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.
Possum Trot Supper Club – Oakwood, Illinois
Pierre Part, Louisiana
Pound Gap, Virginia
Prairie Dogs – Browning, Montana; Cactus Flat, South Dakota
And then there is the Pink Elephant Car Wash – Seattle, Washington
Poutine – A Canadian Favorite – Paris, Ontario
Portsmouth Murals – Portsmouth, Ohio
Portland Head Light – Portland, Maine
Just down the road from Hell – Pinckney, Michigan
Planet Damon Water Tower – Damon, Texas
Presti’s Bakery – Little Italy – Cleveland, Ohio
Pain Reliever Bar – Nekoma, North Dakota
PRHBTN Murals (there are more than 20 – here are a couple) – Lexington, Kentucky
Papa Joe’s – Crescent Junction, Utah
P’Maws Bait Shack – Pierre Part, Louisiana
Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Puget Sound – Seattle, Washington
Perry Como Statues – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Fun Stuff in Portland, Oregon
Pheasant Bar – Winner, South Dakota
Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, Arizona
Pinto McBean – Bow Island, Alberta, Canada
A few Paul Bunyan guys here and there – Bemidji, Minnesota; Nitro, West Virginia; Minocqua, Wisconsin; Wentzville, Missouri
Price Less Foods – Irvine, Kentucky
Popeye Statue – Alma, Arkansas
Port Gibson First Presbyterian Church – Port Gibson, Mississippi
Powder River, Wyoming
Paradise Point – Scottsville, Kentucky
Scenes from Paris – or four or five of them – Paris, Ontario; Paris, Kentucky; Paris, Texas; Paris, Tennessee
Point Defiance Zoo – Tacoma, Washington
Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Peaks to Craters Scenic Highway – Idaho
Pelicans – Lake Andes, South Dakota; Galveston, Texas; Lexington, Kentucky
Plaza Theatres – Glasgow, Kentucky & Wharton, Texas
Playhouse Square – Cleveland, Ohio
Pea Meal Breakfast Anyone? – Woodstock, Ontario
PPG Glass Castle – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Professor Market – Tremont District – Cleveland, Ohio
Pike Place Market – Seattle, Washington
Penn’s Store – Gravel Switch, Kentucky
Penguins – Omaha, Nebraska; Tacoma, Washington
Pheasants on the Prairie – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota
Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho
Pete the Curler – Bemidji, Minnesota
Pork Chop Sandwiches (as seen on Andy Griffith) – Mt. Airy, North Carolina
Old Prairie School House – Frisno, Montana
Giant Prairie Dog Statue – Cactus Flat, South Dakota
Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa
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.
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
The G Towns
Across this great country there are dozens of giant Muffler Men, Big Johns and Uniroyal Gals. In the 1960s these advertised Mufflers, Tires, etc. Nowadays they can be seen at state borders, at tourist spots or advertising cafes (see Blackfoot, ID in my A to Z Challenge posts as an example). I have written a post all about these giants HERE. Then there are folks like Glenn Goode (who passed away in March 2015). Known as the Fiberglass Man because of his collection of these giants, he was in the fiberglass and sandblasting business for over 44 years. On his property on Walnut Bend Road, Gainesville, he had five big fiberglass people . See my full post about his unique site in the middle of nowhere HERE.
Back in 2007 I ventured west to Washington with my son for some shows with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. Along the way we visited a number of states and places. One of the more unique stops along the way was in the town of Gothenburg, Nebraska. This town is apparently one of only two Gothenburgs in the entire world, the other being the famed city in Sweden. Gothenburg is probably most well known as the home of the Pony Express in Nebraska. The town has become somewhat of a tourist attraction with the Pony Express building and also the Sod House Museum, which is just off of Interstate 80 at exit 211 to the left as you go into Gothenburg. The Sod House Museum was dedicated to the settlers of this area who initially built their homes out of sod. Also at the Sod House museum are two barbed wire sculptures including an Indian and a Buffalo. Both have well over 4 miles of barbed wire in the work. See my write up about this 2007 visit HERE.
Guthrie, Kentucky is located at the junction of US Highway 79 and US Highway 41 near the Tennessee Border. I ventured through here on my way to Memphis and the Blues Highway in the fall of 2014 (see a couple of other A to Z Challenge towns in earlier posts including Alligator, MS and Brownsville, TN from this same trip. Paris, TN and Paris, TX will also be included in my P Towns post.). Guthrie has its own version of a Pink Elephant (different from the one I posted about in DeForest, WI in my D Towns post). They also have a pink sunglass wearing giant cow. You can see full details of this visit and more photos HERE.
Gregory, South Dakota
Gregory, South Dakota is another town along the Oyate Trail. South Dakota is the pheasant capital of the U.S. and this area of the Oyate Trail is one of the centers of the pheasant hunting world (and, in Gregory there is also a Gorilla or two….). Apparently Gregory is “The Ground-zero of Pheasantdom” according to Fortune Magazine in 1992. You can read more about my visit to Gregory and see some photos of old movie theaters, interesting bars, etc., in my 2013 Oyate Trail post, which can be seen HERE.
Galata, Montana is one of two Montana and US Highway 2 Hi-Line towns I am including in this G Town post. Located about 23 miles east of Shelby, Montana, Galata is practically a ghost town. But the 1960s era neon sign advertising the Motel Galata is a classic. Definitely something worth looking for on a roadtrip across northern Montana.
On the eastern end of Montana on US Highway 2 is the town of Glasgow, Montana. A town of about 3000, it is a colorful place with all sorts of dinosaur lore. As one proceeds west on US Hwy 2 out of Glasgow, you will see dinosaurs up on the hillside. These and the other animals and sculptures (as well as the dino at the Hangar Bar) are all creations of artist Buck Samuelson, who offers them for sale. Read more about US Highway 2, the Hi-Line Drive across northern Montana HERE.
There are apparently 21 places in America named Glasgow that range from a tiny town in Fallen Timber County, Pennsylvania, which has 63 inhabitants, to Glasgow, Kentucky the largest of them all with a population of just over 14,000. As a Kentucky resident, I have visited many of the towns and Glasgow is unique because of its cultural depth with an amazing old Theatre and its many wall murals. Founded in 1799 by a group of Revolutionary War veterans, Glasgow boasts historic homes and buildings, the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center, downtown walking/driving tours, Barren River Lake State Resort Park and Brigadoon State Nature Preserve. The town sits at the intersection of US Highway 68 and US Highway 31.
Montana is a huge state and so it is not a surprise that this post has three G Towns. I would be remiss if I didn’t include Gardiner, Montana, which is situated in Southwest Montana, at the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The town is nestled in breath taking Paradise Valley, with the Yellowstone River running right through town. The Roosevelt Arch is the most famous structure in Gardiner. This Yellowstone Entrance, Gateway or Arch was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on 24 April 1903. The arch is visible two miles north of Gardiner on US Highway 89. See more about my 2014 trip down Montana’s US 89 and Yellowstone HERE.
In June 2013 I made my way to Rexburg, ID and passed through Wyoming on my way to Yellowstone National Park. (I noted the Montana entrance above). On this particular trip I found my through Gillette, WY on my way to Cody and Yellowstone. Gillette is home of a few nice murals, an artist walk with a number of unique sculptures that change each year and then there is the Rockpile Museum. This Campbell County Museum focuses on general, regional, and local history with an emphasis on the culture and people of Campbell County. It was opened in 1974 at the site of the historic natural rockpile, which has been a piece of Gillette history since the 1890s. See my full report about Gillette and the drive to Cody and on to Yellowstone HERE.
The town of Granbury, Texas, south of Fort Worth, is a fun place to visit, filled with history, an old fashioned courthouse square surrounded by unique shops and some good places to eat (especially Babe’s Chicken!!). It is home to the Nutt House Hotel (crazy name eh?). Not too far down the road is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an amazing drive thru Wildlife Park in Glen Rose, TX (another G Town!) The current facility has grown to 1700 acres and has over 1000 animals, with 50 species of native and non-native animals, including Cheetah, Rhinoceros, Giraffe, various African antelope varieties, Zebras, Ostriches and Rheas, among many others. You can see dozens of photos of the park and also more on Granbury in my 2012 post HERE.
Grand Forks, North Dakota (Honorable Mention)
Grand Forks is another US Highway 2 town also cut through by Interstate 29. I mention it here because of its famed Smiley Water Tower, one of three or four in the US (note the Adair, IA Smiley in my A Towns post). This tower has the Smiley above and on the other side of the water tower is a Winking Smiley. You can see more photos of it and also see more about my 2014 US Highway 2 drive through North Dakota HERE.
Gravel Switch, Kentucky (Honorable mention)
With a unique name for a place, the small village of Gravel Switch, KY. grew up around a gravel quarry on a spur line of the L&N railroad around 1870. There is not much there now but a small Amish school, a Post Office, a bank and a few houses. Not far from Gravel Switch is perhaps the most famous place in the area…Penn’s Store. According to its website, “Penn’s Store is the oldest country store in America being run continuously by the same family. It has been in the Penn family since 1850.” There is a nice writeup about it here. I drove through there on a trip to Elizabethtown, KY in February 2013. See the entire post HERE.
Gilboa, Ohio (Honorable mention)
On one of my trips back to Kentucky from Canada in 2008, I drove through the community of Gilboa, OH. Thy had a humongous steer statue and also a unique restaurant/bar called Stinky’s Country Well. Had to include Gilboa for these reasons. The town is on US Highway 224 west of Findlay, OH.
Georgetown, Texas (Honorable mention)
Finally, on Interstate 35 north of Austin lies the historic town of Georgetown, Texas. I have had a couple of opportunities to visit there in the past few years and it is a unique place. The town features some of the best Victorian architecture in the state of Texas. And then, there is the story of “Three-Legged Willie” (Robert M. Williamson), the beloved Texas patriot, Ranger, lawyer, judge, newspaper editor, and Williamson County’s namesake. Known affectionately as Three-legged Willie due to the wooden leg he used following an illness when he was 15. His right leg drew up at the knee and could not support him. Thereafter, he wore a wooden leg, leaving his useless foot extended behind him. A lawyer at 19, he fought with the cavalry at the Battle of San Jacinto. An enthusiastic supporter of Texas statehood, he named one of his sons Annexus.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.
Today (Feb. 15, 2013) was one of those delightful days when I got to enjoy most of my passions…mainly travel, photography and music. Ultimately, the main reason for the trip was to go to Elizabethtown to see Tommy Emmanuel and Michael Kelsey. But, I took the long way to do it. Following is a map with the stops I made.
I drove from Lexington thru Danville and then into Perryville. I made a quick drive through the old Merchant’s Row area of Perryville.
After Perryville it was on to the small village of Gravel Switch, KY. grew up around a gravel quarry on a spur line of the L&N railroad around 1870. There is not much there now but a small Amish school, a Post Office, a bank and a few houses.
Not far from Gravel Switch is perhaps the most famous place in the area…Penn’s Store.
According to its website, “Penn’s Store is the oldest country store in America being run continuously by the same family. It has been in the Penn family since 1850.” There is a nice writeup about it here.
The drive from Gravel Switch to Penns Store Road is a bit complicated, but, once I figured it out, it was easy… After passing through Gravel Switch, follow Hwy 243 until you get to a fork in the road where 243 goes left and Hwy 337 goes strait to Bradfordsville. Follow Hwy 243 past the Forkland Community sign and continue until you go over a big bridge at the point where Forkland Rd. continues to the left and Hwy 243 goes right. Immediately after the bridge you will see the signs above. Penn’s Store is straight ahead.
When I arrived I was met by some very friendly white Labradors. They greeted me with total friendliness. Unfortunately, those were the only greeters as the store is currently closed for repairs from a big flood a couple of years ago. They hope to reopen in mid-April 2013.
Perhaps one of the more famous stories is the dedication of the Penn’s Privy outhouse. The outhouse was built in 1992 and is made of poplar and has a tin roof. It is a “one-holer.” The dedication was held with several musical friends lending their talents to the days festivities. The shows were headlined by Chet Atkins and Billy Edd Wheeler (who wrote the Grammy awarded Johnny Cash song “Jackson”). Billy Edd also wrote the song “Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back”. The Chet Atkins connection is pretty unique since the evening show with Tommy Emmanuel will have some dedicatory pieces for Chet. Read the amazing story of Chet and Tommy here. In Nashville in 1999, Tommy was honored by his mentor, Chet Atkins with the title of “Certified Guitar Player” for his contribution to fingerstyle guitar, a rare distinction shared by only four other people in the world (Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner, John Knowles and Paul Yandell). More about that later.
I soon left the little knob in the woods and headed back up to Hwy 337 to venture towards Bradfordsville, another quiet little town of a little over 300. Needing a pit stop, I stopped at Patches Mini Mart…an old style country gas station and Mom and Pop type of cafe. As I found out when I went in, “Patches” is the nickname for owner Patsy Morgeson, who is the chief cook and bottle washer too. She was a charmer and let me take some photos inside. I was hungry and though on a mainly vegan regimen, I broke down to have her speciality – fried bologna sandwich with egg and cheese. Yes, the total antithesis of vegan… But it was really really good.
I was reminded of Antsy McClain’s song “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More,” as I spoke to Patches. Located only 9 miles from Lebanon, KY, she is seeing many of her clientele go there to the fast food joints and big box store. She told me that she is not sure how much longer she will be able to stay in business. I hope Patches and the hundreds of others like here across this country can stay in business so that they can live the dream.
