Day 38 & 39: That’s a Wrap: Cincinnati… and home at last

I got some gorgeous sun and clouds for the last day of the trip.  The morning was spent boogie-ing around Cincinnati for some reshoots and things I hadn’t known about on previous trips.  Then, it was off to the American Sign Museum for the second event:  the “Sneak Preview” fundraiser for the museum.  For those of you that couldn’t make it, the ASM will be officially opening on June 23 with regularly staffed hours.  Don’t balk at the $15 admissions charge — it’s far cheaper than an amusement park and so, SO more exciting.  This place is fan-tas-tic and deserves your support.  I guarantee you will learn so much about signs and their history from your tour guide.  And you will have a blast.  Go!

After the museum, I hit the highway.  I drove til around midnight then pulled into a truck stop interstate plaza and slept for about five hours.  Back on the road and got home around noon.  Which is great since it gives me most of the day to repair my life.  Much better than my Monday morning arrivals where I have to drag myself into work that very night.  Before moving on to the final photos, here are the numbers for those of you that like that sort of thing.

Trip stats:

Days on the road:  39

Miles driven:  15,712 (Sparkle now has 318,606 miles on her)

Cost of gas:  ~$3710 (I never keep track of motels or food)

Maintenance and repairs while on the road:
~ $1200:  five oil changes, four new tires & an alignment (two more were free)
~ $5500:  the accident & later replacing brake fluid reservoir & master cylinder which we damaged in accident
~ $1100:  A/C work
~ $700 purge valve & spark plug wires
Total $8,500
Plus ~$275 for cash advances for Silver City & Tucson repairs (no credit cards)

Tickets:  None!!  Except for the red light ticket from the accident from the heartless & diligent Silver City cops for $92.   And a parking ticket in St. Louis for $35

Number of photos taken:  6,011
553 photos appeared at this blog.  Another 492 photos were uploaded to the Flickr agilitynut account.
And more than 5,000 of the photos will appear at the website eventually.  I will barely make a dent before the next trip.  But you will be able to follow my project at the “What’s New” page:

If you haven’t been following along at the Flickr account, you’ve missed out on a LOT of this trip:

or this trip has its own set, if that’s your preferred viewing method:


“Value” of this trip:  Priceless!   While I spent a lot of time in the shop and had some grey days, I’d say 90% of the time was awesome.  The dogs would say it was 99% awesome (the other 1% being when they got stickers stuck in their paws in the desert).  Besides all the amazing buildings, signs and statues, I have many doggie moments that will stay with me always.  Seeing them happy makes me ecstatic.

One little event that I didn’t tell you about which I shall remember forever.  In Gila Bend, at dusk, I was letting the dogs have one last run for the day.  A big open area of sand and some desert version of shrubs.  Grem, who’s been very good all trip, went missing.  I was calling and calling and starting to panic.  Fearing she’d be eaten by a coyote or some other animal if out there overnight.  I noticed lots of holes in the ground and the thought of rattlesnakes crossed my mind.  I put the other kids in the van and started calling her name more crazily.  Freaking.  I knew there was the possibility that she was off digging somewhere for some underground rodent-like animal.  In the past, she would never leave such a challenge.  But after about 10 minutes, here she came a-running, from the direction I wasn’t looking.  All panting and covered with dirt and the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on a dog.  Who knows.  I just gave her about a half a pound of cheese for coming back.



On with the photos —


Some really nice stained glass:


A “sign” that it’s time to go home?


A sign with everything:  corrugated plastic, plastic letters, a neon and bulb arrow:


A lot of fun details:

And the restaurant has yellow porcelain enamel roof tiles — plus a chicken topped weather vane.  I wonder how many restaurants claim to have the “world’s best fried chicken”?


Back to Terry’s Turf Club for some daytime shooting.  I don’t know of any Jerry’s Restaurant signs that are left on display (except this one).  I believe they all used to be part of a much larger sign:


Inside Terry’s, there are two or three of these (functioning!) Bevador coolers:


Off to the museum.  They had changed the letters on the message board of the sign at the entrance to the parking lot for the event:


Another sign in the parking lot:


Inside — another shot of a “Main Street” storefront:


A detail shot of a textured glass backlit letter:


While at the museum, I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Jensen, the author of Road Trip USA (now in its 6th edition).  He was truly a lot of fun.  If you don’t have his book, you might want to grab a copy.  It is DENSE with all kinds of subjects, photos, details — a must-have for all you roadside lovers:


And then… home.   The approach to NYC via the Lincoln Tunnel from NJ — a rarity without traffic.  I always associate this approach with the smell of gasoline.  My first trip to NYC in 1980 with a girlfriend and we had stopped in NJ to get gas.  I started to fill up and the pump handle came off in my hand.  Gas exploded out of the hose everywhere and I was drenched.  The guy ran out of the office all cursing at me.  I didn’t know you couldn’t pump your own in NJ.  So I guess that pump was out of order without a sign.  I didn’t get to shower for a couple hours and luckily no one around me lit any matches.


I try to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel since it has more traffic on the West Side Highway to Brooklyn — and a longer view of the Hudson River.  But I got in the wrong lane and, oh well.  This is just before Nik and Grem started screaming at the top of their lungs and embarrassing the hell out of me.  I thought you might like the taxis in the mirror:


Meanwhile, Fix knew from the aroma that we were home.  “Thank God!” she would’ve said.  She likes these trips okay — but I think she’d prefer to stay home where there’s more interaction with people, grass, and no hail.  And you sleep in the same bed every night.  And meanwhile, Grip slept in my lap through our entire arrival, even with the barking.  She was exhausted.


