S is for Super Statues – #atozchallenge

There are some super huge statues in this country. Giant behemoths that can be seen from far away.

Perhaps there is no place better for BIG than in Texas, where everything is supposedly bigger.  Texas actually has three of the tallest statues in the United States, including two that honor the great Texas heroes Sam Houston and Stephen Austin.  All three giant free standing statues exceed 70 feet in height (including the pedestal/base). This puts these giants in the top seven tallest monuments in the United States.

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

“Tribute to Courage” – Sam Houston Statue – The First Texas Giant
“World’s Tallest Statue of an American Hero”

Sumoflam with Big Sam Houston towering behind him in Huntsville, TX

The tallest of the three is the “Tribute to Courage” statue of Sam Houston, located in Huntsville, Texas home of Sam Houston State University.  This one stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet. It was built in 1994.

This giant Sam Houston statue can be seen from far off when driving on Interstate 45, especially coming from the south.  It stands on the right looking over the interstate proudly.

This statue, along with the one of Stephen Austin were both done by Houston Artist David Adickes from his Sculpturworx Studio.

Stephen F. Austin Statue as seen from Highway 288 near Angleton, TX
Stephen F. Austin – the Father of Texas

Soon after artist David Adickes unveiled his Sam Houston statue, a group of Brazoria County businessmen decided that it was time to honor Texas founder Stephen F. Austin, too.   Adickes agreed to do the statue, which was named “The Father of Texas,” at the same time he was working on his series of gigantic presidential busts for his Presidents Park in Lead, SD.  By 2003, Adickes was ready to start assembling the concrete and steel statue. He assembled the 15 sections  of the statue on a 12-foot, five-sided granite base, that took almost a year to piece together.

Much like the Sam Houston Statue, this one is 60 feet tall and sits atop a 12 foot tall pedestal, giving a total height of 72 feet.  It can clearly be seen from Highway 288.

The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas
The 72 foot tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, Texas

The third giant doesn’t quite fit the nature of these two Texas heroes. Instead, the Quan The Am Bo Tat (Also known as Quan Am – Mother of Buddha) statue in Sugar Land stands 72 feet tall as it towers over the Vietnamese Buddhist Center.

A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

The idea for this statue was conceived in 1994 as the Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, sought for an artist to do one. By the end of June 2001, this 72 foot tall statue was dedicated.

Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX
Closeup shot of Quan Am statue in Sugar Land, TX

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. She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving. After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue. According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

The statue is garbed in a long stately robe. Her right hand forms the circular Buddhist finger symbol meaning happiness and compassion. In her left hand, she holds a container of dew that brings peace and harmony. She stands atop a lotus flower, a universal symbol of Buddhism.

Without a doubt, perhaps the most interesting part of this work was that Mai Chi turned to her artistic mentor, David Adickes, the sculptor of the other two giants, for advice on the designing the interior. She completed the statue in seven sections and erected it in January 2001.

Other Giants of the U.S. that I have been to

Keeper Of The Plains WichitaKS2
Keeper of the Plains in WIchita, KS

Over the years, I have traveled and seen many other giants. Following are some of the others I have visited over the years.

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990
Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is the tallest of all statues in the United States. It is 151 feet tall and stands upon a 154 foot pedestal giving it a total height of 305 feet. This was completed in 1886 and was designed and sculpted by Frédéric Bartholdi. I have visited the Statue on four occasions. The photo above was taken in December 1991.

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT

The second tallest statue in the United States (according to the Wikipedia list) was completed in 1985 high on a mountain in Butte, Montana. Designed by Laurien Eugene Riehl, this statue stands 88.6 feet tall and can be seen from Interstate 15 in Butte. I took the photo above in March 2013 from way below using a zoom lens to capture it.

Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR
Jesus of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, AR

Standing 65.5 feet tall, the Jesus of the Ozarks statue was completed in 1966 and overlooks a nice park in the touristy town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I got to visit this statue in 2012.

Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, KS

The “Keeper of the Plains” statue in Wichita, Kansas only stands 44 feet tall, but it also sits atop a 30 foot pedestal making the total height of 74 feet. This was designed and created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974. It stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers. I visited this in 2012.

Hiawatha, Ironwood, MI

The “World’s Tallest and Largest Indian” Statue of Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI is another wonderful giant. Hiawatha stands at 52 feet and weighs 16,000 pounds, including anchoring internal steelwork, and is engineered to withstand 140 mph winds. Hiawatha was built in Minneapolis in 1964, transported to Ironwood and erected in the “caves area,” on the site of the Old Norrie Iron Mine.

Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN
Jolly Green Giant in Black Earth, MN

An icon of television advertising, the 55.5 foot tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN is another giant. This was built in 1979 by a radio station owner and commissioned by a Wisconsin company to build it. I have visited twice and both times was not able to do much due to torrential rains. The picture above is of my son Seth from a trip he took in 2005.

Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

One of the last “giants” that I have visited is along the highway near New London, MO. This nearly 45 foot tall statue of Mark Twain is kind of funky with a giant head and small hands, but, it definitely fits the category of “giant”



J is for Joy – #atozchallenge

Traveling this great country brings me joy!  You can see this thru the myriad selfies I take while on the road.

I make it a point to take selfies for posterity sake.   First of all, it proves I was there.  Secondly, it provides a record for my family to see where I’ve been. Lastly…it shows my joy of being on the road!

Jolly Sumoflam! In Jolly, TX

It makes me Jolly.

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

It makes me Nice.

I found Novelty in Ohio

Travel is always a Novelty

Wherever I go I try to Endeavor,

Made it to Hope, AR,

To have Hope

Finding Success in Missouri

And find Success

Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office in Arkansas

Being on the road has helped find Friendship

Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

And to be Friendly

Chunky, MS

And perhaps even Chunky

Welcome to Earth, Texas

It has brought me down to Earth

Township of Moon, PA

Zipped me to a Township named Moon

At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007

Or by a Starship in Vulcan

And found Prosperity in PA

And to even find Prosperity

Santa Claus, IN

Heck…I even found Santa Claus!

Though I try to be Real Quiet about it,

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN

I find that I have some Big Fish stories

Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream” on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Maybe even Bigger Fish Stories

Willie the Walleye in Baudette, MN

Indeed, Giant Fish Stories

The Beef House in Covington, Indiana

I have found The Beef

Say “Cheese!” – You’re in Wisconsin!

But also found the cheese

Giant Macaroni in Champaigne, IL

And even a Macaroni to go with it!

Sumoflam with the cow that wears pink glasses

Those big cows are moooving

Salem Sue in New Salem, ND – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow (Yes, that’s Sumoflam under the Udders)

But they can be Udderly huge

Big Bull in Minnesota

And that is certainly no Bull

Giant Pheasant in Gregory SD

I have gotten joy at the feet of a big bird

Giant Sandhill Crane in Steele, SD

And maybe even a bigger bird

Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Ok, perhaps even giant birds!

One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS

I have become a big Alligator

Baby Gator at Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA

But have held a small one

Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

Travel gives me Liberty

Sumoflam with Big Sam Houston towering behind him in Huntsville, TX

And helps me to stand at the foot of giants

The iconic Route 66 roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

I have had many out of car experiences

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

And I have been surrounded by cars

At Magnolia Market in Waco, TX – Home of the TV Program Fixer Upper

I have learned to be a Fixer Upper

Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa (home of American Pickers)

And an Antique Archaeologist

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie

I’ve enjoyed some Voodoo doughnuts

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ

And other baked goods from coast to coast

Sumoflam at Wonderland Rd. in Upton, KY

And have found the road to Wonderland

The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

I even found the Yellow Brick Rd.

A street with No Name in Millersburg, OH

A road with No Name

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

May lead me to be Uncertain

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

But whether I go This Way or That Way

Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

I’ll always be Okay

Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

Which makes me a Winner when I travel

Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

And that puts me On Top of the World!

Story General Store, Story, IN

This is my Story…

Happy in Happy, KY

…and it makes me a Happy traveler

Stay Awesome folks! #awesomebutgettingbetter

And that is the joy of travel

Enjoy the Ride folks!


Houston to Austin: The Scenic Route

IMG_7418This is the second part of my Galveston return trip journey (see first post if you missed it).  After a night in Houston with my Uncle, I was back on the road through Houston and on to Austin, the long and scenic route….

My route from Houston to Austin ... the long and scenic route
My route from Houston to Austin … the long and scenic route

I chose this roundabout way through the heart of Texas in order to enjoy the unique Texas scenery and perhaps run into some of those quirky things that little towns have.  Initially, I had a business meeting scheduled in Conroe, but it fell through, so I headed to Huntsville, but, as I checked the map I noticed that not too far from Conroe was a small town called Cut and Shoot, Texas.  Voila!!  An unexpected town name treat!

Cut and Shoot City Hall
Cut and Shoot City Hall

According to the history of Cut and Shoot, the town had its unusual beginning and acquired its peculiar name in July 1912.  It was all a result of a religious confrontation and comments made by an 8 year old boy.  Today the town is incorporated and has a post office and a city all (as shown above).

Cut and Shoot Post Office in Texas
Cut and Shoot Post Office in Texas
Cut and Shoot Police
Cut and Shoot Police

From Cut and Shoot it was on to Huntsville to see what some call “The World’s Largest Statue of an American Hero.”  This is the statue of Sam Houston, called “Tribute to Courage”, it stands 67 feet but also has a 10 foot pedestal, giving it a ground to top height of 77 feet.

