Posts tagged Neon

March 1-3, 2013: Grease is the Word!


Overview Map

The following map was created using the Trimble Outdoors Navigator app for my iPhone. For an interactive version of the map or to see a closeup of the route, click the “Bigger Map” link.


We wanted to get away for the weekend to relax from the strain of several circumstances as of late. Between work, family concerns, household projects, due to lack of time, we haven’t allowed ourselves a road trip for a while and we were long overdue! We just had a few days, so we couldn’t travel too far and we kicked around several possibilities. Looking at the map, I suggested that we continue following the Great River Road, south from St. Louis. We had previously followed it from Minnesota, along Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as some in Illinois north of St. Louis. So, we thought we’d take it south from St. Louis and see if we could reach Memphis and partake in hamburgers from Dyer’s Burgers. We saw Dyer’s featured on the Travel Channel’s show “Food Paradise,” on the “Deep Fried” episode. Dyer’s features hamburgers deep fried in oil, but what makes them unique is the fact that there oil is never completely discarded, only strained and added to. Therefore, Dyer’s claim to fame is that the grease/oil contains 100+- year old grease molecules. Grease is most certainly the word!

Friday, March 1, 2013: Indianapolis, Indiana to Olney, Illinois

We started our journey on Friday afternoon from the east side of Indianapolis, after having a late lunch/early dinner at Edward’s Drive-In. We cruised the Evil-I for a while, and took US 40 west from the west side of Indy. We turned south on US 231. We took a little stretch of the new I-69 until we reached US 50. We took US 50, until we reached Olney, Illinois. We stayed at a mom & pop called the Traveler’s Inn Motel, which had definitely seen better days. The thermostat didn’t work, and it felt like 1000 degrees in there. We opened the door and window for a while, but the relief was short-lived. Pat ended up turning the wall AC on. The room had an odd configuration, there was another door in the room, which I assumed had another door on the other side (adjoining rooms, but that have locked doors between them). But actually, the door only locked on our side! We were a little confused, and assumed that room had to be ours or else anyone could just enter the other room! It was cooler in there too, but we opted to stay in our part in case we were wrong. We went to the other side in the morning, and found that its outside door had no number, so we knew it had to have been our room as well. It had two double beds and a kitchenette. Still, not the best of places, but serviceable.

Saturday, March 2, 2013: Olney, Illinois to Holly Springs, Mississippi

Before heading out early, we luckily had the benefit of early light due to central time. As Olney was the “Home of the Albino Squirrels” we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a peek at one if possible! But first, I needed coffee, so we stopped at a cute little coffee shop in town, called Ophelia’s Cup. Great cup of coffee!! Pat got a hot chocolate, and we were off in search of albino squirrels.

A quick search revealed that the albino squirrels mainly resided in Olney City Park, so off we went. We slowly cruised through the park, and spotted many run of the mill squirrels, but none of the albino variety. We started to think we had a better shot at spotting Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or a unicorn when we neared the end of the park. Then suddenly I saw, frolicking with the “lesser” squirrels, was a pure white squirrel! My camera was set to a slow shutter speed and I didn’t have my zoom lens on, of course, so this was the best I could do:

Albino Squirrel - Olney, Illinois

We continued our southwesterly trek until we reached the Great River Road in Chester, Illinois. To our surprise and delight, Chester was home to Popeye the Sailor Man! How cool is that? Chester is the hometown of Popeye’s creator, cartoonist E. C. Segar. We came upon a park with some murals and statues, and found that there is a statue trail for the various characters. next to the park was a Popeye store and museum called Spinach Can Collectibles – very cool shop with TONS of Popeye collectibles and memorabilia. We debated about getting our grandson a Popeye doll, but at 2 and totally unfamiliar with the cartoon, I didn’t think he’d appreciate it. Instead, Pat picked up a Popeye magnet and I opted for a DVD of the 1980 movie, “Popeye” starring Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl. That was a favorite of mine and my dad’s, so I had to get it.

We saw the Olive Oyl statue, then proceeded to head down by the Mississippi River, where the 6 ft. tall bronze statue of Popeye was stationed. Here is Pat posing with Popeye:

Pat with Popeye Statue, Chester, Illinois

We continued down the Great River Road, and could have kept the slower pace we enjoy, but ultimately we decided that we really wanted to have the burgers at Dyer’s in Memphis and we would not make it without unfortunately, taking the Evil-I!

