AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – Reflections #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each of my entries highlighted a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  If you missed any of the posts, check out my page with all of the links HERE.  I will reflect back on this past month’s posts.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

What a Whirlwind!

CA 198 in Sequoia National Park

Throughout the month of April I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  It was my fourth straight year, but this one was really my most interesting yet.  Beginning in March the Coronavirus hit the world.  I am amazed how a microscopic thing could have such a massive impact on the world.  The world was shut down effectively, but the internet and the opportunity to post content was not.

Patrick Amiot – “Crow Bar” in Sebastapol, CA

It has been a whirlwind.  What made it more so was knowing (in hindsight) that while the coronavirus was hitting the U.S. in Washington and California back in January and February while I was traveling out there with my daughter and her three children.  Many of the places we visited, including massive National Parks like the Grand Canyon, were eventually closed.  In fact, as of this writing, many are still closed.  Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are closed all over the country.  Interstate travel bans are in effect across most states.  As of this writing on May 5, 2020, nearly 70,000 Americans have died of this virus since mid-February…while we were still traveling!!

I am both amazed and grateful that we are all home and safe. And brought back a boat load of memories.

ENJOYING THE RIDE

Interstate 90 at the Montana / Idaho border in late January 2020

I really like to share my travels with the world and the A to Z Challenge provides a great platform to share these with many people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Family at the Grand Canyon

Over the course of the past month I posted my 26 posts and included over 300 photos and dozens of unique stories of the places we saw on our epic road trip.  Thus far I have had over 20 comments from readers and well over 200 views of the posts.  I am thrilled for the visits and the experience.

What did you miss?

If you haven’t visited any of my posts, I shared a link to a page that has all of the links at the top of this post.  Please visit it and click on any of the links.  In the mean time, what did you miss?

Montana Highway 1 near Opportunity, Montana
  • A road trip of 8154 miles across 20 states in 21 days
  • Lovely photos of wildlife like eagles, bison, prairie dogs, seagulls and more
  • Amazing scenery from all kinds of geography including mountains, deserts, oceans and massive forests
  • Visits to over a dozen National Parks and Monuments
  • Stories and photos of many unique and quirky road side attractions
  • Visits, photos and stories about towns with unique names
  • A few fun and unique places to eat
  • An opportunity to learn about a different perspective on the amazing diversity of these United States
Pacific Coast as seen from Long Beach, Washington
welcome to Happy, Texas
Bald Eagle, taken on US Highway 2 near Davenport, WA
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Mount Rushmore as seen from a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. The tunnel was built intentionally to frame the monument
Joshua Trees near Baker, CA
Martian Soda anyone?
Sandhill Cranes in West Texas
Paul Bunyan in Klamath, California
San Francisco CA
Uranus Fudge Factory, St Robert, Missouri
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Caddo Lake bayou near Uncertain, Texas

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The U Stories #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each entry will highlight a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  I hope you will enjoy this bouncy ride across the back roads of America.  Please enjoy the U Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

This post is basically short and sweet. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Ucross, Wyoming

We passed through this non-descript little community that sits at the intersection of US Route 14 and US Route 16.   It has an interesting name, but a even more interesting history.  It is the home of author Craig Johnson, who wrote The Cold Dish and other Longmire mysteries, which became the basis for the hit television show Longmire, which, by the way, was a favorite of mine.

Ucross, Wyoming

Usually Open – Ohrmann Museum and Gallery – Drummond, Montana

The Ohrmann Museum and Gallery near Drummond, Montana is a unique small place that is worth a stop.  Located on Montana Highway 1, it can’t be missed.  And, as the sign says, they are “Usually Open.”

Usually Open Sign, Ohrmann’s Art Gallery

Uranus Fudge Factory – St Robert, Missouri

I first dropped by here in 2018 and made sure to add this absolutely fun place to my third book (see book here).  Now, they even sell my books!  On our 8154 Road Trip, we stopped by here again to sign some books and I also had a chance to interview the owner/Mayor Louie R. Keen. (See the video below!)

