The Service Station That Nobody Wants

For many years this old-time vintage service station sits empty and boarded up. Next to it is a highway maintenance operation. Perhaps it could be owned by the government. Regardless of ownership this building would make a great food establishment, gallery, cafe with a book store combination! So sad to see it empty and not thriving.

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Office of Smokey the Bear

smokey1There is so much to see in a community and fortunately we happen to have a special group of people who are doing wonderful things located right down the road.  Smokey the Bear does have an office and within this office are rangers that support the safety and integrity of the forests and surrounding community. I decided to take a peek into Smokey the Bear office and found a small museum that featured historical accounts of fire prevention, models of firefighters and an over the top life-sized Smokey the Bear! At the entrance is a huge sign posted that notifies the public about the current status of fire danger. A great place to take the kids for some fire prevention education so stop by for a visit whenever you come upon a tower or visit Smokey the Bear online.

 

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Just a Short Walk

Recently while doing computer maintenance work I came upon photo captures from the month of April. I chuckled to myself about the decision made to become adventurous that bright but semi-sunny day. Even though the black Cannondale bicycle had a flat tire from last Fall hanging from its rim, determination drove me to acquire a Skill saw. This tool was needed to complete a small project that consisted of sawing down a collection of wooden pallets. In order to achieve the desired aged quality look, the pallets weathered for two years and were now primed to be sanded and stained. With my high-tech looking black shopping cart with red rimmed wheels in tow, I decided to take to the highway. Unfortunately, this particular shopping cart had to be manufactured in China and for people with short arms. The cart handle was too short and it was necessary to utilize a homemade bright yellow hand knitted scarf to extend the length and act as a means to pulling the cart up from dragging onto the ground.

The scrap metal yard was on the way to the big box strip mall.  I never visited this type of facility before and wanted to check out their inventory for creative applications. Only in late sixties mob movies that appeared on television was it possible for me to view mountains of heavy metal.  Portrayed victims related to a crime were usually rubbed out, carted away by truck and buried in a yard. Very uninviting, a dangerous type of operation but right up my alley for today’s excursion! At the entrance to this yard was a worn out building. No pedestrian walkway could be seen so I had to walk as if driving into this facility. Warning signs and bright yellow caution painted strips decorated the entry. A row of sharp metal prongs poked up out of the road at the gate. Undoubtedly designed to inflict a puncture into a tire when a vehicle is backing up. So once a vehicle pulls up there is no way to move but forward.  hydrant2I approached one door and tried to enter but it would not budge. A sign to the right directed me to enter at the back and this was the office location. I parked the black shopping cart and eagerly bounced up the steps to enter the office. Behind an antiquated bulky wooden desk sat a cheerful woman. She was busy sorting out paperwork that was organized on the desk-top. The scene was the total opposite of what I concocted in my mind or expected. Only the office props matched my vision of the ideal scrap yard scene. The office manager was delighted to see me and moved towards the door to proceed with a tour of the yard. I inquired about corrugated metal sheets, sinks, and anything else that architecturally could enhance my tiny house build.  “Tony would know where those items would be so let’s ask him”, she said. Loud rumbling could be heard from the back of the yard and Tony was found perched on a huge power dozer that pushed and crushed mounds of heavy metal into a mountainous pile.  Tony was bulging with muscles and also possessed the manly tools needed to maintain a yard.  He kept the metal piles neat and orderly and one could see how Tony took pride in managing his work.  We were both told where to look and the price of the panels. Throughout my tour I found some interesting objects and was given permission to take some captures.

Upon my journey I passed a billboard sign, bus stop, garden shop, barber store, military advertisement. and nature. The route was busy with daily traffic and during this walking field trip discovered that walkways, sidewalks do end and start-up again in precarious locations.

I found myself hoisting the cart over guard rails and walking onto narrow paths. At one point there was nowhere to walk but through a trailer park access road. I passed Rockefeller’s International Trade Zone, where paths were manicured and decorated with handsome landscaping. People that were driving vehicles must have wondered what this woman was doing carting a shopping cart, after-all no one walks or ever uses these park like paths that decorates the Trade Zone. Island hopping was also a skill developed throughout this trip and perhaps should be added to the resume.

Why do the powers that be construct big box centers on long winding mini highways up a major hill? The average bicyclist would be walking the bicycle up this hill. Upon reaching the shopping zone, Applebee’s beckoned me to stop and take lunch but I proceeded to Pet Smart, TJ MAX and then Lowes. My shopping cart filled up fast and the cashier at Lowes was helpful in organizing the Skill saw box to fit on the bottom of the cart with my other purchases on top. Exhausted, hungry and in need of refueling my system I found myself back at Applebees where I ordered a chicken, mashed potato dinner.  The sunny day was becoming slightly rainy and evident that the return trip would be a trek with additional cart weight.

Traffic increases after work and there had to be a short cut or safer way and remembered one by the Trade Zone. It was a bike path that stretched through wildlife and a residential neighborhood and may be safer but longer. I really could not afford making a wrong turn by foot but decided to venture forward with this path. The bicycle path was picturesque and the lightly falling raindrops highlighted foliage. Time went on and many miles too.  My legs were becoming heavy and tired. Evening was going to set in and I became worried with the thought of being in the predicament of camping in the woods for the night. Now that would be a nightmare.  At the intersection I noticed a familiar sight – the entrance to the nature trail. This could be another way to travel but at this hour not an option. Black bears roam these lands and crossing their territory in the dark would be too dangerous.  Upon arriving at an intersection a woman in a car was making a left hand turn towards the shopping zone. I waved her down to stop and politely inquired about finding the major route. She confirmed the correct direction to take but soon discovered that the remainder of this walk was overwhelming and a challenge.

