Day 8: Southern Louisiana

In case you noticed, there is no post for Day 7.  That’s because I was totally shut out by rain.  I spent the day grumbling in a hotel in Lafayette, LA.  The dogs didn’t seem to mind.  It was supposed to rain for two or three days but when I woke up on Day 2 and saw the sun, I couldn’t check out fast enough.  Luckily, I parked Sparkle on high ground but there were plenty of other cars wheel well deep in water.  Some clouds slowed me down but I learned to be patient and wait a few minutes, sometimes even an hour.  I don’t shoot in cloudy weather because photos that aren’t lit by the sun just aren’t worth it.  It only means I’d have to go back to reshoot — a waste of time and gas money.

For example, in Abbeville, LA, there was no sun at all — an otherwise nice Rexall sign dull and dreary.  No sunny reflection on the porcelain and a depressing grey sky behind it.  Sad.



Whereas… better weather — this embossed Firestone sign in Franklin, LA assisted by sun and few little perky clouds.  Sorry bout the wire.



But even sun can’t help faded plastic (the woman with the groceries) and the glazed porcelain (a little elbow grease buffing and that red would be gleaming) — this one in Morgan City, LA:



This one in Thibodaux — sometime after 2012, they messed with the bottom of the sign, replacing “BAR” with “Sports Grill” not bothering to paint white letters behind the neon.  I’m sure it originally had a nice detailed border around the edges of the panels.  But, hey, we just gotta be grateful that it’s still hanging.  That rust at the bottom is pretty amazing, isn’t it.  I wouldn’t walk directly under this one.



This one in Houma, LA:


This postcard shows what the original look was when it was the Theriot Pharmacy:



This modern Frostop mug is located in Destrehan, LA.  It’s a long saga covered at my website but I’ll make it brief here.  The owners had a big revolving mug but were not allowed to display it at their new location in a shopping mall when they moved in 2007.  So, the mug remained on the ground, hidden on the side of the building.  The owners tried to sell it on eBay for nearly a year but never got a nibble.  They finally donated it to a prop shop.  So, it’s in storage somewhere.  This new sign went up about four years ago.  And as modern signs go, it’s a good one with the simulated foam and neon lettering and handle.  If you’re curious about Frostop, I’ve got three pages worth of signs and buildings here:


This sign is in LaPlace, LA.  I don’t know what it was originally.  The top panel had been blown out since at least 2010.  Sometime around 2016, the Midway panel was slid in there for a Tom Cruise movie.



Let’s conclude this post with this one from Gonzales, LA at the golden hour:


I’m handling these posts a little differently than I usually do.  I’ve been adding all the photos for each day to my website as I go.  So, the pattern is:  1) some Flickr photos, 2) a blog post here, 3) all the day’s photos to the website and… repeat for each day.  It makes for a little more time between blog posts but it seems a saner way to go about things.
More soon,

dj & the dogs

Day 6: Coastal Texas and into Louisiana

Let’s start with this sweet little museum in Beaumont, TX: the Texas Energy Museum.  The place is loaded with historical info and displays.  There are a few neon signs and vehicles as well:





Here’s the Shark-Man in Galveston.  He’s been there at least a dozen years:


This is the smaller of two shark statues in Galveston.  This one is above Gianni’s Italian Bistro:


Moving on to Opelousas, LA for the next two signs:

If you’re into Rexall signs, I’ve got tons of them at my website here:


Let’s end this post with a giant crawfish in Breaux Bridge, LA at the Crazy Bout Crawfish restaurant.  It appears he is made of scrap metal:



Many more posts to come over the next few weeks.  I’ve been simultaneously putting up a sampling of other photos at Flickr at the same time as every post here:

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Day 5: Texas Coast

This was a crappy day weather-wise.  Some hours where I had to sit and wait for the rain to stop and the clouds to leave.  And then there was a little incident in Houston where I made a driving boo-boo.  I was changing lanes quickly to the left to do a U-turn and did not see the car in my blind spot that was rapidly moving up on my left.  So, a big scraping sound and we both pulled over. Luckily, he had a teensy one-inch scratch on his fender that he said not to worry about.  But when I looked at Sparkle, her entire grille was GONE.  Laying in the street and being run over by rush-hour traffic.  I dodged in there and grabbed it.  Some broken bits but I was able to have a body shop nearby perform magic with zipties and get it secured.  No left turn signal (wires broken) but the headlights worked so I lived with the situation for the rest of the trip.  I was a bit shaken by that and have been ultra careful/paranoid about blind spots since then.  My insurance is high enough after two speeding tickets last year!

