Z is for Zeal – #atozchallenge

I am a zealous traveler. I travel passion and with all the gusto I can.  A roadtrip with me can be grueling, but it is always fun.  Indeed, I travel with the intent of creating many good memories.  Many call me a Road Warrior. Well, I love that term. I travel with zeal.

When on roadtrips, I like to be up with the sun and travel until the sun goes down.  I stop for the night wherever I am at sundown…I can’t take many pictures at night now can I?

Taking photos along the way
Sumoflam and the FREE Stamp in Cleveland

In my zealous travels, I have visited all 50 states and a few Canadian Provinces. I have at least one photo of me in almost all of them…a few exceptions where I traveled to those places years ago and the photos either were lost or were never taken (Nevada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts…at least).  But in recent years, I have become the “Shamelessly Self-Proclaimed Selfie King” and have tried to record my travels digitally, and include selfies along the way.

Without further adieu, following are selfies/photos of me in every state and Canadian Province I have visited (where I have photos).  I have throw some “Road Warrior” and “Traveling with Zeal” pics in along the way for fun.

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ
Am I Normal? Who knows?

ALABAMA

Visiting Alabama with some of my grandchildren in early 2017

ALASKA

On Glacier Bay in Alaska in 2004

ARIZONA

Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983

ARKANSAS

Welcome to Arkansas
Found Friendship in Arkansas

CALIFORNIA

At Golden Gate Bridge in in San Francisco, CA May 2015

COLORADO

Welcome to Colorado WY 789 and CO 13
Sitting high up on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 1990 looking down at a crystal lake

CONNECTICUT

Mystic, CT Amtrak Station in Sept 2015

DELAWARE

Welcome to Delaware…first time since 1986. Visited in 2016 during Christmas Holiday

FLORIDA

Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990

GEORGIA

Stone Mountain, GA in 2015

HAWAII

Well…I used to have a photo of me hitting a golf ball at Mililani Golf Course in Honolulu.  Can’t find it…..

IDAHO

At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID

ILLINOIS

A visit to Illinois in 2014
Sumoflam with Superman in Metropolis, IL in 2014

INDIANA

Santa Claus, IN, Christmas 2015
Story General Store, Story, IN

IOWA

World’s Largest truckstop is in Iowa. Been there three times

KANSAS

Little House on the Prairie in Eastern Kansas with the family in 1993

KENTUCKY – My Home Sweet Home since 1993

Visiting Cumberland Falls in Kentucky with grandchildren in 2016
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November 2016

LOUISIANA

Entering Louisiana in 2014
Visiting Troy Landry of Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA in 2014

MAINE

Visiting the beautiful lighthouse on the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine in 2015

MARYLAND

Ocean City, MD in December 2016

MASSACHUSETTS – I last visited Massachusetts in 1990 on a trip to Boston.  Photos were taken, but got long lost….

MICHIGAN

On the blazing Hell Bench in Hell, MI
Sumoflam with Hiawatha, America’s tallest Indian Statue at over 50 feet in Ironwood, MI

MINNESOTA

Sumoflam in Floodwood, Minnesota
Bemidji, MN in 2014 — one of my bucket list places

MISSISSIPPI

On the Blues highway in Mississippi in 2014
One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS
Chunky, MS

MISSOURI

Welcome to Missouri
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
Finding Success in Missouri

MONTANA – Lived in this wonderful state from 1970-1973

Hitting Montana on a road trip in 2014
At the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, still on US 89 in Montana

NEBRASKA

Visiting Nebraska in 2015
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

NEVADA – I have visited a few times but don’t think I ever got any photos.  Oh well.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Welcome to New Hampshire in Sept 2015 – State #49!

NEW JERSEY

Welcome to Hoboken, NJ
Photo of NYC taken from Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ

NEW MEXICO

Welcome to New Mexico at Raton Pass
Have a Coke and a Smile?? Coke machine in Roswell…

NEW YORK

In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

NORTH CAROLINA

Jos with Grampz at rest area in North Carolina – April 2013

NORTH DAKOTA

Welcome to North Dakota
On the Enchanted Highway in Western North Dakota in 2013
Rugby, ND in 2014

OHIO – I was born in Little Italy in Cleveland.  Home sweet home.

