4600 Miles of Back Roads Bliss

Following My Bliss
Following My Bliss!
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT

As I returned home from my long nine-day trip across America I wanted to take a quick look back at all the events.

The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND

Over the course of this trip I have covered 12 states, over 4600 miles, taken almost 2000 photos (including over 100 “selfies” and have seen all kinds of things.

The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN
The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN

The big highlights of this trip were visiting the Paul Bunyan and Big Blue in Bemidji, Minnesota, driving up the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming/Montana, and hitting Carhenge in Nebraska.

The Beartooth Mountains were breathtaking!
The Beartooth Mountains were breathtaking!
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.  One of the highlights of the trip
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. One of the highlights of the trip

Along with these, I saw many other interesting places. I had numerous oddball sites along the way including a pink elephant, big bears, Jackalopes and many other roadside attractions.

Jackalope statue in Douglas, Wyoming
Jackalope statue in Douglas, Wyoming

This trip took me along many US highways as I generally avoided the interstate whenever possible. I was fortunate enough to drive a big chunk US Route 2: all the way from Ironwood, Michigan to the eastern edge of Glacier National Park where US 2 intersects with US 89. That route has some amazing scenery, lots of variety and other wonderful things.

US Route 2 in Wisconsin
US Route 2 in Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana
US 89 and US 2 meet up in northern Montana

As I noted above, I took Route 2 all the way to where it met US Highway 89. I later drove US 89 from the US 2/US 89 intersection near Glacier National Park along the eastern rim down to the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Throughout my years of travel I have covered a good portion US 89 all the way down to Mexico and all the way up to Canada but never in one fell swoop. In my opinion, US 89 is probably the most scenic of all the US highways. US Route 66 may be the most famous, but US 89 passes by a number national parks and monuments, as well as numerous other scenic places. From the north you would drive by Glacier, then Yellowstone, continue south through the Rocky Mountains, down through southern Utah near Bryce and Zion national parks, crossover Lake Powell at Glen Canyon dam, head towards Flagstaff and pass Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments, then pass the Grand Canyon, and continue south all the way to Mexico. An amazing drive down nature’s “Grand Staircase.”

Scenes from US 89
Scenes from US 89
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

As with most of my trips, I also captured the abundance of wildlife, some of which I was able to photograph. I had close-ups of deer, antelope, bison and a few waterbirds. I drove through the wetlands of Minnesota, the marshlands of North Dakota, and the sandhills of Nebraska, all of which had an abundance of waterfowl.

Antelope in Wyoming
Pronghorn Antelope in Wyoming
A black-necked stilt in North Dakota
A black-necked stilt in North Dakota
A prairie dog scampers in the grass near Cut Bank, Montana
A prairie dog scampers in the grass near Cut Bank, Montana
A seagull on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI
A seagull on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some amazing people along this road trip. I met some expert woodcarvers in Wisconsin and I met with rice growers in Wisconsin. I had a long talk with the people in Bemidji, Minnesota. While in Douglas, Wyoming I got to meet with the people there about the Jackalope got my “official” Jackalope hunting license and other goodies from them. At Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming I met a photographer from Wisconsin who also writes blogs and has many similar interests in travel. I hope to exchange stories and photos with him. Then at Carhenge I met a time lapse photographer and some other interesting people and even donated my MARDUP (Married Up) license plate to the Carhenge gift shop. I don’t want to forget the small Old Trail Museum in the small town of Choteau, Montana with dinosaurs and other unique things.

Hell's Half Acre in Wyoming
Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming
Hanging with the Grizz Works guys in Maple, WI
Hanging with the Grizz Works guys in Maple, WI
Donating "MARDUP" license plate at Carhenge
Donating “MARDUP” license plate at Carhenge
The Old Trail Museum in Choteau Museum has scary dinosaurs
The Old Trail Museum in Choteau Museum has scary dinosaurs

As with most of my trips, I didn’t visit all of my planned locations. But along the way there were many in expected surprises that I ran across. These are what really make these trips worthwhile! Perhaps two of my most exciting surprises were visiting Rock City in northern Montana ( with my Grandkidz) and Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming. Both of these are basically uncharted geographic and geologic formations that are really amazing.