 

 

The Portable Garden Box

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Lacey Dog eating my sunflower plants! Eeegads!

There is nothing like having fresh vegetables at hand to pick when needed or for dehydrating, canning. I thought about growing an assortment of organic veggies in a box because when traveling and staying at a place for a season in a tiny house on wheels – one has to be prepared.  The project chosen prior to constructing the tiny house on wheels is a portable garden box. My thinking is to start on food, water, power preparations and then a shelter. After tossing the idea on what type of box to build, raised or sitting on the ground,  I opted to build a type box  found in a tutorial video on YouTube.  This box appeared to be easy to construct and the materials affordable. It can be assembled and taken apart very easily. The 4′  boards are light weight to handle, deep and lays flat when storing.

I purchased my first power drill at a hardware center store and was so delighted about its ease of use and no need for a chuck. Just twist, turn and the bit locks in place. Now how easy is that! The agricultural professional in the video assured viewers that if he could do it you could too! It is best to have a large flat level table for this project – measure out the brackets on one board with another underneath. Drill through your markings penetrating the two boards and then attach the brackets to the boards. Then align each side board individually and pencil in the respective holes prior to drilling.  My box does have a lot of practice holes but I now have the confidence to construct several more boxes and a tiny house on wheels. Make sure you make a shopping list for these hardware parts because the washers and nuts may not come with the eye bolts and are located in an entirely different spot than the eye bolts! Also, watch out and remove those horrible sticky tags placed by the store that cover up a hole on a bracket. Remove before starting!  My shopping trip was on a whim and rushed by another so this garden box came up short of eye bolts. I also recommend using all eye bolts and not mixing in regular bolts. The eye bolts are handy for the exterior insertion of your stakes. Sticks, tomato stakes holds the chicken or rabbit wire fencing in place.  Also recommended is bird netting on top. And, purchase shorter in length eye bolts so that it does not bump into an adjacent bolt. You can see why in the photo below.

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Two missing bolts, make sure you allow for a shorter bolt on inside hole. Two corner brackets – top and bottom of each corner!

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Wood sticks or tomato stakes are woven into the fencing and run through the eye bolt.

Cedar is expensive and the sales person suggested a pine board. So it was painted white, people and kids could have fun with this stage of the project. (Use non toxic paint) Four bags of soil for vegetables was mixed in with last falls mulching. The organic veggies planted, watermelon, tomato, cucumber,

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Cucumber

herbs. Organic monster sunflowers are planted outside the box to the right. Lacey dog started to eat them so I had to extend the fencing around these plants. Never did I ever imagine a dog would find sunflowers edible. Overall it was fun and now can highly recommend this type of planter for people on the go! Feeling like a garden box pro!

 

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Garden Bell

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The House That Nobody Wants

This house is planted on a main route and year after year sits empty and void of the living. Once I watched an attempt of someone trying to reclaim its use but that became very short-lived. I often wonder about its existing value and if it is just a ghostly figure on someones balance sheet. housenobodywants1How many times do you think it has been processed through a program or two, never to reap any upgrades that could make this structure work. The vines creep over the front porch, mold is clinging to its facade, rotting wooden beams replace a once cared for garden. All appears lost and nothing left to gain. ‘The House that Nobody Wants’ is the start of a new series about new, not so new and old empty places to be posted at this blog.

Spring Signals a New Beginning

I do not start the new year off with a Times Square champagne splash but with the Season of Spring. This past winter was quite uneventful politically and also taking into consideration weather-wise that hardly any significant snow fell to capture by camera. The holiday spirits were also a reflection of this climate.

On this windy damp April day walk I noticed Spring is arriving late. The dandelions danced back and forth in the breeze. I found myself dancing back and forth with  camera in one hand and holding Lacey dog in the other trying to take a capture of the roadside dandelions. springGreen and yellow buds are deciding to pop out of branches and the skunk cabbages in the swamp also is taking time to unearth itself from the dark brown fallen decayed leaves. In a few weeks they will be decorating the swamp floor adding a brilliant green contrast to the stark naked trees. While walking I contemplated my plans for a project to construct a house on wheels and the next year adventure to do some travel. A few day trips to New York City to explore Central Park and my favorite museums prior to my departure would be grand. Next winter I hope to explore desert landscapes and rock formations. The wildlife will be quite different from North Eastern blue jays, robins, sparrows, starlings, hawks, wild turkeys, bear and deer. At the beginning of next month my bicycle will be maintained and the flat tire replaced with a new one! Cannot wait to get that Cannondale bicycle back out onto the trails.

 

 

Bear Attack NJ and When Bears Do Attack

This morning I came across an article that caught my attention. Being that I hike, bike along the trails and have spotted bears it became appropriate to do a small video highlighting this topic. It is hibernating time and people should not venture near caves even when that period has lapsed. Bears are testy animals and with a warm winter they will be a bit more agitated, cranky, I would think. The article also posts an audio of a child and how he remains calm during rescue efforts, and explains how the Scoutmaster enters a cave to be attacked by a black bear. The emergency team was quick with helicopter and emergency vehicles to rescue the injured Scoutmaster. . .