What’s in a name and what to do?

 What’s in a name and what to do?

I don’t have a death wish, I am not a witch and not into any creepy stuff, but I have been to a lot of Devil’s body parts and places. Devil’s Backbone, Devil’s Arm, Devil’s Corral, Devil’s Den, Devil’s Cave, Seven Devils, Devil’s Tower, Devil’s Elbow, even the Devil’s Washbowl for heaven’s sake.  What does a devil wash anyway? Been to Hell, Hells’ Backbone and to Hell’s Canyon just a couple of weeks ago.  Went to the Fiery Furnace last year, along with Dead Horse, Deadman and Deadwood.   Are they trying to scare us away?  It’s not working – these places are usually gorgeous but you might need sturdy hiking boots and 4WD.

laurablissConversely, I have also been to the Garden of Eden, Paradise and Bliss.  I blew my knee out in Zion and had a marvelous picnic lunch with a stunning view in Hell’s Canyon. So don’t expect the experience to match the name.

There are Rifle, Gunnison and Parachute where I didn’t see one tank or missile silo. How about earthy monikers like Mud, Dirt, Coal and Silt where there’s a chance you could take some town home with you on the bottom of your shoe.

I met a lady on a back farm road one day, which had been named after her husband’s family who homesteaded the area.  A lot of places are named after people. I’m pretty sure there is a Boonville in every state. Old Daniel really got around, didn’t he?  An early Roadtreker?  Washington, Harrisonville and the like.

There also must be a thousand Elmwoods, Oaktons and other types of trees along with saints, rocks, fish, fruit, native Americans and animals.

Which would you rather visit- Bella Vista or Plainview? Braverton or Meeker or even Coward?  Then there are the weird names. Here in Missouri we have Peculiar, Conception and Fidelity.  For you coupon cutters and misers, we also have Tightwad.

lauraposterOf course, if you are feeling frisky, there are the slightly silly names in all parts of the country such as:  French Lick, Climax, Busti, Hooker, Butts, Horneytown, Romance and Sweetlips and the most infamous- Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Feeling feisty? Knockemstiff, Slaughterville, Rough and Ready.  Firey?- Pyro, Burns Down and Firetown.  Mentally challenged?- Looneyville or Nimrod.

And in what sort of activities can we engage in our journeys across this diverse nation? We do the usual museums, rodeos, Taste of (name your city), BBQ contests, bike races and the like. But how about the crazy and unusual?

We are not the only country to participate in wacky festivals. There are baby jumping, face piercing, tomato throwing, cheese rolling, getting naked and the Running of the Bulls to name a few.  But the U.S. has her own nutty parties you can join.

The most common are food festivals.  You can be merry with ice cream, strawberries, clams, potatoes, lobster, chili, hot peppers, beer and even the Bacon Fest. But during branding season there is the Testical Festival celebrated in Salmon, Idaho (I missed it by a week!) also celebrated in Clinton, MT.  Or if you are very brave- try the Bug Fest where participants dare to ingest various insect dishes after watching the Roach Race. Arguably the most disgusting of all is the Road Kill Cookoff. I am curious about the type of individual who not only cooks there, but also eats the fare. These just might be good photo opportunities!

If you suffer from Bromodrosis, you can enter the Rotten Sneaker Contest.  Into the other-worldly? Go to the UFO Festival in, where else? – Roswell, NM. Or wander around the Bigfoot Festival.

For fowl fun- I have actually been to the Chicken Stampede in Stockton, MO. The name alone cracks me up. Imagine if you will…There was also the Chicken Drop, but the PETA folks put the kaibosh on it, because after dropping chickens out of planes- they found that the birds really don’t fly well and someone got beaned with a beak diving clucker. In Fruita, CO (once again, I have been there but, sadly, at the wrong time) there are “Mike the Headless Chicken” days.  It seems hearty Mike lasted 18 months sans brains and the town felt it was a minor miracle which deserved an annual remembrance.

You can listen to several blues, jazz, marching bands, harmonica, symphonic and a host of other musical events, but how about Husband Calling, Pig Calling, Yodeling, or the National Hollerin’ Contest.  It get’s physical in Homer, AK where you can watch the Salmon Toss (bring a clothes pin for your nose, as they use decaying fish). Or you can toss some equally gross stuff at the Wisconsin State (cow) Chip Throw where they allow finger licking but no wet wipes. This is enjoyed after the Tournament of Chips Parade. For the athletic, you can enter a Coffin Race or the Two Harbors Outhouse Race.

And full circle, we come back to the dark and scary in Nederland, CO with Frozen Dead Guys Day.  It must be near a Devil’s something or other, Hell’s Canyon or some such place.  You might want to bring along some of your souvenirs from the Garlic festival.

Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson is a photographer and writer from Missouri and loves to travel in her Roadtrek RS Adventurous motorhome with her dog Ruka. She's also a naturalist and birder and says she plans on touring until she can't see over the steering wheel.


  • Once I had the choice of turning left for Equality or right for Richville. I turned left and drove to Equality.

  • That’s a lot of wild names going on!

  • I’m sending Bliss your photo! Funny article & so true! We have a grits festival in SC…. everyone rolls around in baby pools filled with cooked grits!

  • Don’t go to Pennsylvania! At least not the Amish areas. lol.

  • After reading of all those places, I’m feeling like I’ve been a shut-in. I’ve got some serious catching up to do but I’ve been to Devil’s Lake so maybe I’m on my way…

  • the big sinkhole near where i used to live in FL is called Devil’s Millhopper. it’s fun to just drive around on these little roads and see all the towns, each with its own story. the settlers brought their hopes and dreams out here, and made a new life for themselves.

  • Bliss Idaho, I love Idaho

  • Made me think of Wisdom, in the middle of the grand Big Hole Valley, southwestern Montana.

  • Star, Mississipi (south of Jackson)

  • Southern central Idaho!! If you blink you’ll miss Bliss

  • Kimberly N Nicholas Gunter how about this for a name!!!!!

  • I love seeing things with her name on it!!!

  • Southern Idaho sucks I’d NEVER live there again!!!

  • That’s the Idaho desert!

  • Years ago there used to be a scale: House on Interstate 84 and Idaho but there still is great place to eat and do laundry at the Stinker Station

  • Bliss may be small, but notice that the sign says there are 2 exits for the town. !!!

  • We better visit there. That is my husband’s middle name.

  • There is a crocodile ranch and thpusand springs aquifer there! Pull over!

  • Fun town names, Art, Comfort, Welfare & Notrees, TX,

  • I think I’m there!!

  • Just passed there yesterday!!!

  • How about Intercourse,Blue Ball,Bird in Hand, and Virginville Pa.?

  • We have a Bliss, Idaho between Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho

  • Been there

  • Have you ever been to Possem Trot KY…or Monkey’s Eyebrow KY?

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