A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The P Things #AtoZChallenge

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.

 

Peculiar, Missouri

Welcome to Peculiar, MO
A Peculiar Police Car
A Peculiar Elementary School

Possum Trot Supper Club – Oakwood, Illinois

Possum Trot Supper Club, Oakwood, IL

Pierre Part, Louisiana

Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Visiting Troy Landry of Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA in 2014
Swamp People Truck at Duffy’s Bait Shop in Pierre Part

Pound Gap, Virginia

Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border

Prairie Dogs – Browning, Montana; Cactus Flat, South Dakota

A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument in Montana
Prairie Dog — standing watch in Cactus Flat
Prairie Dog – Cactus Flat, SD

Pal’s Sudden Service – Bristol, Tennessee

After eating Pal’s food make sure to Exercise Daily. Couldn’t help but chuckle
Pal’s Sudden Service in Bristol, TN

Perryville Battlefield – Perryville, Kentucky

Perryville Battlefield – Perryville, KY
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
Welcome to Perryville

Pink Elephants Everywhere! – DeForest, Wisconsin; Haubstadt, Indiana; Barboursville, West Virginia; Russellville, Kentucky

Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Martini bearing pink and white elephant pair at Hipp Nursery in Haubstadt, IN
This pink elephant is in the Huntington, WV suburb of Barboursville on US 60
Big pink elephant in Russellville, KY, just around the corner from the big cow with pink sunglasses
Need a Pink Elephant T-Shirt? I know where you can get one!

And then there is the Pink Elephant Car Wash – Seattle, Washington

Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle, Washington

Poutine – A Canadian Favorite – Paris, Ontario

Poutine – Fries, Brown Gravy and Cheese Curds -Pure yummiferousness
Chomping on poutine in Paris in 2008

Portsmouth Murals – Portsmouth, Ohio

Chillicothe Street 1940s by Robert Dafford in Portsmouth, OH

Portland Head Light – Portland, Maine

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

Just down the road from Hell – Pinckney, Michigan

Howell Rd. to Hell – Pinckney, MI

Planet Damon Water Tower – Damon, Texas

There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…

Presti’s Bakery – Little Italy – Cleveland, Ohio

Prestis Bakery….the best cannoli in the world!! And some other good Italian goodies
Italian Yumminess in the case at Presti’s

Prosperity, Pennsylvania

Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Heading to Prosperity

Pain Reliever Bar – Nekoma, North Dakota

Pain Reliever Bar, Nekoma, ND
International Pain Reliever Bar in Nekoma, ND (notice they used a New Mexico flag??)

PRHBTN Murals (there are more than 20 – here are a couple) – Lexington, Kentucky

Sumoflam at MrDHEO’s wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
The enormous “I Am MO” mural in the Lexington Distillery District
Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015

Papa Joe’s – Crescent Junction, Utah

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction, UT
Sumoflam at Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction
The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine at Papa Joe’s

P’Maws Bait Shack – Pierre Part, Louisiana

P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
Cuddling with a White Gator at P’MAWS in Pierre Part, LA
P’MAWS is open 24/7

Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Grilling up the steaks at Pat’s
Best of Philly – Pat’s King of Steaks

Puget Sound – Seattle, Washington

Seattle as seen from a boat in the Puget Sound
On the Ferry in Puget Sound

Perry Como Statues – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s

Fun Stuff in Portland, Oregon

Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Pheasant Bar – Winner, South Dakota

Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD

Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, Arizona

Sumoflam and tourists at Petrified Forest in 1983

Pinto McBean – Bow Island, Alberta, Canada

Pinto McBean statue in Bow Island, Alberta

A few Paul Bunyan guys here and there – Bemidji, Minnesota; Nitro, West Virginia; Minocqua, Wisconsin; Wentzville, Missouri

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
a Big Paul Bunyan in Minocqua, Wisconsin
Big Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox in Nitro, WV
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, MO

