Allentown, Pennsylvania – August 2019 – A Long Trip Down a Short Hall

One of the places on my list for a long time to visit was the Mack Truck Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since we were making the long drive from New York City back to Ohio, and passing Allentown we decided to stop for a brief visit – which turned out to be a total fail.

It is required to go on a guided tour, and our tour guide literally took more than an hour to go down this short hall! He covered in detail everything from the entire family tree of the founding family to what Sarah Palin means to Alaska (not kidding). I kept thinking we will move into the museum part just down the hall, but nope – we continued with our painfully slow walk down this hallway (and this photo shows the entire hallway).









Eventually we made it to the museum part, which we were immediately told to stay with the group and not wander around to take photos. With that I gave up, took a few photos of the display, and headed out.

Epic fail – with a few cool photos of garbage trucks, which seemed fitting.
















Across America – May 2019 – Random Scenes Part 2

Central Tennessee – Bus Graveyard







Northern Alabama – Rock Zoo





Scottsboro, Alabama – Did you ever lose your luggage on an airplane and never get it back. It likely ended up here, as they buy all of the unclaimed luggage from the airlines and sell it in essentially a thrift store.





Pawhuska, Oklahoma



Bartlesville, Oklahoma – Phillips 66 Petroleum Company Headquarters







Vinita, Oklahoma – Will Rogers Rodeo



Eastern Oklahoma – Pensacola Dam. A mile long and releasing a lot of water because of the recent rains.





Joplin, Missouri – America’s 2nd largest truck stop.



Southern Missouri – Presumed dead armadillo



Somewhere else in Southern Missouri – Coke Machine Graveyard



Scenes around Cairo, Illinois – At the confluence of the Ohio River and Mississippi River – with flooding.











Evansville, Indiana – Restored Greyhound Bus Station, now a hipster hamburger place. Manhattan prices in small town Indiana.

The interior looked nothing like a bus station.



Evansville, Indiana – County Courthouse



Scenes around Louisville, Kentucky







And after 3 weeks of running around the country – back in Ohio (in Cincinnati). Only 2 hours to home.






Ash Grove, Missouri – May 2019 – Getting Your Kicks on Route 66 Missouri Style

As the song goes Route 66 went from Chicago to L.A., going through Missouri along the way. While much of it is gone, replaced by freeways, there are still portions that are intact.



Many unique places remain along these portions of the Mother Road. One such place is just west of Springfield, Missouri. It is a restored Sinclair Gas Station full of cool, quirky things, including numerous ‘vintage’ vehicles.



A very nice lady named Barbara is the current owner of the property, having taken over for her father after he passed away. Barbara enthusiastically welcome all visitors, and the visitors seem genuinely pleased to be there.

On the day we were there one of the old trucks her father had owned was returned to it’s rightful spot at the station.



As noted plenty of tourists make the stop to check it out. I suggest if you get the chance you do the same.
































Washington DC – May 2019 – Going Postal

The National Postal Museum was established through a joint agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution in 1993.

Located in the former main post office for Washington, it has a great collection of philatelic items.




In the mid 1800s the United States Postal Service was just starting up, and they had competition from private postal services – in a way they have come full circle losing much of the market to Fedex and UPS.




The museum had a nice collection of the various improvements in delivery, as well as a couple of the more unusual. This mailbox was stuck inside a cruise missle and fired on June 8th, 1959. It did reach it’s target, but was done only once because of the immense cost.




The museum has an amazing collection of stamps and letters. The one below is one of the earliest known U.S. Postal stamps from 1847.




A couple of survivors. This letter survived the Hindenburg fire and crash.




This is one of the few letters sent from the Titanic. The writer, George Graham of Canada wrote this brief letter and mailed it before reaching Cherbourg, the last stop before going trans-atlantic. The letter reached it’s destination – unfortunately George did not, dying in the accident.




An actual Pony Express delivered letter. Despite all of the publicity over the last 150 years, the Pony Express operated for about a year and a half.




There are a number of other small items including letter carrier badges from around the country.




One section detailed what goes into the design of a stamp.




The Postal Service has always celebrated famous Americans, including musicians.





Throughout the museum were various mailbox displays.




A number of the displays highlighted foreign mailboxes.







The 6 story atrium featured a number of aircraft that were used in the early days of air mail.







Also on display is a full size mail rail car. Imagine sorting the mail bumping along at 60 MPH.




Benjamin Franklin was, among other things, the First Postmaster General. He was well qualified as he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown Post in 1737, as newspaper publishers often were appointed postmasters.

The Postal Museum is a great place to spend a few hours – well worth the time. And as most Smithsonian Museums, it has free admission.







Cleveland – March 2019 – People, Art & Machines

Mid March means it is time for the Piston Powered Show at the IX Center in Cleveland. As the name indicates this show features all things with a piston: Cars, Motorcycles, Trucks, an Airplane, Tanks, Snowmobiles, and even a Steam Shovel – plus a few things without pistons.

Most of the cars are ‘by invitation’, which means they are the best of the best. To make it to be one of the best in a custom car show you must have good graphics – and this show has that. It also has a great collection of people who have as much character as the vehicles – all filling the million square foot (93,000 square meters) building.

As you enter the vast hall you are immediately greeted with some really nice restorations.




As noted previously, many had customized paint jobs including this mid 1960s Chevy El Camino hood.




A number incorporated famous graphics, like Speedy Gonzalez.




This customized Willy’s sedan had a matching mannequin.




The participants came from numerous states in a 500 mile radius of Cleveland, including this great paint job from Kentucky.




For some the audience made a good match for the car.




A Zombie car – because why not.




The Zombie car’s door art.





Most of the motorcycles were customized Harley’s, many containing skulls.





Some craftsmen were displaying their skills – he was cutting leather.




This car was a repeat from a couple of years ago that was my posting’s feature photo – still one of the very best custom designs I have ever seen.




An aptly named 1957 Chevy.





A group of local technical high schools were having a competition to tear down and rebuild an engine in less than 30 minutes. Not sure why these guys were wearing helmets though.





While most of the custom bikes were Harley’s this great sport bike paint job features a customization of the ‘Guardians of Transportation’ sculptures on a large Cleveland bridge. Ironically I was wearing my ‘Dia de la Muertos (Day of the Dead)’ T shirt that featured the same sculpture in a skeleton look, so I fit in with the theme on all the bikes.




There was a classic wooden boat display as well. The boats themselves are works of art!




As is this sweet 1948 Buick Convertible.




Even a plain old 1960s Ford Station Wagon can be made to look great.




There were a couple of internet radio stations present – this one is a community station that, among other things, featuring racing.




I am not positive what it is, but I am certain it is NOT a Prius.




Mixing classic art and hot rods.




Many had names.




Most had pistons, but not this turbine jet car.





Some cars like the ‘rat rod’ rusty, beat up look – some like the pristine restoration. This Paddy Wagon was somewhere in between, but still cool.





Also featured were a number of artists showing how they make the great graphics we saw on all the vehicles.




All obviously have very steady hands.




The detail is amazing.




His shirt says it all.




It is amazing on the metal how little paint it took to go a long ways.




This guy had great pedal cars.




Not sure how a bowling pin got into a car show – but hey it is Cleveland.




Ready for St Patricks Day.




The emcee, and auctioneer, had character. She was auctioning off the finished pieces for charity.

Once again the Piston Powered Show was a great way to spend a day inside checking out a great collection of vehicles, people and art.







Cleveland – March 2019 – Check Out Those Wheels

Since we were in Cleveland, and the car show was going on – well everyone has their addiction. For this show the focus is on the actuals wheels.

I would assume some car today would come with hubcaps, but I didn’t see any.

We did check out complete cars, including this bright orange Camaro.







What’s a car show without ‘Product Specialists’. This guy was so still I thought at first he was part of the sign. Once again each car company had their Product Specialists dressed the same.







The amazing Lego Chevrolet Pickup made it’s way over from Chicago. Either they are glued together or those are some amazing Lego’s to stay together on the Indiana Toll Road.







While the really cool Camaro had all black wheels that didn’t make a statement this simple Chevy SUV had really stylish wheels.







