Countdown 365: #357 – Explorers in the Age of Discovery

Christopher Columbus in a park near my birthplace in Little Italy, in Cleveland

Christopher Columbus in a park near my birthplace in Little Italy, in Cleveland

Today is Columbus Day 2015. When I think of Columbus Day, obviously thoughts of Christopher Columbus come first. But ultimately, I think far beyond him and think about many of the other great explorers that reached out to the world especially in the age of discovery in the 1400s and some even earlier than that.

I am grateful for the bravery, vision and wanderlust in these individuals.  Certainly, they all took risks and many of them went exploring for their respective royalty, who paid them well in hopes of gold and in hopes of converting souls to their version of Christianity.

On this day I see many derogatory remarks about Columbus on Facebook, and perhaps some of it is true.  But, we cannot discount the efforts he made to reach out, as did many others.

A few that I am grateful to have studied and learned about….

A statue of Leif Erikson in Duluth, MN on the shores of Lake Superior

A statue of Leif Erikson in Duluth, MN on the shores of Lake Superior

Leif Erikson (b. ca 970 – d. ca 1020): Leif comes from Viking heritage and was likely born in Iceland, though he also lived in Greenland. Around 999 AD he made his way to what is currently known as Newfoundland, but did a great deal of exploring, eventually calling the land Vinland.

According to the stories written in the 1200s, he gathered a crew of thirty-five men, and mounted an expedition towards the land he had heard about from a merchant named Bjarni Herjólfsson described. Leif’s father Erik the Red was set to join him but dropped out after he fell from his horse on his way to set sail, an incident he interpreted as a bad omen. Leif followed Bjarni’s route in reverse and landed first in a rocky and desolate place he named Helluland (Flat-Rock Land; possibly Baffin Island). After venturing further by sea, he landed the second time in a forested place he named Markland (Forest Land; possibly Labrador). Finally, after two more days at sea, he landed in a luscious place with plentiful stores of salmon. As winter approached, he decided to encamp there for the winter, and broke his party into two groups – one to remain at camp and the other to explore the lands. After discovering grapes and vineyards, he named the land Vinland.

ZhengHeZheng He (1371–1433 or 1435): Zheng was a Hui court eunuch, mariner, explorer, diplomat, and fleet admiral during China’s early Ming dynasty. I first learned about him while in college in a Chinese History class at NAU. I was fascinated. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. Zheng He’s fleets visited Brunei, Java, Thailand and Southeast Asia, India, the Horn of Africa, and Arabia, dispensing and receiving goods along the way.  Zheng He presented gifts of gold, silver, porcelain, and silk; in return, China received such novelties as ostriches, zebras, camels, and ivory from the Swahili. The giraffe he brought back from Malindi was considered to be a qilin and taken as proof of the favor of heaven upon the administration.  He had massive ships and it was said that his fleet had over 24,000 sailors.

Zheng He ship in comparison with Columbus

Zheng He ship in comparison with Columbus’s boat

FerdinandMagellanFerdinand Magellan (c. 1480 – 27 April 1521): Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organized the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth.  From 1519 to 1521 he traveled around the world, many times facing extreme danger, bad weather and even struggled against his own Portuguese leaders.  He eventually died in the Philippines.  On March 16, 1521 Magellan reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines, with 150 crew left. Members of his expedition became the first Europeans to reach the Philippine archipelago. Magellan relied on Enrique, his Malay servant and interpreter, to communicate with the native tribes. He had been indentured by Magellan in 1511 after the colonization of Malacca, and had accompanied him through later adventures. They traded gifts with Rajah Siaiu of Mazaua who guided them to Cebu on 7 April.

The Philippine warriro Lapu-Lapu on Mactan Island, Cebu

The Philippine warrior Lapu-Lapu on Mactan Island, Cebu

Rajah Humabon of Cebu was friendly towards Magellan and the Spaniards; both he and his queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians and were given the image of the Holy Child (later known as Santo Niño de Cebu) which along with a cross (Magellan’s Cross) symbolizes the Christianization of the Philippines. Afterward, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula convinced Magellan to kill their enemy, Datu Lapu-Lapu, on Mactan. Magellan wanted to convert Lapu-Lapu to Christianity, as he had Humabon, but Lapu-Lapu rejected that. On the morning of 27 April 1521, Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small attack force. During the resulting battle against Lapu-Lapu’s troops, Magellan was struck by a bamboo spear, and later surrounded and finished off with other weapons.

