Everywhere a Sign – Some I Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them.  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)

I am always Interested in the Incredible variety of unique places in this expansive country of ours.  Through my over 13,000 miles of travel in 2018 I saw thousands of signs for roads, places, shops, etc.  There aren’t too many that begin with the letter I but I did find some…because I had this challenge in mind as I traveled.  So, here are the three or four I signs I found in 2018. Enjoy the Read.  Enjoy the Ride.

I.X.L., Oklahoma

I.X.L., Oklahoma
I.X.L. Oklahoma (Yes, IXL in my travel writing!)

I have seen hundreds and hundreds of town signs over the years, but this was the first time I have found a location name that is an abbreviation.  Granted, there are towns with their nicknames, such as Chi-town for Chicago or Philly for Philadelphia.  But, what does I.X.L. mean?  Maybe it refers to my travel writing? (Do I X L?)

I.X.L. is a small place with a population of about 51 (in 2010).  The town was incorporated in 2001 and is an historical freedman’s town.  According to the town’s website explains that the actual name comes from the fact that the town site is on a strip of Cherokee land famous for the Oklahoma Land Run. The name stands for Indian Exchange Land. The town’s population is 100% African-American (thus a “freedman’s town”), with Joan Partridge as the current mayor.

Iowa River Greenbelt, Iowa Falls, Iowa

Iowa River Greenbelt – Iowa City, Iowa

As I travel across the country, I typically make plans to find the wonderful Whispering Giants by Peter Toth (see my post about these).  One of the nearly seventy of these is located in Iowa Falls, Iowa on the Iowa River Greenbelt.  The Greenbelt runs along the Iowa River in Hardin County, Iowa from Alden, Iowa to Eldora, Iowa.   Unfortunately, I was there in the midst of a snowstorm, so all I got to see was the sign and the Iowa Falls Whispering Giant.

Imagine Art Gallery, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

The Imagine Art Gallery on US 67 and Abbey Road
Imagine Sumoflam

In 1964 the Beatles made their first visit to the U.S.  On this trip they passed through the small town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (see my post about this).  At the time, Imagine Art Gallery owner Carrie Snapp, was head of The Beatles local fan club when the Beatles made their surprise stop-over at the Walnut Ridge airport, between their Dallas and New York concerts. Nowadays Carrie runs a shop with a load of art, including lots of Beatle’s memorabilia.  She even has copies of some of the original color photos from the Beatles 1964 stop-over.

Located at the intersection of Abbey Road and Main Street, it is part of a complex of shops and businesses that celebrate the Beatles’ visit some 55 years after the event.  If you like the Beatles, this is a must-stop place.

That’s it for the I signs.  Imagine the indulgence had I included more….

Like what you see here? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

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Beatles in the South – Arkansas/Texas: February 2018

Sumoflam with the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, AR

It is not every day that one takes a road trip and comes across not one, but two memorials to the famed Beatles.

The first of these is a fascinating little story about a small little town in Arkansas named Walnut Ridge (population abt 5000). It was in 1964 and the Beatles were in the midst of their first tour of the United States. On September 18 of that year they had just finished performing in Dallas, TX and were in for a well-deserved break. A rich rancher from Missouri named Reed Pigman had a nice little dude ranch in Alton, Missouri (see the Pigman story here). Pigman also had a charter plane and flew the Beatles into the closest airport that could handle their large airplane. It was the Walnut Ridge, Arkansas airport.

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

Somehow, some teen fans heard about it and when the Beatles returned from their visit to the Pigman ranch and to the airport on September 20, there was quite a little crowd there to greet them and see them off as they flew onto New York for their final shows. There were a few photos taken and a few autographs signed before the Beatles headed east. It was apparently the only time the Beatles ever set foot in the state of Arkansas.

British Flag Fire Hydrant on Abbey Road in Walnut Ridge
Yellow Submarine on Abbey Road
This way to Beatles Park at the corner of US 67 and Abbey Rd. in Walnut Ridge, AR
Welcome to Walnut Ridge

This little event left such an impact on the town that a whole street and a little town square in Walnut Ride is dedicated to the Beatles. There is a beautiful sculpture in Beatles Park with the Beatles doing their walk across Abbey Road. Titled “The Beatles Abbey Road Sculpture,” this piece was created by local artist Danny West (who also owns the little yogurt shop and coffee shop on Abbey Road) and is about 10 feet by 200 feet. The street has permanently been named Abbey Road and the sculpture is at 110 Abbey Road. (See more here)

The Beatles Abbey Road Sculpture in Beatles Park. Artwork by Danny West
The Beatles sculpture from a different angle
Artist Danny West is also the owner of the Art and Culture Yogurt shop and The Dark Side Coffee shop, next door to the park

According to Beatles at the Ridge Website:

The entire street scene is featured, along with more than 30 hidden references to Beatles song titles and album names. There are also a few hidden surprises that were added in by the artist that are unique to our city, and tie the whole sculpture to our town.  As lighting changes throughout the day, the hidden details in the sculpture reveal themselves to the observer, and at night, under the powerful lighting, the scene takes on a surreal quality, and more secrets can be seen.

The Imagine Shop on US 67 and Abbey Road
Darkside Coffee artwork of Ringo
Some art made from musical instruments at the entrance of the Darkside Coffee house
Scene from Abbey Road, Walnut Ridge, AR
Imagine

There are also shops named after Beatles songs such as “Imagine.” And, in this one little section there are also wooden cutouts of the Beatles, a painting on a window of the Beatles album and a lot of little history and trivia regarding the Beatles.

The town even has a musical festival and other events as well as a different park commemorating other musicians on Route 67.

The Guitar Walk recognizes some famous musicians who had performed along US 67 (dubbed the Rock and Roll Highway)
Large Guitar sidewalk
Rock and Roll Highway, Route 67 in Walnut Ridge, AR
Hi there John!

I don’t think that the Beatles ever made their way back into Walnut Ridge either as a group or as individuals, But I am sure that they would be honored by the dedicatory art and imagination that the people of this small community have put together. For Beatles fans, it is just another drawing card and a unique place to stop, which I did!

The Beatles in Houston, statues by Houston artist David Adickes

A few days later, I was in Houston and intentionally went downtown so that I could see another Beatles dedication that I’ve always wanted to see for the last few years. It is a set of four large, nearly 36 foot tall statues of John, Paul, George and Ringo created by Houston artist David Adickes, whom I have referred to in previous posts on this blog (see my post on the Three Giants of Texas). These statues have been moved to a couple of locations and currently reside in the parking lot of local 8th Wonder Brewery. I was able to get up close and personal with the statues, get some nice selfies and get a few other angles.

The Beatles statues by David Adickes, currently on display outside Houston’s 8th Wonder Brewery
George Harrison
John Lennon
Paul McCartney
Ringo Starr
Alternate View with the 8th Wonder Truck to give a better idea of the size
The Beatles from behind the fence (what you would see if the gate were locked)
Another view of John Lennon

When I departed for my trip to Texas in early February 2018, I had indeed hoped to visit the Beatles statues in Houston, but had no idea about the Walnut Ridge story. Thanks to my trusty RoadsideAmerica app, it made for a unique theme to this long and winding road trip from Kentucky through the back roads of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

I loved this…ya, ya, ya!!

 

Get the Roadside America App!

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