Everywhere a Sign – Some Z Signs From 2018 #AtoZChallenge

Well, I have made it…from A to Z throughout the month of April.  Along the way I have provided some Zany photos and many Zingers.

In 2018 I traveled the country with great Zeal, hitting 26 states with the Zippiest of attitudes.  I hope to provide you with a Zestful rest of your day with a few Z signs I found along the way in 2018.  Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.

Zigzag, Oregon

The Zigzag Ranger Station was built in 1935 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Zigzag Inn – Zigzag Oregon
Zigzag Mountain Cafe, Zigzag, Oregon

Zigzag, Oregon is located on the very beautiful Mt. Hood Scenic Byway on US Highway 26.  It is home to one of America’s oldest Ranger Stations and there are a couple of restaurants and gift shops.  The name Zigzag is assumed to come originally from pioneer/explorer Joel Palmer in 1845 as he wrote about a ravine from Mt. Hood.

The manner of descending is to turn directly to the right, go zigzag for about one hundred yards, then turn short round, and go zigzag until you come under the place where you started from; then to the right, and so on, until you reach the bottom.

Since then there are a number of Zigzags… Zigzag ravine, Zigzag Glacier, Zigzag Creek and, of course, the small community of Zigzag.

Zing’s Restaurant, Carmine, Texas

#at Zing’s in Carmine, Texas
Zing’s in Carmine, Texas

I am not sure if Zing’s is open any longer.  But I thought the signs and the rustic nature of the place in this small community on US Highway 290 was an interesting addition to my sign collection.

Zwolle, Louisiana

Zwolle, Louisiana
Railroad sign for Zwolle, Louisiana
Zwolle Post Office
Zwolle Tamale Festival
Zwolle Tamale Factory

Zwolle is a small town of about 1800 people on US Highway 171 in Sabine Parish northwest of Many and south of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Unlike many of the towns in Louisiana, Zwolle celebrates its Native American and Spanish heritage.

Zwolle was originally an Indian village that was occupied by the Spanish Province of Texas for many years. It was settled by the descendants of French and Spanish adventurers, who intermarried with the friendly Indians and with English-speaking settlers from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. The town was named for a community in Holland, in honor of a prominent Dutch visitor.

The town has become regionally famous for its spicy tamales and has a Tamale Fiesta annually in October. The fiesta stems from a combination of the Indians’ and Spaniards’ culinary efforts to produce the most delectable hot tamale in the country.

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!!

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Travel in 2018: Fun Place Names and Street Signs

Smiling in Smiley, Texas

I am always on the lookout for fun places to visit when on the backroads of America.  My travels in 2018 took me to 26 different states and along the way I found more unique town names and fun street signs to add to my collection.  In 2017 I published my first book titled “Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names.”  (Check out the book here) At the time I wrote it, I didn’t think I would get enough new places to fill up a second book, but , indeed, I have.  And 2018 really helped with that.

Happyville Road in Greensburg, Kentucky (I always #CHOOSEHAPPY)
Autumn and me in Marvel, Alabama with our Marvel T-Shirts

Obviously, in my road trip plans I did set my sights on a few of these places intentionally.  Once such place was Marvel, Alabama.  I even bought a Marvel T-shirt to wear in front of the sign.  But, having never been there, I had no assurance that there would even be a sign in such a small place.  Luckily, my granddaughter Autumn (who also had a Marvel T-shirt for the occasion) and I did find a sign for the Marvel Baptist Church!!  LUCKY!

Lostant, Illinois. If the ant is Lost, how do they know it is that way?

But, I had many more instances where the places just happened to be there.

This post will quickly hit up on some of these fun discoveries, along with photos of signs, etc.  ENJOY THE RIDE!

“Y” City, Arkansas. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

Y City is an unincorporated community in Scott County, Arkansas. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 71 and 270 in the southern part of the county on Mill Creek and the junction is shaped like a Y.

I.X.L., Oklahoma is really unique. Haven’t seen many towns that have abbreviations.

This small community was apparently a “freedmen’s” town.  It is located in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 48. It has about 59 or 60 residents.

Woody Guthrie Street in Okemah, Oklahoma

While in Okfuskee County, we also visited Okemah, the home of famed folk singer Woody Guthrie — you know, the guy that wrote “This Land is Your Land,” and “Bound for Glory,” among numerous others.

Then there is Gold Bar, Washington in the Cascades

Gold Bar, Washington is located on US 20 in Snohomish County, Washington. The town has a little over 200 residents and is located in the heart of the Cascades.  Beautiful mountains frame this small town.  Gold Bar started as a prospectors camp in 1889, named by a miner who found traces of gold on a river gravel bar.