Map of Magellan's travels

Map of Magellan’s travels

Ironically, I have been to Cebu (see my journals of visits in Cebu) and Mactan and visited the site where Lapu-Lapu’s troops killed Magellan. I am grateful to have set foot in a place where this famed explorer went.

Kids on an ship replia in Jamestown, VA

Kids on an ship replia in Jamestown, VA

These four explorers, as well as other greats such as Marco Polo (whom I will have a separate post on), Lewis and Clark (also a separate post) and John Wesley Powell (yet another post) have always meant a lot to me.

I love to travel and am thankful for the spirit of wanderlust and adventure borne into me. Like, Columbus, Magellan, Zheng and Erikson, I seek after new and unique places.  It is a different world today, but I have still been blessed to experience some of the same things – the smells and sights of China, the Philippines and Japan. The varied landscapes of the United States and Canada. The oceans and Great Lakes.

Visiting the Chocolate Hills in Bohol Philippines in 2005

Visiting the Chocolate Hills in Bohol Philippines in 2005

Truly, I have been blessed with the spirit of adventure and I am grateful to be able to walk the paths and read the stories of their encounters.  They have made the world a smaller place.

 

2014 – Year in Review: Livin’ the Dream

IMG_4063The year 2014 was a marvelous year for me.  As with all years of life, there are always ups and downs, and this year was no exception.  But, I always strive to take a positive vent on things (as much as possible) and there was much positive that happened this year.  Following is my retrospective view on 2014…the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful (no Ugly here…sorry!).  I really was living the dream!

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

Celebrated my 35th Wedding Anniversary

35 Years of "Merried" Life

35 Years of “Merried” Life

July 15, 2014 was a momentous day in my life as I celebrated the 35th anniversary of wedded bliss with my sweet eternal companion Julianne. Even now I am awestruck at how she has put up with me all of these years.  My quirkiness, my playfulness and yes, my more often than occasional thoughtless foot-in-mouth disease.

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

Julianne has been a wonderful example to me and, in the words of my favorite musician Antsy McClain, I truly “Married Up, my life is sweet as a daydream”

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

First grandchild baptism

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

In late May we got to go to Montana to attend the first baptism of any of my grandchildren. This was a wonderful event as Kade Matthews was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am proud of this little guy with a big heart and wonderful spirit.  There will be more baptisms coming in the future, but the first is always wonderful

Seeing ALL of the children and grandchildren

Our family has spread out across the United States (literally coast to coast!), thus making it difficult to see them all at one time.  Not since Christmas 2012 have we all been together.  However, as of Christmas 2014, we were able to spend time with all of the children and grandchildren at one point or another.

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

  • Amaree – Our oldest was living in Shelby, Montana the last time we got to visit her and her family (including husband Aaron and four children – Kade (8), Charlie (7), Olivia (5) and Benson (3))  We were blessed to visit them in May for Kade’s baptism and also spent some time traveling in Montana with them.  It was a wonderful time. In October, they moved further west to Port Orchard, Washington in a job transfer for Aaron. They are loving their new place and I am hoping to be able to go out there and visit in 2015 for Charlie’s baptism.
  • Grampz with Amaree's children.  Fun to see Livvy, Charlie, Kade and Benson

    Grampz with Amaree’s children. Fun to see Livvy, Kade, Charlie and Benson

  • Marissa – Our second daughter Marissa still lives nearby in Lexington.  It is always fun to see her sweet family (including husband Adam and three children – Joselyn (7), Landen (6) and Lyla (3)). It has been a blessing to have them nearby and have the opportunity to hang with those sweet grandkids! Marissa’s wonderful talent as a photographer and videographer always continues to impress.
  • Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Fun with Lyla

    Fun with Lyla

  • Chelsea – Our third daughter Chelsea also lives in Lexington and we get to see her and our oldest grandchild Autumn (9) quite often. Chelsea recently became engaged to Jorge Mendez and is excited about the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit his family in 2015. She continues to do well on her job as a manager at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
  • Seth – Our oldest son Seth lives in Vernon, Connecticut.  He and his wife Holly and son Rockwell (4) have been busy in life, Seth with his engineering job at GE and Holly with her business “Cutting It Cute.”  We really had lost hope of seeing them in 2014, but, they surprised us in late December with a Christmas visit and it was amazing to see us.  They shared some other exciting news (coming soon).  With their visit we finally got to see ALL of our children and grandchildren this year.
  • Three Generations of Kravetz...David, Rockwell and Seth

    Three Generations of Kravetz…David, Rockwell and Seth

  • Solomon – Our youngest son Solomon moved out to Colorado to join some friends in a joint business venture.  Though times have been challenging, the business seems to be picking up steam.  Sol visited us earlier in the year for a couple of days.  It was good to see him and hear of his progress.  He has remained upbeat and seems to be finally finding his pathway in life.  We are proud of him.
  • Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

    Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

Kravetz Family Reunion

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Another great highlight this year was a Kravetz family reunion, held in Galveston, Texas in late June 2014. Though not all were able to attend, I was happy to meet with my sister Sherry and her family, my step-dad Joe, my Uncle Lou and his wife Toni, and many of my cousins.  It was a wonderful four days on the beautiful island of Galveston.  On the way back home I spent an evening at my Uncle Lou’s house in Houston and then a day with my cousin Lewis in Austin, finally finishing up in Keller, Texas with my sister Sherry and her family and my dad, before heading home.

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry's daughter)

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry’s daughter)

Extensive Travel Opportunities

Welcome to Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana in 2014

As noted above, in 2014 I was able to travel to Montana and also to southern Texas. As is typically the case, I drove and made a vacation/blogging trip out of these.  During the year I visited 18 states and drove close to 10,000 miles in road trip travel (not counting local Kentucky travel).  Detailed blog posts on my travels can be seen on my Less Beaten Paths blog (see actual post HERE). But, I will note below some of my “Bucket List” locations that I was able to check off.

Visiting Oklahoma

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014

  • Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, MN – I have wanted to visit here since I was 8 or 9 and first saw it in a LIFE travel book back in the 1960s. Finally made it in May 2014! (see blog post)
  • Beartooth Highwayon the border of Wyoming and Montana – Supposedly one of the most spectacular mountain drives in America, it has been on my list for many years.  I made it (just barely) on Memorial Day weekend in late May 2014.  I got there a couple days after it was opened for the season and there was still piles of snow. It will leave me with everlasting memories of the beauty of this earth. (see blog post)
  • Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – One of the “Car Sculpture” places I had hoped to visit, I was able to get here on my way from Montana in late May. It was a fabulous visit! (see blog post)
  • Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

    Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

  • Traversing US Highway 2 across northern US – Though this is still a Bucket List item (since I have east coast to Michigan and then western Montana to Washington coast remaining), I was able to knock off a big chunk of the 2,571 mile highway as I drove from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Browning, Montana (about 1,171 miles) (see blog post)
  • Didn't matter which way.  Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

    Didn’t matter which way. Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

  • Travel the “Blues Highway” in Mississippi – Another of my “Bucket List” trips, I had hoped to someday travel US Highway 61 north to south in Mississippi.  I was able to do this (see blog post)
On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

Meeting New Friends and Old Friends

This past year provided me with the opportunity to visit a couple of old friends from the past and also opportunities to meet a few “new” friends from Facebook and otherwise. Also wonderful and fun to continue old relationships and to also create and foster new ones!  Here are a few:

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs' fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs’ fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Building My Own Business

As reentering the work force has gotten more difficult for me due to my age and extensive experience, I really dug in hard this year to build my own business, Sumoflam Productions, and really strived to make it on my own (coupled with Julianne’s work at University of Kentucky). After learning WordPress through my blogging, I have been able to expand my expertise  and indeed was able to build the business throughout the year with new clients and partnerships. I worked hard to learn more skills and have successfully built a number of sites this year in the WordPress platform. Following are a few of the sites I have done and manage now:

There are a number more and all can be seen listed at My Sumoflam Productions Site

Also during the year I was contracted for website work and broadcast monitoring for Blue Million with monitoring internet broadcasts of the PRCA Rodeo and other broadcasts on the Wrangler Network.

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

And America’s largest marketing producer of high school rivalry football games, The Great American Rivalry Series contracted me to manage their social media, arrange and monitor broadcasts and also manage and update their website during the 2014 high school football season. We did 100 games this year and that made for a busy few months at the end of the year. It was a wonderfully busy time.

Sumoflam in the News

In 2014 I was asked to write a couple of articles for local press.  These were both fun adventures.  The first one was about the playground at Jacobson Park. (See Entire Article here).  I wrote the article and also provided the photos.

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014.  My article about Jacobson Park

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014. My article about Jacobson Park

In November I was asked to write an article about the murals and wall art in Lexington for Ace Weekly magazine. This article was posted online in December and may appear in their end of the year issue.  They also included a complete photo gallery of my photos of Lexington’s amazing street art.

