Monday, July 30, 2012

Next book signing is at Nest Vintage Modern!!

Walking into Nest Vintage Modern in Brookfield, IL is like entering a sunny kitchen back in the 1950s, full of homey household items, groovy giftware, and pots that go "gloop".  I'll get to the pots in a second.

When I met Alana, the proprietor, I felt immediately welcome and it was apparent that we liked many of the same things, like vintage goodness - and road trips.  In fact, I noticed a few items that were connected with vintage campers and such.  So I was thrilled when, after bringing up about "The Cotton Candy Road Trip", Alana cooked up the swell idea to host a book singing at her brand-new store (apparently, she's had a following online for a while; the brick and mortar store is an exciting new endeavor).

Country Rose - Online StoreSo if you're in the area on Friday, August 3 at 6:30 PM, please stop by, meet and greet me (or maybe you know me already - then meet Alana!), and, for heaven's sake, take home a Gurgle pot.  It goes "gloop" when you pour water out of it.  Here's the pot at the left.  Actually, it doesn't just go "gloop"; it's more like "gluh,gluh, GLOOP, gluh"

It will make your dinner tons more fun when you serve a fine beverage out of this little guy.  You'll smile more.

And that's really what it's all about, now isn't it?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A little unexpected miracle at the book signing.

Last night, I was honored to give a lecture on my book at the Oak Park Arms, the wonderful retirement home my dad has lived at for the past 11 years.  I've seen him change, wane, grow, wane again, and blossom into the wisest, most charming soul while he's been living there.  Not that he wasn't always charming, but by virtue of the fact that he comes in contact with so many people there, and obviously affects them so powerfully and beautifully, his magnificent power is multiplied times infinity.

Anyway, the lecture and book signing.  After the audience had some wine and cheese, I took the stage, talked about how the book took shape, read a chapter from it (on Lakeside, one of my Top Five parks).

Vintage neon ride sign at Denver's Lakeside Park
 Then I opened up the room to questions, and the folks had some great ones:

"Are there parks like Riverview still around?"
"Do parks still install vintage merry-go-rounds?"
"What sort of admission fees do vintage parks have?"

One lady wanted to ask question after question; she decided to buy the book in the end because it excited her so much.  In fact, a lot of folks generously purchased copies, but that wasn't the unexpected miracle that occurred.

Back to Dad.  When his caregiver wheeled him into the Terrace Room (once THE fancy bar at the Arms, when it was a grand hotel), Dad really seemed out of it.  His eyes seemed dim and had little of their usual sparkle.  Wine and cheese were brought and when he eyed the red wine in the small plastic glass, he asked what it was.  This is not Dad; this is some other guy, I thought.  Red wine is his lifeblood, one of his passions.

If I said that my Dad's condition worried me a little last night, it would be a gross understatement.  My attention was really drawn more to him than my task at hand, the reason I was brought in that evening.  But I breathed, knew the caregiver would keep a close eye, as would Ben.  All would be well, right?

I lectured and read, and occasionally (okay, a LOT) glanced over at Dad, who either seemed like he was sleeping or just slipped away into the dark rooms where his dementia leads him.

After my talk and question session were over, I immediately sat down by Dad.

"Hey, Daddy.  Did you like that?  Did you enjoy my talk?"

Daddy glanced into my eyes, and he was no longer sleepy or fuzzy; he was present.

"Every single thing about it was spectacular.  You really know this and I am so proud of you."  

 And he smiled.

At that moment, my attention was drawn down to our little dog Ivy, who was being petted by one of the residents.  My eyes were drawn like magnets directly to the woman's hand.  Because it wasn't her hand, it was, without a doubt, my deceased Mom's frail, tissuey-yet-elegant hand that was petting our beagle (Mom loved dogs).  And then, all at once, it was the woman's hand and she continued stroking and scratching our pet.

Angels love to bring families together, even those who haven't been in the same space together for awhile.

It doesn't matter to me how many copies are sold of the book, nor how many people are touched, enlightened or inspired.  God will provide exactly what is needed in those avenues, of that I am completely sure.  I got all I needed last night, from both my parents, who were present and proud and loving every single spectacular thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Memories of Chicago's Riverview Park from the Chicago Tribune,0,2410358.photogallery?index=chi-riverview_030t20080715140116

 Shoot the Chutes was a precursor of the log flumes rides of today.

Please take a few moments to enjoy this great photo gallery from the Chicago Tribune on the gone-but-never-forgotten Riverview Park.  Quite often while on my Road Trip, I encountered various parks (Kennywood and Knoebels and Lakeside come to mind) that have elements similar to what I see in these photos. It's good to know there are still some parks out there who keep Riverview's spirit alive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I found a new old park! Martin's Fantasy Island!!

 to Martin's Fantasy Island

Trust me - when I did my research for my Road Trips, I really did some fine-tooth combing.  So when a new-old park pops up that I didn't know about, I'm simultaneously humbled, intrigued, piqued at myself, and raring to figure out a way to visit it whenever a Road Trip II is in the works.

Take a peek at Martin's Fantasy Island!  It's near Buffalo, NY and has been around since 1961!  With the exception of the antique cars and tilt-a-whirl, it seems that most of the rides are newer, but still it maintains a definite vintage feel!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Never fear! "The Cotton Candy Road Trip Swag" store is almost here!

Had a great week at the Chopra Center retreat out in Itasca last week, meditating and feeling the bliss ...

 stop looking similar.

This week, I've had one voice-over job after another ...

 Best Microphone for Voice Over

This upcoming week?  It'll be all about the CafePress store!!  I've got so many nifty items planned, featuring some super images I captured while traveling around for the book.  Like this one:

Beautiful critter on the Crescent Park Carousel

And plan on purchasing your 2013 calendar from me, because it'll be jam-packed with images, all in color, of nifty, creepy and cool things I found in the parks.