We picked up I-55, and journeyed south toward Memphis, destination: Beale Street. The area was fairly easy to navigate, though we didn’t find any street parking, so we opted to park in a garage close to Beale Street. We made the short walk to Dyer’s Burgers and were entranced with the abundance of cool neon! But first thing was our grease fix. We each ordered single burgers, and I selected French fries with mine while Pat decided on onion rings.

Dyer's Burgers - Beale Street, Memphis, TN

The burgers were pretty good though we have had better, flavor-wise. Being deep fried certainly made them moist and I did enjoy the fries a lot! We decided we had just enough room to split a dessert, a deep fried peanut butter & jelly sandwich (a Smuckers Crustable).

After satisfying our stomachs, we went out to satisfy my need to use my new Sony NEX-6 for some neon photos. Not disappointed at all! I used the HDR feature, which really helped to make the exposure simulate what our eyes see. In HDR mode, the camera brackets 6 exposures and combines them within 10 or seconds, yielding a result that is just spectacular. The camera retains the original photo, as I exposed it and the combined exposure. I deleted all of the original exposures, but I will at some point retain a few and post them for viewing to show the before and after. I thought that the HDR feature would be helpful in cutting down my workflow, and allowing me to get my photos processed and uploaded faster by editing on my iPad Mini if needed. I’m happy that only minimal post processing is needed, the camera does a fabulous job processing. I do have an app called Photogene on my iPad Mini which does well handling any minor edits or cropping I need to do, but is fairly well featured enough to handle more if needed (no substitute for Photoshop of course but it’s still a good app!).

Here is a sample of photos from Beale Street. See the slide show below for all of the photos or click the slide show to go to my Flickr site.

Coyote Ugly Saloon, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

Johnny G's Creole Kitchen, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

Southern Style BBQ Ribs, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

We headed southeast out of Memphis, opting to move on for a place to stay the night. We crossed into Mississippi, and the town of Corinth seemed like a reasonably sized burg, but was an hour or so away, and we were getting pretty tired. The small town of Holly Springs was much closer, and had a few choices, and an EconoLodge that used to be a Hampton Inn had good reviews, so we opted to stay there for the night.

Sunday, March 3, 2013: Holly Springs, Mississippi to Indianapolis, Indiana

The hotel had a decent continental breakfast, so we decided to partake in a little complimentary food before moving on. We headed east on SR 4, and north on SR 5, before picking back up US 72. We continued on US 72 until we crossed into Alabama, then took the Natchez Trace Parkway north to its northern terminus just southeast of Nashville. We stopped at a few scenic locations, one being Fall Hollow Waterfall.

Natchez Trace - Fall Hollow Waterfall

In Nashville, we decided we needed to again take the Evil-I so we could get home at a fairly reasonable hour, so we took I-65 north back to Indy. Our final stop was for dinner at Toot’s restaurant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where first timers receive a complimentary order of fried pickles. We had potato skins as well and I went with the Philly Cheesesteak and Pat ordered a rack of ribs. With yet more grease ingested, we waddled out of there feeling overfull and headed home.

Here is a slideshow of all of my photos from this trip. If you click on the slideshow, it will take you over to my Flickr page where you can also view the photos there.

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157632920122139″ width=”600″]

Cool Retro Signs


Here is a slide show of my photographs of some of my favorite old signs. In some cases the signs are new but in “retro” style; however, many are original. I absolutely love neon signs – there’s an indescribable hypnotizing allure to neon signs, that backlit plastic will never have!

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157600279503367″ width=”500″]

November 27, 2008: Route 66 (Day 1)


We woke up this morning intending to head south to Georgia. After a last check of the weather we noticed the forecast had worsened. The chance for rain increased significantly, and since I had a specific purpose for this trip mostly involving outdoor photography, it was not something I wanted to do in the rain. We struggled between wanting to go and whether or not to trust the forecast. We could go somewhere else with a better forecast or not go at all. Pat hinted at going west on 66 since we hadn’t done that in a while. He’s very indecisive, as readers of his blog know from his recent post. We didn’t have enough time for him to put up a poll on his blog to decide where to go, so he let Amber decide. He wrote 3 options on bottle caps: go to Georgia as planned, take Route 66 west as far as we could go, or stay home, and geocache locally. Whichever cap she picked was what we’d do, and she picked geocaching.

Since we now had no time constraints, I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Amber & plotted a couple of Indiana cache routes with my new DeLorme Topo 7 software. I also played with transferring waypoints to my new GPS, a DeLorme PN-40. So once I did that and the parade ended, I asked Pat about heading out. Then Pat says, “Wanna go to Atlanta?” So much for the written in stone bottle cap selection.  I’m game to try it, so I finished packing, said goodbye to Amber and off we went.

We figured by this late hour, we’d have to superslab most of the trip, so we could get to our destination at a reasonable hour the next day. It was especially important, since the forecast called for some showers building late Friday and Saturday was looking like a total washout. As we headed south on I-65, I started feeling some negative road karma, but while I didn’t want to go home, I really didn’t want to deal with rain. I also didn’t feel like having to superslab the trip in a hurry, and I thought that by the time we’d get to Atlanta, I’d only have a small window of “cloudy” weather with rain closing in. At best, I’d have to rush around taking my photographs before rain set in, and at worst it would be raining. So I said to Pat, “Let’s go on 66 instead!” So we cut across town to I-70 and started our journey west.

After we crossed into Illinois, we took US 40, only taking the evil-I into St. Louis. Sunset on US 40 in Illinois We exited at Hampton Road and took 66 partly through town. By now, Ted Drewes is in “Christmas tree selling” mode. We passed by Crestwood Bowl, of which I haven’t had the chance to take a photo until now.

Crestwood Bowl Neon Sign - St. Louis, Missouri

On Chippewa, there was a Shell station with unleaded gas for 1.33! We took the Interstate from the west side of town to Eureka, then took 66 until Stanton. At that point, we got back onto the Interstate. We thought we might make it as far as Rolla where there are plenty of lodging choices. We passed by Finns Motel in St. James and decided to check it out. The price was reasonable the room was clean and they had WiFi so we opted to stay.

We didn’t get much sleep the night before and I was fairly exhausted so I fell asleep right away.

Slideshow of All Photos

For more details about a particular photo, click on it in the slideshow and it will open in my Flickr site.

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157610721213953″ width=”500″]

November 2008: Cincinnati, Ohio….the Neon Shangri-La


We’re planning for our next trip, a 4 day weekend to Georgia. We originally planned for Thanksgiving weekend, then Pat asked if I could go sooner (i.e., this weekend). No sooner did I arrange for Friday and Monday off work, when I received an e-mail from our friend, Denny Gibson, from Cincinnati. Another roadie friend, Don “RoadDog” from the American Road Magazine Forum that we moderate, was going to be passing through Cincinnati and they were planning on going to the elusive American Sign Museum. Elusive, that is, to Pat and me – we never seemed to be in Cincinnati at a time when the owner / founder was available to give a tour.

However, the sign museum now has regular hours (every Saturday from 10-4) and Denny wanted to know if we wanted to join them for the day. I immediately said yes and canceled my 2 days off (back to Thanksgiving weekend for that trip…so stay tuned!).

We met up with Denny and Don for breakfast at The Echo Restaurant, in the Hyde Park neighborhood. This neighborhood looked familiar – a short while back, Pat and I had driven down to pick up some Danny DeVito’s Limoncello, which I couldn’t get in Indiana.

Union Terminal - Cincinnati, Ohio

After breakfast, we drove to downtown Cincinnati and then over to Union Terminal, which primarily serves as the city’s Museum Center, housing a Children’s Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, and Natural History / Science Museum. They have a free tour of the terminal, which we took. It is an extremely impressive Art Deco building, completely evocative of the era. The terminal was saved from near destruction with its current use, after having had a short life as a mall. The decline of rail travel in favor of automobile travel led to the diminished use as a train station. There was no passenger service from 1972 to 1991, when service was resumed. Very few trains run through here, as the museum complex is the building’s primary usage.

Union Terminal - Cincinnati, Ohio

We then headed over to the American Sign Museum. All I can say is “wow.” Complete roadie heaven! Here are a few photos…see my links at the bottom of this post for more.

American Sign Museum - Cincinnati, Ohio

American Sign Museum - Cincinnati, Ohio

American Sign Museum - Cincinnati, Ohio

American Sign Museum - Cincinnati, Ohio

After the sign museum, we had an early dinner at Terry’s Turf Club. The burgers and fries were great! More neon awaited us there too.

Terry's Turf Club - Cincinnati, Ohio

Terry's Turf Club - Cincinnati, Ohio

Afterward, Don and Denny were going to catch some live music, but Pat and I needed to head back to Indy, so we said our goodbyes and headed home.

For more photos from this trip here are a few slide shows:

November 2008: Cincinnati, Ohio

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157609841173849″ width=”500″]

American Sign Museum – Cincinnati, Ohio

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157609764986114″ width=”500″]

Union Terminal – Cincinnati, Ohio

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”roadtripmemories” id=”72157609900287214″ width=”500″]

Some Came Running…for fudge?


Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine didn’t go running to Madison, Indiana for fudge, but every once in a while, we do.

Madison, Indiana is a neat town in southern Indiana with very nice architecture, shops, and dining. It sits right on the Ohio River and was the filming location for the 1958 film “Some Came Running,” starrring the aforementioned celebrities.

It was a nice day, we felt like getting out, so we drove down to Madison to pick up some fudge at the Madison Fudge Factory & Guest Suites. They have two guest suites upstairs, and the evening turn-down service includes fudge samples. Don’t quote me, but I think a night’s stay includes a half or full pound of fudge, as well. The shop also sells jellies, jams, salsas, and they have a separate area, which serves as a toy shop.

Madison Fudge Factory - Madison, Indiana

After getting our requisite supply of fudge, we parked on Broadway and walked along Main Street. We passed by the Ohio Theatre, which annually plays “Some Came Running.”

Ohio Theatre - Madison, Indiana

They also had a star embedded in the sidewalk (reminiscent of the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”) paying permanent tribute to the film and its stars.

"Some Came Running" sidewalk star - Ohio Theatre, Madison, Indiana

We went by the Madison Bank and Trust Company, which is a really neat building. The date on the top is “1833.”

Madison Bank & Trust Company, Madison, Indiana

We had dinner at Hinkle Hamburgers, and since I was craving a hamburger, I ordered one. To my surprise, they were small, similar to White Castle’s hamburgers. I was starving, so I ordered another! They were very good!

Hinkle Hamburgers - Madison, Indiana

As sunset approached, we walked back to the car and saw the Broadway Hotel. This place looks like an interesting place to stay. It looks very close to its original 1800’s style. The rooms don’t have many modern amenities like phone, television, or internet service, but they do have the modern essentials of air conditioning and indoor plumbing!

Broadway Hotel - Madison, Indiana

They let us see a room, and we walked up the narrow, creaky staircase. Amazingly, the doors have actual keys!

Broadway Hotel - Madison, Indiana

We drove over to the Milton-Madison Bridge, which carries traffic on US 421.

Milton-Madison Bridge, US 421, Madison, Indiana

We drove back home and passed by the Moon-Lite Motel in Versailles (which, in Indiana, is pronounced veer-SALES, not to be confused with vehr-SIGH in France). We saw this motel several years ago and thought it was really cute, with a terrific neon sign too. It was dark, so the neon sign was aglow. I prefer photographing neon at dusk, when there is still ambient light and the sky is a perfect indigo, but you have to take what you can get!

Moon-Lite Motel - Versailles, Indiana

Interestingly, last week, we stopped by here as well. We were visiting several apple orchards in Indiana and felt that we wanted to spend the night out, even though we had no luggage and were less than two hours from home! In fact, we were almost back in Indianapolis, when we decided to turn around and head down to spend the night. Of course, Article 7.4.1 of Murphy’s Law clearly stated that the sign would be reading “NO VACANCY.”

This time, we were strictly passing through on the way home (and of course, Article 7.4.2 of Murphy’s Law dictated that this time, the sign read “VACANCY”). We stopped in to speak with the owner, and she gave us a short tour and history of the property.

We continued home and always looking ahead for cool neon (or other retro) signs, I saw some neon glowing down the road. Signaling Pat to slow, down, we saw the Damm Theatre, in Osgood, Indiana. The alternating blinking lights on the bottom were not on, but the neon was. I stepped out of the car with my camera in hand, and as I adjusted my settings, the blinking lights came on, as if on cue!

Damm Theatre - Osgood, Indiana

We then made the rest of the trip back to Indianapolis. For more photos from Madison, Indiana (taken on various dates), visit my Flickr site: Madison, Indiana

July 2005: Road Trip to Nashville, Tennessee


We drove down to Madison, Indiana first to go to our favorite fudge shop, the Madison Fudge Factory & Guest Suites. What a great way to start the trip than with fudge, and theirs is among the best! As we crossed the Ohio River on U.S. 42, we noticed the Madison Regatta was taking place. Traffic was stopped on the bridge, so we got to see some of the power boats doing their thing on the Ohio River as we crossed on 421.

 Madison Regatta - Madison, Indiana

We took U.S. 421 down to the Bluegrass Parkway in Kentucky over to US 31W. We stopped off at the Wigwam Village in Cave City, only to find a banner stating “Back By Popular Demand…Under New Management”. This made us a little nervous, as we knew how hard owner Ivan John worked to bring the Wigwam back to its former glory. We found a young man, appearing to be in his 20’s, behind the counter. We had brought the American Road issue from last year that featured the Wigwam as the Memory Motel to give to Ivan. We asked the young man if he was the owner and he said he and his uncle were. They purchased it from Ivan this past April, as he retired and moved to Hawaii. We showed him the magazine, told him who we were, and he seemed very grateful we brought the magazine by. He seemed like a bright guy, so Jennifer & I seemed to think later Ivan wouldn’t have sold it to anyone who didn’t share his vision. Time will tell.

 Crossland Motel - Bowling Green, Kentucky

We rolled into Nashville early in the evening and finally found a good mom & pop motel on US 70S in town. The Midway Motel was a nice little place, as the owner graciously let us look at a room first. It was clean, no bugs, and the king size bed had its own zip code! However, just looking for picture of the place on Google, I found a story where someone was murdered there last August…3 rooms down from ours. Gee, that soiled our view of the place! OK, we then went downtown to Broadway where all the honky tonks are. The crowd down there was unique…a mix of halter tops and cowboy hats, women passing out passes to their “clubs”, and a couple of party buses driving around. The neon was pretty good though. We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and then called it a night.

Dixieland Delights Candy & Nuts - Nashville, Tennesse

The Stage on Broadway - Nashville, Tennessee

On Sunday, we went around Nashville for a bit and took some photos of old signs.

The Drake Motel - Nashville, Tennessee

Soap Opera Laundry - Nashville, Tennessee

We headed east out of Nashville on U.S. 70. Jennifer had some fun with Streets & Trips planning this trip, and it was worth it in the end. We saw some awesome scenery that you wouldn’t have seen on the interstate…and we even ran over a snake slithering across the road. Just don’t anyone tell Bob Waldmire about it, OK?

We first went through Lebanon…

Dix's Plaza Motor Lodge - U.S. 70, Lebanon, Tennessee

Capitol Theatre - U.S. 70, Lebanon, Tennessee

We followed U.S. 70N, to TN 53 north. We followed TN 53 until it became KY 61. We followed that until we turned east onto KY 90, then U.S. 127.

Wolf Creek Dam - U.S. 127, near Manntown, Kentucky

We then saw a place called Granny’s Ice Cream & Soda Fountain, as well as Pioneer Antiques and Collectibles. We stopped there and looked around at the antiques and had some ice cream.We followed U.S. 127 to KY 49 north to KY 78, to KY 243. On KY 243, we saw a snake slithering across the road and unfortunately, couldn’t stop in time to avoid it. Amber has seen the photo Pat took of the snake, and she has named him Snakey.

RIP Snakey

And thanks to Denny Gibson, we stopped in at Penn’s Store for some good local chat and a visit with the many feline friends there. The place is as deep in the hills of Kentucky as one could get, but the stop was worth it.

Penn's Store - KY 243, Gravel Switch, Kentucky

Feline Inhabitants at Penn's Store - Gravel Switch, Kentucky

We then headed up U.S. 68, toward the town of High Bridge, KY, named after the railroad bridge crossing the Kentucky River.

High Bridge, Kentucky

High Bridge, Kentucky

We continued on U.S. 68 for a short time, until we turned on KY 169, then to KY 33. Then we turned east onto U.S. 62 and north onto U.S. 127. We continued north on Bypass U.S. 127 until we reached U.S. 60 in Frankfort, and headed west on U.S. 60.

By this time, it was getting late in the day, and although we had intended on being back in Indy by nightfall, we were looking at 11 pm at the earliest, so we decided to find a place for the night. We continued on U.S. 60 into Louisville, then crossed into Indiana on U.S. 31. We pulled off at a motel off US 31 in Clarksville, IN.

Today, we took US 150 west and had a decent breakfast at Frannie’s Diner in Palmyra, IN. We were getting anxious to get home, so we took IN-337 to Orleans where we jumped on IN-37 up to Indy, with a stop in Bedford for frozen custard.

Slideshow of All Photos

For more details about a particular photo, click on it in the slideshow and it will open in my Flickr site.

July 2005: Nashville, Tennessee

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