Texas - Louisiana - Arkansas - Missouri - Kansas - Oklahoma
August 22-25, 2017

Roadside Adventure Route Map

1 -- Dallas, Texas

Gravesite of Bonnie Parker

Gravesite of Clyde Barrow

2 -- Derricks at Picnic Area near Tyler, Texas

3 -- Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow in Gibsland, Louisana

Last gasoline stop

Bonnie & Clyde Museum

Police Ambush Site

Imaginary bullets hitting him

4 -- Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas

5 -- Standing Firetruck in Bonnderdale, Arkansas

6 -- Hot Springs, Arkansas

Bill Clinton's favorite restaurant

Bill Clinton's High School

Hot Springs Water (real hot)

7 -- Fort Smith, Arkansas

8 -- Alma, Arkansas


Alma, Arkansas calls itself the Spinach Capital of the World. Here's how that happened. Back in 1987, residents George Bowles and Wolf Grulkey were sitting around drinking coffee and doing some noggin scratching over the question of how to put their little community of 2500 on the map. Spinach is what they came up with. At the time, Alma-based Allen Canning Company canned way over half (65%, according to the paper) of all the spinach canned in the U.S., some 60 million pounds a year coming from the local area. And if you're the Spinach Capital of the U.S., then you're the Spinach Capital of the whole darn world, by gum. That was the thinking, and nobody argued but the Texans.

Well, one Texan briefly considered putting up a fight. It was Dale Barker, publisher of the Zavala County Sentinal that sent Bowles an unsigned postcard reading "Greetings from the spinach capital of the world -- Crystal Springs, Texas," thus announcing that they had since 1937 been and continued in 1987 to be, thanks to the local Del Monte cannery; and by the way THEY had a statue of Popeye, the cartoon patron of all things spinachy, in the town square and therefore they and not the hillbilly usurpers were the true and legitimate Spinach Capital of the World, thank you very much.

Bowles tried to stir up some publicity by fomenting a good-humored rivalry between the towns. He shipped a package of Popeye Brand spinach (Allen Canning is the official licensee of the Popeye trademark.). Also in the package was a bundle of Arkansas soil and a bottle of Arkansas water (Texas has for years tried to buy agricultural water from Arkansas.). Bowles never heard back from Crystal City. I have to conclude that they would have been embarrassed to contest Alma's claim.

9 -- Walmart Birthplace in Bentonville, Arkansas

Silver Tree

10 -- Branson, Missouri

11 -- Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, Missouri
It is legal to throw rolls at Lambert's Cafe
"Come in thin; go out fat"



Just ignore it; will pick up and throw away later


12 -- Three States (Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma) Meet

13 -- Mickey Mantle Statue in Commerce, Oklahoma

14 -- Vinita, Oklahoma



15 -- Nowata, Oklahoma

Chris Barbee's Bowling Ball Yard

Chris in the summertime shade of his Star Spangled Banner of balls.

"I've been called everything from an artist to a crazy old fool," said Chris Barbee, standing next to a robot he built of bowling balls.

Chris began dabbling in bowling ball art in the early 1990s, when his wife Carol had a garden in their yard. Instead of decorating it with gazing balls -- which could shatter in Oklahoma weather -- the Barbees used old bowling balls.

Then Carol died. As a tribute, Chris took the balls -- which at the time numbered maybe a dozen -- and started building a decorative fence along the road. He planned to add to it slowly, buying balls at yard sales. "I figured it'd take two, three years," said Chris. "Then people seen what I was doing, and the balls starting coming in."

The fence grew longer and longer with each donation, and Chris finally stopped it at 108 balls -- but by then he had hundreds more. So he decided to use his surplus on other projects.

Today, Chris's yard has about 70 of his bowling ball creations, ranging from single-ball versions of ladybugs and pigs to a large American flag (273 balls) and an Egyptian pyramid (1,015 balls). A giant rosary (59 balls) was built by Chris to honor his mother. The robot (45 balls) stands half-hidden in a canebrake in a corner of the lot.

"I just try to think of something to do with balls, and go from there," said Chris of his art project. "I had no idea it'd grow as big as it has."

Chris showed us his bowling ball house (344 bowling balls, 140 pins), which shelters his mini-museum of donated bags, trophies, and other bowling paraphernalia. Goofy bowling towels line the inner walls as insulation. Chris's "special" balls, which he doesn't want to leave out in the weather, are displayed inside; elaborately decorated with themes ranging from SpongeBob Squarepants to "Freedom Isn't Free." Chris also has a nearly complete collection of bowling balls from every state. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead if they think they have a ball that Chris needs.

The outer walls of the house feature Chris's memorial balls, dedicated to deceased bowlers. There's a ball for Chris's wife, and for one of his daughters, and for two of his brothers. There's a ball for Betty Patton, 84, who visited the yard and died soon afterward ("Her daughter brought that ball"). There are balls for five people from Joplin, Missouri, who Chris doesn't even know. "If people want to donate a ball in memory of someone, I'll add it," said Chris.

We wondered if some of the balls might serve as urns, which would turn the bowling ball house into a kind of bowler's mausoleum. "I'm not saying yay or nay on that," Chris answered. "I really don't know."

The outer walls also display balls with special meaning to Chris, such as the one that his son brought back from Paris, and the ball dedicated to Tanner and Meagan Claborn, who were the first couple to be married at the Bowling Ball Yard on January 6, 2016.

Chris wants his visitors to feel welcome, and friendly signs out by the road invite travelers to "come in, look around, take pictures." And, of course, leave bowling balls: any weight, any color. "Just kick 'em out in the yard," is the way Chris puts it. "I'll find them."

The balls will all be used for art, not for sport. Chris told us that his wife was the last person that he bowled with, and that was in 1994. "The ball I used is down there on that fence," said Chris. "I enjoyed bowling, I really did. But I never did get very good at it."


16 -- Dewey, Oklahoma

Dewey Hotel Museum

Tom Mix Museum

17 -- The Pioneer Woman's Mercantile Store in Pawhuska, Oklahoma



18 -- Pioneer Women Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma

19 -- Upended 18-wheel Truck in Tonkawa, Oklahoma

20 -- Two Big Dog Statues in Billings, Oklahoma

Thanks to Roadside America for finding interesting places to visit
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That's all, Folks!