Day 33: Racing through Wisconsin

I made a really good dent in the Wisconsin list today.  The day started out promising but by early afternoon, an annoying white cloud cover had moved in.  No time to wait it out for the sun.  The clock is ticking with picture-taking cut-off on Saturday.  I’ll have to reshoot a lot of stuff one day.  But for now, something is better than nothing.

The day started in La Crosse — so here are a few photos from there.  This shoe store is now a book store.  Thank God they left this tile floor entry alone:

 

 

I believe the Casino Bar vitrolite facade is from the 1930s.  Calling Tim Dun….

 

Obviously, a modern sign there now:

 

 

A fun modern sign south of town.  The yellow strings are neon.  Must be neat at night but I can’t find any photos of it:

 

 

It wasn’t on my list for this trip but I had to go check on my favorite sign in town.  I was horrified at first when I didn’t see it.  But then turning around, I spotted it next to the building in the parking lot.  So, I had to go inside and ask what was up.  I spoke with the owner who explained the building had been hit by a tornado (ah, yes, big blue tarp on one corner).  And that they were moving in March to a new building in an industrial park.  He will keep the sign and most likely display it inside the office.  He seemed very interested in restoring it.  I expressed my concern that if he did that he should just repair the neon and maybe touch up the paint but not repaint it.  The patina is really what makes the sign — makes it vintage, historic and visually appealing.  He seemed to agree.  Fingers crossed.  I emailed Tod (American Sign Museum) to see if he knew of any historically sensitive sign shops in the area.  The owner said the sign is from the late 1950s and was originally animated somehow.

 

I was glad to see that the sausage man is used on the company’s trucks and packaging:

 

 

Still in La Crosse — another cute character:

 

 

I didn’t get any food shots today — but I’ll share with you my favorite beverage experience of this trip.  I’ve become a diehard fan of Kwik Trip for all my caffeine and bathroom needs.  They are everywhere.  And they are some of the cleanest, most welcoming, organized gas station c-stores I’ve experienced over the years.  I head right for the dark roast, a little half & half and I’m back on the road.  It’s not as strong as Starbucks coffee (not seeing them in southern Wisconsin) but more powerful and better tasting than your typical gas station coffee.  Posed here on one of those underground gas tank covers:

 

 

On to Prairie du Chien.  I’ve gradually become a big fan of these corrugated (“corduroy”) plastic signs.  One day, the entire country is going to say “let’s get rid of this shit” and just like that, seemingly overnight, it’ll all be gone.  Maybe I’ll be the only one crying.  Unless I can convince you — and you can convince your local business owners that those signs are special, neat, historic…

 

 

From Fennimore.  There’s a railroad museum in town — too tired to do much Googling right now — but I guess this town is big on trains:

 

 

Also Fennimore:

 

On to one of today’s high points.  I went to Potosi to shoot the giant beer can and what was supposed to be “a couple of signs in the museum”.  Uh, seems there are a LOT of signs in the brewery museum and restaurant.  And far more than that — all kinds of advertising, bottles, collectibles, etc.  I was told all the stuff in the museum is on loan from various collectors so the displays change all the time.   Truly fantastic — add it to your list folks.  Potosi is close to Dubuque, IA if you have any plans of heading that way:
http://www.potosibrewery.com/

 

 

Moving back outside — and on to Platteville.  This is obviously a modern sign — but nicely done:

 

 

This one also appears to be modern.  Although it might be a replacement sign.  The “hanger pole” (all these years I’ve been studying signs and I don’t know the name for it, if there is one) is definitely old:

 

 

Last photo for the night — from Mineral Point.  Such a great name:

 

 

I’ll do my best to finish up the Wisconsin stuff tomorrow. I’d like to start on Illinois but don’t know if that’s possible.  I’ll have to prioritize the Illinois stuff on the fly on Friday.  I’d like to get the dogs to the doggie beach in Chicago as a final farewell to this trip’s adventures.  I might need an intervention to stop shooting on Saturday morning.

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10 Responses to “Day 33: Racing through Wisconsin”

  1. guitar sign = AWESOME!!!

  2. a shot of the guitar shop sign lit up is on their facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/DavesGuitarShop

  3. Wow, that vitrolite facade is gorgeous. And what a great find with that “breweryania”!

    RE: The Bakalar’s sign – I often find myself struggling when I try to articulate to a sign/business owner why (I feel) it’s so important to keep the original patina/look and feel of a place, and always hope they “get it” and don’t just think I’m an odd duck. Sometimes people want things all new and shiny, and they don’t appreciate the history that a wrinkle or two shows. Wait, am I talking historic preservation or beauty tips? ;-)

    Glad to note that we haven’t heard from Sparkle on this journey – hope I didn’t jinx it!

    • Yes, Sparkle has been chugging along nicely. She seems a little creaky in the morning and late at night if I wake her up to go run an errand. But really — she’s such a trooper. I honestly believe she enjoys toting us around on these big adventures and tries to take good care of us.

  4. The “Casino” store front is fantastic. This one absolutely needs to be restored!

  5. Agree totally on Kwik Trip! Their coffee was a daily treat while I was working a “normal” schedule, and is still occasionally a must on my evening schedule! Very happy that a new one got built on the south end of Burlington — a little closer to my regular commute route, as opposed to having to go through town to stop at the slightly older location. Southeast Wisconsin still needs to fill in with some more of these!!!

    • When I’m home, I only drink one coffee per day (I work nights so it’s a necessity). On the road, I often need two or three cups if there’s a lot of interstate. City driving is stimulating enough to get by usually. Kwik Trips were reliably great. Out East, we have Sheetz and Wawa which are good friends of mine.

  6. I like old signs too. Also cool attractions in small towns. I write a blog called “Adventures in Travel” where I seek out points of interest in small towns. You might like it :)

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