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.
Since there are so few places or sites that begin with X, I am throwing a few eXtra items into the miX.
Little MeXico – Omaha, Nebraska
TeXan Motel – Raton, New MeXico
I know. I know. Used this one in an earlier post…but hey…it has an X in it!
El FeniX Restaurant – Dallas, TeXas
Gulf of MeXico – Galveston, TeXas
Hard Rock Cafe – Cozumel, MeXico
TeXarkana, Arkansas and TeXarkana, TeXas
TaXi Dogs – Pike Place Market – Seattle, Washington
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.
The year 2016 was not a banner year for travel for me as there were no super long cross country trips taken like I had done form 2012-2015. However, over the course of the year we did take a number of smaller trips and a couple of fairly long trips. I visited 11 states during the year and made it to some places where I hadn’t been for nearly 30 years. Even made it into towns from A (Abingdon, VA) to Z (Zanesville, OH) and one with an X too (Xenia, OH)!!
Here is a map that includes many of the places:
During the course of the year we visited a few major cities including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We also visited Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.
A good portion of my travel in 2016 was related to rails to trails bike trails that my wife Julianne had desired to ride. We visited some lovely bike trails in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. While Julianne rode, I would take the back roads and meet her along the trails. This was until I got my own bicycle on my birthday in October.
We took one flight during the year which was to Houston to celebrate a calling for my son in church and to visit our grandsons. In late October, we also drove to Fort Worth, Texas for the funeral of my father. Not as joyous a trip, but we did visit a few locations along the way for fun.
Our trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh were predominantly because Julian sister Laura had moved from Idaho to the Pittsburgh area. So she met Julianne on a couple of the bike ride trips. She and Julianne also attended a conference at the Kirtland Temple and while they were there, I visited my family in Little Italy in Cleveland and also took some tours around the city with my sister Tina and her husband Jim.
Then we visited Laura in Pittsburgh, we got to see a number of wonderful things in Pittsburgh including the Monongahela Incline, hey unique rail type system that pulled us up to the top of Mt. Washington where we had spectacular views of the city of Pittsburgh and the three rivers down below.
The year ended on a high note as we took a long trip to Ocean City, MD where we stayed with Julianne’s sister and her husband Richard and their daughter for about a week on the beach. It was a wonderful trip! It was during this trip that we also visited Washington DC and the large LDS Washington DC Temple with all of its amazing Christmas lights. I also made my way up to Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, both of which I had not visited since the 1980s.
Of course, whenever we take road trips I always try to find the unique and the unusual whenever possible. And most of our trips were not immune from my searching to do so. On our trips visited such wonderful places as Friendly, WV, Prosperity, PA, Novelty, OH, Happy, KY, Eighty Four, PA and a few other unique named towns as indicated in photos below. I even located a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio and a Bliss Happens Lane in Maryland!
During the year we often ate at places that were focused on bicyclists and motorbike enthusiasts. One such location was in Oregonia, OH. It was way out of the way to get to. Then there was the place on the Virginia Creeper Trail which was almost impossible to get to my car but was built specifically for the bicyclists coming down the Virginia Creeper Trail.
In August, we got to visit Nashville and hang with my good friend and musician Antsy McClain. He took us around with a few other “field trippers” and showed us some of the sites of Nashville including music Row, some music dives and some good places to eat including the oldest diner in Nashville. We also have the unique chance to sit in a recording studio with Antsy and sing back up vocals on one of his songs!
During the course of the year, I also took a few “staycation” trips within Kentucky. This included one on the bike trail with Julianne, but also to Ravenna, where I visited hey famed café called the Wigwam. I also took a fun trip with my grandchildren and my daughter Marissa down to Cumberland Falls and then on into Corbin to visit the Harlan Sanders museum and restaurant which is where the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken got it start. During the fall I took a solo trip up into Red River Gorge to get pictures of the fall colors. I was about a week too late to get most of them, but that was because we were in south eastern Virginia on the Creeper Trail to see the beautiful colors down there.
Some of the other more unique places that I got to see over the past year would include the “Birthplace of Superman,” which was in Cleveland, as well as the house where the movie “A Christmas Story” was filmed. Also while in Ohio, I visited the world’s largest geodesic dome in Novelty, OH. That was fascinating.
Of course, I can’t neglect to mention the visit to Little Italy to see my birthplace and family. I ate fine Italian cuisine at Mama Santa’s and had a great time seeing other sites there. Its the best Little Italy in the US!
During the year I also visited two fast food restaurants that had included museums in them. The Wendy’s restaurant in Dublin, OH had a whole section built in there with the history of Wendy’s and a large statue of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. In Canonsburg, PA, there is a McDonald’s restaurant that includes dedications and memorabilia of Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, both of whom grew up in Canonsburg.
It was fun for me to visit Xenia, OH and see the murals and the architecture and then also travel around some of the other areas nearby with Julianne and her sister and/or our grandchildren who rode their bikes along some of the bike trails including the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
We visited the Little Miami Scenic Trail twice and each time had a great time.
Overall, I have to say it was a wonderful year. I saw dolphins swimming at sunrise on Christmas morning in the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland. We got to visit some of our great national historical sites in Washington DC. On many of the trips, it was fun to travel with the grandchildren and see the delight in their eyes they saw big waterfalls, giant statues and other interesting places.
On a final note, I have to say that we did visit a few interesting places to eat. A great taco place in Houston, and, as I mentioned before, the Wigwam in Ravenna, KY. Also of note were the Crabcake Factory in Ocean City, MD and a Japanese place with a unique name Saketumi, in Rehoboth Beach, DE.
As I start a new position in new venture 2017, I look forward to traveling. The new company (PrecisionHawk) is in Raleigh, NC and so I will be taking a trip there in early January. Who knows what other delights I will find in 2017.
Following are a few other random shots from my trips in 2016:
This is a tale of Two Towers – both in a place named Paris, but one is in Tennessee and the other in Texas. The map below shows that they are about 8 hours away from each other.
There are seventeen towns in the U.S. with the name of Paris (and one in Ontario, Canada as well — and I lived there for a while). I have been to Paris in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri. But the towns of Paris, TX and Paris, TN are the only ones to have an Eiffel Tower that is fairly large. Paris, Michigan has a smaller one. And there are a couple of other places, such as Atlanta, Austin and Las Vegas that have them…. but I am focused on the Paris versions. See this page for a list of NINE replicas around the world.
I took a road trip to Galveston in June 2014 and along the way I had occasion to pass through both of these towns named Paris (Paris, TX and Paris, TN) and capture their versions of the Eiffel Tower. (I’ll have some posts about my trip through the state of TN, MS, LA, TX, AR, MO and some of the unique places I visited coming in August 2014).
Both of these towers were built in 1993 and a battle ensued for the tallest. At first, the Tennessee version of the Eiffel Tower was originally built in 1990 at Christian Brothers University, but was later donated to the town of Paris, where is was moved and reassembled. The tower was designed to scale by Tom Morrison, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Jim Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Roland Raffanti, engineering lab technician, from Christian Brothers University. According to Brother Patrick O’Brien, Morrison designed the model’s design based on the original drawings of Gustave Eiffel. At 60 feet tall, the tower is a nearly perfect 1:20 scale replica of the original.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX Texas’s was built by the Boilermakers 902, a labor union representing workers of the former Babcock and Wilcox Paris Plant, and was 65 feet tall.
In 1998 when Tennessee moved its’ tower to Paris they expanded their tower to 70 feet. But, the Texans wouldn’t have it. They made the claim of being “The second largest Paris in the World,” so in 1998 town boosters added a large red cowboy hat to the top of the 65 foot tower, which made it a tad taller than Tennessee’s tower.
Both are dwarfed by the massive Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas, but in the battle of the American Paris Towers, currently, the Texas version holds true to things being bigger in Texas….