Fairy Baptist Church, Fairy, Texas. Didn’t know Fairies went to church not that they were Baptist!
The Gate to the Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas

I never knew that fairies were Baptists nor that they die and get buried.  But, there is a Fairy Baptist and a Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas, a very small unincorporated community in the northern part of Hamilton County (north of Hico). It is at the junction of Texas FM 219 and 1602.

Lame Deer, Montana. No, I didn’t even see a regular deer.

Lame Deer is on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Rosebud County, Montana.  The community is named after Miniconjou Lakota chief Lame Deer, who was killed by the U.S. Army in 1877 under a flag of truce south of the town.

Sublime Baptist Church in Sublime, Texas

Sublime, Texas is a small community off of US Route 90 about 60 miles west of Houston.  It has a small church and a Post Office.

Goobertown, Arkansas continues the tradition of strange town names in Arkansas

Goobertown is an unincorporated community in Craighead County, Arkansas, near Jonesboro.  You can pick up a Goobertown T-shirt if you want one at the Goobertown Grocery on US 49. The T-shirts feature a personified peanut after which the tiny community is supposedly named.

Punkin Center, Colorado. No punkins to be seen anywhere.

From peanuts in Goobertown to Punkins in Punkin Center.  Punkin Center is a small, rural Unincorporated community in Lincoln Countyat the intersection of State Highway 94 and State Highway 71.  Yes, that is literally the middle of nowhere!  Originally had a small store that was painted orange (this the pumpkin reference), but it burned down in the 1950s.  There are currently “about” 4 residents in this dot on the highway.

Zigzag Inn – Zigzag, Oregon – A NEW Z Name for me!!
The Zigzag Ranger Station was built in 1935 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Zigzag is another unincorporated community.  It is located in Clackamas County, Oregon on US Route 26, near Rhodendron.  It is supposedly named after the Zigzag River.  It is home to the Zigzag Ranger Station, which was built in 1935.

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

I am always looking for a smile and I thought Smiley, Texas would be just the place!  I have been all over the country and seen many water towers with those fun smiley faces on them.  Ala, no such luck in this town.  Smiley is located in Gonzales County, Texas on US Route 87 and has a population of about 500 not too smiley people.  It is about 60 miles east of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States.

I have seen the Light!! It’s in Arkansas!

Light, Arkansas was named after Daniel Light, the first settler.  The small unincorporated community of 50 or so is located in Greene County at the junction of US Route 412 and AR Hwy 228.

I had hoped for a sunny day in Cloudy, Oklahoma, but alas, as you can see, the place lived up to its name.
There is a Cloudy Baptist Church!! I wonder if there is sunshine in their souls?
And a Cloudy Cemetery?

I saw the town of Cloudy, Oklahoma on a map as I planned a return trip home from Texas and figured I needed to try to get there.   It was actually more of an adventure than I had planned as Cloudy Road, which heads north out of Rattan, Oklahoma, snakes its way for about 12 miles into some hilly country.  Some of the roads were in bad repair.  But I made it!! Due to flooding, I had to return back to Rattan to continue the trek home.

Yes indeed, there is a nice little community called Dime Box in Texas. It even has a big giant dime in a glass box on display in the town (which will be in another post)
Can’t have much prosperity with only a Dime Box…can you?
A dime for Dime Box. But the forever stamps will cost you 55 cents.

Dime Box, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 141 and TX Hwy 424 in Lee County.  The community has maybe 200 people in town.  There is actually a Dime Box Independent School District and a high school.  I’ll feature more about Dime Box in future posts.

Brothers, Oregon
Brothers Stage Stop – Brothers, Oregon

Brothers, Oregon is a dot on the map on US Route 20 about 40 miles east of Bend.  There is a small stage stop, rest area and post office located in the unincorporated community.  The place is in the Oregon high desert and is in the midst of a vast sagebrush field. If you travel about 60 miles northwest on US 20, you will arrive in Sisters, Oregon.  I have been there a couple of times and have noted the town in my blog in the past (see post).

Ding Dong, Texas is comprised of one store/cafe.

Ding Dong, Texas is an unincorporated place on the Lampasas River between Gerogetown and Kileen on TX Hwy 195.  I had stopped there in hopes of buying Hostess Ding-Dongs…  But, among all of the Hostess Cupcake products in the store, they did not carry Ding Dongs.  A Ding Dong fail!!  Ding Dong was named when two early settlers in the town, Zulis Bell and Bert Bell, opened a store and hired the artist Cohn Cohen Hoover to make a sign for it. Hoover painted a sign with two bells on it. Inside the bells, Hoover painted the initials of the Bell brothers. Underneath one bell he painted the word “Ding” and the word “Dong” under the other bell. Over the years, because of this sign, this community became known as Ding Dong.

