More Sun! Santa Cruz and the Bay Area

Posted in Roadtrip on February 24, 2014 by roadsidenut

The dogs had fun running on the beach in Santa Cruz while I waited for the fog to lift.  The sun came out around 10 am and was with us all day long after that.  All that perfect-weather shooting made that five-hour drive home not quite as agonizing!  This was the first of many trips to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I can only afford maybe one trip up there per month, so it will take a while to finish this list.  If someone wants to drop a few grand in the donation bucket, it’ll get done much sooner!

On with Santa Cruz — I’ve got a big batch of signs to get things rolling.  This one was shot last night after my blog post was done:

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The same sign by day:

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A faded beauty for the Plymouth Court (originally  a motel):

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Most likely, went by another name originally.  Lit at night but I didn’t get a chance to shoot it:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/6730690315/

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An institution in Santa Cruz — there since at least 1958:

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A neon detail from The Jury Room bar:

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More motel & apartment complex signs:

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Here’s a clover modern sign on the side wall of Larry’s Photography — although the camera reference is probably lost on much of today’s younger generation:

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This sign is at the Rip Curl surf shop.  I read somewhere that it was originally a grocery store sign:

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A little strip mall sign — I don’t know how old this one is:

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And one more sign from Santa Cruz:

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It was nice to be at the Boardwalk before it opened and all the people were there — but I missed a chance to try these!

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I’ve been told by the historical folks that the swiss cheese-hole fins on this Boardwalk building are “real” (vintage from at least 1967):

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Moving on — this one in Boulder Creek:

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And from Ben Lomond:

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The city’s welcome sign:

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And then on to the “Bay Area” — this sign in San Carlos (I believe the business is closed):

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That should be enough neon overload to last you for a while!  But if not, there’s more signs, buildings & statues over at my Flickr stream from yesterday:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

The dogs and I will be hitting the road again in about three weeks.  Back down San Diego way for that one.

Cal Central Coast – Day 1

Posted in Roadtrip on February 22, 2014 by roadsidenut

The dogs and I are back on the road again this weekend.  A full day of glorious sun — the forecasters are promising more tomorrow.  Started shooting today in Morro Bay — where the dogs got a good run at a fantastic more-or-less legal dog beach.  I think it’s three miles long and a really wide packed sand beach.  Yeah, I know, shoulda brought the camera.

Lots of photos to share — let’s start with this one in Morro Bay.  These plastic oval Foster’s signs are even rarer than their earlier neon cousins.  More about Foster’s Freeze and lots of photos at my site here:
http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/fosters.html

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A couple of other great signs from Morro Bay:

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Back inland for a bit.  This drug store in Soledad has one of those nice navy and orange neon Rexall signs:

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It also has a nice under-canopy plastic sign:

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And Rexall door pulls (that’s Sparkle’s reflection).  More Rexall signs from all over the country at my section here:
http://www.agilitynut.com/signs/rex.html

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On to Salinas –

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And the “star” of the Star Center — the neon is apparently still lit at night:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/85853333@N00/8421214616/

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One more from Salinas:

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From Hollister:

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From Morgan Hill – a former Sno-White Drive-in.   The sign and building have been adapted.  More examples of these signs and building (and a photo of what this Morgan Hill sign looked like originally) at my site here:

http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/cadi2.html

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Also in Morgan Hill.  I have no idea how old this Punch statue is — probably not very — but I thought he was pretty neat.  He is located in front of a cigar store.  I think he would have held a cigar box in his right hand.  I have no idea what that indentation in his belly is about.  Evidently, there’s a history to these statues — an oldie here:
http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/4279104

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Some neat freestanding letters in Gilroy:

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And just last weekend, I posted a Sofspra car wash sign from Encinitas here at this blog — declaring that I thought it was the last one of its kind.  Well, today, I bumped into this one in Watsonville.  So, that makes two:

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This location has more intact looking stalls than the one in Encinitas:

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This building was just across the street.  An indecipherable name on the sign.  I have no idea if this was the original occupant or if there were any others like this:

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One more from Watsonville.  This rooftop sign is at the long-closed Cabrillo Lanes:

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Let’s close out with another mystery — this one from Aptos.  Just north of the Sno-White Drive-in is this mid-century beauty.  It now houses the Ambrosia Indian Bistro (I was hungry and tempted — but opted for onion rings at the Sno-White).  I don’t know if that triangulated glass is original (most likely not).

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Surely, this giant spoon sign in front of the place must provide a clue as to the original business name:

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That’s it for today.   The dogs and I have settled in Santa Cruz for the night.  Some shooting here in the morning and then working our way up to San Jose, Redwood City and thereabouts.  A long journey home and then back to work on Monday.  I’ll post this weekend’s wrap-up then.  Until then, here are some more photos from today over at Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

dj

San Diego Outskirts — Day 2

Posted in Roadtrip on February 17, 2014 by roadsidenut

Most of the “outskirts” stuff has been checked off the list for now.  The next trip down this way should be mostly San Diego focused.

The day started with pea soup fog so I treated the dogs to a leisurely morning at the Del Mar dog beach.  The weather was not much better even by noon but I went ahead and shot some things that I’ll wind up shooting again next time.

From Encinitas.  This was a nationwide self-serve car wash chain established in the 1960s.  However, this is the only sign that I know of that still exists.  The only other still-open location that I know of is in Rochester, NH.  However, that one has a boring, modern box sign.   I assume those balls on top of the sign must have been sequentially lit.  This night-time photo of a later sign (location unknown) shows what that embossed bit on the right next to the name probably looked like:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/83307323@N00/3369816318/

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Also from Encinitas.  This modern 7-Eleven gas station convenience store was based on one of my favorite gas station designs:  the Mobil “drum”.  This Michigan station is gone now but it gives you a reference as to what these stations looked like originally:
http://www.daads.org/preservation/mobil.htm

This tribute station in Encinitas was built in 2007 as a Mobil station originally:
http://www.theleucadiablog.com/2007/04/new-gas-station-question-and-comment.html

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Thanks to the fog and some pranksters, I didn’t get to shoot the “Cardiff Kook” surfer station in Cardiff like I’d planned.  Next time.  Here’s some info about the statue:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Kook

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I was glad to see this Catalina Pools sign still standing next to I-8 in La Mesa.  The proximity to a building forced this arty angle:

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Let’s close out with a couple of signs from San Diego.  I had to choose between glare or a tree on this one.  I went with the tree:

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This sign was built in the 1950s for the Sheng Haw Low Cafe.  It has, thankfully, been declared a San Diego landmark.  The sign has been adapted a little bit by the VIP Restaurant and now for University Square.  The “and Shops” box at the bottom originally read “Fine Chinese American Food.”  I don’t believe the neon is lit anymore:

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That’ll do it for this trip.  Don’t forget, there are a sampling of some other photos from this weekend over at Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut

The dogs and I will be back on the road this coming weekend (if the weather looks decent).  We’ll be heading up to the San Jose area for that one.

San Diego Outskirts

Posted in Roadtrip on February 15, 2014 by roadsidenut

Hi folks!  This will be the first of several San Diego area trips.  If only I had a week off and I could do it all in one fell swoop.  Instead, it will probably take two or three months of random weekends to get ‘er done.

Today’s shooting was pretty low volume.  Lots of stuff north and east of San Diego in twisty windy mountains.  Tomorrow, we should be more in the heart of things.  No Monday holiday for me (Presidents Day) so I have to turn around & head home just as things start to get rolling.   But maybe I’ll miss some nasty traffic.

The dogs were tormented at the end of the day by beach aromas & views.  I saw nothing but “No Dogs” signs so they were out of luck.  Not that they didn’t get lots of grassy-running in today.  But they’ve come to EXPECT a beach at 4:30 pm every single day of their lives.   I’ve got a legal doggie off-leash beach spot picked out for first thing in the morning which should make up for things.

On with today’s photos.  Let’s start in Oceanside with the Surf Bowl:

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Also from Oceanside.  The wrong time of day for sun on this one.  You can make out the patched holes from former neon tubing:

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From Bonsall — where there was this sweet little place back in 2008:

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Today, it’s sitting abandoned in someone’s back lot.  I had to do a little trespassing to shoot this one:

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While I was briskly tiptoeing around, I saw another similar style giant cup sort of building.  I have no idea where this one came from:

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I did a lot of shooting today at the Deer Park Winery & Auto Museum in Escondido.  I had never been there before.  There must be 100 or so restored, incredible cars — mostly 1950s & 1960s era:
http://deerparkwine.com/museum.html

But there’s other stuff, too:

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Toy gas stations:blog9

a Barbie room:
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Here are just a couple of the cars — the Crosley Hotshot:  an American car deemed one of the worst cars ever built:
http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1658545_1657867_1657678,00.html

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And a Nash Metropolitan:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_Metropolitan

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But I was there mostly to see the signs.  LOTS of neon signs.  But very hard to shoot since pretty much all of them are stuck way behind the cars.  I did what I could to hop the ropes & take some quick shots — expecting alarms to go off or personnel to see me on hidden cameras.  Luckily, nobody came to yell at me or arrest me.  This one was one of my faves:

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A couple of nice window signs:

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This one was w-a-y in the back and I had to scoot sideways between some big land yachts.  Very nice three-dimensionality to this one:

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There was no way to shoot this one without the glare.  I’m guessing these were mass-produced and there was a business name at the bottom of the sign:

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Back on the road — still in Escondido.  This wonderful circus tent like sign/building houses Escondido Coin & Loan.  I can’t find anything on-line about what this was originally:

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The windows and some of the wooden cases inside suggest maybe jewelry store:

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From Encinitas — where we called it quits for the day.  A very sweet use of perforated steel panels:

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Also in Encinitas — the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic.  It’s about 10 foot by 10 foot and has been moved a couple of times.  More about it here:
http://www.surfingmadonna.org/about.html

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Tomorrow should be a busy day — if the weather isn’t too crappy.  Sun was promised for today & it was pretty darned overcast.  So, tomorrow’s prediction of “partly cloudy” might mean anything short of rain!

I’ll get photos from tomorrow up on Monday or Tuesday.    Til then — Happy Post-Valentines & PrezDay Weekend!  And as for my pals back east… my heartfelt sympathy.

Oh, and some more photos from today over at my Flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

dj & the dogs

Desert Wrap-Up

Posted in Roadtrip on January 20, 2014 by roadsidenut

Sunday’s adventures began in Mecca at the Salton Sea.  I drove out there mainly to see the North Shore Yacht Club which has been on my “to see” list for about a dozen years.  I wish I’d gotten to see it in the abandoned state.  I’m glad it was saved & restored, but it feels pretty soul-less to me.
http://www.greetingsfromsaltonsea.com/northshore.html

The dogs enjoyed sniffing around and crunching on dead fish (much as I tried to stop them).  Evidently, the tilapia die of oxygen starvation and wash up on the shore.  I’ve read about the stench — but no smell when we were there.  And I think the bone population is way down from what it used to be.

[don't forget, all my photos open to larger versions when you click on them]

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On to Indio.  The Riverside County Fairgrounds — which hosts an annual Date Festival.  Several of the buildings feature stylized Middle Eastern elements.  There were other buildings that I couldn’t get to since the fairgrounds were locked up tight.  I saw some five foot fencing which I was tempted to hop — but didn’t.

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A mid-century looking parabola with painted murals of the Taj Mahal and other scenes.

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Some other stuff in Indio:

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This motel building features a normal looking double decker office (I assume with manager’s room upstairs).  I have never seen a pylon slice through a building quite like this.  I would assume the motel’s name would have been painted at the top…

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… but there’s an obvious former Travelodge sign on the property.  So, I can’t explain that pylon since I’ve not seen any Travelodges with that sort of office:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/93794943/

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From Cathedral City:

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Then, it was back through Palm Springs to shoot what was in the shade on the previous afternoon.  I also shot some L.A. area stuff on the way home.  This place in Orange must have been related to the famous Johnie’s Broiler (now Bob’s Big Boy) in Downey:
http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/ca2.html

I find no info online connecting these two locations.  And what’s odd — is that the building associated with this sign is a former 1960s era Taco Bell.   So, I assume Johnie’s adapted the building.

Note the character on the signs — in Orange:

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And the Downey sign which I believe was built in 1966 when Johnie’s Broiler moved into the Harvey’s Broiler building.   Note you can still faintly read “Fat Boy” in his cap like the sign above:

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More photos from this trip over at Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

I was able to wrap up the SoCal desert stuff on my list with this trip.  The next few trips will focus on the San Diego area.  Since I’m limited to weekend traveling right now, it will probably take three or four trips for that chapter.  We’ll be back on the road in mid-February.

dj & the dogs

Palm Springs & More

Posted in Roadtrip on January 18, 2014 by roadsidenut

The dogs and I are back in the desert for the weekend.  Perfect weather and a full moon tonight.  A day of dust, mid-century buildings, and other fun stuff.   I’m glad we’ll be missing Modernism Week — but if you like crowds and people more than I do (!), you might wanta go:
http://www.modernismweek.com/

After Nik’s eyeball exam in Culver City, we were off for a few stops in the Inland Empire.  This guy in  Fontana at Smog Latino was one of the unexpected, highlights of my day.  A foam type sculpture — I’m assuming modeled after the owner:

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On to the desert & Cabazon.  This bowling alley is just east of the big Morongo Casino Resort.  Not vintage neon but still very fun.  Even more impressive at night:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clearlight/4099650005/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11107057@N00/4100406324/

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I love the picnic table in the shade of the gigantic bronto in Cabazon.  By the way, that’s Sparkle on the far right.  360,000 miles and puttering along just fine!

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Some signs from Desert Hot Springs:

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A vintage postcard of the Cactus Springs Lodge:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/4654593900/

They’ve obviously modernized the office quite a bit. Unfortunately, I can’t find a vintage photo of that.  I love the cactus growing through the roof on the right:

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One more for the night — the Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs.  This statue was previously in Chicago and was moved here in 2012.   It was created by Seward Johnson famous for lots of other giant and life-sized statues, the giant eyeball, etc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Seward_Johnson_II

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I’ve got lots of other photos from today over at Flickr tonight:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

And I’ll have the wrap-up with some photos from tomorrow on Monday or Tuesday.

Desert Wrap-up

Posted in Roadtrip on December 30, 2013 by roadsidenut

OK — back home safe.  Here are some photos from yesterday’s shooting.  I started the day with a long drive out to see Roy’s in Amboy.  This long-closed gas, food & lodging complex is really in the middle of absolute nowhere.  There were no signs of life there — but, evidently, work is still going on:
http://www.amboyroute66.com/frontpage.html
Back in June, there was a Kickstarter campaign to raise $16,000 to restore the sign — but only about $1,000 was pledged.

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Since around 2005, the town of Amboy — or at least the land where these buildings are located — has been owned by man who owns the Juan Pollo fried chicken fast food chain. It must have been soon after that when a smaller Roy’s sign was built for a Juan Pollo in Barstow (at a former Arby’s building).  But that location is now closed:

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The former Whiting Brothers gas station in Newberry Springs.  Closed since 1968:

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Also in Newberry Springs — the long-closed Henning Motel:

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All my life, I’ve heard about the Calico Ghost Town in Yermo.  I finally made it there today:

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Back in Barstow.  Yes, the Sands Motel sign had neon and a different color scheme until 2009.  Here’s a photo of its old look:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11036774@N07/2120865066/
And when they went monkeying with the sign:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/92136363@N00/3741298725/
Note how they sliced off all chunks on the right hand side of the sign and moved all the letters over:

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Former rivals and next door neighbors in Barstow — the Astro Motel (now the Astro Budget Motel) — its original look:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12597438@N07/4379144495/

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and the former Imperial 400 Motel — this location in better days:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12597438@N07/3522121665/

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More about these chains and loads of photos at my page here:
http://www.agilitynut.com/modarch/chain.html
In Helendale — a Polly gas sign.  The station was demolished long ago.  A fenced dirt lot since at least 2003:

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On to Victorville and the California Route 66 Museum.  This sign was replaced with a plastic box sign but luckily this sign was saved & has been on display at the museum since at least 2007.   The rundown motor court buildings are still there:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/31086818@N08/5162522893/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/65446203@N00/8178995530/

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The museum also has a couple of signs from the former Hulaville in Hesperia:
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2891

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One of the highlights of the day for the dogs was exploring the abandoned dinosaurs in Apple Valley.  Four acres of dirt and dinosaur statues.  This was to have been a mini golf but the project started in the 1970s was never completed.  Very sad — but still wonderful.

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On up into the mountains — Sparkle really got a workout this weekend!  Up to Big Bear Lake to shoot a couple of things.  This one was not on my list.  Madlon’s Restaurant in Big Bear.  Their website explains that this was built as the Knusperhauschen Restaurant in the 1970s:

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The sun ran out in Yucca Valley — just enough time to grab one more sign.  I don’t know what it advertised for originally — Sky Harbor Shopping Center?

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The next trip and blog post will be the weekend of January 18 when the dogs at I will head back to the desert for more goodies & fun times around Palm Springs.  Until then, don’t forget more photos from this weekend over at Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Best to all of you in 2014!

dj & the dogs

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