Uranus Fudge Factory, St Robert, Missouri

CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEW WITH OWNER LOUIE R. KEEN

Uranus, Missouri on Route 66
My books are for sale in Uranus.
The Uranus Fudge Factory General Store
Uranus Police Car
Thanks for picking Uranus sign
There are aliens in Uranus too!
Mayor Louie R. Keen, Mayor of Uranus (with one of my books)

Uncertain, Texas Flea Market – Uncertain, Texas

I have written about Uncertain often. Had to drop at least one sign from Uncertain on this post.

Uncertain, Texas Flea Market

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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PRHBTN 2019: More Murals to Decorate Lexington

Once again, John and Jessica Winters and their PRHBTN organization has brought some amazing art into Lexington.  October and the first part of November saw four more unique artists into the city to colorize more walls in the city.

This year we got visits from Venezuelan artist Koz Dos,  New Yorker Elle, SNUB23 from Great Britain and Alexandrea Pangburn from the Denver area.  Each of them brought their own unique styles to add to the beauty of the city.

Detail of Koz Dos mural
KOZ DOS

The first one to get started was Koz Dos.  Born in 1986 in Caracas, Venezuela, he is a graffiti artist who made his first steps in the Caracas hood. Since then, he has become famous for his photorealistic and colorful portraits of people and frames, art, using geometric patterns.

Koz Dos was hard at it in his first couple of days, painting 5 stories up.

The Koz Dos mural was painted on the side of the large LexPark garage in downtown Lexington off of Short Street.  Originally, it was the home of a large HOW & NOSM mural (see my post about the 2014 PRHBTN murals to see the HOW & NOSM mural) that had lots of weather damage.  These artists come into this knowing that there is always the possibility that their art may disappear due to weather, new ownership of buildings, etc.  Such was this case.  But, it opened the wall for the massive and colorful work that Koz Dos laid upon it.  He used the nearly sixty foot wall to create a unique and crafty piece of art with a number of colorful characters on it.  Following are a few shots from beginning to complete.  Note, this is a difficult piece to get a complete photo of without wires getting in the way.    You can see more about Koz Doz on his Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/koz.dos/

First Day of work for Koz Dos
Detail of a polar bear on top of the Koz Dos mural

I am a big fan of herons, cranes and flamingos.  In this instance, I am not exactly sure what kind of bird he used, but it looks like some sort of heron.  I love his use of the birds.

Fish and herons on the Koz Dos mural
Detail of Fish on Koz Dos mural
This is the best shot I could get of the finished mural, the day it was completed. It is beautiful.
Alexandrea Pangburn

While Koz Dos was hard at work, a couple of miles away Alexandrea Pangburn was getting started on her piece near 8th Street and Jefferson.  Based in Golden, CO, Alexandrea specializes in animal portraits using acrylic paint, ink, watercolors and gouache on a variety of surfaces – from canvas to wood and bricks.

First day view of Alexandrea Pangburn mural
Detail of Day 1 of Pangburn mural

When I visited her work on her first day, I saw what looked like a paint by number painting and really couldn’t see what was going to come from it. After seeing the completed piece, I can see everything.  I did get to meet her and she is extremely friendly and personable.  Unfortunately, I never got by to see her actually working on it.  Visit and follow Alexandrea Pangburn on her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/alexandrea_pang/

Detail of the Pangburn mural. Such a cute fox
This is the finished mural from Alexandrea Pangburn
This fox visited our neighborhood just a few days before the Pangburn mural was painted.
Another shot of the local fox

Just a few days later she had finished.  You can see the completed mural above. I was so delighted to see this foxy photo.  Ironically, just a few days earlier I was fortunate enough to capture some shots of a fox who had visited our neighborhood after being displaced from its nearby den due to home/apartment construction.  So, this mural had special meaning to me and I absolutely love it!

Street Artist in ELLE takes a moment to chat
ELLE

Next to roll into Lexington is Brooklyn, New York artist ELLE.  (See her website at http://ellestreetart.com/).   Over the years I have met many street artists through PRHBTN and others.  Most of them are rough cut, though personable, souls.  They all have that gypsy-like nature about them.  But not ELLE.  For lack of a better way to describe her after meeting and talking with her is that she is an exotically beautiful bad-ass artist.  She actually looks more like she belongs on a TV commercial.   According to her Website BIO:

ELLE considers her paintings to be poetry. She creates stories by collaging disparate images: powerful females, flora and fauna, classical paintings juxtaposed with pop-culture and high fashion imagery, revealing purposefully designed messages to the world.

ELLE Working on her mural
Detail of ELLE mural

ELLE’s giant mural is located on the side of a building off of Church Street near Mill Street in downtown Lexington.  This work is just as exotic and colorful as she is.  I got there after she had already knocked out some of the first part of the work, which features three women’s faces collaged into each other.

An onlooker admires the work of ELLE as it sits in progress
Detail of ELLE painting

The element of surprise was the key to this beautiful mural.  And, this one was not without controversy as she added some “hidden” political commentary onto the mural, which, was painted over on the day after she completed it.  Though I do have a photo of the controversial content, I am choosing not to post it here.  But, I do want to note, that this is not unusual for graffiti artists.  In your face controversy follows them…  thus the name PRHBTN for Lexington’s now world famous art organization.  Following are more shots of her amazing work.

ELLE at Work
Detail of her nearly complete mural
This is a full-length shot of ELLE’s mural
Another view of ELLE’s mural
SNUB23

The final mural in Lexington was done by Brighton, UK artist SNUB23.  Like the others above, he has become a world-renown street artist and graphic artist for smaller projects.   His PRHBTN project is probably one of the more unique pieces and certainly very detailed on many levels. On his website BIO, the definition of his work style is as colorful as he is:

Coming into being in the 1990s, SNUB is the alter ego of a graphic designer, inspired by the fictional robot Hammerstein.

SNUB Logo
SNUB23 with his friend and helper

I got to speak to him a few times during his big project and he is as friendly as can be.  Many graffiti artists prefer to not be photographed, and I totally adhere to their requests.  Not so with SNUB, who was delighted to have his photo taken along with his female friend with her striking orange hair.

Though, as you can see on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/snub23/, much of his work looks more like it comes from the comic book world. However, the work he did in Lexington is quite complex and was absolutely time consuming.  I watched as he used various size templates to create a visual illusion of 3D blocks of different sizes.  Quite the amazing work.

SNUB23 working on his wall.
SNUB23 used templates to make each block
SNUB’s friend works on a section
SNUB23 works on each cube separately.
Finished Corner view
Side view. When looked at in light it appears in 3D due to his detailed shadowing
More SNUB23

You can visit SNUB23 at his website at https://www.snub23.com/

Have you checked out my books?

John Winters, the founder and fearless leader of PRHBTN shows off his Less Beaten Paths books.

I write about back roads travel and quirky, unique sites along the way.  I have published three books so far, and am working on Book 4 now, which will be all about murals, graffiti art and wall art from all over the U.S. and Canada.  I have photos of nearly 2500 different works.  And, yes, I will have a unique chapter just on PRHBTN in Lexington!!!  You can see PRHBTN founder John Winters on the left with HIS copies of my books. At muraledesign.com offering the largest selection of high-quality murals, providing a helpful customer service staff, and letting our customers pick the exact size and ideal material for their unique space.

ORDER YOUR BOOKS TODAY!

Happy Holidays from Sumofalm

As the 2019 Holidays are upon us, its a good time to think about that unique gift.  My books are great fun for travelers.  Every place in my books was personally visited by me and these are my unique stories of these places.  All photography is also mine.  You can grab your copies of any of my books at Amazon in print or Kindle versions at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0784XVGSW

My newest book is also available at the fun gift shops at Carhenge in Nebraska, Paradise Point Marketplace in Scottsville, Kentucky, Bowlin’s The Thing in Arizona and the famed Uranus Fudge Factory on Route 66 in Missouri.

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