Category: Roadside Stuff

Tales of a Second Grade Nothing

Tales of a Second Grade Nothing

In September while heading east on the Lincoln Highway in the Chambersburg area, I stopped to snap photos of two gas pumps that were part of the Pump Parade. The first was at Shatzer Fruit Market in Chambersburg. It features a Chambersburg peach motif.

A little way down the road was the “Nellie Fox” pump in St. Thomas, PA outside of the Oak Forest Restaurant. I just caught this pump out of the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes and made a U-ey to take its picture.

The parking lot where I turned around at the Oak Forest had a row of buildings lining the edge of the property. They were small, bungalow-type houses. As soon as I saw them a flood of emotion came over me. This little cluster of buildings was similar to the place where I spent the earliest part of my childhood amongst the creeps, the drunks, the dregs and those of us with families who were just a little down on their luck at the time. And this, right or wrong, consistently fills me with a burning shame.

Why? Why should I care about something that was beyond my control as a child? I mean, I have come a long way from where I started. And yet, those meager beginnings still mark me with a stain that no one but me can see.

Growing up, our little bungalow community was bussed to an elementary school that intermingled us with kids who were comfortably situated in the middle class. We shabby kids rubbed elbows with the children of doctors and lawyers. But in school, kids were kids. We were all the same… until we weren’t.

In second grade, I got to invite a few friends over to celebrate my birthday. It was the first time someone from school who didn’t live in my neighborhood came to my house. My school friend walked into our two-room bungalow and said, “this is it?!” and incredulously noted that her living room was bigger than my whole house, which was true. I am 44 years old now and the sentiment still smarts. I didn’t know there was anything “wrong” with my life until someone else told me so.

I’ve been sitting on talking about my feelings after seeing those stupid little houses for months. And I’ve wavered on the idea that maybe there would be some kind of catharsis, or that I might absolve myself of the guilt of feeling bad about growing up poor. So far? Not so much. Now, I feel like I should be ashamed of being ashamed because as crappy as it might have been, there are people who are or were worse off.

It would be nice if I could adopt the wistful-sounding attitude of my mother. She talks of drying out teabags on the radiator and reusing them and being “as poor as church mice,” as an affliction that was triumphantly overcome. And I confess, in truth it was. But clearly, for me, there is a scar.

Get off the cross, we need the wood.

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch – Oro Grande, California – Route 66

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch – Oro Grande, California – Route 66

On the gray morning of January 2, 2017, I was cruising along Route 66 through Oro Grande, California on a rented Tiger 800. Amongst the dusty scrub sat an oasis – Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. It was glorious.

During my visit, I had the place to myself. I silently walked among the bottle trees listening to the wind make squeaking, tinkling music across the assemblages. My only wish? That the sun was out. Seeing the light reflecting through the different colored glass must be magical on a bright blue day.

The hypnotic twinkling sounds of Elmer’s:

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Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
24266 National Trails Hwy,
Oro Grande, CA 92368
Google Maps

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

While cruising along the Ohio River on my way to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, I made a pit stop at the glorious Hillbilly Hotdogs. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss it!

Previously, I posted about a postcard from my friend Chris after his visit to Hillbilly Hotdogs. Seeing the place with my own eyes and enjoying the experience first hand was somethin’ else. I’ll tell you what, this place is a trip!

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out where and how to actually order something. The place is so jampacked full of stuff, it takes a minute to get your bearings.

I dined next at the picnic table next to the toilet seat. How many times in your life can you say you’ve done that? Since it looked like a horseshoe, I thought it might bring me luck.

I recall Chris saying that he waited online for something like an hour to get his food when he was there on a weekend. As you can see from the photo below – lunchtime on a random Tuesday in September is the time to stop in. There was only 1 couple in front of me.

This weddin’ chapel seems perfect to me. Perhaps because Kenny and I got married in a bar by an ordained minister named Catfish.

And this… this was my lunch. The Strictly Business dog, hold the onions. Coleslaw, jalapenos, fried spam, shredded cheese, mustard, and a deep-fried weenie. The good luck toilet seat must’ve worked since I didn’t get heartburn or any other stomach distress from eating it. A Christmas miracle.


Hillbilly Hot Dogs
6951 Ohio River Rd.
Lesage, WV

Haaaaaay, Look at this Kickass School Bus!

Haaaaaay, Look at this Kickass School Bus!

I don’t have a unique method for finding oddball stuff. There is no special radar or a giant U-shaped magnet that draws me to it. But I do sit in front of a computer all day and I do mentally (and electronically) catalog things that interest me.

Map pins aside, I sure do stumble across a lot of neat stuff serendipitously – like this hay bale school bus in eastern Pennsylvania. Could it just be that I’m tuned in to seeing things that other people might ignore? Perhaps. Maybe it’s simply that when I’m riding my motorcycle I am hyperaware.

And really, stuff like this is just dying to be seen:

hay bale school bus

Awesome, right?!

hay bale school bus


A Surprise Roadside Animal Menagerie in Pennsylvania

A Surprise Roadside Animal Menagerie in Pennsylvania

While I was on my way to see the Snoopy barn in Nazareth, Pa. I happened to pass by this house with a great menagerie of critters in the front yard.

If I had just one of these animals, I’d be happy. But to have them all? Man. Sadly I can’t remember exactly where this place is. The only thing I know for sure is that I was between Belvidere, New Jersey and Nazareth, Pa.

I love the look on this guys face. It’s like he fell asleep on the train and woke up here and has no idea what’s going on.

Just look at this collection. That crazy bear who’s all hell yeah! about his fish? I mean, c’mon!

Can you imagine the conversation about the buffalo on the far left? “No, babe, let’s turn him around so everyone can see his balls!” I could absolutely imagine dying of laughter in the front yard while directing Kenny to turn Buff around. The people who live here are probably just the right amount of weird.

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