AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The G Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the G Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Gold Beach, Oregon

Driving along US Highway 101 (The Oregon Coast Highway in Oregon) you can drive into Gold Beach, Oregon, a very beautiful stop that’s about 40 miles north of the California border.  The town of about 1500 derived its name from gold prospectors that began arriving in the area around 1853. We didn’t see any gold, but we did see some beautiful coastal scenery.

Gold Beach, Oregon
Welcome to Gold Beach, Oregon
Ocean waves at Gold Beach
Large coastal islands in the Pacific Ocean as seen from Gold Beach
Ocean scene from Gold Beach, Oregon

Great River Road – Southern Illinois

The Great River Road stretches 3000 miles alongside the great Mississippi River north to south from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.  Much of it goes along the borders of 10 U.S. states. From Minnesota the drive takes you south between Wisconsin and Minnesota, then between Iowa and Illinois, then Missouri and Illinois (and the tip of Kentucky).  Further south you travel between Arkansas and Tennessee and then finally between Louisiana and Mississippi.  Over the years I have had the good fortune of driving most of this National Scenic Byway.  On this trip we drove along the Great River Road while in Illinois.

Great River Road in southern Illinois

General’s Highway and the Giant Forest – Sequoia National Park, California

If you are planning on visiting the amazing Sequoia National Park, be prepared to drive the Generals Highway, a 32 mile stretch of highway that connects CA Hwy 180 to CA Hwy 198.  The section we drove climbed from about 1500 feet altitude all the way to over 8000 feet.  This winding road pretty much begins in Three Rivers, California and then to the Foothills Visitor Center for Sequoia where you enter the National Park.  We drove the first 10 miles from the Visitor Center to the General Sherman Tree deep in the Sequoia forest.  This road is steep, narrow, winding and full of switch backs, but offers some spectacular views.  The speed limit along the first 10-15 miles is only 10 MPH, so it is really slow going.  Typically, in January and February and even into March, snow chains are required.  Fortunately for us, the week we visited there had been no snow and the roads were clear.

General’s Highway – Sequoia National Park
Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park
Giants Highway – CA 198
Lovely vista of the landscape as seen from high up on the Generals Highway
Giant sequoia trees as seen from the Generals Highway

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of America’s most famous bridges.  You can’t go to San Francisco and not visit this amazing structure.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
A scene of the Golden Gate bridge from above on the hill. San Francisco in the background
Driving on the Golden Gate Bridge
Looking up at one of the two bridge towers. These are 746 feet tall

Glenn’s Bakery Neon Sign – Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup, New Mexico has loads of wonderful neon signs as part of its Route 66 heritage.  Many are motels, but the Glenn’s Bakery sign is also a good one.

Glenn’s Bakery unique neon sign in Gallup, New Mexico

Golden Rule Sign – Philipsburg, Montana

As we drove north from Butte thru Opportunity and Anaconda, we found our way to the lovely little community of Philipsburg.  By this time my three grandchildren had gotten really cranky and we had to do something.  So, we pulled on a side road and I gave them a lecture.  I told them that they needed to live the Golden Rule (Do unto others, as you would have others do to you).  I used that sign to remind them.  I then told them if they would promise, I would get them a treat.  (What I had already seen was that this “Golden Rule” sign was on the side of The Sweet Palace, a giant candy store. I’ll cover it in my S Stories post)  So, I drove up to the front, gave each of the kids a few dollars and let them go to town in this store but also told them that they couldn’t buy anything unless they told the cashier that they were going to live the “Golden Rule.”  I even keyed the cashier in on it and she asked each of them what they promise to do.

Golden Rule wall sign on the side of the Sweet Palace in Philipsburg, Montana

Grulla National Wildlife Refuge – near Arch, New Mexico

I am a huge Sandhill Crane lover and, in my research for our epic road trip, I found that during February thousands of Sandhill Cranes winter in the Grulla National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Mexico (near the ghost town of Arch) and the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in western Texas.  Grulla is the Spanish word for crane.  Sadly, after driving nearly 20 miles on a dirt road to get to Grulla, we saw no cranes.  Even after driving from Grulla to Muleshoe, we saw none over there either.  It wasn’t until we got near Dimmitt, Texas (nearly 60 miles northeast of Muleshoe) before we saw any Sandhill Cranes…and there we saw thousands of them migrating north in an amazing scene.

Grulla National Wildlife Refuge, near the Ghost Town of Arch, New Mexico

Gem Theatre – Turkey, Texas

We drove through the uniquely named town of Turkey, Texas on our northeast from Muleshoe and Dimmitt.  This old theatre was on the main drag so I nabbed a shot of it.  This theater opened in 1928 and showed its first “talkie” move in 1931.  Country singer Bob Wills, a Turkey resident, was a frequent visitor to this old theater and the building has two old movie posters featuring Bob Wills adorning the front.

