A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

ABanner600

The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

IBanner

The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

PBanner

The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

QBanner

The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

RBanner

The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

SBanner

The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

YBanner

The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

ZBanner

The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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A to Z Challenge: The S Towns #atozchallenge

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 what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

SThe S Towns

Steubenville, Ohio

Welcome to Steubenville, OH
Welcome to Steubenville, OH
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
Market Street by Michael Wojczuk. This was the first mural painted in Steubenville
Market Street by Michael Wojczuk. This was the first mural painted in Steubenville
Dean Martin mural in Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Dean Martin mural in Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH
Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis
Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis

On the banks of the Ohio River bordering the upper panhandle of West Virginia lies the old steel mining town of Steubenville, Ohio. This is the hometown of the famous actor/singer Dean Martin and is known as the City of Murals, with over 25 larger than life murals painted on the sides of buildings around town. The town of over 20,000 seems to be one of those dying steel towns. As I drove around town I got a sense of sadness. Many old crippled folks hobbling along the streets and many of the downtown businesses were welfare-related businesses. Up on the hill above the city there seemed to be a little more life. But, I also saw obvious signs that the town is trying to redefine itself as a historical tourism location with the murals, a new museum dedicated to the Old Fort Steuben and then the Ohio River scenery of course.  Check out my 2008 blog post about this and other Ohio River towns HERE.

Stanley, Idaho

Welcome to Stanley, Idaho
Welcome to Stanley, Idaho
Jagged Sawtooths near Stanley, ID
Jagged Sawtooths near Stanley, ID
Teepee in Stanley, ID
Teepee in Stanley, ID
Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
The Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho

I visited Idaho a couple of times in 2013 for some work and took the weekends to travel an see some of the sights. One place I had dreamed of visiting was the Sawtooth Mountain Range.  Nestled at the base of the mountain range is the pristine little community of Stanley, which boasts a whopping 60-70 residents year round.  I could SOOO live in this place.  Pristine views, clean air and a few log cabins….even a Teepee…dot the town.  There is only one gas station and a couple of places to eat.  But what got me was the stunning views.  Check out more about my visit to Stanley in 2013 by clicking HERE.

Sedona, Arizona

Century Plant overlooking Sedona, AZ
Century Plant overlooking Sedona, AZ
Oak Creek runs by the famed Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ
Oak Creek runs by the famed Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ
Agave in Sedona, Arizona
Agave in Sedona, Arizona
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ
Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982
Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982

In the early 1980s I attended college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. During my four years there, I spent much of it working for Nava-Hopi Tours as a tour guide.  One of my twice weekly trips was to Sedona via the amazing switchbacks of the Oak Creek Canyon scenic drive. Personally, I am a fan of the Rocky Mountains, but Sedona most certainly is one of the most scenic places in the United States.  The massive red rocks, the colorful character of the residents, the Pink Jeep Tours, the impressive Chapel of the Holy Cross and more…this is a must see location. I look forward to my next visit to Arizona as I have not been to Sedona since the 1990s.

Santa Rosa, California

Front side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria" in Santa Rosa, CA
Front side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria” in Santa Rosa, CA
Sumoflam at the base of "Cyclisk"
Sumoflam at the base of “Cyclisk”
"Guardian of the Creek" by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa's Prince Memorial Greenway
“Guardian of the Creek” by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa’s Prince Memorial Greenway

In 2015 I visited California to attend the Woodflock event with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. Prior to getting up to Red Bluff, CA where the event was held, I spent a couple of days with some of my acquaintances in the Santa Rosa area and actually got to tour around this funky town. I visited The Hand statue shown above, which is actually titled “Agraria” and is by artist Larry Kirkland. Then there is the ultimate in quirky attractions, a giant obelisk made completely of bicycle parts.  Called “Cyclisk,” this was created in 2010 by Petaluma-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector and weighs about 10,000 lb and is made from roughly 340 recycled bicycles collected from local nonprofit community bike projects. It took nearly four months of welding to manufacture. There are a number of other fun attractions in this artsy little town.  You can see many more photos and more details in my 2015 blog post HERE.

