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.
Tee Pee Motel – Wharton, Texas
Thoroughbred Park – Lexington, Kentucky
Tornado, West Virginia
Top of the World Store – Beartooth Pass – near Cody, Wyoming
Tews Falls – Hamilton, Ontario
Trailer Park Eatery – Austin, Texas
Teddy Rides Again – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota
Totem Poles – Neah Bay, Washington; Blueberry, Wisconsin; Ketchikan, Alaska; Superior, Wisconsin
Troll City – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Day 4 of our visit to Washington we packed up the kids and a couple of cars and made our way south to Tacoma to visit the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Though not as huge as some of the zoos we have been to (such as San Diego, Louisville, Cincinnati), it is still a nice zoo with some great opportunities to see some good wildlife. The thing I like about most zoos is that they not only have a lot of animals, but they also have an abundance of flowers and foliage that is always pleasant. So, this trip on this day was about grandkidz, animals and flowers.
The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is apparently the only combined facility in the Pacific Northwest. It is a 29 acre park and a major tourist attraction in the Tacoma area.
I was actually pleased with it as it was much smaller, quite clean and seemed like you could get a bit more “intimate” with the animals, though there was less of a variety of them.
Following are a few photos of the animals that I took. They had four or five tigers in a couple of places, an elephant and a few other critters. They had a goodly amount of birds, including penguins and puffins. I always enjoy photographing the animals.
The Budgie exhibit was lots of fun, especially since the grandkidz were there and could actually feed the colorful birds. The real name for a budgie is “Budgerigar” and these cute little guys are native to Australia and New Zealand. This parrot species is very social and it was very apparent, just being in the exhibit with them. They were not afraid of hanging around people.
We brought our lunch and enjoyed it while watching a stage which featured a number of animals from the zoo. I was most enthralled with the bald eagle.
It was as close as I have ever been to these amazing (and quite large birds). I saw a couple of them on our road trips in Washington, but could never capture any on camera until the zoo.
Of course, watching the kids was also fun. They had a variety of facial expressions at the various exhibits. Here are some “grandkidz” shots from the zoo.
Their curiosity is always a joy to experience. Going to the zoo with young children is fascinatingly fun!
Part of the joy at a zoo is the variety of plants and flowers. I enjoyed a few closeup shots of these, including some varieties I have never seen before.
Following are a few of my shots:
And finally, I have to say that the view of Mt. Rainier from the zoo was spectacular. Could not have asked for a more beautiful day and beautiful views!
After the zoo we headed back home, dropped the kids off, changed clothes and all of the adults headed for Seattle to go to the Mormon Temple there. We took a ferry across the Sound.
Ferries are a way of life in the Seattle area. Many live on one side of the Puget Sound and
work on the other side, including my son in law Aaron. The give you a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the city job. I really enjoyed sitting on the deck and taking in the views, smelling the fresh air and have the wind blow through my hair.
This particular ferry ride offered some amazing views of Mt. Rainier as well as some nice views of Seattle on the approach in. They were different views from those of a couple of days earlier.
Once we crossed the Sound, it was back in the car and heading towards the lovely Seattle Temple. We stopped along the way to have some great Thai Food. Tangerine Thai was a classy little place with some amazing cuisine that I hadn’t seen (or tasted) before.
After dinner it was off to the temple. Nice to visit another temple!
After doing some baptisms for the dead, we headed back to Port Orchard with the sunset. It was a wonderful day with family!!