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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Travel in 2018: The Best of the Roadside Attractions – Part 1

Sharkheads in Biloxi, MS

Obviously, one of my favorite things to do on road trips short or long is locate the fun, unique and offbeat roadside attractions.  And, fortunately, 2018 provided me a plethora of these.  I have already written about a few of them individually in past months, but this post will be a nice little “photo tour” of some of my favorites.

Having been through 26 different states in 2018, I had plenty of sites and loads of fun.  I got to share many of these with grandchildren, which made it even better.

Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere

Sumoflam with Dignity near Chamberlain, SD

Perhaps my favorite from 2018 was the amazing giant Dignity: Of Earth and Sky statue in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  This giant 50 foot tall steel statue honors the women of the Lakota and Dakota tribes.  It was created by artist  South Dakota Dale Lamphere.  It sits in a rest area overlooking the Missouri River and can be seen from quite a distance.

The statue also features a Star Quilt that has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move in the wind.  Really a wonderful site and it is also one of America’s tallest statues (the 20th tallest according to Wikipedia listing).

80 Foot Long and 37 Foot Tall Brontosaurus statue in Wall Drug created by Emmett Sullivan

Sumoflam takes a selfie with Wall’s giant Brontosaurus

Another giant is just down the road from Dignity. Wall Drug’s giant brontosaurus stretches 80 feet and sits 37 feet tall as it overlooks Interstate 90  at the Wall Exit.  Even there is no time for a visit to Wall Drug, there is always time to stop for a photo-op with a giant friendly dino!

 

Dinosaurs seem to be all over the country and on my four big trips in 2018 I came across a few more of them.  Always fun!

A Scary Dino in Uranus, Missouri

A colorful scrap metal dinosaur in Carmine, Texas

Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, SD

Scary Dino in Price, Utah

Another Giant dino in Uranus

A T-Rex stands at the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

Grandson Rockwell and I hanging with Ms. Pearl

Dinosaurs are not the only giants that I came across on the road in 2018.  One of my favorite “giants” was “Ms. Pearl” the giant squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas at the Berdoll Pecan Candy factory.   Created in 2011, it stands 14 feet tall and currently lays claim to be the tallest squirrel statue in the world.  Like many “roadside” attractions, this one is very visible off of TX Hwy 71.

Nice thing about Berdoll’s is that you can get your picture with Ms. Pearl and even get some Pecan goodies from their 24/7 Pecan Vending Machine.

Ms. Pearl, the 14 foot tall squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas

Other big things I came across in 2018

A Big Bull and Bison at Chef Louie’s steakhouse in Mitchell, SD

There is a big pig (named Wilbur of course) and then a spider web, with Charlotte, in Wilbur, Washington

Giant Shark Head at Sharkheads in Biloxi, Mississippi

A Giant Metal Owl in southern Houston

Giant Spurs in Hico, Texas

The Giant Bowie knife in Bowie, Texas

The Big Black Muffler Man wielding a miner’s ax in Helper, Utah

Then there are the big Muffler Men and Big John statues.  There are dozens and dozens of these dotting the landscape.  I came across a couple of fun ones in 2018.  In Helper, Utah there is one that is painted totally black…to represent the Coal Miners.

These guys are about 15 feet tall and basically all look alike except for the additional things added to them by the local sites.  Over the years I personally have photographed nearly 40 different versions of Big John, Muffler Men or Uniroyal Gals.

You can find them looking like Paul Bunyan, cowboys, Indians and other fun things.

I always like coming across these unique pieces of funky Americana.

Another look at the big black muffler man in Helper, Utah

A Big John at Steppin’ Out Western Wear in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma

Then there is the Big John in Hochatown, Oklahoma…with a golf club

I am working on Part 2 of this travel report with more big and unique things to see.  Watch for it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Offbeat and Quirky Roadside Attractions Now Available on Amazon!

Yesterday my new book, “Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions” made its debut on Amazon!

The book is 130 pages of FULL COLOR whimsy and kitsch as I tell stories of my visits to these places all over the U.S. and Canada. Definitely was fun taking these back roads trips to quirkville and I am excited to share them with you in words and photos.

Even more exciting was that after a few hours the book was already #5 on Amazon’s Road Travel New Releases chart and #24 on their Travel Reference chart!!

I hope you will be able to check out the book or even get it on Kindle (#14 on the Road Travel chart). You Chang the book here:

SEE NEW BOOK

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