Roadside Architecture

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Day 8: Out-takes from Albuquerque

A very productive day with the camera: signs, gas stations, giant stuff, art deco buildings, etc. It was sunny for the most part making for great backgrounds but some challenges when forced to shoot into the sun. Those darned white hexagons! What is the technical term for that anyway?

Albuquerque is vast and wonderful but I don't think I could stand the continuous heat if I lived here. I do love the adobe houses, cactus, and rugged landscape.


Road Fuel

I'm often asked what I eat on the road since I'm a vegetarian. While many travelers plan their routes with food in mind, for me it's about the least important part of my trips. My three main food groups are starch, sugar and Diet Coke. I get by with snacks during the day: donuts, yogurt, ice cream, crackers, nuts, etc. Every few days, I'll get some salad someplace if I can find better than iceberg. But I do love bean burritos and I think I have eaten one every day on this trip. I try to find mom & pop places but, in desperation if it's the only option, I'll hit a Taco Bell (or as a last resort, Burger King for their Veggie Burger).

Tonight, with only a few stops to go and getting quite famished, I selected this little place. I thought it might be mom & pop but, from the printing on the bag and the menu board, it seems it is most likely a chain. Food critics would have given my burrito a 1 on a 10 scale, but I give it a 5 for being blessedly average and $4.17 w/the sour cream, guac & rice (my standard order) -- good enough when you're in a hurry and on a budget. Actually, last night's burrito from Taco Sol, inside the Conoco at Tucumcari, was super: tasty, huge enough to share with the dogs AND give me a few bites for breakfast, AND a bargain at about $3.50.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Day 7: A Change in the Weather

Blue skies and sunshine! A drastic change in the climate and landscape on this trip.

Tumblin' Tumbleweeds!

For a Brooklynite, this sight is pretty shocking. On the desolate highway, I can understand. But this is downtown Dalhart, TX and it's not even windy.


Cows & Dogs:

One of our little roadtrip diversions is Cow-Watching. It's hard to say who enjoys it more: the dogs or the cows. If I have ten minutes to spare, I'll pull over for a "cow-break". The cows rush to the fence when they hear the dogs barking. Which only makes the dogs bark even more hysterically. The cows watch in amazement and trot beside the van when I drive slowly away.


Getting What You Want:

Sometimes I really have to work at getting my photos. Today was no exception. To get to the Dinosaur in Canadian, Texas I had to hike this hill. Barbed wire fence, no trail, crumbling rocks and loose soil. I was sure I'd be bit by a rattlesnake and never make it back to the illegally parked van with the barking, watching dogs. But it was worth the effort and risk:


Stop Me Before I Create a New Section!

These beautiful grain elevators are everywhere in the Texas Panhandle and I just might be tempted to start a new section for them at my website. But I'll hold off for now since there are numerous websites about them already, including these: 1, 2, and 3.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Days 5 & 6: Odds & Ends

The weather has been miserable for the past few days (rainy and grey). But once we crossed into Oklahoma, the sun finally reappeared. I'm looking forward to the next few days in the Southwest.

Here are some random sights from the past two days.


Traffic Signal:

This survivor in Kansas City, MO is from the 1930s.

more info


TWA Building and Rocket:

This building, also from Kansas City, MO is from 1956. It is currently being renovated for its new tenant, Barkley, an ad agency. The rocket is a replica of the original "Moonliner".

More info: 1, 2


A Tribute to the Dog:

This bronze statue in Warrensburg, MO has been here, in front of the County Courthouse, since 1958.

more info



The past few days have taken a toll on Sparkle's exterior. I'll have to give her a well-deserved bath when we reach Arizona. In the past two months, she's been trouble-free for 12,000 miles.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Day 4: Little Head-Turners

Waiting for the sun to come up here in Warrensburg, MO. I'll add a couple more photos before hitting the road. These two are representative of the many things I encounter each day on trips like this. While they may not be "worthy" of a photo or inclusion at my website, I give them a long look out the window anyway.

Recycled Drive-thru:

This is apparently a former drive-thru restaurant now in use as a used car lot. A perfect fit: ample office space and a nice big parking lot. It's fascinating to see creative adaptations of gas stations, banks, signs, etc.

Car Wash:

I love these quonset-hut type buildings but they are getting pretty scarce now it seems. Modernists have terms for them like: "purity of line and materials", "form following function", etc. If you are the DIY car wash type, I'd urge you to throw your quarters at places like this. Preservation is often the byproduct of depressed economics, though it's not so good for the people. However, it's a delicate balancing act. If the money's not good enough, the business folds and the building deteriorates. If the money's too good or land values go up, they level and rebuild.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 3: Rainy Day Reflections in MO

It rained all day -- from a slight drizzle to heavy downpours. Not great conditions for taking pictures (or getting good results) but I did pretty well anyway. Most of the way was on or near Route 50 (aka Highway 50) - which doesn't get nearly as much press as Route 66 or the Lincoln Highway though it has some pretty amazing stuff. It runs across the whole country. More about it here:

A bit of old Highway 50 that dead-ends... and a section of old Highway 50 next to the new one:


I am often asked how I find so many great things on these trips. The short answer is: research. I have been keeping "To See" lists for years so that when opportunity arises, I'm pretty much ready to plan the route. About 90% of my route and what I photograph is pre-planned (the other 10% is stuff I stumble upon). About 30% of what I go to see has either been demolished or altered to a severe degree. The quantity of images and subjects at my website might leave the impression that there's tons of wonderful old stuff throughout the country but that is really not the case. Beautiful old buildings, neon signs, and giant fiberglass wonders are disappearing on a daily basis.


One of the things that I will try to do with this blog is make it more interactive and provocative. I will try to hit on some different topics and welcome your feedback in the comments below. I took a few photos today in Sedalia, MO that might spark some thought or discussion. Let's start with this one and I'll add a couple others tomorrow morning.

The Best Western: built 1960, remodeled 2001

A mid-century, two-story glass-faced building that has been updated in front with a huge & hideous awning and porte-cochere. I guess this is meant to hide the age of the building and make it look new & "chain"-y. Better than demolition I suppose which will undoubtedly come next. Unless it can hang on through various concealments for about 20 more years til 1950s/1960s is hip and rare enough to be properly renovated. Should we be concerned with garden variety classics like this or only push to save Big Name Buildings?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Day 2: Indiana & Illinois

The weather and lighting were a lot better today. I got lots of great signs, an incredible six-story tall Abe Lincoln, a "true" mini golf, some theatres, and more. The dogs got lots of running and sniffing in, including this fun romp at the Hurricane Cemetery (named after Hurricane Creek) in Greenup, IL.

Nik with his Jolly Ball:

The girls running amuk:

Some people might find it disrespectful to let the dogs loose in these old cemeteries. But I feel that the lingering souls must be amused by the joyful activity. I always pickup after them & make sure nothing gets bumped. They are lovely, quiet places - great for a quick picnic. The memorials are touching and beautiful.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Day 1: NYC to Las Vegas Trip Underway

This trip officially began yesterday afternoon after a doggie competition in MD. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed barking at all the Amish horse & buggies as we made our way to the PA Turnpike. Then it was all boring interstate driving to make it to central OH for the night.

Today, I got a lot of goodies for the website in Ohio and Indiana (see flickr set for a sampling). It was dreary weather all day so the lighting was not great. Even some snowflakes here and there. Ran out of daylight in Indianapolis so we'll spend the night here and resume tomorrow.

To avoid duplication, I will try to include photos at this blog of things that will not appear at flickr and probably not at my website.

Here are my three travel buddies...

... and the gorgeous fall foliage in Indiana:

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm about to embark on a big trip to AZ and thought it might be a good time to try one of these. I will post some photos here en route and provide commentary about the trip. Other photos will be found at my flickr account which is a sampling of what will eventually make it to my website.