Helper, Utah

Helper is small quaint community of about 2,200 located off of US 191 just north of Price, Utah in Carbon County.  The town is a coal mining and railroad town.  It gets its name from the “helper” engines that would help push trains up the long hill to Soldier Summit as trains made their way to Salt Lake City.

There are so many unique places in Texas. I just accidentally came across this one….
I was so thrilled for this place. It had a laundromat and a restroom!!
I wonder if you can call the Telephone VFD with a cell phone now???

Telephone, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 273 and TX Hwy 2029 in Fannin County north of Honey Grove, Texas and just south of the Oklahoma border.   There are about 200 folks in this community, which got its name after numerous rejected name submissions to the US Postal Service in 1886.

Startup, Washington

Startup, Washington is a small community located just west of Stevens Pass on US Route 20. The name was to honor George G. Startup, manager of the Wallace Lumber Company. The Startup post office was established in 1900.  There are about 700 people in this very scenic town at the base of the Cascade Mountains.

Welcome to Many. Not just a few here!

Many, Louisiana is just east of the Texas border on Louisiana Hwy 6 and the junction of US Route 171 in Sabine Parish. The community takes its name from Colonel Many, who was an officer stationed at nearby Fort Jesup.

Flat, Texas is truly in a flat part of the state

Back to Texas (again) to the community of Flat.   The town is on TX Hwy 36 northeast of Temple in Coryell County.  There are about 850 people currently living here.

Big Foot Road in Wall, South Dakota

Are you looking for Big Foot?  Maybe you can take Big Foot Rd. near Wall, South Dakota and find him.  I wouldn’t know…  I just stopped for a photo of the exit sign on Interstate 90.

 

Big Fun in Uranus, Missouri
Thanks for Picking Uranus
Welcome to Uranus Missouri
Help Keep Uranus Clean

Finally, there is the “faux” town of Uranus, Missouri on Route 66 west of Cuba.  It is actually a huge tourist attraction filled with fun.  The main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory and all of its employees, called Fudge Packers.

And I’ll end this post in Uranus…  hope you enjoyed the ride

Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or  your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!

 

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April 2018 Cross-Country Road Trip: The Overview – Kentucky to Washington

Sumoflam on the Road Again

In April 2018 I took a nice long road trip from my home in Lexington, Kentucky to my daughter’s home in Port Orchard, Washington and back.  Though I was gone for 15 days, I spent nine of them traveling more than 6000 miles through 14 states.  Many of my stops were in anticipation of my new book as I wanted some fresh content to add to it.

Lots of great two-lanes on this trip

In the past, I typically wrote one or two huge blog posts about long roadtrips, but, I have decided that a focus on some of the sites would be more apropos, so I am providing a general overview of my trip herein with maps and a few photos.  Following there will be a number of posts about many of the places I visited along the way.

Lexington to Storm Lake, Iowa – about 900 miles on Day 1 and 2

DAY 1/2 – Lexington to Storm Lake, Iowa

Stopped to see Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants

My first two days were quite eventful as I drove nearly 900 miles with an overnight stay in Bloomington, IL and then proceeded northwest to Storm Lake, Iowa for night two.  The weather was rainy and yucky most of the way and by the afternoon of Day 2, had turned into snow and, in some cases, blizzard-like conditions.  Not fun!

I had very few stops along the way, with the only planned stops being at four locations to see four of Peter Toth’s amazing Whispering Giants.  My next post will be all about the Whispering Giants I visited on this trip and also in past trips.

Stopped at Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois and was pleasantly surprised
If driving through northeast Iowa, a stop at the home of American Pickers is always fun.
Storm Lake, Iowa to Belle Fourche, South Dakota – about 680 miles

 

Day 3 – Storm Lake, Iowa to Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Dignity is a stainless steel, 50-foot-tall statue was specifically designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.

Day 3 was really one of my typical road trip days with plenty of stops along the way, but it was slowed down considerably due to the snow and icy conditions.  Despite that, I visited places such as the Corn Palace (a required stop on a route like this as it changes each year), Wall Drug and a few in between.  The highlight of this day was seeing the amazing (and fairly new) fifty foot tall Dignity statue at a rest area overlooking Chamberlain and Oacoma, South Dakota.  The work was meticulous and lovely.

The Sunset Motel in Belle Fourche, SD

I decided to stay at a non-chain older Motel on this night and ended up at the cozy little Sunset Motel.  In fact, I got there about sunset and was even able to grab a photo of the sunset with the Sunset Motel sign.  This is the kind of motel that still has a real key on an old plastic diamond key holder.

Can’t skip the Corn Palace – a major roadside attraction. Changes every year.
Can’t skip the 80 foot tall Wall Drug Dino!!
Day 4 – Belle Fourche, SD to Wallace, Idaho

Day 4 – Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Wallace, Idaho

Snowy morning in Belle Fourche

I woke up to a cold, snowy morning in Belle Fourche on April 5. It was a concern as I knew I would need to be driving through a mountain range across southern Montana on US 212.  Fortunately, the roads weren’t bad until I got up on the pass and then they cleared up with occasional snow showers through Billings, Bozeman and Butte.  I was slowed down somewhat, so I ended up stopping in the small mountain town of Wallace, Idaho for the night.

Snow in Broadus, Montana
Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho

Once again, I stayed at a cool little motel called the Stardust Motel, ironically in the same room number I had the night before. In both cases, I did not request the room numbers.

Wallace is a really unique, touristy town nestled in the Idaho mountains.  I’ll have a blog post about this town over the next couple of weeks.

I did get to see some beautiful scenery on the trip and even visited my old high school in Bozeman, Montana as I made my way north towards Idaho.

Snow covered Teepees in Crow Agency, Montana
The interstate near Livingston, Montana
Men’s restroom door in Northern Cheyenne country – Ashland, Montana
Road Trip Day 5 – Wallace, Idaho to Port Orchard, Washington

Day 5 – Wallace, Idaho to Port Orchard, Washington

Sumoflam and Roger Vollmer, former boss from Nava-Hopi tours.

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting an old friend and former boss from my days as a tour guide for Nava-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff, AZ in the 1980s.  Roger Vollmer, who later purchased and then sold the company, now resides in upper Idaho and I was able to drop by Cracker Barrel in Coeur d’Alene and have a nice breakfast and a couple of hours of reminiscing.  Honestly, Roger really helped me lay the foundation in my work ethic and I had a blast working with him.  It was good to see him.

The US 2 Sign at Stevens Pass in Washington

Another great part of this portion of my road trip was hitting US Route 2 from Coeur d’Alene and traveling it all the way to the end in Everett, Washington.  I have now traveled that highway from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Washington.  I still have a small portion from Eastern Michigan to Ironwood and about 450 miles from Maine to New York to be able to say have driven the entire length.  I have driven all of US 66 and all of US 89 at one time or another.

US 2 from Spokane west goes through Washington’s high desert and then eventually into the Cascades and up over Steven’s Pass, which still had snow on both sides of the highway, almost six feet deep in places.  It was spectacular!

A snowy stop sign at Steven’s Pass in Washington
The view of the Cascades as seen from the Skykomish / Gold Bar area of Washington, east of Everett.

Upon arrival in Port Orchard, I spent a week with my daughter and her family.  We took the ferry into Seattle, I traveled with grandchildren to see the rocky beaches and watch seagulls.  Following are just a couple of pics from the visit.

With some of the karvings at Kountry Krazy Kreatures in Kingston, WA
Seattle as seen from Manchester, WA
Granddaughter Livvy poses in the rocks
A seagull gathers clams in Sinclair Inlet near Port Orchard
Also saw this bald eagle flyover me at Sinclair Inlet
Some of the buildings of downtown Seattle
A beach scene in Manchester, WA

Finally, early on Saturday, April 14, I was back on the road, heading south towards Portland and eventually east, to spend the night in Bend, Oregon.

Port Orchard, WA to Bend, Oregon

Travel Day 6 – Port Orchard, Washington to Bend, Oregon

As with some of my other travel days, I had to deal with rain and fog for the first part of the trip.  I had hoped for a fun drive down part of US 101 and, despite the weather, I really had a great drive, even if I only drive about 450 miles.  Unlike some of the other drives, I enjoyed forests, mountains, snow, ocean scenes and eventually high desert scenes.  I also made a stop in Olympia, Washington’s state capital, and visited some friends for breakfast.  I’ll have separate posts about Olympia and its awesome wall art/murals.  I’ll also have a nice post about the town of Raymond, Washington.

One of many murals in Olympia, WA
Raymond, WA has an entire community of lifesize metal people
Zigzag, Oregon
US 101 near Allyn, WA
Ran into Bigfoot in Allyn, WA. At least he was smiling
Drove over Mt. Hood highway heading southeast out of Portland
The high deserts of central Oregon are lovely.