Let’s start with this place in Corpus Christi which has some charming decades’ old signs:




Moving on to this flower shop sign in Victoria:


This sign in Victoria is pretty much a miracle.  One of my favorite signs of all time — this one had an animated bow and arrow with flaming arrows that moved across a wire to the roof of the restaurant.  Here’s one of my photos from 2011 — and more photos of what the sign originally looked like & the arrows at my website here:
Then, in 2017, Hurricane Harvey came along and destroyed the top part of the sign with the Indian.  It was bent completely in half and un-repairable.  The owner talked for years about restoring it.  In late 2018, he finally did.  Okay — so there’s no neon but the feel of the old sign is still there and it sure beats nothing or a horrible plastic box version.


A close-up of the new Indian:


One more from today — this place opened in Houston last year with this sign.  It’s sort of a scaled down version of the Portland’s Palms Motor Hotel sign:



Here’s the Portland sign for comparison:


More later today…

dj & the dogs

Day 4: Mid-Texas

The focus today was on San Antonio, Austin & thereabouts.

This sign in San Antonio is protected behind plexiglass:



Ray’s Drive-in in San Antonio has two great neon signs.  The second one is over the restaurant’s roof:




This former Best Western crown sign in Austin is located inside the Holy Roller:



The rest of the signs in this blog post are modern examples in Austin.  I believe the first three were created by Evan Voyles of Neon Jungle.  The others below are modern but probably not his work:






Modern signs at Threadgill’s in Austin:




That’s it for today’s posts.  I’ll be back this weekend with more.  In the meantime, don’t forget that I’m simultaneously posting other photos from this trip (different ones than those here at this blog) at Flickr.  Also, I posted daily at Instagram on this trip (different photos from here or Flickr).


Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 3: Western & Mid-Texas

I spent about three days in the mid-section of Texas for some predetermined stops as I was making my way to the focus of the 30-day trip (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas).  I made it to El Paso to start Day 3.  While there, I got to shoot the Colon Theatre at the right time of day:




Moving on to Ozona, TX for the Hotel Ozona:


The Hotel Clark sign in Van Horn was reworked a little to add the word “Museum” to the bottom.  Here’s what the sign looked like just a few years ago:


The Stango’s Coffee Shop in San Angelo has this sign outside which came from somewhere else.  I’ve seen lots of the scrollwork at the top on signs in California:



Just down the street from Stango’s is the Twisted Root which has some modern built-to-look-old signs outside.  Inside, there are lots of vintage advertising signs but no neon:

This truck stop sign is in Van Horn:




More later…


Back & Settled — Day 2 in AZ

The dogs and I are back from 30 days on the road and more than 12,000 miles.  Sparkle ran like a champ: the only trouble we had were a couple flat tires — that was IT!  Even the AC was there for us every day, all day long.  Temps with highs mostly in the upper 80s & 90s. Weather was mostly great (2 days lost waiting out clouds & rain).

I’ll be squeezing in posts from every day now after work and on weekends.  I’ve got about 4,000 photos to work on for the website (  That’ll be after this sampling — about a dozen photos from each day here at the blog — and a different dozen over at Flickr (

Day 1 was only a half day — right after work scurrying across California.  Only a few photos were taken.

Day 2 was powering through Arizona (and then all the way to Las Cruces at night).  Here are a few photos from then.  Then sun wasn’t up but I took these two photos anyway — in Salome, AZ:



and Wenden, AZ (yes, that’s a saguaro shadow on this one):



A sign-topper at the Gurley St. Sports Pub in Prescott (ugly plastic sign below):

From Phoenix:



Also Phoenix — inside the Hobe’s Meat Market:



I’m pretty sure this is a modern sign — but still fun — in Scottsdale:



On to Casa Grande, AZ to see the new outdoor sign park (lots more photos of these signs at Flickr & my website soon):



From Tucson — a repurposed saguaro sign.  It was Charlie’s Tavern & Grill before this (and painted green).  I think it was originally the Blue Sahuaro Steak House (or at least it was in the early 1970s):


More posts coming up later today!  Happy for a holiday (July 4) since I’m still in recuperation mode and it’s been super busy at work.

dj & the dogs

Just a Tease…

The dogs and I are off on our summer romp.  You won’t be hearing from me until we get home in July.  I’ll have gobs of photos for you then:  a sampling from every day’s shooting.  But in the meantime, if you’d like to tag along with this trip in progress, I’m posting  few photos daily, or nearly that, at Instagram:

Here’s one photo taken on our scoot outta SoCal on Thursday after work — this one from Beaumont, CA:



At the moment, the dogs are I are kicking back in Beeville, TX.  More mid-central TX tomorrow and possibly starting the Louisiana portion of the trip on Tuesday.  Then, there will be Mississippi, Arkansas, and more…  Back with stacks of photos in July!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

S.F. Bay Area Roadtrip

I had a couple of days to shoot before the big SFSpeaks Neon Symposium event this weekend in San Francisco.  Three action-packed days of speakers, sign-lovers, sign-restorers, films, walking tours, displays… start making plans for next year!  I assume it will be at the end of April like it has been the past two years.  If you love signs even a little bit… this thing is fantastic:

I was one of the speakers and, as requested, I gave a presentation on Roto-Spheres and Sputnik Signs.  I have three pages at my website that cover these signs here:

I didn’t take photos during the event since I was pretty busy talking with folks, signing books, etc. and there were three designated photographers for the event already.  There are lots of photos at Facebook here:

Here’s a sampling of some photos I took on Wednesday and Thursday.   It was too early and there was barely any sun but I shot this liquor store sign in Fillmore anyway:



A couple signs from Bakersfield:



This one will be going to the Kern County Museum in Bakersfield where it will be restored and displayed in their outdoor sign garden:



From Wallace:



From San Jose:

From Oakland:



A “skeleton sign” (window sign) from Palo Alto:



A couple of signs from San Leandro — the Three Rings Wines & Spirits:


and the Cordial Bottle Shop:

Since I was there on a weekday when they were open, I finally got to see the signs at CNI Signs in Fresno.  Here are just some of them:










If you’re into Foster’s Freeze signs, I’ve got a couple of pages devoted to them here:


I also checked out some of the new signs (on the right) at the Big Fresno Fair’s growing sign collection:



A former Shakey’s Pizza Parlor sign in Visalia:



From Sacramento — this Orbit gas station was repainted a couple of years ago (previously white) but I was there too late in the day for good photos.  More Orbit stations here:


Also Sacramento but shaded by a new building going up across the street:



From Tracy:



From Lodi:



From Healdsburg:



A couple of signs from San Francisco:




Actually, it turns out that I did take a few photos at SFSpeaks before I got caught up in the whole situation:




Some other photos from this trip over at Flickr here:

And now, I’ll get down to business to prepare and add the dozens of other photos for
my website.
Sparkle ran great:  1,500 more miles under her belt on this trip.   I’ll get her checked out by my mechanic in the middle of May and then… it’s off to the South for the month of June.  The next posts in July will be a sampling of each day’s photos from that trip once it’s over.  I will be posting to Instagram every day or two on this trip.

Happy Trails,

dj & the road-trippin’ dogs

L.A. & O.C. Road Test

I had some work done on Sparkle (tune-up, etc.) and wanted to get her on the road to check everything out.  500+ miles of solid driving around Los Angeles & Orange County and I’m happy to report she is A-OK.  I’ve got about 160 photos to add to the website — and a couple dozen here for the blog.  Rather than break them up into my standard post-per-day, I’ll just do one jumbo post.

Surely, this sign at Hart’s Jewelers & Pawn in Van Nuys had much nicer panels before this kooky paint.  But it’s still nice:

The Panorama Theatre in Panorama City — now a church but the sign lives:



I finally got to the Gordon R. Howard Museum in Burbank to see a few things.  They have the “other” Don’s Coffee Shop sign (I think I posted the other one a few weeks ago here that’s at the Valley Relics Museum:


They also have some fun statues — a Bob:


A Harbie — other Harbies & their history here:


And a cool snarly boxer:



The Highland Park Bowl in Los Angeles (Highland Park neighborhood) has kind of a crappy modern-looking sign but the bowling pin/ball are fun.  I really wish I’d gone inside — my GOD!



A nice rusty/crusty in Highland Park:



I shot this sign in downtown L.A. for my pal, Heather David, who unearthed this advertisement of what the sign looked like originally:




Some more downtown L.A. shots — the Roxie Theatre:



The Cameo Theatre:



The former Arcade Theatre — now more of a pigeon perch.  But there is hope since many downtown signs are being restored in recent years:



I’m always relieved to see that this sign is still there:



At the Hotel Bristol, I think:



More L.A. stuff — plastic fantastic:



One of my fave L.A. signs.  I pray they leave it alone — it’s the patina that makes it — the blue, the rusty golden brown, the sweet shape…


Just down the street — the Gilbert Hotel:



The Talpa Restaurant — L.A. but nearly Santa Monica:



Long Beach — I must have driven by this sign a hundred times over the years and then just noticed it.  It’s on the side of a building that now houses a massage parlor:



It got cloudy for a bit, as you can see from this photo, but most of the weekend was glorious weather.  This one in Hawthorne:



More Los Angeles.  The protective metal mesh kind of adds something, doncha think?



What the HELL?  This rooftop sign got crushed and I have no idea how:


Here’s that the sign looked like just last year.  What could do that?  A combo of wind and rust?



Pretty sun shadows and zigzag edges.   We may never know the original color or wording:



It looks like Maria’s gave way to El Pollon.  I love the “this-is-it!” arrow:



And lastly, Party Snacks Liquor in Whittier:



That’s a wrap but I’ll be back with another post soon from Central & Northern California.  I’ll be heading to San Francisco at the end of the month for the NeonSpeaks three-day festival (and sneaking in a day or two of photos before that).  If you love signs and you can stir up the time and cash, you NEED to go.  I’ve been asked to speak about Sputnik signs and Roto-Spheres.  I hope you can make it!

Until then — more photos over at Flickr from this weekend’s trip:

Happy Trails,
dj & the dogs

Signs Updates – final post!!

Let’s pick it up then with the “U” states.  I promise to end with a little happy news at the end.

Lots of losses in UTAH in the past year or so.  This one in Cedar City, UT is gone.  Replaced with another rectangular plastic box for the M Star Hotel.


This rusty-crusty in Duchesne, UT is gone now:


This one in Kanab, UT — gone now:


This one in Kanab, UT — gone now:


This one in Midvale, UT — gone:


This one in Ogden, UT — gone:


Another one in Ogden, UT that’s gone:


WASHINGTON.  This cutie in Renton, WA — gone:


This one in Tacoma, WA — gone:


This one in Seattle, WA — gone now:


The neon on this sign in Spokane, WA:

replaced with backlit plastic:



WISCONSIN.  This sign in Baraboo, WI:

looks like this now.


This sign in Beloit, WI is gone now:


This sign in Madison, WI is gone now:


This rooftop sign in Medford, WI was replaced with a backlit plastic box pole sign:


This place in Tomah, WI closed and was demolished.  These signs are gone:


WEST VIRGINIA.  This one in Beckley, WV is gone now:


This Masonic Lodge sign in Parkersburg, WV is gone now:


WYOMING.  This sign in Cheyenne, WY is gone:


This sign in Gillette, WY is a plastic box sign now:


This giant neon tomahawk in Riverton, WY is gone now.  It was at the Tomahawk Motor Lodge:


And now, as promised, some GOOD NEWS!


The Lew Rents sign in Olympia, WA:

recently got new paint and the neon appears to be intact (although it’s hard to see it at Google Street View):



The Turf Motel in Charles Town, WV:

recently became a Rodeway Inn but, shockingly, the neon is still there and looks lit — and they only messed with one panel:



The Holiday Lodge in Lander, WY:

did some remodeling and added log-like paneling — but spared the sign on the side of the building:




I’m writing about these next two signs for my next SCA Road Notes “Sign Snippets” column:

This sign in Yakima, WA is being completely restored — back to the original colors:


This sign in Springfield, IL is also being restored:


And the last bit of good news from Iron Mountain, MI.  This Norge Ball is in good hands.  Technically, this is a Norgetown sign — more about all that here at my two pages here:

Of the thousand(s) of these Norge “globe signs” (what the company actually called them) that were built, this is the ONLY ONE that is currently lit and spinning.  When I saw at Google Maps that it was no longer a laundromat but a pawn shop, I immediately picked up the phone to get the scoop.  It turns out that the owner really likes the sign and doesn’t want to sell it.  He’s keeping it lit and spinning and will probably replace the middle band with the name of his pawn shop (“some day”).   I’m hoping he forgets about that since I think that “Laundromat” band is original.  But, hey, since there are only about 50 of these signs in decent or semi-decent shape, that’s a small thing if we can keep this ONE example operational.


So, that wraps up this winter series of downer posts.  My entire website is as current as it can be for the moment.  I can now forge ahead towards planning the big June trip (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, & Oklahoma).  I’ll also take a few little California trips before that with posts of things that miraculously still survive!

Until then, check out your favorite categories at my website via the Home Page (or use that white keyword searchbox).  If you’re the anal type, there’s also the Site Map.

If you are into signs and you can find a way, you don’t want to miss the three-day Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium at the end of April in San Francisco.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs