERE.

Paris, Texas

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas
The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica.
The Paris, TX Eiffel Tower replica.
The famed "Jesus in Cowboy Boots" monument at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX
The famed “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” monument at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX
I bid farewell to Paris...that's me in the reflection...
I bid farewell to Paris…that’s me in the reflection…

I have been to Paris, Texas three times.  There is always something unique there, but perhaps the most unique thing is the Eiffel Tower replica with a cowboy hat on top. It stands 65 feet tall and was built in 1993.  For many years now, this Paris ans battled Paris in Tennessee for the tallest Eiffel Tower in the U.S.  See my post about this battle HERE.  It is also home to the fairly famous “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” monument at the Evergreen Cemetery.  (Check out the great book by my author friend Tui Snider called Unexpected Texas for more cool things in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.)   called You can read more about the town of Paris, Texas in my post HERE.

Paris, Tennessee

Welcome to Paris, Tennessee
Welcome to Paris, Tennessee
Welcome to Paris Catfish
Welcome to Paris Catfish
The Paris, TN watertower, which has an Eiffel Tower painted on it.
The Paris, TN watertower, which has an Eiffel Tower painted on it.
Paris, TN Eiffel Tower
Paris, TN Eiffel Tower

On the same trip as noted above for Paris, Texas, I made my way into Paris, Tennessee, the acclaimed Catfish Capital of the World and the home to the other “Tallest Eiffel Tower” in the U.S.  Technically, it claims now to be the taller of the two towers.  Read more HERE.

Port Orchard, Washington

Welcome to Port Orchard
Welcome to Port Orchard
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Bethel Saloon in Port Orchard, WA
Bethel Saloon in Port Orchard, WA
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA
The Mattress Ranch "pasture" in Port Orchard
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard
A Blue Heron relaxes in the waters of Port Orchard
A Blue Heron relaxes in the waters of Port Orchard

In 2015 we visited our daughter in Port Orchard, Washington for about ten days.  We toured all over the state, but Port Orchard has its own offerings and is indeed a lovely little town on the other side of the Puget Sound, across from Seattle.  There are seaside scenes, beautiful painted murals, and even a funky mattress place with a farmyard full of painted cows. You can see more photos and read more about this town in my blog post HERE.

Powder River, Wyoming

Powder River, Wyoming
Powder River, Wyoming
An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY
An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY
Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Highway US 20 east of Powder River, WY and heading towards Casper
Hell's Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
Hell’s Half Acre Sign in Wyoming off of US Route 20/26
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell's Half Acre
Rainbow colored landscape of Hell’s Half Acre
A view of the Hell's Half Acre scarp, Wyoming
A view of the Hell’s Half Acre scarp, Wyoming

On one of my many cross country trips, I made my way across Wyoming and on this particular trip in 2014, I decided that I wanted to see the geologic wonder known as Hell’s Half Acre.   It was there that I met and befriended another travel photographer from Wisconsin named Derek Ace.  See more about my trip to Powder River and other areas in Wyoming HERE.

Paducah, Kentucky

Lewis and Clark Statues with Sacajawea and some Indians in Paducah
Lewis and Clark Statues with Sacajawea and some Indians in Paducah
Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah
Part of Flood Wall Murals in Paducah
Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
Scene from a River Wall mural in Paducah, KY
Scene from a River Wall mural in Paducah, KY

Paducah, Kentucky sits along the Ohio River and is a scenic river town.  Paducah was originally settled around 1815 and was known as Pekin.  There were Native Americans, most likely Chickasaw, living there and they traded peacefully with white settlers and traders that came down the river.  Their chief was named Paduke.  This arrangement stayed peaceful, but in 1827, William Clark, the famed leader of the the Lewis and Clark expedition, and then superintendent for Native American affairs along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, brought a legal deed for the land the town sat on.  He asked both Chief Paduke and the settlers to leave, which they did.  Paduke and his clan moved to Mississippi.  Clark named the town Paducah in his honor. In 1830 it was incorporated and then chartered as a city in 1856.  It was a dry dock for barges and also became a major rail hub.  Today it is home to the National Quilt Museum. See more about my trip in 2010 HERE.

