A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The V Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Vulcan, Alberta

Vulcan, Alberta
Vulcan Visitor Center
Star Trek Wall Mural in Vulcan, Alberta
Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007

Valliant, Oklahoma

Welcome to Valliant, OK

Vietnamese Buddhist Center – Sugar Land, Texas

Vietnamese Buddhist Center in Sugar Land, TX
Pagoda at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center
Sumoflam at the Vietnamese Buddhist Center

Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana

Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana

Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland
The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake!
It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

Vandalia, Illinois

Vandalia Water Tower with Lincoln on it
Madonna of the Trail Statue in Vandalia, IL
Sumoflam and the Fire Breathing Dragon of Kaskaskia in Vandalia, IL

Victor Emporium – Victor, Idaho

Victor Emporium is famous for their Shakes at their Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

Van Tassell, Wyoming

Van Tassell, WY
A scene from Van Tassell, WY

Vivian, Louisiana

Flag mural in Vivian, Louisiana
History mural in Vivian, Louisiana

Volcanoes and Volcanic Craters – Capulin, New Mexico; Craters of the Moon, Idaho; Sunset Crater, Arizona

Capulin Volcano – part of the Capulin National Monument in New Mexico
Craters of the Moon drive amidst the lava fields
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993

Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus, Virginia; Abingdon, Virginia

A section of the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, VA
Virginia Creeper Welcome Center – Abingdon, VA
Had to add this sign…this place was one of our true 2016 highlights!
Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia

Voyageurs National Park – International Falls, Minnesota

Kabetogama Lake – Voyageurs National Park
Kabetogama Walleye

Viborg, South Dakota

Welcome to Viborg
Velkommen to Viborg
Kountry Kookin’ Cafe – Viborg, SD

Valier, Montana

Welcome to Valier, Montana
Formations at Rock City north of Valier, MT

Vermeer Dutch Windmill – Pella, Iowa

Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States
Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill

Versailles, Kentucky

A mural on a water tower in Versailles, Kentucky
The CastlePost Castle near Versailles, KY
Horses graze in the fall on a Woodford County farm near Versailles.

Vincennes, Indiana

The kids learn about an Old Printing Press in Vincennes, Indiana. Summer 2001
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001

Virden, Manitoba

Virden, Manitoba
At an oil well display in Virden, Manitoba

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Old Hotel Sign on side of The Vicksburg
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg Wall Mural
The Biedenharn Coca Cola Museum in Vicksburg

Villa Theater – Malta, Montana

Villa Theater in Malta, Montana. One of many old theater fronts to be seen along the Hi-Line of Montana

Vernal, Utah

Welcome to Vernal, UT
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT

Virginia Heritage Music Trail – Wise, Virginia

The Crooked Road – Virginia Heritage Music Trail

Vander Ploeg Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Vander Ploeg Bakery in Pella, IA
Dutch Letters pastries at Vander Ploeg bakery in Pella

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The Q Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Not many Q items, so I may just add a few QUIRKY places & things!

The Hobbit Hole – a unique and quirky shop in Fayetteville, WV
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
Lovely quirky Airstream in Austin, TX
The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati
Porter’s Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD
Lions and tigers and eagles Oh My – our first offbeat attraction at Wilson’s Gift Shop in Ansted, WV – August 1995
The Thing’s Outhouse — Great Seats Available – Dragoon, Arizona
The Outhouse Gift Shop – Ronks, PA
Booger Hollow Double Decker Outhouse – Booger Hollow, Arkansas

Quan Am Statue – Sugar Land, Texas

Giant 72′ tall Quan The Am Bo Tat statue in Sugar Land, TX
Sumoflam at Quan The Am Bo Tat
A view of the Quan The Am Bo Tat as she overlooks the gardens

Quartzsite, Arizona

The Grave Marker for Hi Jolly in Quartzsite
Quartzsite, AZ

Quicksand, Kentucky

Quicksand Bridge in Kentucky

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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S is for Super Statues – #atozchallenge

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

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

77 Foot Tall Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville, Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quan Am – The Mother of Buddha

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

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

The statue was designed an build by New Orleans artist Mai Chi. She escaped from Vietnam in 1989 and spent four years in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She has a literature degree from the University of Saigo and took up sculpting clay religious figures for Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim refugees while there. She also took up wood carving. After being asked to build this, Chi took a year to design the statue. According to Chi, the face came from dreams she had during the design period.

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of DavidStatueofLibDec1990
Statue of Liberty

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

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

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

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

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

KeeperOfThePlainsWichitaKS1
Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, KS

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

HiawathaIronwoodMI4
Hiawatha, Ironwood, MI

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

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

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

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Mark Twain statue in New London, MO

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

 

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