My first home – 2072 Murray Hill Road, now home of the Murray Hill Market
Sumoflam at the place of his birth
I found Novelty in Ohio

OKLAHOMA

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014
Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

OREGON

At Multnomah Falls in Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA

Smile…you are in Pennsylvania…so I smiled!
Found Prosperity in PA

RHODE ISLAND – Only visited once way back in 1988.  No photos.  Actually drove through.  Need to stop again!!

SOUTH CAROLINA

On the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina in 2013

SOUTH DAKOTA

Visiting South Dakota for the 4th or 5th time in 2013
Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

TENNESSEE

Visiting Tennessee in 2014 on my way to Galveston
Welcome to Bristol. I took this from the Tennessee side of the road.

TEXAS

Visiting Texas in 2014
We visited Texas in October 2016. This was in Texarkana, TX
Sumoflam visits Austin, Texas

UTAH – Graduated High School in Murray, UT in 1974

Graduated from Murray High School in 1974
At Monument Valley in Utah in 1982
Welcome to Salt Lake

VERMONT – My 50th state visited — made it in 2016

State Number 50 – At NH/VT border in Brattleboro, VT

VIRGINIA

Welcome to Virginia…taken in early August 2016
At the Cross Roads of the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trails

WASHINGTON

Neah Bay, Washington – the northwestern most point in the continental US
Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market – what a place!

WEST VIRGINIA

Welcome to West Virginia!
Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin welcomes Sumoflam on US Route 2
With the famed Hodag in Rhinelander, WI

WYOMING

Wyoming’s Wildlife?
Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

WASHINGTON DC

Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Washington DC 2016

ONTARIO, CANADA

Sumoflam at Screaming Heads in Burk’s Falls, Ontario
Customers Needed – Toronto, Ontario

SASKATCHEWAN

Welcome to Saskatchewan

MANITOBA

Virden, Manitoba
At an oil well display in Virden, Manitoba

ALBERTA

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)

 

 

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Y is for Yard Art – #atozchallenge

One of the more interesting things I look for on roadtrips as I pass through small communities on back roads is yard art.  Funky art and decorations in people’s yards, on their fences, on their houses. People have ingenuity.  Some people have junk.  But, as the saying goes, “One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure.”

Unique Yard Art in Parker, Idaho

For me, Yard Art is anything unique and unusual.  It could be chain saw art – wood carvings made with chain saws.  It could be art made from scrap metal.  It could be, like the photo above, a hodge podge of signs, junk or other things.  Following are some selections of yard art I have taken over the years.  Don’t judge…some of these people love their “collections.”  I just love my collection of photos of theirs…  Enjoy the virtual ride.

