Friday, October 31, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemonade, Write About It!

There are times in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong and we just can't catch a break. I don't think I am alone in saying that it's easy to realize when we are having one of these bouts of bad luck. You know how it goes, a couple less than desirable things happen, and all of a sudden we find ourselves counting the mishaps and all of our misfortune as they keep piling up. It seems a bit tougher to take notice when the opposite happens. It can be difficult to become aware of great things happening when we are so busy enjoying them. This may sound a little strange but sometimes I get so caught up in the small moments, I don't have time to realize how great life can be and how fortunate I am.

Well, that is pretty much how the last two weeks have been for me. Things were going so great that I was having too much fun to appreciate it in a more lucid way. That is, until I sat down to write this post and organize my pictures. After seeing all the photos I snapped, I saw how freaking awesome life has been lately. Keep on reading and you'll see what I mean.

*Oh just a little side note* Let me point out that the majority of my recent happiness has come from family, friends, and relationships, but or the sake of staying on topic I'll mostly be covering the materialistic things.

Last Thursday I saw that an old friend from high school was getting rid of some tools in a yard sale so I dropped by. He gave me an awesome deal on a bunch of cool stuff. I got some tools that I needed, some that I just wanted, a stack of 50's and 60's cook books, a giant Seagrams whiskey bottle (not pictured), and best of all an orange metalflake Arthur Fulmer AF 20 helmet. The coolest part of the helmet is that it's the first old helmet I bought that actually fits me. I might send it off to have relined.


The next day I worked for a few hours and headed off to St. Louis to run some errands and go to a trivia night with my lady and our friends. First I had to stop at J Gravity Strings in the Kosciusko neighborhood. My friend Mat works there and he let me borrow a microphone for my Halloween costume. I had never been here before but I quickly found out that this place is amazing and the building holds a ton of history! From what I gather, the place was built in 1870 and served as a dry good store called Barnholtz. I plan on talking to Mat about it some more.

My next stop was one of my favorite places in all of St. Louis. Blues City Deli! I grabbed a couple sandwiches for Meg and I, and we went to Clifton Heights Park to eat them. The weather was incredible so we walked over there and chilled next to the pond to eat while the geese begged us for food.

After that we headed to Avalon Exchange on Delmar to look for Halloween costume stuff. I also wanted to check out this killer Wilsons Leather motorcycle jacket that Avalon posted on their Instagram that same day. That was a trip that was totally worth it because the jacket fit perfect and was a great price, not to mention I found a nearly brand new American Apparel denim jacket that also fit like a glove. To top it all off, Meg found most of her Halloween costume while we were there.

On our way to Avalon we passed the Hi-Pointe Theatre on McCausland and the giant Amoco sign on Skinker

We spent the rest of the evening at a super fun trivia night benefiting the Freedom Arts & Education Center. The trivia questions were all about St. Louis so it really tested our knowledge of STL. Adding another level of fun was that we all had to dress up. Our team chose a camping/hiking theme. We wore hiking gear, had treats, pizza, beer, rucksacks, flashlights, a tabletop campfire (small twigs around a candle), and we even made smores using a sterno a.k.a. "canned heat". Unfortunately I don't have any pics from trivia but on the way to trivia I found this great, retro, Ray-O-Vac flashlight at Wal Mart!

The weather was perfect all weekend so I rode my BMW to St. Louis and back and then some more around Wood River, IL. I wanted to enjoy the bike and weather before winter hits. It's funny how little I noticed all the cool mid-century buildings in Wood River until I went by them on my bike. I had to stop and take a couple pictures. Meg and I also hit up a couple thrift stores and I found this killer album rack AND The Venture's album "Knock Me Out!"

I guess that wraps up my life in the last week. There's nothing better than uttering that old saying "I'm living the dream!" and knowing that you're speaking the truth. Next time things are going your way, take a moment to step back and appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Guest Post: An Oklahoma Mid-Century Adventure

Preface: Last week, my brother, Andrew, decided to explore some of Lawton, Oklahoma's mid-century relics. Here's a first hand account of his findings. 

I eat one good breakfast each week. I also sleep in once a week. These anomalies occur on the same day and I end up eating breakfast at 2pm. I sit there at IHOP and let the world slow down as I sip on my fifth or sixth cola and polish off my meat lovers breakfast sampler. This ritual allows me to focus on the good stuff and forget about work, money, and all of my motorcycle’s problems (Triumph Daytona, currently mid-top end rebuild-Ed.) This Saturday I emerged from my Zen state with the goal to find mid-century architecture in Lawton, Oklahoma. With a few places in mind and the desire to search I set out. 
First, I stopped to look over a fence that I had ridden by a few months ago. The site was marked with a unique red brick sculpture and was a sign that there was more than meets the eye on the property.  In the back of the lot I spotted iron and a barn with some old signs. Next time I will pay the owner a visit and hear his plans for the cars. This was an encouraging start but I knew there was more out there to see.

On the other side of town amongst abandoned bars and auto repair shops I found treasure. I came across a motorcycle shop with parts piled in a back room. Even though it was closed I could still make out some old and exciting parts. In the corner I spotted a race built Harley single with a soft yellow tank.  That bike has found a way into my imagination and dreams. I will try and catch the owner on my lunch break and see if he could part with it. 

            My next stop was to an abandoned creamery. An old hulk of a truck stands watch over the lot.  The derelict machine caught my eye and drew me in. The building looks as if it is being fixed up in preparation for a new business.

            This week’s final stop and the main event is an abandoned National Guard Armory, constructed in 1955. Every day I pass the unique domed building with the crazy looking garages. As I parked in the lot next to the compound I had no idea how much I would really see. Walking around the fence I spotted an entry point into the mid-century dome.  The wind made it seem like there were people around every corner and behind every door.  Making my way through the dusty building I could see the footprints of those who were there before. Looking up through the broken sealing tiles provided the best view of the dome and really inspired awe at the architecture of this abandoned government building. It was really an adventure because I did not expect the building to be abandoned, open, or accessible.
     The whole experience showed me that even in Oklahoma there is some pretty cool old stuff. If you take a second and forget about the world and today it is possible for you to slow down in time or even, if you are lucky, go backwards.  

—Andrew Ukrop