Price Less Foods – Irvine, Kentucky

Price Less Foods in Irvine, KY

Popeye Statue – Alma, Arkansas

At the Popeye Statue in Alma, AR in 2009

Port Gibson First Presbyterian Church – Port Gibson, Mississippi

Unique Steeple of the First Presbyterian Church in Port Gibson, MS

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

Paradise Point – Scottsville, Kentucky

Paradise Point – Scottsville, KY
From one hot dog to another…

Scenes from Paris – or four or five of them – Paris, Ontario; Paris, Kentucky; Paris, Texas; Paris, Tennessee

Paris, Ontario
Homes and businesses along the river in Paris, Ontario
Welcome to Paris, Kentucky
Paris, Texas
Welcome to Paris Catfish – they too claim to be the Catfish Capital

Point Defiance Zoo – Tacoma, Washington

Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA
A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo
A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo

Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas

Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, KS

Peaks to Craters Scenic Highway – Idaho

Peaks to Craters scenic byway through the mountains of central Idaho
Grandview Canyon on US 93 – northern section of the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway

Pelicans – Lake Andes, South Dakota; Galveston, Texas; Lexington, Kentucky

White Pelicans at Lake Andes in South Dakota
Pelicans in formation over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX
A rare sighting of a White Pelican flying over Lexington in late April 2018

Plaza Theatres – Glasgow, Kentucky & Wharton, Texas

Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Old Plaza Theater in Wharton, TX

Playhouse Square – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland’s Playhouse Square
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Giant Chandelier

Pea Meal Breakfast Anyone? – Woodstock, Ontario

Peameal Breakfast – Woodstock, Ontario
Pea Meal Breakfast

PPG Glass Castle – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Artistic view of One PPG Place
A view from below One PPG Place

Professor Market – Tremont District – Cleveland, Ohio

Professor Market wall advertisement…located in the Tremont District of Cleveland

Pochahontas, Illinois

Pochahontas, IL – “Pokey” – Home of Country Singer Gretchen Wilson (Gimme a Hell Ya!)

Plaquemine, Louisiana

Welcome to Plaquemine, LA

Pike Place Market – Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market – what a place!
Pike Place Market was packed

Penn’s Store – Gravel Switch, Kentucky

Penn’s Store Sign
Penn’s Store – Gravel Switch, KY

Pella, Iowa

Welcome to Pella
Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States
Building fronts in Pella, IA

Penguins – Omaha, Nebraska; Tacoma, Washington

Penguins at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA

Pheasants on the Prairie – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Enchanted Highway Stop #5 – Pheasants on the Prairie
Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie

Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho

EAT sign at Pickle’s Place in Arco, ID
Pickle’s Place – Home of the “Atomic Burger”

Pete the Curler – Bemidji, Minnesota

Pete the Curler by Dale Lewis – one of 25 pieces in the 2014 Bemidji Sculpture Walk

Pork Chop Sandwiches (as seen on Andy Griffith) – Mt. Airy, North Carolina

Snappy Lunch – home of the Pork Chop Sandwich
Cooking up the pork chops at Snappy Lunch

Old Prairie School House – Frisno, Montana

Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…

Giant Prairie Dog Statue – Cactus Flat, South Dakota

Giant Prairie Dog
Sumoflam with the Giant Prairie Dog – Cactus Flat

Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa

Old neon for Pelo’s Sundries

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.

Books 1 & 2

A to Z Challenge: The D 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 towns, some known for their names, other for unique sites in town. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

D The D Towns

Douglas, Wyoming

Large Jackalope - Douglas, WY
Large Jackalope – Douglas, WY
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Another Jackalope is spotted in Douglas
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
Kissing the Jackalope goodbye
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY
My Official Jackalope Hunting License from Douglas, WY

As I travel across the US and Canada, I am always on the lookout for quirky things and big statues.  Well, Douglas, Wyoming provides plenty in that area.  Touted as the Jackalope Capital of the World, Douglas has jackalopes dotting the town, including a couple of big ones.  And “What is a jackalope?” you ask…  Check out my full posts on Douglas HERE and ALSO HERE.

DeForest, Wisconsin

Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Pinkie the Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little "Chick-Fil-A" on Burger King!!
Sissy the Cow in DeForest, WI. Playing a little “Chick-Fil-A” on Burger King!!

