A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The W Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Let’s start this off with a Whispering Bang!!

Whispering Giants – art by Hungarian artist Peter Toth – Idaho Falls, Idaho; Bethany Beach, Delaware; Murray, Utah; Red Lodge, Montana; Ottawa, Illinois; Hopewell, Illinois; Paducah, Kentucky; Astoria, Oregon; Ocean City, Maryland; Iowa Falls, Iowa; Utica, Illinois

Over 62 of these around the U.S.  Here are the ones I have seen:

Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian Head in North Tourist Park in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Placed in 1980
Chief Little Owl in Bethany Beach, Delaware placed in 2002
Chief Wasatch in Murray, UT placed in 1985
Detail of the “Whispering Giant” of Red Lodge, Montana, placed in 1979
Ho-Ma-Sjah-Nah-Zhee-Ga in Ottawa, IL, placed in 1990
Hopewell Giant in Hopewell, IL placed in 1975
Chief Wacinton in Paducah, KY placed in 1985
Ikala Nawan in Astoria, Oregon placed in 1987
The Inlet Indian, Nanticoke, dedicated to the Assateague tribe, is in Ocean City, MD and placed in 1976
Whispering Giant of Iowa Falls, IA in Veterans Park, placed in 1999
Chief Walks With The Wind in Starved Rock State Park, Utica, IL

Wigwam Village – Sleep in Wigwam – Cave City, KY

Wigwam Village, Cave City, KY
Wigwam Village Key
Sleep in a Wigwam neon sign in Cave City, KY
Hanging with ALL 10 Grandkids at Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY

Wahkeena Falls – Corbett, Oregon

Wahkeena Falls in Corbett, Oregon

Wupatki National Monument – near Cameron, Arizona

Son Seth at Wupatki Ruins off of US 89 south of Flagstaff in 1992

Water Buffalo – Cebu, Philippines

Carabao Water Buffalo taken on Cebu Island in the Philippines

Winnett, Montana

Winnett, MT Welcome Sign
Old Store Front – Winnett, MT
Old Hotel Sign – Winnett, MT

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho
Wallace Corner Hotel, Wallace, ID
Downtown Wallace, Idaho

Weatherford, Texas

Courthouse in Weatherford, Texas
Skinnys Hamburger sign in Weatherford, TX
Relaxing – Weatherford, Texas

Murals of Welland, Ontario

Mural of Grandfather telling stories about Welland to Grandson
A portion of a massive mural on the side of a shopping mall. Entitled “History of the Niagara Peninsula” by Heinz Gaugel
“Main Street” by Mike Svob
“Wagons” by Andrew Miles

Washington, Pennsylvania

Washington, PA Historic Marker
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Welcome to Washington, PA

Williams, California

Williams Hotel mural by John Ton in Williams, CA
Detail of a mural on the side of a building in Williams, CA

Winner, South Dakota

Winner Winner..no chicken dinner, just the name of a town in SD
Winner, South Dakota
Pheasant Statue, Winner, SD
Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD

Waldo, Arkansas

Waldo Post Office, Waldo, AR
Waldo, Arkansas
Waldo Water Tower

Winterset, Iowa

Welcome to Winterset, Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa
Winterset building fronts
Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa

Wyoming Dinosaur Center – Thermopolis, Wyoming

Large Sign about the Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming

World Trade Center (before 9/11) – New York City

In New York City in 1990 before the World Trade Center Twin Towers met their demise
World Trade Center 1990

One World Trade Center (after 9/11) – New York City

One World Trade Center all lit up at night, as seen from Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ
One World Trade Center under construction – March 2, 2013

Wall Drug – Wall, South Dakota

Where the Heck is Wall Drug?
Welcome to Wall, SD
One of many Wall Drug Billboards – notice the uniqueness?
The 80 foot tall Wall Drug Brontosaurus

West Virginia Capital Building with the gold dome – Charleston, West Virginia

Wonde West Virginia’s Capital Building in Charleston, WV
WV Capital Building

Wharton, Texas

Black History Mural by Dayton Wordrich
Buildings in downtown Wharton, TX
Future of Wharton, TX Mural by Dayton Wordrich
Old Plaza Theater in Wharton, TX

Wonderland Road – Upton, Kentucky

Sumoflam at Wonderland Rd. in Upton, KY

Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario

Welcome to Winter Wheat in Sparta, ON
Winter Wheat Main Building
Broom People at Winter Wheat in Sparta, ON
The performance room at Winter Wheat

Walpi, Arizona

While working in Arizona I made over 100 trips to Walpi on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona

White Sands National Monument – east of Alamagordo, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument
Visiting White Sands, NM in 2013
Granddaughter Joselyn runs on a sand dune at White Sands National Monument in NM

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Sumoflam with the Beatles in Walnut Ridge, AR
Welcome to Walnut Ridge
Scene from Abbey Road, Walnut Ridge, AR

Wendy’s Museum – Dublin, Ohio

Dave Thomas statue at Wendy’s in Dublin, OH
The Wendy’s Original $150,000 Crystal Cheeseburger created by Waterford Crystal
“Where’s the Beef?” memorabilia from the famed advertising campaign in the Wendy’s Museum in Dublin, OH

Wigwam Drive-In – Ravenna, Kentucky

Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY
Interior of the Wigwam Drive-in Ravenna, KY
The Famous Country Boy Burger

Washington Court House, Ohio

The Washington Court House in Washington Court House, OH was one of many unique buildings I got to visit in 2016
Washington Courthouse Statue

Whitetop, Virginia

Welcome to Whitetop, VA
Whitetop Station
All of us at Whitetop Station at the beginning of the 10 mile downhill Virginia Creeper Bike Trail near Damascus, VA

West Side Theater – Newman, California

West Side Theatre – a common stop for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours

Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas

Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….

Walcott Castle – Walcott, Iowa

Castle Hall in Walcott, IA
One of the Towers on Castle Hall in Walcott

Wind Farms – Shelby, Montana; Nekoma, North Dakota; Adair, Iowa; Bloomington, Illinois; Iona, Idaho; Rugby, North Dakota; Port Burwell, Ontario

An old cabin falls apart in the midst of the giant wind turbines of the Glacier Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana

A silo and wind turbine coexist near Nekoma, ND
Wind Turbines of the Rolling Hills Wind Farm near Adair, IA
Wind Farm near Bloomington, IL
Approaching Wolverine Creek Wind Farm, near Iona, ID
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa
Wind Farm near Rugby, ND
Wind Farm info center in Port Burwell, Ontario
Wind Farm near Shelby, Montana

Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, New York

One of over 50 waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park, NY
Watkins Glen State Park, New York

Wilbur, Washington

Wilbur, Washington
Billy Burger, Wilbur, WA
Big Pig and Spider at Welcome center in Wilbur, WA

Winnemucca, Nevada

Sumoflam in Winnemucca, Nevada
Big casino in Winnemucca, Nevada
Driving through Winnemucca

Mount Washington – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mount Washington
Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington

West Yellowstone, Montana

Welcome to West Yellowstone, Montana
Westward Motel – West Yellowstone
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana

Whiskey Rebellion – Washington, Pennsylvania

Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA

Webster Falls – Hamilton, Ontario

Webster Falls near Hamilton, ON
Sumoflam at the top of Webster Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

White Castle, Louisiana

Welcome to White Castle, LA
There is a White Castle Fire Dept, but no White Castle restaurants to be seen

Worland, Wyoming

Highway into Worland, WY
Mammoth Bronze Statue by Chris Navarro in Worland, WY

Working Women mural – Welland, Ontario

“Working Women” by Ted Ziegler shows the contribution of women to the industrial
work force in the factories of Welland

Wolf Creek Pass – Colorado

Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado July 1993

Wind River Canyon – Wyoming

History of the Wind River Canyon
One of many spectacular views of Wind River Canyon
Entering Wind River Canyon on US 20 from Thermopolis, WY

Walking to the Sky Sculpture – Pittsburgh, Penssylvania

“Walking to the Sky” by Jonathan Borofsky

Washington Monument – Washington, D.C.

