West Virginia Wrap-Up

OK — some sleep and back to the routine.  For the stat-minded, here’s a breakdown from this mini WV trip:  four days — 2,414 miles — maybe one-third of that death-defying hairpin turns in the mountains.  $591 on gas.  I never keep track of food & hotel costs.  About 600 photos — 98% of them for the website, the other 2% appeared here at the blog.

I took Sparkle directly to my mechanic.  The code was something like a mass intake something or other.  The exact name has fallen out of my brain.  But basically, something to do with mixing gas and air.  Also need some oil line something or others (I noticed a few drops of oil leaking once in a while) and a couple of engine mounts (I noticed a little vibration at stops).  So, about $1400 or so.  But I intend to keep Sparkle going for at least a couple more years.  My mechanic says everything else looks perfect — engine, transmission, all the big pieces (and the little ones).


Back to the trip — day 4 started in Gilbert.  Here’s a geodesic dome church from there.  The Promise Christian Fellowship and foggy mountains:


The sun, ever so briefly, and a former Burger Chef in Kenova.  Now a Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs.  More about the Burger Chef chain if you’re interested:


From Huntington — Wright’s Men’s Store — still in business:


From Milton — the Blenko Glass Visitor Center, built in 1966.  I didn’t have time to check out the museum inside.  Incredible glass pieces and you can watch them being produced.  The video on the lower left at this page shows a bit of that:


Also in Huntington — I love these big Sunoco signs….

… this station also had an unusual concrete building.  Never seen one like this before.  Some of it might be updated (the pushed-out window on the left; maybe the brick glass) but I’m still intrigued by it:


The light ran out in Parkersburg.  Here’s a nice Masonic Temple sign to close out the batch:


And so, back to life here in the Big City.  Here’s the view of Manhattan from my gym next door to my apartment.  Lots of sun here today just to torture me about the grey I had on my trip.  Some of you might spot the Chrysler Building, the Citicorp Center Building (now Citigroup), and the Williamsburg Bridge if you click to the larger view:


The next “real” trip starts in just over four weeks:  April 26 – June 1.  The dogs and I will be taking on west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona — with some stops in other states to & from.  As usual, I’ll be blogging and posting to Flickr nightly.  So I hope you’ll enjoy tagging along.

In case you missed them, I posted a handful of photos each night during this trip over at Flickr:

Or, if you just discovered this blog, you might want to check out my website which is the reason for all these obsessive trips:

Wet and Wonderful – day 3

Today was a rough one — but worth sticking it out through the gloominess and downpours.  I’m glad I didn’t bail for home.  The day began with alternating rain and fog and clouds.  So if grey is your favorite color, you’re going to love this post.

I was inspired by primemover88’s photo from 1991… http://www.flickr.com/photos/10520947@N08/3997877249/ … to see if the building still existed.  I came close to not going since Rainelle was so far into nowhere and not leading me to other things on my list.  But I figured the pouring rain… and Rainelle… it was meant to be.

Sure enough, the building was still there:

Just as I finished taking photos, the owner popped outside to see what I was up to.  He showed me this old postcard which was taken around the time the station was built (circa 1937):

Note the tower and detail above the door that were gone by the time of primemover’s photo.  The owner told me stories of the lunch room (on the right behind the pumps) — and just out of the frame at right – a bus station building that’s gone now.  He said that there were heated underground pipes that extended over the whole lot in front of the station that kept it free from snow.  The building is for sale now and I’m really hoping it finds a use soon.

Here’s a fun one from Alderson.  In case you don’t instantly know what that “sculpture” is…

… Stuart’s other sign should help you:

A distressed Deco building in Ronceverte:

The Beer and Eat Tavern in Lewisburg:

Time for a break from all this roadside overload?


A pitstop in the Monongahela National Forest.  If you haven’t been introduced before — here are my four roadies, left to right:  Fix, Gremlin, Sputnik & Gripper.  Yes, there a huge part of every roadtrip.

A few outtakes which more accurately show their distinct personalities.  Fix is always ready for a nap and Grem always ready for a hunt:

Nik is the wacko; Grip is the wise old owl.  Grip’s faraway look is because she’s blind — and listening to my every word:


Nik is addicted to running and balls.  Here he’s doing laps while Sparkle airs out:


Grip has been overly rewarded (treats) for her jumping trick.  Seems every time I turn around, there she is boing-ing away.  And of course, I have to reward some more.


Here Grem is digging her way to China in search of some critter beneath the ground.  Which is far better than trying to run away to China (too many heart-stopping episodes on earlier roadtrips that some of you may recall):


and Fixie waiting for us in the van.  “It’s cold and damp — I’ll just wait right here.  You guys go ahead.”


In the afternoon, the skies turned blue.  But of course, deep in the mountains, I was near nothing photo-worthy for a couple of hours.  And by the time I got to my “subjects”, there wasn’t much daylight left.  I have no idea about tomorrow’s weather.  What does 50% chance of rain mean?  It means they haven’t a clue.

More dreariness.  From Northfork — the Algoma Coal and Coke Company Store from the 1940s.  Later a health clinic, but now abandoned.  On the National Register… but not looking good.


And so, the other downer of the day.  In the late afternoon, Sparkle’s “check engine” light came on.  Well, that’s why I’m doing this test trip — to work out any kinks, right?  The blood drained from my body since I was deep in the mountains.  But 98% of West Virginia seems to be deep in the mountains and nowhere.  Nothing I could do but hold my breath.  After about an hour, I reached civilization.  But civilization does you no good when it’s 4pm on a Saturday and there are no mechanics open.  And I didn’t notice any Sears or Firestones or those other handy weekend alternatives anywhere.  What can you do, but just keep a-going.

And just what does “check engine soon” mean — like in the next ten minutes — or like next week sometime?

But everything seems absolutely fine and normal.  No change in sound, feel, power – nothing.  Temperature gauge normal.  I checked the oil — perfectly fine.  So I’ve driven for several hundred miles and maybe four hours now — nothing.  I’m thinking it could be what happened before:  bad gas (I have a full tank) — or some false alarm thing.  I’ll be on the lookout for a garage of any sort tomorrow.  Surely, Huntington must have a Firestone-y place open (off to Google search after this blog post) on a Sunday, maybe.  Or else I’ll just have to grip that steering wheel and drive us back to Brooklyn with that damned light staring at me tomorrow night.

Which brings us to the end-of-trip reminder.  Since I’ll be interstate-ing it back to NYC after tomorrow’s shooting, I won’t be uploading/posting to Flickr or the blog until I get home on Monday.  Or more likely Tuesday.  I’ll shoot a quickie post on Monday morning just to let you know that we survived whatever mechanical crap has developed and have landed safely back home.

Let’s close with this sign which is appropriately what I need right now after a full day of gloomy skies and car-stress.  I’ll give you two versions since I’ve exhausted my decision-making skills for the day.  I’m usually a tight cropper — but you all would probably prefer #2 which is more in context.  Nighty-night…

Wild and Wonderful — part 2

Another great day in the under-rated state of West Virginia.  Many hours of pure driving between cities & shooting.  And I fear this might be the last I see of the sun.  Weather forecasts for the whole state are non-stop rain, hour after hour, for the entire weekend.  Uh oh.  It’s raining as I write this at 11pm.  So…  I might be heading back to Brooklyn early if that’s how it seems in the morning.  Maybe I’ll give it a few hours at least before hitting the interstate.

Highs in the upper 80s — so much for spring.  I found lots of water for the dogs to play in.  Fast moving rivers so I carefully choose the shallowest and safest spots.   I haven’t turned the A/C on yet.  Partly worried that there will be something wrong with it (again) and partly just trying to give hard-working Sparkle some slack.  I’ll have to test that A/C though before venturing off to the Southwest next month.

Let’s start with Webster Springs.  No restaurant, no hotel… but there’s still this sign:



From Cowen — this place is now known as the Hilltop Diner.  I’m glad they left the sign alone:



It was a big day for vitrolite (i.e., glass tile facades).  This storefront in Richwood.  The glass reflects the blooming tree across the street.  The sad sign in the window was a “thanks loyal customers for many years…” sort of thing and identified this as a former J.C. Penney store.



On to Charleston where I spent a good chunk of the day.  The clouds rolled in around 3pm but at least I got a lot done before that.

I’m happy to report that this place is still in business:



On to one of my fave places in town — yepper not only vitrolite exterior…



… but loads more inside.  This entire menu board-y structure — all faced with the stuff:



Terrazzo floor — with this lone bulls-eye detail in roughly the center of the room:



Around the corner on a side street, more shiny glass — cream (flesh?) and black; and to the left — black & white:



Another favorite stop when I’m in town — the Peanut Shoppe — a former Planters Peanut store.  A great little video about the place:


The peanut roaster (still in use):



And my bag ‘o Mixed Nuts — sold to me by “Debbie” in the video —



I’ve got a bunch of Planters Peanut shops at this page if you’re interested:


Let’s move on to Beckley where I’m calling it a night.


And the not-to-be-missed King Tut Drive-in — which I’m happy to report was jammed full of customers:



And the perfect opportunity for some food porn.  I’ve been such a good girl — for the past month, 100% salads and fruit.  No sugar and no processed nothing.  Time to indulge!  This is King Tut’s banana cream pie.  All the pies made fresh daily (or so says the sign).  It looks huge in this photo but really it wasn’t all that big — but unreal good:



OK then  — let’s see what the weather gods give us tomorrow.


And don’t forget my faithful blog-followers, there’s more photos from today over at the Flickr stream:


Testing, testing… in West Virginia

Hey there!!  How have you all been?

The dogs and I have been prisoners of The City for five long months.  Time to get out & make sure all is well with Sparkle (the van) and Dee (the camera) before we head off on a 39-day trip to NM & AZ at the end of April.

So.  West Virginia has been on my list of Most Neglected States for a while now.  I’ve shot some stuff here before — but not in a long time and not in any major way.  I only have four days before I have to get back to work.  And I hear that the weather may turn nasty/rainy on Saturday & Sunday.  Which might send me home early.   But let’s make the most of what of it.

The statues in the photo above are probably immediately recognizable to most of you roadside fans.  They are installed next to Roadside America in Shartlesville, PA — and wave to motorists on I-78.  It was foggy and just barely light enough to shoot them this morning.

As usual on these trips, I got off work at 2am and hit the road at 3am.  Only two hours of sleep at a closed gas station in PA — determined to get to WV when the sun came out.  So I won’t be writing any memorable prose tonight.  Got through today on adrenaline and Sheetz coffee — tomorrow night’s when I’ll really feel the pain.

Before we dive into some of today’s photos, let me start with the usual notes for the newbies on the bus.  All the photos here at my blog are “clickable” (when you click on the them, you get a larger photo).  I post nightly during these roadtrips to both Flickr (the agilitynut account) & this blog — different photos in both places.   After cropping & tweaking some selected photos, I post to Flickr first (usually 10pm or so) and then start working on the blog (usually posting after midnight — or if I pass out, the following morning.

On to today… Foggy and grey this morning and then lots of sun.  And heat — 87 degrees or so according to the bank clocks I saw.  Loads of spring flowers and trees in bloom — white, yellow, pink purple.  Don’t blink — this is gonna be a quickie spring it seems — after the Winter That Wasn’t (thank god).

OK then — on with the show.   A few shots from Martinsburg, WV:

At first glance, I thought this might have been a former Fotomat — but the roof is wrong — and the building seems narrower to me:

So, I don’t know if this was a rival photo developing place or something else.  Just maybe always a hot dog place — the letters seem funky and old enough:

A two-fer:  a former gas station and a giant crab:

I don’t know what the deal is — this firefighter statue stands in front of a Goodyear Tire store in Charles Town:

The Hayfield Motel (in Hayfield, VA) —

The rooms have individual parking bays.  Perhaps, there were originally garage doors.  The roofline is a neat feature (click to enlarge):

From Shanks — this Coke sign is abandoned — no business at all below it.  Just overgrown weeds & trees —  and a ditch I almost fell in trying to get this shot.

From Moorefield — Puffenberger’s (!) Jewelry.  The sunny side of the sign looked nicer — but that clock didn’t have hands like this side:

On to Seneca Rocks — a nice painted wood sign of an Indian Maiden.  At the Indian Village Campground — which is part of Yokum’s Vacationland:

And lastly — in Franklin (I think) — a couple of most-likely rentable cottages — now appearing to be full-time residences.  No smaller than my NYC apartment — I could easily live here but would like a bit more acreage for the dogs to run.

That’s it for tonight — lights out.  Hopefully, more sun tomorrow.  On the agenda:  Charleston, more mountain cities and southern WV.  Til then…