Most high performance cars, like this Dodge Challenger, have their brake calipers in red to show off how large they are. I can see the all black wheels here.






Again – a high performance car with all black wheels. The Alfa Romeo Gulia.





A Nissan Altima near production prototype has fairly basic, but nice looking wheels.





Another excited Product Specialist. Although to be fair this has to be a tough job standing their all day as thousands of people come by asking questions. I love her look of ‘Scotty Beam Me Up’.





The Honda electric cars have these quasi fender skirts.





While this Toyota has also gone with the geometric styling approach.





Also at the show this year were a few movie cars, including the Scooby wagon and the Dumb and Dumber van.







A Product Specialist doing her thing.





If you surmised this is a sports car with the massive brake calipers, you would be correct – a Ford Mustang.





The Cleveland Browns have their first winning season in forever with a rookie quarterback named Baker Mayfield and they are painting cars for him.

To be fair a main street through the eastern suburbs is (and has always been) Mayfield Road.

Being the Browns I will bet they crash and burn this year, going back to their familiar last place 🙂





This Product Specialist is extolling the virtues of her car – but by the looks of the people in the background they aren’t buying what she is selling.







The dad – how cool is this. The mom – where does the car seat go?





I have been thinking what I will do when I retire, and really like cars. Maybe go into a auto detailing business….nah I will keep my day job.





I have found the next ride! And the wheels aren’t all black.









Chicago – February 2019 – The Cars and People of America’s Largest New Car Show

What do you get when you take America’s third largest metro population combined with the largest convention center in the country – the largest new car show!





With over 1000 cars and trucks scattered over two of the halls, each auto maker had room to show their standard cars (and trucks) and some special ones, like this Chicago Bears football team truck.





Alfa Romeo brought an F1 car.





To be honest most new cars are boring, and all look alike, so for this show I emphasized on the cars and people, including the ‘Product Specialists’.

Fortunately the auto shows have moved away from the ‘booth babe’ concept and the presenters actually know what they are talking about.





I have found that the larger shows like here and Detroit have a lot of extra features, like this engine display. There were over 10 different engine displays like this scattered throughout the hall.





Cadillac took an interesting approach and displayed this mint 1959 next to current cars. The ’59 showed them all up, as far more people surrounded this car than all the new ones in their display put together.





Like this boring box on wheels. Good luck to the Product Specialist to bring something exciting about this car.





All car shows have people who are constantly wiping finger prints off the cars. Here they all were dressed in these cool overalls like a New Car Show Pit Crew.





Even Porsche has mostly boring SUVs and sedans – but at least the 911 lives on!





Somehow 1974 got mixed in with 2019.





Land Rover had a huge area in the back where they showed the joys of all wheel drive. Jeep and Dodge Trucks had similar setups but they pale in comparison to this.





Not sure exactly what they were seeing but they were getting into it.





I believe this group was shopping cars for their grandparents, because I can’t imagine anyone of this age would have any interest in the ultra safe, boxy Volvo.





Another Product Specialist excited to tell us about their vehicle. All the presenters were very professional and could talk for hours (well minutes) about their car.





There were a few concept cars present, but this one from Lexus looks close to production.





Does this car have enough room in the rear seat for my friend?





Locked? How can I get in?





Hit the starter and lets get out of here – even if you can’t see over the steering wheel.





Thank a Robot for staying off the display and automating most of the production jobs. Thanks Robots!





I will take the dirt bikes and leave the Jeep.





Easily the most passionate presenter was for the Dodge Hellcat – 800 HP of smoke and noise.





The Toyota Impossible – like it will be impossible for this to sell in America.





Where are we – oh yeah – Chicago.





It was Latino Day at the Car Show – even Telemundo Chicago had their new truck (or camión de noticias). Especially cool was the singer doing Sinatra in Spanish.





Did you ever wonder why the car next to you has to blast their music so loud you can hear it through their closed windows and yours. Well they have taken care of that – the speakers are on the outside!

Oh boy.





Yes it really is a full size Chevy Silverado made entirely out of Legos.





Enough of this reality – lets go virtual and get out of here.