Day 38 & 39: That’s a Wrap: Cincinnati… and home at last

I got some gorgeous sun and clouds for the last day of the trip.  The morning was spent boogie-ing around Cincinnati for some reshoots and things I hadn’t known about on previous trips.  Then, it was off to the American Sign Museum for the second event:  the “Sneak Preview” fundraiser for the museum.  For those of you that couldn’t make it, the ASM will be officially opening on June 23 with regularly staffed hours.  Don’t balk at the $15 admissions charge — it’s far cheaper than an amusement park and so, SO more exciting.  This place is fan-tas-tic and deserves your support.  I guarantee you will learn so much about signs and their history from your tour guide.  And you will have a blast.  Go!

After the museum, I hit the highway.  I drove til around midnight then pulled into a truck stop interstate plaza and slept for about five hours.  Back on the road and got home around noon.  Which is great since it gives me most of the day to repair my life.  Much better than my Monday morning arrivals where I have to drag myself into work that very night.  Before moving on to the final photos, here are the numbers for those of you that like that sort of thing.

Trip stats:

Days on the road:  39

Miles driven:  15,712 (Sparkle now has 318,606 miles on her)

Cost of gas:  ~$3710 (I never keep track of motels or food)

Maintenance and repairs while on the road:
~ $1200:  five oil changes, four new tires & an alignment (two more were free)
~ $5500:  the accident & later replacing brake fluid reservoir & master cylinder which we damaged in accident
~ $1100:  A/C work
~ $700 purge valve & spark plug wires
Total $8,500
Plus ~$275 for cash advances for Silver City & Tucson repairs (no credit cards)

Tickets:  None!!  Except for the red light ticket from the accident from the heartless & diligent Silver City cops for $92.   And a parking ticket in St. Louis for $35

Number of photos taken:  6,011
553 photos appeared at this blog.  Another 492 photos were uploaded to the Flickr agilitynut account.
And more than 5,000 of the photos will appear at the website eventually.  I will barely make a dent before the next trip.  But you will be able to follow my project at the “What’s New” page:

If you haven’t been following along at the Flickr account, you’ve missed out on a LOT of this trip:

or this trip has its own set, if that’s your preferred viewing method:


“Value” of this trip:  Priceless!   While I spent a lot of time in the shop and had some grey days, I’d say 90% of the time was awesome.  The dogs would say it was 99% awesome (the other 1% being when they got stickers stuck in their paws in the desert).  Besides all the amazing buildings, signs and statues, I have many doggie moments that will stay with me always.  Seeing them happy makes me ecstatic.

One little event that I didn’t tell you about which I shall remember forever.  In Gila Bend, at dusk, I was letting the dogs have one last run for the day.  A big open area of sand and some desert version of shrubs.  Grem, who’s been very good all trip, went missing.  I was calling and calling and starting to panic.  Fearing she’d be eaten by a coyote or some other animal if out there overnight.  I noticed lots of holes in the ground and the thought of rattlesnakes crossed my mind.  I put the other kids in the van and started calling her name more crazily.  Freaking.  I knew there was the possibility that she was off digging somewhere for some underground rodent-like animal.  In the past, she would never leave such a challenge.  But after about 10 minutes, here she came a-running, from the direction I wasn’t looking.  All panting and covered with dirt and the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on a dog.  Who knows.  I just gave her about a half a pound of cheese for coming back.



On with the photos —


Some really nice stained glass:


A “sign” that it’s time to go home?


A sign with everything:  corrugated plastic, plastic letters, a neon and bulb arrow:


A lot of fun details:

And the restaurant has yellow porcelain enamel roof tiles — plus a chicken topped weather vane.  I wonder how many restaurants claim to have the “world’s best fried chicken”?


Back to Terry’s Turf Club for some daytime shooting.  I don’t know of any Jerry’s Restaurant signs that are left on display (except this one).  I believe they all used to be part of a much larger sign:


Inside Terry’s, there are two or three of these (functioning!) Bevador coolers:


Off to the museum.  They had changed the letters on the message board of the sign at the entrance to the parking lot for the event:


Another sign in the parking lot:


Inside — another shot of a “Main Street” storefront:


A detail shot of a textured glass backlit letter:


While at the museum, I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Jensen, the author of Road Trip USA (now in its 6th edition).  He was truly a lot of fun.  If you don’t have his book, you might want to grab a copy.  It is DENSE with all kinds of subjects, photos, details — a must-have for all you roadside lovers:


And then… home.   The approach to NYC via the Lincoln Tunnel from NJ — a rarity without traffic.  I always associate this approach with the smell of gasoline.  My first trip to NYC in 1980 with a girlfriend and we had stopped in NJ to get gas.  I started to fill up and the pump handle came off in my hand.  Gas exploded out of the hose everywhere and I was drenched.  The guy ran out of the office all cursing at me.  I didn’t know you couldn’t pump your own in NJ.  So I guess that pump was out of order without a sign.  I didn’t get to shower for a couple hours and luckily no one around me lit any matches.


I try to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel since it has more traffic on the West Side Highway to Brooklyn — and a longer view of the Hudson River.  But I got in the wrong lane and, oh well.  This is just before Nik and Grem started screaming at the top of their lungs and embarrassing the hell out of me.  I thought you might like the taxis in the mirror:


Meanwhile, Fix knew from the aroma that we were home.  “Thank God!” she would’ve said.  She likes these trips okay — but I think she’d prefer to stay home where there’s more interaction with people, grass, and no hail.  And you sleep in the same bed every night.  And meanwhile, Grip slept in my lap through our entire arrival, even with the barking.  She was exhausted.


While stuck in West Side traffic, I got a view of the progress that’s been made on the new World Trade Center.  I can’t believe how long it’s taken — but lately the progress has been quick.


And then out for a quick stroll around our neighborhood.  When we left, this fountain on the circle next to our building was still off and people were wearing winter coats.  I had forgotten that it would be summer when we got home.   Funny, how that happened.


When’s the Next One?

The dogs and I will be hitting the road again in a mere six and half weeks.  The focus of this trip will be Colorado and Wyoming.  There will be some Utah and probably Montana in there.  As well as other states en route.  This will be another five-weeker.  37 days, starting on July 21 if you want to mark your calendars.  After that trip, I’ll be buckling down, working on adding about 10,000 photos to the website — while working at my “real job” probably six and seven days a week to pay for these trips.  If you still want to donate to the Sparkle Repair Fund (not too late) or just make a general donation to my efforts — that’s always greatly appreciated.  There’s a “Feed Sparkle” button on the upper right of my webpages — which takes you here:
Or you can just go to PayPal and send whatever amount you want to the account.

I hope you enjoyed tagging along on this trip and are inspired to get to some of these places or others before they disappear.  See ’em and shoot ’em while you can folks!  It may seem from my blog, Flickr stream, and website that there’s a lot of stuff out there.  But that’s only because I plan my stops and route like a maniac so I can shoot the most stuff possible.  Some of the stuff is usually gone just a year later — sometimes, even before I get home.

See you here again in a few weeks!


Day 37: The Grand Reopening

My shooting plans for the day were squashed by miserable weather.  Rain and grey clouds all day long.  I had to stop myself from trying.  Instead, I took advantage of the time to stock up on sleep for the journey home tomorrow.  Then, in the afternoon, I went to the unofficial Sneak Preview for select invitees.  I think most of the folks were sign industry people and benefactors.

On the way there, I couldn’t resist grabbing a shot of this one.  The grey sky background shows you how dreary the day was:


The museum is, of course, incredible in every way.  Yes, tons of big and small neon signs of every variety.  The lower “Do Not Touch” and “Welcome” signs are composed of freestanding neon letters that are activated (lit) when placed on the little message board slat.  I’m not enough of a neon techie to understand how this is possible:


Signs and letters of all types:


Neon signs in their original packing / shipping crates:


And older, non-neon stuff like this:


And this sign which I don’t remember noticing before (easy to miss stuff no matter how many times you go).  I adore it.  Backlit opal glass but unlike any I’ve seen before.  Each letter is mounted behind its own metal piece.


Not into people shots — but I thought I should give you a sense of the event.  There were great snacks!  The sandwiches all had meat so I had to pass.  But the asparagus was to die for.  And there were other veggies and bready things to munch on.  Some mini cupcakes…. and an open bar.  I actually had a BEER!


And here’s really the star of the show:   Tod Swormstedt.  None of this would be possible without his devotion to signs and putting together this miraculous and comprehensive collection and well-designed space:


One of the most touching and unique projects that went into the museum’s new space, was the gathering of sign painters from around the U.S. and Canada.  They created vintage-looking storefront signs for the museum’s Main Street area:

There was a short video shown with interviews and the signs being painted.  And the painters in attendance were called to the front of the room.  Behind them, well there’s Tod of course, but there’s also a hand-painted Mail Pouch Tobacco sign.  It was deinstalled from an old barn, slat-by-slat, and installed here:


I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow roadside-lover at the event.  Denny Gibson keeps a website for his roadtrips — you might enjoy a gander at that:


Tomorrow is supposed to be sensationally sunny.  I will be zipping around town with my list trying to make up for today’s lack of outdoor photos.  Then there’s event #2 at the American Sign Museum.  This one is a fundraiser — $25 a pop — for the general public from 1-5 pm.  After that, it’s all interstate for me.  So, you won’t get tomorrow’s final blog post until I’m safely home.  I should be home Sunday night or worst case Monday morning.  Work on Monday night.  So I’ll be sending you photos & writing to you next most likely on Tuesday morning.  Heading to bed now — at a shockingly early 11 pm.


Day 36: We’ve Arrived! (in Cincinnati)

It feels good to finally be safely landed in one place for a few days.  I intend to squeeze in some sleep now and then in prep for the final stretch between here and home (671 miles; 11 hours).  I could not find the brain reserve to write this post last night.  So I’m posting this morning at 7am.  It’s absolutely pouring out — so it looks like I won’t be shooting much today.   Forecast is better for tomorrow.  This afternoon in the American Sign Museum event for VIPs (hey, I’m invited — guess my website’s countless hours of documentation counts for something!).  Then tomorrow afternoon is the special general public event.  Then I’m outta here — 5 pm-ish.

Let’s catch up.  Some interstate in the morning and then stopped to get tires in Louisville, KY.   We had to wait awhile so we took a stroll around in the heat to grab some few photos.  These buildings were facade-only with construction going on.  This painted sign was an oldie that was revealed during the renovation.  Someone said online that the owner (a Mellow Mushroom is “coming soon”) would be keeping it.  I don’t know if that means it will be displayed inside or what:


Another sign from our walk:


Back driving again.  Those new tires feel great!  I sprung for all four — the two were badly worn and the other two were so-so.  With all the mechanical work of this trip — mostly from the Accident and ineptitude of mechanics — I think we’re in good shape for this summer’s trip.  All new tires & master cylinder & radiator, A/C working nicely, etc.

The rest of today’s photos are from Cincinnati.  The holes on this sign match the lettering so I suspect this was the original name — just removing of neon and repainting:


A nice terra-cotta sign with beautiful typeface:


Clouds moving in — curse that pole:


I’ve been to the Aglamesis Brothers shop before — but don’t think I’ve shot it.  The ice cream parlor / candy shop has been around since 1908.  It’s just incredible — a national treasure:

A vintage photo on the wall from 1922 shows that nothing much has changed:


Even though I finished off the peach pie in the morning — I had to show a little support.  This is the coffee ice cream with some walnuts on top.  I was envious of the sundaes I saw people eating around me — but this small cup was enough for today:


Dark clouds moved in — so I took the dogs off to the Otto Armleder Dog Park.  Big fenced areas and the dogs are really loving being on grass again.  Traction for running, no stickers:


And nearby was Terry’s Turf Club.  Although I have been to Cincinnati several times, I hadn’t heard about the place until Greg Rhomberg in St. Louis (you might remember seeing photos of his collections here at this blog) told me about it.  The owner has a huge sign collection and the restaurant is packed outside and inside with them:


I’ll be back there today when / if the rain ever stops to do some better shooting.   Back to bed for now.