Quickie Weekend Trip to Lake Isabella (Part 2)

OK then — found my second wind.  On with today’s photos from Bakersfield.  Let’s start with a little streamline building:


and some signs:



The Tower Motel has three signs:


The lettering here is pretty skewed to one side — inexperienced signmaker?



Had to do it.  Note Sparkle’s brand new rear bumper — just got it done Friday (after she was blasted from behind in Atlantic City several weeks ago).  Didn’t cost me anything…. but time.



This old Shell sign is at a petroleum company:



Random mid-century modern fun:


Some more streamline:


I’m pretty sure this is relatively new:



There are a couple of neon signs at the Mexicali — but I think this plastic saguaro is the best:



A former IHOP — with a rare pretty-much-intact sign:



Odd barn building / bail bonds combo.  Maybe adapted from another use?  Maybe “The Bail Barn” originally?



Streamers & shadows:



At least three Jolly Cones in town.  But this is the only one with the fun sign:


And to pay my respects — and it was HOT today.  A half & half.  Sparkle blurred in the background which conceals her worst feature — that nose job she got in New Mexico, thanks to me.  I asked the guy at Maaco how much it would be to paint that  bumper — only $250.  So maybe when .  I get a job… and an apartment… I’ll splurge on that.



Fun disco skaters — Skateland.  Huge rooftop sign.  Shameless self-promotion –>  I wrote about this sign, among others, in a Skating Signs feature for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) — it’s not listed on the site yet, but it’s Volume 29 #2 (Fall 2011):



A swap meet dino:



On to Taft — which like Bakersfield — is big oil country:



From Maricopa.  The neon reads “Open” below the 76 sign — but the station is very much closed:

Ran out of sun in Fillmore — just enough to get this shot of “Ernie’s Auto” (a former station):


OK — I’m back at the job hunting this week — but I might grab you a few more shots next weekend.  But no big or far trips planned at this point.  If you’ve got a job, count your blessings!  I’ve been witnessing lots of folks who have a far worse situation than mine.



Quickie Weekend Trip to Lake Isabella (Part 1)

I decided to take a break from the job hunting this weekend.  Actually, only officially started this week since I had a lot of odds & ends to deal with first.  I went up to visit my mother who lives near Lake Isabella.  Hadn’t seen her since 2008.

Here are a few random Ventura shots first since that’s where I’ve been doing the hunting.  The marquee from the former Mayfair Theatre sits in an empty lot.  I have no idea who owns it or what the plans are for it.  The theatre was demolished in 2004:

Here’s what the sign looked like in later years when it housed the Pussycat Theatre (an “adult” movie theatre):

Note the cool box office and the cheese holes above the marquee in the link above.  A damned shame that it was destroyed.


Sorry, I didn’t write down the name of this liquor store:


On Ventura Avenue — most likely a repurposed sign.  This is a mobile home park:


OK — now on to the trip — Lake Isabella is in Kern County:


A massive sign — but especially in Lake Isabella:


THE coffee shop in town.  Yes, we had breakfast here.  Decent.  Note the extension arrow:


Two or three of these “Dam Korner”s in town — but this one has the nice sign:


From Son-Rise Espresso.  An inventive iced latte creation from trash cans:


Arlie’s Club is about as fancy as the signs get here.  And one of the very few lit at night:



My mom with the lake in the background.  She’s 4′ 9″ or so – and I’m a towering 5′.  So for once I shoot downwards on somebody!


The lake in which the dogs, naturally, had a lot of romping time.  I’ll spare you shots of the dogs since they got so much air-time in the last post.  Maybe this is what lakes on Mars look like:


The prettiest night-time signs in town — at the Isabella Motel:



I made the most of my return home — with full day of sun to shoot stuff in Bakersfield.  I’ll get you some shots from there tomorrow night.

California: Here We Are!

First off — thank you all SO much for your good wishes and positive energy during this “transition”.  It has really helped put things in perspective and take a bit of the stress off knowing that so many of you are pulling for me.  I’m trying to focus on the opportunity of the situation.

Sorry it’s taken a few days to update you about our whereabouts and whatabouts.  I’ve been waiting for a sunny day so I could take some photos for ya.  A lot of fog here — but still pretty much paradise. Yes, we arrived safely, in record time.  The cab of that U-Haul truck was much smaller than any of us were used to.  Much barking and misery for nearly 3,000 miles.  The movers came Monday morning and loaded up the U-Haul.  I got the super’s seal of approval on the cleanliness of the apartment.  Then, off to U-Haul to put Sparkle on the trailer behind the truck.  While waiting for that event, some impatient New Yorker raced into the parking lot and took out my truck’s passenger mirror, arm and all, with his U-Haul truck.  So I had to wait for that to be replaced.  I finally got going in the afternoon.   I paced off the length of us — from the nose of the truck to the end of the trailer:  33 feet.  Therefore, no roadside photo-taking along the way.  But here was one gas-up in Pennsylvania after some rain:

I spent Monday night in Columbus, OH (538 mi); Tuesday night in Tulsa, OK (816 mi); Wednesday night in Gallup, NM; arrived L.A. area afternoon Thursday (731 miles).  So, three days of driving.  And not soon enough! Some stats for those of you that like that sort of thing — or for those of you considering a cross-country move.  It ain’t cheap!!  I could not have done it at any other point in my life other than now with my investment banking days’ package.  I’m gonna be making a fraction of those wages now I think.

UHaul truck & trailer, insurance:  $4,022 (based on the distance)
Tolls:  $139 (you pay by the axle; $54 for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge alone)
Gas:  $1,362
Movers in Brooklyn:  $300
Mover in California (all my worldly goods now in a U-Haul storage bin):  $60
Grand total:  about $6,000 (not counting that there will be another move from the storage bin to wherever I settle)

Oh, and the week of the move, Sparkle’s transmission went — another $2,000.  I’m told her engine is shipshape.  So, hopefully she’ll carry us about for many years to come.  She deserves to spend her golden years in the California sun.  As do the five of us!!  The dogs have been to the beach at least twice per day — and then off to some park or another daily as well.  They’re quite digging this place.

I’m focusing on Ventura right now as my potential settling spot.  It was my birthplace and home for roughly the first 20 years of my life.  It took all this time to truly appreciate its wondrous-ness.  Gorgeous plants, palms, flowers everywhere.  Mid-century buildings everywhere.  And even a handful of sweet neon signs.  A lengthy beach and laid-back parks for the dogs to romp.  Perfect weather pretty much year-round.  No traffic or parking hassles.  Courteous people.  What more could you ask for?  Culture, restaurants, nightlife — oh, I don’t need any of that.  But I suppose they have that here, too.

So, I’ll do my damned-est to find a decent-ish job and some little ramshackle apartment here that’ll take four dogs.  Waiting for a tailor to hem my interview “costume”.  He said it’d take a week — but I begged him down to five days.  He’d be out of business in NYC at that pace!   Job hunting sucks but I’ll try to be patient.  I have time and money in my favor at this point.  I’m sure wages would be better in L.A.  And my skill set would be better appreciated there.  But I would rather be more broke and more relaxed at this point in my life.  Pre-retirement is how I’m looking at it.  When Social Security kicks in 10 or so years from now — I’ll be back on the road with a vengeance and no deadlines to get back home.  Wherever that is.  In the meantime, I assume I’ll have weekend trips to document for ya.

On with the photos then — and there are lots of them!!  Today (Sunday), finally, the fog and clouds broke up at noon and I made a mad dash shooting all around town.  Ventura — by the way the “tur” is pronounced like “turnip”.  Out-of-towners say Ven-tooo-ra.  The place is also known as the Poinsettia City (named after those red Christmas flowers which do grow here).  And which, if I remember correctly, locals call “pon-zet’-a” not “poin-set’-i-a”.

