Day 13: Bay City to Tawas City

Slowly but surely, we’re pushing northward.  No animal carnage or breakdowns today.  In fact, Sparkle’s “service engine” light wasn’t on for even a minute of the day.  Can these things heal themselves?  A good question for Klick & Klack.  My head’s feeling better, fingers still ouchy.

A gorgeous day — mostly sun, highs in the low 80s but not humid.  Unfortunately, although there was great weather, it was a low-volume day.  Once we left Saginaw, most of the day was in “The Thumb” with lots of distances between one-shot towns.    The dogs got loads of beach time — easy access and, bad dog trainer that I am, I buckled when they screamed.  Which felt like about 100 times today.  Beautiful warm water and sand — all to ourselves.  A break for me as well from all the stress of the past few days.

Let’s start with Bay City — a nice, detailed… adding machine (I think):


A behemoth of a sign, re-texted obviously:


A gratefully, left-alone sign:


This was the Empire House Motel when I was here last in 2005.  The top, boxy chunk over the canopy is new.  It used to look like the Budget Inn in Kingston, NY and might have been part of the same chain (whatever that was):


Opal glass and neon combo.  This sign is part of the landmarking of the building — so it will hopefully live on forever — if it doesn’t crumble to the ground.  A lot of that happening lately with signs.


Looks like always the Flamingo — but obviously new “Free TV” lettering.  Lots neon tubing holes that don’t make sense.  It’d be nice to find a vintage postcard of this one:


A fun, modern building:  the Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center:


Moving on to Saginaw.  I must let no roadtrip go by without a least one parking garage sign:


The Covenant HealthCare Building — I’m assuming 1960s:

Also assuming this funky canopy in front is 1960s or 1970s.  Hard to see in this photo but the pyramid thingies on top are clear plastic:

Is that a PB&J sandwich?

Fun stuff — skipping the close-up photos of the signs here — too much else to post tonight.  But the hanging neon sign is encased in one of those tight metal mesh boxes to protect the neon:


Friends and foes.  While pretty to look at, not exactly a photographer’s dream.  Constantly blocking the sun, forcing you to wait.  Sometimes for a few minutes no sun, give up shoot the picture.  Drive a block down the road, sun comes out, U-turn and race back to the spot to shoot, hop out, and sun goes away again.


Rubber ducky from Vassar:


A nice, manly sign from Caro.  But the store is sadly vacant and the sign could disappear any day now.  Backlit plastic:

From the tiny town of Kinde:


From Linwood.  Grippie used to go nuts over these fiberglass animals and people.  But now that she’s blind… that leaves Gremlin to fill in.  But she’s gotten too cynical lately.  If they don’t move and have no smell, she lets it go.


Also in Linwood.  Oh, yeah, let’s stop!:

I was SO ready to try one of Judy’s pies — ready to support all this advertising.  But the door was locked and I was devastated.  6:55pm.  I peered inside and saw what must have been Judy, reading a magazine and shaking her head.  I did my best to convey disappointment but Judy was not budging.  Damn you Judy!  I don’t get it.  I understand maybe a service industry, when you’re closed, you’re closed.  But if a customer is there for obviously a quickie with money in hand, bouncing up and down eager, you don’t open the door?


Down the road about a mile to Pinconning to reshoot the giant mice at Wilson’s Cheese Shoppe — and get some snacks.

Turns out they sold pies and I had to have one after the Judy’s disappointment.  Strawberry rhubarb.  I expected cardboard crust and gelatinous interior.  But NO — this pie is to die for.   Buttery flaky crust (or maybe lard, I don’t want to know).  Tart but sweet, real fruit.  Awesome.  So THERE, Judy!  And it feels like it weighs three pounds so it will be around for a while.  The cheese will be dog treats for days, maybe weeks, if I don’t eat it first in desperation.  But I have my pie.  Oh, and also, the most wonderful magnet.  I’m not a collector of anything — not even roadside stuff.  But I will cherish this mouse for the rest of my life.  It’s really well made, the thick lucite type from a nice photo.

So that’s it for today.  Tomorrow, more northern Michigan — and hopefully into the UP (Upper Peninsula).

11 thoughts on “Day 13: Bay City to Tawas City

  1. DJ, When you get to the UP can you just make a VERY quick comment if you see any Cherry Farms/Farm Stands. The internet says they grow Cherries in the UP but some people who go to Michigan Tech say they don’t.

    • Traverse City (was through there today) is the cherry capital of Michigan. Loads of cherry farms all around there — including Petoskey where I am right now. I think the U.P. might be too cold.

  2. Debra Jane,
    Looks like Judy is TOO FAMOUS for the likes of you. My only hope for your delicious pie is it wasn’t MADE BY JUDY’S & sold by the cheese shop. Could happen.

    WOW is the only word I can come up with for the following:
    Zehnder’s, State Theatre, Manley’s Pharmacy, Ippel’s, Brenske (!!),
    Savoy (!), Bean Bunny, Aubry Cleaners, & St. Matthew’s Church!!!
    Great stuff, missy.

    Glad you’re healing up OK. Enjoying my Shotgun seat more when the blood isn’t flowing.

    Good skies for you Saturday.

    • I’m happy to say that Judy had nothing to do with my pie! The guy at Wilson’s proudly said they make them right there. And I believe him.
      Thanks always for the positive feedback on my blog & Flickr selections. Working away on today’s photos — only 11pm — the night is young.

  3. First, great stuff as always.

    Second, that motel canopy thing ticks me off. I could forgive the boxy thing but i can’t forgive this current trend of adding what I’ll call “crown molding” as it would be called if used on the interior but perhaps cornice it the appropriate word. It seems to be the go-to item to “update” a building these days. “Hey Joe, slap some crown molding on there. That will make it fresh and new!”

    Rant complete. Happy travels.

  4. Boy, did you get lucky with that Holsum Bread sign! Until about 2 months ago, it had been covered by a billboard for decades. Yesterday it was painted over. Talk about hitting a window of opportunity! I got a photo a few weeks ago; glad you did too.

    • I guess that’s why the paint looked original but brighter than most. Why did they paint it over? Was it considered free advertising for Holsum? What’s wrong with people — no sense of art or history. Yes, glad I got to see it. Purely accidental.

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