NEON of the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

 photo a blog west header_1.jpgHowdy Friends! Long time no see, you might say! Yes, I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the past year,as my life has experienced many changes, but I am happy to say, all for the best. So I hope to get back in the groove and continue to post images that strike my fancy, or elicit an emotional response, or make a statement, or just plain look beautiful or interesting. As the title of this blog states, this is about that vanishing bit of Americana that I love so well, the neon landscape of this wacky and grand country of ours. So for my return to blogging, I present this bit of dreamscape from a recent trip to Arizona and New Mexico, a brief roadtrip down the “Mother road”, Route 66, and a bit of the vanishing commercial artistry of the local neon signage. photo a blog west12.jpg
We stayed here at the Monterey, clean, friendly, and a bit of time travel back to 1976! photo a blog west9.jpg photo a blog west8.jpg photo a blog west 11.jpg
The late, lamented Aztec Motel- now gone, with only this iconic neon remaining photo a blog west7.jpg
I’m getting a message from Sputnik here! photo a blog west6.jpg
The Dog House, in Albuquerque, New Mexico- great place for a hot dog & milk shake! Look for the sign of the happy, wagging tail!  photo a blog west5.jpg photo a blog west 4.jpg photo a blog west3.jpg photo a blog west2.jpg
The El Don- some of the best neon we saw, but the motel has been sadly neglected photo a blog westv10.jpg
 photo a blog west1.jpg
“AIR CONDITIONED by REFRIGERATION!” What could be better?

ANTIQUED

 photo ablogheaderold.jpg
On our recent visit in a southerly direction, through Winchester, Harrisonburg and Staunton, Virginia, we happened upon various reminders of these town’s genteel and charming pasts. While the usual strip malls, big box stores and detestable chain eateries were very much in evidence, churning out their oh, so regimented and reliably bland totems to mass consumerism, we also encountered the quaint and polite charm of a by-gone era, along with the reminders of the individual American spirit that is so often overlooked today. photo ablogold9.jpg
The Scales of Justice, Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold7.jpg
The DIXIE Theater, Staunton, VA. photo ablogold1.jpg
Home after a hard day’s work, Winchester, VA. photo ablogold5.jpg
George’s, Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold2.jpg
Cleaning up in Winchester, VA. photo ablogold3.jpg
The skies the limit in Staunton, VA. photo ablogold4.jpg
When a car dealership really meant something, in Harrisonburg, VA. photo ablogold6.jpg
Now this is a home worth coming home to!

THE COLO MOTEL

 photo ablogheadercolo.jpg
Out along the Lincoln Highway, about a half an hour’s drive from Ames, is the little crossroads community of Colo, Iowa. On our recent cross country odyssey, in route to Bozeman, Montana, we had the good fortune to stop in at the Colo Motel and Niland’s Cafe. A lovingly restored gas station, bus stop, motor court and Cafe, this oasis stands as a beacon among the corn fields and silos, within earshot of the cross country freights that sing their lonesome songs late into the night. The owners and workers here are friendly, outgoing and treat you with all the care and love that is normally reserved for long lost family. If you’re ever driving across Iowa, pull in, have a milkshake and give yourself a rest before hitting the highway again. You’ll be glad you did!
 photo ablogcolo4.jpg
 photo ablogcol8.jpg
 photo ablogcolo2.jpg
 photo ablogcolo6.jpg
 photo ablogcolo.jpg
 photo ablogcolo7.jpg

HOSPITALITY – SAN FRANCISCO STYLE

This beautiful city has long been known for its fine dining and proximity to some of the finest vineyards in the world. The gorgeous hotels, bed & breakfasts and luxury accommodations make any Michelin reviewer sit up and take notice. On my recent visit, I set out every morning to walk this fair city, and discover for myself, from street level, the many joys that the City by the Bay had to offer in the way of potent comestibles and comfortable lodging. ….and away we go! From the Castro to the Haight, North Beach to the Tenderloin, a gentle walk on the wild side of SF.
 photo ablogsfbooze4.jpg
 photo ablogsfhotels5.jpg
 photo ablogsfbooze3.jpg
<img src="http:// photo ablogsfhotel4.jpg/albums/x381/neondreamscapes/ablogsfhotel4.jpg” border=”0″ alt=” photo ablogsfhotel4.jpg”/>
 photo ablogsfbooze2.jpg
 photo ablogsfhotel3.jpg
 photo ablogsfhotel2.jpg
 photo ablogsfhotel1.jpg
 photo ablogsfbooze1.jpg

MIX & MATCH

Back on the road, this time to beautiful San Francisco! Thousands of images to sort through, but while we wait, let’s match the Bay area greasy spoon to the breakfast standard of bacon & eggs, with a hot cup of Joe!
 photo ablogsfvariations.jpg
The Java House, The Pinecrest Restaurant and It’s Tops! All Tops in my book!

THE ROAD TO MEMPHIS

 photo blogmemphisheader.jpg
Once again, the intrepid traveler and neon explorer has loaded up the trusty Retromobile and set a southwesterly course through Kentucky and on to Tennessee before making my yearly pilgrimage to Princeton and Penningtonfest! As planned, it was a long drive, but one teeming with roadside treasures and surprises galore. My trusty and loyal crew and I were rewarded with new adventures and plenty of bizarre and interesting bits of vanishing small town Americana. …and, of course, plenty of neon, lost commercial ephemera from bygone eras and interesting architecture that the 21st Century has bid a not so fond farewell to in favor of a landscape of homogenized conformity.
 photo blogfinalmemphisgraceland.jpg
What would a trip to Memphis be without a stop to Graceland. Sorry, no published pictures allowed! Elvis, Elvis!
 photo blogmemphis21.jpg
Historic Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis- Beautiful!
 photo blogmemphisneon1.jpg
Some cool neon in Memphis
 photo blogmemphisneon2.jpg
 photo blogmemphis3.jpg
I just LOVED this house- Was formerly a Doctor’s office, now up for sale, but too far from anything to make it practical
 photo blogmemphistheaters1.jpg
Old small town movie theaters
 photo blogmemphis2.jpg
Several generations of wildly diverse roadside architecture in the South
 photo blogmemphis4.jpg
Who knew that rural Tennessee was home to such great Deco design?

NEW JERSEY-THE GARDEN STATE

 photo blogjerseyheader.jpg
It was a gray and dreary day as The Diner Hunter and I set out for an impromptu road trip to the Garden State. Although many folks associate New Jersey with refineries, turnpikes and the likes of someone named Snooki, we chose to view a different version of the Jersey shore, although our journey did ultimately lead us to Seaside Heights, to see the roller coaster and surrounding damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Once off the highway, New Jersey is home to a huge diversity of small towns, scrub pine forests and cranberry bogs. Along the way we saw our usual roadside collection of abandoned buildings, darkened neon and diners. Jersey is the repository of hundreds of diners of every shape and style and we barely made a dent in the list.
 photo blogjersey1.jpg
After breakfast, Wildwood was one of our first stops. A piece of beachfront history suspended in time, every manner of so called “DooWop” motel and retro signage exists here, and their amusement park’s roller coaster rose out of the morning mist like a vision from a bygone era, a hole in the old space/time continuum.
 photo blogjersey2.jpg
If you love vintage style neon, this is THE place to be-
 photo blogredo2.jpg
More retro neon in Wildwood – I need a shower, now!
 photo blogjersey4-1.jpg
 photo blogjersey8.jpg
The Caribbean ( design art from the Library of Congress)
 photo blogjersey3.jpg
This part of New Jersey is also home to re-purposed Muffler Men & all manner of strange creatures from the Land of the Giants- must be all those chemical mutations
 photo blogjersey6.jpg
The most beloved giant of all is Lucy, The Elephant who has made her home in Margate, New Jersey since 1881.
 photo blogextrare-do.jpg
American Roadside architecture at its zaniest- Even the municipal offices are cool