AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – The W 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 W Stories. (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Wyoming

Another of the 20 states we visited on our 8154 Trip.  Sadly, we passed this sign in the evening, so it was dark.  Welcome to Wyoming.

Welcome to Wyoming

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona

One of the more iconic throwbacks to Route 66 travel (and other travel for that matter) is the Wigwam Motel (also called the Wigwam Village). Built in the 1930s and 1940s, the rooms are designed liked teepees.  (See some history here) Originally there were seven of these built across the country with two in Kentucky, and then one each in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana and California.  As of this writing, only three remain: One in Cave City, Kentucky (near Mammoth Cave National Park), one in Holbrook, Arizona on Route 66 (near Petrified Forest National Park) and the other on the city boundary between Rialto and San Bernardino, California, also on Route 66.  I have written about the one in Cave City, officially known as Wigwam Village #2, in a previous post in 2008.  My family actually rented five units in July 2017 as part of a family reunion.

Hanging with Grandkids at Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY in 2017

These villages were originally developed by a guy named Frank A. Redford in the 1930s.  He even had the design patented in 1936.   The first of them was built in Horse Cave, Kentucky in 1933, but it closed in 1935 after Redford built a larger one in Cave City in 1937.  This one consisted of 15 Teepees.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1988. (Facebook Page)

Wigwam Village, Cave City, KY

Wigwam Village #3 was built in New Orleans in 1940, but went out of business in 1954. Wigwam Village #4 was built in Orlando, Florida in 1948 and had 27 guest rooms. It was razed in 1974. Wigwam Village #5 was built in Bessemer, Alabama in 1940 and had 15 Wigwams.  It went out of business in 1964. Wigwam Village #7 was built by Redford in 1947 in Rialto, California on Route 66.  It has gone through times of disrepair, but was renovated in 2005. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

You can sleep in a Wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona

The one in Holbrook, which is the subject of this story, is officially listed as Wigwam Village #6.  This particular one was built in 1950 by Chester E. Lewis and is probably the most famous of all of them due to its location on Route 66 and close to the Petrified Forest National Park.  Lewis had purchased the rights to Redford’s design as well as the rights to use the name.  Lewis came up with a novel idea for paying Redford.  He installed coin-operated radios in each room and every dime inserted for the 30 minutes of play time would be sent to Redford as payment.

This location has 15 Wigwams and can still be rented.  In keeping with the authenticity of the originals, there are no telephones, internet or other modern amenities, though they do offer air conditioning and cable TV.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in May  2002.

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ

Wig Wam Pub & Texas BBQ – Bremerton, Washington

Speaking of WigWams, on our 8154 trip, I got to visit with one of my close friends from high school while out in Washington.  Since I was in Port Orchard and he lived close by, we decided to meet at the Wig Wam Pub in Gorst (actually in Bremerton).

WigWam Pub & Texas BBQ, Bremerton, Washington
Collection of Beer Tap Handles hangs on the ceiling
Lots of stickers
Having dinner with my high school pal Alex Milne. We had not seen each other for 47 years.
Inside of Wig Wam
Dinner at the Wig Wam – BBQ Chicken, baked beans and creamy good potato salad.
Definitely a Happy Place

Wahoo, Nebraska

Wahoo is one of the places that was not in the plan.  We just happened to drive by and I had to stop.  I always love a unique town name and Wahoo certainly fits the bill.  The town was founded in 1870 and the name apparently comes from the eastern wahoo, a shrub found on the banks of Wahoo Creek. Apparently, the term “wahoo” was what the indigenous people called the deciduous shrub.

Wahoo, Nebraska
Welcome to Wahoo, Nebraska
Patriotic Wahoo Water tower

Windmill Country – Hyannis, Nebraska

Driving through the Nebraska Sandhills, we went through the small community of Hyannis (which I wrote about in my H Stories).  There were signs welcoming people to Windmill Country.  The town is home to the Hyannis Windmill Days, a weekend celebration that started in 1989.  Not sure why they call it Windmill Country however.  I think that Nebraska City may be a better choice since they are the home of the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum (which I wrote about a few years ago)

Welcome to Windmill Country – Hyannis, Nebraska

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is one of my favorite stopover places.  A unique town nestled in the mountains of the Silver Valley in the Idaho Panhandle.  In 2004 then Mayor Ron Garitone proclaimed Wallace to be the Center of the Universe.  He had a manhole cover specifically made to mark the exact spot. Every September the town celebrates the Center of the Universe.

While in Wallace, we also stopped for some hand thrown pizza.  It was great!

Welcome to Wallace, Idaho
Center of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho
Center of the Universe Manhole Cover
Having pizza in Wallace, Idaho
Downtown Wallace, Idaho

Washoe Theatre – Anaconda, Montana

Driving through Anaconda, Montana, I came across another great theatre marquis.  This time it was for the Washoe Theatre, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was designed in 1930 in the Nuevo Deco style and apparently has a lavish interior.  It was also designed to have near perfect acoustics.

Washoe Theatre – Anaconda, Montana

Window Rock, Arizona

On this trip, we didn’t actually drive into Window Rock, which is the government capital of the Navajo Nation.  But, I wanted to grab this sign, both for the landscape behind it and the Indian Highway 12 arrowhead logo.

Window Rock, Arizona

Waterville, Washington

Waterville, Washington is in the heart of Washington’s wheat country and is located on US Highway 2.  The small museum in town has an interesting Dowser statue that was created by Pateros, WA Sculptor Richard Beyer.

Waterville, Washington
The Water Dowser by sculptor Richard Beyer, completed in 1966.
Dr. Pierces Golden Discovery Barn Sign in Waterville, WA
Picturesque historic Douglas Church in Waterville, WA
US Route 2 near Waterville, Washington

World Museum of Mining – Butte, Montana

Butte is an old mining town and so, should be home for a mining museum.  Unfortunately, on the day we drive through, it was not open.  But, the entrance gate for the World Museum of Mining is classic.  The museum was founded in 1963 and is one of the few museums in the world located on an actual mine yard.

World Museum of Mining – Butte, Montana
Welcome to the World Museum of Mining

Worms, Nebraska

Welcome to Worms! Yes, there is a town named Worms!  This place was on my radar for our 8154 Road Trip and, to me, was a must see.  Though only about 40 people live here and there is no green town sign for it, it was well worth it.  It is home to a biker bar called Nitecrawlers (see my N Stories) and has a couple of unique murals.  The town was supposedly named after Worms, Germany.  It was actually settled by Germans as early as 1874.

Worms, Nebraska

World’s Tallest Thermometer – Baker, California

Baker, California is fun place with the Mad Greek Cafe, Alien Beef Jerky with its Alien Statues and UFOs and other fun.  But, it is really known for its giant thermometer.  This amazing landmark stands 134 feet tall and can measure up to 134°F (57°C).  It commemorates the record 134°F temperature recorded in nearby Death Valley on July 11, 1913.

The tall thermometer was build in 1991

World’s Tallest Thermometer – Baker, California
World’s Tallest Thermometer sign in Baker, California
Sumoflam at the World’s Tallest Thermometer

Wind Cave National Park – Hot Springs, South Dakota

Visitor Center – Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Wilbur, Washington

Wilbur, Washington on US Route 2, including an homage to Charlotte’s Web

Welcome to Wilbur, Washington
Old Wilbur, Washington marker
Wilbur, Washington welcome center. Charlotte’s web reminder

Williams, Arizona

Old Route 66 town in Arizona…  Williams, Arizona.

Welcome to Williams, Arizona
Route 66 in Williams, Arizona

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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Travel in 2018: The Best of the Roadside Attractions – Part 1

Sharkheads in Biloxi, MS

Obviously, one of my favorite things to do on road trips short or long is locate the fun, unique and offbeat roadside attractions.  And, fortunately, 2018 provided me a plethora of these.  I have already written about a few of them individually in past months, but this post will be a nice little “photo tour” of some of my favorites.

Having been through 26 different states in 2018, I had plenty of sites and loads of fun.  I got to share many of these with grandchildren, which made it even better.

Dignity: Of Earth and Sky – 50 foot tall statue by Dale Lamphere

Sumoflam with Dignity near Chamberlain, SD

Perhaps my favorite from 2018 was the amazing giant Dignity: Of Earth and Sky statue in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  This giant 50 foot tall steel statue honors the women of the Lakota and Dakota tribes.  It was created by artist  South Dakota Dale Lamphere.  It sits in a rest area overlooking the Missouri River and can be seen from quite a distance.

The statue also features a Star Quilt that has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move in the wind.  Really a wonderful site and it is also one of America’s tallest statues (the 20th tallest according to Wikipedia listing).

80 Foot Long and 37 Foot Tall Brontosaurus statue in Wall Drug created by Emmett Sullivan

Sumoflam takes a selfie with Wall’s giant Brontosaurus

Another giant is just down the road from Dignity. Wall Drug’s giant brontosaurus stretches 80 feet and sits 37 feet tall as it overlooks Interstate 90  at the Wall Exit.  Even there is no time for a visit to Wall Drug, there is always time to stop for a photo-op with a giant friendly dino!

 

Dinosaurs seem to be all over the country and on my four big trips in 2018 I came across a few more of them.  Always fun!

A Scary Dino in Uranus, Missouri

A colorful scrap metal dinosaur in Carmine, Texas

Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, SD

Scary Dino in Price, Utah

Another Giant dino in Uranus

A T-Rex stands at the entrance to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

Grandson Rockwell and I hanging with Ms. Pearl

Dinosaurs are not the only giants that I came across on the road in 2018.  One of my favorite “giants” was “Ms. Pearl” the giant squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas at the Berdoll Pecan Candy factory.   Created in 2011, it stands 14 feet tall and currently lays claim to be the tallest squirrel statue in the world.  Like many “roadside” attractions, this one is very visible off of TX Hwy 71.

Nice thing about Berdoll’s is that you can get your picture with Ms. Pearl and even get some Pecan goodies from their 24/7 Pecan Vending Machine.

Ms. Pearl, the 14 foot tall squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas

Other big things I came across in 2018

A Big Bull and Bison at Chef Louie’s steakhouse in Mitchell, SD

There is a big pig (named Wilbur of course) and then a spider web, with Charlotte, in Wilbur, Washington

Giant Shark Head at Sharkheads in Biloxi, Mississippi

A Giant Metal Owl in southern Houston

Giant Spurs in Hico, Texas

The Giant Bowie knife in Bowie, Texas

The Big Black Muffler Man wielding a miner’s ax in Helper, Utah

Then there are the big Muffler Men and Big John statues.  There are dozens and dozens of these dotting the landscape.  I came across a couple of fun ones in 2018.  In Helper, Utah there is one that is painted totally black…to represent the Coal Miners.

These guys are about 15 feet tall and basically all look alike except for the additional things added to them by the local sites.  Over the years I personally have photographed nearly 40 different versions of Big John, Muffler Men or Uniroyal Gals.

You can find them looking like Paul Bunyan, cowboys, Indians and other fun things.

I always like coming across these unique pieces of funky Americana.

Another look at the big black muffler man in Helper, Utah

A Big John at Steppin’ Out Western Wear in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma

Then there is the Big John in Hochatown, Oklahoma…with a golf club

I am working on Part 2 of this travel report with more big and unique things to see.  Watch for it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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