Remembering Tom Petty

Today started off terrible. Woke up to news of a massive shooting in Las Vegas where, at the point that I write this, at least 58 people have died. They were doing what they loved, going to a music concert. They were innocent victims. 

Tom Petty Oct 20, 1950 – Oct 2, 2017


As if that was not bad enough, one of the few musicians that I actually idolize because of his music and the inspiration much of it has given me through my life, passed away of cardiac arrest today. Tom Petty has always been one of my all-time favorite musicians. I have used the words from his “Running Down a Dream” and “I Won’t Back Down,” among others for inspiration when I have made attempts to succeed or get over hurdles in my life.

I very rarely cry when a musician passes away. These are just people that are famous in most cases. Most of them I sing along with, but few inspire. I cried when George Harrison died and I’m crying today.

Tom Petty


Tom Petty lived his dream. From the time he was a teenager he sought to become a musician. By age 17 he had traveled across the country to run down his dream. But more than that, he is been an avid supporter of musician’s rights throughout the decades.

Was he perfect? Was he a good example in the morès of life? Probably not totally so. Yes, he has done drugs and advocated it in some of his songs. He struggled, like many musicians, with many of those kinds of issues.l as a result of fame and fortune. 

But, he is one of the few musicians that I’ve taken time to learn about in detail. And I have always been impressed with his care and concern for others.

Traveling Wilburys


When he worked with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison to form the Traveling Wilburys, I was one of the first to pick up that album. I wore it out! I still listen to the traveling Wilburys, especially when I’m driving on the road alone. Now only two remain. 

Running Down a Dream


Though Tom Petty has passed, his music will still be there.

Tom…thanks for the music. Thanks for the inspiration. You will be missed.

Vicissitudes of Life: Birth and Death

The sands of time
They seem to flow
Against the grain
Of the life we know
David Kravetz, 1975

VicissitudesI wrote the above shortly before joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At the time, I was dabbling a bit in poetry and had just gone through some challenging times in my life. It was the first time I had experienced a vicissitude in my life.

Vicissitude is an interesting word. Searching through definitions, the general meaning is: A change or variation occurring in the course of something. interchange or alternation, as of states or things. vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs

BackRoadLTI really like to look at “vicissitudes of life” as meaning “ups and downs” of life. We all have them and how we deal with them sets the course of our life from that point on. We all have our own special journeys as we pursue life.  Many times our paths cross with others on their journeys and the impact of the crossing of paths may cause adjustments to our own journeys.

Jamie Showkeir

Jamie Showkeir

Recently, a beloved brother in law of mine, Jamie Showkeir, passed away after a year long struggle with the devastating disease known as ALS.  Many have heard the term, but it means amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.  Jamie, was dealt a new vicissitude in life down a road with a definite dead end.  And he knew it.  But he chose to deal with it rather than to let it deal with him.

In September 2014, Jamie, already diagnosed with this dastardly disease, was interviewed for an article in the Arizona Republic.  The author, Kari Bland, is a friend of Maren, Jamie’s wife (Maren is my wife’s sister). Like so many others, she was hit hard by the news.

Jamie at his best

Jamie at his best

You see, Jamie isn’t the guy this should have happened to.  He was active, he was smart, he was athletic. He practiced yoga. He had a lust for life and was an avid cyclist, hiker and nature lover. He was a talented author and teacher.

But, one day he began feeling weakness in his left arm and from that day forward, his life would change.  And the challenging part, especially for him, but really, for all of us, was knowing that the degeneration was on the body…but the mind was always alert and he had to deal with it.

Kari notes in her article “Here’s the deal, Kari, for me,” Jamie said. “We can’t always choose the cards that we’re dealt, but the choice we have is how we are going to play them.

I read that article back then and that quote has stuck with me.  And Jamie has always played the cards well.  And he did this time as well.  He passed away on his own terms, dealing with the disease and the circumstances in the best attitude he could muster.  Ultimately, Jamie died on August 16 this year, his 63rd birthday, at his home in Phoenix with his wife, Maren, by his side.

Jamie left a positive impact on 100s of people, including me.  He was a mentor to me (and he didn’t even know it!) Three or four times I called him for advice due to his wisdom of the business world. (He and Maren have authored two books).

