Day 21: More Southeast Wisconsin

Mostly sunny — clouds came in the afternoon.  But the rain held off til dark.  Not so much volume shooting today.  Lots of road detours and bridge repairs.  Only one little heart-stopping event.

I was in Racine looking for a spot to get the dogs their last dose of Great Lake.  The HobNob is usually my spot but there was repainting going on there and the owner was present — running them down that steep slope would be a big no-no.  So, I went a bit further south and found a super skanky abandoned motel.  The cliff to the beach was very steep but there in the weeds, a handy set of metal stairs — like 100 steps but down to the water.  All good there, huge crashy waves that Grem wisely wanted no part of.  But Nik battled it out — ANYthing for the toy.

As I was leaving and about to pull onto the major highway (Sheridan Rd) into heavy traffic, Sparkle stalled out.  No power.  Wouldn’t restart.  So I was a real man and got one of my fuses out from the garage that couldn’t fix my problem a couple of weeks ago.  Popped the hood, found the right fuse, and, voila, Sparkle restarted.  I was a bit freaked out for the first few hours but no further problems.  So I know it will do me no good to go to a garage about this one.  No check engine light ever came on.  All I can do is keep-a-driving and in the back of my mind be prepared to coast in a safe direction if it happens again.  It’s been, what, a couple weeks now since this happened, and driving 12+ hours per day?

Let’s start the show with a little mcm (mid-century modern) bank in Waukesha.  The cool clock was right — we start as soon as the sun is workable — and this was maybe the 10th stop of the day.


The world’s most beautiful gas station photo ever — if not for about 10 cars and big-ass trucks.  In Durham:


In Caledonia.  Yes, I was so wanting to pose the kids with this Yogi at this Jellystone Park.  But there were horses in the background and I figured not a good idea after the Duck Debacle about a week ago.  I’ve never seen a sitting Yogi like this — surely modern, and I suspect inspired by the Ronald McDonald bench:


In Sturtevant — this abandoned motel has been turned into a haunted house of sorts.  Or at least that was the most recent use.  I have read that the building might be torn down for expansion of the nearby interstate.


From Powers Lake.  I’ve never seen a post office use a recycled barn before:


Gloomy grey skies moving in — the Cheese Box in Lake Geneva:

The remaining photos tonight from Lake Geneva:

A real tragedy here.  This Pizza Hut had the original Pete signs on the front of their building until recently.  Some destructive idiots ripped off his arms.  When I didn’t see the signs originally, I checked to see if they were moved inside.  Luckily, the owner was there and had them in his truck so I could get a photo.  He’s going to repair them and give them to a school in town.  The corporate headquarters wanted them gone anyway.  Here’s a vintage view of what these signs looked like — the Lake Geneva building pretty much looks the same, just repainted:

Last one:


Really feeling the pain here of all the driving and lack of sleep.  Trying for an earlier bedtime tonight.  Tomorrow, more SE Wisconsin and a little mini trip across the border to Illinois.  Then upwards we go, with hundreds of stops towards Minnesota.  Thinking maybe Monday-ish in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

16 thoughts on “Day 21: More Southeast Wisconsin

  1. I’m really bummed about the Pizza Pete’s being removed from the Pizza Hut due to some vandals. You can see them at this location on Google Maps, but it blurs out their faces!

    Sad to hear that Sparkle stalled out today. At least you can fix her up when this happens. Which fuse do you have to replace?

    • If you ask me, those kids should have THEIR arms ripped off as punishment!
      I’m grateful that Sparkle stalled out in such an easy-to-fix position and not in the middle of the road. She didn’t do it at all today and it might be another week before the next time — or tomorrow. Impossible to know or diagnose it seems. So it’s always there in the very back of your mind but nothing you can do about it. The mechanics that spent all day on it and tried to fix the problem (couldn’t) showed me the fuse to replace and gave me a handful of them. There are about a dozen fuses in a box under the hood. Fairly easy to get to (once you get Sparkle’s hood open which is tricky, even for mechanics) and takes just a few seconds to change.

  2. DJ, it should not be impossible for a competent mechanic to find your problem. Something on the electrical circuit is shorting out from time to time. It will take a detailed physical inspection of all the wiring and devices for that circuit downstream of the fuse. By any chance, does it happen when you floor the accelerator? We once had a car that did that. Turns out there is a “kickdown” switch for the automatic transmission (downshifts into “passing gear” at full throttle), and the power wire to that switch sometimes rubbed the engine block, blowing a fuse when the throttle was fully depressed. Problem was, the fuse also served the engines control computer, and everything shut off. Once we found the wire with the defective insulation, problem solved. That said, I would live with it until you get home to your trusted mechanic.

    • Thanks for your mechanical advice and emotional support! Nope, doesn’t happen when I “floor it”. In fact, I never floor it — I’m a very smooth driver and save a little gas by not doing jack rabbit starts or crazily passing people. I’ve got four passengers so I’m very respectful of them — and for a New Yorker, I’m surprising calm (ha!). The stalling out has no rhyme or reason. As the mechanics experienced, it can be at various speeds — with steady pressure on gas pedal – or even when you’re standing still (as I was a couple days ago). They did their best with all kinds of schematic diagrams to locate the problem. The other problem is, my mechanic in Brooklyn, the only one for miles, is not much more talented. In fact, in the back of my mind, I pray to break down on the road rather than home. NYC — not very car-friendly at all.

      • Did a little Googling for “astro van fuse blowing” – found several hits. Survey seems to indicate common problem of defective fuel pump, even though I know your pump has recently been replaced.

        Does it tend to happen with less than a half-tank of fuel?

        Do you know what brand of pump was installed the last time?

      • I’ll have to have a look at the links at another time. Haven’t started my homework yet and it’s already 10:30pm. Doesn’t happen when less than half tank of gas. Don’t know what brand. But don’t think it’s the fuel pump. I happened before AND after they replaced the fuel pump. That’s how I managed to get my money back for it. There could possibly be some connection with the check engine light / torque invertor thingie — but that light hasn’t come on in a couple weeks. And everything is behaving perfectly normally in terms of shifting and running. So who knows. No lights or fuses for a couple days now. All I can do is keep on driving.

      • Sparkle is a 2003 — these are about a 1995 problem — so probably not the same. And it just all seems so odd that there can be nearly 1,000 miles between blown fuses. And with two different fuel pumps. Surely, the one I replaced in June was a different brand from the one these guys out there used. I’ll get my guy to look at it when I get home — but I think it’s one of those things that can’t be fixed til it gets bad enough to just not run.

  3. DJ,
    Hope Sparkle will keep on chugging along. Don’t envy your super- defensive driving you have to do now in case of a loss of power!
    Good luck!

    I know Dee is recovering from the yips so far, but have you made a plan if or when a restart, doesn’t?

    Have to say the National Liquor Bar photo is my favorite of the last batch.Does it still chase? Can’t find anyone with a video.Certainly better looking lit up than daytime, IMHO.

    Glad you’re getting a bit more rest.

    Blue skies tomorrow!

    • No plan if Dee dies. Other than hoping there’s a camera store open. Not much else I can do. Not gonna buy another camera in advance. Don’t think it’s something they could repair — unless the error is maybe stuck there. And don’t want to give up shooting time since I’m probably four or five days behind as it is.
      National Liquor sign is awesome. Yes – – the bulbs still chase — or at least some of them. I don’t know how many chased originally — but the ones that do now start about midneck and go to just a bit inside the glass. I should have taken video. Shame on me. I love it by day though, too. It’s HUGE.
      So far, skies not looking good — grey all around. But I’ve learned things can change rapidly on this trip.

  4. Twenty days on the road… groan! I just finished 16 days driving out to Lethbridge AB and back up thru the US on the south side of the Great Lakes and back thru ON on the north side of the Lakes. I’m still feeling the driving grind. I’ll have mileage figured out tomorrow. It was a lot. You’re into day 21! Wow wow wow! I bet you dream of your bed at home.

    Hang in there!

    • I do these five-week trips twice a year (spring and summer) and then I work on the website the rest of the year. These trips wouldn’t be nearly so exhausting if I was just driving all day and shooting. But this self-inflicted four plus hours of homework (tweaking photos & uploading to Flickr & blog, plus emails) every night just about kills me.

  5. Good to see some photos from my “neighborhood”. Damn shame about the Pizza Hut Petes.

    I’ve been wanting a twilight shot of the Waukesha State Bank for a while, as well as the Phillips 66 on Racine Avenue; timing just hasn’t been on my side.

    The Sturtevant (Mt. Pleasant, actually) “motel” was a long-time bar/night club, I don’t think I ever knew it as a motel. It’s been vacant a LONG time.

    The Powers Lake PO is quite the curiosity, I’ve shot it myself! My PO of choice is Springfield, which appears to be some kind of manufactured structure. Also in Springfield is a bike rental/coffee shop in a former railroad depot.

    Looks like I need to look around your blog some more…!!! Have a good trip, hope Sparkle cooperates.

    • Is the abandoned motel really in Mount Pleasant? Sturtevant appears to be closer to the interstate.

      My blog and stuff I post to the Flickr agilitynut account are only samplings from the day’s shooting. The website is where you want to go to really “have a look”.

      • Yes, it’s Mount Pleasant. Sturtevant was its own village within the town of Mt Pleasant (which would have been a standard 6×6, but I think the big pond added a little extra on the east side), but Mt Pleasant (and the former “largest town in Wisconsin” to the north, Caledonia) both incorporated recently.

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