Hi gang! I’ve been zipping all over between different events lately, and I even managed to get some shooting in. As you may know, I have an ongoing photography project that involves shooting a bunch of vintage service stations all over the United States. When we’re living in the bus (our RV), this is a lot easier because we’re constantly on the road. Lately, since we’ve been temporarily staying in one place, the project hasn’t seen much progress. However, I had a few speaking events in the midwest this month, and instead of flying between them, I decided to rent a car and check off some of the service stations that were on my list. In just a few days, I shot nearly a dozen stations and put about 1,000 miles on my rental car!
In total, I’ve found over 200 service stations that I want to photograph. My criteria is that they have to be vintage and that they must still have the building, pumps and sign. Many people ask me whether the stations are ever still in service and 99% of the time, the answer is no. Some of them have been preserved, some have been restored and converted into something else (office, pizza parlor, etc.) and some are in various stages of deterioration.
When I photograph the stations, I always take an iPhone shot first and then spend more time creating an image with my “big boy camera.” It’s nice to have the iPhone shots so that I can share them immediately, whereas it takes me a very long time to edit all of the raw files.
Here is a visual recap of my road trip and the service stations I photographed. These are all iPhone shots. More to come!
This is the route I drove to capture the stations between events.
The first station was in Madison, Kansas.
Second service station in Kansas.
This was a bonus station right around the corner from another one I shot in Wetmore, Kansas. I didn’t have this one in my database.
I captured this one, in Wetmore, Kansas, in the evening and then returned for the morning light, which is what you’re seeing here.
Captured this little beauty, which is hidden on private land that you have to hike to, in New Cambria, Missouri.
This one, in Macon, Missouri, had too new of pumps and wasn’t in the best shape, so I disguised it with a heavy texture treatment here.
This one, in Centerville, Iowa, took a while to capture since there was a pick up truck parked out front and it took almost an hour to find the owner and get them to move it.
This one has too much junk covering up the essence of the station so it also gets a heavy texture treatment. This one is a barbecue joint these days, in Lees Summit, Missouri.
After presenting a seminar all day in Kansas City, I hit the road to capture more stations. Here’s the first capture, in Clinton, Missouri.
Got to this location after dark and had to wait until morning to capture it. It’s a cute little station, but it felt odd spending an entire night in a town where my cell phone indicated “no signal”. (Stover, Missouri)
I was happy to get to this nice little Texaco station right before the rain hit. I was able to get my shot and the moment I started to drive away the rain started to fall! This is in De Soto, Missouri.
I was big-time bummed that the sign was missing here! It’s located inside the building, but is not currently hung. I’ve shot this station before, but didn’t have an ideal shot. I returned with my tilt/shift lens hoping to get something better, but that will have to happen another day. This one is on RT66, in Mount Olive, Illinois.
In last week’s post, we had just finished exploring the Columbia Gorge area, which runs along the border between Oregon and Washington. This week, we continued on to Walla Walla, Washington, which also happens to be Washington wine country. Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’re probably thinking, “wait… weren’t you just in wine country a few weeks ago?” And the answer would be yes! Only that was the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which specialized in Pinot Noirs. While Karen and I enjoyed our time in the Willamette Valley, pinots just aren’t our thing. We like BIG reds, and that’s exactly what Walla Walla has to offer. We tried lots of tasty cabernet and syrah there. Before we got to Walla Walla, we contacted our great friend Carl “The Wine Wizard” to ask for recommendations. Carl’s knowledge of (and taste in) wine is just spectacular, and he directed us to many fantastic wineries. Two of our favorites were Pepper Bridge and Woodward Canyon. We also loved Long Shadow, which is kind of an interesting place because they bring in a different wine maker for each wine they offer, so their wines were all very different, but the quality was there in all of them as well.
We also happened to be in Walla Walla for my birthday! It was nice to spend a birthday driving around vineyards and tasting wine! Karen also took me for an hour-long massage at a spa in downtown Walla Walla.
Me and Karen at Pepper Bridge (I’m sporting my new bespoke hat). This may have been my favorite winery in Walla Walla. Their bottles are quite spendy, but I ended up getting one as a birthday present to myself.
After spending three nights in Walla Walla, we continued on to the Palouse area. The Palouse is in Washington as well, and it’s basically a big wheat-producing area. The draw for us as photographers is that the area is covered with green, rolling hills… similar to what you would see in Tuscany. Very beautiful. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate at all while we were in the area, so I really don’t have any photos to show for it. When we saw that the rain and clouds weren’t going to clear up, we took the drive anyway up this tall butte that overlooks the area, just to see what we could see. We saw clouds. The top of the butte was literally IN the clouds. Karen got a kick out of a photo she took that is completely white. Lovely shot of the Palouse, right?! Even though we didn’t get any good images, we could tell how beautiful it was, and how spectacular it must be on a partly cloudy day, with the shadows and sun spots dancing on the hills.
While the bus was parked in the Palouse, I also took a drive to the middle-of-nowhere, Washington to photograph another little gas station. The rain made it tricky here as well, as I was only able to shoot from the car window.
This is the little Texaco I shot in middle-of-nowhere, Washington. It’s just an iPhone shot I snapped while sitting in the car hoping the rain would stop.
While we were driving to the Palouse, I had noticed some transmission issues on the bus. It was acting odd in first gear and I began getting error codes. This made it so that our next stop was Spokane, WA where there is a diesel shop that can work on the kind of transmission that’s in my bus. They concluded that the issue was likely caused by a bad sensor. They replaced the sensor and we were on our way. Before leaving, though, we explored town a bit and paid a visit to the largest wagon in the world! Exciting stuff!
If you look close enough, you can see Karen standing next to the world’s largest wagon.
En route to Spokane, we went a little out of our way so that I could photograph another vintage service station.
Once the bus issue was seemingly fixed, we headed east into Idaho and spent the night in Coeur d’Alene. Our goal is to make it to Glacier National Park as soon as possible, but when we left Coeur d’Alene in the morning, the bus issue came back. It hadn’t been fixed after all. Considering it was a transmission problem, and those can be ugly, we opted to turn around and go back to the diesel shop that had worked on it in Spokane. Bummer, huh? Luckily, they were able to get us in on a Sunday and after a bunch of testing, it turns out that three parts need to be replaced in the transmission. The shop has two of the parts in stock and we hope another shop in town might have the last part needed, but we won’t know until Monday rolls around. Ah, the joys of bus life!
A few more fun things:
I had mentioned in a recent post that I just bought a Brompton folding bike that fits in the bay of the bus. I had been eyeing them up for a while, and I’m really loving it. When I ordered it, I added an after-market electric conversion, which means that I can pedal like normal, I can do a mixture of peddling and electric, or I can just use the trottle on the handlebars to go all electric. Below is a rough iPhone video of me unfolding the bike.
A rough video of my new Brompton folding bike.
Since this post includes a few vintage gas stations, I wanted to throw one more in there. This isn’t a new image, but it’s one I’ve been working on for a while. When it comes to these gas station images, I often end up doing some serious retouching work. Check out the before and after versions of this one by dragging the slider left and right:
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…