Two more…right under my nose

I found two more recycled gas stations down here in South Florida the other day on my drive up US 1 in West Palm Beach to go to the gym.

They’ve been under my nose for a long time, just waiting for me to realize what they are.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I am all set for my chess-playing grandchildren when they visit in February, thanks to


The Grands on their home field. (Photo by Ryan  Ford)

the creative and energetic woman who drew my name in the Haines Secret Santa pool this season.

What you are looking at below is a totally hand-made chess set fashioned from an assortment of nuts, bolts and other small items.

And that includes the board, which came home from the hardware store as a blank piece of square tile.

Who is this marvelous person, you ask? It’s Kristen Haines, wife of nephew Ben and daughter-in-law of brother Roger.

And, she says, she did it all with only ONE trip to Lowe’s! Now that’s organization and planning, that’s what that is.

I can hardly replace a light bulb without at least two trips.

Thanks, Kristen.




Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Two Mr. Bigs

The term Mr. Big around my house is a reference to the very large, orange iguana that hangs out on the dock in the backyard.  That’s what we call him.

He’s the king of the dock.  Or was until a week or so ago.  Another Mr. Big entered the picture and apparently my dock isn’t big enough for two Mr. Bigs.

Sue saw the battle.  I wasn’t home.  Lots of tussling, someone hung off the edge of the dock over the water for a while and there appeared to be an injured leg.  One of them slunk off and the battle was over.

Fast forward to just the other day. The second one reappeared again.  There was a brief tussle and one of them went into the water.  It all happened before I got the camera out.

But later on, they were back both back and I was able to get the photo below.  Unfortunately, the interloper decided not to push things and soon left the yard.

But one of these days I hope to have a great video of an epic battle to share with you.



Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Elvis slept here…maybe

Cheap hotels can be a very mixed bag.  I usually try to find something on my road trips for under $40 a night and feel positively profligate if I spend more than $60.

That attitude has netted me some interesting extremes;  all the way from an old but clean and well-tended facility in Oklahoma that offered a coupon for a complete two-egg breakfast at a nearby restaurant in the morning to a scruffy establishment in Maine where the room temperature never got much above 60 in January and the morning pastries looked stale even through the cellophane.IMG_7626c

I’m not sure I’ll ever top the Sands Motel in Grants, New Mexico, though.    It was Where Elvis Slept.

I got the Elvis suite, Room 123, complete with sign on the door, photos on the wall and a framed copy of the “Affidavit for Application for Marriage” to Priscilla Beaulieu nailed up next to the mirror.

Yes,  $35 a night plus tax got me the room that Elvis supposedly stayed in the night before he went to Vegas to marry Priscilla.


True, or just a good story?  I don’t know for sure, but it seems a stretch.  The motel doesn’t claim much.  No signs around, no yellowed newspaper clippings.  “You’ll have to check the records,” was the response when I asked if there was any proof.

Questions of the two local papers yielded me no responses at all, much less anyIMG_7684c substantiation.  The county historical society said it had no confirming documents. And an account of those times from Marty Lacker, a co-best man at the wedding, says that Elvis and his entourage stayed in Palm Springs the night before the wedding.

So another great story wobbling I’m afraid.

Grants, named after three brothers named Grant who garnered a contract to build a railroad through the area in the 1880s and built a work camp there, is not a stranger to celebrities.

Bob Hope, traveling through Cibola County by train, was stranded there by a snowstorm back in 1946.  One of the teachers at the high school convinced the comedian to put on a show for the students.

The Von Trapp family stayed in town in the late 1940s and sang at the local Catholic Church.

And Vivian Vance of I Love Lucy fame and her husband had a vacation cabin nearby.   She was from Albuquerque, just 80 miles away, and her brother lived in Grants.  Rumor had it she was going to retire there, but she never did.

On a more somber note, Liz Taylor’s husband Mike Todd was killed near Grants in a plane crash in 1958. His plane iced up during a thunderstorm in the mountains southwest of town.

Grants is also home to an airway beacon, a rotating white light sometimes with red andarrow 37A St George Utah green signals atop a tall tower.  Next to the tower was a large concrete pad in the shape of an arrow.  Back in the early quaint days of airplane navigation there were some 1500 of these in the US, marking airway corridors for pilots to follow.

Meanwhile, if any of you Enquiring minds out there wants to dig into this Elvis story deeper, let me know what you find out.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A plethora

This is one of my favorite words.  I hardly ever get to use it in conversation and have never used it in a blog post, so what better way to break it in than in a blog post title.