Scrap Metal Art in Oil Springs, Ontario
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
A Chain Saw Art Santa at Santa’s Candy Castle in Santa Claus, Indiana
Buried parts of airplanes at the Flying Tiger Museum in Toco, TX
Yet another junk collector along US Route 2 at the Blueberry Antique Store in Blueberry, WI
Scrap metal bison in someone’s front yard in Rudyard, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Hodge Podge Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Bethel Saloon in Port Orchard, WA
Scrap Metal Horse at Woodford Reserve near Versailles, Kentucky
The Shack Playground, The Shack Burger Resort, Cypress, TX
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox at Frontier Steakhouse – Dunkirk, Montana
Front of Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL
Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma
Giant scrap metal chopper and rider at Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD
P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon
Gotta add some wood carvings – these from Nebraska City, NE
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana, south of Helena
Whimsical Sculpture at Winter Wheat in Sparta, Ontario
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa
Wooden sculpture in a yard across from Daffin’s in Sharon, PA
Road Sign Art in Meadville, PA
A menagerie of oddball and offbeat things all over the roof, side of the house and the yard – Hamtramck Disneyland in Hamtramck, MI
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
“Javelin Man” by Larry Vennard in Centralia, Missouri
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Scene from Cliff Bruce Windmill Hill in Woodstock, Ontario
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Hand made dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Nice carved eagle in Redcliff, Colorado
Hillbilly Hot Dogs long view – Lesage, WV
Hillbilly Hot Dogs near Lesage, WV
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
A Scrap Metal Sculpture in Bemidji, MN
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Spider Volkswagen in someone’s backyard – Wolf Creek, Oregon
A hodge podge of scrap metal art at Porter’s Sculpture Park in Montrose, SD
Chainsaw Forest near Medford, WI
Small Metal Sculpture in Gladstone, ND
Buck Samuelson sculptures on a hillside in Glasgow, Montana
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Sumoflam and Justin Howland at Grizz Works in Maple, WI. Giant Grizzly is amazing! He makes yard art
A view of Boudreau’s Antiques and Collectibles on US Hwy 2 east of Ashland, WI
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard, WA
Looks like Humpty Dumpty is alive and well in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Gasoline Pump Art Sculpture in Story, IN

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P is for People – #atozchallenge

I am enriched by people. They inspire me, they teach me, they bring me joy.

I have often been told that I have never met a stranger. And it’s true. I am unabashed around people. Whether it’s joking with a person in line at a grocery store or interacting with the person at a table next to me in a restaurant, I always feel comfortable.

Having a huge elephant ear with friend Robert Phinney in Dayton, WA
Got to meet Nelson Campbell, Director of the well know documentary Plant Pure Nation, in Louisville, KY

The same goes with my travels. I have been blessed to have met hundreds of unique individuals from all walks of life.

The diversity of people enriches us.

Unlike my other posts in this series, I am stretching far beyond the boundaries of back roads in America. This post will take the reader to Japan, the Philippines, Canada and beyond. As a tour guide in Flagstaff I got to interact with 100s of nameless tourists from all over the world. Working in Japan in the late 1980s, I met more unique folks from the far corners of the earth.

Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
Motorbike Quartet in Cebu, Philippines
Street Person – Cebu

First off, there are the “random people.” The people I have photographed on the streets while traveling. Here are a few, including some from the Philippines during my trips there in 2007. From the loneliness of street people, to the unique shots I would see from the car as I drive by in some small town, these people add color.

 

Siesta Time – Cebu
Belly Rubbing – Carbon Market – Cebu
Street Person – Toronto
Walking by the Art – Toronto
Relaxing – Weatherford, Texas
Standing – Antlers, Oklahoma
Old Man – Paducah, Kentucky
Sleeping on a Bench – Lexington, Kentucky
Street Person – Dallas, Texas
Meditation – San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona
Hanging with Ukranians at Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Sumoflam and Antsy McClain

For years, I have worked and often traveled with singer/songwriter Antsy McClain to many parts of this country. I have been blessed to meet many wonderful musicians, some very well known, others not so well known. Many I have gotten to know well…not as musicians, but as people.

Many of the musicians I have met are genuine.  They are such neat people…not pretentious at all.  It is nice to talk to them about life.  One of them, Bobby Cochran, who played guitar for Antsy for a few years, was also the lead guitarist for the band Steppenwolf in the 1970s.  I saw him as a fan back in 1975 and never imagined I would be traveling on the road with him talking religion, politics and life.

Hanging with guitarist Bobby Cochran in Bardstown, KY in 2011
Sumoflam and world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, c.g.b.
Sumoflam and GUITARIST EXTRAORDINAIRE Edgar Cruz from Oklahoma
One of my favorite people – multitalented musician Bruce Wandmayer, from Santa Cruz, CA
Hanging with my Aussie mate, multiinstrumentalist Pauly Zarb.
Have become good friends with the lovely former country rock singer Patti Hall, who now sells real estate in Phoenix
Sumoflam and guitarist Michael Kelsey from Indiana – he is one of my favorite guitarists and musicians. He is also a fabulous person.
“Crafty” Jack Burger from Lethbridge, Alberta

Another Antsy fan I met in Lethbridge, Alberta. Crafty Jack is a carpenter and master luthier. I spent two days with he and his sweet wife “Little Debbie” back in 2008. He taught me and my son about guitar making and took us on a nice adventure to Vulcan, Alberta to learn about Star Trek. Also, while in Lethbridge we enjoyed a dinner with him and Debbie in a converted water tower.  What a trip! Our visit with him was out of this world!

I have spent time with Crafty and Debbie in California and also on a cruise to Cancun.  We strolled the historic site of Tulum in Mexico together.  So blessed to know these great folks.

Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)
One of many Flamingoheads

Along the way I have become close friends with many Antsy fans. These “Flamingoheads,” as they are called, are also a diverse and lovely flock of folks. Some have become lifelong friends.

A couple of these Flamingoheads took great care of me on a visit to California in 2015. “Christmas Carla” and “Princess Ione” provided housing, touring and transportation for nearly a week. I got to know them, not as fans of Antsy, but as the real people they are with their unique life stories.

Enjoying the ride in California with “Christmas Carla” (she was born on Christmas day.
Ione (L) and Carla (R)…kissin cuzzins!!
BBQ Pitmaster Oliver Zuder showing off his trophy at the Oshawa Ribfest in 2008 in Ontario

My travels across Canada and the US have led me to others. Take, for instance, Oliver Zuder, a BBQ pit master from Ontario. I met him at Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario in 2013 and we became friends soon. I went to BBQ competitions to watch him and his brother Davor make people smile with satisfaction.

In the past couple of years, Oliver has started a new BBQ business called Uncle Sam’s BBQ, also in Ontario.   We keep in contact and my mouth waters every time I think of him.

Davor Zuder and some smokin’ ribs at Oshawa Rib Fest in Ontario in 2008

Crisscrossing the country I have met and chatted with cafe owners and shop owners. Their colorful stories enrich.

Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe in Tightwad, MO
Tonya Floyd, current owner of the Wigwam Drive-in in Ravenna, KY
Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH
Donating on of my “MARDUP” license plates at Carhenge. I wonder if it is hanging on the wall…

I have also had my brushes with celebrities in my travels. As a tour guide in Arizona in 1983, I once met Alice Cooper in a restaurant parking lot in Sedona. We talked Golf and politics for 30 minutes. No selfies, no autographs. Just two people chatting.  On another occasion, I was attending a solar conference in Kobe, Japan in 1991. At lunch I sat with some other non-Japanese from Norway. We chatted a while and then I was introduced to Morten Harket, who I immediately recognized as the lead vocalist for the group A-ha (Take on Me). He happened to be a huge advocate of solar energy. We talked about many things. No pictures or autographs. Just enriching conversation.

David with Nadia Comanci – spent three days with her as her personal guide in Kyushu

One of my fond memories was being on the road for three days in Kyushu, Japan as the personal guide and interpreter for Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci. I spent hours listening to her harrowing escape from the Communist regime in Romania. Though a national hero, she was also a prisoner to dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Fascinating stuff.

 

Sumoflam and Swamp People’s Troy Landry…one of the friendliest and most personable guys you’ll ever meet (Troy that is…)
Sumoflam with Troy Landry – 4 years after saying I would meet this guy

Back in August 2010 I watched the first episode of the TV show Swamp People. Already an avid traveler and travel writer, I became fascinated with the show, which featured Gator hunters in Louisiana. One of them, Troy Landry, was quite a character. I told my wife “one day I am gonna track him down and meet him.” In 2015 I did just that. I visited his bait shop and crawfishing facility in Pierre Part, LA. He happened to be there buying loads and loads of crawfish from fishermen. We talked and chatted for 30 minutes or more while he worked. Friendly and outgoing, and totally good natured, he told stories of Gator hunting, told me about the crawfishing business and the let me “choot him” in a selfie.

