A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The T 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.

 

Talent, Oregon

Welcome to Talent, Oregon
Talent Mural
Talent Police

Tee Pee Motel – Wharton, Texas

Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX
Sumoflam at the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX

Thoroughbred Park – Lexington, Kentucky

Thoroughbred Park, Lexington, KY
Horse and jockey racing down the track. Perhaps my favorite photo of all from Thoroughbred Park

Tightwad, Missouri

Tightwad, MO
Tightwad Bank – no longer in business, but was fun to see while there

Tornado, West Virginia

Tornado, WV
Tornado Church

Top of the World Store – Beartooth Pass – near Cody, Wyoming

Welcome to Top of the World Store on Beartooth Pass Highway north of Cody, Wyoming.
Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

Tulum, Mexico

Enjoying a visit to the Tulum Ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico

Tews Falls – Hamilton, Ontario

Tews Falls in Hamilton, Ontario
Tews Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

Trailer Park Eatery – Austin, Texas

Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
Trailer Park Eatery. Check out the Airstreams!

Teddy Rides Again – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Enchanted Highway Stop #6 – Teddy Rides Again
Sumoflam at Teddy Rides Again

Two Medicine Dinosaur Center – Bynum, Montana

Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, Bynum, Montana

Texas Instruments Sculpture – LSA Burger Co. – Denton, Texas

Texas Instruments, a unique sculpture at the LSA Burger Co., in Denton
A section of the Texas Instruments

Three Sisters – Sisters, Oregon

Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sister’s Oregon

Toad Suck, Arkansas

Toad Suck, Arkansas
Sumoflam in Toad Suck, AR

Trillium Woods Provincial Park – Woodstock, Ontario

A walking trail at Trillium Woods Provincial Park

Torch, Ohio

Torch, Ohio

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – Tacoma, Washington

Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Turkey Vultures – McKee, Kentucky; Versailles, Kentucky; Taylorsville, Kentucky

Turkey Vultures guard their meal near McKee, KY
A Turkey Vulture, also called a buzzard, flying way overhead in Versailles, KY
Turkey vulture gathering on a road in central Kentucky

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Welcome to Thermopolis, WY
A sign about the Hot Springs of Thermopolis

Trail Town USA – Damascus, Virginia

Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.
At the Cross Roads of the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trails

Ten Sleep, Wyoming

Crazy Woman Cafe in Ten Sleep, Wyoming
Ten Sleep Canyon on US 16 near Ten Sleep, WY

Thronehenge – Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden – Calvert City, Kentucky

Thronehenge in the Hillbilly Garden

Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Tomahawk, WI
Big Bull Moose in Tomahawk, WI

Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

Texan Motel neon in Raton, New Mexico

Teton Drive In – Rexburg, Idaho

The old Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

This Way and That Way – Lake Jackson, Texas

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
This Way U Turn
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

Taughannock Falls – Ulysses, New York

Taughannock Falls in New York

Turtle Twist Ice Cream – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg, PA

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora, South Dakota

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Teepee Cafe – Bonesteel, South Dakota

TeePee Cafe – Bonesteel, South Dakota

Taisekiji – Fujinomiya, Japan

One of the huge buildings of Taisekiji in Fuji-no-miya (ca. 1978)
Towering pillars of Taisekiji. Notice the little dots at the bottom…those are people. (ca. 1978)

Tower Rock State Park – Cascade, Montana

Missouri River in Tower Rock State Park
Hardy Bridge in Tower Rock State Park

Tioga, Texas

Tioga, Texas – Birthplace of Gene Autry
Tioga Heritage Museum
Rustic shopping area of Tioga, Texas

Tallman Hotel – Upper Lake, California

The Tallman Hotel
Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA

Tersier (Actually called a Tarsius) – Bohol, Philippines

A Tersier on Bohol

Tunica, Mississippi

Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS

Thorncrown Chapel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Tom Sawyer’s Fence – Hannibal, Missouri

My two sons, Seth and Solomon, at Tom Sawyer’s Fence in Hannibal, Missouri., Summer 2001

Threadgill’s – Austin, Texas

Threadgills in Austin
Janis Joplin painting at Threadgill’s

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Truth or Consequences, NM
NM 152 near Truth or Consequences, NM

Two-Tailed Walleye – Shell Lake, Wisconsin

Two Tailed Walleye Statue in Shell Lake
Sumoflam with the Shell Lake Two-Tailed Walleye

Train Murals – Gauley Bridge, West Virginia; Ravenna, Kentucky; Glasgow, Montana

Train Mural in Gauley Bridge painted by Nancy Lane to commemorate the rich rail heritage of the town.
A large mural of a train welcomes visitors to Ravenna, KY
Train mural in Glasgow Montana on the side of a building

Texas Pipe Supply – Houston, Texas

Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas

Twin Buttes – Atomic City, Idaho

Twin Buttes near Atomic City as seen heading west to Arco, ID

Three-Legged Willie – Georgetown, Texas

Statue of Three-Legged Willie in Georgetown, TX

Totem Poles – Neah Bay, Washington; Blueberry, Wisconsin; Ketchikan, Alaska; Superior, Wisconsin

A totem pole in Neah Bay, WA
Scrap Metal totem pole outside of Blueberry, WI Antique store
Sumoflam with a Totem Pole in Ketchikan
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin

Troll City – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Welcome to Mt. Horeb, WI
Ahhh..trolls
Another Mt. Horeb Troll (or two?)
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and Restaurant, Mt. Horeb, WI
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure

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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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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Washington State: Point Defiance Zoo

All packed in and ready to head for the zoo.
All packed in and ready to head for the zoo.

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.

Point Defiance Zoo
Point Defiance Zoo entrance

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.

A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo
A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo

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.

An Asian Elephant playing in the dirt
An Asian Elephant playing in the dirt
A Tiger Cub
A Tiger Cub
A puffin on watch
A puffin on watch
Puffin in a nest
Puffin in a nest
A Polar Bear tries to stay cool in the water.
A Polar Bear tries to stay cool in the water.
A playful otter does the backstroke
A playful otter does the backstroke
A tiger relaxes
A tiger relaxes
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time
A sealion underwater
A sealion underwater
A blue budgie
A blue budgie

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.

Grandson Benson enjoys handling a budgie
Grandson Benson enjoys handling a budgie
Charles watches as he carefully feeds a budgie
Charles watches as he carefully feeds a budgie
A pair of budgies
A pair of budgies
No...he is only acting like a budgie.
No…he is only acting like a budgie.
White budgie
White budgie
Bald eagle
Bald eagle

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.

Winspan
Wingspan
Grandkidz
Grandkidz

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!

Livvy points at the elephant
Livvy points at the elephant
Charles is bored?
Charles is bored?
Kade watches
Kade watches
Charles shows some excitement
Charles shows some excitement
Livvy flirts
Livvy flirts
Hanging with my sweetheart at Point Defiance Zoo
Hanging with my sweetheart at Point Defiance Zoo

DSC_5699Part 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:

A bee grabs a snack
A bee grabs a snack

DSC_5676DSC_5589

Amazing Lily 1
Amazing Lily 1
Julianne with bamboo
Julianne with bamboo
Amazing Lily 2
Amazing Lily 2

DSC_5674DSC_5778And 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!

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Point Defiance Zoo
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Point Defiance Zoo
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

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

On the Ferry to Seattle
On the Ferry to Seattle – Mt. Rainier in the background

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.

View of Seattle from the Ferry
View of Seattle from the Ferry
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the backround
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the background
A shot of the Seattle skyline
A shot of the Seattle skyline
Another Seattle shot
Another Seattle shot
Thai food at Tangerine Thai
Thai food at Tangerine Thai

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.

Grilled Eggplant at Tangerine Thai
Grilled Eggplant at Tangerine Thai
Grilled Salmon Curry at Tangerine
Grilled Salmon Curry at Tangerine

After dinner it was off to the temple.  Nice to visit another temple!

At Seattle Temple
At Seattle Temple
A symbol of LDS Temples - the Angel Moroni
A symbol of LDS Temples – the Angel Moroni
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge

After doing some baptisms for the dead, we headed back to Port Orchard with the sunset.  It was a wonderful day with family!!

 

 

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