On June 5 I departed home on a 10 day adventure to the southwest U.S. I had made plans with my sister Sherry to accompany her and her family to Tucson and Albuquerque to visit our brothers Aaron and Gary, both of whom neither of us had seen on over 20 years.
I love my road trips. But I really looked forward to this one as much of it would take me to many of my old stomping grounds. Plans were to visit Aaron in Tucson, then go up to Flagstaff, via Sedona, for a couple of days of touring around there and then off to Albuquerque to visit Gary.
I was really excited about the Flagstaff part. From 1980 to 1984 we lived in Flagstaff, where I attended Northern Arizona University and, for three years, worked as a Tour Guide/Driver for the Gray Line Tours franchise called Nava-Hopi Tours. That job was always one of my favorites as I got to take people from all over the world to see parts of the world that were fascinating. The geography and geology of the area is world-renown. The history, with the ancient American relics and the present day Native American Navajo and Hopi tribes and their life styles were also fascinating. I really was excited to visit many of the places I had not visited since the 1990s, when I took a return trip up there after getting back from Japan.
This ten day adventure took me over 6000 miles of highway and through nine states. During the trip we got to visit two National Parks (including Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest) and four National Monuments (White Sands, Sunset Crater, Wupatki, Montezuma Castle). We visited mountain tops and deserts and saw a lot of great scenery.
It has taken a while to compile much of the road trip fun. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks I will be able to get a few fun posts out about what will likely be my big road trip for 2019.
Watch for detailed posts on the road trip and the many places. ENJOY THE RIDE!
Like what you see? Well, there is lots more! I now have three books available about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see all of them at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Book 3 was published and available on August 24, 2019.
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:
Wigwam Village – Sleep in Wigwam – Cave City, KY
Wahkeena Falls – Corbett, Oregon
Wupatki National Monument – near Cameron, Arizona
Water Buffalo – Cebu, Philippines
Murals of Welland, Ontario
Winner, South Dakota
Wyoming Dinosaur Center – Thermopolis, Wyoming
World Trade Center (before 9/11) – New York City
One World Trade Center (after 9/11) – New York City
Wall Drug – Wall, South Dakota
West Virginia Capital Building with the gold dome – Charleston, West Virginia
Wonderland Road – Upton, Kentucky
Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
White Sands National Monument – east of Alamagordo, New Mexico
Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
Wendy’s Museum – Dublin, Ohio
Wigwam Drive-In – Ravenna, Kentucky
Washington Court House, Ohio
West Side Theater – Newman, California
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas
Walcott Castle – Walcott, Iowa
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
Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, New York
Mount Washington – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
West Yellowstone, Montana
Whiskey Rebellion – Washington, Pennsylvania
Webster Falls – Hamilton, Ontario
White Castle, Louisiana
Working Women mural – Welland, Ontario
Wolf Creek Pass – Colorado
Wind River Canyon – Wyoming
Walking to the Sky Sculpture – Pittsburgh, Penssylvania
Washington Monument – Washington, D.C.
Willie the Walleye – Baudette, Minnesota
What Cheer, Iowa
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.
During the month of April I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge has each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays. My blog is number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts will take you across the back roads of America to many unique towns. To see what other bloggers will be posting about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016
The F Towns
I cannot do an A to Z Challenge about towns in America without including Flagstaff, Arizona. Not only is this town the gateway to Grand Canyon National Park, it is also the jump off spot to other National Monuments including Walnut Canyon NM, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon, and the amazing Meteor Crater. The town is only a couple of hours from Monument Valley, the Petrified Forest National Park, Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell and more. Truly a tourist haven. And, it was a major stop on Route 66 and was at the intersection of US Highway 89 and Route 66. From 1981 to 1983 I worked as a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours, which was a Gray Line Tour Company. It was there that my family began to grow…three children were born there and I graduated from Northern Arizona University. But one of the best times in my life was working as a tour guide. For any traveler in America, Flagstaff should be one of the Top Five stops on your list!!
Friendly, West Virginia
Friendly, West Virginia is a small town of maybe 150 people. Located on the Ohio River across from Ohio on WV Hwy 2. Highway 2 is an amazingly scenic drive along the Ohio River, running through many small towns. Its only rival is the same route across the river in Ohio and Kentucky (see Fly, OH below). The town is also the setting for the novel Shiloh, a Newbery Medal-winning children’s novel by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor published in 1991. It is the first in a quartet about a young boy and the title character, an abused dog. Naylor decided to write Shiloh after an emotionally taxing experience in West Virginia where she encountered an abused dog. Read more about the drives along the Ohio River in my detailed post HERE.
If I visited Friendly, obviously, I should also visit Friendship in Arkansas. This is another small community of perhaps 200 friendly folks in south central Arkansas. It is accessible off of Interstate 30, but is right on US Highway 67. They even have a Friendship Police Department which seems like an oxymoron. If for any other reason, you can stop there and then tell people that you finally found Friendship. Read about my 2010 visit to Friendship (as well as Metropolis, IL which will be covered in my M Towns post HERE.
In 2010 I took a trip to Texas for work. On the way home I decided to take a trip through the Ozarks. It was a bit out of the way, but was well worth it. One of the places I visited on the way home was Flippin, Arkansas. This nice town is located in north central Arkansas, east of Eureka Springs (which I mentioned on my E Towns post) on US 412. It is the gateway to the Ozarks and a lovely drive. But, then again, many of us know that the word “Flippin” can be used as an alternative to another word, so when the Flippin Police pull you over and you go to the Flippin Jail or even attend church at the Flippin Christian Church or shop at your friendly Flippin WalMart, it brings a laugh.
Fair Play, South Carolina
On August 8, 2012 I was on a trip from eastern Tennessee to Atlanta for work. Along the way I went through North and South Carolina and happened to go through Fair Play, South Carolina. Not sure how the town got its name, but there is something about the name coming from a fight. Interestingly, throughout most of this small town, the Motto “Our Name Says It All” is posted. The photo on the left is the main entry sign. The town is just off of Interstate 85 and is the junction of SC Hwys 243, 182 and 59. You can read more about my visit HERE.
Fergus Falls, Minnesota
On cross country trip in March 2013, I made my way across Minnesota in the cold snowy winter. Along the way I visited Fergus Falls. I think it would be a marvelous place to visit in the late spring or early summer. Being a prairie town there is plenty of wildlife. It is also noted as a Continental Divide location. Having lived in the Rocky Mountains for much of my life, the term Continental Divide conjurs up the place where the rivers flow east or west. But, apparently, the land is located right on the divide between the Hudson Bay and Gulf of Mexico watersheds. Fairly unique!! You can read about the long trip across Minnesota and North Dakota in 2013 HERE.
Feely, Montana (Honorable Mention)
Came across a place called Feely in Montana on a trip. It is located south of Butte on Interstate 15. Always into the touchy and feely of life, I had to stop and get a picture. No services there and no report about the place here, just a picture.
Flippin, Kentucky (Honorable mention)
OK. If I am going to include Flippin, Arkansas, I might as well give mention to Flippin, Kentucky, which is just north of Bugtussle, KY. See my report on Bugtussle in my B Towns post.
Fly, Ohio (Honorable Mention)
I mentioned Friendly, WV above and the drive along the Ohio River. Just a tad north of Friendly and across the Ohio River is the small community of Fly, OH. I know nothing about the place, but it can join Black Gnat, KY in my bug towns. (I did not include Black Gnat in this year’s A to Z posts).
Four Way, Texas (Honorable mention)
Four Way, Texas is a very small community at a crossroads in the panhandle of Texas north of Amarillo. I went through there while on US Highway 87 heading to Amarillo. At the junction of US 87 and TX 354, there were some buildings with a few murals. That is pretty much all that was there. The hamlet is named for its position on the spot where U.S. Highway 87 from Dumas to Masterson crosses the route from Channing to Lake Meredith and Stinnett.
Future City, IL (Honorable mention)
This is the first nearly ghost town mention in my A to Z Challenge. Future City was developed as a suburb of Cairo, IL, which sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers around the turn of the (19th-20th) century. At that time Cairo was still growing and prosperous. By 1912 Future City would have had a population of several hundreds. Between 1912 and 1913 Future City was almost entirely destroyed by three separate flooding events. The town was partially rebuilt, but Cairo has since collapsed and the area has experienced a drastic drop in population. Today there are 6 or so occupied homes in Future City’s otherwise empty grid of streets.
Did You Miss My Other A to Z Challenge Posts? Click on a letter below to see the others.