Perhaps Wisconsin is the home of the most Big Things.  Throughout the state there are big cows (it is a cheesy state mind you) and big mice.  There is a big bulldog in Beloit (see here).  However, not much tops the big pink elephant at the Shell One Stop in DeForest, WI and the big cow named Sissy is also one of America’s biggest.  Read the bigger story and see more photos HERE.

Discovery Bay, Washington

Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty's in Discovery Bay, WA
Wood carved things in front of Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of Fat Smitty’s

The theme of quirky runs throughout the veins of this post.  I now move on to Discovery Bay, WA on US Highway 101 northwest of Seattle, (near Port Townsend, WA) home of the uniquely quirky Fat Smitty’s burger place.  Surrounded by a menagerie of interesting and colorful wood carvings on the outside and walls and ceilings plastered with dollar bills (and other denominations), this is a place to behold.  Oh, and yes, the burgers aren’t too bad either.  See my full post about my August 2015 visit to Fat Smitty’s HERE.

Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas

At the "Filed of Corn" - Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
At the “Field of Corn” – Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park in Dublin, OH
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
The Field of Corn in Dublin, OH has 109 ears of corn
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007
My son Solomon in Dublin, Texas, former home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007

I have never been to Dublin, Ireland, but I have been to Dublin, Ohio and Dublin, Texas.  The two American towns named Dublin are distinctly different, but both offer some surprises.

In Dublin, OH you can play amongst ears of corn at the “Field of Corn” is a publicly funded art installation in the city of Dublin, Ohio. The installation consists of 109 concrete ears of corn positioned in rows and standing upright in a grassy field.  Sculpted by Malcolm Cochran, a professor of sculpting at Ohio State University, the park was named the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park, and was originally farmed by Sam Frantz, an inventor of several hybrid corn species.  This is not the only unique public art work in Dublin.  This is one of a few towns that has worked to bring in a plethora of unique, cool and sometimes quirky works of outdoor art. Check out the Dublin Arts Council’s website.

In 2007 I took a trip with my son to Texas and Arkansas (I noted our visit to Booger Holler in my B Towns post of the #AtoZChallenge).  On that same trip we visited the town of Dublin, TX, near Waco, to visit what was, at that time, the only remaining Dr Pepper plant in the world that made Dr Pepper with pure cane sugar.  The plant has eventually converted and the museum was moved to Waco.  But I note it here because, back then, they changed the name of the town to Dr Pepper, Texas once a year (and set the population at 1024 — if you are a Dr Pepper fan, you’ll know what the 1024 means).

Dragoon, Arizona

An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
An example of The Thing billboards that dot Arizona, New Mexico and California
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
A myriad of souvenirs available at Bowlin’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort's The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
Bowlin Resort’s The Thing resort in Dragoon, AZ
The Thing's Outhouse -- Great Seats Available
The Thing’s Outhouse — Great Seats Available
AssKickin
Ass Kickin’ nuts…super spicy hot. Made in Goodyear, AZ and found at many tourist shops. Great for munching on long road trips (as long as you have some icy cold liquid to wash them down)

I mentioned Bowlin’s resorts in my post on Akela Flats in the A to Z Challenge last week.  Bowlin has another fun touristy place in Arizona called “The Thing.”  This is one of those places that has billboards hundreds of miles away promoting the unusual site (other’s that I recall seeing in diverse places include “Where the hell is Wall Drug?” (South Dakota), “Visit Little America” (Wyoming), “Rock City” (Tennessee).  I’ll actually hit these places in future posts. ).  As for an explanation of “The Thing”, you’ll have to make your way south of Tucson on Interstate 10, pay the fee and go see it for yourself.  Make sure you visit the famed Outhouse and get some of those amazing Ass Kickin’ Peanuts!  They are available at many fine tourist trap shops around the southwest.

