Sumoflam's Ramblings
Enjoying the Ride in So Many Ways
Sumoflam's Ramblings

Check out my Travel Blog - Less Beaten Paths

If you subscribe to this blog, you will notice that I haven't posted in a while. That is because I have a complete Travel Blog now at http://lessbeatenpaths.com. You can see many of my recent trips and there are links to older trips from my other blogs as well.

I will continue to post to this blog occasionally as I move it to a new theme.

Thanks for following!!

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Sumoflam
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Three Days in Wisconsin - Day 2

Three Days in Wisconsin

(Finding Some Unusual Things!!)

August 3-6, 2012

Day 2 - Jurustic Park, Chain Saw Totem Forest, Hodag and a giant badger

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

Aug 5, 2012: We were up bright and early in Wassau, WI, ready to pursue what promised to be an exciting and fun day...but a really long one.  This day included my planned highlight of the trip...a visit to the famed Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI.  This place is a bit complicated to get to, but VERY well worth the drive.  From Wassau, we headed west on State Highway 29, which we followed all the way to State Highway 97 which we took all the way into Stratford. From there we went west again on State Highway 153 until we got to County Rd E.  From there we went South again.

 

Along the way, there is always plenty to see...barns, farmland, strange places...here are a few of the scenes along the way to Jurustic Park

 

An old bus in the trees, Killdeer Rd (must be some good roadkill!!), a church steeple beyond the corn fields, and an old barn (I love old barns)

 

We continued south after crossing over County Rd C.  Soon thereafter the road made a fairly sharp Left and then veered to the Right again.  After crossing over a small river, we eventually came to Sugar Bush Lane on the right.  This is a loop road, though we took the second entry to it. Either one will get you there and you will definitely see the sculptures off to your right.

 

Jurustic Park is the brainchild of former attorney Clyde Wynia, who calls himself a paleontologist. In reality, he has taken to doing metal work and welding of a hundreds of critters, which, he claims (in his paleontologist hat), were many of the "extinct creatures that inhabited the large McMillan Marsh near Marshfield during the Iron Age."  He claims to have discovered these creatures and has worked to get them back together.  Wisconsin Public Television has a wonderful transcript from an interview they did with him in April 2011...its a good read.

 

 

Jurustic Park Welcome Sign...Sumoflam with "Paleontologist" Clyde Wynia...learning about one of his many discoveries

 

Needless to say, I took well over 100 photos of the work there.  It was amazing...I will have a special edition on my Less Beaten Paths Blog just about this place.  In the meantime, here are a few fun photos of the place.

 

  

The Mailbox..you can't miss it.  No smoking sign "The Butt Stops Here"

 

L-R: An attorney, a Dragon and a Hobbit giving a thumbs up.

 

Two views of the centerpiece -- a giant 18 foot tall dragon

"Designed as an Army Dragon, but now a Navel Dragon--see outie on belly?"

 

"Down Payment on a Horse" and a befuddled frog

 

 

A guitar strumming frog and a "Petuna" Planter

 

  

Some toothy grins...

  

Attacking Fish

 

  

 

  

 

 

Tools of the trade

 

Clyde Wynia - Paleontologist founder of Jurustic Park


Jurustic Park, Marshfield, WI

While we were at Jurustic Park, there was a group of 50 somthings that pulled up in their Corvettes, all parked in his very small parking lot.  Was fun to see my classy car parked alongside all of the Vettes...

  

Mine is the car that is NOT a Corvette!!

After about an hour and half long visit being serenaded by Clyde and his marvelous stories and antics, it was time to get back on the road again. We again headed northwest towards Colby, WI.  Yes, THAT Colby, famous for Colby cheddar.  We were all excited to get there and get some fresh cheese, and hopefully, fresh squeaky cheese curds.  We did make it to Colby, but alas, there are no longer any cheese factories there and you cannot get fresh Colby cheddar in town (or so we were told....).  But the water tower makes you think you'll get some....

 

"Original" Home of Colby Cheese...none there any longer

 

After filling up with gas, we found some packaged cheese from a factory 12 miles away.  That would have to do <sigh>.  We then continued on our merry way north on State Highway 13 to our next unusual destination near Medford, WI.  Once in Medford we had to get on Highway 64 and head west, which we took all the way to County High E.  From there we made a right turn (North) and followed it all the way to County Highway M.  We then made a left turn at County Highway M (West). 

 

I must note that along the way we saw some interesting things....

 

   

Fuzzy's General Store and Bait Shop, A Bathtub road marker and an Amish Road Sign....

,

We continued past Mondeux Dr (on the left) and County E (on the right) and proceeded about another mile.  The next sight was visible as could be on the left, just before Forest Rd and the entrance to the Chequamegon National Forest.  So, what were we looking for in this wooded area of Wisconsin?  Nothing other than the forest of Chain Saw Totem Poles!!

 

  

The unique chainsaw mailbox sits at the entrance to Gordy Lekies Chainsaw Totem Pole Forest

 

A guy by the name of "Chainsaw Gordy" Lekies created this unusual piece of artwork and chainsaw collection as early as 2007. Gordy is a timber harvester by trade in the Medford area.  He has over 400 chainsaws collected and they are all now on display in poles on his property next to Highway M.

 

     

Over 20 telephone polls are now displaying hundreds of old chainsaws

 

   

There is still a pile of them waiting for a telephone pole home...the guy on the right is some of Gordy's chain saw art

 

We next proceeded back east on County Highway M towards the "Cranberry Trail" in hopes of seeing a real Cranberry Bog and maybe getting some Cranberry goodies (Cranberry Cheese???).  We continued along Highway M until we hit Forks Rd., turned left and headed north, which eventually got us to the Cranberry Trail.  My disappointment was that there were no promotional signs or anything, so we just drove up and down the road until we found what we were looking for.

 

  

We did find the Cranberry Trail, some of which turns into a dirt road, as shown above.

 

Finally found the Copper River Cranberry Company facility, along with a non-descript bog behind it. 

No Cranberries and Copper River was closed (it was a Sunday mind you)

 

Though the Cranberry Trail was a disappointment, we still had plenty to do.  We proceeded towards our next main stop, Rhinelander, WI. Along the way up US 51, we found more novelties and even found a Tomahawk...that's the name of a town.

 

     

The Butt Hutt BBQ, a Giant Moose at Road Lake Pub and Grill (though not nearly as the big Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan),

 Tomahawk (famous for the Tomahawk Fall Ride) and The Wilderness Pole sculpture in downtown Tomahawk.

This wood carving, standing in the middle of a boulevard, depicts a northwoodsy scene involving bears, fish, eagles and a loon.

 

We continued North on US 51 until we hit US 8 and then headed east toward Rhinelander, also known as the "Heart of Hodag Country."  What, pray tell, is a Hodag? There is a great unique writeup HERE. According to the Rhinelander website, the Hodag is a mysterious woodland creature that makes its home in the Rhinelander Area.

Why the Hodag is only found in the Rhinelander Area is not certain. However, many people believe that it is the clean lakes, dense forests and incredible natural beauty that ties the Hodag to the Rhinelander Area.  The photos below are of the Hodag statue in front of the Chamber of Commerce:

 

  

The famous Hodag of Rhinelander, WI

 

From Rhinelander we continued on US 8 towards Monico.  Along the way we found more fun stuff...totally by happenstance:

 

   

Lo and behold...a Graffiti Trailer, a HUGE painted Rock and George Lake

 

In Monico we visited the "Rhinelapus" statue, which appears to be an attempt to play on the fame of the Hodag. It was all fenced in and difficult to get a photo.  It is like a huge three-clawed tree monster. In any case, it was not nearly as impressive to me as the Hodag.

 

From Monico we headed south on US 45 as we worked on winding up our long eventful day.  Soon we came upon the small burg of Birnamwood, WI.  There really is not much there, but we did come across what appears to be the world's largest Badger Statue, ironically greets you at the Northern Exposure Strip Club.  Forget the club...but don't forget the badger.  You can read the whole story on Roadside America HERE.  We also saw Chet & Emil's with a large Chicken in town.

 

Giant Badger of Birnamwood...Chet & Emil's Broaster Chicken

 

Perhaps our biggest surprise came as we approached Wittenberg, WI...a huge expansive field of sunflowers in full bloom.  These were absolutely amazing and, as the sun was heading down, the shadows were awesome.  I took about 50 photos.  Here are a few:

 

   

 

 

 

 

To be honest, it is the wonderful surprises like these that make back road traveling so much fun.  This sunflower field reminded me of a time in Ontario when I came across an expansive tulip field near Woodstock (see the photos on this page)

 

 

More barns on the road towards Seymour, WI

 

Our final stop of the day before heading into Green Bay for the evening, was in Seymour, purported home of the hamburger.

 

 

 

Statue of Charles Nagreen (1870-1951), who put ground beef patties in a bun and began calling them Hamburgers back in 1885. 

Notice the Hamburger Planters!!  Click on his name or photo to read the entire story.

 

After learning about the beefy hamburger, we had one last surprise waiting for us on the road to Green Bay.  Not cheese, not Packers...but Buffalo...  We saw these buffalo on State Highway 54 heading east out of Seymour. Apparently owned by Maass Farms, these buffalo (or bison) are destined for the food chain.  But, they still looked majestic, even in their pens.

 

 

Maass Farms Bison near Seymour, WI

 

It was a long day and we finally made it into the Quality Inn in Green Bay...tired yet fulfilled from a fun day of back road adventures.

 

Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 1:Beef, Cheese, Mustard and a Grumpy Troll

Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 3: Green Bay, Lambeau Field and Door County Peninsula

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

Visit Sumoflam's "Less Beaten Paths" blog for more interesting places

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

Three Days in Wisconsin (Finding Some Unusual Things!!)

Three Days in Wisconsin

(Finding Some Unusual Things!!)

