Archive for May, 2012

Day 35: Quickies from Missouri

Posted in Roadtrip on May 31, 2012 by roadsidenut

I was able to get some photos in Missouri and still get us lined up decently for Cincinnati tomorrow.  I drove about 400 miles from Lawrence, KS to Mt. Vernon, IL today, not including driving around Kansas City and Columbia.   I’ve driven just under 15,000 miles so far on this trip.  And Sparkle’s rear tires are looking pretty worn.  I will probably kill a few hours tomorrow morning taking care of that.

It’s nice to see green trees again and naturally occurring green grass.  I found some slow moving rivers for the dogs to cool off in.  Nik lost two toys yesterday in the Arkansas River.  Due to his impending blindness, he can’t tell little blippy water movement from his toys.  Although I can direct him left/right, back/come, he still gets mightily confused.  I hope he’ll still be safe to swim for this summer at least.  He loves it so much — it’s heartbreaking.  But I don’t want to risk him in big lakes and such when I can’t swim to dive in and save him if he gets to far away and can’t hear me.  Meanwhile, Grippie, although completely blind, has nearly perfected jumping in and out of the van on her own.  I help her a little just to keep her straight — but she’s pretty proud of herself.

On with the photos — from Kansas City:

 

I don’t know what this building was originally.  I see on-line references to 3200 Troost as the Jewel Box Lounge, the Southside Bus Station, and the Skaggs drug store:

 

Obviously an updated sign — with the neon still on during the day:

 

I knew when I spotted this one that it just had to be a Standard Oil gas station — although ever so slightly different — smaller building and the peaked detail above the door not as tall:
http://agilitynut.com/gas/redcrown.html

The woman manning the store showed me a vintage photo inside of what it looked like when it was built in 1930/1931.  Kinda blurry — but there are Standard Oil letters over on the left — and there’s a red crown (instead of a torch) over the doorway that’s covered up now:

 

One of the highlights of my day — maybe even the whole trip — was seeing this former Ramada Inn sign reassembled again.  Mostly reassembled — he still doesn’t have his bugling arm with the Ramada Inn banner on yet — but it’s coming soon.  And I believe the neon will be restored, too.  I’m not great with estimating distance — but I’d say this sign is at least 20 feet tall.  I never got to see it when it was on display — but I witnessed it laying in a pile in the parking lot for years.  More and more neon being broken by vandals.  Until one day, it just disappeared.  Eventually, I figured out who had it — a private collector in Owensville, MO.  He also has the White Castle which was in Orient, OH.  Anyhow, for more photos and info about this sign, see towards the bottom of this page:
http://www.agilitynut.com/signs/il5.html

Although the owner was down in West Virginia, he gave me directions and let me go see this sign in his “yard”.  If you can call it that.  He’s got a ferris wheel, a Pullman train car that supposedly belonged to Rudolph Valentino — and loads of other stuff that he’s got in storage while he builds a “barn” to display it all in.  Not a museum — just for friends, family, and Boy Scouts.

 

Okay folks.  Check this one off my list.  This place in Rolla has won awards and is pretty famous.  I may have even had a slice here before, years ago:

 

I figured I’d better get two slices so I could sample both the fruit AND the cream pies.  This is the peach pie just before removal of my “half slice” (which is huge):

 

And a half slice of the Tahitian Cream pie (pineapple, banana and coconut).  They graciously put it on a real plate for me so I could shoot it before it wound up in the ugly styrofoam container:

I had about half of the half-slice of the Tahitian.  I had not eaten since 10 am in preparation for this event.  I was so full from it that even at 1 am now, I’m not the least bit hungry.  The sugar may have given me an extra kick since I’ve won this round with the interstate tonight and am getting this post out before bed.

On to today’s final stop — Bob’s Gasoline Alley in Cuba.   This was today’s second “mystery date” where I had to make arrangements with a real live person.  It’s another private collection but this one can be visited by anyone who makes an appointment.  Very visible from I-44 with the signs and exotic animals (emus, donkeys, turkeys and such).   There might be better articles out there about the place — but here’s this quick grab:
http://top-of-the-arch.blogspot.com/2010/11/bobs-gasoline-alley-one-mans-treasure.html

Yes, lots of gas station signs and pumps outside:

 

But then, there are two (or was it three?), two-story buildings brimming with stuff.  All kinds of collections.  Cookie jars, toys, clocks, on and on.  Themometers:

 

A nice old Pepsi machine:

 

Signs — mostly the tin type — though some neon:

 

And I think I liked this section best of all.   Pedal cars and John Deere tractor toys:

 

On to Cincinnati tomorrow.  I’ve got lots to shoot — and then of course the American Sign Museum “thing”.  Are you coming?
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e5uk1y5qab1ec327&llr=p6acczdab

 

 

Day 34: Southwest Colorado and Onward

Posted in Roadtrip on May 30, 2012 by roadsidenut

The interstate got the best of me last night.  I managed to get through more than 500 miles and close enough to the Missouri border to allow myself a nap.  That I never got up from.  Perched here in Lawrence, KS.   I should be able to get through Missouri — with hopefully a few stops that involve humans which had to be postponed from earlier in this trip.  Then, I have to interstate it through Illinois and Indiana.  So, again, you might have to wait til the following morning for the blog post.  I’m realizing now that what I usually do on these big interstate treks is tough it all out at once — and then write you from home.  But this trip was designed to make that stretch less painful since I’ll only have one not-so-bad interstate mess home after Cincy.  But right now, this highway stuff is just awful.  Starbucks ain’t working for me now.

Anyhow, on with the photos since the sun is nearly up.  I finished tidying up the little corner of Colorado yesterday.  Not a tremendous amount of stops but it will save me some time this summer when I take on Colorado more seriously.  It’ll mean a bit more Utah and/or Montana can be included.

From Fowler — the local paper still in production:

 

A mid-century modern dome in Rocky Ford — aka the Melon Dome:

The Rocky Ford High School teams are known as the Mighty Meloneers — not exactly a terrifying mascot but they do their best to make it work:

 

Also from Rocky Ford — this motel sign photo marred by the shadow from a pole:

 

These two are from La Junta:

 

Also La Junta.  I love mileage signs like this.  Especially since I’ve had mileage on my brain for the past couple days.  Constantly calculating to figure out how to get to Cincy on time — but not miss stops on the way if I can make them:

 

A couple from Springfield:

 

Now a BBQ place:

 

From Cheyenne Wells.  I have no idea what this deco / streamline building was used for:

 

And, lastly, from Burlington.  The tree on one side, the sun on the other.  Had to go with this funky angle:

 

Time to hit the road.  I’ll try to get the next post to ya tonight — but if the interstate beats me up again, don’t panic if it’s not uploaded til the morning.

 

 

Day 33: Carrying on in Colorado

Posted in Roadtrip on May 29, 2012 by roadsidenut

OK — I’m back — still cranking away here.  Starbucks rocks!  And I’ve got like 30 photos for you for this post which might be a record for me.  So let’s not waste too much time talking.  So I scooted into Colorado around 9 or 10 am and began shooting like a fiend.  I’m fired up trying to get as much done as possible and still arrive in Cincinnati on time.  Most people would probably just leisurely do this interstate thing with a few overnights, or arrive early enough and lounge by the pool, watch HBO in the hotel room, etc.  Not me.  Nuh uh.

Let’s start with some signs from Walsenburg:

On to Pueblo:

I spied a lake in Pueblo — and it was hot — and the dogs hadn’t been swimming in a while.  So off we traipsed down to the shore.  Everybody in — woo hoo!   Then I noticed — lots of white on the shore — must be a salt lake?  And then I noticed lots of — uh oh — dead fish.  So my goal was to keep everybody IN the water swimming and eating the floaties that I was throwing in.

Nik is easy — he just wants to retrieve his ball about 16 million times.

But while Grem was busy swimming for her treats, Fixie seemed to prefer chomping on the dead fish on shore.  Much as I would try to stop her.  Now, I don’t know how much of a health issue this is, but somebody’s been farting a lot tonight.  And it’s not me — even with all those burritos I’ve been eating.  I have my suspicions:

 

Lots more from Pueblo.  I suppose this is a clam shell edge on top?

Same place — with a Schlitz sign that I haven’t seen before:

 

The long sign is porcelain enamel & neon:

This little mascot guy is apparently wood.  I didn’t notice til I started cropping & tweaking tonight that the doorway canopy might be shaped like a flying carpet — with little fringey things hanging down.

 

Another sign mascot in town:

 

OK, more Pueblo signs:

 

BPOE = Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks:

Same building — I hope you can make out that there are colored lightbulbs on the building and in the elk’s antlers (remember, you can click for a larger photo):

 

Nick’s Dairy Creme was previously Nick’s Dairy Queen.  The sign must have been more cone-y originally:

But I forgive them for that.  After all, it was HOT.  90 something maybe?  And I refused to turn on the A/C since it was Memorial Day and the beginning of summer — and we SHOULD be hot to appreciate the holiday of it all.  Anyhow, so this is a sundae.  There was a better name — but anyway, it’s like a small banana split — but just the one flavor (vanilla soft serve) and vertical presentation.  Lots of syrup choice — I went with black raspberry.  It.  Was.  Unreal.

 

More Pueblo signs?  The USA Motel:

 

Probably messed with some — or a lot — but still better that a plastic box replacement:

 

A nicely repurposed gas station always makes me feel happy:

 

A fairly crude but still charming sign.  I saw another more modern location later in the day with the same design — but of course, cleaner looking:

 

Moving on to Cañon City for the remainder of this post.  I wasn’t sure if this was a real or a “fantasy” (fake) place with an arty sign.  But from poking at Google, evidently it really was a bar.  Or maybe the bar burned down and this place is a simulation with the painted windows and all?

 

Time to to a bit of housekeeping.  I thought you might like a peek at this blanket that someone ordered/bought for me years ago that I keep in the van.  It was based on a photo of my previous pack:
http://www.agilitynut.com/p/bench.jpg

That’s Fix & Grip on the left in the photo (and Fix & Grip in real life sniffing the blanket, for scale).   Beebs and Spud on the right in the photo both passed away a number of years ago:

 

Some signs:

 

Wrong time of day for this one.  What I really like about this one is the way the metal on the canopy is shaped to fit around the letters:

 

Last one for the night.  A neat little mid-century building:

A close-up of the screen part:

 

Alright then — hopefully, that should satisfy those of you that were disappointed last night.  And it will also hold you over I hope in case tomorrow’s pickings are slim or I pass out again from exhaustion.  Tomorrow’s plan is to finish up this little chunk of Southwest Colorado — and then pedal to the metal (still no speeding tickets yet!) through Kansas to the Missouri border.  Not looking forward to that part.  Just did the math — six and a half hours from Burlington, CO to Kansas City, MO.  Ugh.

Day 32: Arizona Wrap-Up (Ever Eastward Part II)

Posted in Roadtrip on May 28, 2012 by roadsidenut

It’s only 10pm — the night is young!  An extra large Starbucks coffee in hand — far stronger I think than gas station coffee and a thousand times better.  Good thing — because I’m attempting to do TWO blogs and TWO batches for Flickr tonight (yes, if you joined the party late or you have forgotten — the photos that I post to the blog each night on the road are just the “junky” photos & subjects.   Here’s the Flickr link for the prettier ones, posted also each night — and only while I’m on the road (my silly rule):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

I thought I really didn’t shoot much yesterday.  But I think I was just depressed that the “real” trip (NM & AZ) had come to an end and I had to stop shooting around noon and start the long journey towards home.   And then the interstate nearly killed me.  No amount of coffee could get me to Colorado.  I pulled into a McDonald’s and passed out for about 6 hours.  Then up again for another day.  Sheesh.

So, for those of you that were bummed about not getting photos last night (a bit spoiled, aren’t you?), here goes.

Picking up where we left off at the last post — in Williams:  This giant kachina sign is at the Canyon Gas Trading Post & Restaurant:

 

From Ash Fork — no way to shoot this one without shooting into the sun — major tree challenge on the other side:

 

A wondrous sign in Seligman — marred by the Betty Boop crap on the bottom.  If I lived nearby, I think I’d have to sneak over there in the middle of the night with some blue paint:

 

Also in Seligman, from the ultra famous Route 66 landmark, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-in.  I think this bellhop’s arm has been broken since forever.  I can’t find any photos of it when it was still intact:

One more from the Snow Cap:

 

From Peach Springs:

 

From Valentine:

 

The remainder of the photos below are from Kingman.  This one is at the Time Out Tavern and I suspect that it’s relatively new.  It looks like all those metal bits would interfere with the night-time presentation — but maybe I’m wrong:

 

A nicely preserved Astro Motel (although the name has changed):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23563103@N05/2255079649/

 

Next to a former Denny’s (the now closed “Silver Spoon”) — I’ve poked around everywhere and can’t find the name of this place:

 

This one was originally the King’s Arms Restaurant.  It’s been the ABC Buffet for a long time:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vintageroadtrip/6313662952/

 

The Route 66 Motel sign looking a little shabby.  I fear that corrugated plastic (what I call “corduroy plastic”) will be replaced with plain plastic panels soon.  Do they even still make the corrugated stuff?

 

Neon signs weather better — even after multiple repaintings:

 

Last one for this post — a former Terrible Herbst gas station sign:

 

OK — I’m off to work on today’s batch now.  Give me a couple hours.

Day 32: Ever Eastward

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2012 by roadsidenut

I wrapped up Arizona early in the afternoon.  And then began the long, eastward interstate trek.  500 miles between Yucca, AZ and Albuquerque, NM before I could drive no further and passed out.  So, sorry that I have no photos for you this morning. Tonight, I promise!  The sun is up now so we’re getting back on Trucker Highway.  I am hoping to get into Colorado early enough to take some photos.  

Here’s the rest of this trip’s schedule:  Wednesday some stops are planned in Missouri.  Thursday will be Cincinnati shooting (Beth, there’s still time!).  Friday & Saturday the American Sign Museum Grand Reopening (are you all coming?).  And Sunday, all interstate madness to home (NYC).

I WILL get to that pie.  Last night, had a gas station chile relleno that was restaurant quality.  Back to coffee & gum & internet radio now.  Hope you’re all having a great Memorial Day weekend.

Day 31: A Hitchless Day in Arizona

Posted in Roadtrip on May 27, 2012 by roadsidenut

It takes a day like a yesterday to really, really make me appreciate a today like this one.  Perfect weather (cool), relatively little traffic, and tons of photo-ops.  Mostly the unexpected blog-quality stuff — not the sought-out website stuff.  So, go get yourself a cold one or a hot one — this is gonna be a long post.  I covered a lot of ground today — from the southeast corner to just about the northwest corner of the state.  A chunk of interstate driving in the afternoon — but mostly desert — and then forests.  Tonight here in Williams, they say it will be 27 degrees.  What a switch from the lows in the 80s of Phoenix just a few nights ago!

Let’s start with something completely random — a birdhouse assemblage in Bisbee:

 

A couple of travel trailers at the Shady Dell in Bisbee that I don’t think I’ve shot before:
http://www.theshadydell.com/

 

This neat panel truck (is that what you call them?) in Lowell:

 

And speaking of vehicles.  This is how I’ve been driving her around for the past week or so.  This hand towel pretty much stops the squeaky hood sound.  It’s humiliating enough with her bruises and misaligned headlights — but this is really over the top.  Poor Sparkle…

 

Just outside of Douglas.   The DQ is gone — although they didn’t bother to remove the sign.  Imagine all the disappointed kids (and adults!):

 

Also in Douglas:

 

Still Douglas.  I love these “to do” list signs on the downtown theatre:

 

On to Willcox.  Why so many signs?  I AM actually looking for interesting buildings — but just not finding a lot:

 

I had to walk through a car show to shoot something in Willcox so I shot this one for you.  I’ve never seen a split hood like this — pretty neat:

 

But I liked this vehicle that wasn’t in the show even more.  Never seen such a thing.  Could it be customized?  Behind the big window is a bed-like set-up.  But you’d have to be my size to fit:

 

One of my main staples lately — maybe one every other day — has been the Gas Station Burrito.  This one was particularly great with the crunchy tortilla.  Normally, they come wrapped in foil — which is fine, too.  Just a softer and usually spicier approach.  Hard to screw up beans and cheese.  Though most of the time, there’s beef or chicken in there so I’m out of luck.  The crunchy tortilla was almost like pie crust — yes PIE — I haven’t forgotten.  The taco stand burritos that I grew up on in Southern California had rice and lettuce inside.  And if you paid extra, sour cream.  But nothing wrong with this simplistic approach:

 

A couple from Bowie.  I don’t know what happened to this sign:

 

One of the most intriguing signs of the whole trip to me.  Never seen such a thing.  Surely, the thing must have spun — and there are lights on both sides:

 

I’ve been getting a lot of emails about my “process” lately — how I find so many things, how I put trips together, etc.  Most of those questions will be answered by the pages with links on the right below the calendar “how to plan a roadtrip”, etc.  I need to update them slightly at some point.  For instance, I remove the yellow stickies before these trips now since it just gets too messy.  Once the route is firmed up, I just draw a big circle around the city and then draw crow-flies lines between them.  This helps me stay focused on what’s ahead, plan for where the day will end more or less, or shift things around a bit if needed.  Then I just scratch out each city as I finish it — a feeling of accomplishment.  And then I just buy a new atlas every couple of years.  Here’s what I’ve done to part of Arizona:

 

On to Safford:

 

Another “perfie” — a perforated cone thingie on top:

 

From Thatcher — the Infamous Bar & Grill:

 

On to Globe.  This rolling pin sign seems to be attached to Chalo’s Casa Reynosa Mexican restaurant.  Maybe symbolizing rolling the tortillas?

 

More from Globe:

 

From Miami.  It doesn’t get much funkier than this.  Looks like Traveler’s Motel originally:

Same building, around the side:

 

And, last one for the night, from Williams.  A nice bright & cheerful sign:

 

According to my calculations, I should be able to wrap up Arizona tomorrow.  Then I’m debating about what to do for the next couple days.  I want to be in Cincinnati to do some shooting on Thursday.  That leaves roughly three days — which has to include a hefty amount of interstate time as well.  I will probably do some of my Colorado pack which I have with me  — maybe a day’s worth.  And then a little Kansas City that I brought along.  Or I could be wild and crazy and head to Vegas which is very nearby — but that will probably wait til next year en route to California.   If I whack out some of the Colorado stuff now, then I can probably sneak in some Utah and/or Montana stuff this summer.

Day 30: Inching Along in Southern Arizona

Posted in Roadtrip on May 26, 2012 by roadsidenut

It’s always something.  Another frustrating mechanical day.  It started out great — perfect weather and all kinds of ambitious plans to wrap up the rest of southern AZ.  I hit the 3,000 mile mark and spotted a Jiffy Lube.  I’m very on-the-ball with oil changes and all.   I opened the brake fluid lid ever so gently — something that I have done myself since The Accident — realizing that it needs to be treated delicately.  Although it was full the past couple times I checked, this time, the front half was empty.  Uh oh.  The oil change guy pointed me in the direction of a gas station so I could go get some brake fluid.  Got some and started pouring it in.  It was leaking out the bottom just as fast as I was adding it in.

The oil change guys called their mechanic buddy and I eventually got towed to his shop.  Sure enough, the epoxy on the reservoir had deteriorated.  I don’t blame the mechanics back in Silver City where a part was not to be found, anywhere, and who sincerely believed the epoxy would hold.  And it did — for about 5,000 miles or so.  After talking with these mechanics, it seems I should’ve made a more concerted effort later to find that part and have it replaced.  The risk of losing the fluid and getting into an accident from brake failure was very high.  So, I counted my blessings that nothing happened in those twisty turny mountains yesterday — or in the middle of the nowhere desert (which is about 85% of all Arizona it seems).

While they were replacing the reservoir (no problem finding the part in Tucson) and master cylinder, I had them check out the A/C.   This mechanic believed it was the vacuum valve something and replaced it.  He was sure of it.  So, another $780.  Their credit card machine was not working — so I had to go get another cash advance at the bank.  Argh!  But I’m much relieved to have the brake thingie replaced & resolved.  And the air is running really nicely.  I sure hope it lasts since I have the big summer trip coming up and just can’t bear to waste more time and money on the A/C.

Enough about all that.  Instead of being too pissed off and depressed about wasting more than half the day in the shop again, I was just grateful to be alive.  The dogs and I even caught an hour-long nap on the waiting room sofa.  Since I only got to a few small towns, I only took a couple dozen photos and don’t have much to share with you tonight.  But tomorrow’s another day!

Cool windows on what appears to be a mid-century bank in Tucson not far from the garage:

 

Down to Nogales to shoot a few things.

 

Nogales is a border town (with Mexico) and there are all kinds of Border Patrol cops and regular cops everywhere.  This bank is the neatest thing.  A mix of midcentury with sort of a streamline moderne feel.  I took several photos but am just including a couple.  I had a security cop from the bank all over me — insisting I could only stand in the street to take photos.  I said that the sidewalk was public property but he said no — and it was too hot and I was just in a hurry to get moving so I didn’t argue.  Dealing with cops and cop-wanna-bes was just not the way I wanted to end my day.

The bank’s ATMs:

 

On to Benson.  I’m pretty sure this is a modern sign — patina-ized to look old.  Still funky and fun:

 

On to Tombstone.  The hat piece is most likely new — but the top part looks like probably old “can” reworked / relettered:

 

So that’s it I’m afraid on tonight’s visuals.  Stayed the night here in Bisbee (no, not the Shady Dell) where it’s mountain-like cool.  I’m invigorated and ready to get moving in a serious way.  I’m thinking I should be able to wrap up Arizona in about two days — just the southeast and the northwest to go.  Which puts me slightly ahead of schedule and might leave a little time before the American Sign Museum “thing” in Cincinnati for dabbling in either Colorado or possibly some Kansas City stuff.  I have some short lists with me in case I ran ahead of schedule — something that’s never happened before.

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