I soon found myself back in the car headed toward Lebanon as many of Patche’s customers now do. But, Lebanon, the geographic center of Kentucky, would have only have one stop on the road for me…the National Cemetery…in the dead center of Kentucky!!
Lebanon National Cemetery, is the final resting place for more than 800 Union Civil War veterans, many of whom are buried as unknown soldiers. Like its sister cemetery Camp Nelson in nearby Nicholasville, KY, the site is comprised of nicely laid out rows of white marble grave markers of both the unknown soldiers as well as many other veterans. In fact, as I was taking this photo, a procession was on its way into the grounds for another veteran burial.
From Lebanon I made my way to Raywick (per recommendation of Patche’s and her assistant at the Mini Mart). This small village was first settled in 1778 by Henry Prather and James and John Ray. In 1811, Lloyd Ray married a Nancy Wickliffe, thus the name Raywick. Raywick is also home to a large Catholic Church.
Heading west from Raywick I meandered towards Hwy 527, also known as Scott Ridge Rd. Saw this sign on the way out of town…notice it says “Your Leaving”… LOL
The drive up Scott Ridge is very scenic as it takes you high up on a hill overlooking the valley below. At the crest of the hill is a cement lookout, which lets you see over 100 square miles of the scenic Rolling Fork River valley below. Using my iPhone Panaorama feature, I captured the following photo of the view below:
Here are a couple more from my Nikon:
I proceeded south on 527 to Maple Road and turned right. I followed this windy path of a road to Social Band Road (what a name…)
I continued north to Atilla Rd and then West to KY 210 (Campbellsville Rd.). I went north on that road to Hwy 1192 (Bailey Rd) and followed it all the way to Mt. Sherman Ward Rd. This road winded southward eventually passing Buck Rub Lane and Fatboy Blvd. You gotta love the names of some of these roads.
Further down the road I came across this little white house with a sign “God’s House” on it. I am assuming it is a church, but I wondered if God’s house is really this small….
I continued west on Hwy 1906 towards Magnolia. Very rural scenery continued. I love old barns and reminders that I am in Amish country.
I followed KY 1079 west and then proceeded north up Munfordville Rd. to Hwy 1517 (Oak Hill Road). At that corner I came across an old log cabin, shown below. This is one of those delights you run across while traveling the less beaten paths.
I headed north up Oak Hill Rd until I got to Talley Oak Hill Rd, where I tool a left and then the next right was my second goal location of the trip (first was Penn’s Store). Here I came across Wonderland Rd. The name drew some interest for me…but there really isn’t much of a wonderland on this road.
The trailer above had smoke coming out of the smoke stack, no apparent electricity and only a bike parked in front. Makes me wonder who is really living in wonderland….
Wonderland Road ended up at Sonora Road, where I took a left and that brought me to US 31W. I headed south towards Bonnieville and then into Munfordville.
Before getting into downtown Munfordville I drove by a Barbecue place called Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin BBQ Bliss. I have always loved the names of local BBQ joints (and I have also enjoyed stopping at them to eat). Unfortunately, I was running out of time so I wasn’t able to stop. Catfish, fried pickles, sweet tater fries, collard greens and BBQ. Hmmm…
My third planned stop on this trip was Kentucky Stonehenge., a small replica of the fabled Stonehenge from England. Actually, it really isn’t quite a replica, but is fun and worth the stop. Located just off of Interstate 65 at exit 65, go just a bit south on US-31 towards Munfordville. Turn right on Maple St (where you should see the sign above) and then left on Lynn Ave. You will see it in the back yard of a house on the right. The owners have even created a parking area for visitors.
Over the years I have become close friends with many of these performers thru Eddie and Antsy McClain. I was thrilled to also see Edgar Cruz, an amazing Flamenco guitarist from Oklahoma City who came out to the show. I also visited with Bardstown, Kentucky fingerstyle guitarist Pat Kirtley. All of these guitarists are the best in the business, but also are amazing entertainers. All have performed at the John Hardin Performing Arts Center due to Eddie Mattingly’s great efforts. Their posters adorn the wall of the PAC Green Room:
Needless to say, the show was not only magical, it was breathtaking. Both Michael, who opened the show and then Tommy, played sets that astounded the crowd and kept us totally entertained and amazed at the same time. It is by far the best musical show I have ever been to. And I have been to some pretty amazing ones over the years!! The photography from the show was by my good friend and photographer Marc Manning. One of the best horse photographers in Kentucky, he is also a premiere concert and landscape photographer.
This day began with me Enjoying the Ride, but ended with me on an absolute high from the music, the friends and the road trip. It was an unforgettable day!!
Though I can’t add video from last night’s show, you may want to check out some of the videos on YouTube and on their sites.