Rock City near Valier, Montana
Rock City near Valier, Montana

As always, I was delighted to be around the mountains! I was fortunate to be able drive along the eastern rim of Glacier National Park at sunrise and see the beauty of the snow-covered mountains there. Driving down US 89 from Shelby towards Yellowstone, I saw an abundance of wonderful mountain vistas. Then one of my bucket list trips was accomplished on this as I drove the Beartooth mountain range which sits atop the border of Montana and Wyoming. That was an amazing adventure as I drove all the way up 11,000 feet to the “Top of the World” as they call it there. Deep snow surrounded the roads and the vistas looking down on the mountains were absolutely breathtaking.

A scene from the 'Top of the World" looking down on the Beartooth Range
A scene from the ‘Top of the World” looking down on the Beartooth Range
The Beartoth Range as seen from Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming
The Beartoth Range as seen from Boysen Reservoir in Wyoming
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park
Camp Disappointment west of Cut Bank looks out towards the mountains of Glacier National Park

This trip will actually provide me enough content to warrant a number of blog posts for me as I visited so many locations and saw so many different things. In the past, I have tried to throw it all into one giant blog. But this time around I met with people and I dug a little deeper and took more pictures of various locations so that I can focus on the smaller picture items. For sure I will have blog posts about US Route 2, US Route 89, the Beartooth, Bemidji, Douglas, and probably a few others.

Mountain Scene in Montana
Mountain Scene in Montana
The Big Fish in Bena, Wisconsin
The Big Fish in Bena, Wisconsin
Top of a replica of an old Scandinavian Church in Minot, ND
Top of a replica of an old Scandinavian Church in Minot, ND

With the new technology of wireless devices, I was able to take a lot of “selfies” along the route. My goal was to get 100 selfies, but I actually got 96 on this trip. Using Instagram, I hash tagged them with #100selfies and shared them on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. Ultimately, I plan on a “100 Selfies” blog post including all of the photographs and the stories behind them.

Selfie with Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI
Selfie with Pink Elephant of DeForest, WI
Selfie at Rugby, ND
Selfie at Rugby, ND
Selfie at an old school house near Havre, MT
Selfie at an old school house near Havre, MT
Selfie with Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI
Selfie with Hiawatha in Ironwood, MI

Of course, I cannot neglect noting the real reason I took the trip which was my grandson Kade’s baptism. It was amazing to be able to spend time with my four grandchildren and my daughter Amaree and her husband Aaron for four days in Shelby, Montana.

With grandson Kade for his baptism
With grandson Kade for his baptism
Hanging with the Grandkidz in Montana
Hanging with the Grandkidz in Montana

During the course of this trip, I probably took over 2000 photographs. Much of them were scenery and unique sites. But I also captured the sense of the fading America – the old neon signs, the old abandoned houses and barns, schools and churches, the small-town theaters and their marquees. I captured small-town murals and Wall art.

Old Americana in El Paso, IL
Old Americana in El Paso, IL
Old Neon sign for Bahr's Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Old Neon sign for Bahr’s Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Bay Cinema, Ashland, WI
Bay Cinema, Ashland, WI
An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota
An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota
Part of the front display of a "collectibles" shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2
Part of the front display of a “collectibles” shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2

I also captured an abundance of nature including beautiful sunrises and sunsets, amazing cloud formations, wildlife, wonderful vistas of the prairies and mountains and many many shots of scenes from the road

Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
Sunset along Nebraska Hwy 2 in the Sandhills
A lonely tree along the highway in Nebraska
A lonely tree along the highway in Nebraska
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
Mountains, mesas and prairies south of Cody, Wyoming
Mountains, mesas and prairies south of Cody, Wyoming
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go
Unique Cloud formation in Wyoming points the way for me to go

For me, these trips are not about the destinations. These trips are about the experience. It is all in the trip! This nine-day adventure, as with other long trips I have taken the past couple of years, will leave me cherished memories to the day that I die.  Watch soon for detailed posts about the trip.

DSC_7401
Bison poses for me in Yellowstone National Park
Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND
Sandhills Drive - Nebraska Route 2
Sandhills Drive – Nebraska Route 2

(1629)

Kentucky to Montana: Random Shots from the Road

An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota
An Old Truck by a pond in North Dakota

I have been on the road to Montana (chiefly along US Route 2) for the past three days now.  I will be writing detailed bogs about the trip, but wanted to post a few random shots from the drive.  The weather has been awesome the entire trip (May 20-22, 2014).  Following are just a few shots from the trip…..

Ran across this old piece of Americana in El Paso, IL
Ran across this old piece of Americana in El Paso, IL
On I 39 North near Bloomington, IL.  Looks like we will drive right into the wind turbines
On I 39 North near Bloomington, IL. Looks like we will drive right into the wind turbines
Beloit, WI Smiley Water Tower
Beloit, WI Smiley Water Tower
The famous pink elephant of DeForest, WI
The famous pink elephant of DeForest, WI
This was actually funny... a giant cow in front of Burger King and the sign is advertising chicken.  Shades of Chick-Fil-A
This was actually funny… a giant cow in front of Burger King and the sign is advertising chicken. Shades of Chick-Fil-A
Grampa's Swamp Side Cafe...sounds yummy.  Seen in Endeavor, WI
Grampa’s Swamp Side Cafe…sounds yummy. Seen in Endeavor, WI
Amazing Clouds seen from the highway in northern Wisconsin
Amazing Clouds seen from the highway in northern Wisconsin
A sign from the past...Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
A sign from the past…Ironwood Motel in Ironwood, MI
Wood Carving of Iron Workers in front of Ironwood Station in Ironwood, MI
Wood Carving of Iron Workers in front of Ironwood Station in Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI
A portion of a mural honoring 100s of iron workers in downtown Ironwood, MI
The start of US Route 2 heading west out of Ironwood, MI
The start of US Route 2 heading west out of Ironwood, MI
Another vintage roadside motel sign on the outskirts of Ironwood on US Route 2
Another vintage roadside motel sign on the outskirts of Ironwood on US Route 2
A couple of old cars near Hurley, WI as seen from Route 2
A couple of old cars near Hurley, WI as seen from Route 2
Antiques or old junk? Hurley, WI
Antiques or old junk? Hurley, WI
US Route 2 rolling hills in eastern Wisconsin
US Route 2 rolling hills in eastern Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
Miles of birch forest line Route 2 in eastern Wisconsin
Part of the front display of a "collectibles" shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2
Part of the front display of a “collectibles” shop west of Odanah, WI on US Route 2
Two gulls look at the view of Lake Superior in Ashland, WI
Two gulls look at the view of Lake Superior in Ashland, WI
One of a number of colorful murals in Ashland, WI
One of a number of colorful murals in Ashland, WI
A large mural depicting actual veterans from Ashland, WI
A large mural depicting actual veterans from Ashland, WI
Gulls relax on the beach of Lake Superior near Ashland, WI
Gulls relax on the beach of Lake Superior near Ashland, WI
An old Standard gas sign at Pagac's Bar west of Ashland, WI on US Route 2
An old Standard gas sign at Pagac’s Bar west of Ashland, WI on US Route 2
Sign on an old antique store in Blueberry, WI
Sign on an old antique store in Blueberry, WI
US Route 2 sign in Blueberry, WI
US Route 2 sign in Blueberry, WI
Giant wood carved grizzly head at Grizz Works in Maple, WI
Giant wood carved grizzly head at Grizz Works in Maple, WI
