Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello Utah & Idaho!

Welcome back to Vintage Roadside's road trip across the western USA! If you're just joining us, we're starting the day in Heber City, Utah where we arrived in the wee hours of the morning. After a very long day of driving, we were more than pleased to find a room at the first motel we stopped at. The room was even half price due to pending construction work. Although no running water made for an interesting start to the day, we declared "water, schmater...who needs it!" and hit the road.

We were treated to another amazing day weather-wise and started off by retracing our steps to see the Vista Grande motel sign we had noticed coming into town. The sign looked great and appeared to be freshly painted. No neon at this time, but we're thinking it may be a work in progress.

Making our way through Heber City we came upon this fantastic old gas station with elements of streamline moderne and mid-century design. If anyone knows what brand it was originally, we'd love to know.

Out on the western edge of town the Holiday Lanes bowling alley was another great building that stopped us in our tracks. Loved the awning across the front of the building with the Wasatch Mountains creating a perfect backdrop.

Leaving Heber City via Highway 40 we hopped on I-80 for just a few miles. We had been looking forward to Utah State Highway 66 and it was fantastic! It's an old 2 lane road that sharply winds its way up and through the mountains. The scenery was stunning and we met just one other car the entire 30 mile length of the road. We did notice that each end of the road had locking gates so we're thinking it probably gets a bit hairy in the winter. If you're ever in that part of Utah we'd highly recommend fitting that stretch in. Although you might white-knuckle a few of the 20 mph curves, the scenery is well worth the effort.

Coming from the absolute isolation of the mountains the entrance to Ogden was a bit of a shock. A very busy town, but with a bit of patience still plenty of wonderful things to see.

We're fans of some of the more oddball pieces of roadside history so sighting one of the few remaining Norge Balls is cause for spontaneous celebration in the car. This one in Ogden has been repurposed, but good to see it still intact.

We're not sure how long the North Star Drive In Theater sign will last on the outskirts of Ogden as the screen itself is long gone and the housing development on the property looks like it's nearing completion. Drive In theaters have become so scarce it's always a great discovery to find one of the old signs along the road...for a moment you can imagine driving through the dark outskirts of town heading for that Friday night double-feature.

Our next stop was in Perry, Utah for lunch. Our mom and pop choice for the day was the Maddox Drive In. We'd heard of the Maddox before, but nothing could prepare us for how incredible it was! We've eaten at many, many drive in restaurants across the country and for us the Maddox is easily in our top three.

The Perry location was opened in 1949 by Irv and Wilma Maddox and still offers the same level of service and food you would have received back in the day. While many new restaurants try and create a nostalgic feel, there's just no substitute for almost 60 years of drive in experience. From the "flash your lights" for service, to the home made ice cream, the Maddox is truly one of the treasures of the roadside.

The onion rings were even better than we had hoped for. (And we definitely recommend the killer fry sauce!) So, we'd like to once again thank the Maddox for decades of great food and service. It's places like this that make a road trip - and lunch - memorable.

As we headed into Brigham City, Mrs. Vintage Roadside spotted another treasure - our second Norge Ball of the day. If you'd like to recreate the sound of this discovery you can either imagine yourself at a bingo hall after a winning black out number is called or just scream "Norge Ball!!" at the top of your voice like we do. This one was a little beat up but still displayed its original Wonder Bread wrapper-like pattern.

We spotted this great old theatre sign along Brigham City's main strip. The theatre had a nicely tiled entrance along with an original ticket booth.

Near the theatre was Bert's Cafe. We didn't check out the cafe, but from the sidewalk the place looked great. If the photo below was in black & white we'd have a hard time telling whether it was taken recently or in the 1950s with their overload of vintage signs. Bravo Bert's!

If we wouldn't have just eaten at the Maddox we would have tried the Peach City Drive In a little ways down the road. It looked fairly busy as we passed by so if you've eaten here let us know what we missed. We've got it on the list for next time.

At this point in our trip we say goodbye to Utah (state #10 of the trip) and hello to Idaho. We left I-84 in favor of Highway 30 and made our first stop in Burley. The town had a great collection of roadside architecture and signage. The Parish Motel below has a really unique sign that still lights up at night.

The Lampliter gets points both for it's unusual spelling and the great angled pole upon which the sign is built. A nice example of late 1950s sign work.

The arrow outside of this no-name lounge might be a familiar sight to some of you. They still can be seen in many cities quietly rusting away. The one below was in fantastic condition and it was great to see one so well cared for.

Vintage Roadside confession - we're on the hunt for one of these "Open" signs so if anybody has an extra one kicking around the garage give us a call :-)

We started to lose the light in Burley so we made a beeline for Twin Falls. We came into town just as the sun was setting and were pleased to find a few lit neon signs. The Magic Bowl looked great. Bowling alleys are another quietly vanishing part of our cities and we were pleased to see this one jumping with league activity the night we passed through.

A very nice sign outside of the El Rancho Motel. This one led us to ponder just how many motels have been named "El Rancho" in the last 60 years?

The Branding Iron Motel also added greatly to the collection of neon in Twin Falls.

As we came to the end of another day we were discussing all the miles we'd covered, the things we'd seen, the late, late nights behind the wheel and the veritable Wild Kingdom of animals we'd dodged along the way. It was at this moment of peaceful reflection that nature chose to throw us a dinosaur curveball.

After recovering our slighlty road-lagged senses, we stopped for a look at this old roadside curio shop quietly waiting for a new owner. We do have the realtor information on file - you know, just in case any of you are looking for a new career in the roadside attraction field. You know you want to!

We called it a night just across the Oregon border in Ontario and have mapped out a fairly rural route via Highway 26 which will take us through the John Day Fossil Beds and the Painted Hills. We hope you'll join us tomorrow as we travel the last leg of our epic road trip.


Learning Spanish at 41 said...

The first motel photo is really great! The onion rings (and fry sauce) are making me so hungry. :-p

You are going to love Eastern Oregon...the fossil beds area is amazing.

Safe journey,
Tina & Chris Pfeiffer
Pfeiffer Photos

Vintage Roadside said...

Thanks Tina! The onion rings were even better than they looked:-)

Thanks for the well wishes.

Have a great weekend,

Jeff & Kelly

Unknown said...

Great sign pics!

Vintage Roadside said...

Thanks Jeb! I appreciate the kind words. Glad you enjoyed seeing the photos.