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Also, in December, I was involved with Lexington Nativity Festival, which was sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I managed the website and the media relations for the event. The Lexington Herald-Leader photographer Pablo Alcala out to do some shots and I was included in this and the newspaper gallery in late December.

NativityFest

Nativity Festival Gallery featured in Lexington Herald-Leader. Photos were by Pablo Alcala

A Few More Odds and Ends

I got to visit with my cousin Lewis Goldstein a couple of times in 2014.  Once was a sad affair at the loss of my uncle Jay Goldstein, who passed away in Louisville.  I also got to spend some time with Lewis at his home in Austin after the family reunion in Galveston.  Always good to visit with one of my favorite cousins!

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

In 2014 I really kicked my blogging and photography into full gear.  I had 38 posts on my Less Beaten Paths blog (and over 50,000 page views during the year).  I also posted 20 posts on this blog and have had nearly 5000 page views this year. Between my travel photos and local photos, I had nearly 500 selfies (HA HA….I love these iPhones!).  I also took well over 5000 photos of travels, family, sunrises and sunsets, birds, squirrels, bison, antelope, murals, wall art, sculptures and more. I had nearly 3700 views of my photos on my SmugMug Photo site. I will be doing a post about my favorite photos of 2014 in early January 2015.

My SmugMug Photo site

My SmugMug Photo site

Overall, this was an amazing year.  I am grateful for all of the blessings, all of the adventures and all of the family and friends.

Life is Good

Life is Good

 

Livin’ the Dream – Following the Reinvention of Myself

Last week I put up a post on my Less Beaten Paths travel blog noting how writing that blog lead to a reinvention of myself and my career path (and also celebrating that blog’s 50,000th visit). This post is a follow-up to that one and I do it on my Sumoflam’s Singlewide blog because it’s not really associated with travel (though I do note some travel things in here….let’s face it, its in my blood).

Livin' the Dream

Living the Dream – masking Antsy McClain

I have called this “Livin’ the Dream” as that is the best way for me to express what my current career situation is for me.  I have gone from nightmares to living the dream and doing what I am passionate about.

DreamJob1To me, a “dream job” does not necessarily mean a job that provides tons of income, but rather a job that provides satisfaction and doing what I love doing. Don’t get me wrong, income is necessary and more of it is better.  But doing what I love while earning money to do it…now THAT is a Dream Job!

My fist real dream job - being a tour guide in Flagstaff in 1983

My first real dream job – being a tour guide in Flagstaff in 1983

Over the years, I have had a number of dream jobs. Perhaps my first was working as a tour guide in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 1980s.I drove vans and buses and took tourists all over the beautiful locations of northern Arizona to places like Sedona, Monument Valley, the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations, the Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater, and many other fabulous locations including the Grand Canyon. I met wonderful people, saw beautiful scenery year around, and I truly had a great time.

Working as a Tour Guide with visitors from the Isle of Man on the Navajo Reservation in 1983

Working as a Tour Guide with visitors from the Isle of Man on the Navajo Reservation in 1983

It was not until the late 1980s when we had an opportunity to go to Japan as a family that I was able to experience my next “Dream Job.” After graduation from Arizona State University with a Master’s Degree in Political Science/International Relations, I landed a position through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) to work for the Oita Prefecture Government as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR).  In fact, I was one of 32 Charter CIRs in the first year of the JET Program, which also brought nearly 500 Americans, Canadians and British to Japan to teach English.  This was my second “dream job” as I once again got to work with people from all walks of life from different parts of the world as they visited Oita and I got to travel, I did TV shows and had a wonderful two years on that gig (as well as an additional 2 years with Asahi Solar Corporation. My children were in TV commercials and all of these were a result of that particular position.

I served as interpreter, guide and host for then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe (L) and Oita's Governor Morihikio Hiramatsu (R) in 1987

I served as interpreter, guide and host for then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe (L) and Oita’s Governor Morihikio Hiramatsu (R) in 1987

I spent three days as host, guide and interpreter for famed Olympian from Romania Nadia Comaneci

I spent three days as host, guide and interpreter for famed Olympian Gymnast from Romania Nadia Comaneci

I did many TV shows while in Oita.  This was in Bungo Taketa at a famous Samurai museum.  I have the authentic swords used by the samurai as I presented a show (in Japanese) about this historical site.

I did many TV shows while in Oita. This was in Bungo Taketa at a famous Samurai museum. I have the authentic swords used by the samurai as I presented a show (in Japanese) about this historical site.

I was a co-host for a New Year's Celebration program in Oita in Jan. 1989.  Here I am with the camera man prepping fr the show.

I was a co-host for a New Year’s Celebration program in Oita in Jan. 1989. Here I am with the camera man prepping fr the show.

Upon returning from Japan in 1991, I struggled to find gainful employment for quite a while and ended up doing a lot of Japanese translation work and other work related to my Japanese language skills. Though very skilled in Japanese, I believe that I went through a “burnout stage” because of all of what I was doing. Indeed, it was a Japanese-related position that brought the family to Kentucky in 1993.

Japanese interpreting at the Toyota Plan in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada in 2008

Japanese interpreting at the Toyota Plan in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada in 2008

Nevertheless, it was interesting to work in manufacturing plants such as the big Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky (1997) and the Toyota plant in Woodstock, Ontario (2008). I worked in a number of parts manufacturers plants as well. Learning the manufacturing process was quite enlightening. In between a couple of those jobs, I worked on a Japanese-owned horse farm (which was beautiful) and I also spent a number of years working at Lexmark where I thrived on the job, but I would never call them “dream jobs.” The best part of the job at Lexmark was the opportunity I had to travel to Cebu in the Philippines (where I trained my eventual replacements!).

Island Hopping in the Philippines

Island Hopping in the Philippines

On a boat off of Mactan Island in the Philippines with "Team Higante", the crew I was training in 2006

On a boat off of Mactan Island in the Philippines with “Team Higante”, the crew I was training in 2005

The trips to Cebu (which altogether totaled about 7 weeks) were definitely one of the best parts of the job. Despite the daily work routines, I spent many evenings and every weekend traveling around Cebu and other islands.  In fact, my first real trip journals (which lead to my travel blogging) were borne out of these trips (check out these early trip reports). Little did I know back then what my travel writing would do for me!

Sumoflam squeezed into an outrigger canoe on a small island north of Cebu.

Sumoflam squeezed into an outrigger canoe on a small island north of Cebu.

With friends in a Jeepney in Cebu

With friends in a Jeepney in Cebu

After Lexmark I did more Japanese work and eventually made my way to Ontario (which I noted above).  I really did not enjoy the translating work, but it brought income.  The best part was the travel to and from home every two weeks.  I took a different route each time, took lots of photos and wrote lots of trip journals (see them here).

Japanese trainers in Sparta, Ontario on a Sumoflam led "tour" of Southern Ontario

Japanese trainers in Sparta, Ontario on a Sumoflam led “tour” of Southern Ontario

My little home away from home in Paris, Ontario in 2008

My little home away from home in Paris, Ontario in 2008

After my Ontario gig ended, I spent nine months in a job that was a literal hell for me.  I worked as a call center rep for Sprint, then Boost Mobile, then Apple.  I hated the jobs…low paying, low morale and no challenge.  I sought for opportunities to leave at every corner.  And, then in 2009 it finally happened.

Working a baseball game for iHigh.com

Working a baseball game for iHigh.com

My next real “dream job” evolved from being hired by iHigh.com in 2009. I have always enjoyed working in web design and web related services. I have also always enjoyed working with people. And, furthermore, I have loved working in things related to sports, especially high school sports. As a result, my position became one of great passion and enjoyment. Indeed, I did not even take a vacation for almost 3 years. My job was practically a vacation.The job also included a great deal of travel and meeting with people at high schools around the country. I got to do broadcast work which I enjoyed immensely.

Polo Cross at the Kentucky Horse Park - we broadcast a number of Pony Club events.  Was great fun.

Polo Cross at the Kentucky Horse Park – we broadcast a number of Pony Club events. Was great fun.

I traveled to many locations to broadcast BMX Races and took many photos, like this one.

I traveled to many locations to broadcast BMX Races and took many photos, like this one.

As part of my iHigh work I was responsible for the USA Swimming partnership and got to attend the Olympic Trials and broadcast some events.  I a interviewing multi medalist Kaitlin Sandeno

As part of my iHigh work I was responsible for the USA Swimming partnership and got to attend the Olympic Trials and broadcast some events. I a interviewing multi medalist Kaitlin Sandeno

I participated in the FFA National events and helped manage broadcasts of this huge event in Indianapolis

I participated in the FFA National events and helped manage broadcasts of this huge event in Indianapolis

That dream job came to an abrupt end on November 2, 2012. At that time the company had made some major decisions in the business direction and the shifts left both my wife and myself unemployed as we did not fit into the new program.I was devastated as my “dream job” had fallen out from underneath me.

Had to Ponder the Future

Had to Ponder the Future

From the time I lost that position in 2012 through 2013 I struggled again to find any full-time employment. And that is where my previous post begins and how I have participated in the “reinvention of myself” and my skill sets.

Resilience in hard times is always best

Resilience in hard times is always best

I like to think of myself as being resilient. I have learned to adapt to change and always try to take a positive angle towards it despite any challenges, frustrations, hurdles, etc.I also make a great effort to not burn bridges along the way and to do a good job wherever I am up until the last day.

Working with VYPE

So, this reinvention of myself and my skill sets led me to learn the WordPress CMS through my travel blog and then through this blog and others. Relations that I had created such as those at VYPE.com brought me work and I was able to continue to build on the foundation that I had learned through my blog. With VYPE.com I worked with a developer and helped build the entire network after VYPE left iHigh and had to build their own network.and now, for over a year, I have worked with them and manage their entire Web structure which is all based on the WordPress platform. Through them I picked up other work and through other connections I picked up even more work to where I now have number of clients and I was working from home. I was doing things that I enjoy as putting together websites is just a form of creativity that I seem to thrive at.

Working with Antsy McClain

Working with Antsy McClain

With the freedom of working from home, I have reestablished the management of a number of websites I had done in the past. One of these was moving my good friend and well-known singer/songwriter/recording artist/graphic artist Antsy McClain’s website into the WordPress platform.  I once again manage this for him and work closely in his promotion. Indeed, this has been part of “Living the Dream” as I remain in the music industry, something I had dreamed about as a high school student.

On tour with Antsy McClain in San Francisco in the early 2000s

On tour with Antsy McClain in San Francisco in the early 2000s

Then, in early September I got “The Call.” I had been doing some work with my former boss at iHigh.com who now runs a multimedia company called BlueMillion.com. Blue Million is a digital technology and marketing company specializing in social media, digital marketing, and live video to online and mobile audiences around the world. Through this work, he called me from the offices of iHigh, Inc., which runs the Great American Rivalry Series.

Working with the Great American Rivalry Series

Working with the Great American Rivalry Series

This company used to be a sister company of iHigh.com, but recently split away as iHigh.com moved to VolarVideo. I was asked to use my web skills and social media skills to be their “Control Central” during football season. This has literally brought me full circle as I am now working out of the old iHigh Office on Mondays and Fridays and then from home during the week.  Like the days of iHigh, I watch and monitor high school football from the office on Friday nights.  I get to work with many of the high school coaches and broadcast organizations of the past as well. I count this both as an immense blessing and a recognition for my devoted hard work ethic.

Wearing two hats (OK, a hat and a shirt) as I am full swing into high school sports again.

Wearing two hats (OK, a hat and a shirt) as I am full swing into high school sports again.

Coupled with this, I have partnered with Fieldhouse Media Group as their Web Manager (and as an extension I am the Digital Media Coordinator for VYPE.com, part of FMG now). I work with many wonderful people. As a result of this work, I am once again working with a number of broadcast groups across the country and am able to bring them on to the VYPE network as partners.

David&Tui

Sumoflam with Texas author and blogger Tui Snider

Another wonderful “dream fulfiller” which originated with my blog writing was “meeting” other bloggers, photographers and writers. They have all inspired me in so many ways that I will continue to “reinvent” myself and move towards writing some books about travel the back roads of America…an extension of my blog. (Shown above is Tui Snider, author of two books recently and blogs at Mental Mosaic).

A couple of others that have become an inspiration:

Derek Ace a professional photogapher...does amazing work.  We met at Hells Half Acre in Wyoming in May 2014

Derek Ace, a professional photographer…does amazing work. We met at Hells Half Acre in Wyoming in May 2014 (See some of his work on Facebook)

A video about Minnesota Travel Writer Seth Hardmeyer, who does the Highway Highlights blog about Minnesota (and beyond).  We have shared many inspirational stories and places.  He has been an inspiration.

The Dream Job is here and better than ever. Its not about the money, its about the doing what you enjoy and excel at. I now have a photo blog, a photo site on National Geographic and have become a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association  Life is Good!

Life is Good

Life is Good

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.”

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!!

Cheers
Sumoflam

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

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……

 

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

 See more of Sumoflam’s Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz




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

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






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

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






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