Staunton, Illinois

Henry's Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Henry’s Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Rich Henry and Sumoflam with their rabbit at Henry's Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Rich Henry and Sumoflam with their rabbit at Henry’s Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Sumoflam with buried cars at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Sumoflam with buried cars at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL
Rabbit Yield Sign in Henry's Ra66it Ranch
Rabbit Yield Sign in Henry’s Ra66it Ranch

If you have been following my A to Z Blog Post, you would have noticed on the A Towns post that I covered both Amarillo in Texas and Alliance in Nebraska.  These two locations are home to two of the most well know “Car Art” sites in the United States, namely Cadillac Ranch and Carhenge.  Cadillac Ranch is right off of US Highway 66 in Amaraillo.  But if you continue east on US Route 66 into Illinois, you will come across a lesser known “Car Art” and Route 66 memorabilia spot near Staunton, Illinois. Known as “Henry’s Rabbit Ranch (also sometimes written as ‘Ra66it Ranch’),” this place celebrates Route 66 and the people along the highway with its emporium of highway and trucking memorabilia that includes a collection of Campbell’s “Humpin’ to Please” trailers next to a replica of a vintage gas station. Owner Rich Henry and his wife Linda have built up a shop chock full of Route 66 memorabilia, a collection of old half buried VW Rabbits in their unique replicating of “Cadillac Ranch” (thus Rabbit Ranch….) and even have a pen full of live rabbits.  See more about my 2013 visit HERE.

Sisters, Oregon

Welcome to Sisters, Oregon
Welcome to Sisters, Oregon
Three Sisters - nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity
Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity
Mt. Jefferson - at 10,497 feet the second highest peak ion Oregon
Mt. Jefferson – at 10,497 feet the second highest peak ion Oregon

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Oregon three times between 2011 and 2012 while working for iHigh.com.  On one of the trips I attended the Oregon High School Athletic Directors Conference at a resort near Bend and, along the way, drove some back roads, one of which took me into the town of Sisters, Oregon. The town gets its name from a set of three mountains in the Southern Cascades known as “The Three Sisters.”  From town you can also get a spectacular view of Mt. Jefferson, Oregon’s second highest peak.  Though not as high in altitude as Stanley, Idaho, this westernesque town (their biggest employer is a huge ranch), Sisters is another place that I could most certainly love and enjoy. Definitely worth a visit!

Seymour, Wisconsin

Welcome to Seymour, WI
Welcome to Seymour, WI
Hamburger Charlie statue in Seymour, WI
Hamburger Charlie statue in Seymour, WI
Hamburger Charlie's dignified face
Hamburger Charlie’s dignified face

Do you like hamburgers? How about hamburger history?  Back in 2012 on a visit to Wisconsin, we made our way into Seymour, which claims to be the home of the hamburger.  According to its history, Charles Nagreen (1870-1951), put ground beef patties in a bun and began calling them Hamburgers back in 1885.  They have an annual hamburger festival and there are a couple of giant hamburgers in town.  You can see more about Seymour by clicking HERE.

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus Welcome Sign
Santa Claus Welcome Sign
Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam
Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam
Santa Claus Post Office
Santa Claus Post Office
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus Statue near the Santa Claus Museum
Santa Claus Statue near the Santa Claus Museum

Perhaps you prefer Christmas year round.  You can get that in the village of Santa Claus, Indiana. There are a number of Santa Claus statues around town, Christmas-themed shops, a Post Office that has a Santa Claus in the front and even a Santa Claus Police Department!!  As a family, we made a visit there during the Christmas season of 2015 and had a good time.  You can see more about our visit to Santa Claus and a ton of photos HERE.

Sandwich, New Hampshire

Sandwich, NH - Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH
Sandwich, NH – Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH
...but none of the signs led to a sandwich place in Sandwich, NH. #SandwichFail!
…but none of the signs led to a sandwich place in Sandwich, NH. #SandwichFail!

On a trip to Connecticut in the summer of 2015, we made our way into New Hampshire and Vermont so i could knock off the remaining states in my quest to hit all 50.  One of my “wish list” stops was to go to Sandwich, NH in order to get a sat a sandwich there.  We even planned the trip such that we would get there around lunch time.  But, alas, there are no Sandwich places in Sandwich, New Hampshire (that we could locate anyway.)

Sweet Grass, Montana

Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana
Blue roofed church in Sweet Grass, Montana
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass, Montana
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweet Grass, Montana
Sumoflam at Jerusalem Rocks in December 2012
Sumoflam at Jerusalem Rocks in December 2012
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweet Grass
A giant hoodoo overlooks the prairie valley below at Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass, Montana
A giant hoodoo overlooks the prairie valley below at Jerusalem Rocks near Sweet Grass, Montana

Way up north in Montana, practically at the Canadian border is the town of Sweet Grass, Montana. Though predominantly a border crossing, the town has a couple of interesting things.  First off, there is a church with a blue roof…a rarity on the back roads of America.  And then there are the interesting geologic hoodoo formation of the Jerusalem Rocks.  These outcroppings can be visited via a rough dirt road.  I have written about these and some other similar formations in a post HERE.

Shakespeare and Stratford, Ontario

Welcome to Shalespeare
Welcome to Shakespeare
Shakespeare Pies - Shakespeare, Ontario
Shakespeare Pies – Shakespeare, Ontario
Antique Shops in Shakespeare
Antique Shops in Shakespeare
The Avon River and Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario
The Avon River and Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario
A lovely swan on the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario
A lovely swan on the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario

As I have noted before, in 2008 I was working in Canada.  On one a couple of occasions I got to visit the small town of Shakespeare and the neighboring town of Stratford in Perth County. Full of little antique shops and some beautiful scenery, these are certainly two unique places to visit. You can read about some of my exploits in this part of Ontario in 2008 in my post HERE.

Sikeston, Missouri (Honorable Mention)

Sumoflam and wife at Lambert's Cafe - Home of Throwed Rolls
Sumoflam and wife at Lambert’s Cafe – Home of Throwed Rolls
Throwing Rolls at Lambert's
Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s
Lambert's Cafe - Sikeston, Missouri - big place
Lambert’s Cafe – Sikeston, Missouri – big place

I wanted to mention Sikeston, Missouri namely because it is home to one of America’s more unique eateries…Lambert’s Cafe – the Home of the Throwed Rolls. Offering great home style cooking, big portions, and yes, Throwed Rolls – literally throwing them to you across the room – it is a fun and delicious place to eat. Close to the entertainment town of Branson, Sikeston is a great stop along the way.  Read more HERE.

Success, Missouri (Honorable Mention)

Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri direction
Success, Missouri
Success, Missouri

I was heading north on US 63 in Missouri one day.  As I got to Houston, MO (in Texas County — NO JOKE!!), I passed the sign above.  I took the 16 mile trek to look for Success.  The road to Success from Houston is lined with old doublewides and rusted out cars.  No joke!!  And once you find Success, you will see that there is not much there.  At least you can say you found it.

Soda Springs, Idaho (Honorable Mention)

Soda Springs Historic Marker
Soda Springs Historic Marker
Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre - Soda Springs, Idaho
Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre – Soda Springs, Idaho
Murals in Soda Springs
Murals in Soda Springs
The Soda Springs Geyser - erupts every hour on the hour
The Soda Springs Geyser – erupts every hour on the hour

And my final S Town is Soda Springs, Idaho.  It sits on top of many hot springs and has a geyser too!! There is a lot of history here.  In fact, Brigham Young, the great Mormon leader, even had a home here.   Soda Springs has the only captive geyser in the world.  It was discovered in an attempt to find a hot water source for a swimming pool.  On November 30, 1937, the drill went down 315 feet and unleashed the geyser.  The extreme pressure is caused by carbon dioxide gas mixing with water in an underground chamber.  The water is around 72 F.  It is now controlled by a timer.  It erupts every hour on the hour and reaches heights of 100 feet year round.  You can read more about my visit to Soda Springs and other areas in Idaho and Wyoming HERE.

Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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Two Days to Dallas: Day 1 – Idaho Falls, Idaho to Eagle, Colorado

Flowery Meadows near Hayden, Colorado
Flowery Meadows near Hayden, Colorado

On June 12 I commenced on a trip to Dallas, Texas from Idaho Falls, Idaho.  This would be a long two day trip, but I certainly wanted to hit some places I had never been before.  So, on Day 1 I ventured south through Pocatello and then onto Eagle, Colorado, about 588 miles.  Following is my route map for Day 1.


View Larger Map – Idaho Falls, ID to Eagle, CO

Just near the hotel I stayed at in Idaho Falls, there was an amazing Eagle Sculpture in a roundabout.  This is a HUGE work and is quite stunning.  Called “The Protector”, it is touted as the “World’s Largest Eagle Monument” and was unveiled in the fall of 2006.  The work was done by Wyoming artist Vic Payne and portrays a mother eagle perched to feed her two young eaglets with a salmon that is held in her great talons. The father, “The Protector”, circles around his territory in majestic flight keeping a vigilant watch for anything that may bring danger to his family. Payne created the eagles 3 times life size with a 21 foot wingspan. Each of the eaglets are 4 1/2 feet in height.

The Protector by Vic Payne in Idaho Falls, Idaho
The Protector by Vic Payne in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Go figure…I will start the morning off with an “Eagle” and end the day in an “Eagle.”

Mother Eagle portion of "The Protector" by Vic Payne
Mother Eagle portion of “The Protector” by Vic Payne

I then proceeded south on I-15 to Pocatello.  This drive goes through volcanic fields and other geology.  An interesting drive.  As I approached the crest of a hill though, there was a stunning change in scenery as the lava fields turned into a huge field of yellow.

Highway to Pocatello
Highway to Pocatello
Amazing field of yellow north of Pocatello, Idaho
Amazing field of yellow north of Pocatello, Idaho

From Pocatello I continued south until I hit US 30 and then proceeded east towards Lava Hot Springs. This road leads into the hill country and offered more great views of flowery meadows.

Flowery meadows west of Lava Springs, Idaho
Flowery meadows west of Lava Springs, Idaho

I rolled into the small resort town of Lava Hot Springs, which is nestled in a nice little valley.  I didn’t have time to stop except for a photo or two.  But the Welcome Sign pretty much says it all.

Welcome to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Welcome to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

This area was frequented by pre-historic Indians long before the white men arrived in 1812.  They used the hot water for bathing and processing hides.  It was also a major campground during the winter.  Now the town touts itself as a “Vacation Resort” with spas, water slides and more.

Lava Hot Springs Resort
Lava Hot Springs Resort

Not much further east is the town of Soda Springs. Like Lava Hot Springs, it sits atop of hot springs and has a geyser too!! There is a lot of history here.  In fact, Brigham Young, the great Mormon leader, even had a home here.  as noted, Soda Springs has the only captive geyser in the world.  It was discovered in an attempt to find a hot water source for a swimming pool.  On November 30, 1937, the drill went down 315 feet and unleashed the geyser.  The extreme pressure is caused by carbon dioxide gas mixing with water in an underground chamber.  The water is around 72 F.  It is now controlled by a timer.  It erupts every hour on the hour and reaches heights of 100 feet year round. 

Soda Springs Historic Marker
Soda Springs Historic Marker
Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre - Soda Springs, Idaho
Idan-Ha Drive-In Theatre – Soda Springs, Idaho
Main Street Soda Springs
Main Street Soda Springs
Murals in Soda Springs
Murals in Soda Springs
The Soda Springs Geyser - erupts every hour on the hour
The Soda Springs Geyser – erupts every hour on the hour

I really would have liked to have spent a couple of hours here.  It is a nice little town with some great history.  But, I had to press on to Montpelier, which is “Pioneer Central”.

