Archive for September, 2008

Day 46: Des Moines, IA to NYC

Posted in Roadtrip on September 16, 2008 by roadsidenut

The dogs and I only stopped for gas stations and pee breaks this last day of the trip. I always say I will schedule the ends of these trips so that I won’t do this to myself but it never works out that way. We arrived home around 9pm Sunday night — too hot and exhausted to do much. It’ll take a few more days to repair my life before I start adding photos to my website. Despite the fatigue and chaos, it feels great to be home and turn the engine off for awhile. The dogs are thrilled to get back to our routine and are still catching up on their sleep.

During this six-week adventure, we covered more than 18,000 miles. I put more than $4,000 in gasoline alone on the credit card. There were five pit stops at Jiffy Lube for oil changes & maintenance ($542), the overpriced fuel pump replacement ($1339)… plus hotels, food…

… but the thousands of photos and the adventures for my dogs and me = priceless!

Here are some Nebraska photos taken before I glued myself to the steering wheel.

I love this tank of a travel trailer. It was for sale in Gibbon, NE. I can’t find anything about Travelures on-line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cairo, NE was named after the Cairo in Egypt because of its desert-like landscape. Streets are named Nubia, Suez, Mecca, Nile, etc. and the sports teams are known as the Cairo Camels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The State Theatre in Central City, NE opened in 1916 and is still going strong:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Sunset Motel in Fremont has long been closed but the sign lives on. The bottom sign brags that this is a Ma & Pa Motel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nice Art Deco F.O.E. (Fraternal Order of Eagles) Building on Main St. in Fremont, NE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and just down the street, this fun decorated shoe repair shop:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final photo stop on this trip was Omaha, NE where there were lots of buffalo statues downtown. I have never seen a buffalo run in person — but the term “buffalo stampede” must come from somewhere. These big bronze statues defy gravity — I suppose they have supportive piping that runs into the ground?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next blogged trip probably won’t be until next summer when we hit the Midwest for a few weeks. Thanks for all your comments and sharing the journey with us.

Day 45: North Platte, NE to Des Moines, IA (and still going)

Posted in Roadtrip on September 14, 2008 by roadsidenut

Just a quick hi from the road as we’re now barreling our way across the East. I underestimated the number of Nebraska stops but went after nearly all of them anyway. The weather was so nice today that I couldn’t resist. We didn’t cross over the border into IA until 4:30pm so now I will pay the price for that indulgence.

The dogs didn’t get much exercise as every field I selected seemed to be a haven for nasty stickers. I had to run Nik on pavement which always bloodies his feet a bit as he scampers for ballies. Grip, who never lets me touch her feet without trying to take my hand off, was very calm for sticker removal. I had to pick out about a hundred of them from my pants and from the doggie blanket in the van.

We’ll be taking the Flying J tour on the way home. Flying J truck stops have been very good to me on these cross country trips and there are a lot of ‘em on this I-80 route home. Tons of them in IA, IL, IN, OH, PA — which is just what I need. Coffee and a bathroom and internet service ($4.95 for a 24-hour pass at all their locations) is all I need. I can sit right in my van in the parking lot and log on. There’s all that fun trucker stuff to look at in the store, a restaurant, and you can even take a shower if you want to. I love hearing the rumble of the idling trucks and the announcements over the intercom as I type this “Number 412, your shower is ready”. With a nearly non-stop 17 hour drive ahead, I feel like a trucker myself right now.

For some reason, I can’t get to their regular home page while I’m logged in. But here’s info about their internet service anyway:
http://www.fjcomm.com/internet-hotspots.asp

Flying J doesn’t give a crap if you sleep in your car or park your camper overnight. I’m sure you could go into the restaurant in your robe and slippers if you wanted to and no one would bat an eye. Can’t beat the price! I’ll probably only sleep three or four hours tonight as I’m as excited to get home as I was to begin this trip. I understand there might be nasty weather ahead as Chicago got eight inches of rain today as Tropical Storm Ike has spread to the Midwest. But, hey, it’s better than driving in snow like the last Midwest trip.

Today’s photos and more commentary to come Monday morning. Back on the road now — heave ho!

Day 44: Colorado Springs, CO to North Platte, NE

Posted in Roadtrip on September 13, 2008 by roadsidenut

It rained all day as predicted — but not heavily so I was still able to shoot. Very quickly and with much wiping off of the camera. Hopefully, I won’t have too many blurred or streaky photos. I made it through all my CO stops and feel good about that. The weather looks like it will be much nicer tomorrow, alas, when I’m on the interstate.

The dogs were pretty rambunctious in the van — constant playing between Nik and Grem — which means constant barking of Grip and Fix. Well, it kept me from getting drowsy. Because of the rain, the only one who got any true exercise — though never enough — was Nik. He would chase his ball in a field of fire I think. There are no dog parks in the plans for the rest of the trip so I’ll just look for abandoned lots or deserted parks off the interstate.

Here’s the plan: I’ve barely entered NE and am a good 24 hours of straight driving from home with two days to do it in. So I’ll do the rest of my NE stops tomorrow (Saturday) — there aren’t many. Then I’ll blow off the IA, IL, and IN stops I had planned. Those will have to wait until next summer’s big Midwest trip. I’ll drive as far East as I humanly can tomorrow night and skip the Flickr uploads and this blog in favor of sleep. I’ll catch up on Monday morning when I’m home.

These photos are from Colorado Springs unless noted. I was surprised to see this sign still there with development going on all around it and a terrible location next to the highway. The cowboy is painted rather strangely — it’s not the blurriness of the rain in this case:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This motel, the Dun Rovin’ (love the name!) looks like it’s been closed awhile. Sadly, the doors are all boarded up and there’s a big dumpster under the porte cochere (I love using that name but really, it just means carport). Even though it’s closed, the neon for “office” and fittingly “sorry” are still lit, even during the day. From the remaining concrete posts, it looks like the rooms had long rows with these midcentury legs as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This plastic sign is not all that special but the cowboy detail is nice:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve driven by a lot of chainsaw art on this trip but I’ve never seen a gnome before. This guy was in Manitou Springs, CO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like the way the artist cleverly merged the “K” with a spatula. This sign is from Holyoke, CO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastely, this giant cheery flower was a nice break from the rain and gloom. This was south of (possibly in) Julesburg, CO. The photo was taken near dusk and came out so dark that I had to pump up the brightness considerably. It makes the photo look a little surreal but so be it.

Day 43: Denver to Colorado Springs

Posted in Roadtrip on September 12, 2008 by roadsidenut

A fairly grey and cool day with some light rain here and there. I won’t complain since I’ve had fantastic weather nearly every day on this trip. However, I understand that it’s supposed to rain non-stop all day tomorrow here in Colorado Springs. We’ll see if they got it right. If it’s ridiculous, I guess I’ll just start the trek home early. Well, not really early since I’m probably a day and half behind and have a LONG way to go.

I was glad I missed out on being back in NYC on 9/11. That’s always such a depressing day. I didn’t notice a minute of silence this morning in Denver if there was one. I avoided the news on the radio today, too. What more can be said really.

I found a fenced legit dog park in Denver today for the dogs to stretch out. Nik was delirious to be running again after being cooped up for a day and a half. Even Fixie, who’s been pretty bored and sulky lately, was happy to be doing tricks for cheese today. Grip is staying in shape retrieving — still very active and fit for an 11 year old. Grem saw some squirrels running around outside the fence and was busy trying to figure how to get at them. She finally got her body halfway under the fence and I quickly snagged her and hooked her up. I had a lot of other dog parks on my list today but skipped them when I read “natural barriers”. Yeah, right — like split rail fencing and brush would be enough to keep my hunters in. “Natural barriers” sounds more like “critter nesting areas” to me. I’ll be happy to be back home in Prospect Park where the squirrels know better than to come down from the trees before off-leash ends at 9am.

One disappointment — Lakeside Amusement Park was closed. Only open Fri-Sat-Sun and this was a Thursday. This is my second attempt (four years ago it was closed for the season). A lot of old neon, some funky rides and a carousel that I really wanted to see. Some day.

One surprise — I stopped at the Air Force Academy to hopefully see the interior of the Chapel. Last time, it was closed to the public on Sundays (I think that was the day). This time, there was majority security at the gate. They had to inspect the van while I took the dogs out. Asked lots of questions. In 2004, I just drove right in. Also, you had to park much further from the chapel. They almost didn’t let me in saying the visitor center closed 20 minutes ago and the chapel would therefore be closed. I begged to let me in to take exterior shots & they gave in to that. When I got there, the door was open! A couple people inside playing guitar and chatting. They didn’t question me so I grabbed my photos quickly. A breathtaking place — glad it worked out!

Time for the photos. Just about everything here was from Denver or suburbs unless otherwise noted. The Lakewood Heritage Center had some fun stuff (the diner and the barber shop appear at the Flickr stream tonight). The also had this neat sidewalk with representations of signs (most of them gone):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of old Sinclair stations in CO. I think these pumps are old and have been retrofitted with new pump handles, etc. They have a real 1970s robot look to me. But maybe they are newer than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A contemporary sign but nicely done:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lakeside Amusement Park Tower, sigh — I’ll get into that place someday:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former Federal Theatre. I’m not sure what it’s being used for now. Behind the Art Deco era marquee is evidence of a much older building:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the way this motel integrated the sign and building:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I’ve been to a zoo in 15 years or more. I have a hard time supporting caged animals, etc. I know, I know, they’re deeply involved in conservation and all that now. But somehow, it’s still animals confined in small spaces with humans gawking. To the Denver Zoo’s credit, the place was very nice and I saw lots of personnel at the exhibits making copious observation notes about their animals. In my mad dash to the carousel that I just HAD to see and was the sole reason I reluctantly forked out the $12, I couldn’t help but take a quick glance around. All the animals seemed to be eating – which made me hungry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These hornbills were grooming each other. I don’t know if it was a parent/child, husband/wife or just buddy/buddy thing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These cheetahs seemed a bit unhappy to me. They were in a big, naturalistic enclosure but pacing back and forth all along the fencing. Maybe they pace in nature but I doubt it. Maybe they were just waiting for the delivery of dinner. I’ll reserve judgement since I really know nothing of cheetahs or zoos really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m glad that there are places like this when the need arises (from Colorado Springs):

 

 

 

 

 

And, in closing, another bit of signage from Colorado Springs. This place was really busy — covered with paper signs and the bulbs and neon working nicely:

Day 42: Colorado (Avon to Denver)

Posted in Roadtrip on September 11, 2008 by roadsidenut

I found out in the morning that I wasn’t through the Rockies at all. There was still a lot more mountainous driving to do. Then, I had a bunch of stops north of Denver before I got down to the busy city stuff. I’m only about halfway through the Denver area stops so I’ll keep banging away tomorrow. There’s a big chunk of Colorado Springs stuff next in my stack so I guess I’ll go south for a bit though any sane person wouldn’t. I’m at least a day behind schedule and it’s looking like the Iowa stuff will get nixed so I can get home in time for work. Yes, I DO work for a living and it’s got nothing to do with roadside stuff or taking pictures. In fact, I’ll be working as much OT as they will allow so I can whittle away at the credit card debt that’s piled up on this trip.

Nik and Grem didn’t get off leash at all today since I discovered that Colorado is abundant in prairie dogs. Grip & Fix are only slightly interested in those dirt mounds so they got privileges. But Nik and Grem were screaming frothing pulling nightmares. I was VERY careful each time I opened the van door as I didn’t trust those possessed dogs one bit. Grem is definitely small enough to fit in their tunnels. I think the prairie dogs enjoyed tormenting the dogs with their squeaking. I saw fields with hundreds of them today.

The weather was pretty warm for a few hours (low 90s) but there was a breeze and it was still much better than it was in Central CA. I did put the A/C on when the dogs started panting. But there’s something definitely wrong as it was cooler outside the van so I turned if off. So I hope we’re done with the worst of the weather. It got grey and dark for about a half hour but then cleared up. By 5pm, there were so many clouds at the sunset horizon that it was really too dark to be shooting but I kept at it. Most of the day was gorgeous though with loads of fluffy white clouds and blue skies.

Now, on with the photos. In Loveland, this looks like it was originally an icebox gas station. Although, it’s remotely possible that it might have always been a cleaners:

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The devilish creatures that made two of my dogs nuts:

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A business in Englewood — that appeared to still be selling violets. Unfortunately, the other side of this sign was pretty bashed up:

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A still-functioning gas station in Englewood. I haven’t seen old pumps like this in operation in a long time.

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A new business and sign in Englewood:

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An unusual Mission style building in Englewood:

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The Smart Car dealership in Denver. I think these cars are even cuter parked in groups. Especially when they only take up half a parking spot each.

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A huge, adapted sign in Denver. I’m glad this bible store kept the shape even though it’s pretty irrelevant to what they are selling. Although I guess they have painted the suggestion of a dove on this kettle.

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I’m sure this one in Denver must have revolved at one time:

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This guy is on the roof of Spin N Chicken in Denver. He was hard to shoot as there was apparently not enough air going into his body to get him fully upright. I’ve seen a lot of these generic flailing guys, but never a chef before.

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And lastly, a couple old painted wall signs in downtown Denver on Champa St.

Day 41: Ogden, UT to Avon, CO

Posted in Roadtrip on September 10, 2008 by roadsidenut

Although I did a lot of driving today, I’m still about a day behind schedule. I’m also feeling pretty weary and am tempted at times to bag it and just hit the interstate for home. But I will try to hang in there for a few more days because there’s still a lot of good stuff on my lists and who knows when I’ll make it this far west again.

I didn’t have a lot of stuff to shoot in Southeast Utah but I was glad I went a little out of my way for the stops anyway. It started pouring when I got to Green River and I had to actually stop for safety for about 20 minutes. Incredibly strong winds, torrential rain, and I was worried about flash flooding and crazy reckless drivers. Then it cleared up and I went back to work.

I drove through the Rockies in the dark. It wasn’t as scary as April’s trip during the snowstorm. Still, it was pretty nerve-wracking since it started raining and the lighting was not great. Before this leg, I had gulped down a 20 oz. SuperRev coffee (or whatever the gas station called it) because I was feeling a little drowsy and had a two and a half hour drive ahead of me. But I really didn’t need the help.

The dogs were a bit deprived today. The only water I found was at these state park situations where there were huge signs saying “NO DOGS — EVEN ON BOATS. DRINKING WATER”. Other rest areas had weird “no dogs” signs, too. But I managed to find some construction sites, etc. where they could run a bit. Some sticker balls though so everyone but Nik is being a little cautious about where they step.

On with the photos… Some nice old signs in Price, UT:

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An abandoned one in the weeds:

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I’m not sure what will become of this one — the building below is now vacant:

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Also in Price, this building detail at a flower shop. Maybe it has always been one.

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I had never been to Moab before and it was definitely worth the extra hour or so detour. In addition to the breathtaking red rocks, there is the famous and wonderfully tacky tourist attraction:
http://www.theholeintherock.com/

I didn’t feel the desire to take the tour of the house. I was really there to see a couple neon signs and just the spectacle of the place. There is a lot of sculptural stuff there and a petting zoo as well. I was careful not to park the dogs next to the emus or kangaroos.

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Just north of the Hole in the Rock was this hillside rock formation. It looks like an animal’s head to me:

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And lastly, later, taken while driving, on I-70 headed for Colorado:

Day 40: Reno, NV to Ogden, UT

Posted in Roadtrip on September 9, 2008 by roadsidenut

Somehow I think my numbering got off. I think this is really Day 39. Close enough! It feels more like Day 60 at this point. I’m eager to get home but there are still a lot of stops and maps to get through. It breaks up the tedium of the interstate anyway. Today was an excruciating example. I had done a thorough job of northern NV on the last trip so it left me pretty much driving from Reno to Salt Lake with nothing in between. Straight line, desert landscape — pretty in a desolate sort of way. I found a park with grass in Battle Mountain for the dogs to run & sniff a bit. Otherwise, we were all pretty much prisoners.

After I finally got sick of the news babble about Sarah Palin, the Casey/Caley story, and Hurricane Ike, I switched over to music for the rest of the day. NPR did have some good stories though which helped with the boring drive — including one about global “weirding”. That’s evidently a more accurate description of what we’re in for rather than just “warming” (extremes of hot and cold, more hurricanes, tornados in cities where there haven’t been so before, etc.).

We arrived in Utah around 5pm which only gave me enough time to grab the quick shots I needed in Salt Lake City and Ogden. Lost an hour’s worth of shooting with a time change as well. Tomorrow, I’ll finish up Utah and head on to Colorado. Running about a half day behind still and traffic didn’t help. There was tons of road construction on I-80 which slowed things down to a crawl what seemed like every 10 miles. Then two big accidents near SLC — one which closed I-80 just west of town, then another rubbernecker just north of town.

I stopped by Wells, NV to check on the status of this place which was damaged in a big earthquake back in February. Sure enough, it’s still fenced off and has not been repaired:

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This sign in Ogden appears to be a newbie — still, they get an A for effort. The sign is lit at night as well:
http://flickr.com/photos/19505510@N00/2111795423/

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I have never seen this kind of bird before. He was like a combination of crow and pheasant — a very long tail and a confident big hop. I poked around a little on-line and I think he might be some kind of magpie. Does anyone know for sure?

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As if that bird didn’t give the dogs enough to bark at, there was one of those dreaded art projects in Ogden. Fixie, who usually is very reserved, went ballistic over this faux horse:

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Even camouflaged, the troops went nuts over this one. So I guess it must be the shape without needing any details. Anything with four legs and a head/neck? Did the unusual-ness of this one’s coloration make it more unnerving for them? I really can’t say.

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And lastly, I noticed this little place, Jack’s Shoe Repair in Ogden, had moved to a location. It left behind these nice little details that will probably be gone soon.

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