Denton, Texas

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX
The Great Texas Supper Mural at LSA Burger Co, in Denton, TX

A well kept secret of a place is Denton, Texas.  Just north of the excitement of the Dallas metroplex, Denton sits quietly with its grand architecture, ghost walks and a unique burger joint that features a wonderful, yet controversial mural call the The Great Texas Supper, a play on the Last Supper painting but instead has a number of dead Texas musicians.  The LSA Burger Company also features a tribute to Willie Nelson, a Texas shaped “Texas Instruments” sculpture and bars covered with old record albums.  See my full post HERE.

Durant, Oklahoma

Sumoflam with Durant's Giant Peanut
Sumoflam with Durant’s Giant Peanut
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses – Durant, Oklahoma
Painted Horses in Durant, OK
Painted Horses in Durant, OK

Durant, Oklahoma is one of those unique small towns that brings me so much enjoyment in travel.  Home of the “World’s Largest Peanut” statue, it is also decorated with dozens of painted horses. Durant is in the Choctaw Nation and is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.   Though Durant lays claim to the “World’s Largest Peanut”, its a title it shares with two other monuments in Texas and Ashburn, Georgia. This monument is for the peanut growers in Bryan County and I found it on the front lawn of Durant’s city hall.  See more about my trip to Durant and other locales from back in 2013 HERE.

Danville, Illinois

Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Celebrities of Danville Wall Mural in downtown Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Lindley Sign Post Forest in Danville, IL
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl
Danville USA Brick Sculpture by Donna Dobberfuhl

I visited Danville, Illinois on a trip to Omaha in 2013.  This is one of those towns you can spend a good day in.  With dozens of wall murals depicting town history and town heroes, the art is great. But there are other unique pieces of art such as the Danville USA Brick Sculpture shown above.  But most interesting to me was the Lindley Sign Post Forest. The story is unique….Carl Lindley, one of the mural artists in Danville, has the same name as Carl Lindley (also originally from Danville, IL), the founder of the original sign post forest in Alaska (see here). This tradition started in 1942 by Carl K. Lindley, a U. S. Army Engineer, 341 company “D”. When building many signs in the area, he added a sign to a sign post which stated, “Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles”.  The Alaska version has over 47,000 signs.  I think the more mini version in Danville has about 200.  Read the bigger story and see photos in my 2013 post HERE.

Dallas, South Dakota (Honorable mention)

Welcome to Dallas, SD
Welcome to Dallas, SD
Water tower in Dallas -- in the middle of the road
Water tower in Dallas — in the middle of the road

In 2013 I trekked across the country to Idaho and, along the way, took a drive along the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, which covers US Highways 18 and 50. (See the full post HERE).  One of the unique little places I visited was Dallas, SD.  Unlike the huge metropolis of Dallas, Texas, this small community has no stop light but it DOES have a water tower right in the middle of the road!

Denver, North Carolina (Honorable mention)

Big Spider, Denver, North Carolina
Big Black Widow sculpture, Denver, North Carolina
Stacy's Restaurant, Denver, NC
Stacy’s Restaurant, Denver, NC

If I am going to include a Dallas, I might as well also include a Denver, this one in North Carolina.  Denver is a town of a little over 13,000 fine folk who enjoy the luxurious life on the west shore of Lake Norman, just off of NC Hwy 7.  I visited some friends there in March 2012.  We went downtown to dinner and lo and behold I saw a giant black widow!!  Creepy.  Sculpted by artist Dave Simpson, it apparently advertises a pest management company. The gleaming arachnid, with its eight-foot-long legs, perches on a boulder.  After that appetizing moment we had a wonderful dinner at Stacy’s Restaurant. It was a great local home cooked meal type of place.

Damon, Texas (Honorable mention)

I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon...
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…

Another town with a unique water tower and a fun post office is Damon, Texas.  A small place in southern Texas, it has one of the smallest water towers I ave seen and it boasts the name “Planet Damon.”  Fun fun.  See my full trip HERE.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Galveston-Houston

After a great three days in Galveston, it was time to get back on the road.  I would head north to Houston, then on to Austin and eventually into Fort Worth.

Texas is a BIG state and there is lots of ground to cover.  My first day would cover some backroads from Galveston and meander my way into Houston where I would stay overnight with my uncle.

Heart of Texas Route Day 1 - Galveston to Houston the long way
Heart of Texas Route Day 1 – Galveston to Houston the long way

There were things I had planned to see along the way and found a few things along the way as well.  I figured that I may not get this way again (south of Houston) for a while, so I took advantage of a full day of driving to see some parts of Texas that many may not really get to.

My plans were to drive to Alvin, but along the way I came across an interesting house in Santa Fe, Texas. I had to stop and get a few shots. I discovered an unusual huge estate right on TX Hwy 6.  It is called the Pignataro Estate, though many call it a castle.

Pignataro Castle, Santa Fe, Texas
Pignataro Castle, Santa Fe, Texas
Pignataro Castle in Santa Fe, Texas
Pignataro Castle in Santa Fe, Texas

According to an article I found from the Galveston Daily News, September 20, 1981, the home was originally built in the 1930s by a widow of a well-to-do Danish immigrant.  It has since passed hands a number of times and has been owned by the Pignataro family since the 1970s. This larges estate apparently has 26 rooms and a number of other amenities. Following are a few more shots of some of the many white cement statues in the yard.

White cement statuary of Pignataro Estate in Santa, Texas
White cement statuary of Pignataro Estate in Santa, Texas
White Stallions guard the front gate of the Pignataro Castle in Santa Fe, Texas
White Stallions guard the front gate of the Pignataro Castle in Santa Fe, Texas
Closeup shot of one of the cement stallions at Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas
Closeup shot of one of the cement stallions at Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas
Royal Statues of riders inside the fences of Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas
Royal Statues of riders inside the fences of Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas
Lion Fencepost at Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas
Lion Fencepost at Pignataro Estate in Santa Fe, Texas

It is places like the Pignataro Estate that make it so worthwhile to take back roads and see the sites. After my brief photo shoot there, I continued north to Alvin, Texas, the birthplace of famed pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Welcome to Alvin, Texas, hometown of Nolan Ryan
Welcome to Alvin, Texas, hometown of Nolan Ryan

Alvin is about 25 miles southeast of Houston, and like Santa Fe, it is a town originally built around the railroad.  Currently, there are just under 25,000 residents in this town known for its connection to Nolan Ryan.

Alvin Historic Depot Center, Alvin, TX
Alvin Historic Depot Center, Alvin, TX

Nolan Ryan spent a good part of his youth living in Alvin and playing Little League Baseball there and even became a famed high school pitcher at Alvin High School, where some players refused to go up to bat against him because of his amazing fastball. A Hall of Famer now, he serves as an adviser to the Houston Astros organization.

Nolan Ryan Center, Alvin, Texas
Nolan Ryan Center, Alvin, Texas
Nolan Ryan Statue, Alvin, TX
Nolan Ryan Statue, Alvin, TX
Sumoflam with Nolan Ryan in Alvin, TX
Sumoflam with Nolan Ryan in Alvin, TX

After the brief visit in Alvin and headed south to Angleton to visit the first of the Big Three statues in southern Texas. Angleton is home to the Stephen F. Austin statue, which stands 76 feet tall from the base.

Welcome to Angleton, Texas
Welcome to Angleton, Texas

Since I wrote extensively about the Stephen Austin statue in an earlier post, I am just including a couple of photos here.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from the Highway
Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from the Highway

While at the Stephen F. Austin Statue park,  I came across a couple of what I have learned are Cattle Egrets.  Smaller than a Great Egret, I saw them foraging in the grasses.  I saw some of these birds in a horse field in Louisiana as well. Unique looking, beautiful birds. Cattle egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species. Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. They often accompany cattle or other large mammals, catching insect and small vertebrate prey disturbed by these animals.

Cattle Egret seen in Angleton, Texas
Cattle Egret seen in Angleton, Texas
Another shot of a Cattle Egret
Another shot of a Cattle Egret

From Angleton I headed to the small town of Lake Jackson, TX, to find my way…literally! The “main drag” of Lake Jackson is called This Way and they also have a That Way.  Here are a few fun shots of these unique road names and the story behind them. (And, by the way, Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul spent most of his childhood in Lake Jackson…and he found his way to Kentucky and the US Senate!)

You can see that This Way is actually thatta way
You can see that This Way is actually thatta way
This Way is not until the next signal
This Way is not until the next signal
Ahh...there it is...This Way
Ahh…there it is…This Way

All streets radiating from downtown Lake Jackson end in the word “Way.” Among the streets are Center Way, Winding Way, Circle Way, and Parking Way. There is an intersection of two streets named This Way and That Way. In the same spirit, a local church near Bess Brannen Elementary placed a small sign in their driveway named His Way. There is also an Any Way.

At the Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
At the Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
Plaque at the corner of This Way and That Way
Plaque at the corner of This Way and That Way
So, which Way do I take?
So, which Way do I take?
To confuse, at one point there is a Three Way that leads to Center Way
To confuse, at one point there is a Three Way that leads to Center Way

And then there is the old British Phone Box on This Way

Shades of Dr. Who, not quite a TARDIS, but certainly out of place in southern Texas
Shades of Dr. Who, not quite a TARDIS, but certainly out of place in southern Texas

Speaking of out of place, as I headed out of town on my way to West Columbia, TX, lo and behold, what do I see driving in front of me?

UK Car in Texas.  The driver was all decked out in UK Gear too.
UK Car in Texas. The driver was all decked out in UK Gear too. Check out the License Plate!

The next stop in my roundabout tour of SE Texas was in West Columbia, which was known as the First Capitol of Texas. The first Congress of the Republic of Texas was convened in West Columbia on October 3, 1836, when the town was still just named Columbia.

Entering West Columbia, TX with the note that there are historical markers in town
Entering West Columbia, TX with the note that there are historical markers in town
Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Sumoflam at the location of the First Capitol of Texas
Sumoflam at the location of the First Capitol of Texas

I always have a penchant for old theaters and the Capitol Theater in West Columbia is a classic.

Old Capitol Theater in West Columbia, TX.  A Classic Old Building
Old Capitol Theater in West Columbia, TX. A Classic Old Building

This old theater was first open in 1937 and by 1941 it had its name changed to the Capitol.

Mural on a wall in Damon, TX
Mural on a wall in Damon, TX

From West Columbia I made my way to Damon, TX up Texas Highway 36.  I have a friend in Lexington named Damon so I had to stop and send him a shot or two for fun!

Damon, TX highway sign.  Unusual to see the name of the town on a street sign
Damon, TX highway sign. Unusual to see the name of the town on a street sign
This used to be Eddie's Garage...in Damon, TX
This used to be Eddie’s Garage…in Damon, TX
I sent this to my friend Damon.  The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX
I sent this to my friend Damon. The old clapboard style post office in Damon, TX

Damon was actually a unique little place.  Even the old road signs were still in use and had character, but weren’t too legible.

Corner of Live Oak and ??? in Damon, TX
Corner of Live Oak and Woodward in Damon, TX
Corner of Live Oak and Stockwell in Damon, TX
Corner of Live Oak and Stockwell in Damon, TX
West of the Brazos Bar and Grill sign in Damon, TX
West of the Brazos Bar and Grill sign in Damon, TX
Highway 36 in Damon, TX
Highway 36 in Damon, TX
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon...
There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…this “water tower” was about 14 feet tall

From Damon I returned east on Texas Highway 1462 towards Rosharon, TX with a quick turn off on TX 762 to visit the Brazos Bend State Park, known for ts alligator sightings.  I had visited places in Louisiana and Mississippi earlier on this trip in hopes of seeing alligators, but never got to see any.  Maybe this would be the charm!

Turn off to Hwy 762 and Brazos Bend State Park
Turn off to Hwy 762 and Brazos Bend State Park
Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Maybe I’ll find that elusive gator yet!

Caution - Alligators
Caution – Alligators

And, voila….

I found a gator!!
I found a gator!!

And walking around the swamp area I got another gator view.

Gator Land
Gator Land
Another Gator
Another Gator

The State Park had a couple of miles of rads and a few swampy areas.

Moss Covered Tree in Brazos Bend State Park
Moss Covered Tree in Brazos Bend State Park
Flowering Lily Pads in the swamp
Flowering Lily Pads in the swamp
More Flowers
More Flowers

With my Gator Sighting checked off my bucket list and totally hot and sweaty after my hike around the pond, it was back in the car and on to Rosharon, TX.  Didn’t plan a stop in Rosahron, but I couldn’t resist a couple of shots of the Cherokee Rose Trading Post.

Cherokee Rose Trading Post in Rosharon, TX
Cherokee Rose Trading Post in Rosharon, TX
Pink Pigs and Pink Flamingos for sale at Cherokee Rose Trading Post
Pink Pigs and Pink Flamingos for sale at Cherokee Rose Trading Post
Side view of Cherokee Rose Trading Post
Side view of Cherokee Rose Trading Post

After my quick drive by, I back tracked and headed up Hwy 36 towards Needville, TX on my way to Wharton.  Along the way I saw a good old vintage neon sign for a roadside cafe called “The Jay”, in Needville.

The Jay Cafe in Needville, Texas.  Vintage neon sign
The Jay Cafe in Needville, Texas. Vintage neon sign
A big metal rooster sits in front of the Jay Cafe...doesn't look like a jay to me.
A big metal rooster sits in front of the Jay Cafe…doesn’t look like a jay to me.

From Needville, I headed west towards Boling and Iago.

Welcome to Boling, TX
Welcome to Boling, TX
Iago, Texas
Iago, Texas

Nothing in those two towns but the signs were interesting!!  Then it was on to Wharton.  Lots of fun things to see in little Wharton.

Sumoflam at the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX
Sumoflam at the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX

My main reason for visiting Wharton was to visit the Tee Pee Motel, a retro throwback to the 50s and 60s. According to their website, “The Teepee Motel was originally built in 1942 by George and Toppie Belcher to serve travelers heading across Texas on State Highway 60. This was an era of grand roadtrips, family adventure, and American innocence. The Teepee operated for 40 years, until the Interstate Highway system and a new era of travel routed customers away from the motel in the early 1980’s. The motel eventually closed and would remain so for over 15 years.

Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX
Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX

The Tee Pee Motel is reminiscent of the Wigwam Villages (they are still around in San Bernardino, CA; Holbrook, AZ and Cave City, KY).  I visited the one on Kentucky a couple of years back (see photo).

Wodrich mural in Wharton, TX
One of three murals in Wharton painted by Dayton Wodrich. This one is 100′ wide and offers one historical peak at Wharton, TX

Another notable set of items are a number of murals painted by Independence, Texas mural artist Dayton Wodrich.  He has done at least five murals in Wharton (though I only saw four when I drove around town).  Following are a couple more…

Black History Mural by Dayton Wordrich
Black History Mural by Dayton Wodrich
Future of Wharton, TX Mural by Dayton Wordrich
Future of Wharton, TX Mural by Dayton Wodrich
Historical churches of Wharton, TX mural by Dayton Wodrich
Historical churches of Wharton, TX mural by Dayton Wodrich

Wharton has a great old courthouse and theater in town as well.

Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Old Plaza Theater in Wharton, TX
Old Plaza Theater in Wharton, TX
Buildings in downtown Wharton, TX
Buildings in downtown Wharton, TX

After my visit to Wharton I then headed northeast on US 59 and eventually made my way to the outskirts of Houston into the Sugar Land area where I visited the second of the three Texas Giant statues, this one, the giant Quan Te Am Bo Tat statue at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.  The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia.

Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, TX
Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, TX
Giant 72' tall Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Giant 72′ tall Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Sleeping Buddha Statue at the Vietnam Buddhist Center
Sleeping Buddha Statue at the Vietnam Buddhist Center
Marble Lion Statue
Marble Lion Statue
Pagoda at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center
Pagoda at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center
View of the Gardens and Quan Am statue at Vietnamese Buddhist Center
View of the Gardens and Quan Am statue at Vietnamese Buddhist Center
Sumoflam at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center
Sumoflam at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center

From the Vietnamese Center I headed to my uncle’s for an overnight in Houston.

Next post will cover Houston to Austin via the heart of Texas.