Category: Road Trips

Roadtrip Memories Become Impressionist Paintings

Roadtrip Memories Become Impressionist Paintings

When I am road tripping, I typically have the best intentions about writing something down nightly to memorialize the things that I see each day while they are fresh in my mind. Before I even leave the house, I have a little pep talk as I’m packing my bag – “Bring your MacBook,” I say to myself. “You can write stuff down while you’re vegging at night.” And, each and every time – I fail miserably.

cemetery with cooling towers in the background

And it’s not for lack of trying! Or maybe it is. Each night while I am away, I scroll through my camera roll, edit a few photos, and upload the days pics. I might even jot down a few notes, or idea stubs but nothing of substance typically materializes.

Something about the scrolling of the days photos becomes like a romantic process. I tend to lose myself in that even though in many cases I just saw whatever I photographed. Maybe it’s like an elephant lovingly handling skeletal bones, there is a need to pay respect to what has passed.

roadtripping with the best dog in the world

Maybe being unable to put what I saw in day into words is simply the result of having so much information crammed into my eye holes all day long that my brain just hits tilt when I stop moving. Or maybe I just have a process that is innate to me. I don’t know.

Whatever the case, it can take a while to distill all the input from any jaunt and my feelings about it. I do know with certainty that I lose track of the smallest lived moments with their unique nuances. Many if not most experiences become ephemeral. And after a certain amount of time, my feelings about my feelings become romantic interpretations colored by distance. They’re something of an impressionist painting of reality. My mind’s eye can see what’s there, but the details blend together. What is left is but a beautiful and dreamy version of the truth.

Retro New York: The Parksville Pharmacy

Retro New York: The Parksville Pharmacy

There’s been a pin on my Google map at the location of the Parksville Pharmacy, in the Sullivan County town of Parksville, New York for a long time. I first noticed the old building’s hunter green panels and weathered signage on Instagram. Social media for the win. 😉

Parksville Pharmacy Facade - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

Throughout the course of my life, I’m not sure just how many times I’ve passed the ghost town’s exit off of Route 17. And I’m amazed that I never caught a glimpse of the old store. During one of our cold weather drives, we wheeled through what is left of town to finally visit the map star in person.

Main drag in Parksville -  Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

There was absolutely nothing going on.

Parksville Pharmacy  Signs - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

Remnants of a former gas station.

Old Gas station Light - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

I remember gas station lights like this from when I was a kid. Seeing it filled me with a funny sense of longing and… loss? Maybe that isn’t the right word, but whatever the sensation was, I felt it in my belly. In some strange way it almost felt like a broken heart.

My memory transported me back to gas stations of my youth with the ding-ding hose bells, colorful triangle-shaped flags, rotating brand signs, and these melancholy lamps hanging over the pump island.

My youth. Gone.

Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy Door  - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Photos: Steamtown National Historic Site

Photos: Steamtown National Historic Site

Steamtown national historic site sign - scranton pennsylvania

This spring I took a drive to Scranton, Pennsylvania to visit Steamtown National Historic Site. While I was there, strict COVID protocols limited access to some of the indoor spaces and displays, but I was able to enjoy walking around outside in the train yard.

Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania - engine 47

I’m not what you would call a hardcore railfan but I find the machines interesting nonetheless.

Steam engines make me think of my dad, who was indeed into trains. He’d told me stories about hanging around the train yard as a kid, and I kept that narrative in my mind – making up tales of what that kid-version of him would have thought about what I was looking at as I walked around.

Walking the tracks at steamtown

The thing I found most fascinating about the locomotives is how much “life” they seemed to have within them. They exude power and something like a sense of menace. Especially inside the workshop. They looked like sleeping animals that could roar to life at any moment and tear the building from its foundations. But, they instead allowed themselves to be tamed, to be cared for by their handlers. For now.

Indoor display of locomotives being worked on - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

One of the indoor displays features a cutaway where you can see the inner workings of the engine. Looking at it, I found it a marvel that anyone could figure out the method to the madness of tubes, and chambers and lines to make these beasts go. Fascinating.

Interesting place. Worth the visit.

cutaway engine - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Rusting steam engine - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Brooks-Scanlon coal car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Boso Texino railroad graffiti Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

Dirt graffiti on a rail yard car – Bozo Texino ⁠

Apparently like any other subculture, there is a visual language and common mythology among railroad hoboes. There is actually a movie that tries to uncover this very graffiti subject called: “Who is Bozo Texino?”⁠

File Under: There is always something new to learn.

peeling paint and rust on rail car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

In rust we trust.

green mountain rusting boxcar - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 47 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
rusting boxcar Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
canadian national railways - rusting train car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 47 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 790 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 6039 inside the shop at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
bungs at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Palm Springs Window Reflections

Palm Springs Window Reflections

Having my picture taken isn’t fun. I hate the way I look.

Sometimes I go through the process of taking selfies to try to work through these feelings. At this point, it seems like a futile effort to come to terms with the aging person that I am.

When I look at the person in the pictures it’s never the person I feel like on the inside. Geeeeezus, who the fuck is this old bag with the tired eyes?!

What comes next is an exercise in tallying up all of the things that are “wrong” with me and then spiraling into a loop of self-loathing. Is this normal? Sometimes I feel like it might be. I mean, who isn’t plagued by some level of feeling like if they just had <insert thing here> then they’d feel a million-bajillion times better? Is it all just a matter of degrees?

Taking pics in my riding gear or with my helmet on, or even wearing my glasses feels much easier. There is a sense of safety in being covered in some way. You see me, but you don’t. I prefer that.

Who would’ve ever though just showing yourself to the world as you are, would be such an act of vulnerability? 🤷‍♀️Especially considering you walk around all day doing just that.

Anyway, this was me, in my safety suit, reflected in the SHAG store window in Palm Springs.

Stay weird, friends.

A Yeti, an Art Gallery, a Kickass Road – This must be Ranchita, California

A Yeti, an Art Gallery, a Kickass Road – This must be Ranchita, California

In December of 2016, I was in California taking a week-long riding trip. I flew to LA, rented a bike and wandered about. While heading towards Borrego Spring on Montezuma-Borrego Highway, I passed a Yeti in Ranchita. Often people will ask me how I find such things. In this case, it was pure serendipity.

So was this little roadside art gallery. You just never know what you’re going to find out there in the world, do ya?

One of the patronages of St. Maurice is to the Brotherhood of Blackheads. I myself have not-so-great skin, but damned if I’m joining a club about it.

Saint Maurice

A place of subtle old fashioned
virtues an escape from …
present into a softer more
gentle way of life and opening
up to light and the weather
a sense of real luxury
the kind that cannot be
measured by monetary standards
a level of tranquility
a sweethnes[sic] of tone
an uncomplicated
round for the ongoing