A Catfish monument in Floodwood, MN where they claim to be the Catfish Capital of the World
A Catfish monument in Floodwood, MN where they claim to be the Catfish Capital of the World
A great northern carving on US Route 2 in Deer River, MN
A great northern carving on US Route 2 in Deer River, MN
Old Neon sign for Bahr's Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Old Neon sign for Bahr’s Motel outlived the motel, which is no longer in Deer River, MN
Big Fish at Big Fish Restaurant
Big Fish at Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, MN
The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN
The famed Paul Bunyan and Babe statues made in 1937 in Bemidji, MN
Crookston, MN Wall Mural
Crookston, MN Wall Mural
The Smiley Water Tower of Grand Forks, ND
The Smiley Water Tower of Grand Forks, ND
US Route 2 sign west of Grand Forks, ND
US Route 2 sign west of Grand Forks, ND
Crossing the tracks in Petersburg, ND
Crossing the tracks in Petersburg, ND
An old barn on ND Hwy 1 heading north
An old barn on ND Hwy 1 heading north
A colorful duck in the rush as seen along ND Hwy 1
A colorful duck in the rush as seen along ND Hwy 1
A colorful bird rests near a pond on ND Hwy 1
A colorful bird rests near a pond on ND Hwy 1
Hundreds of ponds line the roads in ND, like this one on ND Hwy 1
Hundreds of ponds line the roads in ND, like this one on ND Hwy 1
A duck enjoys a swim
A duck enjoys a swim
The famed North Dakota pyramid, a vestige of the cold war, as seen from ND Hwy 1 south of Nekoma, ND
The famed North Dakota pyramid, a vestige of the cold war, as seen from ND Hwy 1 south of Nekoma, ND
A silo and wind turbine coexist near Nekoma, ND
A silo and wind turbine coexist near Nekoma, ND
Th North Dakota Pyramid in the distance north of Nekoma, ND
Th North Dakota Pyramid in the distance north of Nekoma, ND
A nice rural scene on ND Hwy 5 west of Langdon, ND
A nice rural scene on ND Hwy 5 west of Langdon, ND
Trees along ND Hwy 20 south of Langdon, ND
Trees along ND Hwy 20 south of Langdon, ND
Randy's Revival Church in Cando, ND
Randy’s Revival Church in Cando, ND
Now this is a police crew that Can Do the job in Cando, ND
Now this is a police crew that Can Do the job in Cando, ND
Grain elevator rural scene along ND Hwy 17 west of Cando, ND
Grain elevator rural scene along ND Hwy 17 west of Cando, ND
Driving south of ND Hwy 3 heading towards Rugby, ND
Driving south of ND Hwy 3 heading towards Rugby, ND
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND
US Route 2 west of Minot, ND
US Route 2 west of Minot, ND
Boomtown distress ran rampant in Williston, ND
Boomtown distress runs rampant in Williston, ND
Grain elevators and a barn with a collapsed roof in Bainville, MT on US Route 2
Grain elevators and a barn with a collapsed roof in Bainville, MT on US Route 2
A lovely view of the Big Sky in Montana as seen from US Route 2 west of Bainville, MT
A lovely view of the Big Sky in Montana as seen from US Route 2 west of Bainville, MT
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT
Shaded hills on US Route 2 as the sun lowered in the sky east of Wolf Point, MT
An old church on the horizon east of Wolf Point, Montana
An old church on the horizon east of Wolf Point, Montana
A Lonely Tree basks in the sunset east of Wolf Point, MT on US Route 2
A Lonely Tree basks in the sunset east of Wolf Point, MT on US Route 2
Trees silhouetted in sunset east of Glasgow, MT
Trees silhouetted in sunset east of Glasgow, MT
Sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
Sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2
The roof of a barn is silhouetted in the sunset east of Glasgow, MT on US Route 2

Watch for detailed writeups in the next few days!

 

(1010)