Day 30: A Grand Day in Northern MN until…

I banged through lots of long-distance driving,remote locations, even got thru the border city on the western edge of MN — Grand Forks.  Just as I was about to hit the interstate for Fargo at about 6pm, the fuse blew.  No big deal, right?  Changed it and then drove about 10 blocks til the fuse blew again.  Immediately again and again — Sparkle just plain would not start.  So I let her sit about a half hour & tried again.  Blew immediately.  So that’s that.  We’re stranded in Grand Forks for the night.  But at least I got a full day’s shooting in.  And of all the remote, nowhere towns or vast spaces between towns, this was excellent timing.  The Chevy dealer opens at 7am and I’ll be waiting.  I’ve got a long list of symptoms — related or unrelated to this fuse thing.  And hopefully, we can get rolling again at some point tomorrow.

Otherwise, all good — weather fantastic, cool with pretty non-interfering clouds.  No doggie problems.  As I waited for the tow truck (90 mins), I took them for a good walk.  I noticed I have new critters to watch for:  lots of prairie dog holes.  I had forgotten about them.  I could lose Grem & Nik for hours or weeks if they take off after those things.

I’m sparing you lots of fiberglass statue photos tonight at Flickr and here.  Personally, I love them and I need every last one of them for my website.  Sometimes there’s an hour or more drive between them.  But I know most of you are here for signs and buildings.

From International Falls.   This place and the TeePee Motel (night-time photo at Flickr last night) are both for sale.  The chains are starting to move into this area so I think it’s just a matter of time before these signs are gone.

Also in International Falls:

Moving on to Northome.  These pay phones must be very rare now.  I can’t remember seeing one before.  Yes, the dial tone worked when I picked up the phone:

Another King Koin sign (one previously posted to this blog a few days ago).  This one from Blackduck:

Just one of a dozen or two doggie breaks.  Something wonderful in the grass — I don’t know what.  But Nik is always just a waiting for the ballies to be thrown:

From East Grand Forks (the Minnesota side).  No other way to shoot this because of the tree:


I love the Hugo’s Market mascot.  Such a delirious shopper!  I saw a plastic sign today with this guy and didn’t shoot it.  Been regretting it ever since.  I did at least get this side of a truck shot in Grand Forks:


The rest of the photos from Grand Forks.  Wish I’d had wheels to see if any of the nice neon signs were lit at night.  But it was also Sunday night so that would rule out all or most of them.  Maybe if I’m still stranded here tomorrow night I’ll see what I can find.

Simonson gas stations — new to me — also have a goofy mascot.  This is the only sign I’ve seen of theirs so far that wasn’t modern.  Most likely this one was adapted from another station — and the Simonson parts were all porcelain & neon like the “gas for less” arrow:

Another fun, former station, let me count the ways.  The “people going places” motto, the stop sign shaped sign, the checkerboard bay doors:


Love the bulbs used as the horseshoe nails:


And last one for the night — surely this monster sign had neon originally.  What mostly intrigued me was the monthly “Sleeping Rooms”.  Meaning, what, you rent by the month and can only use the room for sleeping?


So, hopefully tomorrow, we’ll get rolling and I’ll be able to get some photos.  This trip has really been an emotional roller coaster.  Lots of great photos & places & natural beauty — but oh so much stress at the same time.

11 thoughts on “Day 30: A Grand Day in Northern MN until…

  1. Wow, wow, wow. I hoped Sparkle would keep on keepin’ on!
    Poor Sparkle.
    Poor DJ.
    Poor Schedule.

    Well, it is what it is. Let’s hope those brain trusts at Chevy will finally figure this out.Speaking of that, just looked at the Car Talk website & noticed they have:
    “Ask a Mechanic Online. 29 Auto Mechanics are Online Now.
    Ask a Question, Get an Answer ASAP.”

    Don’t know if it’s worth anything but what do ya have to lose?

    I want some good luck for your Monday, Missus!
    Keeping my fingers crossed.

    • Yeah, this sucks. I’ll pass on Car Talk (although I’m a big fan) — but I’ll recommend it to these guys if they are stumped. This place is HUGE. Never seen a dealership so big. It’s like Disneyland. Might be 2-3 hours before they can even look at Sparkle. But at least I have my own workstation — desk with wifi — and can be productive & work on photos. Think it’s gonna be a LONG day.

  2. dear lord, the fun never stops!

    yeah, mercury has definitely been in retrograde full stop for this trip. it ends on the 26th (per this article: so here’s hoping that means your quick haul home is uneventful.

    that checkerboard gas station picture made me really really happy — something about the colors and the hand painted lettering is a real warm fuzzy.

    sending good fixit vibes that this gets resolved quickly and effectively.


  3. Looking at the King Koin sign is appears that long blanked out sign once read; Launderette. And the small bottom one on the left once read; Wash 20cents and the bottom right read; Dry 10cents. No wonder it is blanked out (luckily is is still faintly visible). Once again, very awesome photos so far on this trip and knock on wood (as I type) all goes well with Sparkle.

    And as far as getting pictures under cloudy skies I always think back to one day a few years back. I was passing through Rushville Indiana and took a a few photos of Buckley’s Riverside Drive-in. A few doors down was an old bakery with a very cool old sign, but a truck was parked near it and a decent photo was not possible. So I decided to shoot it later on in the day on my return back to Cincy. Well the truck was gone, but so was the sign…the truck was part of a sign company there to remove the sign. So I am glad to see any of your photos no matter in what conditions.

    • Re: King Koin. I’m glad there’s someone as obsessed with these signs as I am!
      Re: Sparkle. I think she’s been healed. I sure hope so anyway.
      Re: shooting ’em while you can. Couldn’t agree more. Two times on this trip alone are proof. The Holsum bread ghost sign has been painted over — and Al’s Hamburgers in Green Bay has been gutted by fire (hoping the sign survived at least). I shoot in the grey and even the rain — but I look at the preview screen on my camera and bitch the whole time.

    • Oh! I had no idea I had fiberglass fans here at my blog. I will definitely keep it in mind. Though I really only have two posts to go. Usually, I post the fiberglass stuff over at Flickr (which I’m assuming you’re following as well). The idea of the blog is for “throw-aways” — stuff that’s too far gone, too funky, or doesn’t otherwise fit the categories of my website. The fiberglass stuff is usually all shot with the intention of adding to the website — so I usually don’t feature it at my blog. I’ve shot hundreds of fiberglass statues on this trip though. Hopefully, I’ll get it all up this winter. After I finish with the TX/OK trip — lots of fiberglass still to come from there as well.

  4. Something for me to look forward to seeing this winter. My husband and I have recently become obsessed with roadside/fiberglass statuary…we live in wisconsin….and are talking about doing many small roadtrips aimed at seeing/photographing them. I am very inspired by what you have done!

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