Roadside Architecture

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Back in Brooklyn

Once I realized it was a 17 hour drive home from Iowa to NYC, the photo-taking came to an abrupt halt. It was a fantastic trip: about 8,000 miles in three weeks. I have begun the gigantic task of adding the nearly 1,000 photos to my website. You can follow along at this webpage.

I'm not sure when I will take the next big trip and give this blog another go. I will probably be going back to Wyoming in the Fall and I will definitely post here then. I'm also considering a Wisconsin trip this Summer. I may get restless and sick of the cold this Winter and head somewhere south. For now, it's time to pay some bills and deal with the photos at hand.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Noodling Around in Nebraska

A very cold day in Wyoming & Nebraska (high around 40 degrees). It started out sunny but very windy; then we had some snow, some hail, some rain but it was not as bad as yesterday. I'm running about a day behind schedule but sticking to my list. I'll have to lop off some Illinois & Indiana stuff but I'll be back there sooner since they're closer to home. Two more days and then it's back to work and the normal routine.


Not Quite Worthy

Much of what I come across on these roadtrips doesn't quite fit into the themes of my webpages. Other things are not nice enough (e.g., overly remodeled, too common) to merit inclusion. This blog might be a good way to sneak some of them in.

gas pump graveyard (Pine Bluffs, WY)

Fox Theatre (Sidney, NE)

Fort Theatre (Kearney, NE)

White Horse (North Platte, NE)

Pawnee Hotel (North Platte, NE)

former bank drive-thru window, now Daylight Donuts (Kearney, NE)


Whaddya Call It?

Another attempt at audience participation...

Abandoned gas stations are one of my weaknesses. But I've always wondered -- what do they call this style of lights?

OK -- these are not called hay bales, right? I may be a city gal but I believe hay bales are rectangular. So what do they call these rolled up things? And exactly what are they composed of anyway -- hay, straw, alfalfa...? Are they later turned into hay bales?


Roadside Amusements

I got a "warning" ticket for doing 81 mph (speed limit was 75 mph) and weaving a little (ok, so I was looking at the map). Better than a fine and real ticket for sure! But I always wonder, why all the paperwork? I will hang this souvenir on the wall at home with my other "warning" from Arkansas.

A nice abandoned truck stop with lots of good smells. These well-traveled pooches get to "explore" about twenty times a day on trips like this. A well-trained recall is obviously a must in my family: "Here!" equals cookies for the two girls and ballies for the boy.

A former bridge and section of the Lincoln Highway near Overton, NE. The passing train gave a good yank on the horn as I took this second photo.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

White and Wet in Wyoming

What a difference a day makes! Just yesterday in Salt Lake City, it was hot enough by noon for a pumpkin shake at the Iceberg Drive-in. The portions are HUGE (this was a small) and delicious. I shared a good part of this with the dogs and wasn't hungry til mid-evening.

Then today, a cold front moved in from the north and west. Lots of driving and not much photo-taking. Tons of snow in the morning in Western Wyoming and improving only slightly into rain for the rest of the state.

My roadside photos came out pretty flat and dark looking but I got what I could. The girls don't care much for cold and wet but 'Nik doesn't care as long as he's got his ball.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AZ, NM & UT: Oh My!

The dogs and I have been really laying down the miles in the past few days. Rocks and cactus, neon signs, abandoned buildings, the old, the new...

Kinda makes me miss my old van with all the bumper stickers:

Grippie Spots Elvis on The Strip

Just Like Home... Well Kinda

Las Vegas also offers glitzy renditions of Ancient Egypt and Rome, Venice, Paris...

Gambling has no appeal to me -- not even the ubiquitous penny slots

The Stratosphere is Everywhere

The terrifying ride on top was not a temptation for me either.

Now it's time to get back on the road in Utah -- more rugged landscapes en route to Salt Lake City.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

5 Days in Scottsdale

The excuse for this 3-week roadtrip was the USDAA Nationals in Scottsdale, AZ. After driving thousands of miles without a hitch, I hit a pigeon at 5 mph in the parking lot at the competition site and destroyed the bug guard on my van. This will probably cost me a few hundred bucks when I get home.

My dog, Gripper, was entered in the agility competition but I had no fantasies of winning or even placing at this event. The competitors come from all over the country (the world, actually) and the dogs are simply amazing. We had fun but there was way too much downtime and too few runs per day. I'm not the spectator type. In addition to the agility, there were many other dog sports. Here's a quick overview.


An average course is about 20 obstacles or so. At a Nationals competition like this, the top teams might perform a course in about 30 seconds. A course with just jumps and tunnels, they might do in under 20 seconds.

Handlers walking the course to figure out how to best direct their dogs (ideally with no faults and running the fastest time):

jumps (don't want the dog to knock any bars):

the dogwalk (faults if dog misses touching yellow on way up or down):

the teeter (aka seesaw) -- dogs needs to stay on when board hits the ground:

the weaves (aka weave poles) -- dog must slalom all 12 poles, starting on right hand side:


I don't compete in this sport but many agility competitors do. Here's the simplified explanation. There are four dogs on a team. Two teams compete against each other at a time, running down two lanes of four small jumps to a spring-loaded box to get a tennis ball. Once the dog banks off the box while grabbing the ball, he/she returns down the lane for a wild game of tug with his/her handler/owners. The four dogs on each team run relay fashion. The fastest total team time wins the heat. Several heats are run per day.


There are lots of different games in this sport. Some are distance tests, accuracy tests, some are combinations thereof. This is a Japanese competitor doing Freestyle (various tricks set to music) with his dog:

Dock Diving

I did participate in this sport with my dog, Sputnik, who seemed a natural for this. He loves chasing things, loves to swim, and is fearless. His longest jump over the 5 days was 16 feet (damned good for a small dog). A few of the experienced big dogs were jumping 24 feet or so. Proper form (shown below) is for dog to jump up in the air off the dock in pursuit of a toy which will carry them a longer distance over the water. Nik would pretty much just run straight ahead.

Lure Coursing

This is an exciting sport especially for Sighthounds and Terriers. A piece of fur is attached to a wire on the ground and dogs are released to chase it through an obstacle course. I don't know how many yards the course was but the average dogs did it in about 20 seconds and the super fast dogs did it in about 10 seconds. Noisy, primal, fun!


I didn't stay long to watch this as it always seems the least interesting to me and I always feel bad for the sheep being bossed around.


Back on the Road

When the competition ended this afternoon, we moved on towards Las Vegas. It was great to see some dinosaurs and signs after seeing nothing but dogs for five days. While in Peach Springs, I encountered this strange sight. It appeared to be lemons growing on the ground but up close seemed to be some sort of vine-growing squash. Can anyone enlighten me as to what this might be?

And to wrap up the day, we were treated to a great Arizona vistas and a glorious sunset.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Days 9&10: NM & AZ

We arrived in Phoenix yesterday where we will be settling down for five days for doggie stuff (agility competition). Then we'll be headed off back east, the long way, via Vegas, Utah, etc. Here are some sights from the past couple days.

I thought this cute sign was appropriate enough after my last posting about burritos:

Lots of interstate driving in NM & AZ -- a couple more landscape shots:


Gripper, Fix & Sputnik in Sedona, AZ

The current bane of my dogs' existences: sand spurs (nasty little sticker balls that they pick up in their feet) and now cactus spines (is that what you call them?):

UPDATE: These nasty sand spurs are actually called goat-heads or puncturevine -- here's one on the face of a quarter:


Some Phoenix Photos

Contrast of natural and manmade environments:

A well-concealed cell phone tower:

A Cotswald Cottage Revival house from 1931 (a rare sighting anywhere but esp. in AZ):


Another Attempt at Audience Participation

Interesting or eyesore?

Interesting or eyesore?

Quick Quiz: So what was this building used for originally? Extra credit for the building behind it.