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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I is for Ingenuity – #atozchallenge

I am always intrigued about the ingenuity of humans. Their ability to build and create things that solves problems for them.

There are many examples of ingenuity to can be seen on the back roads of America. Whether it be bridges or towers or buildings. There is always something unique and interesting to see.

Tuckhannock Viaduct – Nicholson, Pennsylvania
Nicholson’s welcome sign features the Viaduct

One of my brightest memories of fascination comes from a town in eastern Pennsylvania called Nicholson. In this town, the train company needed a solution to get the train up high to pass by as the town was down in the valley. So, a giant viaduct was built. Called the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, this giant structure. towered over the town and allowed the trains to pass by way up on top of the town nestled below in the valley. To realize that this was built in 1915 is amazing to me. It is 2375 feet long, 240 feet tall and 34 feet wide. Yes, 24 stories tall!!!!! The bridge was built as

The viaduct is dizzying when looking up from below

part of the Clark’s Summit-Hallstead Cutoff, which was part of a project of the Lackawanna Railroad to revamp a winding and hilly system. This rerouting was built between Scranton, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York. All thirteen piers were excavated to bedrock, which was up to 138 feet below ground level. Almost half of the bulk of the bridge is underground. The bridge was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and was designed by Abraham Burton Cohen. Construction on the bridge began in May 1912, and dedication took place on November 6, 1915.

Tuckhannock Viaduct towers over the small town of Nicholson, PA
Cleveland’s tallest buildings

One needs only go to some of the older big cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Cincinnati, to see the tall buildings that were built in the 1930s and 40s. Naturally, these were to accommodate offices are in a crowded area. The building designs were amazing and are still beautiful to look at.

I really love the older buildings as they were obviously much more difficult to build and their architecture is so reminiscent of the times. I guess I grew up watching the old Superman movies and saw the old buildings used in these.

New York City 1959 (from an old family picture – I was actually there when this was taken.  Only 3 years old)
New York City, 2013 – taken from Hoboken, NJ
Cincinnati Skyline with its old buildings and numerous bridges
The Ascent at Roebling’s in Covington, KY across the river from Cincinnati

But not all of the buildings are old. There is a unique condominium structure that was built in Covington, which is a suburb of Cincinnati across the Ohio River into Kentucky. The structure is unique in its architecture.  And the amazing PPG Building in Pittsburgh really blows my mind…a true glass castle!

 

A view from below One PPG Place
Bridge over Mississippi River at Cairo, IL

I have also grown a fascination with bridges. These are massive structures that cross rivers great and small. In Cairo, Illinois there are two massive and Long Bridges. Cairo is where the confluence of the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River is at its deepest and widest point here and when going south through this area one must cross a bridge over the Ohio and then over the Mississippi. These bridges are amazing and it stuns me that the traffic and the years have not worn these bridges away.

The New River Bridge in West Virginia is THREE Statues of Liberty high above the river.  An amazing feat of engineering.

River Crossing near Cairo, IL
A view of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland
High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta was built in 1909. It is 5327 feet long and the largest of its type in the world
Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900 in Cut Bank, Montana
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington
Bridges of Pittsburgh
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia in August 1995
Green Bridge near Redcliff, Colorado

I once crossed over a bridge in a valley in the mountains of Colorado (see above). This bridge to was stunning to me is you come down off of the hill and see the bridge down below. I wondered out loud at the time how engineers could fulfill this feat.

Golden Gate Bridge in 2016

Another of the great and fascinating Bridges is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not only is it massive like the bridges in the east, it is also crossing over a giant bay and must also be earthquake proof.

Delaware Seashore Bridge
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH

 

Some of the newer bridges are more unique and have their own kind of personality. The bridge crosses the bay in Delaware was stunning to me. I was fortunate enough to be at this bridge during sunset and cut the lovely photo of it above.

Many of the newer bridges have dozens of cables attached to large pillars.  They look futuristic and are cool to drive over.  I have seen quite of a few of these in recent years.

 

William H. Harsha Bridge from Maysville, KY into Ohio.
Rexburg, Idaho LDS Temple

Ingenuity is this not stop just at skyscrapers and bridges. There are many religious structures that can be seen across the country that are also amazing feats of engineering. Take for instance today LDS temple in Salt Lake City. The stones gathered to build that building came from the canyons and had to be hauled by horse drawn wagons.

Many of the other LDS temples are also spectacular.  But they are not the only religious buildings.

Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson

The old church in Tucson, Arizona called San Xavier del Bac, was built in the 1700s and one can only wonder how the Spaniards built this beautiful and unique structure in the middle of the desert.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ
St. Mary’s Basilica, Marietta, OH
Central Presbyterian in Cambridge, ON
Hoover Dam and Bridge (photo credit hdrinc.com)

I have crossed over the Hoover Dam in Nevada and the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona numerous times. These are some of the largest dams in the United States and when you stand on the edge and look down it is dizzying. And to think that these damn’s were built in the 1940s and 1950s is amazing. The ingenuity of the engineers that designed and manage the construction of these is beyond words to me.

On the top of the world on Beartooth Highway that borders Wyoming and Montana south of Red Lodge, MT
Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982. You can see hairpin turns at right

And finally, some of the highways themselves are stunning pizza engineering. Have I overused those words already? The Beartooth Highway in northern Wyoming and the highways that go across the Rocky Mountain National Park are a couple prime examples of this. Even the winding hairpin turns of Oak Creek Canyon Road from Flagstaff to Sedona are quite amazing.

Ingenuity from the 1880s — Longest Covered Bridge in Canada, West Montrose Covered Bridge, West Montrose, ON opened in 1881

Though I am more drawn to the unique and quirky things to see around the country and perhaps closer to the nature of birds and animals and trees and clouds, I am nevertheless grateful and overwhelmed by the ingenuity of humans in the spirit of design and innovation. What needs only open their eyes on the highway and think about some of the things that have been built whether they are bridges, buildings or even monuments to fallen heroes. There is always inspiration to be seen and felt from the ingenuity of the human spirit.

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D is for Diners, Dives and Drive-ins – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

Road trips would never be the same without the opportunity to stop at local diners, dives and drive-ins (OK…I gotta give credit to Guy Fieri). Food is such an important part of a road trip. Obviously, no matter where one drives they always come across the chain shops like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. With those places, the food you get is always the same.

At Nashville’s oldest eatery – Elliston Place Diner – Featured in Antsy McClain’s video
Midway Diner sign on a barn

But, for me, the real joy is stopping at a local Mom and Pop shop or local Drive-In and trying out the fare. Someplace well known in that little town or region, but maybe not known anywhere else.

My good friend, singer/songwriter/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain did a song a few years ago called “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More” in respect for these places that are quickly becoming a dying breed.  (see the video)

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis

There used to be more flavor in this country that I roam
I feel like I’m a stranger, no place to call my home
I can eat the same cheeseburger from New Mexico to Main
The same darn cup of coffee, just to link in someone’s chain
No, mom-and-pop don’t work here no more
Antsy McClain

You Are What you Eat Cafe – Boring, Oregon

So, when I am on the road I really make an effort to find the local places to eat and I have found many of them across this wonderful country of ours. For example, there is “Cozy Drive-In” in Springfield, IL which supposedly is famous because of its creation of the corndog.

Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s

Then there’s the place in Missouri called Lambert’s Cafe that is famous for its “Throwed Rolls.” Or how about the diner outside of Natchez, Mississippi that looks like an old 1930s black woman servant on the outside and service homemade sandwiches on homemade bread with deserts of homemade pie and cake? And how can I forget “Hillbilly Hotdog” in West Virginia or the unique burger joint called Fat Smitty’s that is plastered with dollar bills in Washington. And what about The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas?

Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the Homewrecker
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s ceiling covered with money.
The Shack Burger Resort storefront – Texas style fun in Cypress, TX
Outdoor eating area at The Shack
Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez, MS on US 61
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Commerce, Oklahoma

Along the road there are always the burger joints, the ice cream places, and the roadside cafés. One never knows what they will get in some of these places.  But, chances are the food will be much better than what one will get at a fast food chain place.

And each of these local places has their “speciality,” such as the Ku-Ku burger at Waylan’s in Commerce, OK on Route 66.

Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Wimpy’s Burgers – Keller, Texas
Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe

I recall visiting the “Tightwad Café” in Tightwad, MO. Amazing breakfast made for a king and not a miserly tightwad. The only indication that it was a “tightwad” type of place was that they only took cash — no credit cards.

But check out the food.  This giant breakfast was very affordable and kept me filled up for a good part of the day.

Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

Of course, there are the barbecue places. Oh yes, the myriad barbecue places across this country. I have had barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. In fact, one of my favorites was in Paris, Ontario in Canada!! And they’re all different and wonderful.

 

Camp 31 Bar-B-Que – Paris, Ontario
Oklahoma Joe’s Neon in Kansas City, KS

One such great barbecue place is Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. The café is inside a gas station and people are always waiting in line out the door to get their famous barbecue. And when I finished, my friend Brad Sweeten, and athletic director at one of the high schools in Kansas City, Missouri, took me to a local ice cream place that makes ice cream cones as tall is the Empire State building.

Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg in Heidelberg, ON

Honestly, I could write about the dozens and dozens of places I’ve visited over the years. Every single place has its own personality and tasty cuisine.

Following are a few of the photos of the diners, dives and drive-ins that I visited over the years.  I have dozens that you can read about in my blog.  I only have room to include a few.  One piece of advice though… don’t go looking for a sandwich in Sandwich, NH.  Been there…failed that.  No sandwiches in Sandwich.

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
In the Country Bakery and Eatery on the outskirts of Damascus, VA
A Pal’s Sudden Service building. Lots of fun and it looks like the food is great too. Bristol, TN
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Story Inn, Story, Indiana
Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana (Cheap Drinks and Lousy Food)
Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco
Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY

 

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