That is all for now.  I appreciate your patience.  It'll be well worth the wait!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Gotta Go to Knoebels" - awesome video. As much fun as, well, Knoebels!

Check out this great video, a parody of "Good Feeling".  It's filmed at one of my Top Five parks on the Road Trip, Knoebels.  Truth be told - with the exception of Disney parks, Knoebels is my favorite of the bunch!

Book signings for The Cotton Candy Road Trip in the Chicagoland area!

Hey funkids!  I'll be signing copies of my book on Saturday the 21st of July at Kindred Spirits in Oswego from 12 noon to 1 PM.  Here's a link to their website so you can learn how to get there:

Then on Saturday, July 28, I'll have a book signing at the Oak Park Arms in Oak Park, where my daddy lives.  It will start at 6 PM.  Here's their website:

And there ya go!  Have some cotton candy and call it a day ...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Got interviewed by the Chicago Tribune today at Santa's Village Azoosment Park!!

My beloved Mangel's Roto Whip, which dates back to 1948.
You know what's big fun?  Getting to revisit a park from my book, while being interviewed by Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.  The managers of the park walked through the park with us, filling us in on some of the historical facts about the park in question, Santa's Village Azoosment Park in East Dundee, IL.

It really takes a very special kind of person to run a park, an even more special sort to reopen a park that had been closed for years.  Such was the case with Santa's Village.  It sat dormant and desolate for five years and most of the Chicagoland area left it for dead, until these wonderful folks swept up the debris, put it to rights, brought in some gentle animals, and reopened it back in 2010.  I visited in September, 2011 for the book and was heartened that it was truly as sweet as I recall it was when I thrilled to visit it as a child.

The 2012 season brings with it even more fun, as an antique car ride has opened in what used to be a picnic grove area.  The folks at SVAP are really doing a great job with expanding and growing this historic park, and they promise even more to come, like an old-school, walk-through fun house!

Today, right before my interview, I was photographed by the Tribune staff photographer.  She thought it might be fun for me to sit in one of the Roto-Whip cars, since mentioned it's a ride rescued from the dearly-departed Kiddieland.  Well, sit in one of the cars I did, and let me tell you: my 5'8" frame never felt SO LARGE!  Goliath even!  She snapped away and then the miraculous happened: the kid manning the ride asked the manager if it would be okay for me to realize a little dream I'd had since seeing the resurrected ride almost a year ago:  would it be okay for this 150 lb. human to actually ride the ride?

Yep - I got the green light and the ride operator let the Whip RIP!  This teeny Whip packs a surprisingly good little snap!  I waved at the photographer and ride operator, just like I waved at Mom and Dad over forty years ago.

Yes, it was a very good day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cotton Candy Road Trip Swag Store to Open SOON!!!

Cafe Press stores are easy to open.  But crazy-confusing to assemble.  Except when they're easy.  This easy/difficult teeter-totter keeps yanking me back and forth and I'm getting dizzy!

Pals, let me tell you - I've been working for hours and hours in the last few days on harvesting the best/oddest/most unique photos from my Road Trip, images that will be used on a variety of items you'll be able to purchase from my store.  But Cafe Press keeps being difficult.  But then simple.  And my brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around it all.  Until I get it and then I go, "Huh.  How 'bout that?  That was easy enough - a child of four could've figured THAT one out.  Dang."

Anywho, in about a week or so, all will be revealed.  Suffice it to say, I think you'll be pleased and intrigued with the outcome.  The item I'm most jazzed about is the 2013 calendar, which will feature some of my most prized images from the Road Trip, including a number from our beloved Kiddieland and Storybook Gardens parks, now a sad memory.

I'll keep you all posted.

Until then, here's a little something to make you go, "What the heck IS that thing?"

Well, I'll tell you he's from Arnolds Park.  I'll also let you in on the fact that he's part of the month of October ...

Monday, July 2, 2012

New uses for old bumper cars!

My delightful friend, Jill Jackson, who's a great fan of my book, sent me this email and I was blown away by the creativity therein!  While on the Road Trip, I took a number of photos of old bumper cars, always wondering where the retired ones went.  To the trash heap?  To the park's museum (only a few parks actually have museums.  Arnolds Park and Knoebels come to mind; Coney Island has a museum but I don't know if they'd have the space for ride vehicles).

Anyway - I've never copied an email into a blog post, but I couldn't pass this one up.  Kudos to the brilliant Tom Wright who found a wonderful way to repurpose these vintage beauties.  Enjoy!

The ones in Coney Island and Rockaway Park back in the 20’s thru to the 50;s ran on electric . Had a pole on the back going to a metal electrical charged overhead plate.

Remember driving the bumper cars at amusement parks or
a fair, don't you? They were so much fun.
 Well, now what do you do with old Bumper Cars? (and check out the license plates!) 


Yes, you read that right; these little beasties are street legal.
They run on either Kawasaki or Honda motorcycle engines and co-opt vintage bumper car bodies into the most awesome form of mini-car we've seen in too long. There are seven of these little monsters floating around California and they're all the creation of one man, Tom Wright, a builder in the outskirts of San Diego who figured the leftovers of the Long Beach Pike amusement park needed a more dignified end than the trash heap.

They were originally powered by two cylinder Harley Davidson
Motorcycle engines but they rattled like heck because of the two cylinder
 vibration and Tom replaces them with four cylinder Honda or Kawasaki 750's.
And a couple have been measured as capable of 160 MPH, which is terrifyingly fast in machines with such a short wheelbase.
By the way, they are almost indestructible in accidents!