While stuck in West Side traffic, I got a view of the progress that’s been made on the new World Trade Center.  I can’t believe how long it’s taken — but lately the progress has been quick.


And then out for a quick stroll around our neighborhood.  When we left, this fountain on the circle next to our building was still off and people were wearing winter coats.  I had forgotten that it would be summer when we got home.   Funny, how that happened.


When’s the Next One?

The dogs and I will be hitting the road again in a mere six and half weeks.  The focus of this trip will be Colorado and Wyoming.  There will be some Utah and probably Montana in there.  As well as other states en route.  This will be another five-weeker.  37 days, starting on July 21 if you want to mark your calendars.  After that trip, I’ll be buckling down, working on adding about 10,000 photos to the website — while working at my “real job” probably six and seven days a week to pay for these trips.  If you still want to donate to the Sparkle Repair Fund (not too late) or just make a general donation to my efforts — that’s always greatly appreciated.  There’s a “Feed Sparkle” button on the upper right of my webpages — which takes you here:
Or you can just go to PayPal and send whatever amount you want to the account.

I hope you enjoyed tagging along on this trip and are inspired to get to some of these places or others before they disappear.  See ’em and shoot ’em while you can folks!  It may seem from my blog, Flickr stream, and website that there’s a lot of stuff out there.  But that’s only because I plan my stops and route like a maniac so I can shoot the most stuff possible.  Some of the stuff is usually gone just a year later — sometimes, even before I get home.

See you here again in a few weeks!

21 thoughts on “Day 38 & 39: That’s a Wrap: Cincinnati… and home at last

  1. So glad to hear you arrived home safely! I got bogged down this weekend with a migraine, so it was the best thing that I didn’t make the trip for the big grand opening of the Sign Museum. Glad you got to meet some fellow Road Bloggers too! Take care and we’ll be looking forward to your next adventure 🙂

  2. Welcome home Debra Jane!

    love the nyc pictures — especially the dogs lined up in front of the fountain.

    glad you made such good time! see you tomorrow!



      • I hope your RSS/reader thingie brings in the posts with the black background. I saw it with only the white background and it just wasn’t the same experience.

        Yeah, work was rough last night. I’m treating myself to this first Saturday off to ease myself in.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you this happy to be home! Despite the car repairs, you had a great trip. Ahead of schedule almost the whole time. It was nice not to worry about you racing down the interstate to cover the last 1200 miles during a blizzard or hurricane to get home.

    I love your roadside photos; amazed at how much you’ve seen and photographed over the past few years. I wish we had been in college together in the early 70s. If I had had a friend like you, we would have put many more miles on my Oldsmobile. Can you imagine all the neon signs and great deco buildings we could have photographed back in the day? (Oh, we better not dwell on that!)

    Your photos of today make the world look as I remember it 40 years ago. As I recall, it was getting a bit rusty and crusty even then! Thank you for documenting all these kooky things before they disappear altogether. I do so admire your passion for your quest.

    All the best to you and the pups as you settle back into the home routine. I’ve marked my calendar and reserved a cyber-seat in the van for your July 21 trip!

    • Yes, it really is good to be home. 39 feels much longer than 37 for some reason. And this was a crazy busy trip — with too many suspenseful moments and an ever-climbing credit card balance.

      I’m flattered that you like my photos since I greatly admire yours. Looking forward to your company in July. Your front seat is reserved — but you’ll have Fixie in your lap the whole time.

    • I’m glad the accident happened on Day 16 and gave me plenty of time to regain my confidence and have all those glorious days of sun to shoot. The bad parts of the trip were far outnumbered by the good ones. Something that might not have come across in the blog posts because of the editing/compression of days into little bits at a time. I’m delighting to be back around green trees, green grass everywhere — but I’m missing those easily accessible & yummy burritos.

    • It’s gonna take me awhile. With this trip and the next, it’ll probably take me all year. Since I’ve gotten better with time at planning these trips, I come with even more photos. Which is great — but takes me even longer to complete the task of adding things.

      Thanks for all your compliments and support along the way during this roller coaster trip!

  4. I was doing some rough calculations on 6000 photos, and the best I can come up with is you shot about a terabyte worth of photos. I’m real curious how you manage that storage on the road, and how you manage it, and the backups, at home, where that total is gotta be multiple terabytes!

    • OK — I’ll do my best to answer that. I shoot JPGs not TIFFs. I travel with three 8 GB cards. I have never filled them up in one trip. If I ever did, I guess I could just pop into an electronics store and buy another one.

      I’m terrified of losing photos — had an unfortunate experience once where I lost some photos when a card died. I had to pay several thousand dollars to recover them at a fancy Apple store here in NYC. I had lost about 100 but recovered all but about a dozen.

      So, on the road, my files are saved in three places. Each night, I transfer that day’s photos to my laptop. Then about once a week, I also save all the photos to an external hard drive. So all the photos are on the memory cards, the hard drive and the laptop. When I get home, I copy all the photos to a second external hard drive. As I work on the photos and add them to my website, I delete them from my laptop. Then before the next trip, I reformat the cards. So all my photos are saved to two hard drives. If one dies, there’s always the other one. I’ve considered getting a third one just in case two die at the same time (god forbid!).

  5. Thanks for a great trip, looking forward to the next one. I’ve been missing the gas station burritos!

    • You’re very welcome! Thanks for your enthusiasm. Maybe they’ll have GS burritos in southern Colorado? I’ll be on the look-out! I’ve thought of them a lot since I’ve been home.

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