Vintage Neon Everywhere

Old Mojo Gas Sign - Rock Springs, Wyoming
Old Mojo Gas Sign – Rock Springs, Wyoming

Everywhere I go I see old neon.  These signs remind me of the my youthful days in the 1960s and 70s when we traveled.  Alas, for many, the only signs they see are the same unoriginal fast food, gas station and motel chain signs all over the place.  But, in the by gone days there were few McDonald’s and Motel 6 spots.  Instead, there were the little cozy motels with the old metal chairs in the front and the unique neon signs.  There were the local burger joints with their big shiny signs.  And there were the drive in movie theaters and the downtown theatres with their unique names.  Here is a trip down memory lane with neon I have captured along the less beaten paths and just a few comments, when appropriate.

OLD MOTELS

Chinook Hotel - Chinook, Montana
Chinook Hotel – Chinook, Montana

Of all of the unique neon signs, perhaps the hotel and motel signs are the most fun and bring back the fondest memories.  My first ever motel stay was in some non-descript motel in Amarillo, Texas in 1968.  At the time I was only 12.  It was exciting to sleep in a motel bed, see the paper covered drinking glasses, taste the strange tasting water, sit on the metal rockers on the front porch.  We watched the news and stock reports on the local television and ate pancakes at a local cafe before heading to our new home in Richardson, Texas (we were moving from Albuquerque, so yes, we were on Route 66 back then).

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana
Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Cave Land Motel - Cave City, Kentucky
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky
Log Cabin Motel - Ashton, Idaho
Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone, Montana
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana
D-K Motel - Arco, Idaho
D-K Motel – Arco, Idaho
Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, South Dakota
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, South Dakota
4 Winds Motel - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4 Winds Motel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana  The sign is all that remains
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana The sign is all that remains
Generic Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Generic Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri.  Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri. Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Motel in Havre, Montana
Motel in Havre, Montana
Palace Hotel - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Palace Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Antler Motel - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Antler Motel – Kemmerer, Wyoming
Texan Motel - Raton, New Mexico
Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

And to round off the trip, how about one of the more famed ones….

Sleep in a Wigwam - Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Goody Goody - St. Louis, Missouri
Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

After a nice evening a a comfy motel, what is better than starting the day off with a great breakfast at a diner, a pancake house or a local cafe. The servings are always big, the mom and pop service is better than any fast food joint.  Of course, while on the road you can also stop for lunch and even a big dinner, in some cases even more than you can manage if you are willing to take the chance (think Amarillo, Texas!!)

Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas
Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas They have a giant rooster on the roof there too!
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon
Royal Donut - Danville, Illinois
Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois
Crystal Cafe - Raton, NM
Crystal Cafe – Raton, NM
Golden Burro Cafe - Leadville, CO
Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO
Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, OH
Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, OH
Lil' Cafe - Commerce, Oklahoma
Lil’ Cafe – Commerce, Oklahoma
Irma Restaurant and Grill - Cody, Wyoming
Irma Restaurant and Grill – Cody, Wyoming
Pickle's Place - Arco, Idaho
Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho
Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota

How about some burgers for lunch?

Wimpy's Hamburgers - Dallas, Texas - I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today....
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….
Paul's Hamburgers - Kansas City, Kansas
Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Miami, Oklahoma
Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Frostop Root Beer - Ashton, Idaho
Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho
Schroeder's Drive-In - Danville, Illinois
Schroeder’s Drive-In – Danville, Illinois

Perhaps you want to try an ORIGINAL Cozy Dog….a Route 66 Classic indeed.  This one deserves two photos

Cozy Drive-In - Home of the Cozy Dog - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In – Home of the Cozy Dog – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In - Springfield, Illinois  The sign says it all
Cozy Drive-In – Springfield, Illinois The sign says it all

Don’t want a burger or a corn dog?  How about a Maid-Rite Sandwich?

Maid-Rite Sandwiches - Lexington, Missouri
Maid-Rite Sandwiches – Lexington, Missouri

Or perhaps some great authentic Bar-B-Q?

Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

And a little Ice Cream for an afternoon treat….

Zesto - near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Zesto – near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Jimmy's Ice Cream - Waldo, Arkansas
Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Stamps, Arkansas

Okay.  So this next one is not neon.  But it is certainly Vintage.  And who can resist stopping for an ice cream at a place that LOOKS like an Ice Cream?

M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, Illinois
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, Illinois

There are lots of places that you can get dinner…many of the old neon places are a combo bar/grill or bar/restaurant.   And many have unique signs.  Personally, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have certainly enjoyed a few good meals at some of these kinds of places.

Manhattan Bar - Leadville, Colorado
Manhattan Bar – Leadville, Colorado
Mint Bar and Lounge - Chinook, Montana
Mint Bar and Lounge – Chinook, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge - Butte, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge – Butte, Montana
Atomic City Bar - Atomic City, Idaho - no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Atomic City Bar – Atomic City, Idaho – no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Elk Bar and Good Food - Chinook, Montana
Elk Bar and Good Food – Chinook, Montana
Steaks - what more needs to be said? - near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Steaks – what more needs to be said? – near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Riscky's Steakhouse - Fort Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Fort Worth, Texas
Lariat Saloon - Buena Vista, Colorado
Lariat Saloon – Buena Vista, Colorado

And let’s not forget two of the most iconic vintage neon places for travelers….

Cowboy Bar - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big Texan Steak House - home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) - Amarillo, Texas
Big Texan Steak Ranch – home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) – Amarillo, Texas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more ethnic in the evening….

Joe Mama's Italian - Time for Fine Eats - Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
Joe Mama’s Italian – Time for Fine Eats – Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
El Fenix Restaurant - Best Tex-Mex in Texas - downtown Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Restaurant – Best Tex-Mex in Texas – downtown Dallas, Texas
Hung Far Low - Famous Chop Suey and Famous name - Portland, Oregon
Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon

Or perhaps just a late night Philly Cheese Steak?  How about two choices and they are just across the street from each other in the triangle….(I actually tried one at each place on the same evening – add the whiz!)

Geno's Cheese Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Movie Theaters, Drive-In Theaters and Music Halls

Teton Drive-In - Rexburg, Idaho
Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

Perhaps you have had a long day on the road and need a break from motel room TV.  A visit to an old drive in theater with some popcorn and thus fuzzy little speakers hanging in your window will do ya.

Too cold outside?  Then there are some classic old movie theaters around that show some cool movies or maybe even will have a live band playing in them. Many of the old theaters are multi-purpose nowadays, but their old neon signs still draw you in and bring back the memories of 1960s childhood.

Following are a few classic looks with neon I have seen over the years as I travel the back roads of America.

 

Plaza Theatre - Glasgow, Kentucky
Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Lund Theatre - Viborg, South Dakota
Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota
Liberty Theatre - Vandalia, Illinois
Liberty Theatre – Vandalia, Illinois
Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
The Blue Room - Kansas City, Missouri
The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri
Pix Theatre - Winner, South Dakota
Pix Theatre – Winner, South Dakota
Westside Theatre - Newman, California
West Side Theatre – Newman, California
Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Kentucky
Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, Kentucky
Fox Theatre - Detroit, Michigan
Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan
Skyline Theatre - Rudyard, Montana
Hi-Line Theatre – Rudyard, Montana
El Raton Theatre - Raton, NM
El Raton Theatre – Raton, NM
Fischer Theatre - Danville, Illinois
Fischer Theatre – Danville, Illinois
Orpheum Theatre - Wichita, Kansas
Orpheum Theatre – Wichita, Kansas
Leeds Theatre - Winchester, Kentucky
Leeds Theatre – Winchester, Kentucky
Bing Crosby Theatre - Spokane, Washington
Bing Crosby Theatre – Spokane, Washington

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY OTHER PLACES

Pelo's Sundries - LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)
Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Sure, I meant it when I included “Sundry” in this section.  That term seems old fashioned now, but the old five-and-dime shops had “sundry” items.  There were also the old drug stores that sold magazines, had fountains in the shop and they sold “sundries.”

I also include the “various” in here since there are a few odds and ends neon signs that I  want to include in this section.

The famous Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
The famous Pike Place Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas.  They also do shoe repairs
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas. They also do shoe repairs
Arco City Hall - Arco, Idaho - First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Arco City Hall – Arco, Idaho – First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Boring Rexall Drugs - Warsaw, Missouri
Boring Rexall Drugs – Warsaw, Missouri
The Old Drugs Store - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
The Old Drugs Store – Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Now, wasn’t that just a yummy adventure through the past?

Yummy House - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 3: Donuts, Bakeries, Pies and other sweet places on Less Beaten Paths

Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Ahh…now that the BBQ and Chicken Fried steaks are done, how about something sweet?  Nothing like fresh donuts and pies!!  But who needs the chains?  How about some great independent bakeries and doughnut places?  Every Picture Tells a Story, Doughnut?

Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Voodoo Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut is probably one of the most unique doughnut places in the world (not just the U.S.)!!  Yes, they have amazing doughnuts, but they also have stained glass windows and even a wedding chapel.  They have been featured on dozens of food and travel shows as well.  And, by the way, make sure to bring cash if you want to eat.  That is all they take.

Doughnuts at Voodoo
Doughnuts at Voodoo
Miami Vice Doughnut
Miami Vice Berry – Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting, blue raspberry powder and pink sprinkles.

The menu of great items is abundant and ever changing at Voodoo Doughnut.  On my visit in March 2012, I picked up a few, including their most popular items.  Here is a sampling…

The Voodoo Doll - Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake!
The Voodoo Doll – Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake!
Bacon Maple Bar - Raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top! Out of this world yummiferous!
Bacon Maple Bar – Raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top! Out of this world yummiferous!
Triple Chocolate Penetration - Chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting and coco-puffs! I was Coo Coo for this one...
Triple Chocolate Penetration – Chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting and coco-puffs! I was Coo Coo for this one…
Ain't That a Peach Fritter - Peach fritter topped with cream cheese frosting with pink and orange sprinkles! This one was HUGE.
Ain’t That a Peach Fritter – Peach fritter topped with cream cheese frosting with pink and orange sprinkles! This one was HUGE.
Dirty Snowball - Chocolate cake doughnut with marshmallow topping, dipped in coconut and a dollop of peanut butter in the middle!
Dirty Snowball – Chocolate cake doughnut with marshmallow topping, dipped in coconut and a dollop of peanut butter in the middle!

Other unique items include Mexican Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Cake doughnut dusted in cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper); Captain My Captain (Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and Captain Crunch); The Loop (Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and Fruit Loops); Grape Ape (Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting, grape dust and lavender sprinkles); Dirt Doughnut (Raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and Oreos); and there are a few that I won’t include in here (they are a bit on the nasty side….)

It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut - 24/7
It is no wonder there are always lines at Voodoo Doughnut – 24/7

And did I mention the stained glass and wedding chapel? And, oh yes, the proprietors are ordained ministers!!

Voodoo Doughnut Stained Glass
Voodoo Doughnut Stained Glass
Voodoo Doughnut in the Pink Boxes
Voodoo Doughnut in the Pink Boxes

Paris Bakery – Paris, Ontario

Paris Bakery - Paris, Ontario
Paris Bakery – Paris, Ontario

I lived in Paris, Ontario for a few months in 2008 and it had many benefits. It is a beautiful small town that is sliced by a lovely river (actually, two of them). There is a picturesque downtown area with a number of unique shops and one of those shops opens early (6 AM) everyday from Tuesday to Saturday and provides a pleasant aroma to the early morning air. In this day and age of big box grocery stores and fast food chains with their baked goods, a good Mom and Pop type of bakery is getting difficult to find. Paris Bakery remains one of those “pleasant places.”

Ross is up early making the rolls
Ross Avery is up early making the rolls
Gerry makes the specialty bread
Gerry Power makes the specialty bread
Owner Vickie Shows off the Goods
Owner Vickie Norris Shows off the famous Chelseas

Unlike the young folks who throw the donuts in the oven at Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme, Gerry and Ross have been baking for over 100 years combined. Indeed, Gerry has been in the bakery business since he was 12 years old! And like many other small bakeries, this is a family affair. Vickie’s sister Liz works at the bakery as does Gerry’s daughter-in-law Heather. There are a couple of other who family members there as well.

Chelseas were the specialty
Chelseas were the specialty

 

Famous Butter Tarts at Paris Bakery
Famous Butter Tarts at Paris Bakery
Tasty Chocolate Cupcakes
Tasty Chocolate Cupcakes
A Rack of Goodies at Paris Bakery
A Rack of Goodies at Paris Bakery
Lemon Tarts
Lemon Tarts at Paris Bakery

Vickie Norris sold the bakery in January 2013, but some of the staff has remained.  Vickie now runs the shop next door, which she has owned for a while, called The Paris Health Store and Yoga Studio.  I think all that go to the bakery may need to visit Vickie’s new business to get back in shape after the Chelseas, doughnuts and breads!

Frontier Pies – Rexburg, Idaho

Frontier Pies - Rexburg, Idaho
Frontier Pies – Rexburg, Idaho

OK, so this place is really a restaurant, but it is called Frontier Pies and that is what is famous for.  So, have some pie….the pictures say it all…

Frontier Pies - the real good stuff
Frontier Pies – the real good stuff
More Pies
More Pies at Frontier Pies

Oh, and I should mention that they make great breakfast, lunch and dinner items too!

Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Jaarsma Bakery - Pella, Iowa
Jaarsma Bakery – Pella, Iowa

Going Dutch was never so good as it was when I visited Pella earlier this year.  This is Holland-ville USA and the Jaarsma Bakery does not disappoint with Dutch baked treats.  Famous for its “Dutch Letters”, their other treats are just as good.

Dutch Letters - S shaped pastry filled with almond cream and sprinkled with sugar. Delectable!
Dutch Letters – S shaped pastry filled with almond cream and sprinkled with sugar. Delectable!
Bear Claws - you will be scratching the glass case to get one of these
Bear Claws – you will be scratching the glass case to get one of these
Almond Tarts at Jaarsma Bakery
Almond Tarts at Jaarsma Bakery
A whole case of goodies at Jaarsma
A whole case of goodies at Jaarsma

And, when done at the bakery, go get some Pella bologna a couple of doors down…

International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska

International Bakery - Omaha, Nebraska
International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska

Dutch baked goods are not the only delights out there.  A good Mexicana Panaderia is also a great place for baked goodies and, typically a bit cheaper.  I visited the locally famous International Baker while in Omaha for the 2012 US Olympic Swim Trials.  Made for a great morning breakfast on Mexican Sweetbreads and other delights.

Cases of Goodies at International Bakery
Cases of Goodies at International Bakery
Coconut covered chocolate iced donuts
Coconut covered chocolate iced donuts
Mexican Jelly Rolls at International Bakery
Mexican Jelly Rolls at International Bakery
Ahh...Sprinkles
Ahh…Sprinkles

Not everything here is sweet.  There are some great Cream Cheese Jalapeno Bolillos there as well.  These guys are like little soft baguettes filled with cream cheese and jalapenos.  Wowzers!!

Jalapeno Bolillo
Jalapeno Bolillo
Lots of goodies for the road
Lots of goodies for the road

And while there don’t forget the strawberry conchas.  Everything is 50 cents so you can’t beat the price.  But, bring cash as that is all they take.

Dutch Haven – Ronks, Pennsylvania

Dutch Haven - Ronks, Pennsylvania
Dutch Haven – Ronks, Pennsylvania

If you are going to go to Amish country in Lancaster County, there are a few places to visit including Intercourse, Paradise and Bird-in-Hand.  You also need to stop in Ronks on the Lincoln Highway between Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand and visit the Dutch Haven for some real yummy Shoo-Fly Pie.

Dutch Haven - home of Shoo-Fly Pie
Dutch Haven – home of Shoo-Fly Pie

Shoo-fly pie is basically a molasses pie. Some say it is a variation of the older Treacle Tart. Treacle is a British term for any syrup made from refined sugar cane, which would include molasses.  Gooey sweet goodness.

The Shoo-Fly Pie
The Shoo-Fly Pie – yummiferous

Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, Ohio

Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, Ohio
Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, Ohio

I was born in the Little Italy area of Cleveland.  Unfortunately, I was taken away from there when less than a year old.  I never had the chance to meet my real father.  However, I have been back there numerous times to visit my half brother and half sisters.  And, each time I go to Cleveland I have to make a visit to Presti’s Bakery.  Great cannoli and other baked goods.

Presti's Goody Case
Presti’s Goody Case

They also make some great stiffed breads with good Italian meats and cheeses and veggies.  But, nothing tops the melt in your mouth tingle your tongue cannoli.  And, you can get them in a nice box to go.

Presti's Cannoli to go
Presti’s Cannoli to go

Along the Less Beaten Paths there are many interesting places to stop and get some goodies.  I wish I had more time to stop at them all.  Here are a couple of more places I could have visited while on the road.  At least I snapped a photo of some of them…

Other Places I could have gone

The Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas
The Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas
Shakespeare Pies - Shakespeare, Ontario
Shakespeare Pies – Shakespeare, Ontario
Windchill Donut Shop - Port Huron, Michigan
Windchill Donut Shop – Port Huron, Michigan
The Chocolate Chicken - Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
The Chocolate Chicken – Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
Route 66 Cookies - Commerce, Oklahoma
Route 66 Cookies – Commerce, Oklahoma
Heavenly Donuts - Portland, Oregon
Heavenly Donuts – Portland, Oregon

Check back in a couple of days for Part 4: Leftovers – all the other places

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