J is for Joy – #atozchallenge

Traveling this great country brings me joy!  You can see this thru the myriad selfies I take while on the road.

I make it a point to take selfies for posterity sake.   First of all, it proves I was there.  Secondly, it provides a record for my family to see where I’ve been. Lastly…it shows my joy of being on the road!

Jolly Sumoflam! In Jolly, TX

It makes me Jolly.

We all know who is really Nice! Nice, CA

It makes me Nice.

I found Novelty in Ohio

Travel is always a Novelty

Wherever I go I try to Endeavor,

Made it to Hope, AR,

To have Hope

Finding Success in Missouri

And find Success

Sumoflam at Friendship Post Office in Arkansas

Being on the road has helped find Friendship

Meeting a Friendly guy outside the Friendly, WV Post Office

And to be Friendly

Chunky, MS

And perhaps even Chunky

Welcome to Earth, Texas

It has brought me down to Earth

Township of Moon, PA

Zipped me to a Township named Moon

At the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta 2007

Or by a Starship in Vulcan

And found Prosperity in PA

And to even find Prosperity

Santa Claus, IN

Heck…I even found Santa Claus!

Though I try to be Real Quiet about it,

Sumoflam and Big Fish in Bena, MN

I find that I have some Big Fish stories

Sumoflam at “Fisherman’s Dream” on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Maybe even Bigger Fish Stories

Willie the Walleye in Baudette, MN

Indeed, Giant Fish Stories

The Beef House in Covington, Indiana

I have found The Beef

Say “Cheese!” – You’re in Wisconsin!

But also found the cheese

Giant Macaroni in Champaigne, IL

And even a Macaroni to go with it!

Sumoflam with the cow that wears pink glasses

Those big cows are moooving

Salem Sue in New Salem, ND – the World’s Largest Holstein Cow (Yes, that’s Sumoflam under the Udders)

But they can be Udderly huge

Big Bull in Minnesota

And that is certainly no Bull

Giant Pheasant in Gregory SD

I have gotten joy at the feet of a big bird

Giant Sandhill Crane in Steele, SD

And maybe even a bigger bird

Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

Ok, perhaps even giant birds!

One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS

I have become a big Alligator

Baby Gator at Gator Chateau in Jennings, LA

But have held a small one

Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990

Travel gives me Liberty

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

And helps me to stand at the foot of giants

The iconic Route 66 roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

I have had many out of car experiences

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE

And I have been surrounded by cars

At Magnolia Market in Waco, TX – Home of the TV Program Fixer Upper

I have learned to be a Fixer Upper

Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa (home of American Pickers)

And an Antique Archaeologist

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland — lost my selfie

I’ve enjoyed some Voodoo doughnuts

Sumoflam at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ

And other baked goods from coast to coast

Sumoflam at Wonderland Rd. in Upton, KY

And have found the road to Wonderland

The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

I even found the Yellow Brick Rd.

A street with No Name in Millersburg, OH

A road with No Name

Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

May lead me to be Uncertain

Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

But whether I go This Way or That Way

Okay, Oklahoma in 2012

I’ll always be Okay

Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD

Which makes me a Winner when I travel

Sumoflam at Top of the World on the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming

And that puts me On Top of the World!

Story General Store, Story, IN

This is my Story…

Happy in Happy, KY

…and it makes me a Happy traveler

Stay Awesome folks! #awesomebutgettingbetter

And that is the joy of travel

Enjoy the Ride folks!

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H is for History – #atozchallenge

One cannot travel any road in America or Canada without running into some sort of historical site, monument or building.  That is part of the fun of a back road adventure.  Our country of 2017 is defined in great part by the history of the country dating back to the 1600s (and earlier if you count the Native Americans).

Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank< Montana looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park.  This is one of many Lewis and Clark Monuments across the United States.
Monument in Beachville, Ontario commemorating the first baseball game in Canada.

