Vintage service stations & art deco cars

If you keep up with this blog, you probably know that I love all things vintage. This week has been full of vintage things so I’ve been pretty darn happy! I’m going to start with the cars. I absolutely love the design of the classic art deco style cars, but it’s hard to see many of them in the same place all at once. When I learned about the Sensuous Steel event, in Nashville, TN, I knew I had to go. The problem was that the bus was in Minneapolis. Well, I wanted to see these cars so bad that I got on a plane, went to the show, and flew back the same night! Ya know… just a 1,000-mile day trip to Nashville. No biggie.

It was totally worth it though. The cars were stunning, and I learned that seeing them in photos doesn’t do them justice. You really need to be able to walk around them and see all those sexy curves! The show was located at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. I was also able to visit the  Lane Motor Museum, which had some cute smaller cars, so that was a bonus for the day.Unfortunately, my phone’s battery died early on, so the only other shots I have are on my DSLR and I haven’t off-loaded those yet.

DecoCarOne of the beautiful cars at the Sensuous Steel show.

So back to Minneapolis: One of my personal projects has been to go around the country shooting vintage service stations. Here is one of my more popular images from that series:

Petrol Paradise-afterPetrol Paradise

I have an entire database of service stations that I want to shoot and they literally span the country. My goal is to travel around, shooting as many of them as I can. After we wrapped up Photoshop World in Las Vegas, we returned to the bus in Minneapolis and I started checking off a bunch of stations on that list.

My_places___EverplacesThe map that goes along with my vintage service station database. I have just a few dots on it!

We spent a few days in Minneapolis, where there were a few nearby stations, and then we began moving eastward, stopping in Des Moines and continuing east from there. I am, of course shooting these stations with my DSLR, but I’ve been loving the immediacy of being able to create images on my iPhone and immediately share them with you all. So without further ado, here are the stations that I’ve shot this past week:

CarverMNThis one was in Carver, MN

NewUlm-MNStation in New Ulm, MN

1upStationThe mushroom station in Dassel, MN. Karen calls this one the 1-up station because of the mushrooms in Super Mario Bros.

Shell-IAGreat looking Shell station near Cedar Falls, IA

OpalinestationWaterloo, IA station


I was bummed that this station had many broken down cars parked there and the sign had been removed. I’ve seen photos of it from a few years ago when it looked much better.

PhillipsPetroleumPhillips 66 station near Massena, IA

BridgewaterOilWasn’t expecting to run across this Sinclair station… Found it by chance!

PhillipsIA2An IA Phillips station


Was bummed to find that the station I was searching for has been destroyed.  Someone told me about this station in the same town… So I didn’t leave I empty handed!

ColoIAstationStation near Colo, IA

CollinsIAstationThis was a bonus station I found that wasn’t in my database! (Near Colo, IA)

SullyStationStation in Sully, IA

ServiceStdOilProductsLove the look of this one and just wish they had pumps from the 50’s instead of 70’s. But, they still serve gas here!

YoungvilleStationThis one is more a restaurant that happens to formerly serve gas.


A week with my vintage bus

Hi everyone! It’s time for another Monday travel update. Karen and I finally moved on from Portland and relocated to the Eugene, Oregon area. Eugene is just two hours south of Portland and it’s where my vintage bus will be getting its new interior installed. In case you’re not familiar with the project, I currently live in a modern motorhome/bus conversion but am currently restoring a vintage bus that we will eventually live in. The exterior will look vintage and the interior will feature a modern, streamline design style. To learn more about the project, check out the Creative Cruiser site.

This past week, we’ve actually had both buses parked together in paradise… well, Paradise Coach, that is. That’s the shop that will be doing the interior of the vintage bus. What’s funny is that we’re parked next to a beautiful Silverside coach, which is the other brand of vintage bus I was considering before I purchased my 1963 Flxible Starliner. The Silverside is in the final stages of restoration and when it’s complete, the gang here will be able to focus their attention on my bus.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week planning out the interior of the bus. Having the vintage bus within 20 feet of my current bus makes it really convenient to do measurements and such. I would go back and forth between the bus and my computer so that I could create the 3D model of the bus’ interior. Then I would spend time researching the right appliances that would fit into the space. One of the tricky things about the vintage bus is that the roof is very curvy so any cabinets or appliances that have to be fitted on the ceiling take some extra consideration.

Above you can see part of my 3D model showing the kitchen area of the vintage bus.

Here I am getting measurements inside the vintage bus.


Aside from working on the vintage bus, Karen and I actually went to a few movies this week. The first was actually Pulp Fiction.  (yes, you heard that right) There was a one-day re-release of the film that included interviews and special trailers hand-picked by Tarantino. We both really like Tarantino flicks, and Pulp Fiction is pretty much a classic, so we had a blast. The second movie we saw was “Lincoln,” and it was equally enjoyable. The actors were all extremely impressive, especially Daniel Day Lewis, and the lighting was very well done. Karen and I would both recommend seeing it.

Finally, we met some fellow full-timers this week (meaning folks that also live on the road like we do). Steve and Kristen own a GM bus that had its interior done here at Paradise Coach. They’re back here for some maintenance things and we got some time to hang out and get to know each other. It’s always fun to see how other RVers do what they do. Steve and Kristen have their priorities set on hiking, climbing, biking and other outdoor-related activities, so they made that a priority when designing their lifestyle and their bus. The four of us went to dinner at Ubon Thai in Eugene and we just loved it. It’s run by a husband and wife team. The wife is the cook, and she’s straight from Thailand. Yum!

From left, me, Karen, Kristen and Steve.

We’re most likely going to be spending the next week in the same area and I’ll be working more on the vintage bus and other projects. More to come…


The Vintage Bus Run: Take Two

Hi gang! It’s time for the good ol’ Monday travel update. This past week has been all about my vintage bus. If you’re familiar with me and this blog, you know that I live full-time in a motorcoach/bus and am also restoring a second, vintage bus (that I will eventually live in).  You can read more about the project at the Creative Cruiser site. You’ll also learn there why this post is titled “Take 2.” This past week, I picked up my vintage bus at the shop where it was stored in Chattanooga, TN and started driving it to  the shop where it will get its new interior put in. The bus has a brand new engine and transmission but the interior is completely gutted. The next shop, Paradise Coach, is located in Coburg, Oregon, so needless to say, I’ve got quite the drive!

Early in the week, I flew out of Portland, Oregon to pick up the bus. When I arrived at the Chattanooga shop, there were a few things that needed to be dealt with (like a new battery) but I was able to get on the road relatively quickly. I decided to take a more southern route to avoid any intense weather during my drive. You can see the route below. The rest of the post is a visual depiction of my journey so far. These are all iPhone shots, but I was photographing the vintage gas stations with my DSLR as well and will be processing those soon.

My general travel route. The white dots are vintage gas stations that I want to photograph.

Here’s the vintage bus during a rest stop in Alabama.

After my first day of traveling, I crossed paths with two RVing friends, Shonda and Michael, who are also full-timers like me. It was great to catch up with them as we hadn’t seen each other since Mardi Gras 2011!

Sunrise from the Alabama RV park.

There were a handful of vintage service stations along my route that I’ve been wanting to photograph, and I love getting my vintage bus in there too!

Here’s another one, in Mena, Arkansas. As you can see, I’ve been using the iPhone’s new panorama feature a lot lately!

This one is in McAlester, OK.

One more, in Skellytown, TX.

I stayed at this funky motel in Tucumcari, NM. They even had retro stuff in the rooms!

As you can see, I covered a lot of ground in the first few days! It wasn’t until I reached Tucumcari, NM that I had any kind of mechanical issue. I’m not sure why, but the bus lost a lot of power and I was only able to go 55 instead of 75. I’m hoping this is a simple fix, like a fuel filter and will look into it first thing in the morning. While I flew out to pick up the vintage bus, Karen flew over to visit her family in NJ. Now, she had to extend her stay because of Hurricane Sandy so I might make it back to Oregon before she does!

Hopefully, I’ll make it to Coburg in the next couple days and will report back with a new update next week! More to come…

A Golden week and a retro weekend

This past week has been a blast! In my last post, we were just leaving the Starlite Classic Campground, en route to Golden, CO. We spent two wonderful nights at the Starlite, where we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Larry and Sylvia, the campground owners. As I mentioned in my last post, I also got the opportunity to lightpaint some of their incredible vintage trailers. While we left the campground on Sunday, I spent the rest of the week processing the images and was really pleased with how they turned out. Check them out below.

As I mentioned above, our next stop was Golden, CO. We stayed here for about three weeks last year and just loved it. The campground is in a beautiful park, along a river, and is within walking distance to downtown. We’ve been spending our time here working, walking, and processing images. We’ve also explored some of the fun places Golden has to offer. The Foothills Art Center was hosting a Chihuly exhibit, and I was excited to check that out. Chihuly is a very famous glass artist, most known for his colorful chandeliers made of twisty blown glass. Another fun place we visited was Woody’s, which is pretty much a really good pizza place/pub. We went for a late dinner on Monday and then returned Tuesday for their movie night, where they serve up free popcorn and play a movie on all of the screens in the bar area. Karen is a film nut, so when she heard about movie night, I knew we would be going.

The best part of this past week was most definitely the weekend. We returned to Starlite for the Colorado Classic Campout, which is an event where vintage trailer owners gather, have fun and show off their trailers to the whole group. One of the fun things about the weekend was that Karen and I did NOT stay in the bus while we were there. Instead, we left the bus in Golden, drove the Mini to the Starlite and stayed in the TikiBago, one of the rigs they rent out to guests. Just as you might suspect, the TikiBago is a Winnebago completely decked out in a Polynesian theme, complete with a tiki bar!

Karen and I enjoying the luau.

On the first night of the event, we had a meet-and-greet, followed by a movie under the stars. Of course, the featured movie was “The Long, Long Trailer,” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. On the second day, there was an “open house” where everyone got their trailers all spiffy so that guests could check them out. Karen and I loved seeing the insides of all these amazing, vintage rigs. In the evening, there was a luau, complete with tacky Hawaiian shirts and a limbo contest! When things got dark enough, I lightpainted Birdie, a beautiful pink trailer decked out will all kinds of authentic vintage fixin’s.

Here, I’m trying to act all suave, as if I’d actually make it under this limbo pole. (I DID made it under the pole but Karen says I cheated.)  Behind me is the TikiBago, our lodging for the weekend.

Sylvia and Larry announce the door prizes for the Colorado Classic Campout.

Sunday morning started with a spam burrito breakfast, and then everyone said their goodbyes. As I said in the beginning of this post, the week has been great for me. I’m excited about this series of lightpaintings I’ve started, and I look forward to continuing it. I’m thinking about creating a calendar out of the images. Many thanks to Larry and Sylvia at the Starlite Campground. They do such a great job, and we had a blast at their event.

More to come…

Here is “Birdie,” a beautiful Cardinal trailer completely decked out with vintage accents. Many thanks to owners Jim and Diana for giving me the opportunity to make this image!

The Vintage Bus Run Begins!

We have lift-off! I’m excited to say that the “Vintage Bus Run” has officially begun. If you’re not familiar with my vintage bus saga, here’s the short version. In addition to the bus Karen and I currently live on, I also own a 1963 Flxible Starliner (the vintage bus) which I am completely restoring from the inside out. There are two main segments to the restoration: the engine/transmission part and the interior/living space part. After a very long and drawn-out process (the first mechanic delayed the process by over a year) the first segment of the restoration is basically complete and the bus is now ready to get its interior. This means that it’s time for me to drive it from Fort Worth, Texas (where it was being worked on by the amazing George Fields) to Nova Scotia, where Craig Dorsey will work his magic and give the interior the streamline design/high-tech style I want. I know that Nova Scotia seems a bit inconvenient, but Craig is the only person I’ve found with the creative vision and high standards I was looking for.

George and I take the bus for a test run in Ft. Worth before I start the drive to Nova Scotia.

Early in the week, I flew from the L.A. area to Ft. Worth. We spent some time taking care of last-minute tweaks and doing some road tests. We had a very minor delay when the wheels (rims) were replaced and the old studs were a bit too short for the new wheels, but this wasn’t a big deal. We quickly replaced the studs and I was on my way!

The planned route from Ft. Worth to Nova Scotia.

During my first day on the road, I got a good feel for how the bus drives with its new engine and transmission. It’s an absolute hot rod! I had a hard time keeping myself within five mph of the speed limit! I had planned on making it to Tulsa, OK the first night, but ended up in Oklahoma City instead. My friend Jerry happens to live in OKC, though, and we were able to meet up for dinner! It’s been a year since I’d seen Jerry last, so it was great to catch up.

Here I am with my friend, Jerry, in Oklahoma City during my first stop on the vintage bus run.

Soon after leaving Oklahoma City, I picked up historic Route 66 and decided to follow it as long as I could. I’ve already driven the entirety of the “Mother Road” more than twice, but I just love shooting the old gas stations and other vintage buildings along the route. Considering I’m driving the vintage bus, it seemed rather appropriate! Plus, I allowed myself extra time during this trip in case I wanted to shoot, linger or deal with any mechanical issues.

The Blue Whale, on Rt. 66 just outside of Tulsa.

Speaking of mechanical issues, I did run into a small problem while driving through Kansas and Missouri. The heat exchanger for the transmission began leaking fluid and I had to periodically top it off during the course of the day. I plan to get this checked out today in St. Louis. Hopefully it will be an easy fix and I’ll be on my way again. If you want to follow the progress of the vintage bus run, check out the Creative Cruiser Facebook page, where we’re posting more frequent updates.

For now, here are some more iPhone photos of the bus on Rt. 66. More to come!