Port Gibson, Mississippi

Welcome to Port Gibson, MS
Welcome to Port Gibson, MS
Large Wall Mural in Port Gibson, MS
Large Wall Mural in Port Gibson, MS
A man on porch in Port Gibson, MS
A man on porch in Port Gibson, MS
Rabbit Foot Minstrel marker in Port Gibson, MS
Rabbit Foot Minstrel marker in Port Gibson, MS
Unique Steeple of the First Presbyterian Church in Port Gibson, MS
Unique Steeple of the First Presbyterian Church in Port Gibson, MS
Old Gemiluth Chassed synagogue in Port Gibson
Old Gemiluth Chassed synagogue in Port Gibson

As part of my 2014 trip to Galveston, I drove along the Mississippi Blues Highway (US Highway 61 – see my posts in A Towns and N Towns).  One of the stops I made was in the scenic little town of Port Gibson, MS. The town has some lavish 19th century homes and some unique places as well.  Many of the town’s historic buildings survived the Civil War because Grant proclaimed the city to be “too beautiful to burn.” These words appear on the town’s welcome signs, as shown above.  Historic buildings in the city include the Windsor Ruins, which have been shown in several motion pictures.  And, my main interest in coming here was Perhaps one of the most unique things I saw in Port Gibson was the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church. It is definitely a one of a kind steeple!  See the complete history of this church and more about Port Gibson in my 2014 post about the Blues Highway HERE.

Palmyra, New York

Hill Cumorah
Hill Cumorah
Book of Mormon Publication site
Historical location of the publishing of the first Book of Mormon took place in Palmyra, NY
Hill Cumorah Monument
Hill Cumorah Monument commemorating the location where Joseph Smith received the golden plates from the Angel Moroni. The plates were translated and later became the Book of Mormon
Hill Cumorah MOnument with Moroni
Angel Moroni sits atop the Hill Cumorah Monument
The home Joseph Smith lived in while in Palmyra
A replica of the home Joseph Smith lived in while in Palmyra

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), there are few places in the country with church history like Palmyra, New York. To the Mormon faithful, this is where the Sacred Grove that Joseph Smith saw his First Vision and this was also the location of Hill Cumorah, the location of the Golden Plates that were translated to become the Book of Mormon.  Today it is home to the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant…a spectacular outdoor performance depicting stories from the Book of Mormon.  Thousands flock to this small town every July for one week as hundreds of volunteers perform nightly for totally free viewing.  My wife and I attended the pageant in 2013.  You can see my full writeup HERE.

Perryville, Kentucky

Welcome to Perryville
Welcome to Perryville
Perryville Battlefield
Perryville Battlefield
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
One of many unique shops in Perryville
One of many unique shops in Perryville

Not too far from our home in Lexington is the historic Civil War Battlefield town of Perryville, home of an annual Civil War Reenactment.  The battle took place on October 8, 1862 and is considered the bloodiest battle of Kentucky’s Civil War battlefields. The area includes a State Park, Battlefield Tours, a Museum and the the Downtown area has many unique shops and souvenir places.

Paxton, Nebraska (Honorable Mention)

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

On a huge cross country trip in 2007 with my son Solomon, we stopped for an overnight in the town of Paxton, Nebraska.  The chief objective was to have dinner at one of America’s unique and quirky restaurants.  Known as Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse, this rustic restaurant is filled with trophies from safaris around the world, including a full size polar bear, a giraffe head, an elephant head and dozens of other large animals that stare down at you while you indulge in their splendid steak meals. You can see more about this leg of my long cross country trip HERE.