But the word demands an “of” followed by a word to describe what there is an abundance of, doesn’t it?

Here’s my problem:  I wanted to say that I have a lot of new photos of repurposed gas stations that I took on my recent month-long road trip to Colorado and back.  To put that point across I wanted to use the word “plethora” in the title and I wanted to follow it with a lot of alliteration.

So I started off the title with  “A plethora of petrol….”   But then I got stuck.  I could not find any alliterative words to complete the thought.    Yes, I could have just settled for “A plethora of recycled gas stations,” but that would have been no fun at all.

So there’s a challenge while you’re looking through my latest package of repurposed gas stations:  Come up with a title for this post using the word “plethora” and a lot of alliteration.

And, by the way, plethora is pronounced with a slight accent on the first syllable, so don’t go putting the emphasis on the “or.”  It comes from a similar Greek word meaning abundance of blood, but has obviously evolved to mean a lot, even too much, of just about anything, including, in this instance, Previous Petrol Palaces.

There are photos below of some of my new finds.  These and all the other new ones will be added to my collection of photos of recycled stations.

This first one I was especially happy to see.  It’s in the small Mississippi River town of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.  I didn’t stop there on my canoe trip down the river because I was then heading to Chester, just downsteam and on the Illinois side, where I hoped to meet up with a friend from Florida.

As it turns out, a river stop at Ste. Genevieve would have been very disappointing because it is separated from the river proper by farmland, wetlands and a levee.  By road, however, it’s a nice stop, with great residential areas and nice old downtown.St. Genevieve, MO CR: Ron Haines

I was happy to see that this old gas station in the historic district (below), is now being used by the local non-profit public transportation service, because when I first encountered it in 2012 (inset on right) it was empty, for rent and in need of some repair.



Republic, MO.  Today this classic structure is an architect’s office.  It was a beauty salon previously and before that of course a gas station.


Smithfield, Utah.  A Farmers Insurance Company office.IMG_7111c

Deadwood, SD.  A glass blowing studio.IMG_6567c


Woodward, Oklahoma.  The downtown’s booster office uses this classic A-frame corner station.  Note that one can still see where the “P,’ standing for Phillips Petroleum, was mounted on the chimney.


Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. These rusted remains are all that’s left of an old gas station along the Trans-Canada Highway. 


Livingstone, Montana.  Breezy Tree Floral and Gifts makes nice use of this old station, which is located on the edge of a residential area.IMG_6982c

Blackfoot, Idaho.  This small A-frame is just waiting to be put to good use.IMG_7092c

Del Norte, Colorado.  This nice stone classic makes a great residence.IMG_7230c

For more, go here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

End of the season

My 2018 paddling season in the Northeast has come to a close.  It hasn’t been one of the better years, that’s for sure. The weather has been just lousy.

I’m the organizer of two meetup paddling groups up here, one in Massachusetts and another in Connecticut, and we’ve had more weather cancellations this season than ever.

Last year we had so much great weather that I was running out of new and interesting places to go paddling.

My last paddle, just this past Saturday, was a nice one despite the weather, however.  Sure, it was windy and cold with a constant threat of rain out on the Quinebaug River in Brooklyn, but it was nice and cozy at the pizza lunch with friends afterwards.

Here are some photos.


You can’t see it in this photo, but in addition to the upper body layers, I am wearing neoprene boots and long pants. Photo by Marian Buteau




Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

More home-grown yard art

My recent road trip back to Connecticut from Denver led me to a made-in-the-USA yard art operation in New Mexico.  Sort of how my road trip TO Denver took me to a stained glass artist in Deep River, Ontario, Canada.

The bottom line is I don’t take direct routes to anywhere.

But on to the topic.  I like yard art.  I like yard art made in the USA, not the stuff stampedIMG_8483c out en masse from Mexico.  So I am on the lookout for it as I travel around.  Search my blogs for the category ‘yard art’ and you’ll see what I mean.

I picked up this fellow at an interesting looking shop in Moriarity, New Mexico, called Country Friends Antiques.  You can’t see it in a still photo, but he swings happily back and forth. He’s made by a local family of artisans who turn scraps of metal and castoff metal tools and other implements into colorful pieces of art.  They’re called NM Metal Art and have a Facebook page if you’re interested in seeing what they do.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment