A video to cheer us all up. From a few days ago, at a pond in Lake Conneaut, PA, as promised, finally!
Before I get your hopes up, this will be a picture-less post. I took a few photos today but then pretty much disaster struck. Of a mechanical nature. Me and the dogs are fine. Just frustrated. Lousy weather this morning: grey and rain. My little humming sound didn’t start until after about the first hour. As I was heading for the next big city to have it checked out, the check engine light came on. I’ve been told not to panic when it does — it’s usually just an electronic thing and as long as the car is acting normal, not overheating, oil pressure fine, then you shouldn’t worry.
Found a Chevy dealership and was optimistic. Although they were closing at noon (and it was 9:30am), they would get me fixed up. They got me out at 1pm. The “check engine” thing came up on the computer as an oxygen sensor. So that’s what was replaced. I was nervous when I saw the mechanic struggling to get the part out, flabbergasted with the instructions of how to install, etc. As for the sound, I was told it was my “cluster” (speedometer, etc.) and that it would be $500 plus and that it wouldn’t hurt to leave it be — sometimes the sound just goes away on its own. Ok.
So, $250 or so later, hit the road and eager to start taking photos, even though it was still pretty grey and miserable. Then, the sound returned, getting louder and louder. Like 3 million wasps in your lap. Loud. Scary loud. I was trying to imagine dealing with Chicago chaos with that going on. Not a good plan. Considered buying ear plugs. Even the dogs were annoyed I think. Then, it went away. Maybe the guy was right?
About 20 minutes later, I feel this buck. Like you hit something. Dead roadkill or a rubber hose. Soft buck but noticeable. Then again. And then every few miles. A buck, a surge. But no sounds, no lights and running perfectly fine otherwise. Stress!!! Should I stop, should I drive? No repair shops open anywhere. At noon, they all close in northern Indiana, so everyone said. What could it be? Must be fuel related? Then, 20 miles from Fort Wayne, the “check engine” light comes on again. So did they guy diagnose the problem wrong — or was the part installed wrong — or just some additional thing? My theory is that this is all related to the teeny humming that I had back in Brooklyn. Even the speedo sound. But all this is to be determined.
I may be in Fort Wayne til Monday. Or longer. Unfortunately, in a dullsville part of town with only gas stations and fast food places so I can’t even document stuff for you. Unless. I found a Sears Auto Center online — it’s supposedly open tomorrow at 9am. So I’ll limp down the road — just 2.5 miles and give that a shot. Luckily, this Red Roof Inn is right next to a gigantic field so I can run the dogs if we’re stranded here for more than 24 hours. Hope not. I’ll keep you posted. This is what roadtrips are really all about I guess. The highs and lows, the unexpected. A reflection of life in general. The good thing is, I’m going to sleep a lot tonight.
Great distances today but still about a day’s worth of stuff to do in Indiana. I could just cut and run and stay on schedule by heading for Chicago. But I’m a finisher. It just means Kentucky stops and maybe southern OH will have to wait til another time.
There were some truly fatigued moments today. My usual gum, coffee, radio routine wasn’t helping. But stopping to let the dogs run seems to always perk me up. The adrenalin of worrying that one of them will disappear I suppose. I’ve lost one leash, one collar, and one ball already and it’s not even a week on the road — but luckily haven’t lost any dogs! Extra leashes and lots of toys so that’s no problem — but Grem will have to wear one of the other dog’s collars since she’s the most wayward of them all.
Sparkle’s been running great but in the last hour today, starting making a little noise. Kind of a humming but then it goes away. Running just fine otherwise. Watching all the needles closely and obsessing about the sound. I’m pretty stressed but I’ll just have to see how it goes in the morning. I’ll be close to big cities for most of the day. And if I break down on a Saturday, that’s better than trying to find a mechanic on a Sunday. But hopefully, it won’t come to that. But with four weeks to go, it must be something, right?
On with the show so I can hopefully get in bed by midnight. That would be great. But I’m in Lafayette and I can think of a few signs that I’d love to shoot at night. Pictures or sleep — that’s a big dilemma.
Also from Columbus — which is big on mid-century buildings. So much so, that many of their newer buildings are built in the same style. Therefore, I’m not sure how old this fire station is. My guess is that it’s new — but it could be updated:
Hidden safely from the sun by trees — how does a sign like this get so cruddy looking? From Greencastle:
Nary a palm tree in Indiana — except for maybe this one in Brazil:
In Terre Haute — this Phillips 66 sign hangs on despite the missing pumps and the conversion into a tire shop. For now. Seems the property is for sale and usually that means these signs don’t survive the makeover if things go upscale.
A typical doggie pit stop. Road goes over bridge = dogs see water & go nuts. Mom finds a quiet & safe spot. 10 minutes to get them wet, pee & poop, chase some toys and we’re back at it. This was in Paris – the nicer beach is on the other side of the bridge. But we were quite happy here. Only one dead fish.
When I pulled into this lakefront spot, there was a rusty/crusty neon sign waiting for me. I took it as a sign that this was a good spot to take a break. Now how does a porcelain enamel sign get to this point? Did someone throw acid on it?
This sign in Danville, IL is of a similar style & era and holding up just fine. Yes, we scooted across the border for some Illinois towns that were right on the border:
The route took us right past Riggen’s Frostop (root beer stand) in Chrisman, IL which was recently pretty much destroyed by fire a month ago. This charred root beer barrel is a heartbreaking sight. However, they’re already rebuilding.
A shortie post tonight so I can get some snoozing in. This last photo is from Danville, IL. Pretty sign, pretty building, still in business:
Loads of great stuff today: glorious sun & clouds for the photos and lots of new discoveries. I’ve got a ton of photos for you tonight. And lots to talk about… so go get another cup of coffee (I understand most of you read these posts in the morning).
I realized today that last night’s post didn’t even mention the dogs. Yes, everybody’s fine. They’re settling into a groove and I don’t even notice the barking anymore. My favorite time of day though is after 5pm. That’s the time that Grippie insists they eat. And then they all just give up for the day and snooze. Grem doesn’t even get up for motorcycles. And I get three hours of peaceful shooting in. I have a feeling I won’t get these videos edited and uploaded during this trip at all — unless I get a horrible rainy day where I have to pull over and park for a few hours. I’ll probably just upload some bits and pieces here when I get home. That final post is always from home anyway. Here are a couple doggie shots from today to tide you over then.
For those of you demanding more food and doggie shots — I hope this counts as a two-fer. Fixie modeling a peanut butter & jelly donut from Marion:
Nik spends most of the day, by choice, back in his “cave” (behind the back seat). Lots of blankies back there on top of the toy chests. But occasionally, he pops up to survey the scene in front. This was taken at probably 70 mph, with the camera over my shoulder. Grip half asleep and soaking up the A/C. Indiana farmland — lots of that today:
A former drug store in Montpelier — signs still clinging despite the changes in venue:
I’ve got a thing for signs with people — in case you hadn’t noticed. From Marion — problematic sun here:
Much as I love mid-century modern screen-ery, this is just, well, a damned lousy job don’t you think? I’m sure this entire building was once quite charming.
“The Elwood” motel (in Elwood) peeking out from the weeds:
I love this one from Anderson. Usually chef signs, especially the plastic ones, use caricatures. But Art went all out for this one and had his portrait done. Wow!
This motel in Anderson, now the Executive Inn, must have been quite swanky in its day:
In Indianapolis — wonderful giant arrow plus itty bitty arrow. The guys working here were mystified why I would want to photo such a thing. But they did say that in the 1970s or so this was the Holly Oak, a bar. And I’m betting another name and probably a restaurant or motel, before that:
This sign in Indianapolis had me wondering just what the tallest, skinniest vintage sign in the country might be. Maybe this one is in the Top 10?
A working payphone in Indianapolis. I checked & there was a dial tone. 25 cents seems awfully cheap to me. Can I get bonus points for composition on this one? OK, so it wasn’t all that planned. The balancing red and white vehicles (Sparkle’s nose on the right) to match the pay phone. And a scaffold sign in the distance (my Flickr friends know my fondness for them):
And followers of the blog know that I must include at least one parking sign per big trip. This one in Indianapolis comes with a bonus neon & bulbs Subway sign. I’ve never seen one like it before and assume it’s an adapted older sign:
A modern sign but still fun (Indianapolis):
I’m assuming this has nothing to do with the famous Waffle House chain. The building looks nothing like their normal boxes either. Makes me wonder how they got away with the name. The detail on the waffle slice is worth clicking on the photo (by the way, you all do know you can view all my blog photos larger by clicking on ‘em, right?):
From Whitestown. I put the other Wrecks Inc. sign over at Flickr. Here’s the one maybe 100 yards away which is also neat:
Let’s talk giant chickens, shall we? I brought along the phone number for the Chicken Limo (photo posted at Flickr) so I could find out where it’s parked. I have admired it from afar on-line for a few years and was determined to find it. I spoke with the owner and he said it’s in a garage but that he was about to take it out for some “runs”. I met up with him at a car wash. He can’t take the limo actually through the car wash (too tall & not probably safe from the chicken) but he vacuums there, etc.
And for comparison, here’s what a vintage rooster statue of this type looks like:
I’ll be posting more info about the history of the Chicken Limo at my site eventually. I also wanted to see the older chicken limo in Indy and had a vague address. I stopped at a used car dealer and asked if they knew where it was. Yes, but I was too late — there was a fire and it was destroyed. I went to the antiques dealer where it was located for the full story. While the car had been set on fire by an attention-seeking cop, the bird was fine. A crazy story — here’s some of the news coverage:
(naturally, the news got it wrong and called the old car the Chicken Limo — not the Indy Chicken)
Here’s the old Indy Chicken car now. It was maybe the bird’s 3rd or 4th car actually:
The chicken was a bit sooty from the fire but has now been repainted. And will soon be installed on a new limo. So it sounds like he will be competing with the Chicken Limo. Is there room for two of them in town? I’m a little worried about the competition. Anyhow, here’s the “Indy Chicken” in the back room. He should be installed in a couple weeks on top of his new car.
For those of you that can’t get enough chickens & roosters, I’ve got a whole bunch of them over at my site — and more chicken cars at the bottom of this page:
Moving on — at the end of the day, I was fueling up at a Marathon station and couldn’t help but notice this mini corn field growing in front of the office. The guy working there said that the station is privately owned so the owner can do whatever he wants. This was planted this past spring. The corn was a little sickly. The worker said not enough room for the roots. But the cantaloupe (growing from the box onto the pavement) was doing great. They tried one the other day and it was delicious.
More from Indiana tomorrow! 2am — ouch.
Finally, finally moved on to Indiana at around 6pm tonight. The stack doesn’t look that bad for Northern Indiana though so maybe I will be able to catch up and bang out three days worth of stuff in two days. However, I know Illinois looms and I’ve got another substantial Chicago batch in there. I predict I’ll be two or three days behind by the time I reach Iowa.
OK – so I know you’ve all been holding your breath to find out what was so worth getting up at 4am and driving to Lima for. A sign of course! Now, most signs are lit at night and that’s not a problem. But since this business opens at 5am and is closed by afternoon, the neon is only visible for early risers. Since I’ve never seen a photo of this one (or two, technically there are two signs) and I was told by the owner last year that it’s lit in the morning, I decided to make the effort. The history of these signs and day photos are at the bottom of this page:
So, I was disappointed that a lot of the neon and most of the bulbs were not lit. But I was still glad for what there was. I mentioned the missing lighting to the owner and she seemed genuinely surprised. She comes in (“time to make the donuts”), flips on the switch, and never notices the signs. The neon shop is just across the street and the repairs are under a contract. So hopefully, everything will be in full working order one day soon — and somebody else will give up some sleep to get more photos then.
In Jackson Center, I stumbled upon the Airstream factory. They have a big repair operation there as well and they also give tours (no, I didn’t go on one):
There were a number of vintage Airstreams in their huge parking lot:
And some newer models — Mercedes logos but I guess produced by Airstream? I’ve been contemplating what I will do if and when Sparkle ever goes. She just rolled over her 250,000th mile on this trip. They don’t make Astro vans anymore and it would need to be something similar. Mini vans are too low to the ground for me. These Airstream-styled guys are ridiculously large though. After all, I have to park on the street in NYC. But what attracted me is what looks like a built-in satellite dish on the roof. Ah, to watch TV in my van would be such a treat. Or maybe those are for storm chasers?
These pretty blue silos are fairly common across the country it seems. I suppose you’ve noticed that they are faced with the same porcelain enamel steel used for making vintage neon signs?
An example from Dayton today:
The “Friendly Tavern” in St. Marys has a hand-painted wooden sign. Modern but really nicely done:
The “Quilted Rock” is at Stoneco Inc. in Celina. I assume that giant piece of machinery on the left is some sort of stone milling device or such. The quilted pattern must have been created to alert truckers to “turn here”:
Botany quiz (no, I don’t know the answer) — what the heck is this flowering plant? I expected it to be fragrant but it was only barely so:
Same plant closer up:
In Moraine, I’ve been meaning to stop and shoot these twin buildings for awhile now. You can’t really tell from these photos but they’re faced with glazed brick and have a shimmery quality when the sun is on them. I refer to this one as Pretty Blue:
and Pretty Green:
I stumbled upon a second Miller Milkhouse in Richmond. This one is obviously closed though. I hope someone saves this sign since the other one downtown has been replaced:
OK that’s a wrap. 12:30 and I’m off to catch up on a little sleep. It’ll be nice to NOT get up at 4am again.
I succumbed to my inner child today and headed on over to Marblehead after I finished up my Cleveland stuff. So that added a whole bunch of miles and boring, photo-less highway time. But oh, so worth it. I sort of reported already about Prehistoric Forest (the reason for my jaunt) — but basically, I have a good feeling that these dinosaur statues will survive after all. Maybe some person will come along and reopen the place.
As much as I raced around (Cleveland, Columbus, Marblehead and points in all directions from there), I still have a decent sized chunk of OH to do tomorrow. Despite the race against time, I gave the dogs a couple of nice long swims & runs. A little Lake Erie romp at the harbor while I was in Marblehead — and then a stop at the Big Walnut dog park in Columbus which is one of our faves. It was actually the first dog park of the trip. The rest of the stops have all been “illegal” grab & gos at fields, rivers, etc. as they’ve been presented to us. No doggie videos tonight that’s for sure — I’ll barely get three hours sleep tonight as it is.
This will be a quickie post since I have a 5am date tomorrow (oh, it’s 12:30, so I guess I mean in a few hours — uh oh). I’ll leave you in suspense until tomorrow night as to what this “date” is about. I put a big batch of photos over at Flickr tonight so if you need a fix, head over there.
This place is in Lorain. I’m always relieved to see they haven’t messed with the lettering & stripes:
Elliott’s hamburger stand is in Marion. There’s a modern plastic sign by the main road at this place. I assume this one was out there before & glad they moved it to the back of the parking lot.
And lastly (see, I told you this would be quick!), from West Jefferson. I assume this building was all tediously organized stone at one time. Now it’s sort of like a reptile shedding its skin:
Gotta go set that alarm now. Some vacation, huh?
The weather gods were with us — mostly sun all day. Warmer but not deadly like the past couple weeks. Covered a lot of ground & hoping to finish up Ohio tomorrow. Although, I’m considering breaking from my list and heading over to Marblehead for a quickie. That’ll eat up some valuable time but the Prehistoric Forest (incredible, old dinosaur statues) is supposedly closing for good at the end of the year. It would be nice to reshoot it. Between sobs.
Thought I might finish up early tonight — but I had a lot of email to reply to and other odds and ends. Now it’s after midnight once again. Those doggie videos might have to wait til I get home at this rate. All is well otherwise — settling into a groove. Sparkle running like a champ. No mysterious humming at all this morning.
Let’s get to it. There are not enough theme car washes — or theme anything — these days. Maybe it’s tacky, but I give them full credit for the effort. This one was in Ashtabula. I saw another location somewhere else in Ohio today:
We must assume this was the Lake Breeze Motel or Cottages originally. I believe this was in Perry — right there at the Lake Erie shore. Still there, still in business:
From Cleveland. Are you all old enough to remember when gas stations actually did repairs? And pre-Jiffy Lube, you could get your oil changed there, flats fixed, all that. Even directions and maps! Now you’re lucky if the folks that work there know where Main Street is.
In Akron, an abandoned high school has been repurposed for Halloween (and other events I assume) as the “Haunted High School”. I find these guys really scary. I hope I don’t have nightmares tonight:
Here’s more info about the place:
Also in Akron — time for a mid-afternoon snack! The first ice cream of the trip. Stricklands is a local chain famous for their frozen custard:
and, man, was it good! I set it on the hood to take this photo and it nearly became a puddle as I focused. This was one of the flavors of the day: Black Raspberry. I had them add a little chocolate syrup and nuts just to make it extra sensational.
I stumbled upon this event in Akron: prep-ing for a soap box derby. Now, I know nothing about this stuff — but the cars are beautiful and varied:
I wish I could have stuck around to see some practicing but way too many things to shoot and Missouri and Kansas beckon… Anyway, this is the hill that they go down. Someone told me they are going about 30mph at the bottom of the hill.
Let’s see — time for some mid-century concrete don’t you think? How about this spiral-y parking garage. A little different design from most:
And last one for today — gotta love human-styled food. Or any humanified objects of any kind. I believe this guy was in Bedford:
The weather was very uncooperative in the morning. Cloudy/foggy and then rained for several hours. I did what I could with that. Around 2pm, all that cleared and it was glorious sun and clouds. The temperate was about 20 degrees cooler — maybe 80 tops? Didn’t run the A/C once today.
Getting a very late start here in posting. Lots of emails and misc. stuff. Now it’s suddenly 1:20am — yikes! So let’s roll right into the photos. And I have quite a bunch!
I finally got around to some places that have been on my list for awhile. Two of the categories (carousels & kiddie rides) at my website are troublesome because they are often located at big amusement parks or zoos with hefty admission + parking charges. Most of the time, I can sweet talk myself in by speaking to an authority figure. But sometimes, I’m forced to shell out $20 or so for 15 minutes of shooting. If it’s a museum, I don’t mind so much. Or a small amusement park. But I still refuse to deal with the crowds and $40 admission for the big Six Flags places. Plus there’s the added complication of what to do with the dogs while I’m inside. Grem is usually barking her head off so I worry the Humane Society will be there with handcuffs when I get back.
But of course, I would never leave my dogs in a hot vehicle. I always find shade. And today was a blessing weatherwise. I made it to Waldameer Park finally for some kiddie rides and to shoot the giant pirate. And then the Erie Zoo. I have really mixed feelings about giving zoos money. Supposedly the money goes to wildlife conservation and “education”. Can’t people just watch videos of these animals? Anyhow, they got my $7 for their Endangered Species carousel. The animals that I passed made me feel very sad. Pacing, semi-autistic behaviors. Tiny spaces. Yes, the cages are gone at these places but there is just not nearly enough space for what I consider a healthy existence. Check out Mr. Polar Bear and his tiny pool. And he had to be pretty miserable this past week with 100 degree weather:
The entrance was nice though:
Ziggity-zaggety from Erie:
Dying a slow death — also in Erie:
A front yard adornment in Erie:
A couple old gas station signs — the location of this one must be here in my notes somewhere… can’t find it… pretty sure it was Erie:
This one from West Middlesex, PA:
I finally got around to reshooting these guys. Sculptures made with PENNDOT traffic signs in Meadville:
Also in Meadville:
Nik happy to pose for scale with today’s novel roadtrip snack. (His ball is hidden behind and supporting the bag — a photographer’s trick.) Actually, the bag was just a small one — and you probably aren’t sure how big Nik is anyway. I expected this stuff to be nasty but it was incredibly good. I’d get it again and I’m not even a potato chip eater ordinarily. Extra thick as promised and mildly sweet:
The kids got lots of water romping in even though it was cooler. The also got some water gazing in — Conneaut Lake. Taken while driving, of course. The clouds were spectacular today — worth putting up with all that rain for I guess. The girls were in the back, probably snoozing (they are the “seniors” and need more rest). Grem balancing on my left arm for the best view:
Nik, although still wet from swimming, wishing for more:
I took some videos of the dogs at the water today — but that’ll have to wait til tomorrow or the next night I finish up early.
More signs — this one from Greenville, PA:
Jug Handle Pizza from Transfer, PA (this one’s for you Rick!). Seems this part of PA has those annoying jug handle u-turns like those in NJ. If you want to turn left, you have to go all the way to the right and circle back around. I like this literal interpretation. And the hole in this guy’s head (from the revenoors?) leaking liquor:
Into Ohio, finally, for the next couple days. This sign which must have been a “spinner” in Struthers:
At the Perfect Party Place — in Warren I believe:
Also in Warren:
And lastly, let’s close out with this crazy rant decorated building in Struthers:
Hope you enjoyed the show. I’ll try to settle down sooner tomorrow — 2am here. No proofing or spell check tonight!
Here we go! This is going to be a marathon trip in this heat. Thank goodness the A/C is working great because it hovered around 100 degrees all day. The dogs got to swim in three different rivers today. Though I’m a little nervous about rivers after those boys drowned in the Bronx this week. I’m trying to pick calm, slow moving water.
I’ve been a little fearful about mechanical trouble but all is well. For the past week, every time I start the engine there’s this humming sound. It goes away after a couple minutes. My mechanic can’t pinpoint it. The belt, pulley & alternator have been replaced. Still there’s that little sound when I first turn Sparkle on. After she’s warmed up, no more sound for the rest of the day. So I feel a little more confident after Day 1. Car trouble can happen at any time I suppose.
Oh, followers of the Spring trip might be curious to hear the outcome of the key problem. Turns out it wasn’t the key or ignition at all. During the last PA mini trip, the key started acting up again (couldn’t turn the engine off). Panic for about 10 minutes. Then I moved the satellite radio over just a hair since it touches the gear shift arm. That was it! Just the slightest pressure was all it took. What a relief and I’m so glad I didn’t spend $1,000 on a new ignition/key coding repair that would not have “fixed” the problem.
Also, from the Spring trip, I had the trouble about 75% of the way through the trip with a spot in the middle of each photo. Cleaned lens, UV lens, even the computer inside the camera for cleaning — but still the dreaded spot. Til about the last day when it went away and hasn’t reappeared since. I guess the microscopic dirt or water granule dried up and fell off?
So now — on to the present. Left Brooklyn at 3am and slept for a couple hours at a truck stop in the Poconos. Less actually about 20 minutes sleep because of some guy calling “Simba” incessantly nearby. I assume a lost dog or cat. He didn’t seem panic-y though so I got the feeling it was a feral friend that he feeds. I would have liked to make up the time but the dogs were all rambunctious once the sun started coming up.
I had hoped to bang out all my PA stops — got through about 85%. Will finish up tomorrow and move on to OH. Not exactly the most efficient route to MO & KS, I know. But I really wanted to grab a lot of stuff on my way there. I’ve allotted about 3 days each for OH, IN, IL at the beginning of the trip. Won’t hit MO/KS until end of Week 2 I think.
So let’s get to the photos before I unexpectedly collapse from sleep deprivation. Oh, and if you’re new to this blog, there’s an entirely different chunk of photos each day over at Flickr:
From Moscow, PA — simple yet wonderful:
From Jermyn, PA — I put a close-up of the Avery’s Flowers sign over at Flickr. This is the storefront shot — yep — iced coffee colored vitrolite (glass tile) and apparently original glass block:
I thought you might like an interior shot as well. This Golden Retriever looked up at me as I peered through the glass then went back to sleep. He/she has probably seen it all before. The A/C was on for him. I don’t know if the owners live in the back or what. But he didn’t look like he was missing for meals.
This bar is now Stalter’s Cafe but the sign lives on — in Scranton:
More from Scranton. This seems to be a modern mini golf course — or a half course that is. Very cute.
A couple statues from Cooper’s Seafood House:
A “that-away” sign from Danville I believe. I have no idea what it used to point to:
This bakery is in Montoursville:
From Williamsport – I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a quonset hut cleaners before:
And lastly, an early evening shot from Punxsutawney. This must be a new sign in the style of so many vintage signs. Nice job!
More from PA & OH tomorrow night. I might be in bed before midnight tonight. That might be a first on these trips.
I’ve got more than a foot tall stack of the maps & lists all neatly binder clipped & ready to go. That’s enough for probably two months but I only have a mere five weeks. I’ve got the route map posted over at Flickr where I’ll be posting different photos from those that appear here every night during the trip. You might want to check that stream as well:
For your convenience, I’ll post the route here, too. Those arrows are an oversimplification of the zig-zagging that will be occurring throughout all the states we’re traveling through.
I haven’t been to KS or MO in a really long time (2005). So I have a long list of stuff I’ve never seen before and funky old photos that need reshooting. We’ll be scouring those states in particular for buildings, signs, statues — as well as donuts and doggie swimming holes.
So pack your virtual shorts, ear plugs, and cooler food and come join the dogs and I next weekend.