X is for Xtreme Skies – #atozchallenge

OK.  I know…. Xtreme is not really a dictionary word, but many advertisers use it and there are company names and even a band name.  So, it is fair game.

This post is about xtreme (extreme) skies – unique cloud formations, colorful skies, sunrises, sunsets, sunbeams, moon shots, rainbows and more.  A traveler on the highways of America always sees the skies.  It can’t be helped. For me, I actually pay attention to them for the skies present their own fascinating form of art.

Shining sky above US 79/190 in central Texas
A lovely view of the Big Sky in Montana as seen from US Route 2 west of Bainville, MT

For this post, I will provide an assortment of photos I have taken on my road trips (and a couple of local ones too – let’s face it, I used a road to get there right?).  The skies offer up their own amazing beauty.

I am fascinated by clouds and weather.  I find the amazing colors of the early morning and the post sunset evening to be beautiful.  I am awestruck by the variety that the skies offer…ofttimes changing by the minute.

Morning sky on US 89 south of Fairfield, Montana
Large clouds over central Missouri
Unique Clouds at 6:30 AM heading east on I-74 in central Indiana
a Cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier in Washington
Sunbeams peak through the clouds outside of Nebraska City, Nebraska
Looks like a cloud monster ready to fly down and eat someone…
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go
Morning clouds over the mountains near Orem, Utah
Easter Morning Sunrise 2017 in Shenandoah National Park
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Sunrise shot from Leitchfield, KY
Sunrise in Northern Montana, near Great Falls
Trinity Temple Assembly of God in Arkadelphia, AR with a rainbow
Sun Dog – Parhelion over Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
Easter Morning Sunrise over Shenandoah National Park
Another Shenandoah Sunrise photo
Sunrise over the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Beam of Sun at sunset in Cecilia, KY
Full moon over Lexington, KY
Scary cloud over the highway at sunset in northern Georgia
New Year’s Day 2017 sunrise in Ocean City, MD
Sun and trees somewhere in Nebraska
Sunrise over Lexington, Virginia
Sunset in Lake Minocqua, WI
Contrails across the sky in Kentucky
Sunset in Baytown, Texas
Sunset over the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina
Striated Clouds over Kentucky
A lovely rainbow over Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
The 2017 Easter Morning moon shot with a 600mm lens from Shenandoah National Park
A rare Red Rainbow as seen from Lexington, KY on a morning in April 2017
Lovely parhelion (sun dog) over Jacobson Lake in December 2016
Sunrise near Tyler, Texas
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
Sunset in Port Angeles, WA
Enjoyed a lovely sunset in Dublin, OH in early September
Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
Foggy Sunset in Northern Iowa
Heading into the Sunset as I crossed into Wyoming on I-90
Sunset in Hoboken, NJ
Watercolor skies over Manhattan, KS
Sunset in Yampa, CO
Sunrise Duck Lake, MT near Glacier National Park
Sunrise stuck in Dallas, TX traffic
Kentucky Sunset… the clouds and reflection formed a unique shape….
Fog shrouded sunrise
Sandhill Cranes against a purple sunset sky in Cecilia, KY

 

 

(11)

V is for Vistas – #atozchallenge

Vistas are the joy of back roads travel. Every corner, every crest of a hill, every mile offers a new vista.  And this country has some spectacular and splendid vistas.

Over the years I have seen some amazing vistas. Whether they be in the deserts of the southwest, the high plains of Montana or on the oceans in the east or the west, the views are endless and inspiring.  Following are some of the vistas I have enjoyed and their locations.  Enjoy the ride and the views.

Sunset at the Badlands in South Dakota
St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho
A view of the Portland Head Light in Maine
Hills of Shenandoah Valley in presunrise hours on Easter 2017
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Golden Gate Bridge in 2016
Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Oregon
Caddo Lake near Uncertain, TX
Highway to Cody, Wyoming
A lonely highway in south central Nebraska, near Overland
Horse Country – Lexington, Kentucky
Cincinnati Skyline
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona, ca. 1983
Delaware Seashore Bridge at sunset
Spacious skies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona
The river into Juneau, Alaska as seen from a mountain top near Juneau
The mountains and the Yellowstone River as seen from US 89
The long straight highway near Cohagen, MT
Beautiful Highway heading into Virginia from Kentucky
Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
The Oyate Trail highway in southern South Dakota
Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia
Beach at Clallam Bay, WA adorned with seagulls
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ
Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR
Scenic cinder Hills and Shadows as seen on Idaho Hwy 33
Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Tetons as seen from near Drummond, ID
Sunset in the Sweetgrass, north of Dunkirk, MT
White Sands, NM
A view of the New River Gorge in West Virginia
Sunflowers forever near Lexington, KY
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Fall Colors from the Eagle’s Nest above Bancroft, Ontario near Algonquin
Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro
Hells Canyon in northeast Oregon is actually wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon
Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sisters, Oregon
Somewhere in Kansas
View of the Beartooths near Red Lodge, Montana from the highway was awesome
America the Beautiful – A scene near Glacier National Park

 

(10)

Finding Prosperity near Canonsburg & Washington, PA

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg, PA

Just a week after a nice three-day visit to northern Ohio (see post HERE), Julianne and I made our way to Canonsburg, PA, which is south of Pittsburgh. Julianne’s sister Laura recently moved there from Idaho with her husband and daughter and wanted us to visit.

Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh
Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh

From Lexington, Canonsburg is about a 5 Hour drive. We loaded Julianne’s bicycle onto the bike rack and were off shortly after she got off of work. We also took our first trip with one of our grandchildren, our oldest named Autumn.  She has traveled with her mother and me on a long trip to Wisconsin, but this is her first trip alone with Grampz and Grandma.

Welcome to West Virginia!
Welcome to West Virginia!

Most of the trip was fairly uneventful as we headed east on Interstate 64 into West Virginia and then north on Interstate 79 just outside of Charleston, West Virginia.

Along the way, we decided to stop for a couple of snacks and found a unique Amish market located in Flatwoods, WV.  The shop is

Sitting in the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sitting in the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV

located in the Flatwoods Factory Outlet.  As is often the case when making an unknown stop, there’s always a surprise in store. We were looking for some interesting food items and/or snack items to enjoy, but while there, we found that they have a giant Amish-made chair to sit in. Always have to include the quirky things!

Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Amish made Old Fashioned "Traffic Jam" - should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!
Amish made Old Fashioned “Traffic Jam” – should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!

We also picked up some goodies to leave with her sister and we got some hot mustard that was absolutely amazing! The view from behind the store into the hilly farmlands of Pennsylvania was very nice and I’ve included a photo of that above.  After our break and an ice cream cone for Autumn, we were back on the road heading towards Canonsburg.

After arriving in Canonsburg, and having a nice evening together, we spent the next day touring around Pittsburgh (that post will follow this one).

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

The next morning, Julianne and her sister decided to take a bike ride down the Montour Trail Bike Trail, a 46 mile trail from Moon Township (northwest of Pittsburgh) to Clairton.  This is one of a number of Rail Trails that Julianne will take over the next few weeks (I’ll write about each of those in upcoming special “Bike Trail posts – watch for them!).  This trail is actually part of a larger set of trails that stretch nearly 330 miles to Washington, D.C.  (Known as the Great Allegheny Passage) Julianne and Laura hope to ride that complete trail in 2017 (And maybe I’ll be ready by then too!!)

Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA

While they were doing that, I arose early took a ride into the countryside nearby and captured a beautiful sunrise early in the morning.  It was a beautiful drive up US Hwy 19 into Upper St. Clair, PA.  There was a hint of fog in the air and the sun came up over the rolling hills and verdant farmland.

Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
Welcome to Prosperity
Welcome to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity

After breakfast, I took another ride to visit the small town of Prosperity, PA. The small unincorporated village is south of Washington, PA on PA Hwy 18.  Obviously, I wanted to add this as another of those uniquely named towns that I like to visit. Prosperity really doesn’t look like it’s that prosperous of a town, but did have some unique old buildings and of course the Prosperity Post Office! (I have also found Success, Romance and Uncertain, among many others in my travels.)

Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Small old-fashioned grocer in Prosperity, PA
Small old-fashioned convenience shop in Prosperity, PA – Jim’s Stop & Shop Mall
Welcome to Washington, PA
Welcome to Washington, PA

On my way back from Prosperity, I made my way through the city of Washington, PA.  The city is the County Seat of Washington County, which was the first county in the U.S. to be named Washington – done so in 1781.  As the home of the old Washington and Jefferson College (the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), it is definitely a college style town but has some very old charm and many old historical buildings and some unique history.

All along the roads the lovely Dame's Rocket wildflowers can be seen
All along the roads the lovely Dame’s Rocket wildflowers can be seen
Washington, PA Historic Marker
Washington, PA Historic Marker
One of many old buildings in Washingotn, PA
One of many old buildings in Washington, PA
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
Washington Courthouse Statue
Washington Courthouse Statue

Most impressive about Washington was the amazing looking historic courthouse with a large golden statue of George Washington on top.  This is apparently the fifth version of the county courthouse, with this one being built in 1900.

Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington Statue
Washington Statue
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

Washington also gained notoriety in 1794 as a result of the Whiskey Rebellion, which was led by David Bradford. The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue to help reduce the national debt.

The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue

Washington, is also the home of the PONY League, one of the well-known youth baseball and softball organizations that can be found throughout the world.  They have a World Series event every August in Washington.

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg

But, I would have to say that the small Borough of Canonsburg actually holds some merit as one of the more interesting places to see in the area.  First off, it was the home to two famed singers from the 1960s – Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.  And the local McDonald’s restaurant offers a rare glimpse of them and their lives with an in-restaurant little museum (the second such “Fast Food Museum” I had seen in as many weeks – the other being the Wendy’s/Dave Thomas Museum in Dublin, Ohio – see that one HERE).  The museum display includes photos, albums, yearbooks, clothing and instruments, as well as the statues.

Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como story
Perry Como story
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg

And then down the road from the McDonald’s is another statue honoring Perry Como.  It is located in front of the bourough offices.

The statue of Como was unveiled in May 1999 and the city pipes his music 12 hours a day. (I must have missed it the day we were there).

Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg
Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg

A couple of historic pieces are also in the Canonsburg downtown area.

John McMillan's Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg's educational tradition.
John McMillan’s Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg’s educational tradition.
Veteran's Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Veteran’s Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr's conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr’s conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop

Canonsburg is also home to one of the quirky and iconic Turtle Twist Ice Cream Shop, shaped like an ice cream cone. The Ice Cream Shaped building was originally created by Twistee Treat Ice Cream out of Florida. The buildings are 28 feet tall and 20 feet wide and made of fiberglass.  The original Twistee Treat company went out of business in 1990, but a new company was formed in 1996.  Turtle Twist is a former Twistee Treat building.  Their building was previously installed in 1992 at an amusement park in Lakewood, NY in 1992. It was then purchased and reassembled in Canonsburg in 2004.  I have only seen one other of these in my travels (see M&M Twistee Treat in E. Peoria, IL)

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world's largest candy stores
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world’s largest candy stores

Speaking of Ice Cream, there is another well known place in Canonsburg known for its ice cream and as well as its chocolate and chocolate art work. The Sarris Candies Factory and Ice Cream Parlour covers an area the size of a full city block, and carries over 100 yards of chocolate, penny candy, ice cream and life-like plush toys. Not sure what it is about Pennsylvania and chocolate.  In other visits I have seen the huge Hershey’s facility in Hershey, PA and also Daffin’s Chocolate in Sharon, PA, known for its huge chocolate sculptures (see my post about Hershey HERE and my Daffin’s post HERE) . Both Daffin’s and Sarris claim to have the world’s largest candy stores. Sarris does also lay claim to an amazing 2600 pound Chocolate Castle (Daffin’s has a 400 pound chocolate turtle in their Chocolate Kingdom).

Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds
Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds

Some of the facts that Sarris notes about their castle:

  • Cost $130,000
  • Weighs 2600 pounds
  • It is 12 feet tall from floor to ceiling
  • It is 8 feet long and 3 feet long
  • It took 8 people three months and 2000 man hours to create
  • The whole confection room is also surrounded by 65 feet of beautiful hand-painted wall murals depicting a circus train ride through Candyland.
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Chocolate!!
Chocolate!!

The shop has tons of candy products, massive plush toys including some life size ones and then there is the amazing Ice Cream shop.

Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Cuddly plush panther
Cuddly plush panther
Candy!!
Candy!!
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Eighty Four, PA Post Office
Eighty Four, PA Post Office

Finally, some mention of a couple more places nearby that I visited.  Not too many towns are named with a number, but Eighty Four, PA is one of the few numbered towns.  There are a number of stories surrounding the name, but the town was actually founded in 1884 and the Post Office sought the name of Smithville, but it was already taken. So, apparently, the Postmaster H.F. Weir asked the post office be named after the year founded.

Eighty Four that a way
Eighty Four that a way
Welcome to 84 Country
Welcome to 84 Country

DSC_4343In 1957 a lumber company was created in town and was named 84 Lumber.  It has grown dramatically with more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops, and engineered wood products (EWP) centers in 30 states, representing the top 130 markets in the US.

Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA
Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA

Not too far from Washington is a place called Laboratory, PA, yet another strange name. But I also noticed an historic plaque with the name of Pancake. But there was already another Pancake in Pennsylvania. Some internet research warranted the following explanation (found on Jim’s Journey Website HERE):

Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA
Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA

Earle Forrest wrote about this area in his 1926 History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in the chapter on South Strabane Township. He discusses first George Pancake, then Jonathan Martin and adds this paragraph:

“About thirty years ago the late Dr. Byron Clark, who resided near the end of East Maiden Street, Washington, established a chemical laboratory for the manufacture of patent medicine, which he sold throughout the country. He had a post office established and named the place Laboratory, by which it is still known, although the original name of Pancake still sticks.

Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA

And finally, there was the Library Volunteer Fire Company in South Park, PA, near Washington.  How did it get that name?? The Library Volunteer Fire Company was organized in October 1939 and was comprised of 21 firefighters and one truck housed at the corner of Brownsville and Library Road. Presently, the company is located at 6581 Library Road in South Park Township.

My next post will cover some of our visit to Pittsburgh

(53)