Archive for April, 2008

Day 45: the Journey Home to Brooklyn

Posted in Roadtrip on April 13, 2008 by roadsidenut

All good things must come to an end. I aborted the trip a couple days early because of the snow in Colorado & the Midwest. I can take decent photos in the rain but snow makes for ridiculous white blobs that ruin the image. Just as well, lots of stuff to deal with back at work before I return to my Real Job (nothing to do with this roadside stuff).

Reflecting on the math of this six-week trip: we covered 16,304 miles and it cost about $5,000 — the bulk of that was gas (~ $3700) plus some “hidden fees”:

one speeding in school zone ticket in NM ($63)
one speeding ticket in Houston, TX ($200)
one seatbelt ticket in L.A. ($93)
one parking ticket in downtown L.A. ($70)
one parking ticket in Pasadena, CA ($37)
[these expenses were cheap and so worth it considering the number of stop signs I rolled through, the illegal U-turns I made, the speed limits I ignored, the stop & shoot double parking/hydant parking violations, etc.]

And considering the amount of photos (about 6,000), the memories, good times had by me and the dogs = priceless!

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Now to catch up on a few photos that I took on the way home. The weather was brutal and I was exhausted from the stress of driving in the snow and quite eager to get home. I understand it’s still snowing in Denver and raining in the Midwest. So I’m thrilled to be home in the sun and relative warmth. The dogs were positively gleeful to be back running in their familiar park this morning.

Going back in time… to the April 9th when my flash drive bit the dust (thanks Nik). Here’s a place in Duchesne, UT that was known as the Bottle Hollow Resort. Some interesting and sad ruins of a mid-century motel and gas station.

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Here’s proof of the awfulness that befell me during the last couple days of the trip:

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Sparkle was anything but sparkling. Some interesting hubcab formations:

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A dip in a hot spring (there were lots of them around) sure seemed like a good idea:

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My last sustaining bit of road junk food from a Safeway. There were fewer marshmallows than the label implied. It was pretty much all cream (can’t complain) with mostly bits of coconut & pineapple. I’m not sure about the pistachios — but the product was this lovely shade of green. Hey, it’s the small pleasures in life that get us through the hard stuff. Happy to be home & I hope you’ll join the dogs & I again this Summer when we will head off on another marathon trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Day 44: Julesberg, CO to La Salle, IL

Posted in Roadtrip on April 12, 2008 by roadsidenut

Not much to report — nothing but interstate today. 750 miles worth. Some rain and high winds but nothing terrible. Hopefully, with an anticipated early start and good weather, we’ll be home late tomorrow night. Just a mere 850 miles to go. Then I’ll post those remaining photos here on Sunday morning with the final posting for this trip. It’s COLD here near Chicago and we’re all eager to be home where I hear it’s in the 60s.

Day 43: Grand Junction to Julesberg

Posted in Roadtrip on April 11, 2008 by roadsidenut

We’ve hit some awful weather here in Colorado. It made yesterday’s ordeal look tame. We got a little break once we got over the Rockies and into Denver. So we went to Boulder for a little bit before darkness. Just long enough to shoot a couple things and get a romp in at the East Boulder Dog Park. After the stress of the snow, it was fun to just get out of the van, throw balls and get muddy. According to the Weather Channel on Sirius, the Midwest is getting hit hard with snow — not to mention tornados in Iowa. So I drove to Julesberg until it got scary again and called it a night. I only took a few photos for the website and the blog since I barely got off I-70. The rest of the trip will be all interstate. So I will probably just wait until I get home to post the rest of the photos here and at Flickr. I’d like to get us home a tad early (this weekend) with just stops for gas, coffee, peeing, and brief naps. But I won’t be stupid with this weather. Onward!

Day 42: Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, CO

Posted in Roadtrip on April 10, 2008 by roadsidenut

The day started out in a civilized fashion as I had the chance to get together with another Flickr buddy that I had never met. I had breakfast with arts_enthusiast at a great little place, Lamb’s Coffee Shop, in downtown Salt Lake City.

When I left SLC, the weather got really ugly: grey, rain, sleet, snow. Somehow, I covered a lot of ground and got decent photos for the most part. The early evening trek across some mountains in CO was truly scary. All for the love of dinosaurs! What looked like a straight line on the map was actually a big climb and tight turns. No cell phone service in that area and hardly any other cars on the road. I’m relieved that it’s time to scurry home as there will probably not be any more of this off the beaten path nonsense. When I planned this trip, I thought the bad weather would be over and it would be safe to hit this part of the country in April. Now I know better!

A cute sign in Salt Lake City. I saw another sign later with the same design for a Ute Car Wash. The design below the Indian’s head with the “A” indicates that this is a reworked Sofspra car wash chain sign:
http://www.roadsidepeek.com/roadusa/southwest/california/socal/sandiego/autosd/carwashsd/index.htm

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I’m a big Diet Coke drinker — but normally not THIS big. A gas station convenience store was having a special and the liter bottles were cheaper than the normal 20 oounce size. So I bought a couple of those instead. It was a comfort to know that if I were to break down in the boonies, at least I had an adequate supply of DC on hand.

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I went to check out the International Peace Gardens in SLC, having heard that there were mini landmarks. I love small-scale, identifiable buildings. There was a small metal Eiffel Tower but it wasn’t really enough for me. There were a couple neat things anyway — and the adjacent empty park made for some good running for the dogs.

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The Holiday Lanes in Heber City had a nice mid-century touch:

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Unfortunately, a mini disaster has struck. The rest of the blog photos that I had prepared for this post were on what was left of my flash drive (the one that Grem had chewed up previously). Nik in his boisterous persistence of trying to get my attention, has snapped it in two with his busy feet. So I will have to finish this up later. To be continued…

Day 41: Fallon, NV to Salt Lake City, UT

Posted in Roadtrip on April 9, 2008 by roadsidenut

A lot of long interstate stretches through Nevada today. Interrupted every hour or so with itty bitty towns with handfuls of neon signs. I seemed to be one of only a few cars on the interstate for awhile which seemed eerie. Then when I got near Imlay, it started snowing pretty hard and I figured that might be the reason why. For all I knew, the storm of the century was on its way. But luckily the snow passed and there were only flurries here and there. But it was a grey day. And dull. Thank goodness for satellite radio.

So not that many photos taken. Which means an early night for me. I could use one! Tomorrow, I’ll be busy snapping away again as I have some SLC stops and lots of other Utah stuff to get to.

This was my world for about 12 hours today. Makes you want to yawn now doesn’t it? Actually, there was some variation. As I got closer to UT, the mountains got bigger and the snow got thicker and lower.

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Entertainment must be hard to find in Lovelock. Here’s a modified Jaguar:

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This sad relic is in Winnemucca. I love saying that name.

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Another forlorn gas station. I don’t recall seeing such a nice gas station sign before. I imagine it was neon originally. This one in Elko:

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My evening was capped with a rendez-vous with a fellow Flickr-er. I met up with samwibatt for a brew here in SLC. When I can, I try to squeeze in visits with strangers that I have met on-line and seem to have simpatico with. I might get together with another internet pal tomorrow morning though I hate to give up shooting time during the day.

Day 40: Truckee, CA to Fallon, NV

Posted in Roadtrip on April 8, 2008 by roadsidenut

It was cold in Truckee (30s?) when we left and headed over some mountains into Lake Tahoe. I found this spot at a public park on the water to let the dogs run & sniff. The water obviously too cold for Nik to swim. The lake was emerald in color but it doesn’t show in this photo.

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After some picture-taking there, we headed over more mountains into the desert for stops in Minden and Carson City. Then it was on to Reno which is an incredible city if you’re into neon signs. Lots of other fun stuff as well. This casino pedestrian overpass is amusingly grandiose:

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This casino signage looks like it might have been designed by a 14-year-old girl:

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I’ve seen a couple other Jack LaLanne statues on this trip but I believe all the fitness centers have different names now:

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This water store/vend-o-mat has a modern but nice sign. I’ve never seen a whole row of water machines before. Is there something wrong with the water supply in Reno or is it just cheaper to buy from machines?

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A cute sign detail at a motel in Reno:

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Signature Landscapes in Reno has a couple nice sculptural pieces:

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A wedding chapel in Reno:

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Lots of classic motels still around in Reno:

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This one has a great wedding cake office entrance. The Farris Motel was built in 1949.

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I have never seen a Hamm’s sign before. This one was 3-D with the foam as the part with the highest relief.

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And lastly, a hand-painted sign at a mattress store:

Day 39: Sacramento to Truckee

Posted in Roadtrip on April 7, 2008 by roadsidenut

The stuff in Sacramento took up most of the day. Then we headed on to smaller cities northeast of there, starting the push towards home. It was a shocker heading over the Sierra Nevadas (Donner Pass, no less!) and seeing snow and having to wear a jacket. The weather forecast for the cross-country drive home this week is not good. Lots of rain, maybe some snow here and there. Granted, I’ll be on I-80 most of the time. Maybe I should’ve stayed in CA and done the Bay Area after all and then done a killer drive home. Or maybe I’ll just get back a couple days early if the weather’s not conducive for taking pictures. Not the end of the world since I have a lot to deal with back home.

Anyway — lots of blog photos from today. Let’s start with this neat beekeeping store in Sacramento:

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A cool spaceship sculpture at a space-themed children’s playground called “Universal Universe” in Sacramento:

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In the afternoon, we checked out another dog park in Sacramento. Here’s a photo of the one in Granite Park. Decently big and secure chain link fencing than so I felt comfortable with Grem off-leash. Also kiddie pools which Nik really appreciated with his manic ball-chasing.

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Fix and Nik spent most of the day in the front seat together while Grip and Grem alternated between my lap and the back of the van. I think everybody will be relieved with the long interstate hauling back home so they can get some solid rest.

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An adapted Pioneer Chicken sign — here’s what they normally look like:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmewuji/892511/

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I don’t recall ever seeing a Canada Dry sign before:

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An adapted hamburger drive-in sign. The place is now vacant again so chances are good that this burger will get painted over by the next business.

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Lots of these signs in Sacramento. I’ve never seen prices assigned like this in any other city:

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This produce stand was closed in Loomis or I definitely would’ve gotten some goodies. Honestly, I do eat more than junk food! The sign might have been neon originally — hard to tell. I’m sure this painting is recent — but still very nice.

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And lastly, a trailer dealer in Auburn was selling these cute little trailers. Available in white, yellow or camo, if you prefer. There was also this igloo-ish structure. I imagine it’s purchase-able — but for what, I’m not sure. There was no bottom.

Day 38: Turlock to Sacramento

Posted in Roadtrip on April 6, 2008 by roadsidenut

It’s been really fun exploring the Central Valley the past couple days. I have never been to these towns nor seen the old Route 99 treasures that still exist. Sadly, most of these classic motel neon signs seem pretty much doomed since they have been cut off by intensive highway improvements. They might be “improvements” for motorists, but it means these old businesses are now on hard-to-get-to frontage roads.

This old market in French Camp, with great Eskimo Pie signage, appears to be long closed. I contemplated for a moment quitting my day job and “adopting” this building, turning it into a cafe, the big back property into a dog park and….

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Here’s a sweet sign from Stockton:

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This Egyptian Revival building in Stockton was once the Dawson Storage Warehouse. It’s pretty obscured by trees now and has been stripped of some details.

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And yet a third heartbreak… this neat old ice cream shop in Lodi. Maybe it’s not closed after all. The hours on the door said Mon-Fri 10:30am – 12pm. So that means only open 1 1/2 hours per day? Maybe they serve breakfast food only — and ice cream to crazy people like myself who can eat ice cream any time day or night. But wouldn’t weekends be busier? I’m mystified. Anyway, the building and interior had nice glazed brick, old wood cabinets, cute tables/counters and a visible kitchen production area.

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Speaking of food… it’s time to share one of my favorite road snacks for those late afternoons when I don’t have time for a real meal while I’m chasing down stuff on my list as the sun is setting. There are many brands out there but they all seem to taste the same. Peachie-Os are peach-flavored gummy candy — but not as chewy as your typical gummy bears. Crazy mix of sweet and tart — and they taste like peaches. Three of my dogs will eat them. Grem just swallows (she eats dirt and leaves with glee, so she’s not choosy). Nik bobs his head up and down and makes faces. Grip holds it in her mouth for a moment, motionless, and then overdramatizes the chewing aspect. And Fix — no WAY will she eat the stuff. At least one of the five of us has sense!

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The dogs got ample exercise today. We revisited the giant mall-to-be field in Turlock first thing. Then in the afternoon, we visited Partner Park in Sacramento(cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation/parks/dogpark1.htm). It was a decent size with lots of trees. The bars seemed a little narrow and I gave it a little thought. Then when Nik’s ball went through them at one point — and he followed with a little squeeze — I immediately scooped up Grem as if to prevent her from seeing what just happened. I kept her busy the rest of the time retrieving balls in the center of the park. I guess most dog parks were designed with your Shepherd Mix in mind and not your Chihuahua. If it were my regular park, I’d insist on chicken wire all the way around the bottom couple feet.

Scare #2 of the day, non-dog this time. While I was taking a photo of a neon sign just east of downtown Sacramento, in a really busy area, I saw this giant bird strolling around. Then he/she decided to cross the busy street (G Street?) — “doop-de-doo, think I’ll go this way”. I was assisting the best I could with holding up fast moving traffic. He went into a more residential area and I figured that’s about all I could do for him and wished him well. Now, was this a wild turkey? I tried to get better photos but they all came out horribly blurry. I’m not good with the camera when I’m stressed out.

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I hate speed bumps. I really detest them. In supermarket parking lots, I’ll go the long way around just to avoid them. Rotaries are a much better solution for slowing traffic down — but some streets just aren’t wide enough I realize. Some speed bumps are so narrow/tall (usually in the worst neighborhoods, where I’m most inclined to be taking photos), that even at 5mph you’re worried about shortening the life of your shocks or worse. Today, in Sacramento, I saw signs warning about “Undulations Ahead”. Never heard them called that before. And then, this one made me chuckle — another new name to me:

Day 37: Fresno to Turlock

Posted in Roadtrip on April 5, 2008 by roadsidenut

Fresno ended up taking up about 80% of the day. I had many things to shoot there. Still, there was no traffic, and most of the stuff was pretty close together. So I have no idea where the time went. More perfect weather. My fourth oil change of the trip — checked the odometer. Yes, more than 12,000 miles so far and I’m still about 3,000 miles from home.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the trip was that the Forestiere Sunken Gardens in Fresno was closed when I got there in the afternoon. Seems it had been open in the morning. My hotel had been practially across the street. Damn! That was something I wanted to see for many, many years. However, I know my pictures would’ve probably not turned out. I have not mastered indoor/flash photography with this camera at all.
http://historicfresno.org/nrhp/forest.htm

I did find a dog park in Fresno today but little Grem found a gap under the chain link and was then FREE, free at last! The park was plenty big but, no, she had to see what was on the other side and then took off running. I’m sure this is how she ended up leaving her previous home(s). So I was hobbling the best I could on my still bad knee, all over kingdom come til she found something interesting enough to sniff/eat and I could nonchalantly snag her. Geesus.

This little devil is quite the chewer as well. Here’s what she did to one of my flash drives in her spare time when I wasn’t in the van. Although the plastic cover is now gone, it still works and I’m still using it — but not for anything terribly important. She eats pens for snacks if I’m not paying attention. The ink is just delicious. This dog has a death wish!

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So, since Fresno is chock full of signs, that’s what I’ll be giving you for the blog today. I love these two guys (different businesses). The second of them was probably neon at one time but they’ve done a nice job with him nevertheless.

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I wonder if this one has been the subject of any controversy over the years?

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I did not know until now that Hopalong Cassidy is the mascot for Producers Milk. This signage is at their plant in Fresno.

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This giant sheet music for “Amazing Grace” is on the side of a church building downtown:

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This giant green thing really has me curious. It’s kind of like a leaf — but not. Does anyone know what it used to represent?

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And lastly, a giant sign that was apparently part of a motel.

Day 36: Bakersfield to Fresno

Posted in Roadtrip on April 4, 2008 by roadsidenut

The rest of the CA portion of this trip will probably be confined to the Central Valley. Hopefully, I’ll get to the Bay Area this Fall. Lots of good old stuff to shoot along this corridor. I must have 60 things to shoot in Fresno alone. I must have been to these towns when I was a kid but I don’t remember any of it.

Here’s a nicely done advertising mural in Fresno:

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Lots of agriculture in these parts. I’ve been passing lots of vineyards and orange groves with sweet-smelling blossums. This bar in Lindsay had nice tile & glass and a painted sign:

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Across the street was this building with boarded-up windows concealed with artwork:

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This painted sign is from Fresno where I’ll be spending a good chunk of time this morning:

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