Gem Theatre, Turkey, Texas
Gem Theatre sign

Grants, New Mexico

Grants, New Mexico is another iconic Route 66 town and features a unique Route 66 drive-thru sign.

Grants, New Mexico famous Route 66 Drive Thru sign
Back side of the Grants sign

Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup is a great place to celebrate Route 66, but is also a very scenic area.  Located on the Navajo Reservation, there are plenty of places to get Navajo crafts and food.

Gallup, New Mexico
Red Rocks surrounding Gallup, New Mexico

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

To close out my G Stories, I am including a few photos of the amazing Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.  In the 1980s I was a tour guide / bus driver in Flagstaff and visited the Grand Canyon numerous times.  Though I have been there over 100 times, I never tire of this amazing world wonder.  I want to mention herein that as I write this post during the historic Coronavirus pandemic, the entire Grand Canyon National Park is currently closed as a result.  That amazes me.  I am so grateful to have been able to take my grandchildren to this lovely national park.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

(8)

AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The F Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the F Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Friend, Nebraska

I am always looking for places with friendly names such as Friendly (in West Virginia), Friendship (in Arkansas) and others.  Nebraska has a Friend which resides along US Route 6 southwest of Lincoln.

Friend, Nebraska

Flying C Ranch  – Moriarty, New Mexico

I continue to share photos of Bowlin’s fun billboards.  This one advertises the Flying C Ranch, which is near Moriarty, New Mexico off of Interstate 40 and Route 66.  They apparently have a Ginormous Selection!!

Bowlin’s Flying C Ranch near Moriarty, New Mexico

Fun Fishing Signs – Uncertain, Texas

Fishing Pox sign as seen in Uncertain, Texas
Another Fisherman sign in Uncertain, Texas

Fire Engine – Matador, Texas

As we drive through Matador, Texas, we came across this cool old fire engine.  Couldn’t resist taking a few shots of it.

Old Fire Engine in Matador, Texas

Foothills Visitor Center – Sequoia National Park in California

Sequoia National Park is big and they have a few Visitor’s Centers.  We stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center for the kids to get their Junior Ranger Badges.

Foothills Visitor Center for Sequoia National Park

First United Methodist Church – Happy, Texas

I really had wanted to visit Happy, Texas and, while there, I saw this pretty cool sign that actually “Welcomes You to Happy.” This double play was a good one. Made my Happy.

First United Methodist in Happy, Texas

Fisherman’s Wharf – San Francisco, California

When you visit San Francisco, this is really one of the best places to visit in the city.  Lots of good seafood and some great sourdough bread!

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

Fort Stevens State Park – Hammond, Oregon

Fort Stevens State Park is just off of US 101 in the northwest corner of Oregon.  Once you cross the Columbia River from Washington into Oregon, you are practically there.

One of the real draws is the old Peter Iredale Shipwreck, which I will go into detail about in my P Stories.

Fort Stevens State Park near Hammond, Oregon
Peter Iredale Shipwreck located in Fort Stevens State Park

Farwell, Texas

Not too far from Clovis, New Mexico you can drive through Texico, New Mexico and then across the tracks into Farwell, Texas.  The two towns share a road (Stateline – TX 348), much of which is actually a well-managed dirt road.

Welcome to Farwell, Texas

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

(9)

AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The D Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with one of my daughters and three grandchildren.  We traveled 8154 miles through 20 states over the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet, and not the order of the trip  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the D Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Dinosaurs

Seems like whenever you get near a trading post a fun place, there always seems to be a dinosaur or two hanging around.  I have dozens and dozens from previous road trips. Here are a few I got on our 8154 Trip.

Clean up your Dog Poop (or should it be Dino Poop?) at Nipton Trading Post, Nipton, CA
Scary dinosaur as seen in Holbrook, AZ
A bunch of Dinosaurs at the Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
A Gnarly Dino hanging around Uranus, Missouri
Scrap Metal T-Rex in Sebastapol, California
Dinosaurs at Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, Arizona

Dr. Pierce’s Barn Sign — Waterville, Washington

Barn signs are very common in the eastern United States (think Mail Pouch Tobacco or Rock City or Meramec Caverns).  In all of my travels in the western United States, I rarely see them.  However, on this trip I saw two barns with the Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery painted on them.  One is in bad shape and hard to get to for a photo, but this one in Waterville, Washington is a classic.

So, Dr. Ray Vaughn Pierce (1840-1914) was one of the more successful 19th century Snake Oil Quacks.  He first started his pharmaceutical entrepreneurship in Buffalo N.Y. pushing his own “blood purifier” known as Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery.  He, and his son, Valentine Motts Pierce (1865 -1942)  successfully sold the elixir for 90+ years.  You can still find old bottles and boxes of this in some antique stores and museums.

Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery Barn Sign in Waterville, Washington

Devil’s Elbow, Missouri

Route 66 has many iconic stops along the route from Chicago to California.  In Missouri, one of the more famous ones is Devil’s Elbow, which is also famous as a quirky town name.  Situated on the Big Piney River, a few miles east of St. Robert, Missouri, on Route 66,  the small unincorporated community was named for the big “devil of an elbow” bend in the river.

The place has a post office, though it was destroyed during the flood of May 2017.  It has since been added to Shelden’s Market which also serves as a souvenir shop and local gathering spot.

Obviously, as close as I was, I couldn’t resist a stop, though the market and post office were closed on the Sunday morning we came by.

Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Devil’s Elbow Post Office

Dutch Mill Diner – Tillamook, Oregon

We were in Tillamook late and had made a stop at the world famous Tillamook Creamery.  But, we also had to drive through town.  I was excited to see the Dutch Mill Diner and its classic neon sign. What a bummer that they were closed the evening we drove by.  This is one of those classic 1950s-style diners with the black and white checkerboard tiled floors, cushy booth seats and soda fountain stools.  Would have been a fun stop.

A fun name and a classic neon sign at the Dutch Mill Diner in Tillamook, Oregon

Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room – Caddo Lake, Texas

I have already mentioned in a couple of this years’ posts that we took a fun swamp cruise with my friend Aaron Applebaum of Mystique Tours in Uncertain, Texas.   During that ride in mid-February, one of the more unique places we saw on the swamp ride was Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, an old run down shack on stilts in the middle of the swamp.  I think the only way to even get there is by boat.

The story of the place says that the building was originally built in the 1800s but became a popular place during the days of Prohibition (from about 1919-1933) . Back then, Marion County (where Uncertain is located) was a dry county, so this place was built across the water in Harrison County, where people could get a drink.

On closer inspection, you can also see their “House Rules” on a sign next to the place.  See the photos below.

Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room, Caddo Lake, Texas
Dick and Charlie’s Tea Room
Dick and Charlie’s House Rules

Direction / Mileage Sign Posts

I always get a kick out of the sign posts that point in the direction of a place and provide the mileage.  In some cases, they are just made for directional purposes.  Here are a few I ran across on this trip.

Direction Sign found in Nipton, California
Direction Sign Post in Raymond, Washington
Neighborhood signs in Seabeck, Washington
More Seabeck Signs

Desert Skies Motel – Classic Route 66 Neon Sign –  Gallup, New Mexico

Desert Skies Motel Classic Neon Sign, Gallup, NM

Davey, Nebraska

We were on the third day of our long trip when we came upon the small community of Davey, Nebraska.  What a place for a Selfie (since my name is David…duh).  And with a number 1 on it to boot!

The small community apparently has about 150 people, but they do have a classic old Post Office. The town was founded in 1886 and was named after one of the local pioneers, Michael Davey.

I was thrilled to come across Davey, Nebraska
Davey, Nebraska Post Office

Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California

Danger Sign – Santa Cruz, California

Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. – San Francisco, California

Lots of rail cars in San Francisco.  This was on the side of one of them.

Dallas and Railway Terminal on side of rail car in San Francisco

Diner Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Diner sign in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Dairy Queen Sign – Williams, Arizona

I was kind of excited to run across this classic old Dairy Queen sign in Williams, Arizona on the trip.

Dairy Queen Sign in Williams, Arizona

Dirt Roads

While in Western Texas I had wanted to visit the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge and the neighboring Grulla National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Mexico (which is administered by the Muleshoe NWR).  There were supposedly large numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the area and I hoped to get some photos.

As we left our overnight stay in Clovis, New Mexico and made our way to Texico, New Mexico, we found that the road to Grulla was along a nearly twenty mile long, well-maintained dirt road aptly named Stateline Road as it went down the Texas – New Mexico border.  The road was nearly 20 miles from Texico / Farwell to Grulla.

Stateline Road between Farwell, Texas and Texico, New Mexico
Stateline Road
Stateline Road between Texas and New Mexico

Deer as seen near Muleshoe, Texas

We saw this buck while driving on the Stateline Road dirt road
A second buck was just down the road

Dimmitt, Texas

Welcome to Dimmitt, Texas.  I mention Dimmitt because it was near here that we crossed the MAJOR migration paths of both Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese.   As well, the town is located on the old Ozark Trail which ran from St. Louis, Missouri to El Paso, Texas.

Dimmitt, Texas
Migrating Sandhill Cranes as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86
Migrating Snow Geese as seen near Dimmitt, Texas on TX Hwy 86

Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, California

For the small community of Nipton, California, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, there is really a lot to be seen.  I am always in favor of some fun metal sculptures, especially when they are colorful.

Daffodil Sculpture – Nipton, CA

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

(14)