With the heat supposed to come on like gangbusters, on Saturday morning I zipped out from Lock Haven before the rest of the world was stirring. There was still a coolness hanging on the air following a quick rainstorm that passed through the valley.
As I motored along PA 44, there was a moment when I considered stopping to close the vents on my jacket. It was that cool alongside the damp woods. That joy didn’t last long. By midday the heat started pressing down.
I pulled over to take a look at a collection of shed-like buildings on the side of the road. What caught my eye in particular was the one modeled like a stave church you might see in Norway. That was a curious sight along the backroads of Pennsylvania. I have no idea what the story is there but it’d be interesting to know.
When I walked back across the road to my bike, the wriggling road ahead was calling my name.
You never know what you’re going to see out there in the world. Every day has it’s surprises. Riding around, taking in the world is an excellent education.
I’d been trying to remember how I first became aware of the Blue Whale. If my memory serves me, it was in a hotel elevator in Leeds, Alabama across from the Barber Museum. My hubs Kenny was just finishing up the Kevin Schwantz school at the track and I flew down to visit the museum. Inside the elevator was a poster that featured the whale and some information about the Hampton Hotel’s Save-a-Landmark program. That was 2010. If I had to guess, that is when the seed was planted.
“Kenny, did you know that the blue whale was an anniv…”
“No. You can’t have a blue whale.”
Route 66 is an important experience for many people.
As I said previously, maybe the “thing” that pulls you out to the far flung edges of the universe doesn’t make sense to anyone else. As a matter of fact, I’m certain that some people will read this post and say “you rode all the way to Oklahoma to look at some dumb whale?” And the answer would be, yes. But of course that is the most simplified truth. The bigger story is that I rode to Oklahoma to live my life.
On the most direct route, there are 1,400 miles between my house and that whale. When you think of all of the sights, smells, experiences, interactions with the world, the thoughts that float through like clouds between here and there? It makes perfect sense to go all that way.
Like a dumbbell, I brought my (3rd partially broken) point-n-shoot camera with its nifty 30x zoom with me… but failed to charge the battery. One day I’ll get this all right, but this? This was not that day. And so I was left to take pictures with my iPhone and my GoPro which on the whole isn’t really so bad. But, the zoom situation can be a little less than optimal. I hope you can manage to suffer through these photos.
“I come in peace.”
Tucked within the recesses of my GPS’ favorites was something called “BDS-32-54-04.” Though I wasn’t sure exactly what I would find when I pulled up, just by looking at the name I knew I’d saved a “Bull Durham Sign” from the Mail Pouch Barnstormers site. That’s their naming convention.
Wow, would you look at that? A tobacco ad that is loved, cared for and has been restored. Does that warm the ole ticker or what?
The kicker to my whole interest in tobacco advertising is that I find smoking and chew to be disgusting. I have memories of being trapped in the backseat of my parents car as a kid while they both puffed away in a blue-gray fog and it makes me want to gag. Apparently secondhand smoke wasn’t much of a concern back then.
This one wasn’t a GPS favorite or anything. I just happened to see it when I parked at the Bull Durham sign in Waverly, NY. I pulled around to the backside of the parking lot to get a better look. There is so much overlap, so much fade that I’m not able to discern what’s going on here. But the location came up on Barnstormers as having a Mail Pouch ad. I think I can see the word “pouch” on the upper left in yellow.
 After googling soap ghost ads, I think that one of the layers may be for Ivory Soap. I found a soap add on Pinterest that tipped me off.
Towns like Waverly, NY that reach back a few hundred years and have a railroad line running through them seem to have the best shot at seeing ghost ads. Thinking back to other places I’ve been, Waverly had that look much like Renovo, PA and East Liverpool, OH did.
I stopped to have a drink and a granola bar alongside a pink Elephant in Owego, NY. I mean, it really was as good a place to stop and take a breather as any, right? Maybe even better than most. It isn’t every day that you get to bask in the glory of such a fine beast.
The cockpit of my faithful companion. I don’t know if I took this picture on purpose or by accident, as I’m wont to do. Either way – the KTM is an excellent dance partner.
A lovely old sign in Owego provided me with some shade as I sipped and snacked.
Another Bull Durham sign perfectly perched above the olde tyme Harris Diner in Owego.
I didn’t really explore or dilly-dally around Owego as I was running out of time to get back to meet Kenny. So I snapped a quick photo of a You Are Here mural while sitting at a traffic light and made my way out of town. If I’m ever in the area again, something tells me I should have a closer look around. There are probably more roadsidey gems sprinkled through town.
It’s been a while since I posted any news from the front lines of the Giant Chicken Army. But that is about to change, my friend. On Route 6 in the town of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania I stumbled across a mass-gathering of the feathered fiends.
When I first passed this guy on the bench I thought, wow, what a beautiful view by that little fishin’ hole. But the deep recesses of my brain must’ve recognized that something wasn’t quite right with him as I zipped by.
Waaaaaaait… I thought and pulled a u-turn.
When I pulled the KTM up behind him, he didn’t bat an eyelash or crane his neck to see who was there. No, he just sat there like… a log.
A log! Get it? He IS a log! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HA…HAHA…HA…whoooo 😉
Whoever put that little vignette together must get a kick out of it. When you don’t examine too closely it really looks like a person sitting there. Locals must think that guy sure loves to fish as they pass by day in day out.
Some friends have said that I have a knack for finding silly roadside things. But I swear, they’re everywhere! Maybe I’ve just got my antenna up for them all the time.