Everywhere a Sign – Some S Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Since man could walk, travel has been a part of life.  The sensational opportunity to see the world has kept most of us from being sedentary. The singular driving force is the strong desire of discovery.

For nearly 50 years I have sought the sensation, the scintillating, the stylish and the silly in my travels.  In 2018, that striving for something special continued.  I hope you will enjoy some of the S Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Smiley, Texas

Smiling in Smiley, Texas
Smiley, Texas – didn’t find many smiles here
The Smiley Water Tower. Not even a Smiley Face on it!

I was down in Houston in February 2018 and took the grandsons on an expedition.  One of my “goal places” was Smiley, Texas.   I always love places with unique names.  The small community’s name has nothing to do with smiles.  Rather, it was named after trader and sheepherder John Smiley in the 1870s.   The town of about 450 is located at the intersection of US Highway 87 and Farm Roads 3234 and 108.  Honestly, the town looked very depressed and run down.  Probably not much to smile about.

Sunset Motel, Belle Fourche, South Dakota 

Great little place in the geographic center of the continental US!
The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD
Sunset Motel Sign on a building in downtown Belle Fourche.

When I take a long road trip, I don’t typically plan on a place to stay until late in the day.  I never know how far along I’ll get before it gets dark.  Such was the case with my visit to Belle Fourche.  After traveling west on Interstate 90 thru to Wall, SD, I decided to head northwest on US Highway 85 towards Montana and made it into Belle Fourche.  I always try to stay at a local, vintage motel on these trips nowadays, just for the experience (good or bad).  I got to Belle Fourche at sunset, just in time to get a nice shot of the sunset with the Sunset Motel 5 sign.  It was a nice stay.

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL
A Starved Rock Carving

I made my way to Starved Rock State Park which is a huge natural park situated on the Illinois River just south of North Utica, Illinois and east of Oglesby, Illinois.  My sole purpose was to track down one of the Whispering Giant carvings by artist Peter Toth.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and hope to visit there for a more extended trip sometime in the near future.  The park has 18 small canyons and numerous waterfalls that can be seen from a number of hiking trails.

Skykomish, Washington

Welcome to Skykomish, WA

Skykomish – interesting name and splendid vistas!  I pulled into Skykomish on a beautiful April day after coming down from the snow-packed Stevens Pass on US Highway 2.  Though the altitude is only 928 feet, it feels completely like a mountain town as it is surrounded by the tall scenic mountains of the Cascade Range.  The name “Skykomish” derives from the Skykomish or Skai-whamish tribe who inhabited the area before any Europeans arrived. The town of Skykomish was officially incorporated on June 5, 1909.  The main purpose of the town was to be a fueling station for the railroad.

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

The old classic move marquee is slowly disappearing, so, whenever I hit a small town with a huge classic marquee, I want to grab a shot. Such was the case of the Sabine in Many, Louisiana. Built in 1947, the Sabine Theatre was acquired by the town of Many in the mid-1990’s. Like many theatres across the country, the Sabine is now typically used for live theatre, musical performances, occasional movies, and other community events.

Shiner, Texas

Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Shiner Barbeque Company

When I hear the word shiner, I usually think of a black eye.  So, on my trip to see Smiley (see above), I also went through the town of Shiner, Texas.  Located on US Highway 90, the town is now locally famous in Texas as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  best known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 49 states.  I didn’t visit the brewery, but learned that the town was named for Henry B. Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in 1887 and then incorporated in 1890.

Sublime Baptist Church, Sublime, Texas

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Continue East on US Highway 90 from Shiner and you’ll pass through the small community if Sublime.  Isn’t that just sublime?  There isn’t much here.  The population is about 75, and has been since the 1950s. The name was set in 1875 when a post office was established there.

Stardust Motel, Wallace, Idaho

Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
Stardust Motel – Wallace, Idaho

Like the Sunset Motel in South Dakota, I ended up in the mountain town of Wallace, Idaho on my way west to Washington in April 2018.  I just stopped in and got a room at the Stardust.  Classic vintage motel sign drew me in.  Nice rooms, good rates and a lovely little town.

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

I stopped in to Olympia to have breakfast with some old friends.  We ate the Spar Cafe in downtown Olympia.  First established in the 1930s, the eatery is filled with interesting art.   Originally touted as a “fine eating and recreation parlor,”  can you still see the original bar, artwork, chandeliers, and other furnishings.  I heard that even the drinking water is served up old school—straight from its own artesian well.

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!!

