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.
If you know me at all, you know that my life is pretty much one big road trip. Well, that’s been especially the case during the past week or two. I just finished driving my vintage bus from Chattanooga, TN to Coburg, Oregon, where it will be getting its new interior installed. Right now, the engine/transmission is all new but the interior is gutted. By the time it’s done, it will have a modern/streamline design look to it. The bus is now at Paradise Coach, in Coburg, and what’s nice is that this will probably be the bus’ last stop before it’s completely restored. I’ve had the bus since October, 2009 and the restoration project has had a lot of setbacks. You can read the whole story on the Creative Cruiser site, but lets just say that the bus has traveled over 8,100 miles during its restoration alone.
This is a map of travels my vintage bus has taken during its restoration alone! It’s gone over 8,100 miles, and we haven’t even begun living in it!
When I finally arrived at Paradise Coach, I handed over the keys to Larry, who will be in charge of creating the bus’ new interior.
If you read my last post, you saw a lot of iPhone shots from the stops that I made during the trip. I love to shoot vintage gas stations, and there were several of them on my route. You can see a few of those shots below. I only had two breakdowns during the course of the trip and they were both due to the same thing… some loose tubing that will eventually be fixed permanently. No big deal at all. I had anticipated some breakdowns because the bus has just been given a new engine and transmission. I knew there was bound to be a few kinks to work out.
My vintage bus at Twin Arrows, a famous stop along Route 66.
The bus at a vintage Skelly service station.
I was really eager to shoot the bus at this vintage Conoco station, but I was pretty bummed to show up at dawn and find that the neon lights had been turned off!
The timing for my Oregon arrival was pretty good, because Karen had just flown in from New Jersey. While I was driving the vintage bus, she was out visiting her family on the east coast. She drove down from Portland to Coburg to pick me up and get another look at the bus. She hadn’t seen the bus in a year and a half, and she thinks it’s adorable.
Karen and I both returned to the current bus in Portland, and plan to stay in the area for the next few months. We’ll also travel to Coburg/Eugene to keep up on the vintage bus project. More to come…
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…
This post is part two of the Vintage Bus Run saga. If you didn’t read last week’s post, you can check it out HERE. It will fill you in on the general status of my vintage bus project.
I ended last week’s post in St. Louis, having driven all the way from Ft. Worth. As you know, my original plan for this trip was to spend 10 days driving from Texas to Nova Scotia, where the bus will get its interior fixin’s. Well, it’s amazing how much things can change in a week! This road has been filled with a lot of frustration and more drama than I care to deal with. Luckily, there’s been some fun moments along the way too.
When I arrived in St. Louis, I had to seek out a shop because the bus had a minor leak in the transmission’s heat exchanger. The issue required a fitting to be replaced, which wasn’t that huge a deal. I spent the time in St. Louis hanging out with my cousin Paul. We went out to eat and then headed over to the extremely wild City Museum. Paul had never been there, which I couldn’t believe! The place is like a playground for adults, but it’s really hard to explain. You really just need to see it for yourself. I highly recommend it if you’re ever visiting St. Louis.
When I returned to the shop to pick up the bus, I had a major issue with the staff there, who tried to charge me out the wazoo for something like 15 hours of labor. If you saw what had to get fixed, you would know that this was absolute silliness. I finally got them down to a less offensive price (by knocking off 11 hours of labor), but I left the place in a pretty bad mood. I left St. Louis and made it across the border to Indiana… when the bus had its second mechanical issue. A sensor that was connected to the air system broke and started spewing air. Since the bus has air brakes, that means I was stuck. After further inspection, I found what had caused the break in the air system and it led me to a bigger problem. There were about eight bolts holding the rear end onto the suspension that weren’t tightened properly (this leads back to the first mechanic who worked on the project) and had allowed the rear end to shift on the chassis 2 1/8″ toward the passengers side and interfere with the air lines. I had to call AAA to tow the bus, but talked them into plugging my air leak instead of having to tow the bus. I then found a shop that had alignment equipment and could work on it the next morning. In the meantime I checked into a hotel in Evansville. At this point, I was needing some good news and, luckily, good news came! I learned that my friends Sam and Tracy, who are fellow full-timers like us, were in the same little town as I was! The chances of me seeing anyone I knew there were slim to none, so I was blown away! I met up with Sam that night and had a much-needed beer.
Sam and I relax after I spent a long time troubleshooting bus issues.
The shop finished with the bus the next afternoon and I was on my way again. I got a late start, so I didn’t make it all too far that night. I stopped just outside Louisville, KY and spoke with the person who will work on the interior of the bus in Nova Scotia. This is where I was dealt the biggest blow of the entire trip. There I was, in the middle of the country on my way to his shop, when he tells me that he suddenly took on another project and wouldn’t be able to work on my bus for another six months. @#$%$^@!!! This project has encountered so many setbacks and has been delayed by nearly a year and a half already, so I really didn’t know how to react to this. How could he have taken on a new project, knowing that I was on my way to his place? He claimed that he didn’t know I was actively on my where to his place and thought I was on a leisurely road trip and wouldn’t show up until the fall. I don’t know where he got that idea. In fact, I went through my emails and saw that I had specifically told him what my plans were and when I’d be arriving. I was very upset and sent him an e-mail expressing this and explaining my situation. Then I proceeded to spend the rest of the night trying to figure out what to do. I had looked into some other shops that could do the work, but this guy is by far the most talented and understands the style I want. I started thinking about changing gears and getting the paint and body work done before the interior. This is the opposite order in which I had originally planned, but that’s ok. I started looking into paint and body shops that were in the general area of the country I was in. When I went to bed that night, I had no idea which direction I would be heading in the morning.
The next morning, before I even had a chance to wake up, the phone rang. It was Craig… the guy who I received the bad news from yesterday. He was extremely apologetic about the whole scenario and wanted to do what he could to make things right. He sent me an email expressing the same thing. As upset as I was, it would be hard for me to imagine bringing the bus to a shop other than his, so I’ll most likely do that, but nothing is 100% decided yet. What I DID do, however, is make some appointments to evaluate paint and body shops. The first place I visited was in Columbus, Ohio, which was on my original planned route. Unfortunately I wasn’t excited by the quality of the work there. I made a few appointments in Elkhart, Indiana as well, which takes me in the opposite direction of my original route, but at this point everything is up in the air.
Here’s an iPhone shot of one of the gas stations I stopped to photograph on the way to Elkhart.
I really have no idea what my plans will be for the next week and what will be done next in the vintage bus project. Maybe body work and paint. Maybe mechanical stuff like power steering. It’s really hard to say right now, but I should have a better idea by mid-week. I will have to return to the current bus in California soon, because we need to head toward Page, Arizona for a three-day workshop with the Digital Photo Workshops gang. If you’re a photographer, check it out! We have a room for a few more! More to come…
Because this post was full of speed bumps and frustrations, and not enough fun stuff… here is a photo of me with the world’s largest underpants. It’s an iPhone shot from the City Museum in St. Louis.