Dotting the roads of America are historical markers that tell about events that occurred in that exact location or nearby. There are literally 1000s of these. In the eastern US many of them are about Civil War incidents while in the west many are related to Indian Wars, Lewis and Clark or pioneers.  They are often interesting to stop and read.  As a History/Geography major in college, I have found these to be a sort of “roadside wikipedia.”

Historical Marker about West Columbia, TX
Fort Steuben Historical Site, Steubenville, OH
The Overland Trail historic Sign
Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border
Rugby, ND in 2014
Alligator Blues Marker in Alligator, MS – One of many markers along the Blues Highway in Mississippi
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX
Meriwether Lewis meets John Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN

When traveling through the heart of the country, one can come across a myriad of monuments and historical sites dedicated to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark…better known as just Lewis Clark.  From May 1804 to September 1806, these two, accompanied by 29 or 30 others, in what was named by then President Thomas Jefferson as the “Corps of Discovery.” They left Camp Dubois (near St. Louis) and ventured westward to the Pacific Coast.  In my travels I have come across dozens of monuments, plaques, museums and other places all dedicated to or referencing this amazing expedition.  Their pioneer spirit has always amazed me.

One of a number of Lewis and Clark Murals in Independence, MO
A plaque commemorating a Lewis and Clark Campsite near Elk Point, South Dakota
Pioneer Relief Sculpture at Council Bluffs Library

Of course, after them went the pioneers.  There were those who followed the Oregon Trail.  Others, chiefly the Mormons, forged their own trail, now called the Mormon trail.  In the south there was the famed Santa Fe Trail.  Then, along the way there were other smaller, lesser known trails, such as the Oyate Trail in South Dakota, and others.  Travel the roads that follow these trails and an abundance of unique history can be seen.  As a member of the LDS Church (Mormon) I have been able to visit many church historical sites.

A sculpture of a pioneer/trapper overlooks the Shields Valley in Montana
Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Life size Pioneer Diorama on outside of the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, ID
LDS Church founder Joseph Smith’s Cabin in Palmyra, NY
Martins Cove in Wyoming, part of the Mormon Handcart Trail
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park

Across a good portion of the southeast and all the way into Ohio and Pennsylvania, one will come across a plethora of Civil War related monuments, historical sites and otherwise.   Many sites have annual Civil War reenactments.

The big parks such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg are huge and have a ton of history.  But there are smaller ones, such as Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky that are unique in their historic perspective.

Sculpture at Vicksburg
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998
Seth and Solomon with Civil War reenactors in Perryville, KY October 1994
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
One of four bronze statues that surround the large Civil War monument in Cleveland, OH. Called “At Short Range” it is a representation of the Artillery Group

In the far eastern parts of the United States one comes across places like the Jamestown Settlement and Williamsburg.  There are many others.

Kids in the Jamestown Settlement in August 1995
Kids take over the ship at Jamestown, VA – August 1995
Lucille Ball Birthplace

For fun, many cities have the “Birthplace of …” signs when you enter their small towns.  These could be famous actors, historical figures or athletes.  Typically there are monuments or statues.  I have come across many of these.  They are always a fun little side adventure.

I have come across many of these over the years.  Its always fun to “discover” the birthplaces.  (Ironically, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, NY…not the same as Jamestown, VA which I posted above.)  Some of the “birthplaces” are a bit on the corny side.

Sumoflam at Judy Garland birthplace in Grand Rapids, MN
Birthplace of John Wayne, Winterset, Iowa
Dean Martin mural in his birthplace of Steubenville, OH painted by Robert Dever in 1998
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in the 1990s
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog, Leland, MS
Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA

Then, of course, there are the historical buildings.  Hundreds of unique courthouses and their fascinating architecture can be seen in diverse little towns and counties.  There are old churches large and small.  And many long forgotten dilapidated old buildings.  All of them tell some sort of story about the place.

I have visited dozens of courthouses around the country.  I love the old architecture.  I have some favorites.  Some are more interesting than others. I have added a few below.

 

Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Denton, TX
Woodstock, Ontario City Hall
Old courthouse in Wharton, TX
Courthouse in Buena Vista, CO
Madison County Courthouse, Winterset, Iowa
Lit Pillars at Courthouse in Columbia, MO
Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson
Sumoflam and Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Sumoflam Gothic at the Grant Wood American Gothic House in Eldon, IA
Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…
Mustard Display – Plastic Bottles – Mustard Museum in Wisconsin

 

Finally, there are the many “oddball” or “quirky” historical sites and objects.  One never knows what they will run into in a small town.  A quaint historical museum? An oddball monument? A unique cemetery?

 

 

I have had fun discovering historical sites, quirky museums and other fun stuff.  Here are a few below.

Sod House Museum, Gothenburg, NE
Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, WV
Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH
At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013
My son Seth at the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN July 2004
The Pyramid in Nekoma, ND
Gateway to the Blues, Tunica, Mississippi
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, NE
The Rockpile Museum in Gillette, WY

History is the fabric of our country!

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A to Z Challenge: The L Towns #atozchallenge

During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

LThe L Towns

LeClaire, Iowa

Antique Archaeology's famous old car
Antique Archaeology’s famous old car
Antique Archaeology closed for filming
Antique Archaeology closed for filming
Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam with Danielle Colby Cushman - June 20, 2012
Sumoflam with Danielle Colby Cushman – June 20, 2012
Buffalo Bull Museum in LeClaire, Iowa
Buffalo Bull Museum in LeClaire, Iowa

First stop on the L Town Road Trip is LeClaire, Iowa.  This town literally sits on the shore of the Mississippi River and is definitely a river town.  Today the town is perhaps most well known for the shop known as Antique Archaeology, home of the famed History Channel TV Show American Pickers.  The show has enjoyed 14 seasons and has nearly 200 episodes as Mike and Franks travel the back roads of the U.S. looking for the rare and valuable items in old barns and other odd places.  Their Office Manager Danielle frequents the show as well.  I got to meet her in 2012 (see photo above). But what many don’t know is that the western icon Buffalo Bill Cody was born here. Born near LeClaire in Scott County, Iowa, in 1846, Buffalo Bill rode on the Pony Express at the age of 14, fought in the American Civil War, served as a scout for the Army, and was already an Old West legend before mounting his famous Wild West show, which traveled the United States and Europe. There is a museum in his honor in LeClaire. Cody, Wyoming is named for him.  The town has a number of unique antique shops and eateries.  Definitely worth a visit. I like the place so much I have been there FOUR times!! See more detailed posts about  my visits HERE and HERE.

Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin

JFK's Twine Ball - 19,600 pounds
JFK’s Twine Ball – 19,600 pounds
Visiting JFK The Twine Ball man in Lake Nebagamon, WI in 2007
Visiting JFK The Twine Ball man in Lake Nebagamon, WI in 2007

On a trip I took with my son back in 2007 to the western US, we made our way into a backwoods town in northern Wisconsin in search of the famed Largest Twine Ball in the World.  We finally found the 19,000 pound monstrosity on the shores of Lake Nebagamon just east of US Highway 53 and south of US Highway 2 near Superior, WI.  As unique as the ball was, were fascinated by the creator of this iconic attraction, James Frank Kotera, who calls himself “JFK the Twine Ball Man” and claims to be the most famous JFK.  I even made a video of this guy….enjoy a laugh.  You can see a flashback post of my 2007 visit HERE and then check out my 2007 Mockumentary Video with JFK below.

Lesage, West Virginia

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, WV
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, WV
Yes, they do have a Website!!
Yes, they do have a Website!!
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia

Drive along the Ohio River out of Huntington, West Virginia and a few miles up WV Highway 2 you’ll come across what appears to be a junk collectors’ paradise.  What it really is may surprise you…it is a world famous hot dog joint known as Hillbilly Hot Dogs. The place has been features on Diners, Dives and Drive Ins as well as a number of other shows.  And yes, they do make a killer hot dog!!  Check out my really fun 2008 Slide Show HERE.

LeRoy, New York

Jell-o Museum in LeRoy, New York
Jell-o Museum in LeRoy, New York
Always Room fro JELL-O
Always Room fro JELL-O
Spoon Ceiling at JELL-O Museum
Spoon Ceiling at JELL-O Museum

So, you have had the Hot Dogs and you want dessert?  How about taking a trip to the community of LeRoy, New York on New York Highway 5 and visit the funky little JELL-O Museum. A ceiling full of spoons, a couple of “Did You Know JELL-O quizzes,” Bill Cosby memorabilia and lots of JELL-O souvenirs. See my 2008 trip report that includes more about the JELL-O museum HERE.

Lizard Lick, North Carolina

Lizard Lick, North Carolina
Lizard Lick, North Carolina
Lizard Lick lizard on top of gas station
Lizard Lick lizard on top of gas station
Lizard Lick Towing mural on sign outside of towing place
Lizard Lick Towing mural on sign outside of towing place

Travel along NC Highway 97 and you will eventually hit a crossroads at Lizard Lick Road and come across the small community of Lizard Lick, NC.  The town supposedly got its name from a “passing observer who saw many lizards sunning and licking themselves on a rail fence.”  In any case, it really became famous in 1998 when Nintendo did a big splashy introduction of their game called “Yoshi’s Story.” Then, in September 2009 Lizard Lick once again received publicity, this time on a national level when TruTV became aware of a local towing and recovery company owned and operated by evangelist and Lizard Lick honorary “Mayor” Ronnie Shirley and his wife Amy Shirley, called Lizard Lick Towing and Recovery.  The program, called Lizard Lick Towing,  ran for four seasons from 2011-2014

Lake Jackson, Texas (Honorable Mention)

So, which Way do I take?
So, which Way do I take?
This Way is not until the next signal
This Way is not until the next signal
Ahh...there it is...This Way
Ahh…there it is…This Way
Plaque at the corner of This Way and That Way
Plaque at the corner of This Way and That Way

On a trip to Galveston in 2014, I was apprised of a town called Lake Jackson, Texas.  Located on Texas Highway 288, it doesn’t necessarily offer too much, but it has a REALLY curious street name — in fact, a couple of them.  The main street through town is called This Way and downtown it intersects with another street called That Way.  You can read the story on the photo of the plaque above.  Definitely a fun quirky place.  Read more about my visit HERE.

Lost Springs, Wyoming (Honorable Mention)

Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Lost Springs Store and Post Office, Lost Springs, WY
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007
Sumoflam at Lost Springs in 2007
Lost Springs in 2014 - ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!
Lost Springs in 2014 – ironically I was wearing the same shirt 7 years later!!!
Welcome to Lost Springs
Welcome to Lost Springs

Back in 2007 I made a trip through central Wyoming on US Highway 20 with my son Solomon and we came to a place named Lost Springs, which had a sign proclaiming Population 1.  At that time it was one of only three or four towns with that population.  On a return visit in 2014, the town had grown by three. There is a Post Office, Bar and Antique shop…all were closed on both visits. The entire town must have been on vacation…all four of them. See my original 2007 Post HERE.  My 2014 Return Trip is documented HERE.

Langdon, North Dakota (Honorable Mention)

Langdon Wind Farm Info Center near Nekoma, ND
Langdon Wind Farm Info Center near Nekoma, ND
Spartan Missile in the city park in Langdon, ND
Spartan Missile in the city park in Langdon, ND
ROXY Theatre in Langdon, ND
ROXY Theatre in Langdon, ND
Downtown Langdon, ND
Downtown Langdon, ND

Finally, there is that small town north of US Highway 2 in North Dakota called Langdon. Located at the crossroads of ND Highway 1 and ND Highway 5 very close to Canada, my interest in the town was its Spartan missile in the park. You can see more photos and read more about it HERE.

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A2Z-BADGE [2016]

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