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Everywhere a Sign – Some I Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them.  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)

I am always Interested in the Incredible variety of unique places in this expansive country of ours.  Through my over 13,000 miles of travel in 2018 I saw thousands of signs for roads, places, shops, etc.  There aren’t too many that begin with the letter I but I did find some…because I had this challenge in mind as I traveled.  So, here are the three or four I signs I found in 2018. Enjoy the Read.  Enjoy the Ride.

I.X.L., Oklahoma

I.X.L., Oklahoma
I.X.L. Oklahoma (Yes, IXL in my travel writing!)

I have seen hundreds and hundreds of town signs over the years, but this was the first time I have found a location name that is an abbreviation.  Granted, there are towns with their nicknames, such as Chi-town for Chicago or Philly for Philadelphia.  But, what does I.X.L. mean?  Maybe it refers to my travel writing? (Do I X L?)

I.X.L. is a small place with a population of about 51 (in 2010).  The town was incorporated in 2001 and is an historical freedman’s town.  According to the town’s website explains that the actual name comes from the fact that the town site is on a strip of Cherokee land famous for the Oklahoma Land Run. The name stands for Indian Exchange Land. The town’s population is 100% African-American (thus a “freedman’s town”), with Joan Partridge as the current mayor.

Iowa River Greenbelt, Iowa Falls, Iowa

Iowa River Greenbelt – Iowa City, Iowa

As I travel across the country, I typically make plans to find the wonderful Whispering Giants by Peter Toth (see my post about these).  One of the nearly seventy of these is located in Iowa Falls, Iowa on the Iowa River Greenbelt.  The Greenbelt runs along the Iowa River in Hardin County, Iowa from Alden, Iowa to Eldora, Iowa.   Unfortunately, I was there in the midst of a snowstorm, so all I got to see was the sign and the Iowa Falls Whispering Giant.

Imagine Art Gallery, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

The Imagine Art Gallery on US 67 and Abbey Road
Imagine Sumoflam

In 1964 the Beatles made their first visit to the U.S.  On this trip they passed through the small town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (see my post about this).  At the time, Imagine Art Gallery owner Carrie Snapp, was head of The Beatles local fan club when the Beatles made their surprise stop-over at the Walnut Ridge airport, between their Dallas and New York concerts. Nowadays Carrie runs a shop with a load of art, including lots of Beatle’s memorabilia.  She even has copies of some of the original color photos from the Beatles 1964 stop-over.

Located at the intersection of Abbey Road and Main Street, it is part of a complex of shops and businesses that celebrate the Beatles’ visit some 55 years after the event.  If you like the Beatles, this is a must-stop place.

That’s it for the I signs.  Imagine the indulgence had I included more….

Like what you see here? 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!!

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Everywhere a Sign – Some A Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them.  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)

Everywhere you drive you see signs…all kinds of them — road signs, directional signs, business signs, advertisements, and more.  As I drive, with camera by my side, I am always on the look out for something unique, interesting and fun.  Here are just a couple of “A” Signs that I came across in my road trips across America in 2018.

Alzada, Montana

Alzada, Montana

I drove through Alzada on a snowy April morning.  Alzada is just barely a dot on the map.  A couple of houses, a convenience store/gas station and a very unique Biker Bar known as the Stoneville Saloon with the famous slogan: “Cheap Drinks, Lousy Food.”   I wrote about it in another blog of mine about 10 years ago – READ IT HERE

Al’s Oasis – Chamberlain, South Dakota

Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain, SD
Al’s Oasis in Chamberlain, South Dakota

Driving west on Interstate 90 from Minnesota on, one will often see signs for Wall Drug. – A huge “tourist trap” in South Dakota.  The signs boast “Wall Drig only 450 miles” (or other various things such as “Free Ice” and “Five Cent Coffee”).   But, you also, on occasion, see signs for another fairly well known, but not quite as famous place known as Al’s Oasis, which is 200 miles east of Wall Drug, in the Chamberlain/Oacoma area of South Dakota.   Established in the 1950s by Albert and Dena Mueller (and their son Alfred and his wife Vena), they created a stop for weary travelers, offering Vena’s apple pies, hamburgers and 5¢ coffee.  Today it is a sprawling tourist trap (I say this with kindness…once you are drawn in, its hard to eave because it is so much fun.) So, next time, give Al a try on your I-90 drive.

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon
Welcome to Astoria

Astoria is a city in Oregon, on the Columbia River and the border with Washington.   Famous for the Astoria Column (which I was not able to visit the day I got there due to schedule). It is also home to one Peter Toth’s many “Whispering Giants,” which was the main reasons I stopped here. (See my May 2018 post about the Whispering Giants)

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book 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!!

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