August 3-6, 2012

Day 1 - Beef, Cheese, Mustard and a Grumpy Troll

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

Aug 3, 2012: It was a rare occasion, an opportunity to take a vacation.  My daughter Chelsea wanted a road trip...she wanted her daughter Autumn to experience a "Grampz Style" road trip.  So, on this long weekend in August, the three of us hopped in the Town Car and embarked on a trip to Wisconsin. The goal of the trip was to hit some of south central Wisconsin, see some "roadside attractions" and then drive to Green Bay and up the Door County Peninsula and then back to Lexington. We drove on Friday evening to cut off some of the long drive to Wisconsin, with an overnight stay in Avon, Indiana. Following is the map of our trip.  Following is a map of our trip from Lexington to Wisconsin and back.

 

General map of our 4 day trip - Lexington; Avon, IN; Covington, IN; Champaign, IL; Middleton, WI;

Marshfield, Medford, Tomahawk, Rhinelander, Seymour, Green Bay, Egg Harbor, Gibraltor and then to Hebron, IN

 

Aug 4, 2012: A quick night's rest in Avon and then on the road to Wisconsin.  Along the way we made a few stops.  For fun, I was wearing a "Wear's the Beef?" t-shirt that Chelsea had given me from Wendy's.  I had planned to do this for a stop later in the day, but it worked out really well for our first stop, which we just so happened to see off of the freeway, near Covington, IN.  There is a place called the Beef House Restaurant, which is apparently famous for its yeast rolls.  We were way too early to eat there, but I could not resist getting a photo with the sign!!

 

I think I found the beef!!

 

After the quick photo-op stop in Covington, we headed west towards the first scheduled stop -- to see the large Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Noodle statue in Champaign, IL. Yes, this is a Wisconsin trip so we needed some cheesiness, and we got it first in Illinois!!  Though a novelty roadside attraction for someone like me, this is actually part of a serious advertising campaign begun by Kraft Foods in 2010.  These 20 foot long, 9 foot tall Noodle replicas have been placed in landmark areas such as Fisherman's Wharf and Wrigley Field.  They also have one at their plant in Champaign, IL.  Once we found the location, we noticed we could drive into the employee parking lot  and walk right up to the noodle to get photos. Now that makes for a Beefy Mac and Cheese (with my where's the beef shirt!!). Here are a couple of pix:

 

 

Kraft's "You know you love it." giant noodle statue. Map to this location is below.


Kraft Factory in Champaign, IL

While in Champaign we decided to make a stop at the Curtis Orchard. My main reason was because of the huge Indian Statue (see below), but as we got there, we found a number of other treasures.  The orchard has pretty much turned the place into a Wizard of Oz themed attraction, including a Flying Monkey Cafe!!  We stopped for photos, some apple cider and other goodies and even followed the Yellow Brick Road!!

 

Chelsea and Autumn enjoy the Giant Rocking chair and find their way on the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchard in Champaign, IL

 

The Indian Archer, aka The Chief, was originally located in Danville, IL.  The 17 foot tall copper statue was built

in 1949 for Herb Drew's Plumbing and Heating.  When the business closed in 1994, the owner's grandson

moved the Indian to the Curtis Orchard.  Apparently, the statue represents Kesis, a famous Kickapoo Indian from Illinois.

The photo on the right is a large silo with a representation of the tin man...appropriate.

 

  

This is painted on a barn door (notice the lock in the middle.  I am in the picture to provide a size comparison.

 

Well, we have had the beef, the cheese and some fruit....time for some Mustard!!  From Champaign, we headed north towards Wisconsin to get to the famous Mustard Museum.  However, along the way, we ran into another unexpected treat...another of the many Wind Farms that I have come across in my travels.  This one is called the Twin Groves Wind Farm. The Wind Farm features over 240 turbines across 22,000 acres of land. It generates over 396 megawatts, enough to meet the energy needs of about 120,000 homes. In my travels I have seen these in California, Kansas, Ontario, Montana, Illinois, North Dakota and more.  They are always fascinating.  I really love a couple of the shots I got of these because of the mingling with the corn fields of Illinois.  Autumn and Chelsea were stunned by the size of these towering wind turbines.

 

   

A few of the over 240 Turbines in the Twin Groves Wind Farm

 

Onward north up Interstate 39 out of Normal, IL towards Madison, WI, we made our into Middleton, which is situated northwest of Madison on the Beltline.  Originally built and housed in Mt. Horeb, WI (see my original writeup on a visit there here), the National Mustard Museum has moved to much bigger digs in Middleton.  There they now have a nice two story facility with everything you ever wanted to learn about Mustard, but were afraid to ask...or taste. According to the official Mustard Museum website, the National Mustard Museum began as the “Mount Horeb Mustard Museum” when its founder & curator, Barry Levenson, started collecting mustards on October 27, 1986. The story of the Mustard Museum traces its roots to a late night visit to an all-night grocery when Barry heard a deep, resonant voice as he passed the mustards: “If you collect us, they will come.”  Currently the National Mustard Museum houses over 5400 varieties of Mustard from around the world as well as hundreds of pieces of Mustard Memorabilia.  Also, the place offers degrees from Poupon U.  I now have three degrees from there (snicker).  Ironically, we so happened to arrive on National Mustard Day!!  What a kick!

 

National Mustard Museum -- Founder Barry Levenson on the left along with his fancy glitter headed employee.

 

 

Barry's mustard inspired art work "The First 27 Virtues of Mustard".  Barry studied under Professor Elbert Culpepper at the new

museum of Crappy Art in Flushinghard, VA.

 

 

Got Mustard?

 

  

A couple of the 1000s of varieties available for sale.

 

 

I think this is the only Mustard Vending Machine anywhere...and, if you like bacon, you can also get your fix a the NMM.

 

  

Mustard displays aplenty...the one on the left is to show the variety of containers available.

On the right are varieties produced in every state in the US.

 

  

Welcome to Poupon U...you can actually get a diploma while there. The diploma above is the MBA degree.

 

  

There is an official "Poupon U dumping station" -- I made a donation!!

The restrooms feature "Plochman's Mustard Bottle" Soap Dispensers

 

After being mustarded away, we were back on the road meandering our way towards Mt. Horeb.  Chelsea was excited about Mt. Horeb due to its famed troll statues.  Indeed, the main attraction for the town are the trolls. The town has created a "Trollway" along Highway 151 with many large carved wooden trolls visible from the road. Many of these were created by local artist Michael Feeney. We found a few on our visit....  Click here for a nice map of the town, with all of the trolls and other attractions.

 

 

Welcome sign.  This scrap metal dragon on the right was created by Wally Keller, a nearby resident. 

I visited his menagerie a number of years ago near Vermont, WI.  See my link at http://www.sumoflam.biz/WashJournal.htm

 

  

Open House Imports is full of troll goodies...Moonhill Mercantile has a cool looking sign

 

These three trolls reside at Open House Imports

 

Some of the trolls of Mt. Horeb - A small troll from the shop; a new one in town; "Sweet Swill"; another nameless one

 

Two views of the "Peddler Troll"

 

We finished off our visit and pretty much our day by grabbing some grub at the "Grumpy Troll", a local pub, brewery and dining establishment.

 

'Nuff said...and shown!!

 

Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 2: Jurustic Park, Chain Saw Totem Forest, Hodag and a giant badger

Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 3: Green Bay, Lambeau Field and Door County Peninsula

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

Visit Sumoflam's "Less Beaten Paths" blog for more interesting places

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

Having fun in and around Ft. Worth

Another Week in DFW

Having fun in and around Dallas/ft. Worth

(Bulls, Trains and Flowers)

Apr. 11-14, 2010

 

 

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

April 11, 2010:After a restful evening and late-morning due to the long trip from Lexington, I spent time with my sister Sherry and her husband Brian and my sweet little niece Savannah.  We took a trip down to the Fort Worth Stockyards, had a great lunch, rode a train and had a generally great time!!  The Fort Worth Stockyards are cowboy central. As their official website states, "The Fort Worth Stockyards is the history book of the livestock industry in Texas. Each chapter is represented by the original bricks and mortar, the wood corrals, the men, and the music that are all still a part of the the Stockyards today."  It is a National Historic District due to the old buildings and the representation of a life long gone and only shown in old westerns.

 

We left Keller in the early afternoon and headed down to the stockyards to enjoy lunch and then take a leisurely train ride.  I had been there once before, but only on a drive thru.  This time we were able to take our time.  What a blast.  Following is a pictorial journal ofthis part of the trip....

 

Forth Worth Stockyards greets you

 

SCENES FROM THE FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS

 

 

 

 

          

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

Of course, the whole idea of the stockyards is stock...cattle....and what is cattle without a little BULL...Longhorn style....

 

  

Which one is the real bull? (Actually, the "bull" on the right is my brother in law Brian!!)

 

All of this dealing with bull made us hungry for some so we headed to Riscky's Steakhouse in the Stockyards for some wonderful steaks...

 

 

Started in 1927 by Polish immigrant Joe Riscky, who originally came to Texas towork in the Armour packing plant in 1911,

Riscky's is one of "Cowtown's" Steak and BBQ of choice.  We loved it too!!

 

 

Couldn't resist the "Cowboy Cactus" silhouetted in the window at Riscky's....and sister Sherry had so much steak she grew horns!!!

 

After eating we noticed that time was flying by....indeed, even a pig was flying by....so we needed to head to the train for our little jaunt into Fort Worth....

 

 

 

After a bit of grub (that's what they call food in these parts),we headed for a fun little train ride through Fort Worth.  Nothing fancy,but more for the atmosphere.  In the stockyards there is the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, a nice little rail ride that takes one along the historic Cotton Belt Route and over the Trinity River in Fort Worth. The train we rode was a 1953 GP-7 Diesel Locomotive train that pulls 1920s and 1930s era Victorian style cars.

 

Here I am up on the front of the old 1953 GP-7 Locomotive that would pull us along on our trip. 

I also liked the side view with the old fashioned lamps reflecting off of the windows

 

This is a view into the last cabin in the train.  Lots of old decorative seats.

 

The train is not air-conditioned, but has open air windows, which was nice on this April day.

 

As we prepared to go, the engineers chatted out front.  I leaned out of the

coach to get the photo on the right...

 

A couple of scenes from the train: Downtown Ft. Worth on the left and colorful pallet stacks on the right

 

 

Not everything was "scenic" on the ride.  The train went by heavily traveled

roads and we even saw a man that was living under the bridge. There were

some industrial areas as well.  But the ride was pleasant nonetheless.