The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC in 2016

Willie the Walleye – Baudette, Minnesota

Son Solomon (at 6’3″) at Willie the Walleye in Baudette, MN

Wichita, Kansas

Welcome to Wichita mural
Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas
Keeper of the Plains – 50 foot tall statue in Wichita
Wicked Street Art in Wichita, KS

What Cheer, Iowa

What Cheer, Iowa
What Cheer, Iowa
Downtown What Cheer – many abandoned buildings

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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Road Trip Home from Idaho – Day 5: Des Moines, IA to Springfield, IL – Dutch, American Pickers and Cozy Dogs

Antique Archaeology
Antique Archaeology

April 3, 2013: Yet another day on the road home as Julianne and I take our time to see a few of the sites on the way.  This day we drove from Des Moines to a couple places in Iowa and eventually into Illinois. Here is our route:


View Larger Map – Des Moines, IA to Springfield, MO

First thing we did was head to Pella, Iowa, which is not too far from Des Moines.  Pella prides itself as being a “Touch of Holland” and indeed is very Dutch.  Home of the largest working Dutch windmill in the United States.  Pella was originally settled in 1847 by about 800 Dutch immigrants.  They named the town Pella, which in Dutch means City of Refuge, due to the fact that these immigrants were fleeing religious persecution in their home country of the Netherlands.  Pella is also the birthplace of Wyatt Earp, the famed sheriff of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Downtown Pella
Downtown Pella
Welcome to Pella
Welcome to Pella

We had been advised by friends to definitely try the “Dutch Letters” while here.  Dutch Letters are a flaky almond paste filled pastry.  Shaped like an S, they were apparently a traditional Christmas pastry in Holland.  We stopped at the Jaarsma Bakery on Franklin Street in Pella to have some of these.  They would be our breakfast.  Turns out they have a lot of other goodies!!

Jaarsma Bakery - Pella, Iowa
Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa
Yummy Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery
Yummy Goodies at Jaarsma Bakery
Almond Pies at Jaarsma Bakery
Almond Pies at Jaarsma Bakery
Famous "Dutch Letters" from Jaarsma Bakery
Famous “Dutch Letters” from Jaarsma Bakery

Another treat we were advised to try was Pella Ring Bologna. There are two well known places to get this ring bologna in Pella and we stopped at Ulrich’s Meat Market which is a couple doors down from the Jaarsma Bakery.  Not onl is the ring bologna good — the meat sticks were fabulous!!

Try smoking Pella Bologna
Try smoking Pella Bologna
Pella Ring Bologna
Pella Ring Bologna

The town of Pella is quaint and picturesque.  It was a pleasure to walk around and see some of the scenery, including a few smaller windmills and the larger one.  Here are a few scenes from Pella.

Daffodils in Bloom - Pella, IA
Daffodils in Bloom – Pella, IA

Pella is famed for its tulips, but we were too early for them.  But, daffodils are another Dutch bulb plant.  And they were in full bloom.

Buildings fronts in Pella, IA
Colorful building fronts in Pella, IA
Unique building corner in Pella, IA
Unique building corner turret in Pella, IA
Small Clock Tower in Pella
Small Clock Tower in Pella
Old Brick Wall Advertisement in Pella
Old Brick Wall Advertisement in Pella
Dutch-style Tiled Walls in Pella
Dutch-style Tiled Walls in Pella
Dutch Wooden Shoes - Pella, IA
Dutch Wooden Shoes – Pella, IA

Of course, perhaps the most famous thing in Pella (besides the famed Pella window factory) is the huge authentic working Dutch Windmill.  The Vermeer Mill, as it is called, is an 1850s style working windmill.  It is 124 feet tall and is the largest working windmill of its kind in the United States.  The mill is totally wind powered and is actually used like the windmills of old to grind wheat into flour.  It was built in Holland and assembled in Pella in 2002.

Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill
Sumoflam and the Vermeer Windmill
Vermeer Windmill - Pella, Iowa
Vermeer Windmill – Pella, Iowa
Vermeer Windmill towers above Pella to catch the wind
Vermeer Windmill towers above Pella to catch the wind

There is a Dutch Interpretive Center and small Dutch Village attached to the Windmill.  Within its confines are a number of Dutch style buildings , including Wyatt Earp’s birthplace.  We didn’t go into the village since admission was $10 per person, which we though was rather pricy.

After a pleasant time in Pella, we were back on the road.  With my penchant for going to strange named towns, I wanted to make our way down some back roads to What Cheer, Iowa. Originally named Petersburg in 1865 but was renamed What Cheer in 1879 after the Postal Service declined the name of Petersburg.  The Wikipedia article linked here has some details as to the origin of the name What Cheer.

Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa
Welcome to What Cheer, Iowa

Ironically, as we drive through town, I exclaimed to my wife that the town name should be “What Cheer?” as the small town looks like it is falling apart and many of the businesses have been abandoned. There were a little over 600 people in this small town according to the 2010 census.

Back road to What Cheer, IA.... a six mile long dirt road
Back road to What Cheer, IA…. a six mile long dirt road.  My GPS took us this route!!
Downtown What Cheer - many abandoned buildings
Downtown What Cheer – many abandoned buildings

Reminiscent of downtown Pella, there is one nicely kept building in What Cheer, with the nice corner turret.  It used to be a bank, but is apparently now a residence.

Corner Tower on building in What Cheer, IA
Corner Turret on building in What Cheer, IA
What Cheer
What Cheer
What Cheer Post Office - even this sign is becoming illegible and run down
What Cheer Post Office – even this sign is becoming illegible and run down
What Cheer, Iowa
What Cheer, Iowa

There was one other refreshing site in town.  One home had some unique artwork surrounding the yard.

Bunnie's House in What Cheer, IA
Bonnie’s House in What Cheer, IA
Wheel Fence at Bonnie's house in What Cheer
Wheel Fence at Bonnie’s house in What Cheer
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

From What Cheer we made our way northeast to I-80 and then into Le Clair, Iowa, a small touristy town along the Mississippi River.  This was my second visit to Le Claire as I had been here before to visit Antique Archaeology,  home of the “American Pickers” TV show on History Channel.  On my previous visit back in June 2012 I even got to meet Danielle and get a shot with her.

Sumoflam with Danielle Colby Cushman - June 20, 2012
Sumoflam with American Pickers star Danielle Colby – June 2012

When I visited in June last year Danielle had a shop in Le Claire across the street from Antique Archaeology called 4 Miles 2 Memphis.  She is actually well known for “up-cycling” things and making them into clothing, jewelry, etc.  The shop has since moved to Chicago.

Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers
Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers
Antique Archaeology's famous old car
Antique Archaeology’s famous old car
Antique Archaeology
Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam at Antique Archaeology

There are lots of unique things for sale at the shop, many which had been picked from shows past.  Here is a small sample of some of the things in the shop.  Recognize anything?

Old boots and stuff - Antique Archaeology
Old boots and stuff – Antique Archaeology
Motorcycle Goggles and Hat - Antique Archaeology
Motorcycle Goggles and Hat – Antique Archaeology
Mike's favorite subject - Indian Motorcycles - Antique Archaeology
Mike’s favorite subject – Indian Motorcycles – Antique Archaeology
Yucky Mask - Antique Archaeology
Yucky Mask – Antique Archaeology
Old Motorcycle - Antique Archaeology
Old Motorcycle – Antique Archaeology
Laurel and Hardy and Sumoflam
Laurel and Hardy and Sumoflam

A video clip of the American Pickers episode with the Laurel and Hardy masks.

You would be mistaken if you think that Antique Archaeology is the center piece of Le Claire.  This unique little town is chock full of personality, antique shops and more.

Old neon for Pelo's Sundries
Old neon for Pelo’s Sundries
Old back porch behind Pelo's in Le Claire
Old back porch behind Pelo’s in Le Claire

 

Pelo’s is your typical old sundry and fountain type shop, except that it now has a coffee shop, open mike nites and more.

River Boats in Le Claire, IA
River Boats in Le Claire, IA
Wooden Flag in Le Claire, IA
Wooden Flag in Le Claire, IA
More Antiques - Mike and Frank are not the only pickers in town
More Antiques – Mike and Frank are not the only pickers in town
The Auction Center
The Auction Center
Old Milk Cans - Le Claire, IA
Old Milk Cans – Le Claire, IA
Lots of stuff - Le Claire, IA
Lots of stuff – Le Claire, IA
More stuff - Le Claire, IA
More stuff – Le Claire, IA
Whimsy in Le Claire
Whimsy in Le Claire

Julianne was thrilled to visit some of the shops, but her biggest thrill was being able to “pick” a 1930s quilt from a shop in Le Claire.  This hand pieced and hand sewn quilt was in a small shop along the river.  The gal in the shop obviously didn’t know quilts like Julianne does as she had this quilt for sale for $150!!  It was a splurge purchase for us, but, we believe that the value of this quilt is really closer to $800 or $1000 due to its age and almost pristine quality, along with all of the 1930s fabric.

Julianne all smiles after getting a steal of a deal on a quilt. She is a Real Picker!!
Julianne all smiles after getting a steal of a deal on a quilt. She is a Real Picker!!
Le Claire was fun
Le Claire was fun

We could have spent more time in Le Claire, but had to move on.  My ultimate goal stop for the day was to get to Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois.

Illinois Route 66
Illinois Route 66

Springfield is one of those iconic Route 66 towns and along this road is the Cozy Dog Drive In, which claims to be the home of the all-American famed Corn Dog!  Though there is some dispute as to the true origin of the corn dog, the Cozy Dog story is that Ed Walmire and his friend Don Strand invented the deep fried battered hot dog on a stick while stationed in Amarillo, Texas during World War II. They called them crusty curs, but, upon Ed’s return to Springfield, Ed and his wife decided on the name “Cozy Dog” and began selling them from their house and at the Illinois State Fair in 1946.  Ed’s wife designed the “hot dogs in a loving embrace logo” for the drive in. In 1996 they moved their Drive In a bit up the road to its current location and gave it a decidedly Route 66 theme.

Cozy Drive In - Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Route 66 Memorabilia in Cozy Drive In
Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In - Springfield, Illinois
Typical Table Top at Cozy Drive In – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction
Cozy Drive In is an official Route 66 attraction

And of course, this is why we come to Cozy Dog – not healthy at all, but sure Yummiferous!!

Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries - Cozy Dog - Springfield, IL
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
We got our kicks with a Cozy Dog!!
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog
Sumoflam and Cozy Dog

This was officially our final stop on the way home so it was a perfect place to “cozy up” with my sweetheart….

Cozying up at Cozy Dog
Cozying up at Cozy Dog

After spending the night in Springfield, Julianne and I booked it back to our old Kentucky Home in Lexington.  It was a long trip, almost 2,800 miles (including side trips into towns, etc.) and over 55 hours of driving time.  We traveled from Rexburg, ID to Shelby, MT (to see the grandkids) and then across northern Montana, south into North and South Dakota, east thru Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and finally home.  This was Julianne’s longest road trip ever (her previous one was when we moved from Mesa, AZ to Frankfort, KY in 1991 — that was about 2100 miles).

Map of our entire road trip - April 2013
Map of our entire road trip – April 2013 – over 2800 miles

Now that is how you ENJOY THE RIDE!!

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……


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