Vintage Reno Signs

I literally took thousands of photos on our road trip, 3322 to be exact. Most were of abandoned buildings and killer vintage signs, which are my two favorite things to photograph, and our road trip was full of them! So much so my photos are coming to you in three, yes, three, separate posts! First up I’m sharing the sights of Reno! Now, if you follow me on Instagram and checked out any of my stories while we were on the road, you may have seen me fawning all over some of these signs, and I am so happy to finally share them with you in all of their glory in this post!

Most of the signs you’ll see are from motels, and I’ve even included some images of the actual buildings if the building was cool too!

If you liked this, there will be another signage post in the near future! So stay tuned!

Ghost Towns along Highway 49

I am sorry to report I don’t have any images from our time spent in Portland. I was incredibly busy constantly visiting with friends and family, and shopping of course! What I do have to show for our trip though are some shots I took of some ghost towns. we visited during our journey back home.

Honestly, I can’t recall when I first fell in love with the old mining towns along California Highway 49. What I do remember though is being very young and marveling at the old buildings the small town of Mariposa, where my great aunt and uncle used to lived (they have since moved to Seal Beach). We visited them every so often during our trips to California, and I always loved returning to that town. California’s gold rush is a unique moment in time, and a driving force in California’s rich (no pun intended) history, much like the Spanish missions and Hollywood. The towns that sprung up from it continue to draw me in whenever I get the chance to drive through them.

After crossing the border between Oregon and California, we peeled off I-5 just before Sacramento and made our way down Highway 49 visiting Amador City, Sutter Creek, Mokelume Hill, Murphys, Angels Camp, and Columbia. Sadly, we didn’t make it into Mariposa (it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I was there) but there are still many more gold rush towns I wish to visit, and I know we will make it there one day. But today I just want to share with you some of the images I took during our visit to these quiet and peaceful towns.

A couple of years ago we visited Coloma, where gold was first discovered in California, and you can take a peek at here.

Patrick and I didn’t have much down time after getting home. In fact we are off to Joshua Tree for the weekend! So I better go repack my suitcase! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Museum of Neon Art

Over the weekend Patrick and I spent a day shopping in Burbank (I came home with quite a few goodies which will show up sooner or later on the blog, I’m sure) followed by a visit to the Museum of Neon Art. I would likely say that signage from the mid-20th century is my favorite art. Neon is simply spellbinding to me.

Interested in seeing what the museum has to offer? Keep reading!

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Up With Downey

Last night Patrick and I tracked down our folding chairs, as they had not been out since our move, and trundled up I-5 to my dad’s old stomping ground of Downey. One of the iconic suburbs of Los Angeles, Downey is lush with Googie architecture and neon as well as rich with unique American history from the mid-20th century, and last night the Ambassador of Americana himself, Charles Phoenix, paid homage to it.

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix, he is a man with a passion very similar to mine, that of the mid-20th century and its stellar signage, killer modern buildings, classic cars with fins reaching toward the stars and everything that is kitschy. He tours the country doing shows featuring vintage slides from his personal collection that he has amassed over the years. He also shares his glorious images and wealth of knowledge in books, such as Southern Californialand and Americana the Beautiful. You can see all of his books, and more by visiting his website. Basically Phoenix is a bacon of hope and inspiration for Americana lovers, as he preaches the gospel of unique American history and preservation, and last night he teamed up with The Downey Conservancy and the Columbia Memorial Space Center to for a presentation showing the unique and spectacular history of Downey. Plus there were two opening bands! The Ameba People, an awesome science themed rock band (seriously think if Bill Nye the Science Guy had a band), who also happen to be the house band for the Space Center (the only museum to have a house band) and The Noble Gasses, where the bass player is also the director of the Space Center, who played music that was originally recorded at Downey Records.

So, what makes Downey super cool? It’s home to some of the most American icons around, including the oldest McDonald’s, Harvey’s Broiler Drive-In, now Big Boy’s, the original Taco Bell, which I’ll talk more about in a moment, and is the location where they built the Apollo capsules!

Now, about the Taco Bell. I know what some of you are saying… “Taco Bell…? Really?” Look. Fast food is one thing that is uniquely American. Fast food was built around America’s love affair with their automobiles and the birth of the freeway system and the legendary road trip, all of that was born here. Fast food is part of that unique American culture and we need to work on preserving it. So, yes, right now, the very first Taco Bell is in danger of meeting the wrecking ball, and a group of preservationists, We Are The Next, is trying to save it. Seriously, check them out, if you are a SoCal resident, and especially if you are a SoCal teacher, as they do work with schools!

And speaking of Taco Bell, it may have had an influence in going for a Mexican theme with my ensemble for the evening. Originally I wanted to do a space theme, but that outfit didn’t come together for the weather, which was an odd mix of chilly, but humid. But it meant I got to break out one of my favorite, and rarely used purses, a Mexican tourist purse! Yes, Mexican tourist purse!

I look forward to visiting the remaining icons of Downey, many of which my dad visited growing up, as he grew up in the Downey, Bell and Lynwood are. As well as the Columbia Memorial Space Center!

Mexican Tourist Jacket: Expo
Dress: Albany Antique Mall, Albany, Or.
Belt: Thrifted
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse: A birthday gift from my friend Lyndsie, the owner of Retro Rejuvenation
Turquoise Bracelet: West of Texas, Redlands, Ca.
Turquoise Ring: I don’t remember…


“You want to go to another weird western town?”

This is how Patrick woke me up this last Thursday. Since moving I have pretty much dragged him to every old west town, be it fake or real, I could find. From Pioneertown to Calico to Knott’s Berry Farm to Paramount Ranch, I’m all about going to places that feature old west buildings. Bodie is next on the list. But Patrick brought an odd ball to my attention that I had never heard of. Thanks, Atlas Obscura. Enter Jack-O-Landia.

This place is just weird. Located right along Highway 18 in Lucerne Valley is Jack-O-Landia, a bizarre, tiny, wanna-be western…town…amusement…thing…I honestly don’t know what to call it. And here’s the thing, the internet doesn’t offer much on it, despite locals claiming the place has been there for around 30 years, according to Atlas Obsucra, anyway.

By just driving by you may mistake it for a mini golf corse, or an amusement park of some sort, but then as you pull up you realize it is something else entirely.  And what that is exactly you don’t know. The land is scattered with sheds that have been given western style porches, a “Last Stop” gallows and jail grace one side, meanwhile on the other side is what appears to be a legitimate tiny cemetery (I say legitimate because most of the headstones are laser etched, and feature relatively recent death dates) and a hearse, complete with casket inside (yes, I opened it, a glass or plexiglass sheet lay just inside, and I didn’t feel like crawling in further to see what lay beneath). Located in between is a playground, fake service station, wooden train, tipis, and a memorial for one Victor Cruz (all I can find is a short 2011 obituary for him, which invites people a celebration of life at Jack-O-Landia). Additionally there is a memorial sign for Freddy Fender. There are even handicap spaces located inside the fence, and restrooms, though they are actually just porta-potties (no, I did not go in).

The area has a strange feeling of both abandon and upkeep, because the buildings are free of tagging, and other forms of destruction. But maybe that is just because the area of Lucerne Valley doesn’t have a lot of vandals in its population. Who knows?

Feather & Totempole Print Blouse: Magpie, Portland, Or.
Shorts: Patti Smith West, Portland, Or.
Belt: I think Buffalo Exchange…
Mocs: Minnetonka
Bracelet & Ring: Capistrano Trading Post, San Juan Capistrano, Ca.
Purse: From my mother-in-law

The Wigwam Motel

During the week Patrick decided to surprise me with a mini, one night getaway at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto on Route 66!

An icon of the Mother Road, the Wigwam Motel is a handful of concrete tipi structures that are quaint, and of course, small. There honestly wasn’t much to do in the small town of Rialto, and its neighbor, San Bernardino, but we found some light entertainment in the odd McDonald’s Museum, located where the very first McDonald’s was. We also stumbled upon the restaurant that Mad Men used for its Burger Chef scene in the episode “The Strategy” (S7 Ep6), Chris’s Burgers, which was in fact a Burger Chef originally. And, yes, we sat in the same booth as the cast in the scene.

While I can now cross this off my list of unique places I want to stay at, I still would love to visit the other surviving Wigwam Motel, located in Halbook, Arizona. How about you? Do you ever want to stay at unique lodgings just for the heck of it?

Dress: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Belt: Nordstorm
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Turquoise Rings: Here and there
Western Themed Charm Bracelet: Put together by me, from charms from various places

Desert Shores

Over the weekend Patrick and I took a day trip to the Salton Sea to see what we could see (yeah, I just went there). Last March I visited the ghostly Salton Sea for the first time with my dad, but we only explored the east side of the sea. During this visit, Patrick and I drove along a portion of the west side.

The anomaly that is the Salton Sea was the result of flooding from the Colorado River into irrigation canals along an area known as the Salton Sink, a dry lake bed high in salt deposits, so high that salt mining occurred in the area in the late 1800s. As the canals were breached, water poured in, and a singular lake, with no water source going in (after the flood was contained) or an outlet, meaning the only way for water to leave is through evaporation, a process that leaves behind more salt. After World War II, the California Department of Fish and Game released thousands of fish into the sea, and the fishermen quickly flocked to the area (as did many species of birds) and in the mid-twentieth century the area became a resort destination. Backs of postcards described a place where “the boating facilitates are the best and the modern motel, trailer park and cafe will add to your vacationing pleasure” However, many of the fish released could not tolerate the high salinity of the water combined with toxic chemical runoff, and began to die by the hundreds, washing up on shore, and within a few years, the great Salton Sea resort boom was over.

Today the Salton Sea looks like remnants of a war zone, with hollowed out buildings, trailers that appear as if they would fall over with a sneeze made too close to them. But the area is part of California’s unique history, which is something I continue to seek out, and capture before it completely disappears.

As we walked the shores and explored the area, we met other photographers, one who makes regular visits to the Salton Sea. He described how much has changed over the years, and whispers of a push to tear down what remains. It should be noted that while these images give a sense of complete and utter desolation, the area is not uninhabited, for there are still residents along the shores of the Salton Sea.

So much has disappeared over the last two decades, and the area is now rampant with graffiti. Patrick and I discussed revisiting later this year, as we still need to visit Salvation Mountain, another one of California’s oddities.

Stay tuned for a look at what I wore for our outing, and Patrick will be doing another guest post to discuss the North Shore Yacht Club.