Archive for the Roadtrip Category

4th of July Trip: East Bay Area (Day 3 of 3!)

Posted in Roadtrip on July 8, 2014 by roadsidenut

Here we go with the final post from this trip.  It was only a part-day-er because I had more than 300 miles of holiday traffic awaiting me for the journey home.

Let’s start in the megalopolis of Pinole.  One of my fave plastic signs from this trip:

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Also in Pinole:

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From Rodeo.  This sign has flaked into unreadability.  It used to say “Joseph’s Fishing Resort Tavern; 2 Blocks”:

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From El Sobrante.  I can think of only a few vintage signs with depictions of guns.  I can’t think of any with bullets:

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From San Pablo.  There’s at least one other Hambrick’s Giant Burgers (in Oakland, with a vintage equally great sign).  I believe they were part of the Giant Burgers chain in the Bay Area.  At least a couple of those remaining signs also feature the mention of “Home Made Pies”:

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The San Pablo building is special as well.  I’m not sure if those windows and dining area were always there.  The counter is more like a walk-up place:

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This one from Richmond.  I’ve seen Launderette signs — but never a Washette:

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Also in Richmond.  This is a secondary sign at The Spot bar.  The sign panels appear to have been that deep blue porcelain enamel.  I don’t know what caused them to fade to silver.  Inferior paint or processing?

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A couple of signs from Albany:

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This sign looks like it could have been installed yesterday — but it’s gotta be from the 1950s at least:

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On to Alameda which has loads of fun stuff to shoot in addition to its signs.  The panels have some streaking from rusting screws — but otherwise the color is as bright as the day it was installed.  At some point, someone with “ambition” will probably paint this sign and remove the neon — which will be a crime:

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From Pleasanton.  I’ve only seen Florsheim Shoe brand signs in green and brown.  This is the only one I know of that uses a scripty font:

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Last stop for this batch — in Fremont.  I passed a lot of Nation’s Giant Hamburgers locations this weekends.  Didn’t shoot them since they were too modern for me.  But this one was irresistible:

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That concludes the blogging for this roadtrip.  I still have a long list of stuff to shoot in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and the San Jose area.  But for now, I’m going to hunker down and work on adding photos to the website.  And let my credit card cool off.  The next Bay Area trip will be maybe at the end of August.  There will be at least one L.A. area trip before that so I’ll be posting again soon enough.

Until then… have a great summer!

Oh, and don’t forget, there’s lots of new photos over at Flickr from this trip:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

dj & the dogs

 

4th of July Trip: East Bay Area (Day 2)

Posted in Roadtrip on July 8, 2014 by roadsidenut

On Saturday, I moved on to the East Bay (east of San Francisco) area.

Let’s start with this nice terrazzo entry in Vallejo.  The store that’s there now has nothing to do with whatever this was.  Discount store?  Supermarket?

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Moving on to Pacheco.  Surely, the sign panels’ were a brighter & cheery-er color originally.  This sign is lovely at night — must get back there sometime:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/hueyward/4488686067/

Tubing shadows usually improve a photo — but this might be a bit much.  Or at least it was on that white paint:

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There are about a dozen Caspers Hot Dogs in the Bay Area.  There are a couple of buildings & signs from the 1940s like this one in downtown Hayward:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14599087761/

There are about four of this design from the 1960s.  This one is also in Hayward:

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The interiors are all pretty well-preserved.  Note the globe lamps, the orange, yellow & red stools, and the clock.  All original:

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This one is at the Usher Inn in San Leandro.  One of the prettiest martini signs I’ve ever seen:

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This shopping center sign in San Leandro was restored last year and I was all excited to see it in person.  But really, shouldn’t restoration also involve cutting back trees or removing them?  I’m all for trees but what idiot thought these belonged less than a foot away from this sign?  I’m assuming the sign was here first:

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San Leandro is chock full of vintage signs.  Here are a few more:

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Sadly, the arrow wasn’t working at night on this one:

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Just the darned cutest drive-in maybe ever.

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Yes.  Polka dots.  And twin drive-thru lanes:

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The “fifth wheel” is a reference to that coupling where big rigs are hooked up to their trailers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_wheel_coupling

That connection looks like this lovely piece of freestanding neon:

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The only other sign depiction of a fifth wheel that I know of is this one in Detroit which I shot on a crappy weather day:

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This sign is in Oakland.  I’ve got loads to shoot in Oakland — but that will be on a later trip:

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Moving on to Alameda:

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Let’s hope this one is never restored.  Or at least not until every last speck of paint falls off:

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How about a few night shots?  The rest of these signs are from Albany.  There are a few of these Pic N Pac liquor stores in the area.  This is the nicer sign:

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This is now the Safeway Pharmacy (an updated sign below this detail).  There must have been a name above the Rx originally.  There are two or three balls at the top of this mortar and pestle sign which would have been animated.  You can just barely make them out here:

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The glorious Ivy Room:

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OK — one more day & post to go.  I’ll try to get that one up tomorrow.

dj

 

4th of July Trip: Sacramento & East Bay (Day 1)

Posted in Roadtrip on July 8, 2014 by roadsidenut

Okay — let’s dive right into Friday which was all about Sacramento and thereabouts.

This sign originally advertised for the Ramona Hotel:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/87981392/

It looks like Scientology placed a panel over the holes where the letters had been.  Just maybe the letters were saved?  And maybe someday, if a new owner comes along that is more historic-minded, the letters could be replaced.  Here’s hoping.

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Check out that lovely tin border.  This has to be one of the oldest signs in town:

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This is the Hotel Marshall’s “lesser” sign — tucked around the corner of the building & mounted high on the building.  Here’s the prettier sign from my Flickr account:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

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I’m thinking this sign is probably half of what was a projecting sign on the building:

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which was at some point replaced with this sign.   Quite a nice graphic for a plastic sign:

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Both signs are lit at night:

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This diamond ring clock sign was restored in 2012:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/centerforsacramentohistory/7166722592/

Unfortunately, its “buddy sign” was painted over before that:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/25552182/

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That red porcelain enamel is as bright as the day it was installed some sixty-plus years ago.  That little “Pfaff” panel appears to be covering up the original business name.  [P.S. all my blog photos are clickable -- clicking on them opens to a larger size]

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I was happy to see the Jim-Denny’s sign on during the day — even though they were closed and it was the 4th of July.  But when I came back in the early evening, the sign was off:

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This sign is from the former Sam’s Hof Brau, later Hamburger Pattie’s, soon to be something else (busy construction going on below — even on the 4th).  This sign gets less attention than the wonderful chef sign — from my Flickr stream, taken the same day:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14412964309/

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This was originally the Arden Motel sign:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/28673119/

Now the Greens Hotel.  I’ll let you judge the re-use.  Better than being trashed, of course:

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The Cardinal Lanes.  Closed since forever:

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I love how the sign mimics the building’s arches:

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This building in Rancho Cordova is a mystery to me (what was here originally).  There are other Tugboat locations in the area with buildings that look nothing like this.

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Also in Rancho Cordova.  If you like giant paint can signs half as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this page at my website:
http://www.agilitynut.com/mim/paint.html

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A pretty plastic rooftop sign in Placerville:

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Also in Placerville.  This is the motel’s very tall pole sign.  They also have this one by the road:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14413137619/

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Back in Sacramento for the rest of this post.   Fun sign and building:
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I was happy to see Gunther’s was packed.  It was in the 90s that day.  Lots of fireworks in the middle of the streets in this neighborhood that you had to drive around.  Fun but scary at the same time.  I posted a close-up of the Gunther’s sign and a quickie video of the animation here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14413137889/

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This was previously the Town House bar — the signs were nicer then — but this replacement is far better than what usually happens.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/therealdevildoll/749616002/

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That’s a wrap for Friday.  Still two more days and blog posts to come.

 

dj

 

 

4th of July Trip: Sacramento & East Bay

Posted in Roadtrip on July 7, 2014 by roadsidenut

Up and back and recuperating from myself (ha!) and the holiday traffic.  I had terrific sun each day and shot neon signs all three nights as well.  I have more than 600 photos for the website (on top of backlog from the recent Idaho/Utah/Nevada trip).   I’ll post a few dozen photos here and at Flickr in the next couple of days.

On the way up to the Sacramento area on Thursday night, I stopped off in Bakersfield for a little nighttime shooting.

The Andre’s Drive-in sign on Brundage is barely lit at all these days.   The text is out and the burger on the other side is only lit at the bottom.  There is a second location in town but I don’t think that sign is lit at all.

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I wasn’t there early enough to catch the silhouette of the tower above:

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Unfortunately, some of the letters were out on the taller sign at Zingo’s so I couldn’t bring myself to shoot that one.  This one is awfully nice though.  The bulb arrows flash:

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One of the best signs in town — and nicely maintained:

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I took a video to show you the animation of the cat:

 

This sign is in Walnut Grove:

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I’ll be back with lots more stuff soon.

dj

 

 

Happy 4th!

Posted in Roadtrip on July 4, 2014 by roadsidenut

The dogs and I are off on a 3-day weekend to the Sacramento & East Bay area.  I probably won’t blog about it until I get home since I’ll be shooting neon into the wee hours each night.  And then, there’ll be a very long drive home — made even longer with holiday traffic.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this most wonderful video of my talented “kids”.  The sound went a little haywire during the uploading & doesn’t quite mesh, repeats in odd places… but whatever.

 

Have a great holiday weekend!

dj & the dogs

Day 13: California Stuff & the Roadtrip Wrap-up

Posted in Roadtrip on June 22, 2014 by roadsidenut

OK — we’re finally here!  The final post for this trip.  Before I proceed with this batch of photos, here’s the math that a lot of you like to know.  I took more than 2,000 photos during these 13 days.  The majority of them will eventually be added to my website (RoadsideArchitecture.com).

I logged about 6,026 miles on this trip.  Sparkle now has about 378,000 miles on her and didn’t so much as sneeze on this trip despite the daily pounding.  I covered most of Utah, Nevada, half of Idaho and a couple of days worth of Northern California.  I’m still exhausted!  I spent $1,508 on gas and got two oil changes.  I don’t keep track of food or hotel costs.  Let’s just say I’ll be paying for this trip for many months.

On with a sampling of the photos from the final day of the trip.  This hay bale tractor was in Dixon:

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From Vacaville:

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Lost in the trees below is what I think is an abstracted spur:

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From Vallejo.  Next to impossible to shoot this one well since the property is surrounded by chain link:

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Also in Vallejo:

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From Pittsburg:

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A couple of signs from Rio Vista:

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And, finally, last photo for the day from Pleasanton:

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I hope you enjoyed tagging along on this trip.  If you’d like to throw a few bucks my way to help pay for it, you can donate to my email address (agilitynut@hotmail.com) at:  Paypal.com/

This will be the big blow-out trip for the year.  I’m thinking of doing an Oregon & Washington trip around this time next year.  In the meantime, I’ll be blogging & Flickring some weekend trips here and there.  There’s a 4th of July, three-day weekend coming up.  So, the dogs and I will probably be doing a Sacramento or San Francisco area trip then.  In the meantime, I’ve got loads of photos from this trip waiting for you over at my Flickr account:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/
Happy trails!

Debra Jane & the dogs (Fix, Sputnik, Gremlin & Griswold)
RoadsideArchitecture.com

 

Day 12: Back in Cal-i-for-ni-ay

Posted in Roadtrip on June 22, 2014 by roadsidenut

After a few more stops in Reno in the morning and then it was over to Lake Tahoe.  I did find a beach there to run the dogs.  Actually, it was more walking and sniffing since it was mostly rocks.  Nik and Grem got some swimming in but the water was way too cold.  They were shivering in the van for a really long time afterwards even though I wrapped them in towels.  It takes a lot for Fix & Griz to get in the water so they didn’t have to suffer.

This covered wagon building has me stumped.  It’s near the Magic Carpet Golf in South Lake Tahoe — but not close enough to be related.  Size-wise, it makes the most sense as a snack bar of some kind:

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From Kings Beach.  This sign has a textured white plastic background that I haven’t seen before:

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More from Kings Beach.  Love the house shaped sign & the female diver:

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Plastic signs are so under-rated:

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From Tahoe Vista:

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Leaving Lake Tahoe now — a couple of signs from Truckee:

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Now a pottery store below — glad they let the sign stay & didn’t fuss with it:

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This building in Grass Valley appears to be tweaked Art Deco / Streamline Moderne.  I can’t find anything about it on-line:

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From Penryn:

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Rather than shoot this sign in Rocklin from the freeway, I took the time to toodle around in the mobile home park until I found it.  Due to the proximity to one of the homes, I could only get this angle though:

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From Roseville.  I believe this was originally a Lincoln-Mercury dealership.  The top panel used to revolve and now just blows a bit in the wind.  The backside of that top panel also reads “CARS” and is painted white:

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One more photo — this one also from Roseville.  This place opened in 1953 and apparently this sign is from then.  You can see the plugged neon holes but it’s still a clean sign.  And still in business:

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OK — let me go cook up the final post from this trip now.

dj

 

Day 11: Reno & Sparks

Posted in Roadtrip on June 22, 2014 by roadsidenut

Reno is chock full of fun buildings, signs, and statues to shoot — and the sun was cooperative most of the day.  Let’s get to it:

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I’m guessing there was neon involved with the top panels of this sign originally — and maybe a name change:

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What a charming and amusing sign — from Sparks (Reno’s next door neighbor):

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More from Sparks — a former KFC.  There are still plenty of these repurposed cupola-roof buildings around the country which would have looked like this originally — complete with a weathervane sign of Colonel Sanders:
http://www.trachte.com/graphics/history/1968-3-l.jpg

I’m including this KFC in Sparks simply because the paint scheme of the building and sign match the blue sky & clouds — and it’s a nice clean building.  Most of these buildings look pretty skanky now:

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A couple more photos from Sparks:

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Moving on to Reno:

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The Restwell Court is long gone but this sign has been sitting here like this for years:

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The red and yellow on the left are an indicator of what this sign must have looked like originally before the porcelain panels were painted over with this dull green and black paint:

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More signs just east of downtown Reno on East 4th St.:

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Hard to read the shadowy neon — it’s the Hi Ho Motor Lodge:

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This was not here when I was in Reno last time.  Apparently, it was installed at the bus station in 2010.  The sculpture entitled “Jackson” features a remodeled 1962 bus.

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The Sundance Motel features delightfully original building details:

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The neon’s been removed but the sign doesn’t suffer from it by day.  I don’t know if those are the original colors — but they work!

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Some of the best signs in Reno have been removed or badly adapted since my last Reno trip in 2008.   Luckily, many of the signs have been scooped up by Will Durham who recently had a museum show displaying many of them:
http://ishootreno.com/2013/01/photos-the-light-circus-art-of-nevada-neon-signs-nevada-museum-of-art/

By the way, the much beloved Heart O’Town Motel sign is now in Will’s possession.  And he has dibs on a number of signs in town should they ever need to be removed.  God bless him.

There were still quite a number of signs to shoot at night.  The bulbs in the shield of the “R” on the upper left no longer work but the sign is still great by day or night:

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The 1935 steel welcome arch was moved to a less prominent location in 1963 and was replaced by ever more garish signs as time went on:
http://www.newtoreno.com/renoarch.htm

I’m happy to see that the old arch is still lit:

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I begged the manager at the Pony Express Lodge in Sparks to turn on the sign.  She said it hardly worked at all any more and wouldn’t get off the couch to flip the switch.  Bummer.  I begged even harder at the Sandman Motel in Reno and had better luck.  Even though only a few letters work, it meant a lot to me and I thanked the desk clerk profusely:

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Two more days & posts to go!

dj

 

Day 10: The Sun Returns to Nevada

Posted in Roadtrip on June 21, 2014 by roadsidenut

In the morning, I did some reshooting in Wells but the weather wasn’t much better.  Things got better in Elko.  But I still had to be patient with the clumps of clouds:

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At the Commercial Hotel & Casino in Elko — where there are two fiberglass statue tributes to White King:

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The taxidermied polar bear inside the casino which was the inspiration for the statues.  The story here:
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/3643

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Still in Elko.  From the postcards I’ve seen, it appears that the thunderbird on top of the sign was always backlit plastic:

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And the rocky facade is original:

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On my second pass through town (those damned clouds), I was thrilled to see a YESCO truck pull up.  YESCO has gotta be the biggest sign company in Utah and Nevada.  Established in Ogden, UT, the company now has locations all across the country.  They are responsible for all those long-lost neon extravaganzas in Vegas and plenty of other still-existing vintage signs.

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The herky jerky movement of the bucket seems a little dangerous (to the sign) to me but they seemed to know what they were doing.  Evidently something wasn’t working properly in the neon part of the sign.  God bless them and the hotel for keeping Elko a better place:

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One more from Elko — a nice embossed Texaco sign.  I don’t know if there was ever a gas station here or if the sign was just lovingly planted at the Cimarron West RV Campground:

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Moving on to Winnemucca where the weather was not as cooperative:

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Wonderfully redundant gables at Scott’s:

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From Lovelock — perhaps the best preserved Safeway “Marina” design building in the country.  The manager said it was built in 1965:

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I haven’t seen a turntable checkout in decades:

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Off to Fallon where the those pesky clouds finally left.  This is the Fallon Theatre.  Better to not show you the building below:

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Also in Fallon.  This painted ghost advertising sign looked awfully fresh — like the building next to it had been recently demolished:

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From Stagecoach.  This faux saguaro cactus contains some sort of plumbing or electric fixtures for the long-closed Oasis Restaurant next door:

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One more for this post — this in Gardnerville.  There’s no way to shoot the bottom of the glass without the trees or the overhang interfering:

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Moving on to Reno tomorrow.  Three more days — three more posts to come.

dj

 

 

Day 9: End of Idaho & Start of Nevada

Posted in Roadtrip on June 21, 2014 by roadsidenut

A frustrating day.  I woke up to clouds — and they would not go away.  I waited.  I napped.  I ate.   I organized.  I cleaned.  I looked at the weather forecast for the area and beyond.  It looked lousy.  No sun for days.  So, I gave up and shot what I could.  Someday, I’ll be back to shoot things in better light.  At least most of it is right off the interstate which will make it a bit easier.

For now, you’ll have to deal with the flat grey colors.  Into each life a little clouds have gotta come.  This is “Babe” at the Beehive Family Restaurant in Weiser, ID.  She surely had neon originally:

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From Payette:

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A painted over sign in Payette at Details Done Right.  I’ve seen freeform stars & animals & arrows like this — but not dollar signs before:

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From Caldwell.  I have no idea what inspired this steel arch at United Hauling:

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From Nampa — a little color on a dreary day:

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Over the border into Nevada — where it wasn’t much better weather-wise.  A few moments of sun in Wells — but then foiled by a tree for this shot:

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Also in Wells — no apparent change for the El Rancho Hotel since the major earthquake in 2008.

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The scaffold sign of the bucking horse & cowboy are still there but hard to make out in the grey.  Here’s a photo I took of it in 2008:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/2841315339/

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One last shot from Wells — those grey clouds in the distance are from the direction we came from.  Good thing we left when we did!

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Sunny photos soon to come — four more blog posts from this trip to go.

dj

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