Roadside Architecture

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 14: The Long Drive Home

No photos for today since it was all one grueling day on the interstate. I think half of Route 80 was under construction. But we are safely back in NYC and I've got about 1,000 photos to play with. Gradually, they'll all be up at the website. It'll probably take me a month or so.

The next big trip that I'll blog will be in October. I'm planning a little loop in the South that will include coastal NC, SC, central & eastern TN, etc. I hope you enjoyed traveling along with the dogs and I and seeing these anecdotal photos.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 13: More Minnesota

I finished up my list for Minneapolis/St. Paul this morning by noon so I could hit the road towards NYC. In my mad scramble, here are a few things that caught my eye:

Minnesotans (is that the right word?) are "big" on Powerball. It seemed every time I bought a Diet Coke, there were people ahead of me buying tickets.


Downtown Minneapolis had lots of fun and futuristic skywalks and spiral parking lot ramps:


This wheel will be part of something called "Mill Ruin Park" being constructed downtown:


Eventually, it's gotta happen. I've been fighting adding this section to my website for a few years now but it's getting harder to resist these contemporary buildings:


Now it's time to get some rest. 12 more hours of interstate to get back home tomorrow. What fun!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 12: Minnesota

I did pretty well today with photo-gathering despite the fact that it was only a half-day. I found a nice independent car repair place in Oakdale, MN (thank you Maplewood Auto!) to address my thunk-thunk-thunk. It was a tire with some weird tread wear. Not noticeable really til you took the wheel off. Also the other front wheel had a mediocre bearing. That's the tire I flattened a month ago driving around a pet cemetery and taking a bad bounce into a drainage ditch. Uh, it looked like a car path to me. Also the other tires were marginal, so this was a $998 bill for a full set of tires and replacing the bearing. Probably more than I should've (my mechanic back in Brooklyn would've chided me for being taken) but I feel a lot safer. I love my new tires -- they feel like I'm driving on air and I relieved that the thunking is gone.

So I didn't get started taking pictures til around 1pm. But luckily with summer and being very north, it doesn't get dark around here til about 9pm. It also gets light enough around 7am to start back up again.

On with today's show:

I love this little car wash I stumbled upon in St. Paul:


Also in St. Paul was these wonderfully green building entitled the Spruce Tree Centre. Unfortunately, the sun was directly behind it and this is the best I could do:


A nice rooftop sign -- "Sport Dome" there now but I have no idea what was there before:


I believe this was still St. Paul (too tired to check my notes). I haven't seen this before -- a Little Caesar guy filled and bouncing around by those air machines (what do you call them anyway):


From the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds in St. Paul -- these great little "Whitman's sampler" buildings:


A nice car wash sign that must've had neon originally -- in conjunction with another sign with "ballies". Now what idiot parked that white van in the way of my shot?


And, lastly, here's one that really has me puzzled. I went to this address in St. Paul in search of a Lustron house. As I proceeded into that area, the houses looked much too palatial and I figured it would be another disappointment (building removed or remodeled beyond recognition). I have no idea where I got the tip about this Lustron since I keep a huge master list with stuff from a million different sources (some referenced, some not). Anyway, sure the building had porcelain enamel panels like Lustrons -- but there was fancy little detailing and it was a two-story building. I don't believe the Lustron company ever produced anything like this. I wanted to take more shots but there were people in the window at the right already giving me nasty looks. It had been too long and hot a day to deal with being yelled at. Does anyone have any theories or information about this building?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Day 11: Last Day in Wisconsin

I traveled hard today and got through a long list of places today. I'm going to sneak in a day of Minneapolis/St. Paul tomorrow. Then I'll try to hit a few places in IA & IL on the way home the next day.

The only glitch might be the mysterious noise that is happening with the van. At about 20mph you can hear this faint sound that almost sounds like a flat tire. A faint thunk-thunk-thunk. At higher speeds it either goes away or is at such a higher rpm that you can't hear it. The tires all look fine. I'm thinking it might be a bearing of some sort? The noise started yesterday afternoon and continued all day -- not getting any worse. I decided that since today was Sunday and no auto repair places were open, I'd just keep an ear out and be prepared for disaster. But, luckily, nothing happened after many hundreds of miles. So tomorrow morning I'll get it looked at and hopefully not lose a full day of shooting.

OK - on with the photos!