Welcome to Huntsville
Welcome to Huntsville
Sam Houston Statue
Sam Houston Statue

According to the Huntsville Visitor’s Center, Houston Sculptor David Adickes needed 30 tons of concrete and two years to work on the project. The statue was dedicated on October 22, 1994. Every year, between 50,000 and 65,000 people visit the huge tribute.  Adickes was born in Huntsville, Texas. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with degrees in both math and physics in 1948, Adickes went to the Kansas City Art Institute. He studied painting there, and then went to Paris where he studied art for two years. In 1957, he lived for a year in Japan and then traveled extensively over the next 10 years in the Far East, Middle East, Europe, Russia and North Africa.

This is a full size replica of the head of Sam Houston that sits atop this giant statue
This is a full size replica of the head of Sam Houston that sits atop this giant statue
Sam Houston
Sam Houston

I was really amazed at the size of this one. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t see it from the same distance that I saw the Stephen Austin statue from a few days ago. Plus, when looking across the interstate, you really can get a sense of the size in relation to vehicles, as shown in the photo above. For those interested and with some time, Huntsville is also the home of the HEARTS Veterans Museum and the Texas Prison Museum. If you like Ghost Tours (and I know a couple of readers who do), then you’ll be interested in Huntsville’s Ghost Tours.

Texas Hwy 30
Texas Hwy 30

To cut through the heart of Texas, I took Texas Highway 30 west out of Huntsville towards College Station and Bryan, TX.  The first little town I passed through was Shiro.  The town was founded in 1902 by farm families in the vicinity. The settlement’s name, Shiro, was provided by postmaster Frances Marion Mayfield, who selected it from the botanical names in a nursery catalog.

Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro.
Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro.
Welcome to Shiro, TX
Welcome to Shiro, TX

There was not much to see in Shiro, but the joy of taking these back roads is seeing things like the old car below advertising a bar in Shiro.

Bare Bones Bar advertising car - Shiro, TX
Bare Bones Bar advertising car – Shiro, TX
Old Ghost Sign for Coca Cola on a wall in Shiro, TX
Old Ghost Sign for Coca Cola on a wall in Shiro, TX
Downtown Shiro, Texas
Downtown Shiro, Texas
Old Furniture Store in Shiro, TX
Old Furniture Store in Shiro, TX

From Shiro, it was westward on TX 30 towards Bryan, TX

TX Hwy 30 west of Shiro
TX Hwy 30 west of Shiro

The sky was beautiful that day. Couldn’t resist a shot…

Sky and clouds deep in the heart of Texas
Sky and clouds deep in the heart of Texas

After Bryan the highway turned into US 79/190 heading west towards Austin.  When I got to Hearne I followed 79 south towards Rockdale.

Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
Rockdale, Texas
Rockdale, Texas
Thorndale, Texas
Thorndale, Texas

When I got into Thorndale, there was this huge pyramid-looking grain elevator.  It was an unusual site.

Huge unique grain elevator in Thorndale, Texas
Huge unique grain elevator in Thorndale, Texas

After Thorndale, it was on to Hutto, home of the Hippos and the into Round Rock.

Hutto, Texas
Hutto, Texas

I didn’t have time to stop in Hutto, but I did see something pretty funny to me….  Covert Auto has a less than Covert sign….

Covert Chevrolet in Hutto, TX
Covert Chevrolet in Hutto, TX

I had to push into Austin since I was meeting my cousin for dinner in Austin.  I finally got into Austin (the town that wants to stay weird) after a fun drive through the heart of Texas.  I joined my cousin for dinner at the world famous Threadgill’s.

Threadgills in Austin
Threadgill’s in Austin
Threadgill's Home Cooking
Threadgill’s Home Cooking

Threadgill’s started off as a gas station  just north of Austin by Kenneth Threadgill in 1933.  He soon made it a beer joint for musicians to drop in after their gigs.

Howdy from Threadgill's
Howdy from Threadgill’s
Threadgill's is Cool!
Threadgill’s is Cool!

Even though I have always been known to be a music trivia wiz, I learned something new here at Threadgill’s…this was where Janis Joplin got her start as she developed her brassy style that would propel her to become the first female rock and roll superstar.

Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill's
Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill’s
Threadgill's Diner Style
Threadgill’s Diner Style

And of course, they are famous for their food too….how about Texas style Chicken Fried Steak…

Threadgill's Chicken Fried Steak
Threadgill’s Chicken Fried Steak

After dinner, we took a ride for the night life of Austin.  A couple of shots to end the day and end this post.  Next post is all about Austin and the drive to Keller.

The "Owl" in downtown Austin
The “Owl” in downtown Austin – Frost Bank Tower
Stoplight over the capital
Stoplight over the Capital