And this is where the “ups and downs” of life come in.  The sorrow of Jamie’s passing lasted a number of months, even before it happened.  We all knew it was coming. The day it happened was hard on all of us.  However, life would continue to throw interesting curve balls along the way.

11998663_10153594403937090_269566728_nJust a two short weeks after Jamie’s passing, I got to sit in a chair at my son’s house in Connecticut and hold my brand new grandson, Samuel. He was a milestone grandson for me, my tenth. Born on August 31, he brought a new gleam of joy into my life.

I love holding newborn babies, especially those that are my grandchildren. And I so looked forward to this opportunity to be with this little guy.

As I sat with him and held this sweet child, my mind wandered off into the complexities of life, the ups and downs.  The tough swings of dealing with life and death.

11997958_10153594404197090_2070403904_nIn two short weeks I experienced the passing of a dearly beloved brother in law and then a birth of a new grandchild. The words “vicissitudes of life” bounced around in my head.  I was all at once taken aback by the waves of life. I marveled at how life’s journey can present such dichotomies in such a short time.

For me, the birth of Samuel was, in essence, the rebirth of Jamie.  The two of them will be forever etched together in my mind. No, I am not a believer in reincarnation.  But, Samuel will always remind me of the joy that Jamie brought to me and hundreds of others. Simple, unfettered joy.

And, for a few short weeks, I forgot all about my own “vicissitudes” of life and basked in the joys of life and death…of people that mean so much more than the challenges of jobs, money and things. I am grateful for Jamie.  I am grateful for Samuel.

Rowling11999959_10153594619962090_589360215_n

Coming Soon to Sumoflam Singlewide Blog – 2015

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

As 2015 has already come on strong, I already have plans in the works for new blog posts and, honestly, I can’t wait, so I thought I would pop in a little teaser of what to expect over the next few weeks:

#TBT Posts

Cartoon2

Cartoon from Oita Godo Shinbun (Oita Daily News – Japan)

The #TBT (Throwback Thursday) movement is getting bigger and I have already boarded that train on my Less Beaten Paths Travel Blog as I look back at old travel journal entries that are now going to be integrated into the blog.  For this particular blog in 2015 my #TBT Theme will be “Sumoflam in the Media” and I will resurrect magazine articles, newspaper articles, television shows and commercials that I have been in over the years.

 

 

 

Second Mesa, AZ

Cover article for the Asahi Solar Magazine – Me with Hopi Indians, providing a Solar Water Heater to them in 1990.

In this I will include my short-lived TV documentaries from Japan, translated versions of my newspaper column while living in Japan, more recent publications in American Magazines and Newspapers. And, there may be a few other fun surprises.  Watch for these every Thursday (or at least every other Thursday).

A TV Food Competition Primer

FN-ShowLogo-Chopped-1920x1080I have become an avid viewer of great Food Competition programming on television, including Food Network shows such as “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “The Great Food Truck Race,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and more. While listening to judges, I have learned all sorts of interesting things from cooking styles, food names and, most interestingly, terminology such as “flavor profile” and others.  I will introduce you to some of these and try to explain them away. Appearance and taste aren’t the only winning things with these shows as many culinary experts are becoming TV stars.  I’ll introduce some of them as well.

Scampering with squirrels – a Photo-Essay

DSC_5838Over the last couple of years I have become enamored with squirrels!  Through all of my wildlife photography, I have captured some great squirrel shots.  At the same time, as I look out by back deck door I have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing shows that squirrels present including their leaping, their frolicking with others and their foraging.  My fascination is seemingly endless.

How to be “Awesome, but getting better”

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

Life is Awesome but only getting better 40 years after graduating high school

I have become known for replying “I’m awesome, but getting better” when asked how I’m doing.  I am a firm believer in trying to take a positive vent on things and be resilient.

Life may be hard, but the attitude one takes can really be life changing. I enjoy every day of life despite the stresses, challenges and obstacles thrown at me. I hope to share some of this positivity in an upcoming blog post.

The Joys of Being a Grandparent

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

My nickname is “Grampz” to my Grandkidz.  We are all hip…we use the letter Z at the end.

I never dreamed of having 9 (and maybe more) grandchildren.

I may have been an OK parent, but I like to believe I am a Helluva grandparent!

The Selfie King – The Art of the Selfie

The Ultimate Selfie

The Ultimate Selfie – Alligator, Mississippi, June 2014

This is all about “The Art of the Selfie.” I have taken hundreds of them and love doing so.  In 2013 the Oxford Dictionaries announced their word of the year to be “selfie”, which they define as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” As most of us know, the “selfie” has become a very popular form of sharing one’s activities, travels and a photograph with one’s friends, family and the world.  Though taking self-portraits has been around since the birth of photography (Robert Cornelius, a pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839), since the mid 2000s, and especially since 2010, the genre has exploded, thanks to the proliferation of social media.

Clowning Around (Sumoelton)

Clowning Around (Sumoelton) – taken at home, Halloween 2012

I have always been one that wanted to have my picture taken wherever I went, more as a record, but in the past couple of years, with the new technologies that smart devices provide us, I’ve been very active in taking selfies without having to have other people interact with me. Honestly, with the posting of all these selfies, one might think that I am self absorbed. But that is not really the truth. I enjoy sharing the joy and excitement of the places that I have been and the activities that I have participated in.

Selfie with a HUGE potato at a drive-in theater in Driggs, Idaho

Selfie with a HUGE potato at a drive-in theater in Driggs, Idaho – March 2013

Even as a young boy I was always fascinated with being in front of the camera. Over the years I’ve had numerous “goofy” pictures taken of me and I’ve even taken a few “selfies” on my own. Here are a few “non-selfies” from years gone by.

My first "selfie" using a mirror.  I was at a barber shop in Japan when this bird landed on my shoulder.  I took it from an angle

My first “selfie” using a mirror. I was at a barber shop in Japan when this bird landed on my shoulder. I took it from an angle.  Taken in 1977 in Ogaki, Japan

I took this "selfie" in Jemez Springs, NM in Dec. 1978 - Turned the camera towards me and "point and shoot"

I took this “selfie” in Jemez Springs, NM in Dec. 1978 – Turned the camera towards me and “point and shoot”

Mirror image - used my cell phone to take a mirrored selfie at Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton National Park, March 2013

Mirror image – used my cell phone to take a mirrored selfie at Colter Bay Village in Grand Tetons National Park, March 2013

Kewpie Hair - took this after a nap with wet hair - taken in the mirror with my cell phone

Kewpie Hair – took this after a nap with wet hair – taken in the mirror with my cell phone – July 2014

Nowadays, it seems like I take them wherever I’m at, whether I’m traveling across the country or whether I’m with my grandchildren. Taking selfies is fun for me and fun for those around me (I hope).  But they also have become a great way of documenting trips and events.

Real Quiet Lane, Lexington, KY - October 2013

Real Quiet Lane, Lexington, KY -November 2013

In May and June I took two trips across the United States. The first trip was north to Michigan and across four states to Montana to see my daughter and her family. From there I returned south into Wyoming and across Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri to return home. On the second trip I drove south through Tennessee Mississippi and Texas and then back home through Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Friendship, Arkansas - July 2014

Friendship, Arkansas – July 2014

On both of these trips I took close to 100 selfies each. Many of these were posted in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and some of my travel blog posts at lessbeatenpaths.com. As I moved across the states, friends and family were able to follow me (probably to the point of overkill). Of course, anyone that follows my adventures knows that I also like to ham it up in many of my selfies.  Always more fun.

Bison and Sumobison, Havre, Montana - May 2014

Bison and Sumobison, Havre, Montana – May 2014

In this post, I have no intention of posting all 150 or 200 of my selfies from those trips, but I am going to post a selection of them that I found fun and interesting. I will include the location and, if there is a back story, I’ll include a little of that as well. At the end of the post, I am also going to include a few of my other favorites from past trips.

Sumoflam with Hiawatha, the largest statue of a native American in the U.S. This was taken in Ironwood, MI in May 2014

Sumoflam with Hiawatha, the largest statue of a native American in the U.S. This was taken in Ironwood, MI in May 2014

I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Lew in Austin, TX in June 2014.  This is the famous Welcome to Austin mural

I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Lew in Austin, TX in June 2014. This is the famous Greetings from Austin mural

Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota. Taken in May 2014

Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota. Taken in May 2014

Pink Elephant in DeForest, Wisconsin - May 2014

Pink Elephant in DeForest, Wisconsin – May 2014

Not only do I find pink elephants with glasses, I can find big cows with PINK glasses - this was in Russellville, KY in June 2014

Not only do I find pink elephants with glasses, I can find big cows with PINK glasses – this was in Russellville, KY in June 2014

Bucksnort, Tennessee in June 2014

Bucksnort, Tennessee in June 2014

With Chief Washakie in Cody, Wyoming - May 2014

With Chief Washakie in Cody, Wyoming – May 2014

At Mammy's Cupboard Cafe in Natchez, Mississippi in June 2014.  Yes, I ate in that place too...unique looking place

At Mammy’s Cupboard Cafe in Natchez, Mississippi in June 2014. Yes, I ate in that place too…unique looking place

A star shining brightly at Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska in May 2014

A star shining brightly at Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska in May 2014

Sumoflam visits the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX in June 2014

Sumoflam visits the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, TX in June 2014

Personally, I think that the selfie has become a great form of “journal keeping.” These are things that will allow family and friends to look back and see what we have done. I think that too many people don’t document the things that they have done and then we lose that personal history.

At the corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, Texas - June 2014

At the corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, Texas – June 2014

Wyoming's Wildlife - yes, probably me...  taken at a rest area on US Highway 20 about 40 miles west of Casper, WY in May 2014

Wyoming’s Wildlife – yes, probably me… taken at a rest area on US Highway 20 about 40 miles west of Casper, WY in May 2014

Visiting Rock City near Valier, Montana in May 2014

Visiting Rock City near Valier, Montana in May 2014

I always endeavor to find unique places for selfies and just for a visit.  This was Endeavor, WI in May 2014

I always endeavor to find unique places for selfies and just for a visit. This was Endeavor, WI in May 2014

Sumoflamalope (a mix between a Sumoflam and a Jackalope.  Taken in Douglas, WY in May 2014

Sumoflamalope (a mix between a Sumoflam and a Jackalope. Taken in Douglas, WY in May 2014

Some gator teeth and me at P'maws Bait Shop in Pierre Part, Louisiana - June 2014

Some gator teeth and me at P’maws Bait Shop in Pierre Part, Louisiana – June 2014

With the old Paul Bunyan statue (built in 1937) in Bemidji, MN in May 2014

With the old Paul Bunyan statue (built in 1937) in Bemidji, MN in May 2014

Visiting the giant pyramid in Nekoma, ND in May 2014

Visiting the giant pyramid in Nekoma, ND in May 2014

With Sam Houston's head in Huntsville, Texas in June 2014

With Sam Houston’s head in Huntsville, Texas in June 2014

Naturally, when I travel, no matter when it is, I have my cameras on the ready.  In the past couple of years I try to also get photos with state signs and unique town signs. Here are a few from trips over the past couple of years.

Welcome to Winner, South Dakota.  Always great to be a Winner (and they had a major lottery winner in that town too!!) Taken in June 2013

Welcome to Winner, South Dakota. Always great to be a Winner (and they had a major lottery winner in that town too!!) Taken in June 2013

I meandered into Okay, Oklahoma in November 2012

I meandered into Okay, Oklahoma in November 2012

A visit to North Carolina in April 2013.  We actually took a trip to South Carolina and Georgia as well.

A visit to North Carolina in April 2013. We actually took a trip to South Carolina and Georgia as well.

Smile, you are in Pennsylvania...so I smiled in July 2013

Smile, you are in Pennsylvania…so I smiled in July 2013

Went through Nebraska on my to see Carhenge in May 2014

Went through Nebraska on my to see Carhenge in May 2014

Arriving in Texas on my way from Colorado and heading to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo in June 2013

Arriving in Texas on my way from Colorado and heading to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo in June 2013

Rudyard, Montana - and no, I am not the Old Sore Head...  May 2014

Rudyard, Montana – and no, I am not the Old Sore Head… May 2014

Welcome to Louisiana in June 2014

Welcome to Louisiana in June 2014

In Lost Springs, Wyoming (Population 4) in May 2014.

In Lost Springs, Wyoming (Population 4) in May 2014.

Had to visit the town of Cut and Shoot, Texas north of Conroe, just for a photo op with their City Hall and the town name - taken in June 2014

Had to visit the town of Cut and Shoot, Texas north of Conroe, just for a photo op with their City Hall and the town name – taken in June 2014

Naturally, I had to visit the birthplace of one of my favorite characters, Kermit the Frog, in Leland, Mississippi in June 2014

Naturally, I had to visit the birthplace of one of my favorite characters, Kermit the Frog, in Leland, Mississippi in June 2014

Route 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi in May 2014

Route 61, the Blues Highway in Mississippi in June 2014

Heading to Carhenge in May 2014

Heading to Carhenge in May 2014

Welcome to Arkansas in June 2014

Welcome to Arkansas in June 2014

Then there are my ham it up, goofy and whimsical selfies that I love to take.  Here are a few from previous road trips and at home, around movie theaters, and other odds and ends for fun.

Bull headed at the Frontier Steak House in Dunkirk, Montana in March 2013

Bull headed at the Frontier Steak House in Dunkirk, Montana in March 2013

The Hodag and Sumoflam in Rhinelander, WI in August 2012

The Hodag and Sumoflam in Rhinelander, WI in August 2012

Home of the Hamburger - with the Charles Nagreen Statue in Seymour, Wisconsin, August 2012

Home of the Hamburger – with the Charles Nagreen Statue in Seymour, Wisconsin, August 2012

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas in June 2014

At the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas in June 2014

Being chomped by a Transformer Dinosaur at the movie theater in Lexington - July 2014

Being chomped by a Transformer Dinosaur at the movie theater in Lexington – July 2014

Escaping a T-Rex in Choteau, Montana in May 2014

Escaping a T-Rex in Choteau, Montana in May 2014

Within reach of the amazing metal dragon from Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI in August 2012

Within reach of the amazing metal dragon from Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI in August 2012

Being stomped by a giant dinosaur at the Indianapolis Children's Museum in September 2013

Being stomped by a giant dinosaur at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in September 2013

Under a Fire-breathing Dragon in Vandalia, IL in September 2013

Under a Fire-breathing Dragon in Vandalia, IL in September 2013

Cuddling with a troll in Mt. Horeb, WI in August 2012

Cuddling with a troll in Mt. Horeb, WI in August 2012

Almost didn't see the stop sign covered in snow at the "Top of the World Store" in the Beartooth Range at 10,000 feet in May 2014

Almost didn’t see the stop sign covered in snow at the “Top of the World Store” in the Beartooth Range at 10,000 feet in May 2014

Suffering with Flamingo Pink Eye at the former Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville in December 2012

Suffering with Flamingo Pink Eye at the former Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville in December 2012

Took a SumoGothic photo in Eldon, Iowa at the house used in the painting American Gothic in September 2013

Took a SumoGothic photo in Eldon, Iowa at the house used in the painting American Gothic in September 2013

Being corny at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD in April 2013

Being corny at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD in April 2013

Selfie with the Caddies of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX in June 2013

Selfie with the Caddies of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX in June 2013

Peek a Boo from behind an umbrella at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky in June 2013

Peek a Boo from behind an umbrella at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky in June 2013

Then there are my references to Antsy McClain…my good friend and favorite singer/songwriter….

Livin' the Dream - taken at a Hobby Lobby in December 2013 - refers to Antsy's CD of the same name

Livin’ the Dream – taken at a Hobby Lobby in December 2013 – refers to Antsy’s CD of the same name

Juxtaposed Antsy's Living the Dream CD with my face in July 2012

Juxtaposed Antsy’s Living the Dream CD with my face in July 2012

A "dualie" with Antsy McClain taken in 2013

An “usie” with Antsy McClain taken in 2013

Everything's a Dollar - in reference to an Antsy McClain song of the same name

Everything’s a Dollar – in reference to an Antsy McClain song of the same name

Enjoy the Ride - The Aluminum Rule from the Antsy McClain song "Living in Aluminum"

Enjoy the Ride – The Aluminum Rule from the Antsy McClain song “Living in Aluminum”

And just a few more goofball selfies to round out this post…

I get the point at Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin in May 2014

I get the point at Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin in May 2014

Hanging with the Tin Family in North Dakota's Enchanted Highway in June 2013

Hanging with the Tin Family in North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway in June 2013

With a bottle of "Route Beer" at Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL in August 2013

With a bottle of “Route Beer” at Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL in August 2013

And how about some Ice Cream with that "Route Beer"... in Peoria, IL

And how about some Ice Cream with that “Route Beer”… at Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL

I always like to get a selfie at unusual places, like Stoner Drug in Hamburg, Iowa

I always like to get a selfie at unusual places, like Stoner Drug in Hamburg, Iowa

Or with famous things like the car used in American Pickers. This is in LeClaire, Iowa

Or with famous things like the car used in American Pickers. This is in LeClaire, Iowa

Took this at a place that had a bunch of totem poles made with chainsaws, in Wisconsin

Took this at a place that had a bunch of totem poles made with chainsaws, in Wisconsin

The Artsy side of me likes to get selfies where I "kind of" fit in....  This was in Council Bluffs, Iowa in August 2013

The Artsy side of me likes to get selfies where I “kind of” fit in…. This was in Council Bluffs, Iowa in August 2013

I recently read that there are now words being created for group “selfies,” with “usie” being one of the more common names, but other names are used as well.  here are a few “usie” pix I have gotten over the past couple of years….

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

The best “usies” are with my wife Julianne, this one at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

An 'usie" with travel writer and blogger Tui Snider from Texas in June 2014

An “usie” with travel writer and blogger Tui Snider from Texas in June 2014

This "usie" is with Troy Landry, one of the stars of the History Channel's "Swamp People" series.  He hunts gators near Pierre Part, Louisiana.  I got this with him at his Dad's bait shop in Pierre Part in June 2014

This “usie” is with Troy Landry, one of the stars of the History Channel’s “Swamp People” series. He hunts gators near Pierre Part, Louisiana. I got this with him at his Dad’s bait shop in Pierre Part in June 2014

An "usie" with Danielle Colby from American Pickers taken in 2012

An “usie” with Danielle Colby from American Pickers taken in 2012

An "usie" with world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel

An “usie” with world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel

Naturally, as a grandfather of nine, I get a number of “usie” photos with my grandchildren.  My next “selfie” post will include quite a few of them, but, in closing, here are just a couple of my all time favorites to include in this first post.

With some of the grandkids in the car on the way to a movie

With some of the grandkids in the car on the way to a movie

Hamming it up with my East Coast grandson Rockwell

Hamming it up with my East Coast grandson Rockwell

A couple of the grandkids with Grandma and Grampz

A couple of the grandkids with Grandma and Grampz

Teaching my granddaughter Lyla to drive

Teaching my granddaughter Lyla to drive

Wnjoying time with my West Coast grandkids in Montana

Enjoying time with my West Coast grandkids in Montana

On that note I will end by noting that I am grateful for the wizardry of technology that allows us to do these “selfies” and “usies” and share them with the world. Photography has become fun and documenting one’s life has become more fun. Wizardry is fun…right Gandalf?

Sumoflam and Gandalf "usie"

Sumoflam and Gandalf “usie”

So, with that being said, I will probably have a couple more posts in the future of other selfies and most certainly of some family “usies.”

35 Years of Milestones – Julianne and David

Kravetz35SplashI never dreamed that someday I might be part of something bigger than me
It makes me feel humble, finally I see….All that we have is each other
And that’s all that I’ll ever need”  — Joe Walsh, “Family” from his Analog CD

As the week-long celebration of my 35 years with Julianne comes to an end, I would like to close out with a broad-brush overview of our wonderful 35 year journey (thus far!).  Yesterday I posted a video that our daughter Marissa compiled that includes dozens of photos from this 35 year journey.  If you have not yet seen it, here is the link to that post. We are really no different than any other couple with 35 years behind them.  So much can happen.  This is a look back out our journey together.

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

David and Julianne in Provo, UT February 1979

When I look back on my family’s growth and the milestones achieved over a period of 35 years, I really realize that so much has happened.  It has been an amazing ride so far! Here are a number of highlights from our 35 years (coupled with photos when appropriate):

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

David and Julianne Wedding Photo July 1979

From 1979 to 2014:

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

Family 2009

Family 2009

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members

Kravetz Family Group photo with grandchildren and some family members – 2012

We had 5 children

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

David (Grampz) with all 9 grandchildren on Christmas Day 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo - Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe - 2012

A Kravetz four generation photo – Seth, Rockwell, David, Joe – 2012

We had 9 grandchildren

3 of our children served LDS (Mormon) Missions

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

Amaree on her Mission in Japan

o Amaree to Nagoya Japan: January 2001 – July 2002

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

Marissa on her mission in Thailand

o Marissa to Bangkok Thailand: September 2002 – February 2004

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion -- Tall and Short..

Seth on his mission in Salt Lake City South area with his companion — Tall and Short..

o Seth to Salt Lake City South: October 2006 to October 2008

Both of our boys attained Eagle Scout

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

Seth at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Seth in March 2005

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

o Solomon in June 2007

We have lived in 18 locations (including 2 extended motel stays while looking for housing and 3 extended work-related stays for David)

o An apartment in Provo, UT

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

Our first rental house in Flagstaff, AZ ca 1980

o 2 Houses in Flagstaff, AZ
o Married Student Housing at NAU in Flagstaff
o 2 Houses and an apartment in Mesa, AZ
o 1 Apartment in Tempe, AZ

Apartments in Oita.  We lived on the 5th Floor

Apartments in Oita. We lived on the 5th Floor

o 2 Apartments in Oita, Japan

House in Frankfort, KY

House in Frankfort, KY

o 1 House in Frankfort, KY

House in Nicholasville

House in Nicholasville

o 1 House in Nicholasville, KY

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington

House on Stanford Dr. in Lexington – notice our old Aerostar Van

Our current home in Lexington, KY

Our current home in Lexington, KY

o 2 Houses in Lexington, KY
o 1 Apartment in Louisville, KY (David only on extended work contract – 8 months)
o 1 Hotel in Woodstock, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

Apartment in Paris, Ontario

o 1 Apartment in Paris, ON (David only on extended work contract – 4 months)
o 1 Hotel in Cebu, Philippines (David only on extended work – 8 weeks)

We had three college graduates (including David)

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University - 1984

Graduation with Bachelors from Northern Arizona University – 1984

o David graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Arizona University (History/Geography/Asian Studies) and then a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University (Political Science/Asian Studies)

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

Amaree graduation from University of Kentucky

o Amaree graduated from University of Kentucky (Music Education)

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

Seth graduation from University of Kentucky

o Seth graduated from University of Kentucky (Engineering)

We have traveled to 6 foreign countries (collectively)

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

Family visiting Usa Shrine in Japan in 1990

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David's father

David and Julianne in Kyoto with David’s father

o Oita, Japan (lived in Oita, Japan for 4 ½ years)
o Seoul, South Korea (both went through and stayed overnight on flights)
o Suzhou, China (David spent two weeks on business)

David at "Screaming Heads" in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

David at “Screaming Heads” in Berks Falls, Ontario 2008

o Ontario, Canada and Cardston, Alberta, Canada (Julianne visited 2 times and David spent 8 months working in Ontario)

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

David and Julianne in Tulum, Mexico

o Cozumel, Mexico (David and Julianne took a cruise to Cozumel and visited Tulum)

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

David on a Jeepney in Cebu, Philippines in 2007

o Cebu, Philippines (David took two trips and spent a total of 8 weeks in Cebu)

We have traveled all over the United States

Julianne and I, along with our family have been blessed to have traveled all over the United States, from Catalina Island off the coast of California, to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, from the Great Lakes in Michigan and Ohio to the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans.  We have traversed the Rocky Mountains, crossed the southern deserts, visited the southeast in Georgia and been to New York. The family has been to 20 or more National Parks and Monuments over the years, has visited the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis Arch and Mt. Rushmore.  We visited Hawaii as a family in 1990 and Julianne and I took a cruise to Alaska in 2004. Marissa spent a summer in France and Amaree toured Europe with a choir. Seth and Holly have visited England and Scotland. These experiences have broadened the horizons of all of us! We have since included grandchildren in many of these trips.

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Family in Monument Valley 1993

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting Jamestown, Virginia in 1995

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997

Visiting the St. Louis Arch in 1997 (with Barbara Grandvoinet from France)

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1994

Visiting the Museum in Chicago to see the T-Rex 1996

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Solomon, Marissa and Seth at Glacier National Park in 2005

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Marissa and her daughter Joselyn at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico in 2011

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

David and granddaughter Autumn in Rhinelander, Wisconsin 2012

Chelsea and Solomon with David's sister Sherry in New York City 1998

Chelsea and Solomon with David’s sister Sherry in New York City 1998

We have celebrated the weddings of four of our children (including 3 daughters’ weddings within a 6 week span in 2005)

All three girls married in 2005

All three girls married in 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

Chelsea on her wedding day in May 2005

o Chelsea married in May 2005

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

o Amaree married Aaron Matthews in June 2005

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

Marissa and Adam June 25, 2005 Louisville, KY

o Marissa married Adam Noe in June 2005

Seth and Holly wed in June 2009

Seth and Holly wed in December 2009

o Seth married Holly Walker in December 2009

So much more happened over the years.  We had an exchange student from France, Barbara Grandvoinet, who home-stayed with us for about 6 months and then came back for two other shorter visits. She has gone on to become a documentary film producer and we are so proud of her. We also hosted a well known Japanese sculptor/ceramicist, Yukio Yamamoto (from Himeji, Japan), in the 1980s when he came to Arizona.  He and his wife stayed with us for a few weeks and we were instrumental in assisting Yukio in building an ancient style Tozan kiln at my alma mater Northern Arizona University in 1985 (see article here – they misspelled my name…). Yukio passed away a few years ago.

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne's family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

Yukio Yamamoto and wife with some of Julianne’s family at the Falls of the Little Colorado river in Northern Arizona in 1985

There is now a shrine to Yukio at NAU.

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Yukio Yamamoto shrine and museum at Northern Arizona University

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

Barbara with Solomon and Marissa at New River Gorge, WV in Aug 1995

There is so much more that has enriched our lives over these years.  Many of the children participated in commercial video shoots in Japan (and David was in a national TV Commercial).

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Chelsea in a Tokiwa Department Store Ad in 1990. Her photo hung all over the store for weeks.

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

Seth in a Fukuoka, Japan Department Store Ad in 1990

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

David in a National Ad Campaign for Asahi Solar in Japan, ca 1992

Indeed, this 35 years has been amazing!  I am looking forward to my 50th in 15 years!!

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne in Japan 1990

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

David and Julianne at Corn Palace in South Dakota in 2012

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

Cheering on UK in 2013 NCAA Championship Game

David and Julianne - 25 wonderful years together

David and Julianne – 35 wonderfully fun and amazing years together

Julianne and David celebrate 35 years together

My daughter Marissa compiled this look back at our 35 years of “merried” life.

This video includes music by my good friends Antsy McClain and Anthony Snape and also a touching song by Joe Walsh.

An Ode to America

SumoflamUSAAs we approach Independence Day 2014 I look at my country with different eyes than I did 20 or 30 years ago.  We have gone through some tough times as a country and these have impacted each of us at a personal level.

The economy is tougher than it has been in years and many of us, including me, have gone through job losses, economic difficulties and more. It has not been a fun ride.

Yet, we move on and we survive.  We find ways to make it.  Despite the political and ideological differences that sometimes divide our diverse population (as can be seen be all of the banter on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.), we still come together as a country.

LambertsCafeOzarkMOThis became very clear to me as I traveled across America during May and June of this year. Whether in the plains of North Dakota, the swamps of Louisiana, the mountains of Wyoming or the impoverished deltas of Mississippi, the flag hung high, people were Americans (and not political parties, races or otherwise).  All spoke their dialects of English (and indeed, American English in Minnesota is different than that of American English in a small town in Southern Mississippi or in central Nebraska).

EStLouisILUltimately, I am grateful to live in this free country.  I can gripe about rising gas prices, Obama’s political agendas, dramatic inflation, bad roads or anything else.  But, I have the right and freedom to gripe if I desire…it is my inalienable right in this country.  Something many other countries don’t have.

I have the freedom to drive across this great nation without discrimination and go through the Blackfeet Reservation, a Cajun community and predominantly Scandinavian community or a small mid-American farm town and still feel these freedoms and experience others enjoying them.

So, despite any challenges, I believe it is time for me and all of us to Fall in Love with America again.  So, here is an ode to America by my good friend Antsy McClain.  It was his reminiscence of experiences while loving in America. I was fortunate enough to work with Antsy in producing and making this video. I hope you enjoy it.

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


All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.

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,



t
he
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


All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.

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……

 

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All photos and commentary expressed are copyright of Sumoflam Productions and David Kravetz. All rights reserved.