This is what a lot of WI looks like:


Today's regional junk food taste-test: the packaging looked a little scary but it was quite good:


Chippewa Falls has a lot of these either restored or replica (I'm not sure which) wall signs:


I've gotten attached to this little guy -- seems like every town in Wisconsin has a Hank Hardware store:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 10: Still More Wisconsin

I took tons of photos today and covered a lot of ground. Got to a good part of the northern Wisconsin stuff on my list. One more day and that will be about all I can manage before starting the journey home. I have four more days left on this trip before I have to be back at work.

We started the day out with a nice romp at a Wisconsin "dog area" in Manitowoc. I don't know if it's the hunting lobby that needs to exercise their working dogs or if this state is just dog-friendly but there seems to be a lot of these places. Here's a great website for finding off-leash dog places all over the country:


From Green Bay, here's another nice detail from a former car showroom (the building itself was a big brick -- nothing interesting otherwise):


I will admit, when no homemade ice cream is available, a Peanut Buster from Dairy Queen does me just fine. I love their photo-realist billboards:


Speaking of junk food, here's a new find for me today. Seems to be a Wisconsin thing -- cheesecake on a stick! It was quite good and I might try to find another one before I leave the state.


A sad sight today -- an abandoned mini golf south of Birnamwood, WI:


A nicely restored oil truck seems to be on regular display at the Shell station in Antigo:


I love the anal-retentiveness of these giant labeled travel map signs:


This was almost tempting enough to stick around Manitowish Waters for. I'd love to see a skiing skeeter!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 9: Yet More Wisconsin

I've somehow got to get settled in earlier at night so I'm not writing these in the wee hours of the morning. It was another beautiful day, took loads of photos for the website & Flickr and quite a bit for this here blog as well.

Without further ado then -- since I should really be sleeping.

Here's a pole that really needs removing. The profile shot is better but it's nice to not have to make up for such things.


Wisconsin-ites are very devoted to their cheese. They even have bumper stickers about it:


This tractor trailer sign towers above the interstate near the Mauston exit:


Though this is not really my era, these churches were quite stunning:


A classic, simple and superb sign from just north of the Dells:


This giant guy towers over a flea market. Sparkle provides a sense of scale. The dogs are just visible waiting patiently at the open door for the magic word to go for a run & sniff:


Looking a little road weary at this point (but I bet I look worse):


Here are a couple stunners from downtown Fond du Lac:


A fine looking cleaners from Oshkosh. The plastic sign looks like it's probably a modern recreation. Very cute anyway.


It's starting to get greener and pine-ier as we're heading north. Lots of lakes and streams everywhere which is good news for 'Nik the swimmer of the family. This stairway is near Roche-a-Cri State Park.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 8: More Wisconsin

It was a fairly productive day though it seemed like I spent way too much time on the interstate. I'm trying to blast back and forth across the state in desperation to squeeze as many places in as possible. The weather has been much cooler the past couple days -- and the glorious clouds continued again today.

I have quite a few photos to share and it's already midnight so let's get cracking.

Here's a cute little shop in Milwaukee (second photo so you can see around the tree):


Milwaukee has tons of great mid-century buildings. Even a committed apartment dweller like myself fantasized for a moment about living in a place like this. Note this is a back view taken while walking back to the van from shooting something else. I particularly like the breezeway (open area between the house and garage on the right).


Okay. So what can I say about this one. Aside from the bumper stickers, I noticed an extremely foul odor emanating from this vehicle. Quite clearly it was a dead something smell and it was coming from the white tarped object in the back. Note no window there. I'm assuming it was a dead deer that a hunter had forgotten about? Could it have been a human body? Should I have called the cops?


Westby, WI is quite proud of its Norwegian heritage and has references scattered around town. My favorite business name of the day goes to the "Uf-da-Mart".


Embossed plastic signs are really growing on me. Here are a couple of nice ones. The Singer sign is from Spring Green, WI (still a fabric and sewing store). The bakery sign is from La Crosse, WI.


Here's another old sign of sorts (though MUCH older). It's part of the original Heileman brewery building in LaCrosse, WI:


Here's a building that I wish I could've gotten better shots of but there was construction completely surrounding it. The former State Bank of Spring Green (in Spring Green, WI, of course):


And, lastly, a view from the end of the day from Onalaska, WI. That's the Mississippi River and Minnesota across the way. I believe those are red currants at the left. Minnesota is very much on my mind all day as I try to figure out how to prioritize my stops for the remaining days of this trip.