Pembroke, New York (Honorable Mention)

Pembroke, New York
Pembroke, New York
Kutter's Cheese in Corfu, New York
Kutter’s Cheese in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter's Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York
Mural at Kutter’s Cheese Factory in Corfu, New York

On the above mentioned trip to Palmyra, New York, we made our way into Pembroke, NY.  I had to stop and get a photo of Kutter’s Cheese. There are some nice murals, but the name of the shop is what got me.  And yes, they will gladly cut the cheese for you.

Penn Yan, New York (Honorable Mention)

Birkett Mills Griddle, Penn Yan, NY
Birkett Mills Griddle, Penn Yan, NY

On a 2008 trip back to Ontario, I made my way to the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York.  One of the towns on the lakes is Penn Yan, which is home to Birkett Mills, manufacturers of a variety of buckwheat products such as flour, etc.  They are also famed for the world’s largest buckwheat pancake and you can see the giant griddle in downtown Penn Yan.

Ponder, Texas (Honorable Mention)

Ponder, Texas
Ponder, Texas
The Ponder Volunteer Fire Department. I hope they don't Ponder about going to a fire.
The Ponder Volunteer Fire Department. I hope they don’t Ponder about going to a fire.
This is a church that has Ponder in the name....Ponder your eternal future
This is a church that has Ponder in the name….Ponder your eternal future
And a Water Tower that reminds you to Ponder...ponder away!
And a Water Tower that reminds you to Ponder…ponder away!

And finally, how about a drive through Ponder, Texas, a bit northwest of the Dallas/Fort Worth area?  Think about it ok?

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Creating the Wanderlust – 30 Years of Family Travel – Pt 3

Joselyn on the Beach - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina summer 2013
Joselyn on the Beach – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina summer 2013

This is the last in my 3 part series on “Creating the Wanderlust” through family travel adventures. (see the other two Part 1  Part 2 )

Autumn in Rhinelander, WI Aug 2012
Autumn in Rhinelander, WI  with the Hodag – Aug 2012

After three weddings in 2005 I was fried…and, to top things off I had knee surgery later in the year, so there was no travel the rest of that year.  In fact, I didn’t take any trips until 2007 when I had a couple of big ones.  These were with Solomon as Seth was off serving a Mormon mission in Utah.  Then, since that time many of the trips from 2008 thru 2013 have included grandchildren in one way or another.  It is wonderful to share these precious moments with my grandchildren as well as my now adult children….

Solomon in Toad Suck, Arkansas June 2007
Solomon in Toad Suck, Arkansas June 2007

In June 2007 my sister in Texas had an old car she wanted to give to my son Solomon as a reward for his obtaining an Eagle Scout (which my son Seth also completed).  So, we took a ride down to Keller to pick up the car and then the two of us drove back to Lexington.  Both ways we found fun on the backroads of America with the following route:


View Larger Map – Kentucky to Texas and Back

This would be a quick trip down and back, but we were determined to have a fun time.  We made our way to Memphis and into Arkansas and continued the drive all the way to Keller, about 1100 miles one way via the route we took.  Along the way we saw a few fun things…

Solomon at the Memphis Egg at the Memphis Visitor's Center, June 2007
Solomon at the Memphis Egg at the Memphis Visitor’s Center, June 2007
Solomon in two states - Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas June 2007
Solomon in two states – Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas June 2007

After an evening in Keller we joined my sister and her family for a day trip to Dublin, Granbury and Forth Worth for fun.

Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007
Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007

After our trips we then headed back home via Paris, Texas and then through Arkansas, Missouri and home.

Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat in Paris, Texas - June 2007
Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat in Paris, Texas – June 2007
Solomon with Popeye in Alma, Arkansas - home of Popeye brand Spinach June 2007
Solomon with Popeye in Alma, Arkansas – home of Popeye brand Spinach June 2007

The Texas trip was a fun short trip, but later in the year we took a second trip together.  This would be perhaps the biggest trip I had ever taken and it was going to be a fun with Solomon, who was 18 at the time. My daughter Amaree had her second child, my grandson Charlie.  As well, my good friend and musician Antsy McClain had shows in southeastern Washington state and I was heading out there to manage those as well.  Overall, the trip would take Solomon and me over about 6000 miles through fourteen states and three Canadian provinces and dozens of sites. We used almost 500 gallons of gasoline and I took over 2000 photos during the trip. (See entire trip post here)

Our Route to Washington and Back - September 2007
Our 6000 mile route to Washington and back – September 2007

The main purpose of this trip was to get to Montana to see my new grandson, but it was also a great opportunity to travel with my youngest son and truly Enjoy the Ride.  We started off early for the Chicago area with the first goal to see the famed “Spindle” sculpture by Dustin Shuler, better known as Cars on a Spike.  This was at the retro Cermak Shopping Plaza in Berwyn, IL.  It is a good thing we visited and got it captured on both photo and video.  In May 2008 it was demolished so a new drug store could go in.

Solomon and "Spindle" by Dustin Shuler, originally at Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, IL. Taken Sept 2007.
Solomon and “Spindle” by Dustin Shuler, originally at Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, IL. Taken Sept 2007

From Chicago we headed north into Wisconsin and then on to Minnesota.  We found lots of quirky offbeat things along the way!!

Solomon with a Big Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI Sept 2007
Solomon with a Big Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI Sept 2007
Solomon hanging with James Frank Kotera "JFK" the Twine Ball Man in Lake Nebagamon, WI.  Largest Twine Ball in the World. Sept 2007
Solomon hanging with James Frank Kotera “JFK” the Twine Ball Man in Lake Nebagamon, WI. Largest Twine Ball in the World. Sept 2007
Solomon has picked one of his favorite giant wooden trolls in Mt. Horeb, WI.  There are over 30 in town. Sept 2007
Solomon, an “American Picker”, has picked one of his favorite giant wooden trolls in Mt. Horeb, WI. There are over 30 in town. Sept 2007
Solomon at the Lake Superior Overlook near Duluth, MN
Solomon at the Lake Superior Overlook near Duluth, MN
Near Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota, Solomon found a deer to feed
Near Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota, Solomon found a deer to feed
Solomon riding the Big Fish at Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota - Sept. 2007
Solomon riding the Big Fish at Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota – Sept. 2007

Speaking of BIG FISH – we found the world’s largest Walleye in Baudette, MN

Solomon is dwarfed by the World's Largest Walleye in Baudette, MN Sept 2007
Solomon is dwarfed by the World’s Largest Walleye in Baudette, MN Sept 2007

From Minnesota we ventured into Canada and dove along the Trans-Canada Highway westward towards Alberta.  It continued to be a fun adventure for both of us….

Solomon at the Saskatchewan Provincial Border Sept 2007
Solomon at the Saskatchewan Provincial Border Sept 2007
Solomon at Indiana Head, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon at Indiana Head, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon visits with the World's Largest Moose Statue in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon visits with the World’s Largest Moose Statue in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Sept 2007

I had friends in Alberta and we got to spend a night with Crafty Jack, a guitar maker and joint friend with Antsy McClain.  We got to look at his custom-made trailer shaped guitars…

Solomon with the Trailercana Guitar hand-crafted by Crafty Jack
Solomon with the Trailercana Guitar hand-crafted by Crafty Jack

We also spent some time with Crafty Jack visiting some of the more “unique” sites in Alberta…venturing to go where no man has gone before…

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
A StarStruck "Starship Sol" with some new pals in Vulcan, Alberta Sept. 2007
A StarStruck “Starship Sol” with some new pals in Vulcan, Alberta Sept. 2007
Sol and Sumoflam live long and prosper with the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Sol and Sumoflam live long and prosper with the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007

We proceeded to make our way down to Great Falls to see my daughter Amaree and her family, including the newest grandchild Charlie.  During our visit we made our way into the mountains southeast of Great Falls to Kings Hill Pass.  We got a nice family photo high up in the mountains…

The family at Kings Hill Pass near Meagher, MT - Amaree, Charlie, Sumoflam, Kade, Julianne and Solomon - Sept 2007
The family at Kings Hill Pass near Meagher, MT – Amaree, Charlie, Sumoflam, Kade, Julianne and Solomon – Sept 2007

We also made our way north on US 89 to a nice waterfalls called Memorial Falls.  Solomon climbed way up on a cliff…

Climbing up to the top of Memorial Falls in Montana - Julianne, Aaron (son in law), Kade and Solomon - Sept 2007
Climbing up to the top of Memorial Falls in Montana – Julianne, Aaron (son in law), Kade and Solomon – Sept 2007
Solomon up high on a cliff near Memorial Falls in Montana, Sept 2007
Solomon up high on a cliff near Memorial Falls in Montana, Sept 2007

During the time in Great Falls we also visited museums and other fun places with Amaree, Aaron, their two boys and Julianne (who flew out).  But soon Solomon were continuing west to Idaho and Washington.  Along the way we stopped in Couer D’Alene to visit with legendary rock music radio pioneer John Rook.  John was a close family friend of rock guitarist Bobby Cochran (Steppenwolf, Flying Burrito Brothers, Trailer Park Troubadours, Bobby and the Midnites), who was also the nephew of the famous Eddie Cochran (The Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody).  Bobby is a close friend of mine as well. John Rook was practically family with Eddie.  So, on the encouragement of Bobby we stopped by to say hello to John, see much of his rock and roll memorabilia, including photos with the Rolling Stones and Beatles (see article about his work with the Beatles), groups that he had a major influence in bringing to the U.S. in the 1960s while the Program Director at KQV in Pittsburgh.  It should be noted that Rush Limbaugh and David Letterman count John Rook as a mentor in their careers.

Solomon with Rock and Roll Radio icon John Rook at his home in Couer D'Alene, ID in Sept 2007
Solomon with Rock and Roll Radio icon John Rook at his home in Couer D’Alene, ID in Sept 2007

This was a fun and interesting experience for rock afficianados like Solomon and me.  We ventured further westward to Washington to carry out my work for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours, which included some road management and logistics management.  After four days of performances in the Tri-Cities and Dayton, Solomon and I headed south into Oregon and a visit to the amazing Hell’s Canyon.

Solomon at the overlook of Hell's Canyon in Oregon - Sept. 2007
Solomon at the overlook of Hell’s Canyon in Oregon – Sept. 2007

From there we went south to Salt Lake City to drop in on my son Seth who was serving a Mormon mission there (yes, there are even Mormon missionaries called to Salt Lake City!!).  It was a great chance for us to visit and have a quick lunch with “Elder Kravetz.”

Visiting "Elder Kravetz" in Sandy, Utah in Sept 2007
Visiting “Elder Kravetz” in Sandy, Utah in Sept 2007

We then finally made our way home through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and finally into Kentucky.  More unique stops were made along the way…

Solomon with a giant jackalope in Douglas, Wyoming, the "Jackalope Capital of the World" - Sept 2007
Solomon with a giant jackalope in Douglas, Wyoming, the “Jackalope Capital of the World” – Sept 2007
Solomon and his new friend at Ole's Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, NE - Sept 2007
Solomon and his new friend at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, NE – Sept 2007

After a long trip, we finally made it home.  This was to be the last of my trips with just my children.  All trips with family (other than with my wife), typically included grandchildren and I even had a few opportunities to be with the grandchildren on solo Grampz/Grandkidz trips.  I now had (and continue to have) the blessing of Creating the Wanderlust in the next generation of my posterity.

The family visits Jakeman's a working Maple Syrup facility near Woodstock, Ontario - July 2008
The family visits Jakeman’s a working Maple Syrup facility near Woodstock, Ontario – July 2008
Adam, Marissa and Joselyn at Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario July 2008
Adam, Marissa and Joselyn at Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario July 2008

Following are a few shots of my grandchildren as they accompanied me and, in most cases, their parents, on road trips over the last six years…places and dates included…

Autumn - Green Bay Packers in Pink - at Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay, WI Aug. 2012
Autumn – Green Bay Packers in Pink – at Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay, WI Aug. 2012

In August 2012 I joined my daughter Chelsea and my oldest grandchild Autumn on a quick three day trip to Wisconsin.  We planned out the trip for a number of fun adventures in Illinois and Wisconsin. (see my Trip Journal posts beginning here)

Spicing it up at the National Mustard Museum - Middleton, WI
Spicing it up at the National Mustard Museum – Middleton, WI
Chelsea and Autumn follow the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards in Champagne, IL - Aug 2012
Chelsea and Autumn follow the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards in Champaigne, IL – Aug 2012
Autumn tackles the “Beast” – a scrap metal sculpture by the late Wally Keller located in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Autumn and "Grampz" with the Hodag of Rhinelander, WI
Autumn and “Grampz” with the Hodag of Rhinelander, WI
Chelsea and Autumn know they love Kraft Macaroni at the Kraft plant in Champaign, IL
Chelsea and Autumn know they love Kraft Macaroni at the Kraft plant in Champaign, IL

On that trip we also visited the famed Jurustic Park, a chainsaw totem pole forest, the birthplace of the hamburger, Egg Harbor and the peninsula, and more.  See more here.

Autumn and Savannah (my niece) at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY in Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah (my niece) at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY in Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah with my sister Sherry and her husband Brian - Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah with my sister Sherry and her husband Brian – Aug. 2009

We have also taken Autumn to the Cincinnati Zoo, on a riverboat ride down the Kentucky River and to the Louisville Children’s Museum.

Grandson Kade at the Louisville Children's Museum - Dec. 2012
Grandson Kade at the Louisville Children’s Museum – Dec. 2012

I have four grandchildren living in Shelby, Montana and have not had as many opportunities to travel much with them.  However, their parents (my daughter Amaree and her husband Aaron) have taken my liking to travel and have introduce the wanderlust to their children through visits to California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and even across the country on visits to Kentucky to see us.  I have visited Shelby on three occasions and each time take the kids collectively or individually on small road trips.  Here are a few scenes…

Kade and Charlie, with their Dad Aaron at Leaning Tree Cafe in Babb, MT at the base of Glacier National Park – March 2013
Kade, Charlie and cousin Autumn in the vacuum at Louisville Children's Museum - Dec. 2012
Kade, Charlie and cousin Autumn in the vacuum at Louisville Children’s Museum – Dec. 2012
Charlie at the giant wind farm near Shelby, Montana - Feb. 2012
Charlie at the giant wind farm near Shelby, Montana – Feb. 2012
Olivia at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY - Dec. 2012
Olivia at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY – Dec. 2012
My youngest grandchild Benson with his Dad Aaron at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Dec 2012
My youngest grandchild Benson with his Dad Aaron at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Dec 2012
Grandson Charlie is dwarfed by the giant penguin in Cut Bank, Montana
Grandson Charlie is dwarfed by the giant penguin in Cut Bank, Montana
Charlie at Jerusalem Rocks in Northern Montana
Charlie at Jerusalem Rocks in Northern Montana

My little granddaughter Joselyn is really quite the traveler and, even at age 6 she is always up for another long drive adventure, especially with Grampz, who she thinks is “funny.” This little girl has probably traveled more in this United States than most kids do by the time they are 18.  Jos has been to Niagara Falls in Canada, Tucson, Omaha, Hilton Head and a gazillion places in between.  Her little brother Landen has accompanied on a couple of trips as well.  Here are a few shots from the last couple of years, including some recent ones.

Little Joselyn hanging with Uncle Solomon at San Xavier del Bac Church in Tucson, Arizona - April 2011
Little Joselyn hanging with Uncle Solomon at San Xavier del Bac Church in Tucson, Arizona – April 2011
Joselyn with her mother at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, April 2011
Joselyn with her mother at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, April 2011
Joselyn with her cousin Autumn and Second Cousin Savannah at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2010
Joselyn with her cousin Autumn and Second Cousin Savannah at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2010
Joselyn and sister Lyla with Grandma Julianne on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean on Hilton Head Island, April 2013
Joselyn and sister Lyla with Grandma Julianne on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean on Hilton Head Island, April 2013
Joselyn runs on a sand dune at White Sands National Monument in NM
Joselyn runs on a sand dune at White Sands National Monument in NM
Running through the cement corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio July 2011
Running through the cement corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio July 2011
Joselyn makes a visit to Earth (TX) in April 2011
Joselyn makes a visit to Earth (TX) in April 2011
Jos with Grampz at rest area n North Carolina - April 2013
Jos with Grampz at rest area n North Carolina – April 2013
Cussling with an alien in Roswell, New Mexico - April 2011
Cussling with an alien in Roswell, New Mexico – April 2011
Jos and her mother Marissa at Stone Mountain in Georgia, April 2013
Jos and her mother Marissa at Stone Mountain in Georgia, April 2013
Joselyn at Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 2013
Joselyn at Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 2013
Holding a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis
Holding a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis
Joselyn and Landen at Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers TV Show in LeClaire, IA - Sept. 2013
Joselyn and Landen at Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers TV Show in LeClaire, IA – Sept. 2013
Jos and Landen at Gothic House in Eldon, IA - Sept 2013
Jos and Landen at Gothic House in Eldon, IA – Sept 2013
Joselyn as a baby at Niagara Falls with her parents in July 2008
Joselyn as a baby at Niagara Falls with her parents in July 2008

Of course, Landen is not totally exempt from all of this either…he is catching the bug!!

Landen with the Transformer "Bumblebee" at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis (told you he "caught the bug") - Sept 2013
Landen with the Transformer “Bumblebee” at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis (told you he “caught the bug”) – Sept 2013
Landen with a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis (caught the bug again!!)
Landen with a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis (caught the bug again!!)
Landen goes Dutch in Pella, Iowa - Sept. 2013
Landen goes Dutch in Pella, Iowa – Sept. 2013
Landen with the corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio, July 2011
Landen with the corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio, July 2011
Landen the beach bum at Cave Run Lake, KY in June 2013
Landen the beach bum at Cave Run Lake, KY in June 2013
Landen and Joselyn visit their Great Aunt Nicole in Cleveland, OH July 2011
Landen and Joselyn visit their Great Aunt Nicole in Cleveland, OH July 2011

Jos and Landen have a little sister Lyla who has also turned out to be a good traveler having gone to South Carolina and Georgia on one trip and then on a trip to Nebraska in September.

Lyla follows in the footsteps of her cousin Autumn by following the Yellow Brick Road Champaign, IL
Lyla follows in the footsteps of her cousin Autumn by following the Yellow Brick Road Champaign, IL
Lyla rides the old 1930s St. Louis Carousel in Sept. 2013
Lyla rides the old 1930s St. Louis Carousel in Sept. 2013
Sumoflam teaches granddaughter Lyla how to drive the backroads of America at an early age
Sumoflam teaches granddaughter Lyla how to drive the backroads of America at an early age

Only one grandchild has not really traveled much with us though he has traveled with his father Seth and his mother Holly.  That is little Rockwell, our blonde cutie….

Grampz and RockE
Grampz and RockE
Rockwell in West Chester, OH - 2012
Rockwell in West Chester, OH – 2012

Of course, as time goes on I will continue to Enjoy the Ride on trips on the backroads and will do it, not just as a good father, but also as a helluva grandfather!!

Sumoflam - Enjoy the Ride
Sumoflam – Enjoy the Ride
Sumoflam - An Okay Parent
Sumoflam – An Okay Parent
Sumoflam - Helluva Grandparent
Sumoflam – Helluva Grandparent

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