Hanging with Danielle Colby from American Pickers at Antique Archeaology in 2012

On another roadtrip, this time into Iowa, I visited the small town of LeClaire, on the Mississippi River. This was the home to Antique Archaeology, the Antique shop made famous by the hit TV Show American Pickers. While there in that hot July afternoon, I was told that Danielle Colby, one of the cast members, was around and was always happy to meet fans. She is the tattooed friendly gal that works with the pickers on the show. During my visit, I learned that she had her own business creating unique clothing and had a shop across the street. I went over there and we chatted about her work, her roller derby hobby and her work as a burlesque dancer. She welcomed a selfie too.

Under one of Clyde’s massive creations…his 12 foot tall dragon
Clyde Wynia, the creator of Jurustic Park and the artist behind all of the work

Not so famous, but just as unique, was my opportunity to meet 80 year old Clyde Wynia, the creative mind behind the amazing Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI. This former attorney turned his welding passion into a unique menagerie of metal creations, including giant dragons and small spiders. He gave me a personal tour and told some amazing stories.

Clyde tells stories of his various pieces of art

I also can’t forget to mention my encounter with “the one and only JFK,” James Frank Kotera, the Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI. (See full story and video HERE.)

Sumoflam with JFK, “Mr. Twine Ball” and “Junior” – August 2007

My travels have also led me to chance meetings with individuals with similar interests. And social media, especially Facebook, has extended that opportunity.

Portrait and landscape photographer Derek Ace (photo by Jeff Dostalek)
Derek Ace self portrait

On a trip to Wyoming in 2013, I stopped at a place called Hell’s Half Acre. A unique geological formation, it was a must see photo stop for me. I struck up a conversation with a young hot shot photographer named Derek Ace, from Madison, WI. We hit it off and I got his contact info. Derek and I have been Facebook friends ever since and I have been enlightened and enriched by his amazing photography, especially his desert works and his off the chain shots of abandoned buildings, rusted cars and sundry other forgotten treasures left behind.  See his Rural Ruins page for some great photos.

Author, travel writer, lecturer and musician Tui Snider of Azle, TX
Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014

As an avid blogger of quirky things, I had a chance virtual encounter via the web of Texas Travel blogger Tui Snider. We exchanged notes about offbeat and quirky places in Texas and soon became good Facebook friends. On a subsequent trip to Texas in 2013, I finally met this amazing individual and her husband Larry at their gothic-accented home in Azle. Besides quirky things, Tui is also fascinated by the paranormal and has also become quite the expert on cemetery gravestone symbolism. She has published numerous books and articles. I count her as a dear friend.

Sumoflam with Shelly Cumbie in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse for a tour of the “Ghosts of Denton”
Writer, Radio Host, Sacred and Mysterious Site Traveler Teal Gray

Through Tui I have met ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie in Denton, TX, who has provided many fascinating stories. I have also become a virtual friend of writer, blogger and podcaster Teal Gray.

Teal has actually done a live podcast interview with me on her internationally syndicated podcast.  She also recently write an article about my travel blogging and photography for the Dallas Entertainment Journal (see the link here)

Teal Gray Worldwide

The podcast can be heard in its entirety here:

Even my local staycation trips have led me to fascinating new friends, such as local bird and nature photographers and enthusiasts.  See some great photos by the members of the Jacobson Park Photographers Group which I started on Facebook. (see the site)

Photographing Wildlife with some of the Jacobson Park Photographers

I have also had the opportunity to meet local chefs that have been on Food Network competitions such as Cutthroat Kitchen or Guy’s Grocery Games. Ranada Riley, co-owner of the Lexington Diner, was one of these. Her “amazing” hairdo and unique cooking style have made her a local celebrity. But there is so much more to her beyond the cooking, whether it be her faith, her love for life or her diverse lifestyle. Meeting her in person and then following her life through social media has been a great adventure.

Ranada Riley, owner of the Lexington Diner in Lexington has been on television Food Network Competitions such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen

What more can I say? People bring me great joy and it is so fun to meet new folks every week!

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