Category: Roadside Stuff

The Man With a Plan for a Can, The Legend – Chef Boyardee

The Man With a Plan for a Can, The Legend – Chef Boyardee

Every American kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s probably had more than their fair share of curious meatlumps and squishy sketties from a can courtesy of this dude. The man with the can – Chef Boyardee.

Most people probably think Chef Boyardee was just a marketing character. But no, Hector Boiardi was a real man with a plan and not just a can. A statue of his likeness stands outside of Con Agra Foods in Milton, Pennsylvania.

Chef Boyardee stands at:
30 Marr St.,
Milton, PA

Clearing the Tracks with Jaws

Clearing the Tracks with Jaws

There’s no good reason at all that I’m posting this photo of the Bonnie next to the track-clearing plow train. I just like it.

JAWS III sits beside the Long Island Railroad Museum in Greenport, NY. Whenever I stick close to home I seem to find myself out there on Long Island’s north fork.

Lately Ive been trying to find ways to kickstart my creativity. Or more accurately, hang on to it. I have no trouble getting inspired or excited about ideas. The follow-through is where I go to pieces. That seems to be the result of expecting too much or being too restrictive with my peculiar rules about what things I should be posting and when. I mean… I’m not writing medical research here. I’m not a business. I’m not a professional writer. I’m not building a “brand.” I’m just a dope with a computer who is recording their thoughts.

Somehow I get derailed by the idea that a blog is supposed to be more highbrow than what I might post to Instagram. That’s my favorite social distraction. But because of it’s ease and my low expectations of it, Insta has become a surrogate blog. There – people (I?) seem to be fine with long posts, short posts, no words, 20 posts in a day, or whatever. Anything goes. I need to adopt that type of thinking for my blog. My rigid ideas about blogging aren’t doing me any good. They make me not blog. And I think writing things down is good for me.

And soooo… hopefully I can get out of my own way here. Moving on! 🙂

Coalwood, West Virginia – Home of the Rocket Boys

Coalwood, West Virginia – Home of the Rocket Boys

Over the winter I read a book called The Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam. It is the memoir of a determined boy who grew up in the shadow of a coal mine tipple in Coalwood, West Virginia in the late 50’s – and would go on to become a NASA engineer. It is a testament to the power of a curious mind.

Having enjoyed the book greatly, it was a treat to be able to swing through Coalwood this past April. Riding through the town was like putting a face to a name. Sadly, what remains of what I’d read as a bustling anthill of activity surrounding the mine is merely shadows. It’s quite something to see how a remote town that relied on a single industry is decimated once that industry leaves.

A monument to the Rocket Boys along the wonderfully named Frog Level Road. Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys are local heroes.

What remains in that old coal town is interesting to see. Especially when compared to historical photos and passages of the book that talk of the local goings-on.

Homer Hickam’s house still stands:

And as a motorcycle rider, you won’t be disappointed by the ride along Route 16 to Coalwood. It’s a lovely wiggler!

Did I Pass Along the Wandering Gene?

Did I Pass Along the Wandering Gene?

Last week, my daughter Chloe and I were sitting in the backyard melting away the day’s have-to-dos in the sunshine. Seemingly out of nowhere she said, “I wish I could just get in the car and drive and drive and drive.” I gently reminded her that she’s old enough to drive now. But, she dreamily replied that that wasn’t it. She just wanted to sit and look out the window.

The exchange caught me off guard though it isn’t the first time I’ve heard her say something like that. Maybe it was the setting, the delivery, the warm spring sun or maybe it was me. Maybe it was like listening to my inner voice come to life. My child spoke the unsaid words that I’ve felt thousands of times. Does she have the wandering gene?

On Saturday, Chloe hopped on the back of the Bonnie and we set off on a little excursion to see some “stuff.” But mostly, it was just be out and enjoy the day.

Our first stop was the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts. We walked around the small square looking at the bronze sculptures. She and I giggled as I embarrassingly sang the Cat in the Hat song. The lyrics were still fresh in my mind from when Chloe was just a wee girl.

I’m a gwunka in a bunka-kwunk in Eskimo.

Lunch brought us up the road to one of the many starred locations on my Google Maps app – Al’s Diner in Chicopee. Inside, a single waitress hustled around the place, as busy as a bee, filling coffee cups, taking orders, setting down plates of french fries, and confirming that yes, it was indeed a crocheted ham on the shelf.

After eating, we stood in the parking lot gearing up. I said, “One day these old places will be gone and you’ll look back and say I remember…” I’m not sure if I was saying it to her or to myself. It was just a string of words that needed to be said out loud.

I was surprised to hear Chloe say, “that would be terrible.” Most of the time I feel like dragging a kid around to see these dumb old things that I like is something akin to torture. Perhaps I’ve been wrong.

Often, I find myself hoping that I am not inadvertently “programming” her to like what I like. I’m sure some of it rubs off by osmosis and I can’t do anything about that. When it comes to kids it could go either way – I love/hate what my mom used to do.

Only time will suss it all out, I guess.

The Merci Boxcar of Welch, West Virginia

The Merci Boxcar of Welch, West Virginia

While my good riding buddy Joe and I were cruising around the greater Welch, WV area – as we pulled in to town I spotted the unmistakable sight of a Merci boxcar and quickly pulled in to the little park.

I recently learned about the Merci boxcars from the Team Strange Love and Merci Grand Tour that’s going on. Team Strange are the folks that hosted the Whispering Giants Grand Tour that I participated in a couple of years ago.

Something about the train car looks so sweet, so charming to me. It has a delicate, almost toy-like quality to it. Serendipitously stumbling across one of the 40-ish boxcars was a treat.

Over the years people have asked “how do you find this stuff?” And while I do go looking for certain things – others just seem to find me. Merci, universe!

The Welch, WV Merci boxcar:

The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii.


More about the Merci Train:

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