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.
Ric’s Grill – Steak in Water Tower – Lethbridge, Alberta
Route 66 Soda / Route Beer – Mokena, Illinois
Rabbit Hash, Kentucky
Restroom Hiker Mural – Damascus, Virginia
Other Restroom Fun – Story, Indiana; Hopland, California; San Francisco, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Cypress, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Ashland, Montana; Frenchglen, Oregon
Rock City – near Valier, Montana
Geographical Center of North America – Rugby, North Dakota
Roosters Roosters – Needville, Texas; E. Peoria, Illinois; Seymour, Missouri; Eldon, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Granbury, Texas
Roadhouse Relics – Austin, Texas
Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky
Regent, North Dakota – Home of the Enchanted Highway
Russell’s Point, Ohio
Roswell, New Mexico
Rocket Rest Stop – Elkmont, Alabama
Ride the Ducks – Seattle, Washington
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio
Real Quiet Lane – Lexington, Kentucky
Red River Gorge – Slade, Kentucky
Rachel the Golden Pig – Pikes Place Market – Seattle, Washington
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 towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
The X Towns
For the X towns, I am taking a little deviation. Since there are really only two places in the United States whose names begin with X (namely Xenia, Ohio and Xenia, Illinois), I am including a few places that have X in the name as well.
Xenia, Ohio is in central Ohio and is the County Seat for Greene County. I visited the town in 2008 specifically to hit the many covered bridges in the area. Though most are not really in Xenia, but rather are in Greene County, Xenia was just the main destination. Greene County has at least seven of them. I have pictured a few above. An, not far from Xenia is the town of Clifton and there is a bridge there as well as the Clifton Mill. A great place to visit. You can see more photos and read the history of these bridges on my 2008 post HERE.
OK. I admit it. Lexington, KY is my home town. There is a great deal to see here as this is the Horse Capital of the World and also the center of the Bourbon industry. The city has some great eateries (try the Lexington Diner!!) It is the home of Keeneland Race Track, the Kentucky Horse Park and now also has a couple of dozen murals. Rather than provide links, just go to this blogs’ Search Bar and type in Lexington to see a number of posts about Bourbon Trails, Horse Photos and the amazing murals and wall art that dot the city thanks to the PRHBTN group and LexArts.
Texarkana, Arkansas (and its neighbor in Texas) share a common road and share a post office, the only US Post Office that sits on a state line and is on two states. See more about one of my many visits (or drive thrus) of this town HERE.
Oxford County, Ontario
I have mentioned in my blog posts a number of times that I spent 8 months living in Woodstock and Paris, Ontario. Woodstock is the seat of Oxford County, which offers an abundance of interesting places to visit including the location of the first baseball game played in North America. Read more on my detailed 2008 post HERE.
I spent a few weeks in Rexburg, Idaho in 2013 and got to travel extensively. Nestled in the mountains of Idaho, it is close to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It is a small college town and home of BYU-Idaho. Definitely a great place to visit. Check out my detailed post about Rexburg (one of many) HERE.
Cotopaxi, Colorado (Honorable Mention)
In 2013 I drove from Rexburg, Idaho to Dallas, Texas for business. Part of the trip took me on US Highway 50 which went through the small, but beautiful Cotopaxi, Colorado. See the entire trip HERE.
Exie, KY (Honorable Mention)
Not much to say other than there is a place called Exie, Kentucky and it has this Greasy Creek Homestead place. It lies at the intersection of U.S. Route 68 with Kentucky Routes 487 and 745, south of the city of Greensburg.
Texline, Texas (Honorable Mention)
Like Exie, Texline, Texas is a blink your eyes and you’ll miss it place. On the border of New Mexico and Texas, the town is in northwestern Dallam County, Texas and has a population of about 500. The town is named for its location near the New Mexico-Texas state line. I drove thru there in 2013 on the same day as I drove through Cotopaxi, Colorado above.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.
I spent two weeks in Rexburg from March 11 thru March 25, 2013 working on a job possibility. During my free time I spent a good deal of time in town and also looking around town and some of the surrounding areas.
Perhaps Rexburg is best known for its LDS (Mormon) population, BYU-Idaho and the Rexburg Temple of the church (shown above). But Rexburg is also famous as the town that was practically destroyed by the Teton Dam Flood in June of 1976 (see story here). The town has been totally rebuilt since that time.
Rexburg is kind of in a bowl, with mountain ranges all around it. To the east are the Grand Tetons, to the northwest is the Lemhi Range, which includes the 12,197 foot tall Diamond Peak. To the southeast are the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The Craters of the Moon National Monument is southwest of Rexburg. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get there on this trip.
There are a number of old things in and around town that have remained from the flood.
The Teton Vu Drive-in has had a few resurrections over the years. It was reopened in 1999, closed again in 2006 and has since reopened again in 2009 under new ownership. They offer shows and goodies. I liked the drive in sign – totally vintage.
In and around Rexburg there are a few great places to find goodies to eat. I had dinner a couple of times at the Frontier Pies Restaurant, which not only has pies but some good home cooking. The pies were awesome…
There is another famous place on the outskirts of Rexburg where giant burgers are the norm…
Big Jud’s Country Diner is located in the small community of Archer, Idaho, a few miles south of Rexburg. This place has the hugest hamburgers I have ever seen and has even been featured on the TV Show Man vs. Food. Here are a few shots from Big Jud’s:
Home of the 1 LB Burger
Another notable place to get goodies in Rexburg is Florence’s Exquisite Candies Chocolate shop, which can be found downtown. They hand make all of their chocolate offerings and the shop also has a unique interior.
Another interesting item in and around Rexburg are the gas stations with “Coke Can” gas tanks. Here are a couple of examples.
There are other nearby communities that have some unique things to see as well.
Sugar City is a bedroom community to Rexburg. Like Rexburg, it went through some devastation during the Teton Flood. The town was founded in 1903 to house sugar beet factory workers of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. The factory closed in the 1940s and then, after the devastation of the flood in 1976, most of the businesses did not reopen.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Ranch is located in Sugar City and I got to take a drive by there and see all of the elk. I only saw a couple of bulls with their antlers. They breed the elk locally and then release them to some of the mountain areas for hunting trips, etc.
One afternoon, while my wife was out in Rexburg, we took a drive north towards St. Anthony, Idaho, another nearby community. We had as a goal to get to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes then, if possible, take a drive up the Mesa Falls Scenic Loop north of there, near Ashton, Idaho. Following is a map of the exact route we ended up taking and some of the photos we took during the trip.
St. Anthony is a small town of about 3500 just north of Rexburg and is the gateway to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, a unique area west of town and one of those unexpected discoveries. I would have never thought about sand dunes in them as much as 400 feet tall. To get there we had to go through Parker and then to the Egin Lakes area campground.
Along the way we saw a house in Parker that has lined their fences with old highway signage. Amazing how people do these things!!
From the dunes we returned to St. Anthony and then headed north to Ashton, Idaho, which sits at the base of the mountains north of Rexburg and is the gateway to the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, which we had hoped to take.
Upon arrival in the small town, the first thing I noticed was the Frostop Drive In – a page out of nostalgic America. Frostop Root Beer is one of those old well known brands, having its start in Springfield, Ohio in 1926. The diner in Ashton has been there since 1965 and has gone through a few owners.
The big root beer mug rotates and draws you in to the old style drive in. We didn’t really want drive in fare, so we meandered across the street to a restaurant that looked like a huge log cabin.
Chriswell’s Trails Inn Restaurant is rustic, homey and full of animal trophies. Last time I was in a place like this was at Ole’s Big Game Steak house in Nebraska (see the blog post here). I ordered a chicken fried steak, their speciality, and the thing was bigger than my plate. Further, unlike the chicken fried steaks I have had in the past, this one was made with real steak, not ground steak!!
Like other small towns in the west, there are still plenty of nostalgic signs. Here are a couple from Ashton.
From Ashton we headed up north on Idaho Highway 47, which is the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. There were signs warning us that the road was closed ahead, so we followed it as far as we could go. It took us up into Targhee National Forest, and as we climbed in altitude, the snow got ever deeper. Bear in mind that this was the end of March.
We finally hit the dead end where only snowmobiles were allowed, and had to turn around and head back to Ashton.
Once back in Ashton we made our to Idaho Highway 32 which would take us through the small towns of Drummond and Felt, and hopefully would offer us a few glimpses of the Tetons from the west. This was an extremely beautiful drive, particularly since we went through pristine snow covered hills…snow was very deep and practically untouched most of the way.
All in all, that Sunday drive from Rexburg to Ashton and Drummond and back was marvelous.
On another trip south of Rexburg, near Rigby, on US 20, you can see an old sugar mill off to the side of the road. Someone has meticulously painted the facade and it was, apparently at one time, the Old Sugar Mill Market. It appears to be out of business now, but it is eye catching from the highway.
Also, Rigby, Idaho is noted as the birthplace of the television. Philo T. Farnsworth invented the television tube here and there is a museum dedicated to him (along with other items from the Rigby area.)
There are a few other places I visited in the area…here are some of the sights