 

  

Downtown Ft. Worth with the Trinity River heading through it. 

Riverine Egrets relax on the banks of the river.

We got a warm hello from some kids who apparently live along the route.

 

 

As with any tourist activity, there is always the profit seekers.  There

were photographers hawking their wares. 

I got photos of both of them and DID NOT charge them a thing for my photos to be posted here!!

 

I am "Enjoying the Ride" as is what looks to be a Texas cowboy.  Brianschmoozes with the Conductor.

 

 

Trip was finally done and off the train I went.....And, uhh, tell ever wun Gomer sez hey!!

 

Sherry and Brian took us back home on a side trip to see some other interesting sites in Ft. Worth.

 

 

A building and a statue with no names.  I have looked for information on

these and couldn't find any.But, they are in Ft. Worth.  If anyone knows,

let me know so I can add information.

 

From downtown, Sherry and Brian took me to see their trailer...yes, they have gone "Flamingohead" on me and have a nice trailer.  Many times during the year they enjoy the ride Living in Aluminum.  Here is their place...but, it ain't home because we all know it ain't home until you take the wheels off!!

 

 

Sherry, Brian and Savannah show off their Ultra Lite.  Ahh, living in aluminum.  Hope they give me a call from Freedom sometime!!

 

 

Found in the same trailer storage area as Sherry and Brian's trailer....theowner of this MUST be a fan of Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours!!!

 

 

Speaking of Antsy McClain, the trailer next to Sherry's was purchased at

McClain's RVs!!  I even found the place in McKinney!!

Never thought Antsy would go this far!!

 

As the sun set on this nice April day in Fort Worth, I am reminded again of mysweet sister, her great husband Brian and darling little Savannah.

 

 

 

April 12, 2010: A trip to Weatherford and Mineral Wells was on the agenda.  I have covered this trip in the past, so not too much here to add other than the spectacularly colorful trip.

 

 

Can't miss a Cool place on the way...I went by here before, but wanted

to point out that they are "Shut" despite being "Now Open"

This is in Cool, Texas.

 

Perhaps the nicest part of the trip to Weatherford/Mineral Wells, were the wildflowers along the road -- mainly the famed Texas Bluebonnet and the Indian Paintbrush.  This was a great day to be on the road!!

 

 

Indian Paintbrush -- beautiful flowers

 

Loved the delicate strands of spider web on this small yellow wildflower

 

  

I loved the intense blues and reds along the road.  I tried to capture theflavor.

 

Texas Bluebonnet

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

Please feel free to make blog comments at sumoflamjournal.sumoflam.biz

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

A SUPER Trip to Metropolis (In Search of Dogwoods and Friendship)

Lexington to DFW - Again

A SUPER Trip to Metropolis

(In Search of Dogwoods and Friendship)

Apr. 10, 2010

 

 

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

April 10, 2010: On the road again, "Road Trip!", striking out for adventure....yet another trip to Texas for iHigh.com and yet another opportunity to seek out more of America's wonders along the way.  Per my usual methods, I took the long way to Texas, this time visiting one of the "must see" places on my bucket list of "must see places."  I would head toward Metropolis, IL in search of Superman and who knows what I would find along the way? Following is the map of this rather long journey through the heartland of America:

 

This trip would take me to Central City, KY; Paducah, KY; Metropolis, IL; Charleston, MO; Friendship, AR and other places

 

As always, since it is a long drive from Lexington, KY to Keller, TX, I left early in the morning, got my cold drinks and munchies and gas and was on the road west headed toward Paducah, in the far southwest region of Kentucky.  As the sun rose along the Western Kentucky Parkway southwest of Elizabethtown, the fog set in and there was beauty all around me.  the redbud and dogwoods were in bloom, the horses were out grazing and the sun was peeking through the fog-tipped tree line.  Then, unexpectedly, I saw a sign for Central City, KY.  I had NOT done my homework!!  It turns out that Central City was the home of the Everly Brothers - Phil and Don.  This was a MUST stop for me so it was off the highway and on to the Less Beaten Paths in Central City.

 

 

Early morning Kentucky scene along Western Kentucky Parkway

 

 

Central City is the birthplace of the famous singing duo "The Everly Brothers".  Underneath the monument above was

the following: "Fom Brownie, to Iowa, to Knoxville, to Nashville, to Hollywood, to England and around the world....

Don and Phil have taken the music of Kentucky, as taught by their parents. And now they are bringing it back home

to Central City. August 25, 1988."  Phil was born in 1937 and Don in 1939...both in Brownie, Kentucky.

 

 

Also home to Star Records Studio and Bry's Cafe on Broad (which was not open the day I came through)

 

From Central City, I was back on the road towards Paducah.  I have been through Paducah a number of times, but have never spent any time there.  I wanted to see the murals painted on the Flood Wall along the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers and whatever else I might run across in this lovely river town.  Upon arrival in Paducah, I headed straight for downtown (or lowertown) as they call it there.  There is a quaint beauty about the town.

 

Bridge over Lake Barkley on I-24 east of Paducah

 

Paducah was originally settled around 1815 and was known as Pekin.  There were Native Americans, most likely Chicksaw, living there and they traded peacefully with white settlers and traders that came down the river.  Their chief was named Paduke.  This arrangement stayed peaceful, but in 1827, William Clark, the famed leader of the the Lewis and Clark expedition, and then superintendent for Native American affairs along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, brought a legal deed for the land the town sat on.  He asked both Chief Paduke and the settlers to leave, which they did.  Paduke and his clan moved to Mississippi.  Clark named the town Paducah in his honor. In 1830 it was incorporated and then chartered as a city in 1856.  It was a dry dock for barges and also became a major rail hub.  Today it is home to the National Quilt Museum

 

   

Paducah is dotted with many old buildings.  I was especially delighted with the colorful storefronts

 

A resident of Paducah....as colorful as the town itself

 

Part of a set of sculptures depicting the Native American history of the Paducah area

 

In 1996, the Paducah floodwall mural program (Officially called "Paducah Wall to Wall") was begun by Louisiana Mural artist Robert Dafford and a team of other artists (including Herb Roe, Benny Graeff, Doug Safford and Mike Doherty). They completed this project in 2007. (I came across Dafford's large project in Point Pleasant/Portsmouth back in April 2008. You can see my writeup here.) There are more than 50 murals lining the walls and covering the history of Paducah in chronological fashion.  Dafford has done similar projects in Portsmouth, OH, Louisiana, Covington, KY and other places. Currently Portsmouth, Ohio born mural artist Herb Roe, formerly one of Dafford's team of artists, keeps the touch up work take care of.  Apparently Roe is the only member of Dafford's team who can be associated with having participated in the application of all 50 of the panels.

 

One segment of the long line of murals stretching along the river.  Time did not allow

for me to traverse the entire length.  But following are a few of those I did see.

 

 

 

L - An early street scene of downtown Paducah.  Love the Piggly Wiggly sign and "Cooled" on the theater. 

R - A scene from the great flood of 1937 which inundated Paducah.

 

 

L - The old market  R - Hauling goods from port in the 1800s.

 

 

L - Some of the beautiful old churches in town  R - Early settlers along the river.

 

William Clark platting out the town

 

Time to proceed further...and on to Metropolis.  Metropolis is basically a hop skip and jump away from Paducah...only about 13 miles. However, as noted above, Paducah is at a major confluence of rivers and so bridges must be traversed along the way.  Here is one crossing the Mississippi:

 

 

One of many similar narrow bridges over the Mississippi River.  These structures never cease to amaze me.  This one crosses

into Illinois from Kentucky and is between Paducah and Metropolis.

 

Then there is the big booming town of Metropolis. Actually, not anything like the Metropolis of the Superman series (which is more like New York City), the town of Metropolis, IL does lay claim to Superman.  As you enter Metropolis from the east, this is what you first come across:

 

Metropolis, IL Welcome Billboard

 

This is NOT Superman, but is in front of a supermarket before getting into town.

Superman is apparently NOT the only BIG statue in town!!

 

After taking a shot of the giant grocery man, I continued into town to find Superman.  The town is quite proud of their man!!

 

Metropolis City Hall

 

   

Superman is everywhere...especially the one big guy in the middle photo!!

 

 

L - One of many signs on a "Superman Shop" in town; R - Tourists looking at large mural (I thought this was a unique shot)

 

Of course, like many small towns in the United States, this town does honor some REAL heroes with a nice mural in town:

 

Honoring All Our Defenders of Freedom - a mural in Metropolis, IL

 

After the little site trip to Metropolis, it was back on the road south for me as I planned to get all the way to Keller, TX on this drive.  I headed back to Interstate 24, went south back across the Mississippi and into Kentucky to begin heading further west.  I continued into Barlow, KY and then on to Wickliffe and into Cairo, IL and then over another river into Missouri, staying on US 60 along the way.  By the time I was in Missouri I had crossed over a literal maze of bridges and over the Ohio River, the Tennessee River, the Mississippi River and the Missouri River, all some of the greatest waterways in the US.

 

Another bridge crossing over the Mississippi River - - Along the Great River Road

 

  

A coal-bearing barge on the Mississippi; a mural welcoming me to Barlow, KY

 

Yet another bridge over the river

 

It was time for a gas stop, so I made my way into a gas station in Charleston, Missouri.  Charleston is a small town of about 5000 people, but during this time of year is a strikingly colorful time.  I was one week early for their Dogwood-Azalea Festival.  And for sure, the dogwoods and azaleas were in bloom around the town.  The town even has a 6 mile Dogwood-Azalea Trail laid out and awards someone the best dogwood of the year.  Here are some photos of the dogwoods, azaleas and other flowering trees in the small town.

 

   

Dogwood Trees in full bloom in Charleston, MO

 

 

The colors were striking!!

 

 

Every street was lined with dogwoods...the tree on the right was this year's award winning tree apparently

 

Driving around town was fun but I was given another surprise...being the webmaster and good friend of singer/songwriter/artist Antsy McClain, I was surprised to run into his "relatives" here in Charleston.....

 

  

McClain's Food Center...I wonder if "Everything's a Dollar"? 

And the McClain's are probably happy in their "Lot 1409" (which was a house, not a trailer!!)

 

So much for fun and flowers...back on the road again.  Heading south on I-55 I couldn't resist this sign....I wonder if meant anything....

 

  

Is that sign pointing at me????  Who would name a town Braggadocio anyway?

 

 

Time for another break for some food and a stretching break somewhere off of I-55 in NE Arkansas.  I stop at this place along the highway and what do I find?

 

Needless to say, I didn't eat there...but I wondered, "Do they serve curry burritos?"

 

I continued south on Interstate 55 until I got to exit 41, where I intended to head west to another unusually named place....Marked Tree, Arkansas.  I got onto Arkansas State Highway 14 and headed due west into Lepanto and then got onto State Highway 140, which took me south into Marked Tree.  The town claims to be the only town in the world named Marked Tree.  But, more unusual is that the town lies between two rivers which flow in opposite directions.  According to the story (from the Marked Tree, Arkansas website):

The settlers chose "Marked Tree" because of the "old marked tree" on the bank of the Saint Francis River near the railroad camp. Now we come to the most interesting part of all - how did the "marked tree" come to be in the first place?  The aboriginal people in the region of the Saint Francis and Little Rivers were Indians. In the early 1800's the Osage and Cherokees roamed these woods largely by using the rivers as their highways. There was a superabundance of game and all the rivers abounded with fish. Pioneer Arkansas was widely known as a sportsman's country also suited to farming. The Indians traveling northward up the Saint Francis River marked a tree at the first point at which Little River is only ¼ mile distant across the land between the rivers. By dragging their dugout canoes across this short portage to Little River they could continue their trip northward and eliminate eight miles of up-river paddling.

There is another legend from the 1830's about the mark on this huge oak tree. The John A. Murrell outlaw gang had hideouts in the White River swamps below Helena. They gambled, robbed, waylaid travelers, stole horses and even slaves, and resold what they could in east Arkansas and west Tennessee. They found the short portage at the "old marked tree" and marked it with a big "M." They used this site as a place to rendezvous.

Whichever legend handed down to people still living here you believe (they both may be true), the "marked tree" was undermined and fell into the river during the overflow of 1890. This large oak was a few hundred feet from the original bridge across the Saint Francis River. During the digging into the bank to build a new bridge in 1971, a large well preserved oak tree trunk was unearthed. This tree trunk is believed to have been the original marked tree and has been put on display with a historical marker in the center of Marked Tree.

There is really not much excitement in the town of Marked Tree, but I did find some things of interest that my camera eye was attracted to.

 

 

Keeping with tradition, strange named town signs get an honorary photo...and where do they keep the

fire trucks in this fire department?  This trailer is on wheels.  Funniest Fire Dept. I have seen to date.

 

   

I always like running into old trucks and cars parked in front of barns

and of course, you should expect "Hog Wild" BBQ in Arkansas

Not all wall murals I find are fancy...but this one does show the history of Marked Tree

 

I never did find any Marked Trees, so it was back on the road again to Texas.  I took US Highways 67 and 64 south into Little Rock and hopped on I-30 as it was now getting late in the day and the light was dwindling.  As I drove south I came across a road sign that I apparently had missed on past ventures down I-30.  I finally found Friendship!!  Seems like I have been looking for Friendship for years and here it was:

 

 

Friendship was off to the right...no, wait a minute...off to the left...

I guess you can find Friendship in any direction!!!

 

 

Looks like I finally found Friendship!!

 

They even need police and a court in Friendship....how friendly is that?

 

By the time I left Friendship, the sun was beginning to set and I needed to get onto the final leg of the day's trip to my sister Sherry's house in Keller.  So, back on the road...arrived in Keller at about midnight CST.

 

Watch soon for more ramblings from the back roads on this trip...still more fun to come!!

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

An Uncertain Trip in Search of Waldo

Lexington to DFW - Part 3

(An Uncertain Trip in Search of Waldo)

Feb. 27, 2010

 

 

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

Feb 27, 2010: Time to return home to Lexington.  It was a long busy week in Dallas.  But the trip home would promise to be an interesting and fun day.  I left Keller fairly early so I could hit the sunrise as I drove east.  I almost made it to Tyler by sunrise.  I pulled off the road and made an effort to get some nice shots before traveling further.

 

 

 

 

The early morning fog added to the intensity of this sunrise.

 

This is a map of my trip back home via Uncertain, TX, Vivian and Rodessa, LA and Waldo, AR

 

After the sunrise I was back on the road to Uncertain.  I was bound and determined to find Uncertain.  Indeed, I was certain I would get to Uncertain. Heading east on I-20 I had to take Exit 604 and head north on FM 450 towards Hallsville, TX.  Once in Hallsville, I turned right on US 80 and continued east through Marshall, TX to US 59.  I went north for a mile or so to TX 43 and continued NE. I stayed on course until I got to FM 2198.  I then turned right and a few miles up the road there it was...my first sight:

 

Indeed, there is such a place as Uncertain and it certainly is in Texas

 

Uncertain is a village with an unusual name and it is located in an unusual place along the shores of Caddo Lake not too far from the Louisiana border.  The town has taken advantage of the name and even has their own website. They call it "The City of Uncertain" (incorporated in 1961) but it is much more a small village, and many of the businesses appeared to me to be seasonal.  There are apparently a number of purported reasons for the name but it appears that the most popular theory is the one that says -- "once you get to Caddo you're uncertain as to exactly where you are -- and uncertain as to exactly when you'll want to leave. One thing is for sure, you don't go to Uncertain by Chance! It's one way in and one way out" and I am certain of that since I drove the only roads. I arrived in February so it was still chilly.  But, there was a lot of "fun" there.  Here are a few of the signs I found around town:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many "Uncertain" things, but at the non-denominational Church of Uncertain they have a motto:

"Where We Are Certain About Christ"

 

There is even an Uncertain Tourist Department (if you can call it that):

 

Uncertain, TX Tourism Department

 

Despite the draw of the name, the REAL draw to Uncertain is the scenery. Uncertain is on the shores of eerie, yet picturesque Lake Caddo, which stretches across the Texas-Louisiana border.  The lake is filled with bald cypress trees that are draped and decorated with Spanish Moss.  When I first looked at it I wondered if I might see the "Swamp Thing" and sure enough, there is even a sign for that!!

 

 

There is a Swamp Thing sign as well as a Bigfoot Retreat.  Fortunately, I saw neither!!

 

Many claim that Caddo has been dubbed the "best photo spot in Texas." Though some may question it, I certainly thought it to be one of the more interesting spots I have ever visited across these great United States.  I took over 100 photos of the lake/swamp/bayou and even went beyond my normal routine and fiddled with some color settings in some of them to really make it interesting.  Here are a number of photos of Lake Caddo, which covers over 32,000 acres of channels, bayous and sloughs.  I can imagine it would get pretty spooky late at night in mid-summer with the alligators swimming around and Swamp Things and Sasquatch waiting for you around each bend....

 

 

 

 

  

 

   

 

Watch out for the gators!!!

 

Even along some of the narrow roadways one can find some interesting shots:

 

 

 

Fishing is apparently a big thing here...bass and crappy apparently.  On this cool early morning I caught a glimpse of a few folk heading out into the spooky calm waters of Lake Caddo, all wrapped and warm:

 

 

And here are a couple more scenes in case you haven't gotten enough.  These are from the Louisiana side:

 

 

 

One final scene of Lake Caddo, near Pelican Bay Resort in Louisiana

 

In the area there were also a few "Uncertain" treasures -- unique photo-ops:

 

"The Shipwreck" is one of the "Hodge Podge Cottages", which are a variety of little cabins, trailers and yes, the Shipwreck.  Pelican statues also frequent the area as do the actual birds.  Unfortunately, on this cool February morning, I was not able to see any of the real birds.

 

OK...the world's largest fake Tomato Soup can? Its uncertain....

RoadsideAmerica.com are you watching?

 

All good things must end and for me, with still a long drive back to Kentucky, I left the realm of Uncertain-ty and headed east, driving around the northern part of Caddo Lake and then north up the backroads of of the northwest corner of Louisiana. From Uncertain I headed north on Texas 43 and then east on Texas 49 into Louisiana and over the northern leg of the lake. This took me to LA 1 towards the small town of Vivian. As with other towns on the trip, this one has a little significance to my job as I have dealt with North Caddo High School a few times over the phone in my work with iHigh.com.  And, of course, I drove right by the school on my way north. The town was originally settled as a railroad stop and currently has a population of a little over 4000.  It is typical of many small towns where poverty has hit.  But, it is a clean town and has some originality.

 

 

Colorful wall murals found in Vivian, LA

 

Continuing north I drove along Black Bayou Lake and then passed through the small town of Rodessa.  And yes, I had a purpose. What is it that draws someone to a small little town in NW Louisiana?  Two strange frog statues atop pillars with Alabama and Georgia on them and a name...Frog Level. Though the frogs are not really fancy artwork, apparently, the Smithsonian has these catalogued.  As the sign below notes, in the 1800s a town meeting was called by store owner Noah Tyson to name the town.  Apparently, a man from Alabama, noting the frogs hollering in a nearby pond, jumped up and said "Let's name it Frog Level."  And so it was. Later the town's name was changed to Rodessa. The frogs were made by a guy named Buster Dunn and the monument, dedicated in 1976, was fabricated by the Fix-It-Well Company.  I do wonder what the Georgia pillar is for.  There really is no mention...

 

 

"Frog Level" Monument in Rodessa, LA...true Americana and recognized by the Smithsonian

 

After seeing (and actually hearing) the frogs at Frog Level, it was back on the road.  My next goal was to search for the whereabouts of Waldo.  Many have spent hours doing "Where's Waldo" puzzles, in search of the elusive beany topped thing guy with a red/white striped shirt.  I even admit to have joined in the fascination many years ago. So, as I drove along the road home to Kentucky, I learned that Waldo might be in Arkansas.  I went in search of AND finally found Waldo!!

 

   

I found Waldo...he's in Arkansas!!

(Well, actually Waldo is also in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Alabama, Wisconsin and Ohio)

 

From Waldo I really needed to push to get home at a decent very late hour, so from there it was back on freeways to Kentucky.  But, despite the visit to Uncertain, it was most certainly an eventful 17 hours.

 

An ice cream shop along the road...

somewhere in Arkansas

Yes, I finally did see a pelican too...in Arkansas.

 

If you missed Part 1, "Seeking out the Bugtussles of America", click the link

Part 2, "A Week in the Dallas Area" is here.

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

A Week in the DFW Metroplex

Lexington to DFW - Part 2

(A Week in the DFW Metroplex)

Feb. 22-26, 2010

Big City Life and Country Surprises

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

Feb 22, 2010: A nice Sunday to relax.  Got to spend some time with my sister Sherry, her husband Brian and my cute niece Savannah. I would spend all of my evenings this week at their nice home in Keller, just north of Forth Worth. After sleeping in we headed out for lunch to Joe's Crab Shack.  Always a fun place to eat, especially when feeling crabby.  It turns out that little four-year old Savannah LOVES eating crab and could not wait to "get crackin'"!

 

My Niece Savannah Blessing LOVES Joe's Crab Shack

 

   

Sister Sherry and her husband Brian Blessing enjoying time together with us.  Typical non-food crab shack fare abounds

 

Savannah tempts the bigger fish.....

 

After a nice lunch of crab and other goodies, we headed for a ride down to the brand new Cowboys Stadium.  This place is the hugest football arena I have ever seen!! The stadium resides in Arlington, TX, between Dallas and Ft. Worth and is across the street from the Texas Rangers Baseball Stadium and a stone's throw away from Six Flags over Texas. The stadium opened in May 2009 with a capacity of 80,000 (though there is a record attendance in the facility of over 105,000 when the Cowboys played the NY Giants in Sept. 2009 and that was then broken exactly one week before I got in Texas when the NBA All-Star Game was played to a crowd of over 108,000!!!).  It is the third largest stadium in the U.S. in terms of seating capacity, but it is also covered, with a retractable roof, making it the largest domed stadium in the world.  It also has the world's largest column-free interior and boasts the world's largest high-definition video screen - 160 feet wide by 72 feet tall!!

 

   

Standing waaaay in front of Cowboys Stadium; the famous Cowboys star dons flags near the stadium; a side view of the stadium

 

   

In the 1960s I lived in the Dallas area and grew up as a fan of Tom Landry, their famed coach.  A nice bronze honors him at the stadium.

 

The amazing hi-def video screen spans from the 20 yd line to the other 20 yd line.

 

Feb 23, 2010: It is Monday and I start my grueling week visiting high schools in and around Dallas.  I learned very quickly that one cannot depend on a map to get around Dallas.  You MUST have a GPS if you plan on getting anywhere in a timely fashion.  Freeways snake around the city and weave and and around each other.  I was staying in Keller and had to drive to downtown Dallas, about a 35 mile drive, but, in the morning, it is about an hour and a half drive, if there are no problems on the freeway.  Looking at a map looks simple, but once you get on the freeway system, getting lost is easier than you think.  Get a GPS!!

 

   

Red brake lights and long delays are indicative of Dallas traffic. Towering freeway platforms are everywhere...a maze of cement and steel.

 

During the weeklong visit to schools, I also got to see a good chunk of downtown Dallas.  Unlike the back roads I enjoy so much, the big cities are a different kind of wilderness...tall buildings, amazing architectural structures and unique skylines.  I have been blessed to have visited practically every major metropolitan area in the United States and have gotten to know each unique city skyline as if it were a person's face.  Dallas has one of the more unique ones. Though I didn't have time to really get out and get some good shots, I was able to capture a few images of the buildings downtown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, with big buildings comes interesting art work, whether large or small.  Here are a couple of things I found while driving around...always with my camera at my side:

 

 

As noted above, I was visiting shortly after the NBA All-Star Game.  On the left was a GIANT poster (shoes larger than stop lights)...

on the right, a small mural on the side of a building

 

 

   

This one blew me away...a giant mural on the side of a parking lot.  Entitled "The Storm", this giant mural was painted by Dallas artists Chris Arnold and Jeff Garrison of Eyecon, Inc. in May 1997.

It is 120 feet tall and 150 feet wide and literally impossible to photograph without wires and signs. (Actually, an uninhibited version can be seen here).  Eyecon has painted several fantastic murals

in the Dallas area, all of which can be seen on their Eyecon website.  I need three days of freedom in downtown Dallas just to go visit these amazing works of art!!

 

Obviously, another thing one sees in downtown settings are the old relief works of art.  I really loved this one.

 

 

During the week in Dallas, I met friends, new and old, with whom I enjoyed some fine meals.  On Monday I had dinner with members of the North Dallas High School Boosters.  We ate at one of Dallas' oldest Mexican restaurants, the El Fenix.  Food was great and the company fantastic!!  Then, to finish off my week I was lucky to meet an old friend who happened to be in Ft. Worth for the weekend, visiting from Seattle.  My favorite female artist, country rocker Patti Hall, was in town.  We met for a nice dinner at the Blue Mesa Grill, an upscale Tex-Mex establishment that makes your guacamole fresh for you at your table.  It was so nice to see Patti.  She is not only an amazing musician, but is a fabulously generous person.  She has been tirelessly promoting her "On Horses' Wings" CD, a compilation of various artists (including Antsy McClain) that is benefiting an organization called the "Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center", which provides therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with disabilities who live in the Puget Sound area.  It is an amazing and heart-touching CD that benefits an equally amazing organization.  I first met Patti when on tour with Antsy McClain in southwest Washington (see my trip journal about that here).

 

 

Hanging with new friends Gil Sandoval and John Chavez, from N. Dallas Boosters...we enjoyed great eats at El Fenix

 

 

A couple of shots of Patti Hall and me at Blue Mesa Grill -- just a lucky catch thanks to Facebook updates

 

Not all of my time this week was spent in Dallas.  I also visited schools in Irving, Keller, Ft. Worth and even as far away as Mineral Wells.  One of the schools I visited near Keller was Birdville High School.  I was surprised both by the huge athletic facility and the wonderful marquis.

 

 

Birdville's facility is actually one of the semi-large ones...there are much larger.  And I loved the marquis!!

 

 

A reminder of old Americana...the Kool Breeze Motel near Irving

 

Perhaps the most delightful day of the week for me was the drive to Mineral Wells, TX via Weatherford.  This was truly mixing business with pleasure as I made my way down some less beaten paths. There were some cool old buildings, some cool yard art, some cool sculptures and even a cool town name Cool.  There is a lot of history on road like this and I got to breath it in and enjoy it.

 

   

Just outside of Weatherford is a garden shop with some great bronze works.  I really liked the Longhorn in the upper middle

 

 

On the left is the Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, built in 1886.  It is a classic Texas style courthouse.  There was a hill near town that probably would have made for a great shot, but I had no time to get up there.  As I neared the building to the front left of the courthouse, I caught this man sitting there enjoying the day.  The old white-washed wall made a nice canvas.

 

 

May not have been the "Kool Breeze", but there is actually a town in Texas named Cool.  Got a chuckle from the Cool Cafe as well.

I checked the window and the sign said "SHUT".  HA!!  By the way, I have visited another town in the past named Coolville, which is in

Ohio.  You can read about that town here.  There are cool town names everywhere!!

 

The last cool place on this week's trip in the Dallas area was Mineral Wells.  It is not a very large town, but does have some claim to fame.  The town's name comes from the mineral springs close by, which were frequented by guests in the early 1900s and the famous Baker Hotel, which accommodated those guests.  The Baker Hotel was built in 1925 by local shareholders.  It was a 14 story hotel with 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool. Completed in 1929 dollars at a cost of $1.2 million, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline and was the first skyscraper built outside a major metropolitan area.  The old building still towers over the town, but is empty and ghostly now, as the photos below show:

 

   

The Old Baker Hotel: Several notable celebrities this a temporary home during their visits to the city's health spas;

the star studded guest list included the likes of Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable,

and future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is even rumored by local historians that

legendary outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow may have spent a night or two at the Baker.

 

 

Some scenes from downtown Mineral Wells.  The water is also famous for "Crazy Water"

and so the town wants to keep itself crazy I suppose.

 

I loved the old antique and junque store in town.

 

 

If you missed part 1, "Seeking out the Bugtussles of America", click the link

Watch for part 3 soon...An Uncertain trip in search of Waldo

 

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz

Seeking out the Bugtussles of America: A Road Trip from Lexington, KY to Texas

Lexington to DFW - Part 1

(thru Bugtussle, KY and Bugtussle, TX)

Feb. 21, 2010

Seeking out the Bugtussles of America!!

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

Feb 21, 2010: Yet another opportunity for a ROAD TRIP courtesy of iHigh.com!!  We needed to get some schools active in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and so I asked to take a trip to Dallas.  Due to costs, I offered to use the weekend to drive and would stay at my Sister Sherry's house in Keller, TX while there for the week.  This is Part 1 of my Texas trip - my search for Bugtussle USA.

Lexington, KY thru Flippin, KY, Bugtussle, KY, Bucksnort, TN, Only, TN thru Bugtussle, TX into Keller, TX - all in one day

 

I left the house at 4:30 AM to head south on what would be one long day of driving and seeing some interesting places along the less beaten paths of America.  My main goal for this beautiful Saturday morning was to get to Bugtussle, KY and eventually all the way to Bugtussle, TX and perhaps be the first person ever to document such a trip!!  And I did it.  Here is the story....

 

I drove west along the Bluegrass parkway to I-65 near Elizabethtown and then headed south until I got to Kentucky 9008 (Cumberland Parkway), north of Bowling Green.  I headed down the highway just into Glasgow and then left the freeway to go along less beaten paths. from Glasgow I took KY 249 due south through beautiful farmland and was greeted by a fabulous sunrise just north of Lamb, KY.

 

   

The sun rises above pastoral lands near Lamb, KY

 

As the sun rose, I was also greeted by a call from my sweetheart Julianne, who wanted to make sure I was doing OK since I had awaken so early in the morning.  I was fine but lamented to her that I still had not seen "Herry", my term for blue herons.  I figured along those roads with all the ponds, that I would see one.  Ironically, shortly after hanging up, I came down a hill and in a small pond on my left was Herry.  I stopped to snap some shots of him, but he flew off...so this is all I was able to get.  I also saw some deer just across the road. There were 5 head of them.

 

 

"Herry" the Blue Heron - my favorite bird - greets me early in the morning

 

 

Deer scamper in the fields along the road just north of Flippin, KY

 

As the sun rose, I came into the small village of Flippin, KY.  This is an unusual name, but it is actually not the first Flippin I had come across.  Through my work at iHigh.com, I had done some support work with a school in North Central Arkansas, Flippin High School and had found the name to be unusual.  I asked the school people about it and they said there are lots of people in the area named Flippin.  According to one history of Flippin, AR, Thomas J. Flippin and his family left Kentucky for the Ozarks in 1820 and settled in what is now the Marion County area of Arkansas. Perhaps the Arkansas Flippins were the original settlers in Flippin, KY.  I am not really sure though,  But it makes an interesting town name in this day and age when the word flippin' is used as a sort of expletive.

 

Well, with that in mind, I was soon driving through Flippin, KY, with a population of a few dozen people or so. My first sight of the village was of this great cabin and wood pile:

 

 

 

Then there was the Flippin "Post Office"?? and the Flippin Volunteer Fire Dept....

 

....but nothing topped the Flippin Church of Christ

 

From Flippin, I continued south on KY 100 towards the small town of Gamaliel, KY.  This name reminded me of a name out of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings", but actually, the town name is derived from the Bible.  Gamaliel was supposedly the teacher of Paul the Apostle. (See Acts 5:34).  Once in Gamaliel, I turned right on Main St. headed west on KY 87, a windy little road that eventually brought me to Bugtussle, KY...or what is left of it anyway. At one time Bugtussle appears to have had a small store.  The store practically backs right up to the Tennessee State line.

 

So, why the interest in Bugtussle you ask?  This name for me goes way back into the late 1960s.  When I was around 11 or 12, I was a big fan of the television show, the Beverly Hillbillies, a show about a hillbilly family that moved to Beverly Hills after becoming millionaires due to an oil strike on their homestead.  Jed Clampett (played by Buddy Ebsen), the patriarch, was from a fictitious town called Bug Tussle. In 1967 there was even an episode titled "The Mayor of Bug Tussle", wherein Mayor Amos Wentworth Hogg traveled from Bug Tussle to Beverly Hills to visit his friends the Clampetts.  Actor James Westerfield played Mayor Hogg. During the late '60s and early '70s, a couple of other "sister shows" seemed to add to the fray.  There was "Petticoat Junction", which was set in the fictitious town of "Hooterville" (which is later where the show "Green Acres" was set -- kind of a reverse of the Hillbillies in that rich big city folk moved to the country.)  If I recall, Bug Tussle had even been mentioned in an episode of Petticoat Junction.  All that being said, since those days I have always remembered Bug Tussle and Hooterville.  Then, last summer, as I was perusing the map for odd-named towns in Kentucky, I came across Bugtussle.  I just HAD to find my way there....and I did.

 

   

Shows from the '60s...Jed Clampett (center), supposedly was from Bug Tussle

 

 

Map and satellite views of Bugtussle, KY.  The circled are on the map at right is the Bugtussle store shown below

 

The road sign says it all, but there was, at one time, a Bugtussle General Store at 6061 Bugtussle Rd.

 

It was so exciting to me to finally make it to Bugtussle.  But the more interesting part of this story is that, in my research on Bugtussle, I found out that there are actually four of them in the US.  One in Kentucky, one in Alabama, one in Oklahoma AND....one in Texas!!  So, I set my sights on knocking out TWO Bugtussles in one day...and that was the goal for this day (I know I said this above, but now you know the rest of the story...)

 

So, what about that name Bugtussle?  Apparently, Bugtussle was named by local comedians due to its doodlebug population.  In an article in Time magazine (online edition), they write that "nobody knows how the town of Bug Tussle, Alabama got its name. Its 300 citizens, mostly cotton farmers, rather think it refers to their annual battle with boll weevils."  I even found a Bug Tussle Records!!

 

Well, enough about Bugtussle for now...on with the trip.  Just 30 seconds south of the Bugtussle General store is the "Welcome to Tennessee" sign and the highway turned to TN 261. Still out in the boonies, I headed south through Enon, near Pumkintown and then past Frog Pond, where there is a BBQ stand.  Makes me wonder what is barbecued here....ironically, I passed a Flippin Rd. just before I got to the intersection of where Frog Pond Cemetery Rd. meets TN State Highway 261.

 

 

 

Not too far from Lafayette, on TN 52 towards Westmoreland, was Peggy's Market which offered Home Cookin', Hardware and Feed.  I stopped for a gas stop and snapped the pizza man below.

 

This Pizza Man was out front

 

I finally made my way into Nashville...but was just driving through.  I would hit Interstate 40 out of Nashville heading towards Memphis.

 

The Nashville Skyline heading south on I-65

 

Along I-40 west out of Nashville one can find some interesting towns right off of the freeway.  I figured I would take a quick exit for a look-see....first stop-Bucksnort, TN, easily accessed at Exit 152, about 40 miles west of Nashville. There is not much there, but I did come across "Yesterdaze Pinball", a sort of Pinball Machine Museum.  There is also a song named after the town: "Bucksnort, Tennessee" by a group called Trailer Trash Tremblers, from the Netherlands.  Yes, a southern trash country rock party group from the Netherlands with other songs such as Getaway Car, Beer & Burgers and Gringo.  I think I will stick with the Trailer Park Troubadours.

Wo knows for sure how Bucksnort got it name, but legend has it that there was a trader named Buck who lived in the area, and locals would say they were going to “Buck’s to get a snort.” We may never know...

 

 

Welcome to the booming town of Bucksnort, TN, home to Yesterdaze Pinball

 

Well, it was back on the freeway to head west, but off again at the next exit, 148, and then south on County Hwy 920.  I didn't have to go too far for my destination....Only, Tennessee.  Yes...a town named Only.  Once again, it is barely a dot on a map, but there is a road AND even a church...

 

 

Only is that a way....on Only Rd....

 

 

This was the funniest...I first saw the sign on the right and then got into town and saw the real "Only Baptist Church"

 

After 5 minutes I was back on I-40 heading west to the next exit, number 143, wherein is Buffalo, Tennessee.  Apparently this is where country singer Loretta Lynn moved after becoming famous.  She was originally from Butcher Holler, KY.  Up the road about 7 miles is the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch, her mansion, etc.

 

 

The buffalo statue is in front of Loretta Lynn's Kitchen in Buffalo...and yet another church...do they worship Buffalo?

 

After these three stops, I got back on the road and continued west.  Got into Memphis and then crossed over the Mississippi River into Arkansas and then continued west into Texarkana.  I had been there before and even had visited the two state post office.  This time I just stayed on the road and got to the rest area just into Texas. This water tower is in two states...

 

 

Crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas; A water tower in two states - Arkansas to the left, Texas to the right

 

By now I had been on the road traveling for over 13 hours and the sun was starting to go down.  As I approached Hooks, TX, the sun was setting and it was beautiful.  I pulled off the freeway to get some shots.  I am thrilled with what I got!!

 

 

Sunset just outside of Hooks, TX...a beautiful balance from the sunrise earlier that day

 

Once photos were taken, I then continued on I-30 west out of Hooks until I got to Exit 199, just west of New Boston.  From there I hopped on US 82 and headed west through Malta, Clarksville, Detroit, New Chicago, Reno and into Paris, a virtual world tour!!  After a stop for gas in Paris, I continued west to Honey Grove, TX. It was really dark out, but I was getting close to my destination...oh so very close to my goal.

 

After driving through Honey Grove, I headed south on County Rd. 34, only a few miles north of what should be Bug Tussle, TX.  When I got to the intersection of County Rd. 34 and FM 1550 (Farm to Market Rd.) I looked for some evidence of Bug Tussle.  I knew from other photos I had seen that there was a house on the corner with a sign that said Bug Tussle, TX -->.  I found the house in the pitch dark, looked up where the sign should be, but, alas, it was no longer there....so no evidence.  I was dumbfounded!!  All this way and all I could do was photograph the two road signs.

 

 

The road signs at the intersection where Bug Tussle should be (see maps below)

 

 

Here are the maps with the intersection....

 

So, dejected at not having found my second Bugtussle, I continued south towards Ladonia...then, about 200 yards from the intersection, on my right, there it was...a little farm road heading to a farm house.  And, at the entrance, a road sign, with the name Bugtussle!!  Dejection had turned to overwhelming delight.  I had driven from Bugtussle, KY to Bugtussle, TX in one day!!  And I had proof!!

 

Bugtussle and Milton, 200 yds south of County 34 and FM 1550

 

Dead tired, I still had a couple of hours to go to get to Keller, north of Ft. Worth.  I drove through the ghostly town of Ladonia (see photos below) and then through Commerce and on to I-30 again.  I followed I-30 into Dallas and then eventually made my way to Keller, arriving at about 10:30 PM, Central Time...about a 19 hour drive from Lexington.

 

 

Ladonia, TX: Seemed like a ghost town in the dark

 

Stay tuned for Part 2: A Week in Texas and Part 3: An Uncertain (TX) trip home in search of Waldo.

 

Why I Love My Job

Why I Love My Job

Why I Love My Job

Working at iHigh.com

This week (March 15) I hit the six month mark as an employee of iHigh.com, Inc. This has been a momentous six months for me as I have found enjoyment and fulfillment in a job more than I have enjoyed since my days as a tour guide in Flagstaff, AZ from 1981-1984.  This fulfillment doesn't come from the money I make. I have discovered that I am happy as can be with my job because every day brings me a new example of fulfillment and meaning.  These two things are so much more valuable than any financial compensation.

On the job in Kansas City

(photo courtesy of J. Morrison Photography)

 

I have written in earlier blogs about the difficulties I experienced for most of 2009. So, imagine my excitement when the opportunity to interview for a position at iHigh.com came along. What a thrill when I was offered a position.  My initial responsibility was to make phone calls to set appointments at schools.  But, as time progressed and new opportunities for me to utilize my many skills arose, I took advantage of them.  Soon I as writing tutorials and then training schools.  Before long I was doing tech support and am currently in that role…both tech support and training.

As I look back over the years at my various jobs, I can see that, in a sense, I was prepared for this job.  I have done web design and support, video production and editing, customer support, tech support (at the call center ironically), project management.  For five years I managed a high school football team website and ran the score clock and had two boys play high school football and two girls in basketball.  The boys were also in wrestling…so I also understand the high school experience.  I honestly believe that this job is a perfect fit for me and I for it.  And I love it.

Obviously, it is fun working in a job where I can watch and talk sports all day, yet also do the “techie” things.  But what I really love is the opportunity to talk to coaches, administrators and teachers across the country.  I get to assist them in getting their sites up and running.  I get to hear their excitement when things are going well on their sites.  I get to see the results of my labors and those of other me individuals in the office.  It is also rewarding to see all of the data that indicates how quickly the company is growing. I LOVE THIS JOB!! 

HAVING FUN ON THE JOB

One of the joys of this job is being able to watch high school sports and get paid for it.  Over the last week I have watched a number of girls’ high school basketball games as I monitored the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Girls’ State Championships.  There were a total of 15 games played, culminating in the championship game last night which Mercy Academy from Louisville defeated Scott County from Georgetown.  There was so much excitement in the air that I could even feel it while watching over a laptop monitor.  During the last six months I have also watched hockey, baseball, softball, lacrosse, swimming, wrestling and other high school sports.  The widget below tells the story.

KHSAA Widget

STATISTICS AND DATA

When I was in 5th grade at Spring Valley Elementary School in Richardson, TX (back in 1966) I began my illustrious career in statistics.  Back then I would walk from my house on Flagstone Way to Coit Rd., and then walk up Coit Rd. to Spring Valley Rd. to the 7-11 mart every day.  I would pick up my Black Cow sucker (a chocolate covered caramel sucker that was to die for) and would get a paper bag, go out to the soda machine and empty out all the pop bottle caps into the bag and take them home.  In those days there were no canned sodas.  Everything was in glass bottles and they had those metal caps that had to be opened with a bottle opener. Then, each day I would separate them, line them up and count them.  I logged the statistics.  Coke and Pepsi always battled it out and Dr. Pepper was not far behind.  There was also 7-UP, Nesbitt's, some kind of root beer and other assorted drinks.  For some reason I thought they were like money to me.

     

As I grew older I had other obsessions: sitting in my room with my AM Radio in Denver in 1968 scrolling through each station and documenting call letters and locations.  On good days I could get radio from Washington, California, Nebraska and even Chicago; as a junior in high school I had a job as a dishwasher and counted the forks vs. the spoons vs. the knives.  The spoons almost always won; then there are many times I would stand by the road counting the trucks vs the cars or the Chevys vs the Fords, etc.  Even in my married years I kept a running tally of Scrabble scores between my wife and I.  I even had averages, highest word scores, highest game scores, etc.—I still have that book!!; and to this day I still pick up shampoo bottles, toothpaste containers, cereal boxes, etc., and have competitions between the number of vowels and numbers of consonants.  I know, pretty obsessive behavior….

   

Counting radio stations, silverware, cars

 

But that brings me to the second joy of this job…the data.  Instead of pop bottle caps, I am always monitoring page views and unique visits.  It is fun for me to watch the visits add up and see which schools are getting more visits and uniques.  I then try to understand why they are getting them so I can assist other schools in doing the same.  I probably check out the unique hits chart once an hour…way more than I should.  I have been doing that for my own sites for a couple of years.  Now I do it daily and really do like to see the growth of the company and the interest in the content around the country from school to school.

 

Schools advertise their sites: Center HS in Kansas City, MO; Birdville HS in Ft. Worth, TX

 

HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

I must admit though, the real love of the job is coming through many of the experiences I have enjoyed in the last six months.  The rewards come in the people I meet and the stories that site administrators share with me…stories that let me realize how much the iHigh.com experience is benefiting a diversity of people…not just the schools and the students, but also parents, family members, friends and others.  I have seen two kinds of effects.  First would be the great stories of family members who are able to watch their children/grandchildren, etc., from far away.  The second would be the effect on students who are gaining great opportunities by participating in broadcasts as videographers or play by play announcers.

Hanging with members of North Dallas High School Booster Club in Dallas

(L-R: Gil Sandoval, David Kravetz, John Chavez)

 

Following are just a few of these fascinating stories:

Cary Academy, in Cary, NC:  This was probably the first story I had heard from an administrator.  Cary Academy is a small private school in Cary, NC and their volleyball team had qualified for the playoffs.  They had signed up for iHigh in order to be able to do a live streaming broadcast of their volleyball games.  The day after their first game was broadcast, one of the administrators called me with great enthusiasm to let me know how parents of one of his players were on a business trip and China and were able to see the game.  This was great stuff!  He also said that he had heard from family members of other players that relatives in Florida, New York and California were able to watch. It was a thrill.

                                                ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Center High School, Kansas City, MO: In January I had an opportunity to travel to St. Louis and Kansas City for some iHigh work.  This became my first opportunity to experience firsthand some of the human interest stories that are creating a legacy for iHigh.  My first experience at Center was when Brad Sweeten, the Athletic Director, introduced me to the four young men who would assist with the video broadcasts.  We were to broadcast a wrestling tournament all day (click on link for video): six cameras on six mats with resets every two hours.  My first thought was that these guys looked rough, kind of like gang members.  All were football players.  But, as I spoke with them I could see they were bright and willing to work.  And this they did…for over 9 hours they sat by the video cameras, they switched sessions on time and did an excellent job.  Since that time a couple of them have continued to work for Brad as cameramen on their schools’ basketball games and other activities.  They are also learning to edit video.

  

The Center video staff

(photo courtesy of J. Morrison Photography)

 

Then, during the event, as I sat at “iHigh Central” on the stage I was approached by a wrestler who asked, “can my father who is in the service in Afghanistan watch me wrestle?”  I said yes and told him how.  I thought to myself…”This is what it is all about.”  But the one that really got me was the young man who came to me shortly before the championship match.  He had his cell phone in hand and came to me and said, “My grandfather is on the phone.  He is in Ohio and has never seen me wrestle.  I will be in the championship match and he would like to see me wrestle.  Can you tell him how to watch?.”  I then walked his grandfather through it.  His grandfather then watched his grandson in the tournament and then watched him get a medal.  This was heartwarming and was more so when the young man came to me with such gratitude afterward.  Indeed, that event alone made the long drive to Kansas City well worth it.

iHigh Central

(photo courtesy of J. Morrison Photography)

 

I later learned from Brad Sweeten that one of his JV basketball boys has a father who is in Qatar in the service and was able to watch his son play basketball….not varsity, but JV basketball.  He was thrilled to death to be able to see a son who he dearly missed.

And here is a fun video from Center...a human center.ihigh.com

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High Energy Photos, Hi Hat KY - Down in SE Kentucky there is a group associated with iHigh called High Energy Photos.  They photograph and video many of the contests in and around Pikeville.  A few weeks ago they provided coverage for a Pikeville High School Basketball game so that a father stationed in Afghanistan could watch his son play for the first time this season. His son is in his senior year. The family was allowed to say a few words to the father during half-time and between games. His brother was extremely appreciative and the mother wanted to also express her thanks, she said it was the nicest thing anyone has ever let her do.  They were allowed to send some LIVE greetings at half time.  It was touching.  You can see the video here. (advance to 45:00 into the video to see the family and here the dedication)

On another occasion, during a girls’ home game this year,  the visiting coach from Wolfe County had to leave upon arrival to the gym because his wife had gone into labor and had been taken to Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, which is three hours away. The students sent out messages during the broadcast wishing the best to the coach, his wife, and new addition to the family from his staff and fans at the game. Before the end of the evening, his assistant got the address for the broadcast so that they could tell the coach where he could watch the coverage of the game and the archived broadcast.

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Wheeler High School, Wheeler, IN: Wheeler has an exchange student from Serbia who plays on their varsity basketball team. Each week his parents are able to watch him play…using iHigh from Serbia.  He has a teammate that is also from Serbia.  Apparently, the region around Wheeler, Indiana draws many Serbians.

The stories go on and on.  And my personal relationships with the ADs, teachers, coaches and booster members provide me the opportunity to hear new stories like these on a weekly basis. Knowing that all of my efforts are helping others to benefit makes it all worthwhile.

I LOVE MY JOB!

A Weekend in St. Louis/Kansas City in January 2010 - via Santa Claus, IN

A weekend in St. Louis/Kansas City - Jan. 14-17, 2010

Visiting Santa Claus, IN; St. Louis and Kansas City

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

 

January 14, 2010: ROAD TRIP!!  After quite a hiatus on road trips, I finally took one.  Now that I am working for iHigh.com I do have occasion to take a trip or two for support.  In this instance I was to travel to Kirkwood High School in St. Louis to Live Stream a basketball tournament on January 15, and then travel to Kansas City to Live Stream a large wrestling tournament at Center High School.  Naturally, along the way both there and back I made some side trips, as is always my custom, but in this case I did not veer too far off the beaten path.

Lexington, KY to Santa Claus, IN then St. Louis then Kansas City and back via Liberty, Independence and Lexington, MO

 

My first stop along the way was in Santa Claus, Indiana.  Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, Indiana and I believe it is the only town named Santa Claus anywhere.  According to theWikipedia article about Santa Claus, the town was established in 1854. In 1856, when the town (then known as Santa Fe, pronounced "fee") was working to establish a Post Office, the US Postal Service refused their first application as there was already another Santa Fe, Indiana. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected.  Currently the town claims to have the world’s only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus.

 

  

 

Santa Claus is a small town, but does have an amusement park a unique shopping center and Santa Claus statues everywhere. 

 

A few scenes from Santa Claus, IN

 

 

Santa Claus Town Hall and the unique benches in front of town hall

 

Unique shops abound....an old Santa statue on a hill (highest point in town)...the roller coaster atHoliday World

 

There is even a large Frosty the Snowman statue in town

 

After filling my eyes with Santa Claus and filling the car's tank with fuel, I was back on I-64 heading west to St. Louis.  The drive was fairly uneventful.  I had to be at Kirkwood High School in time for an evening basketball game which was part of theDenver Miller Tournament, in honor of the former Kirkwood basketball coach.  the funny part of the story is that one of my college roommates from BYU back in 1978 had graduated from here and also had been a kicker.  I searched the high school for any sign of Ray Heyman's name and actually found it on a plaque of football lettermen from 1973.  Ray is now an attorney in Arizona and doing very well.

 

After the game, I headed off to the hotel for the night.

 

January 15, 2010: I was up early the next morning to head to St. Louis to meet one of my friends who had moved from Lexington.  We headed out to a diner in St. Louis known asGoody Goody Diner. As with all other adventures I take, I look for interesting locations to chow down and this one was a doozy!!  Located on Natural Bridge Rd., it appears to be in the industrial part of town.  The Diner has been around since 1948 and has gone through numerous hands.  It is purportedly in the same location as the original A & W Root Beer stand in St. Louis, which was opened in 1931. The A & W had car hops and the tradition continued with Goody Goody diner until the early 1970s. Currently the diner is owned by Richard and Laura Connelly. Richard's father purchased the diner in 1954 and it has been in the family ever since.

 

  

Richard Connelly, owner of Goody Goody

 

The diner has typical diner fare, but they also have their own specialties.  They are famous for their "Wilbur" omelet,  which is filled with hash brown
potatoes, green pepper, onion and tomato. Then it is covered with chili and Cheddar cheese.  It also comes with sides...I ordered the grits and an English muffin.  The omelet was FABULOUS and really not too costly either.  My friend Steve tried the fried chicken and waffles. That looked pretty good as well.

 

  

A "Wilbur" breakfast as well as fried chicken and waffles

 

  

The "Wilbur" is sure to bring a smile.  Enjoy it one of the original diner seats.

 

 

Not sure where it got the name, but the atmosphere and food were both deserving of the name Goody Goody!!

 

 

In my continuing quest for murals and wall art, I saw these two pieces on the same wall on a building next door to Goody Goody's

 

After a good meal and some time with Steve, I was back on my way Kirkwood for another game.  Along the way I visited the quaint town of Kirkwood and drove the Laumeier Sculpture Park which had some large art.  It was a pleasant diversion. The Laumeier Park was established in 1972 and over the years has grown to over 105 acres.  It was one of just a few open air art museums in the world.  I took numerous photos of the art work.  Following are just a few samples. There is a map of the entire outdoor park/museumhere.

 

 

  

L-R: Ernest Trova - Profile Canto VI, 1974;Armand P. Arman - La Libellule, 1996;Mark di Suvero - Tumbleweed, 1978-95

 

  

L-R: Anthony Caro - Java, 1976; Mark di Suvero - Destino, 2003;  Bro. Mel Meyer - Chairs, 1996 (located downtown Kirkwood)

 

After the little drive I then went and videoed the basketball games and then drove most of the evening to Kansas City, arriving there shortly after midnight.

 

January 16, 2010: It was another early day for me...to bed at 1 AM and up at 6 AM.  This entire day would be spent atCenter High School in Kansas City to coordinate and manage live streaming a 16 team wrestling tournament on 6 mats.  We would be trying something not done before by iHigh...basically run6 Live Streams from one location simultaneously for nearly 9 hours.  After we got all set up and cleared up a few glitches, we were rolling.  Center HS had provided some football players to assist in manning the cameras.  Athletic Director Brad Sweeten worked with me most of the day in the coordination and monitoring.  It was a great success.  We had some great stories, like the father in Afghanistan who got to watch or the grandfather in Ohio who saw his grandson wrestle (and win the championship in his weight class) for the first time ever.  This is why I love my job!!  Click on the widget below for more from Center HS.

 

After the tournament was over, Coach Sweeten and I headed to a local restaurant to enjoy what Kansas City is famous for...Barbecue.  It was great and so was the company.  Finally, by 11 PM I was back in bed at the hotel. The next day would be an early departure to head back home via a few more places.

 

January 17, 2010: I would head back home to Lexington today, but once again would hit a few back roads and catch a few more bits of America as I like to see it.  My first stop was heading north into Kansas City for a drive by the art museums there.  Like St. Louis, there is some interesting out door artwork...more specifically giant shuttlecocks (or badminton birdies).  In July 1994, Shuttlecocks, the first outdoor sculpture commissioned for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, was installed in theKansas City Sculpture Park, which is part of theNelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The shuttlecocks were created by internationally known Dutch artistsClaes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and were a  gift to the Museum. Altogether there are four shuttlecocks, each 17 ft. 11 in. high x 15 ft. 1 in. crown diameter and 4 ft. nose diameter, located in different positions on the grounds of the museum. Oldenburg and van Bruggen have done all sorts of large and whimsical works around the world.  I sure hope to see more in the future!!

 

  

"Shuttlecocks" by Claes Oldenburg & Cossje van Bruggen at Kansas City Sculpture Park

 

There were a number of other interesting works of art surrounding the old and new sections of the art museum.  I did not venture in as it was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, but I did see a couple more interesting pieces.  The first of the pieces to catch anyone's eye is the gigantic "Spider" sculpture by French artistLouis Bourgeois. This eerie bronze sculpture was built in 1996 and sits at the entrance of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.  It stands over 11 feet tall and really is spooky.

 

 

Two views of "Spider" by Louis Bourgeois at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City

 

Another interesting sculpture at Kemper

(name and artist unknown)

 

After seeing just a few of the works of art at the sculpture parks in St. Louis and Kansas City, I am determined to get to others in the U.S. on my travels in the future.  I hope to see theFranconica Sculpture Park in Franconica, MN and thePorter Sculpture Park near Montrose, SD, among others.

 

After the interesting venture into art, I headed north to Independence, MO, site of some Mormon Church History.  Along the way I came across the somewhat famous and uniqueLeila's Hair Museum.  I have seen this place noted in Roadside America and also on Ripley's Believe It or Not. Well, I found the place, but it is closed on Sundays.  The only sign is the one below...it was in a plastic folder taped on the door.

 

Leila's Hair Museum in Independence, MO

 

Also on my drive thru Independence I came across this all painting.  Independence is the home of President Harry Truman and this wall painting depicts the famous Chicago Tribune article that mistakenly proclaimed that Dewey had defeated Truman.  The mural sits on the side of the Welch, Martin and Albano law office in downtown Independence.

 

 

 

From Independence I then drove to Liberty, MO.  My main objective there was to see theLiberty Jail Historic Site, where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was held.  Unfortunately, I pulled into Liberty at 8:30 AM and the Visitor's Center didn't open until 9, so I didn't get the chance to go in.  But, it was nice to finally get there.  Joseph Smith spent almost 5 months in this jail while awaiting trial and received three revelations (Sections 121, 122 and 123) which are included in the Church's Doctrine and CovenantsOne of the scriptures has always been inspirational to me: in D&C 121:7-8 ". . . if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."  Joseph Smith suffered some tortuous times in his life and this was definitely one of them.

 

 

Not too far from the Liberty Jail are some interesting murals on the Clay County Offices. On one corner is a painting that appears to depict Lewis and Clark.  Then there are some unique ceramic murals that adorn the walls of the office building. Each ceramic mural, originally installed in 1984, depicts figures and events from Clay County's past.

 

 

Lewis & Clark Mural painted by Liberty artist David McClain

Located on the side of the Clay County Detention Center

 

 

 

These are some of the ten ceramic murals on the wall of the Clay County Public Safety Building in Liberty, MO.  They depict the history of the county.

On the left is "Scales and Rails" which depicts the Watkins Mill of 1860, Cook Paint & Varnish in 1913,

Ralston Purina in the 1940s, Claycomo Ford Assembly Plant in 1951, and the A.S.B. Bridge built in 1912.

On the right is the Clay Country War Memorial which shows the white doves of Anguish (on the left) and Serenity (on the right).

Flanked by the white doves, soldiers from Missouri in all the great wars remind us of the price freedom requires -- death.

As the North gestures to the South, the sallow image of Col. Alexander Doniphan and his entourage march into history.

 

 

These are closeups of some portions of the ceramic murals that depict many of the former residents of Clay County

 

After the visit to Liberty, my next stop was in Lexington, Missouri, famed for the Civil War Battle of Lexington.  I drove by the visitor's center but did not have time to go in.  That'll have to be on another trip.

 

 

Battle of Lexington Visitor's Center and Plaque commemorating the battle

Click here for a brief of history of this battle

 

The town of Lexington had a few other notable things, including a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.

 

 

An eagle was the centerpiece of a war heroes monument while lady Liberty stood watch in downtown Lexington

 

 

A mural found in Lexington, MO depicting the some of the history of this river town

 

Perhaps the most delightful thing about driving the less beaten paths of America are the rustic and natural sites along the way.  As we speed by on the freeways we miss so much.  Here are just a few of the things I saw along the way home from Lexington, MO to Lexington, KY.

 

  

Some of the natural scenes along the way.  Most of Missouri was quite foggy this January day, so the scenery had a different feel.

The large tree in the middle has to be one of my all-time favorite shots.  It was a lucky sight with the old truck below it.

The tree clinging to life on an eroded hill was also an eye catching site.

 

 

Along the way on back roads we see the history of this country.  FromMaid-Rite Sandwiches to old forgotten houses.

Maid-Rite sandwiches are "Loose Meat" sandwiches.  I would have tried one, but this shop was closed for the day.

 

And finally, along the road I came across a flock of Flamingoes.  As a trueTrailer Park Troubadour Flamingohead, I could not pass up the opportunity to capture a few shots of this silly pink birds at what appeared to be a Biker Joint.

 

  

This is a biker bar and grill located in Fayette, MO.  They claim to have good food (unlike aStoneville Saloon in Alzada, Montana)

Some roadside guidance provided by......

 

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz