Archive for August, 2008

Day 31: Sacramento Area to Bay Area

Posted in Roadtrip on August 31, 2008 by roadsidenut

It was another brutal day in and around Sacramento. But I diligently banged away at the list and have arrived in a much more pleasant place on earth. Cool and breezy in Lafayette tonight! The dogs and I are much relieved. Tomorrow should be all coastal as well. Sparkle held up well despite the abuse of temperature and traffic. I don’t know why I haven’t seen more overheated cars on the side of the road in the past few days. The people look ridiculously comfortable walking around and riding bikes in that scorching weather as well. I guess all things (people, animals, and cars) just get used to it.

Here’s the crew in Chico early in the day, before it got hot:

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In Gridley, someone went to the trouble to put this tractor way up on a pole. It’s a used car lot below now. Maybe “Liberty Inc.” was a tractor sales and/or repair place before (this is farming country).

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I imagine this sign in Sacramento had a lot more detail and neon once upon a time. Still, I’m glad that at least the shape has been reused. Does anyone know what this used to advertise?

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This much smaller guy in Sacramento, only about two feet long, is hanging in there. I think the Delux Barber Shop is now gone (windows covered). The other side of this sign doesn’t have any neon at all:

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Four of Sacramento’s finest. Horsie #1 was impatient about being photo-ed I guess. That’ll teach me to take more than one photo for subjects that can move.

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From Pleasant Hill: a memorial from 1927 that pays tribute to the Contra Costa County soldiers that served in World War I. I’m not much into memorials or war stuff — but I liked the Art Deco styling of this one (and of course the “spikey” on top).

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And, lastly, a nice little shopping center sign in Lafayette that has managed to escape updating and renaming. There’s so much to love about the sign: its three-sidedness both above and below, the gold poles, the ballies, the lantern/clock, and that little bit of neon.

Day 30: I-5 Corridor, North of Sacramento

Posted in Roadtrip on August 30, 2008 by roadsidenut

The good news: Sparkle is back in action. The bad news: I think I was ripped off big time — $1339 for a new fuel pump. I was a little shaken up after having broken down yesterday — and then putting my van back on the road in 110 degree heat for a full day’s worth of driving. I usually drive about 12-14 hours per day, turning the engine off only for getting gas & doggie romps. But Sparkle’s holding up well god bless her. The heat was absolutely excruciating today. As soon as I can get through this Sacramento & inland area, I’m off to the Bay Area and coastal stuff. I sure miss those beautiful beaches we enjoyed just a couple days ago.

I did find a nice lake in the afternoon near Mount Shasta. The dogs were freezing after just a few minutes of swimming in it. I think it was fed by a river from the mountains. But we still all enjoyed the sudden shocking cold water. Much earlier in the day, I had located a schoolyard near the mechanics’ that had just had sprinklers on so the dogs got some exercise and got a bit wet there. When I stopped throughout the day, they were obviously dumbfounded by the outside world being SO much hotter than inside the van.

I’m glad there no pet cemeteries or amusement parks on my list today that required a lot of walking around. Here’s a neat laundromat sign from Corning:

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Redding has a little motel strip that reminded me of Reno or Vegas. Or maybe it was just the heat of the place that made them seem similar. Here are two side by side classics, now on the seedy side, with signage from both ends of their buildings.

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I saw Western references in Red Bluff, Redding and elsewhere along the I-5 corridor. It seemed appropriate since it was just as hot and dry as West Texas.

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Once you enter the Mount Shasta area, there is suddenly relief with pine trees and slightly cooler temperatures. Here in Dunsmuir, the Cave Springs Resort advertises from the higher “sleep under the trees”. They have a pretty scripty neon sign over the canopy (and a not so nice but still fairly old plastic pole sign).

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Just up the road, there is apparently an older resort with a dramatic entrance:

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The little town of Weed (not the nicest name — maybe it’s named after someone?) has several cute motels with photo-worthy signs and a very nice totem pole:

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I’m not sure what type of wild-and-crazy pine tree this is. It looks more like a branch in this photo — but it’s a giant tree.

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And finally, my last photo stop for the day, way up just north of Yreka. I’m glad I went out of my way for this dragon. He was pretty magnificent. Made from recycled materials.

Day 29: Inland Northern CA

Posted in Roadtrip on August 29, 2008 by roadsidenut

It was incredibly hot today — over 100 degrees on the bank clocks that I passed (Petaluma, Sonoma, Napa, Fairfield). The dogs were the lucky ones — comfortable in the van most of the day. Wile Mom nearly had heat stroke trying to shoot signs, buildings — and then walking around an enormous pet cemetery looking for nice inscriptions during the hottest part of the day.

Then, everything changed in the blink of an eye. In Fairfield, about to get on I-80 for Vacaville, waiting at a red light. And all of a sudden, Sparkle sputtered and stalled out. She has never stalled before and runs like a top. Wouldn’t restart. Busy intersection — slightly uphill so not pushable out of the way. Waving cars around me as I tried to be patient with AAA. The 800 number is New York and they put me on music for California. Finally, get California folks & they take my info. By now, at least fifteen minutes later, a couple cops come and park behind me and direct traffic around me. I have the dogs out of the van in the shade with me since it’s well over 100 in the van.

It takes about an hour for the tow truck. Then once at the local mechanic, by the time they take my info and a mechanic looks at my van, it’s another hour has passed. They close promptly at 5pm so I’m screwed as it’s now 4pm when they diagnose a fuel pump. They open at 8am — but won’t get the part til 9 or 10. Then they have to remove the fuel tank (after draining it) and it’s not a quick job. With luck, maybe I’ll be rolling again at noon. According to the mechanics, fuel pumps are supposed to be problematic with GMCs (Sparkle is a Chevy but they are really the same thing). They will replace with an upgraded one that doesn’t have these problems. I’m supposedly lucky to get 180,000 miles out of mine.

Ah well. So, at least I was about two days ahead of schedule & I can afford the downtime. I’ll get to bed earlier tonight, too. Maybe even be scandalous and have a beer! I wouldn’t mind so much about my stay tonight at the repair shop lot, but it’s gonna be stifling hot. I don’t mind a little urban camping — but tonight wouldn’t be my pick of nights. The dogs and I are woozy from the heat after being exposed to it for half a day already.

Anyhow — here are a few blog-worthy photos that I managed to get before the big event.

Napa and Sonoma were much too snooty for me and I made haste to get out of those downtowns. Would it be politically incorrect of me to mention how there seemed to be only two extremes everywhere I went: the obviously rich and the obviously much less-well-off farm labor workers. I found it really uncomfortable seeing those rich white folks sipping lattes at cafes while the Mexicans were out in the fields dealing with the grapes and other produce. Although I may be a privileged white girl myself touring the country, burning petrochemicals like crazy, all for the indulgence of taking signs of groovy buildings and signs… but somehow, I do feel much closer in mindset and lifestyle to the working class. Other than these trips, I really don’t spend a dime on food, movies, clothes, etc.

But I digress — here are a few photos from Napa.

Cornerstone Place is one of these wealthy folks places — for shopping, wine-tasting, art-browsing. I was here to photo this tree and then I was OUTTA there. The tree is covered with plastic ballies (yes, like my dogs, I’m obsessed with ballies myself). I didn’t do my homework to find out the meaning (if any) of this artwork:

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At the pet cemetery, there was this reminder of how hot it is. Thriving prickly pear cactus!

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These guys on the premises didn’t seem to mind:

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I have only one architectural shot for you today since my shooting time was so limited. I thought this building in Petaluma made creative use of cinder blocks as detail:

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I should also mention — in case you don’t hear from me suddenly — that I’m also experiencing some computer problems. It seems my AC adaptor isn’t working properly and the batteries aren’t charging so well. It seems to be the plug in the back of the computer is misaligned (or worn out). I have to get the stem in just so on either the battery charger or the wall outlet adapter or it’s not pulling current. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done until I get home & call Dell. So all I can do is be gentle with this plug situation and hope I can get through the next couple weeks.

Day 28: Coastal & Inland Northern CA

Posted in Roadtrip on August 28, 2008 by roadsidenut

A very productive day despite it being over 100 degrees in places. There were lots of Highway 101 stops down into Santa Rosa. I think this was a more efficient route than zigzag-ing over to I-5 which was the plan. I did enough mountain treking in the past couple days and couldn’t bear it today — though that’s what my list had told me to do. I’ll have to go back & grab that portion of the trip very soon. It’s about a 5 hour drive up to Yreka from the Bay Area so I might do that at night tomorrow or the next day so as to not waste sunlight hours when I could be shooting. It’ll mean skipping the Flickr/blog portion of my evening & then catching up the next night.

The dogs got to play in a number of rivers today (the Eel, the Russian, etc.) and very dry grass (the stuff of brush fires). I had hoped to end the day with the ocean for them after my last stop way up in Sea Ranch. I went to one of the numerous “Beach Access” detours. The two barefeet symbols with the signs were very inviting. But I must have made a bad choice because part of the trail was closed (probably the one that led right to the water). So the dogs and I followed the other trail for what must’ve been two miles and there was STILL no beach access. These were the kind of cliffs you couldn’t cheat on — super steep and leading directly to water not sand. So we had to turn around. Grem & Nik were pretty exhausted from pulling me the whole way on leash anyway. Grip & Fixie had a good time being free since they are the well-behaved members of the family that do pay attention to my whereabouts. Although it could have been disastrous since, almost back to the van, I could see wild turkeys and DEER above the grass and the dogs’ eyesight — only about 100 feet away. That would’ve been an awful and scary sunset adventure getting them back if they took off after wildlife.

Whew! I was really long-winded last night — well, SOME of you are interested in the doggie portion of this trip anyway. On with the photos!

Lots of redwood-related roadside attractions up in the PNW. I don’t know if this Redwood Tree House is still open. It was too early for me to really tell. There were two doors in the base — one looked pretty permanently closed:

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Cement figures on the side of the road just south of Willits gave me a chance to test Sparkle’s brakes:

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The Ukiah Saw Shop is now vacant. I hope this building will survive all the development going on around it. I don’t know anything about this building which is embedded with various sized rocks:

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I stopped at the Solar Living Institute — mostly to check out their unique hand-carved, solar-powered carousel. But there were lots of other eye-catching things. Wish I’d had more time to investigate the place. This huge neat thing sprayed water below and had a fountain underneath. I’m sure it was all recycled water and solar-powered. A very good thing in this part of the country. I think it was 101 degrees and not even noon.

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Canopies of grapes around the place — this is Mendocino County after all — wine country:

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This incredible statue stands near the entrance:

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I had a chance to check out the “weird restrooms” while I was there:

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The sign said the doors were made from recycled prescription bottles:

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A bit more about the place and what you can do to lessen your impact on the earth:

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In stark contrast, I witnessed landscaped of toppled trees everywhere. It was very sad and shocking — like looking at dead bodies:

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There was lots of artwork in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol to cheer me up. A goofy cow in the middle of a real cow pasture:

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A huge doggie in front of the Sonoma County Humane Society. It looks like he might have been mostly built from an Airstream trailer?

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A fun fishy dude. There was lots of public artwork in Sebastopol — I think mostly from this same artist.

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The Sebastopol Foster’s Freeze was incredible: a vintage stand with intact signage. I think the nicest one I’ve ever seen. So I had to patronize. This was a “dipped half and half” (half chocolate & vanilla with chocolate coating). I had to snap this quickly before the whole thing disintegrated. Dinner! And a good choice for such a hot day.

Day 27: Coastal Oregon & California

Posted in Roadtrip on August 27, 2008 by roadsidenut

The coastline of southern Oregon & northern California is quite spectacular. Gorgeous trees including giant redwoods, gigantic lava-like rocks in the water, beautiful dunes. I couldn’t help myself and indulged the dogs in beach runs more times than I can count. Boy, are they tired tonight! Of course tomorrow morning, it’ll be like nothing happened — back to zero.

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Early in the day, I went to Myrtle Point, OR to see the Muffler Man. He stands next to the Logging Museum which is housed in a very interesting building. It was evidently originally built as a Mormon church. However, because of its round shape, there was “acoustical chaos”. The woman working at the museum demonstrated by going to a far corner and, talking softly, it sounded like she was right next to me. This model of the church gives you a better idea of its unusual shape. This link gives more info:
http://www.museumsusa.org/museums/info/1160655

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There were some other neat things inside the museum, including this cute Paul Bunyan & Babe (about a foot tall) and some incredible carved out logs.

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Coastal OR and Northern CA is logging country so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of tributes to Paul Bunyan and the industry itself. I had wanted to see the giant Paul & Babe in Klamath, CA for decades. They were even bigger than I imagined and so nicely maintained. There was a little cabinet with vintage collectibles inside the gift shop . I think this piece was a mock-up for Paul’s construction.

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But what really gave me pause were these cute stuffed Pauls. But I know he would have had a short life with the dogs around if I had gotten one.

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And, lastly, what would a posting be without a photo of at least one sign? This one comes from Trinidad, CA. I can’t tell how old it is. The larger square portion appears to be painted plywood at this point. However, the ducks might be painted metel. I like the illusion of flight created by the one duck on a metal stick.

Day 26: Central & Western Oregon

Posted in Roadtrip on August 26, 2008 by roadsidenut

It was much cooler today and there was not as much picture-taking. There were a lot of miles between stops — most of it quite breathtakingly scenic (forests and ocean views). But I was also stuck looking at the butts of far too many slow-moving hay trucks and giant RVs for much of the time.

There was a long drive in the morning out to Lakeview which is in the high desert in Central OR. They are proud of their tallest town status — this sign is in the middle of the fairgrounds. I believe it was used as a welcome sign in town in a more prominent location on the highway.

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Lakeview really felt like Texas. I was surprised by the town’s appearance and dryness, as well as the amount of cowboy hats and Western-themed signage, etc.

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Here’s a non-Western example from downtown — a shoe store with not one but two nice neon signs:

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Later, up north in Bend, we stopped at the Funny Farm for a few minutes. It’s a bizarre mix of folk art and antique store.
http://www.funfarm.com/

The agitator wall (“Without agitators: nothing in the world would come clean”):

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The bowling ball tree:

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and other fun, slightly scary stuff:

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I finally got to see Petersen’s Rock Garden in Redmond. But I hadn’t counted on the abudance of peacocks in the parking lot and all over the place. The dogs were berserk over them. I had to carefully climb in and out of the van to avoid bloodshed. The dogs’ barking was audible for miles during my visit. At first, the peacocks were a little concerned but they quickly got over it and confidently strolled about.

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One of Petersen’s grand sculptures is surrounded by a moat with lily pads. There are super tiny frogs that you could easily miss. Anybody know what these guys are called? Here’s one at the center of this photo:

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After finishing the Central portion of the trip, I headed west. It took quite awhile with the twisty windy roads and traffic. It was already dusk when we arrived but I got a couple photos in. Then, I found a stretch of beach for the dogs to run around. Lost Creek State Park in Newport had clear signs about leashes being required but hardly anybody was around so I found a deserted area to let them rip around. We all had a blast and it was nearly dark when we left. This photo doesn’t really do the place justice:
http://www.u-s-history.com/or/l/lostcree.htm

Day 25: Southcentral & Southwest Oregon

Posted in Roadtrip on August 25, 2008 by roadsidenut

Today was another busy and hot day (bank clocks announced low 90s most of the day). Blue skies though and I found lakes and rivers to keep the doggies cool during breaks. Tomorrow won’t be nearly as productive as there will be long, long stretches of nothing between stops — but for stuff that are Must Sees. I’ll be heading back north and then along the Coast. I’m optimistic that I can finish up Oregon tomorrow — but I just did some Mapquest estimated distances between some of these stops and it doesn’t seem possible. Especially with time-consuming multiple crossings of mountain ranges.

In addition to the blackberries, there are lots of stickery plants around all parts of Oregon. What appears to be a safe yellowed grassy field for Nik to chase ballies in, very often proves otherwise when he freezes in his tracks and I have to go over and remove little thorns from his pads. The girls are much more careful about watching where they step. Grip likes to sniff bushes because that’s what she prefers to pee on and more than a few times she’s yelped as something sharp has poked her in the nose.

Only a few blog photos today and I’m trying to rattle this one off tonight rather than letting the post drag over til the morning. I want to get rolling before the sun comes up for the next stop which is two hours away. I hate wasting daylight hours on the computer when I could be shooting.

In Rice Hill, the K-R Drive-in has a fun sign. I love depictions of burgers and a triangular support is much nicer than just a simple pole. Just across the highway, there is a great complex of A-frame restaurant & motel rooms. Perhaps this sign’s A-frame-ish base was designed by the same owner or builder.

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Also in Rice Hill, this hand-made Michelin Man:

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A cute sign in Grants Pass:

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A huge painted wall sign in Grants Pass advertising for Bull Durham. The “Owl” lettering I believe was for Owl Cigars.

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And lastly, in Klamath Falls a beautiful building with great details:

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