Travel Day 7 – Bend, Oregon to Murray, Utah

Day 7: Driving from Bend to Murray, UT thru Nevada

Day 7 of  my driving days was a long day through nearly 750 miles of high desert through Oregon and Nevada.  My destination was my old hometown of Murray, Utah.  The drive from Bend, OR to Denio, NV is pretty much through high desert.  I took the Frenchglen Highway, which was a beautiful drive on a beautiful day. really not many places to stop along the way.  I’ll have a separate post about the Frenchglen Highway (including Brothers, Frenchglen and Fields).  It had also been over 40 years since I had set foot in Nevada, so it was fun to get travel blog photos.  I spent the night at the home of one of my best friends and had dinner with some of my high school friends and their wives.  Great times!

Standing in the middle of the road…no cars..on the Frenchglen Highway in central Oregon
Another scene from SE Oregon
Finally back in Nevada…at Denio, NV
Downtown Winnemucca, NV
The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
Hanging with Friends

Travel Day 8 – Murray, Utah to Manitou Springs, Colorado

Travel Day 8 – Murray, UT to Manitou Springs, CO
Hitting the Colorado border

Day 8 of travel was another long  day as I drove nearly 600 miles from Murray, Utah to Manitou Springs, Colorado. This day once again took me through deserts, high deserts, mountain passes and into some beautiful country. I hit the town of Helper, UT which is nestled in a canyon and was a railroad and mining town.  Also passed through Price.  When working for a record and tape rack jobber back in 1974-75, I made weekly trips to Helper and Price.  Things have changed considerably. Crescent Junction had a unique place, Papa Joe’s, which I’ll write about separately.

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction – fun “tourist trap”
Soldier Summit, UT between Spanish Fork, UT and Price, UT on US Rt. 6. Elevation 7,477
Another Whispering Giant by Peter Toth, in Murray, UT

The drive from Grand Junction through Delta, Montrose, Gunnison and Buena Vista was absolutely beautiful (US Hwy 50), especially going over Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet in altitude. On the way down the hill towards Poncha Springs I even go to see a couple of mountain goats crossing the roads.

Once again, I stayed in a local motel.  Always interesting.

 

Monarch Pass – the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet in Colorado
Just barely was able to whip out the camera to catch this mountain goat
Old Hotel Neon in Helper, Utah
A scene from US 50 in Colorado near Cimarron
Mule deer taken near Poncha Springs, CO
US 50 East of Gunnison near Monarch, CO
Stayed at the Silver Saddle Motel in Manitou Springs

Travel Day 9 – Manitou Springs, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri

Day 9 drive from Manitou Springs, CO to Kansas City, MO
Entering Kansas on US 40 near Weskan, Kansas

Talk about a long, straight drive.  Made the trip from Manitou Springs, after a visit to Garden of the Gods, (which I’ll write about in a separate post), and went through the deserts of eastern Colorado and Western Kansas on a super windy and dusty day.  Did catch a pretty amazing sunset as a result of the dust storms.  I decided to really go back roads on this leg of the trip by taking the straight as an arrow drive on Colorado Hwy 94 through Yoder, Rush and Punkin Center.  The highway eventually met US Hwy 287 near Wild Horse, CO. Basically, the highway was 85.5 miles long running almost perfectly west to east the entire length.

Garden of the Gods near Manitou Springs
Colorado Hwy 94 – 85 miles of straight highway in the middle of nowhere
Punkin Center, Colorado

I finally got to stop at a place to eat in Kit Carson, Colorado and then continued east on US 40 in Kansas through Cheyenne Wells, Sharon Springs and Oakley, where I got on to Interstate 70 to finish up the ride into Kansas City.   I was fortunate to stay with my good friend Brad Sweeten in KC.

Lunch at Kit Carson Trading Post
Kansas Sunset near Abilene, Kansas

Travel Day 10 – Kansas City, Missouri to home in Lexington, Kentucky

Travel Day 10 – the last leg. Kansas City, Missouri to Lexington, Kentucky
Driving with the windows open and the wind blowing through my hair

On the last day it was pretty much straight through driving. I enjoyed another beautiful sunrise east of Kansas City and then just made my way home with a couple of restroom and gas stops along the way.  What a long, wonderful trip it was!

Over 6000 miles, 14 states, 5 motels, lots of friends and time with family. I traveled through blizzards, rainstorms, snow covered mountain passes, high desert, long lonely highways. Enjoyed sunsets, sunrises, good meals at local places.  Saw eagles, mountain goats, mule deer, hawks and assortment of water fowl.  And, of course, a variety of roadside attractions along the way.

Back in Kentucky
The Shelbyville Horse at the Kentucky Welcome Center near Shelbyville

ENJOY THE RIDE!  CHOOSE HAPPY!

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, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late May or early June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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