Purple flowers — no idea of the name:


The best example of Polynesian / tiki style architecture in town:  the Tonga Apartments:


Some mid-century buildings and details.  This one has those hanging ball lamps and stairs just visible thru the glass at the left — and a neat sun screen on the right:

A metal screen:


Cantilever roof and awning — this is actually the tailor which is holding my interview clothes hostage for a few days:


The Mission Bell Motel — I’m uploading some night shots of the signs to Flickr tonight.  If I remember correctly, my parents and I used to eat at the little building on the right which is now an ice cream place.  I don’t remember the food but I do remember getting these free peanut butter flavored candies (instead of mints) on the way out the door.  Maybe they were Mary Janes or Abba-Zabba or something else.  Note the neon bell on the chimney:

Note another bell on the building next door at the left.  Also those hideaway car ports for each motel room.  And what amazing shrubbery!

I think this was the Loop’s restaurant for the motel next door (photos at Flickr tonight).  But maybe not.  That plastic ball & the plastic sign seem pretty vintage.  Another metal screen:

150 foot tall palm trees — or so they seem:


A seemingly infinite variety of palm trees and exotic shrubbery around town:


Five Points is an intersection with a convergence of five streets.  I believe this was the same business here when I was growing up.  But maybe that is a repurposed Union 76 gas station sign:


I believe this was the hospital I was born in.  I can’t check since my birth certificate and worldly possessions are off in storage in Los Angeles right now.  The Community Memorial Hospital — undergoing some additions — so this view might not be for long:


And this building across the street which looks like this one has been updated a bit.  But I believe the swiss cheese holes are original:

Some more examples of holes and screens:

Fleur-de-lis details:



I have no idea — Martian-like fruit and sweet-smelling white flowers:


Most of the neon looks intact — must check on this one at night:

Screen-y passageway:

Just another palm & purple combo.  I believe that’s bougainvillea:

Some species of banana plant.  You can see a banana cluster just above the center if you look closely:


I don’t know what you’d call this style — Prairie Polynesian?


Dolled-up Victorian?  Or maybe never was Victorian to begin with:


A detail from a former garage:


More palms:


These guys I know from my childhood.  The flowers close up tight at night to stay warm.  Can’t remember the name:


A terrific spot for the dogs — Arroyo Verde Park.  There are trails in the background — but everyone says there are rattlesnakes — so we’ll pass.  That’s Nik running on the right:

Grem running, too:


And the seniors, Grip & Fix, engaged in more sedate activities — could that be a gopher hole?

Family photo:


More freaky but beautiful trees:

Century plant — I think:


No idea — but incredible:


Downtown — not sure how vintage.  Must have been a name change — those “lounge” letters are so scrunched:


Super nifty Morris Minor woodie:


A couple Deco buildings from the Avenue (Ventura Avenue):


Lots of oil derricks on land and on the sea in Ventura — and yet the gas prices are amazingly high in SoCal:  $4.50-ish right now:


Lunch at Lalo’s:

Corn burritos — which I couldn’t even find on the menu.  Fried corn tortillas rolled up & stuffed with refried beans — about 4 or 5 of them under the lettuce, cheeses, tomatos, guac & sour cream.  Super, very HOT sauce.  A meal for under $5 — and A+.


The view of the beach & downtown looking towards Oxnard from The Cross (aka Grant Park):


And speaking of beach — more shots of the kids:

Nearly blind Nik using his nose to find his ball in the foam:

Double trouble:

Gremlin — enough trouble by herself — cuter than hell, no?

Beating the foam:


Grip — can’t see a thing but surely knows an ocean when she hears and smells one:

Her overly rewarded, default jumping trick — she’s flying!


Fixie — sun and sand in her eyes.  She likes the beach.  I think.


I’ve seen more glorious beach sunsets — but here’s what we got tonight:


Wish me luck — the job hunting begins on Wednesday — and it might take a while.  Weeks?  Hopefully, not months.  I’ll keep you posted.  And your good vibes and prayers are welcome!

Don’t forget to check out the other photos from today over at Flickr:


Farewell to New York

Big, big changes here.  For the good I hope.  Eventually.

After 25+ years of working for various investment banks, and 16 years at my current job, the wheel finally landed on my number a couple of weeks ago.  After six or seven rounds of layoffs in the past few years, it was finally my turn.  Most likely, I got picked this time because of all my time off.  Which I was entitled to — but  it made me “nonconforming” in the new management’s eyes.  Anyhow, the “package” is generous.  About a year’s pay (though Uncle Sam will take about half).  And I’ll get regular paychecks through the end of the year.  So, I don’t need to panic financially.  It’s the perfect time to make some big changes.  Lousy economy, lousy job market, all over the country.  Except maybe North Dakota — and I don’t want to move there.  I’ve never been a fan of cold weather.

After a lot of reflection, I’m heading back where I came from 32 years ago:  Southern California.  I have a mother back there that might need my help one of these years soon.  And you can’t beat the weather.  And there are loads of places for the doggies to romp — mountains, lakes, and beaches.  I’ve got no idea where or what I’ll be doing just yet.   The choices make your head hurt:  something that has meaning but pays lousy — or office work which pays better but has no meaning.

This cross-country move is more terrifying than it is exciting at the moment.  It’s very hard saying goodbye to friends and my beloved park and apartment.   But by a year from now, I’ll have a nice little routine going.  The days of the five-week roadtrips are most likely over for now.  But I’ll be able to sneak off on weekends now and then.  And I’d hope there’ll be a week or two of vacation time per year.  Eventually, when I retire, I hope to resume with some mega trips — maybe even longer than five weeks — with no rush to get back to work!  But for now, I have enough photos for the website from this year’s trips to keep me busy for at least a year.  Also, I’ve got lists of all sorts of things at the site that need updating. So, it might be a good time to hit the travel pause button and catch up.

I have a long list of stuff to shoot in NYC that I never got around to or desperately need reshooting for the website.  But with planning & packing & some crappy weather, I only managed to sneak off for a few hours yesterday to get about a dozen stops in.  Let’s start the photos with one from Crown Heights — the neighborhood east of mine.  Considering my big move and all, the business is appropriately named “New Life”…  A neat frieze with a dragon — heads on both ends:

A Park Slope (Brooklyn) icon.  I’ve been eating at Mr. Falafel on and off for more than 20 years.  This guy’s been standing in front of the restaurant since well before that.  And given the neighborhood’s transformation (old mom & pops replaced with chains) in the past few years, it’s a miracle the restaurant and statue are still there:

One of the very few and nicest of the neon signs that remain in the neighborhood:

Some nice mosaics in downtown Brooklyn (both on the front of the same building):

A survivor in Brooklyn Heights — very few neon signs there either:

From the Brooklyn waterfront — the Brooklyn Bridge.  The tallest building in the distance is the new, nearly finished World Trade Center:

From pretty much the same spot — the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance:

The big new building near me.  Basketball stadium, concerts, etc.  Most of us locals agree it’s a monstrosity.  A friend likens it to a junk pile.  The finish was designed to look like rust.  The neat thing is the advertising screen in that hole (where it shows “tickets now” in this photo).  It’s constantly changing and animated and BRIGHT and will certainly cause accidents.  I’ve never understood why cities prohibit neon but this sort of thing is fine.

A survivor much further down Flatbush Avenue:

Over to Manhattan for a little bit.  I don’t think where I’m heading will have many buildings like this.  The Cary Building, downtown:

One of my faves downtown –

the floor at the entry:

the relief at the entry:

So, moving day is tomorrow — Monday.  I’ll grab you a couple photos from the road.  No sightseeing though — all interstate.  I’ll be hauling a big rig:  a 14 foot UHaul with Sparkle on a trailer behind.  She’ll just be a passenger for this journey — and she damn well deserves it.  The dogs will be crammed in the cab with me.  I should land in SoCal probably Friday-ish.  And then you might not hear from me for a while while I sort everything out.  Not to worry!  I’m not the suicidal sort and I have a nice cushion to find the right job & place to live.  A big adventure, a new chapter, a blank slate.  It’s a big mountain to climb right now — but I’ll get to the top for the great view soon enough — and share the photos with you.

I posted a few more NYC photos over at Flickr just now if you’re eager for more: