June 2019 Road Trip: Fun, Quirky and Offbeat Things

With any road trip I take, I look for a lot of different things.  I can find the offbeat and quirky, the beautiful, the unique, the magical, the historical, the fun and more…all in one trip.  I am focused…on the big picture.

My June 2019 road trip took me over the road for nearly 6000 miles and through nine states.  I tried to stick to back roads wherever possible because that is where the greatest discoveries can be found.

In this post, I present to you some of the more unique, fun and, in some cases quirky things that I discovered along the way.  There is always something out there.

Here are few fun things…

Place Names

Welcome to Delight, Arkansas

I am always looking for fun names.  How about Delight, Turkey, Jolly, Greasy Corner?

Wildorado, Texas
That way to Turkey, Texas (I didn’t have time to take a Turkey trek.)
Greasy Corner, Arkansas. I did mosey on over to Greasy Corner only to find the corner, but no signs
Jolly, Texas. We didn’t stop, but I have been there before. Not much Jolly there but a truck stop

Business Names

Well Lookee Shop in Jemez Springs, NM

Well lookee here, there are some fun business signs to found on the road, including one of my (now) all-time favorites below.

Ever had a BBQ Sno-Cone? They have them in Dover, Tennessee
Or maybe you wanna getcha some of this instead? (BBQ that is) Naaman’s BBQ in Texarkana, Texas
A motel in Winslow, Arizona taking full advantage….
We all know what NEED to be done on a road trip. This place between Winslow and Holbrook can fulfill the need
Would you stay in a place called “It’ll Do Motel”? Can you do better? Its in Clarendon, Texas

Other Unique Signs and Things

I guess this is one place where people are delighted, even when dead? Delight, Texas

I often come across signs around towns, in shops, restaurants and such that make me want to snap a shot.

Ya Can’t Fix Stupid…especially the ones who try to take their cars where they shouldn’t go.  This sign was in a shop window in Winslow, Arizona.  Weaver’s is actually in Water Valley, Mississippi
I guess aliens need to park somewhere – at The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona
Circle N takes the No Shirt No Shoes concept to a whole new level Forrest City, Arkansas
Texans apparently don’t call 911. Saw these in a shop near El Paso, Texas
Now, this is a good spin on Desserts! Saw this at a restaurant on the top of Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson, AZ
And then you should mind your own biscuits. Found in a cafe in Clarkson, Kentucky
Speaking of restrooms, The Thing in Arizona apparently has some good uns….

Then there is the unique…

Big Pink Elephant with glasses in Clarksville, TN

Then there are the unique things out there.  The Glass-wearing elephant has a bovine friend just north of it in Kentucky

Big Cow with pink glasses in Guthrie, KY
And the cow’s pal Pink Elephant around the corner from it in Guthrie as well.
What’s a road trip without coming across a big ol’ Muffler Man?  This one is on a rooftop in downtown Gallup, New Mexico
I came face to face with this dinosaur at The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona
And saw this big metal chomper in Sedona, Arizona
Holbrook, Arizona has dozens of dinos hanging around. Here are a couple of biggies
Absurd…saw this replica of the Ghostbusters car in Bogata, Texas.  I guess in Texas they are Ghostboosters?  “Boost’n Makes Me Feel Good”
On the timezone in Clarkson, Kentucky. You decide what time it is.
You can sleep in a Wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona
You must stay within 31 MPH in Trenton, Tennessee
Watch out for the big bugs
I never take a trip without trying to see if a Peter Toth Whispering Giant can be seen. This one was in Winslow, Arizona
And this Whispering Giant was in Las Cruces, New Mexico
A church built into the rock? Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona
I can’t say I’ve been everywhere until I have been to the birthplace of Johnny Cash in Kingsland, Arkansas

And what a fine sight I was when I jumped in and photo-bombed a motocycle club standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona

Couldn’t resist jumping in with this nice Motorcycle Club from Phoenix at the famed corned in Winslow, AZ

And the Chart Topper (or should I say the Tram Topper?) is….

Watched this guy climb up on the top of the Sandia Peaks Tram in Albuquerque, NM to ride 1200′ above ground on a couple of wires for about 2 miles and 15 minutes. I was scared to death just taking his picture.

 

 

 

Everywhere a Sign – Some S Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Since man could walk, travel has been a part of life.  The sensational opportunity to see the world has kept most of us from being sedentary. The singular driving force is the strong desire of discovery.

For nearly 50 years I have sought the sensation, the scintillating, the stylish and the silly in my travels.  In 2018, that striving for something special continued.  I hope you will enjoy some of the S Signs I discovered in my 2018 travels. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Smiley, Texas

Smiling in Smiley, Texas
Smiley, Texas – didn’t find many smiles here
The Smiley Water Tower. Not even a Smiley Face on it!

I was down in Houston in February 2018 and took the grandsons on an expedition.  One of my “goal places” was Smiley, Texas.   I always love places with unique names.  The small community’s name has nothing to do with smiles.  Rather, it was named after trader and sheepherder John Smiley in the 1870s.   The town of about 450 is located at the intersection of US Highway 87 and Farm Roads 3234 and 108.  Honestly, the town looked very depressed and run down.  Probably not much to smile about.

Sunset Motel, Belle Fourche, South Dakota 

Great little place in the geographic center of the continental US!
The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD
Sunset Motel Sign on a building in downtown Belle Fourche.

When I take a long road trip, I don’t typically plan on a place to stay until late in the day.  I never know how far along I’ll get before it gets dark.  Such was the case with my visit to Belle Fourche.  After traveling west on Interstate 90 thru to Wall, SD, I decided to head northwest on US Highway 85 towards Montana and made it into Belle Fourche.  I always try to stay at a local, vintage motel on these trips nowadays, just for the experience (good or bad).  I got to Belle Fourche at sunset, just in time to get a nice shot of the sunset with the Sunset Motel 5 sign.  It was a nice stay.

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park near Oglesby, IL
A Starved Rock Carving

I made my way to Starved Rock State Park which is a huge natural park situated on the Illinois River just south of North Utica, Illinois and east of Oglesby, Illinois.  My sole purpose was to track down one of the Whispering Giant carvings by artist Peter Toth.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and hope to visit there for a more extended trip sometime in the near future.  The park has 18 small canyons and numerous waterfalls that can be seen from a number of hiking trails.

Skykomish, Washington

Welcome to Skykomish, WA

Skykomish – interesting name and splendid vistas!  I pulled into Skykomish on a beautiful April day after coming down from the snow-packed Stevens Pass on US Highway 2.  Though the altitude is only 928 feet, it feels completely like a mountain town as it is surrounded by the tall scenic mountains of the Cascade Range.  The name “Skykomish” derives from the Skykomish or Skai-whamish tribe who inhabited the area before any Europeans arrived. The town of Skykomish was officially incorporated on June 5, 1909.  The main purpose of the town was to be a fueling station for the railroad.

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

Sabine Theatre, Many, Louisiana

The old classic move marquee is slowly disappearing, so, whenever I hit a small town with a huge classic marquee, I want to grab a shot. Such was the case of the Sabine in Many, Louisiana. Built in 1947, the Sabine Theatre was acquired by the town of Many in the mid-1990’s. Like many theatres across the country, the Sabine is now typically used for live theatre, musical performances, occasional movies, and other community events.

Shiner, Texas

Welcome to Shiner, Texas
Shiner Barbeque Company

When I hear the word shiner, I usually think of a black eye.  So, on my trip to see Smiley (see above), I also went through the town of Shiner, Texas.  Located on US Highway 90, the town is now locally famous in Texas as the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  best known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 49 states.  I didn’t visit the brewery, but learned that the town was named for Henry B. Shiner, who donated 250 acres of land in 1887 and then incorporated in 1890.

Sublime Baptist Church, Sublime, Texas

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Continue East on US Highway 90 from Shiner and you’ll pass through the small community if Sublime.  Isn’t that just sublime?  There isn’t much here.  The population is about 75, and has been since the 1950s. The name was set in 1875 when a post office was established there.

Stardust Motel, Wallace, Idaho

Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho
Stardust Motel – Wallace, Idaho

Like the Sunset Motel in South Dakota, I ended up in the mountain town of Wallace, Idaho on my way west to Washington in April 2018.  I just stopped in and got a room at the Stardust.  Classic vintage motel sign drew me in.  Nice rooms, good rates and a lovely little town.

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

Spar Cafe, Olympia, Washington

I stopped in to Olympia to have breakfast with some old friends.  We ate the Spar Cafe in downtown Olympia.  First established in the 1930s, the eatery is filled with interesting art.   Originally touted as a “fine eating and recreation parlor,”  can you still see the original bar, artwork, chandeliers, and other furnishings.  I heard that even the drinking water is served up old school—straight from its own artesian well.

Like what you see? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

Everywhere a Sign – Some I Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

(Editor’s Note:  For  my  2019  posts,  I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018.  I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018.  These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them.  Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)

I am always Interested in the Incredible variety of unique places in this expansive country of ours.  Through my over 13,000 miles of travel in 2018 I saw thousands of signs for roads, places, shops, etc.  There aren’t too many that begin with the letter I but I did find some…because I had this challenge in mind as I traveled.  So, here are the three or four I signs I found in 2018. Enjoy the Read.  Enjoy the Ride.

I.X.L., Oklahoma

I.X.L., Oklahoma
I.X.L. Oklahoma (Yes, IXL in my travel writing!)

I have seen hundreds and hundreds of town signs over the years, but this was the first time I have found a location name that is an abbreviation.  Granted, there are towns with their nicknames, such as Chi-town for Chicago or Philly for Philadelphia.  But, what does I.X.L. mean?  Maybe it refers to my travel writing? (Do I X L?)

I.X.L. is a small place with a population of about 51 (in 2010).  The town was incorporated in 2001 and is an historical freedman’s town.  According to the town’s website explains that the actual name comes from the fact that the town site is on a strip of Cherokee land famous for the Oklahoma Land Run. The name stands for Indian Exchange Land. The town’s population is 100% African-American (thus a “freedman’s town”), with Joan Partridge as the current mayor.

Iowa River Greenbelt, Iowa Falls, Iowa

Iowa River Greenbelt – Iowa City, Iowa

As I travel across the country, I typically make plans to find the wonderful Whispering Giants by Peter Toth (see my post about these).  One of the nearly seventy of these is located in Iowa Falls, Iowa on the Iowa River Greenbelt.  The Greenbelt runs along the Iowa River in Hardin County, Iowa from Alden, Iowa to Eldora, Iowa.   Unfortunately, I was there in the midst of a snowstorm, so all I got to see was the sign and the Iowa Falls Whispering Giant.

Imagine Art Gallery, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

The Imagine Art Gallery on US 67 and Abbey Road
Imagine Sumoflam

In 1964 the Beatles made their first visit to the U.S.  On this trip they passed through the small town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas (see my post about this).  At the time, Imagine Art Gallery owner Carrie Snapp, was head of The Beatles local fan club when the Beatles made their surprise stop-over at the Walnut Ridge airport, between their Dallas and New York concerts. Nowadays Carrie runs a shop with a load of art, including lots of Beatle’s memorabilia.  She even has copies of some of the original color photos from the Beatles 1964 stop-over.

Located at the intersection of Abbey Road and Main Street, it is part of a complex of shops and businesses that celebrate the Beatles’ visit some 55 years after the event.  If you like the Beatles, this is a must-stop place.

That’s it for the I signs.  Imagine the indulgence had I included more….

Like what you see here? Well, there is lots more!  I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!