AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – Reflections #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  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 of my entries highlighted a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  If you missed any of the posts, check out my page with all of the links HERE.  I will reflect back on this past month’s posts.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

What a Whirlwind!

CA 198 in Sequoia National Park

Throughout the month of April I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  It was my fourth straight year, but this one was really my most interesting yet.  Beginning in March the Coronavirus hit the world.  I am amazed how a microscopic thing could have such a massive impact on the world.  The world was shut down effectively, but the internet and the opportunity to post content was not.

Patrick Amiot – “Crow Bar” in Sebastapol, CA

It has been a whirlwind.  What made it more so was knowing (in hindsight) that while the coronavirus was hitting the U.S. in Washington and California back in January and February while I was traveling out there with my daughter and her three children.  Many of the places we visited, including massive National Parks like the Grand Canyon, were eventually closed.  In fact, as of this writing, many are still closed.  Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are closed all over the country.  Interstate travel bans are in effect across most states.  As of this writing on May 5, 2020, nearly 70,000 Americans have died of this virus since mid-February…while we were still traveling!!

I am both amazed and grateful that we are all home and safe. And brought back a boat load of memories.

ENJOYING THE RIDE

Interstate 90 at the Montana / Idaho border in late January 2020

I really like to share my travels with the world and the A to Z Challenge provides a great platform to share these with many people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Family at the Grand Canyon

Over the course of the past month I posted my 26 posts and included over 300 photos and dozens of unique stories of the places we saw on our epic road trip.  Thus far I have had over 20 comments from readers and well over 200 views of the posts.  I am thrilled for the visits and the experience.

What did you miss?

If you haven’t visited any of my posts, I shared a link to a page that has all of the links at the top of this post.  Please visit it and click on any of the links.  In the mean time, what did you miss?

Montana Highway 1 near Opportunity, Montana
  • A road trip of 8154 miles across 20 states in 21 days
  • Lovely photos of wildlife like eagles, bison, prairie dogs, seagulls and more
  • Amazing scenery from all kinds of geography including mountains, deserts, oceans and massive forests
  • Visits to over a dozen National Parks and Monuments
  • Stories and photos of many unique and quirky road side attractions
  • Visits, photos and stories about towns with unique names
  • A few fun and unique places to eat
  • An opportunity to learn about a different perspective on the amazing diversity of these United States
Pacific Coast as seen from Long Beach, Washington
welcome to Happy, Texas
Bald Eagle, taken on US Highway 2 near Davenport, WA
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Mount Rushmore as seen from a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. The tunnel was built intentionally to frame the monument
Joshua Trees near Baker, CA
Martian Soda anyone?
Sandhill Cranes in West Texas
Paul Bunyan in Klamath, California
San Francisco CA
Uranus Fudge Factory, St Robert, Missouri
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Caddo Lake bayou near Uncertain, 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

 

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

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  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 S Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Please note that this one is a fairly lengthy post. So, Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!

Sesame Street – Seabeck, Washington

While driving through Seabeck, Washington we came upon Sesame Street.  So now I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street!

I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street — Its in Seabeck, Washington

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – Santa Cruz, California

Had a nice visit in Santa Cruz to see the beautiful ocean views.  Came upon the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which was closed.  The building also has a nice lighthouse on top – the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse.

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Lighthouse on top of the Surfing Museum

The Sweet Place – Philipsburg, Montana

When we drove through Philipsburg, Montana, off of Montana Highway 1, we were pleasantly surprised by the huge candy store called The Sweet Palace.  The place was huge and has an amazing variety of candy, chocolate and fudge.  There are also some unique varieties of soda.

The Sweet Place – Philipsburg, Montana
The Sweet Palace – World’s Greatest Candy Store
Sweet Palace – Lots of Goodies
Sweet Palace – use a basket
Sweet Palace – Chocolate

Sleeper Market – Sleeper, Missouri

Driving through Missouri and just off of Interstate 44 on Missouri Road F, we drove through the small community of Sleeper, Missouri.  It was named after a railroad employee in the 1880s.  Apparently the employee had gotten a nicname of “Sleeper.”  I loved the Sleeper Market sign.

Sleeper Market – Sleeper, Missouri
Sleeper, Missouri

Seaside, Oregon

Colorful sign, but lots of rain on this day as we drove the the community of Seaside, Oregon.  on US Hwy 101.

Welcome to Seaside, Oregon

Sandhills Journey Byway – Nebraska Highway 2 – Central Nebraska

As we drove west across Nebraska, we hopped on Nebraska Highway 2, which is also known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.   This is a 272 mile journey through the Nebraska Sandhills, the Ogallala Aquifer, the Nebraska National Forest and more.  It runs from Grand Island, Nebraska to Alliance, Nebraska.

Sandhills Journey Byway – Central Nebraska

Sapp Brothers Water Tower – Nebraska City, Nebraska

There are many unique and iconic water towers along the back roads of America.  The Sapp Brothers truck stops all have nice coffee pot water towers.  The photo below is of the one in Nebraska City.

Sapp Brothers Water Tower – Nebraska City, Nebraska

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a wonderful city on a lovely bay.  I have been there a few times.  On this trip we didn’t have a lot of time for the city, but got a nice skyline view from above the Golden Gate bridge and did a drive through some of the city. We drove by the Salesforce Tower, which is the second tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

San Francisco, California
Downtown San Francisco
Salesforce Tower in San Francisco – 970 feet tall. Tallest in San Francisco and 2nd tallest west of the Mississippi River.
Housing in San Francisco

Stateline Road – Farwell, Texas

I have written about it before.  The Stateline Road between Farwell, Texas and Texico, New Mexico is mainly a 20 mile long dirt road.  We took it to get over to the National Wildlife Refuges near Muleshoe, Texas.

State Line Road – Farwell, Texas
20 mile long dirt road Stateline Road in Farwell, Texas

Sun ‘n Sand Neon Sign – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Santa Rosa, New Mexico is a treasure trove of vintage neon signage from the days of Route 66.  The Sun ‘n Sand Motel sign is a classic.  Though the motel has been closed for a few years, the historic iconical sign still remains.

Sun and Sand Motel old neon sign in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Spotted Horse, Wyoming

Driving northeast on Route 16 in Wyoming, we came across the little place known as Spotted Horse, and famous for the big spotted horse in the front of the place.  It is a small store, an old Standard Gas Station and a bar.  We only stopped for pictures.

Spotted Horse, Wyoming
Spotted Horse, Wyoming, Population 2

Shawnee Chief Motel – Shawneetown, Illinois

I always like to get vintage motel signs and the Shawnee Chief Motel sign.  This is an old Mom and Pop motel near the Ohio River town of Shawneetown.

Shawnee Chief Motel – Shawneetown, Illinois

Seattle, Washington Skyline

Whenever I visit my daughter in Port Orchard, I have to take the short drive to Manchester to grab a skyline shot of Seattle.  On this trop it was cloudy and allowed for a unique shot.

Seattle Skyline

Sandhill Crane Migration – Dimmitt, Texas

One of the things I looked most forward to on the return trip home was seeing Sandhill Cranes.  We made the long trip from Clovis, New Mexico to Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge to see them, but only found disappointment.   But, as we continued west towards Fort Worth, I was overly delighted to see massive flocks of them migrating north near Dimmitt, Texas.  It is always an amazing sight and, of course, their eerie calls can be heard from far away.   We saw even more near Seymour, Texas.

Sandhill Cranes as seen near Dimmitt, Texas
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes flyover
Massive numbers of Sandhill Cranes in west Texas
Sandhill Cranes fly by wind generators
Sandhill Cranes in west Texas
Sandhill Cranes in Seymour, Texas

Patrick Amiot, Junk-art Sculptures, Sebastopol, California

California is a huge state and I have only had rare occasions to visit.  On this trip we were close to the town of Sebastopol, a place highly recommended to me by my friends at RoadsideAmerica.com.  This town is home to junk-art creator Patrick Amiot who collects all sorts of junk and creates art.  The town of Sebastopol and neighboring areas are dotted with dozens and dozens of his works.  I took many photos and will feature more in my new 8154 Book, but here are a few shots from the visit.  His works are whimsical and fun.

Sebastopol, California -Patrick Amiot artist home
Patrick Amiot – “Crow Bar” in Sebastopol, CA
Drive junk-art in Sebastopol
Junk-art Mermaid – Sebastopol, California
Junk-art Sailor – Sebastopol, California
Junk-art Babe Ruth – Sebastopol, California
Batman and Robin in Sebastopol, California
Skeleton Rider – Sebastopol, California
Catcher – Sebastopol, California
Hanging with the T-Rex in Sebastopol

Seagulls from all over

Every time I am on the coast or near water, I am blessed to see seagulls.  I love watching these playful birds.  Here are few of the many shots I took on the road.

Seagull – Langlois, Oregon
Seagull – North Bend, Oregon
Seagull – Long Beach, Washington
Seagull – Cannon Beach, Oregon
Seagull – Manchester, Washington
Seagull – Santa Cruz, California
Seagull – Cambria, California

Slow Down for Wildlife Sign

Always a sucker for a fun sign.  Saw this one on the road up to Sequoia National Park.

Slow Down for Wildlife sign – Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park – California

As we traveled south from Washington, my daughter insisted that we find a way to get to Sequoia National Park.  It was way out of the way, but well worth it.  The drive from the park entrance up to the park is long and arduous, but so beautiful.

Sequoia National Park
Giant Sequoia Trees
Towering Trees
Sequoia Trees
Sunshine through the Sequoias

Shopping Cart Sculpture – Nipton, California

Nipton, California is such a whimsical and unique place.  I have written about it on a few other posts.  But, I wanted to include the really funky sculpture made from shopping carts outside of Nipton Trading Post.

Shopping Cart Sculpture – Nipton, California

Snow Geese Migration near Dimmitt, Texas

I had barely caught my breath from the excitement of the sandhill cranes on the road to Dimmitt, and then, just a couple of miles later we came across thousands of snow geese.

Snow Geese Migration – Dimmitt, Texas
1000s of Snow Geese
Snow Geese with one Canada Goose
Snow Geese and Canada Geese
Migrating Snow Geese

Sunrise, Sunset – California

Sunrise in Baker, California
Sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, California

Signs of Seabeck – Seabeck, Washington

Seabeck, Washington
Signs of Seabeck 1
Signs of Seabeck 2

San Francisco Peaks – Flagstaff, Arizona

San Francisco Peaks – Flagstaff, Arizona
San Francisco Peaks

Spaceship – Baker, California

Spaceship – Baker, California

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

 

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Sumoflam’s 2017 Travels in Review

Sunrise in Ocean City, MD on New Year’s Day 2017

On January 1, 2017 I sat on a beach in Ocean City, Maryland to watch a spectacular sunrise and pondered to myself about the opportunities I would have to travel throughout the year. Little did I really know the extent that I would actually contact a mini bus rental in Chicago and travel over the year and I’m grateful that I’ve had a wonderful year of seeing more of this beautiful country.

 

Oddville, Kentucky

Beginning with that glorious morning in Maryland, over the course of the year I have driven nearly 15,000 miles on road trips, many to visit family or be with family, but all of the trips have been wonderful. Some have been close by doing what I refer to as “staycation“ trips in Kentucky. But, throughout the course of the year I have been to 19 different states and have seen a plethora of places and things. Many of the trips included time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren. That makes things so much better and enjoyable!

Welcome to Louisiana with some of my grandchildren
All the family gathered at my sister’s Mayfield Smoke Shop in Little Italy, Cleveland

In July we had a family reunion. It was the first in five years and all of my 10 grandchildren and all my five children were here at one time or another and even my sister and her husband and daughter came up to visit. During that time we also visited my extended family in Cleveland, Ohio. So, travel was not the only joyful thing. Family is the best.

The following photos tell just a small story of the past year.  I have already posted some of the things in more detail and have five or six others in the works about specific places.  But here are just some of the places and things form this past year. ENJOY THE RIDE!

Giant Pepsi Pop Bottle Cap in Johnson City, TN
Huge snowman in Lewisburg, WV
Welcome to Hopkinsville, KY for the Solar Eclipse
Chunky, Mississippi
Ran into a HUGE flock of migrating snow geese in central Arkansas
West, Texas
The swamp of Caddo Lake near Uncertain, TX
The Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA
A place called Gnaw Bone in Indiana
Chicago LIVE in Cincinnati. First time I had seen them in over 40 years
Giant Indian Chief “Standing Brave” in Big Cabin, OK
Duck Commander HQ, home of Duck Dynasty in West Monroe, LA
West Virginia’s Capitol Building in Charleston, WV
One of over 50 waterfals in Watkins Glen State Park, NY
Tallest wall mural in US “Once in a Millenium Moon” is 14 stories tall…in Shreveport, LA
Chief Wacinton in Paducah, KY was one of three Peter Toth Whispering Giants I visited this year.
Forest, Mississippi Fire Department
The New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia
Pittsburgh, PA at night
Chief Little Owl, one of three Peter Toth Whispering Giants. This one is in Bethany Beach, Delaware
King’s Island Amusement Park north of Cincinnati, OH
Village of Story, IN
Post Office in Happy, KY
The Shack Burger Resort – amazingly quirky and fun – in Cypress, TX
Caught the Sand Hill Migration in early January near Cecilia, KY
The Indian River Inlet Bridge between Maryland and Delaware
The Happy Bible Church in Happy, KY
A section of the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, VA
Big Monster at Big Mike’s Rock shop near Cave City, KY
Genesee Falls at Letchworth State Park, near Castile, New York
The Inlet Indian, dedicated to the Assateague tribe, is in Ocean City, MD and is one of three of Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants visited in 2017
Capitol Building in Indianapolis, IN
Big Stone Gap, VA
Pal’s Sudden Service in Bristol, TN
Found a Canadian in Oklahoma
The CastlePost Castle near Versailles, KY
Found a nice beach on Lake Erie… Presque Isle State Park
Big Paul Bunyan in Nitro, WV
Hanging with Grandkids at Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY
The “diamond ring” effect begins as seen from Hopkinsville, KY
Large Saturn Rocket at Welcome Center in Elkmont, Alabama
Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS
Historic Downtown Cairo, IL
Fall Colors over the Red River Gorge in Kentucky
Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, TX (Home of the TV Show Fixer Upper)
We slept in Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY
Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge, WV
Deer at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park on Easter Morning 2017
Bald Eagle shot taken in mid April 2017 near Cave Run Lake, KY
A place called Donkey in Virginia
Waveland State Historic Park in Lexington, KY
Superman central in Metropolis, IL
Welcome to Missouri
The Hobbit Hole – a unique and quirky shop in Fayetteville, WV
Pop’s BBQ in Morehead, KY
Says it all – Cleveland, OH
Bob Evans Farm HQ – New Albany, OH
Louisville Bridges
Welcome Sign in Indianapolis
Easter Sunrise as seen from Shenandoah National Park

 

 

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