Ranch Hand Trail Stop - Montpelier, ID -- Eat 3 pancakes Eat Free...
Ranch Hand Trail Stop – Montpelier, ID — Eat 3 pancakes Eat Free…
Welcome to Montpelier, Idaho
Welcome to Montpelier, Idaho

Montpelier, Idaho was founded in 1864 and received its name from Brigham Young in deference to his birthplace in the town of the same name in Vermont.  Mormon heritage in the Bear Lake area of Idaho.  Many Mormon families moved and settled in this area in the 1860s and 1870s.  Indeed, my wife’s direct ancestors were some of the families that came to the area.  In her case, her great great grandfather William Shepherd migrated from England and settled in nearby Paris, Idaho, which later became the county seat of Bear Lake County.  He was a shoemaker and a farmer and was considered a “leading citizen” of the county (see this article for more on the Shepherds). My wife’s grandfather Rulon T. Shepherd was born in Paris as was her mother Arlene.  Rulon and family eventually were some of the original settlers in Mesa, Arizona.  So, the Pioneer Heritage of this area has a special place in the hearts of my family.

Welcome to Montpelierr - Part II
Welcome to Montpelier – Part II

Montpelier is home to the National Oregon/California Trail Center, which is all about the pioneers. The Trail Center was built to preserve, perpetuate and promote the pioneer history and heritage of the Oregon/California Trail and the Bear Lake Valley.

Sumoflam at National Oregon/California Trail Center
Sumoflam at National Oregon/California Trail Center, Montpelier, Idaho
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the Trail Center in Montpelier
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the Trail Center in Montpelier
Trail Center Covered Wagon
Trail Center Covered Wagon
Wildflowers at the Trail Center
Wildflowers at the Trail Center
The National Oregon/California Trail Center, Montpelier, Idaho
The National Oregon/California Trail Center, Montpelier, Idaho

I had to move on and into Wyoming.  I got to the border via US 30 as it wound through areas trekked on by pioneers

 

US 30 east of Montpelier
US 30 east of Montpelier, Idaho
Welcome to Wyoming sign on US 30
Welcome to Wyoming sign on US 30
Border, Wyoming sign
Border, Wyoming sign

From the border I headed into the small town of Cokeville, Wyoming.

US 30 heading south to Cokeville, Wyoming
US 30 heading south to Cokeville, Wyoming
Welcome to Cokeville, WY
Welcome to Cokeville, WY

Cokeville, Wyoming is a small town of about 535 people.  The town got its name from coal deposits found in the area.  The railroad arrived in 1882 and the town incorporated in 1910 and, in the early 1900s, was called the “Sheep Capital of the World” due to the number of sheep ranches. (Newell, SD is now called the “Sheep Capital of America”).  Perhaps the only really interesting thing I saw in Cokeville was the non-descript sign for “Blondie’s Cafe”.

Blondie's Cafe - Cokeville, WY
Blondie’s Cafe – Cokeville, WY

From Cokeville I continued s outh on US 30 until it turned east and then followed it on to Kemmerer.

US 30 South of Cokeville, WY
US 30 South of Cokeville, WY
US 30 turning east towards Kemmerer
US 30 turning east towards Kemmerer
US 30 heading east to Kemmerer, WY
US 30 heading east to Kemmerer, WY

 

Almost to Kemmerer sign...
Almost to Kemmerer sign…

Kemmerer, Wyoming and Diamondville, Wyoming are basically twin cities that reside in what is called “The Fossil Basin” due to the abundant fish fossils in the area.  On the way into Kemmerer I passed Fossil Butte National Monument, but did not have time to stop there. Some of the world’s best preserved fossils are found here including fossilized fish, insects, plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals.  They are apparently exceptional for their abundance, variety, and detail of preservation.   There are also “Dig-your-own” fossil quarries located in the hills surrounding ancient Fossil Lake, just west of Kemmerer and Diamondville.  So, this is a haven for fossil enthusiasts.

Welcome to Kemmerer Diamondville
Welcome to Kemmerer Diamondville
Fish Fossil Sign
Fish Fossil Sign
Wyoming's Wonder Sign - Kemmerer, WY
Wyoming’s Wonder Sign – Kemmerer, WY
Oregon Trail SIgn
Oregon Trail Sign

The two towns boast a number of beautiful wooden signs that dot the area.  A few samples are above.

Kemmerer, Wyoming has about 2,700 residents and is the county seat of Lincoln County. The town was established as a result of the discovery of coal deposits by explorer John Fremont. In 1881 the Union Pacific Coal Company opened an underground mine in conjunction with the newly added Oregon Short Line Railroad.  The actual town was founded in 1897 and was named after Pennsylvania Coal Magnate Mahlon S. Kemmerer, who provided major funding for the mine operations. As a result of the mines, the town grew rapidly.

J.C. Penney Mother Store
J.C. Penney Mother Store

In 1902 James Cash Penney came to Kemmerer to open a business.  He set up the “Golden Rule Store” and opened its doors on April 14, 1902 in partnership with two other individuals. The partnership later dissolved, and, in 1909 Penney moved his headquarters to Salt Lake City to be closer to banks and railroads.  By 1912 he had expanded to 34 stores in .  In 1913 he made the decision to change their names to J.C. Penney Company. and the company eventually moved its headquarters to New York. An interesting side note of history: In 1940, Sam Walton began working at a J. C. Penney in Des Moines, Iowa. Walton later went on to found future retailer Walmart in 1962.  The “Mother Store” still operates in Kemmerer.

Wall Mural in Kemmerer
Harvey Jackson Wall Mural in Kemmerer

The town has a beautiful (and large) wall mural in the downtown area depicting the history of the area. It was done by mural artist Harvey Jackson in 2006.  I have wrote about another of his murals in Gillette, Wyoming in an earlier post.

Harvey Jackson mural
Detail of Harvey Jackson mural
Detail of Harvey Jackson mural
Detail of Harvey Jackson mural
Wooden Ma and Pa, Kemmerer, WY
Wooden Ma and Pa, Kemmerer, WY

I found this old wooden couple outside of Bob’s Rock Shop in Kemmerer. I didn’t stop in due to time constraints, but I had to get a shot of this fun couple!

Sumoflam with Ma and Pa
Sumoflam with Ma and Pa
Antler Motel Neon Sign in Kemmerer. Love old neon signs.
Antler Motel Neon Sign in Kemmerer. Love old neon signs.

Like Kemmerer, the small town of Diamondville, Wyoming got its start from Cole Mining when coal was discovered nearby in 1868 by a man named Harrison Church.  A tent town soon formed and eventually the town was established in 1896.  The town apparently got its name from the quality of the superior-grade coal that seemed to resemble black diamonds.

Diamondville Water Tank
Diamondville Water Tank
Diamondville Town Hall sign
Diamondville Town Hall sign

From Diamondville I proceeded east on US 30 towards the small town of Opal, WY.

US 30 east of Diamondville
US 30 east of Diamondville

Opal, Wyoming is practically a ghost town.  There are only a few occupied buildings and a number of old run down houses.  It was originally an old railroad town and is also a center for sheep and cattle ranching. According to one site, the town ships 10,000 head of cattle annually.

Old Mercantile Building, Opal, WY
Old Mercantile Building, Opal, WY
Pioneer Monument - Opal, WY
Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY

Continuing eastward, US 30 moved southeast towards Interstate 80 south of Granger, Wyoming.  From there it was on to Little America, Wyoming.

US 30 East near Granger, Wyoming
US 30 East near Granger, Wyoming
Approaching Little America, WY
Approaching Little America, WY

Little America got its name from the Little America motel, which was purposefully located in this remote location as a haven, not unlike the base camp the polar explorer Richard E. Byrd set up in the Antarctic in 1928, thus the use of penguins as the icons. However, being situated on a coast-to-coast highway and offering travel services, it thrived, launching a chain of travel facilities by the same name. Its developer, Robert Earl Holding, who died on April 19, 2013, with a personal net worth of over $3 billion.  Holding was the owner of Sinclair gas, the Little America hotel chain and the Sun Valley and Snowbasin ski resorts, among other businesses.

Famous Sinclair Dinosaur at Little America
Famous Sinclair Dinosaur at Little America

In 1974 I began work with a company in Salt Lake City called Alta Distributing.  It was a record and tape rack jobber and I was given a sales territory that included southern Utah, eastern Utah and southern Wyoming.  Once a month I made way from Vernal, Utah to Rock Springs, Wyoming and then west to Evanston and back to Salt Lake.  I always stopped in Little America…it was truly a haven and they had a great dining facility with amazing portions. It was one of my fonder memories.  Later, while in college, I worked for a short time at the Little America in Flagstaff, AZ and then, as a tour guide, made frequent trips to this classy hotel to pick up guests.

Famous Little America sign
Famous Little America sign

Heading east on I-80, the landscape is fairly bleak.  Lots of sage brush and high desert landscapes.  To some it is likely a boring drive.  But, there is plenty of life out there and, as one gets closer to Green River, the scenery starts getting more interesting.

 I-80 East of Little America
I-80 East of Little America
I-80 near Green River, Wyoming
I-80 near Green River, Wyoming – looking at Castle Rock on the right
Green River Tunnel east of Green River, WY
Green River Tunnel east of Green River, WY

From Green River it is a hop skip and a jump to Rock Springs.  I always remembered Rock Springs as a town full of singlewide trailers, but the town of 23,000 is actually quite vibrant due to the energy-rich region that contains numerous oil and natural gas reserves.

Welcome to Rock Springs, WY
Welcome to Rock Springs, WY
Landscape near Rock Springs, WY
Landscape near Rock Springs, WY

I continued east on I-80 until I got to exit 187 which linked with Wyoming HWY 789, which headed south towards Colorado. This exit had a couple of old gas station signs, remnants of a vibrant time now long gone.

Baggs Rd - WY Hwy 789
Baggs Rd – WY Hwy 789
Old Gas Sign near Baggs Rd., Wyoming
Old Gas Sign near Baggs Rd., Wyoming
Old Neon Gas Sign near Baggs Rd., Wyoming
Old Neon Mojo Gas Sign near Baggs Rd., Wyoming

The drive to Baggs, Wyoming on WY 789 is a 50 mile drive through some pretty amazing desert scenery. including colorful buttes, badlands, arroyos, wild horses and antelope.  I was quite thrilled to take this drive on a road I had never been on and on one that is obviously not heavily traveled.  At one time this was part of the Overland Trail and there are apparently still some ruts visible from the late 1800s when the trail was used.

The Overland Trail historic Sign
The Overland Trail historic Sign
Colorful buttes along Hwy 789 in south central Wyoming
Colorful buttes along Hwy 789 in south central Wyoming
Colorful hills on WY 789 South
Colorful hills on WY 789 South
Wild Horses as seen along Hwy 789 north of Baggs, WY
Wild Horses as seen along Hwy 789 north of Baggs, WY
Badlands north of Baggs, WY
Badlands north of Baggs, WY

The drive down Hwy 789 is also historic.  It is reputedly where the famous Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and their “Wild Bunch” hung out.  Baggs is one of many towns in scenic Carbon County, Wyoming, which includes the towns of Rawlins, Baggs and a number of others.

Welcome to Baggs, WY
Welcome to Baggs, WY

Baggs, Wyoming is a short drive from the Colorado border and is only about 40 miles or so from Craig, Colorado.  To get there I continued south on 789 which turns into Colorado Hwy 13 heading into Craig.

Welcome to Colorado WY 789 and CO 13
Welcome to Colorado WY 789 and CO 13
Colorado Hwy 13
Colorado Hwy 13

The drive down Colorado 13 is scenic with rolling hills and lots of antelope.  I saw quite a few including the two below and then the amazing scene of the mother and two calves.

Antelope on CO Hwy 13
Antelope on CO Hwy 13
Pronghorn Antelope on CO Hwy 13
Pronghorn Antelope on CO Hwy 13
CO Hwy 13 in Moffat County
CO Hwy 13 in Moffat County
Antelope Doe and Calves as seen from CO Hwy 13 north of Craig, CO
Antelope Doe and Calves as seen from CO Hwy 13 north of Craig, CO
Another shot of the antelopes
Another shot of the antelopes

Along this highway one can see the “Fortification Rocks” which is an old basalt pillar that is believed to be used by Indians as a fortification. The historical marker for Fortification Rocks thew in some humor noting that “this area is better known as home to a large number of rattlesnakes.”  This structure juts out of the prairie like a sharp razor back and is fairly impressive.

Fortification Rocks as seen from the north on CO 13.
Fortification Rocks as seen from the north on CO 13.
Fortification Rocks as seen from the side on CO Hwy 13
Fortification Rocks as seen from the side on CO Hwy 13

Continuing southward towards Craig the scenery continues to get more impressive.

CO Hwy 13 near Craig, CO
CO Hwy 13 near Craig, CO

And, of course, my GPS knows me well as it sent me on a gravel road bypassing Craig and heading towards US Route 40 and Hayden, CO.

Gravel Road - Yoleta Trail Rd. east of Craig, CO
Gravel Road – Yoleta Trail Rd. east of Craig, CO
Old Cabin on US 40 west of Hayden, CO
Old Cabin on US 40 west of Hayden, CO
Elkhead Creek Valley west of Hayden, CO
Yampa River Valley west of Hayden, CO

Hayden is a small town of abut 1600 people just a few miles east of Craig, CO and west of Steamboat Springs, CO on US Hwy 40. The area was first settled in 1875, with the town established in 1894 and incorporated in 1906. Hayden was named for F.V. Hayden, head of a survey party for the U.S. Geological & Geographic Survey in the late 1860s. Hayden explored western Colorado during the late nineteenth century.  It has a small mainline passenger airport due to it’s proximity to some major Colorado ski resorts.

Welcome to Hayden, CO
Welcome to Hayden, CO

I continued east on US 40 a few more miles until I hit Colorado Hwy 131 which headed south towards Eagle through the Yampa River Valley and some wonderful late spring scenery of wildflower covered hills, as well as a drive by a huge Peabody Coal operation near Oak Creek, Colorado.

Mountains and meadows as seen from CO Hwy 131
Mountains and meadows as seen from CO Hwy 131
Flowery Meadows on CO Hwy 131
Flowery Meadows on CO Hwy 131
More flowers along the road
More flowers along the road
Closeup of flowers
Closeup of yellow wildflowers
Coal mining near Oak Creek, Colorado
Coal mining near Oak Creek, Colorado
Train coming out of Peabody Coal Mine near Oak Creek, CO
Train coming out of Peabody Coal Mine near Oak Creek, CO

From the Peabody Coal facility, CO 131 winds its way down into the small town of Oak Creek.  Funny how it reminded me of the drive from Flagstaff, AZ to Sedona, AZ thorough Oak Creek Canyon with the sharp curves.

Oak Creek, Colorado
Oak Creek, Colorado
Large wall mural on Chelsea's Chinese restaurant in Oak Creek, CO
Large wall mural on Chelsea’s Chinese restaurant in Oak Creek, CO
A mystic mural in Oak Creek, CO
A mystic mural in Oak Creek, CO

From Oak Creek I proceeded south to Phippsburg and then into Yampa, CO, where I caught a pretty amazing sunset.

Rocky Mountains south of Phippsburg
Rocky Mountains south of Phippsburg
Sunset hits Devil's Grave Mesa south of Phoppsburg, CO
Sunset hits Devil’s Grave Mesa south of Phippsburg, CO

I finally arrived in Yampa, Colorado at around 8:30 PM in time to catch a glimpse of a wonderful sunset on the hills.

Sunset as seen from Yampa, CO
Sunset as seen from Yampa, CO
Another view of sunset from Yampa
Another view of sunset from Yampa

The remainder of the drive was in the shady light of sunset as I continued south and crossed over the Colorado River at State Bridge Landing south of Bond, CO.  It was too dark to get any photographs but it was lit enough that I could imagine that it was a spectacular scene.  I eventually made my way to my hotel in Eagle, CO.  It was a long day after nearly 600 miles of driving…but left some lasting memories.

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