Day 10: Chugging along in Southern Michigan

A mix of sun and clouds today — good enough!   I’m just happy to be rolling again.  Really hot & humid today — in the 90s.  When it was time for doggie recreation, I tried to find ponds and rivers — or I kept it very short.  Normally, my guys get out to run & pee about 30 times a day on these trips.  But today, they were only out about 7 times — mostly for longer, swimming & wading situations.

Well, Sparkle’s “service engine soon” light came on at 10:20am and my heart sank.  But we never lost power.  So I’m really thinking these two things are separate issues.  Or maybe there will be heartache tomorrow.  For now, all I can do is keep driving.  Nine hours with the light on and still running perfectly smooth and all else normal.

A good part of today’s stops were in remote areas surrounding Lansing & Grand Rapids — farmland with probably not much cell phone service or garages.  Which made me a bit nervous but I pretty much just try to stick with the planned route.  It’s about all my brain can handle anyway with the fatigue from lack of sleep, the heat, and fallout from the stress of the past few days over the mechanical issues.  I might need a sanity night off soon from all this homework (Flickr & blogging).

We started the day in Lansing.  This volcano downtown was a bit of a mystery.  Asking locals didn’t help much but thank goodness for Google.  It seems that this was created by the Lansing Community College to conceal a sewer steam vent (note steam escaping thru the top):


Lots more from Lansing — a nice Art Deco storefront:


This one appears to be a modern sign (rather than a reworked, old sign) — but huge and irresistible:


Dueling tire franchises.   I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neon Goodyear and neon Firestone signs together like this.  The Firestone signs are still pretty plentiful — but not many of these Goodyear signs left:

From Greenville:


Moving on to Grand Rapids — a neat, orphaned star — no idea what business it went with originally:


A damned shame.  The former Our Theatre:


I normally don’t shoot these (what I call) split-roof Dairy Queens.  Too modern for me.  But this one caught my eye because it was so tiny.  It stands on a very narrow lot.  According to the woman working there, the building still fits the footprint of the gas station that was there originally.  Sounds like it was a 1920s/1930s canopy type station.  In fact, some of the station’s walls might even have been used for this building.  It was remodeled as a DQ in 1970.


Last one for the night.  I believe the Anchor Bar is an oldie — but these signs appear to be modern:


Tomorrow, if all goes well, we should finish up Grand Rapids & move up the coast to Muskegon, etc.  If still time, I’ll start heading east from there towards Saginaw.   Bedtime before midnight — what a treat!

8 thoughts on “Day 10: Chugging along in Southern Michigan

    • Thanks! Hoping for no more interruptions. It’s been really frustrating. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was fixable and I could just get going with confidence. But nobody seems to know what’s going on and it’s really stressful not knowing when or where the next surprise will be.

  1. Dear DJ,
    I think Click & Clack addressed your dashboard light problem :
    Black tape.
    Of course I hope Sparkle keeps chugging along. Is the A/C still roasting the pups in back?
    Glad you had some sun at least. The Weather Ball story is a rarity.
    Restoring something like that long after it’s been taken down.Brings a tear to me eye. Plus it’s SO COOL I can’t stand it.
    Lots of (fake) critters around this time Like ’em..Forgot to say the dragon is pretty inventive.
    The former Our Theatre sign: Yuk.Looks like they printed it on their inkjet & taped it on.I guess it could be worse.At least the Ionia Theatre sign looks awesome.
    OK, that’s all I’ve got.except you stopped at a DQ & let another chance for sweets pass you by. You NEED a cooling treat in that heat. Just saying.
    Continued good luck & weather. Go get ’em.

    • Black tape sounds like an excellent idea. When the light came on yesterday, I did stop at a dealership just to have them check the code. Same one. Wanted to make sure it wasn’t yet a NEW problem.
      I’m CRAZY about weather balls. There’s a few other ones out there: Flint, MI & New Orleans, LA which I’ve got at my site & Flickr. There’s a nice history / listing here:
      By the way, the Grand Rapids weather ball was green yesterday which means “no change” — more of the same heat today expected.
      When I shot the DQ, it was the end of the day so I was racing through to get a few more signs before too dark to shoot. I was thinking I’d reshoot those this morning — but it’s completely cloudy (7:30am) so I guess I won’t bother. Back on the road now.

  2. DJ,
    My first trip back to Chicago since 2002 is in September. Will try to see if the weather bell is still there & operating.Hope so.

    Didn’t get an answer about your A/C.Last I heard was the front dash was cool & the back seats were blowing hot air. All OK now? I would guess so since you would have mentioned it again on your visits to the mechanic(s).

    Never mind.

    Hope you had a productive day.

    • Sorry — thought I replied about the rear A/C. Yeah, still not working but some front air is trickling back there. Luckily, there are two separate controls. Which also means extra money getting two systems or blend controls or whatever fixed. When Nik starts panting, he comes up from his rear window cubby hole to the middle of the van. Will have to get that A/C fixed for him by the next biggie trip. Poor thing. An eventful day — crappy weather but Sparkle’s doing fine. I think I have a slight concussion though — all about that later.

  3. DJ,
    Looks like it’s still there but under new ownership. Which means when I get there it may or may not be working. we shall see.

    Under the Weather Bell

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