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Barberton Tow Mater

Barberton Tow Mater

The Travelogue boys are coming up on 2 now (how and when did THAT happen?) Thus means they’re starting to pick things they like & have their own little personalities. 

Mine is currently obsessed with Cars and Planes. Both the actual objects and the Disney movies, which is what sparked this little excursion.

There’s a car repair shop in Barberton, Ohio that has a real beat down truck out front made up to look like Mater from the Cars movie.  Click here if you don’t know what that is. It totally made my kid’s day- he was yelling “May-eer! May-eer!” And even waved goodbye when we left.

The shop is called Barberton Wheel Alignment And Auto Repair and is located at 1158 Wooster Rd West. The Mater is parked out front and judging from the flat tires, it’s not moving soon. If you live in the Barberton area, support independent local businesses and consider them for your next car repair. Check them out at


Barberton Tow Mater and one happy 1 3/4 year old.

“Some call it heaven…I like to call it Iowa.”

RiversideIt’s not often an entire town gets to predict the future, or turn fiction into reality, but Riverside Iowa has. In 2228, Captain James T. Kirk will be born there. Click here if you don’t know who that is.

Somewhere along the fandom line, Star Trek writers, fans, whoever decided that Captain Kirk was (will be?) born in Riverside, Iowa. Although I’m a huge Star Trek fan, I’m not a big enough nerd to know exactly how this factoid came to be. I do know that the present-day town of Riverside ran with it though.

For the most part, Riverside is a tiny town just south of Rt. 80 in rural Iowa. There’s a small downtown, a gas station, a mill of some sort. There’s a post office, churches and lots of regular people living regular lives. Some of these regular people make their living off of nerds like me.

Behind the beauty salon (it’s a small yellow building that looks like a house), there is a commemorative marker celebrating Riverside’s future celebrity. Some gift shops downtown are all Trek-themed. There’s even a “Riverside History Museum,” which is really a Star Trek museum and gift shop. Everything was closed when we visited, which makes my wallet happy, but my geeky heart sad. We just peered thru windows like extra-creepy nerds.

Even the diner was closed. I would have totally dined with the ancestors of Captain Kirk.

Even the diner was closed. I would have totally dined with the ancestors of Captain Kirk.


Outside of the Voyage Home museum stands the SS Riverside. Not the Enterprise- Paramount wanted too much money.

Outside of the Voyage Home museum stands the SS Riverside. Not the Enterprise- Paramount wanted too much money.

Every summer the town has a Trekfest where all the Trekkies like me boldly go into “enemy territory” and let their nerd flags fly high. Unfortunately, we missed it. Maybe next time.

If you plan on visiting Riverside, don’t go on a Sunday morning. Everything will be closed. Exit I-80 at Rt 27/218 South. Follow 27/218 South to Exit 80 for IA-22 West. Follow 22 right into town until you see the spaceship. Once you pass the gas station, you’re downtown. The commemorative marker is behind the beauty salon on the right. You can’t see it from the road, though. just park and look for a tiny yellow building.

Live long and prosper.


Sometimes it’s bittersweet

Oh, Travelogue, how I’ve been neglecting you. Not on purpose, though, I promise. Living with an infant, most days I don’t even have time to shower, let alone travel and write about it on the internet.

Although, in a few days, I’m leaving for what will probably be the most epic road trip I’ve ever taken. Over the course of 2 weeks, my mom, sister and I are driving from home in Ohio to the Rockies in Colorado, then through Arches National Park in Utah and then the Grand Canyon. We’ll also visit family and friends in Tucson, AZ, and on the way home we’re stopping off at White Sands in New Mexico and Roswell to see the aliens (hopefully). Oh, and we’re camping. AND we’re taking the baby.

Am I crazy? Probably. I’ve been told I am. But I know it can be done because my first cross-country road trip was when I was 3 months old. My parents put me in the camper and hit the road.

Travel is in our blood thanks to my Grandma J. (my mom’s mom).

As much as I’m looking forward to this trip (I’m long overdue for a road trip), I’m equally as sad about it. Grandma J. passed away suddenly in December and her estate is financing this excursion. I have an infant and work part-time. There’s no way I’d be able to afford a trip like this on my own right now.

She loved to travel and did so whenever possible. She and my grandfather had visited nearly every U.S. state and most of Canada. I ended up with some of her travel journals after she passed.

Grandma J. getting ready to hit the road sometime in the 50s.

Grandma J. getting ready to hit the road sometime in the 50s I think.

On their trip to Alaska, she kept records of where they camped along the way, where they ate, how much everything cost and if it was any good or not. She also kept track of the weather, who they met and how many miles they drove. Maybe someday I’ll write more about those.

Grandma & Grandpa J. loved camping, too. They had owned a spot of land in PA since my mom was a kid. Grandpa cleared the land himself, built places to hook up RVs and a shelter with electricity, running water, a flush toilet and the best fire pit ever. There was plenty of land for tents, hiking, playing baseball and building a secret fort that everyone know about. My mom grew up camping there and so did I. Some of my favorite childhood memories are camping there with my grandparents.

Grandma J. and I at their campground when I was a baby.

Grandma J. and I at their campground when I was a baby.

Grandma camping with her parents and my mom when she was a young girl.

Grandma camping with her parents and my mom. My mom’s the little girl.

In the 15 years since Grandpa J. passed, Grandma kept right on going. She found a group of seniors from a church she didn’t even go to and took bus trips with them.

Grandma and a a group of her friends before a bus trip.

Grandma and a a group of her friends before a bus trip.

If she were alive today, I have no doubt she’d be going out west with us. At 84 years old, she’d be setting up the tent & cooking over the fire wearing the red hoodie she only wore camping. She’d be teaching the great-grandson she never got to meet how to have fun camping in the woods just like she taught her daughter and she taught me.

The red camping hoodie in the 70s or early 80s.

The red camping hoodie in the 70s or early 80s.

So here’s to you, Grandma J. I’d much rather have you here, but I hope doing something you loved honors you properly.

Zombie Mall and Baby Update

It’s been ages since we’ve posted anything. We haven’t forgot about or abandoned the travelogue- we’ve just been a bit preoccupied.

Preoccupied with the expulsion of small humans. That’s right- we both welcomed healthy baby boys in March!

That’s the good news.

The bad news is the clever zombie museum inside Monroeville Mall (the mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed) is closing it’s doors at the end of April. It appears the real zombies have taken over and are leasing the space to someone more corporate. The zombie museum was the last good reason to visit Monroeville Mall after JC Penney closed in 2012.

They’re going out with a bang, though. On April 27, 2013, Monroeville Zombies will hold it’s final party, zombie costume contest, all around farewell. Here’s a link to the Facebook event.

It’s not farewell forever, though. Monroeville Zombies has plans to reopen the museum at a different location.

In Case You Forgot….. Another Bad Bathroom Tag

In case you forgot what toilets were for....Found this gem at Blackhand Gorge Nature Preserve in Heath, Ohio.

In case you forgot what toilets were for….Found this gem at Blackhand Gorge Nature Preserve in Heath, Ohio.

Zombie Mall (and museum)!

The next chapter in our zombie movie history is 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Click here if you’re not familiar with the movie.

Monroeville Mall may look harmless from the outside, but in 1978 it was host to a throng of hungry zombies and a small group of survivors who had the run of the place. “Dawn of the Dead” was set in Philadelphia, PA, but was filmed in Monroeville just southwest of Pittsburgh.

I suppose describing the mall as harmless is relative depending on your view of shopping malls. I hate them. To me, shopping malls are the epitome of modern commercialism and the people who frequent them may already be zombies. Monroeville Mall is a prime example. It’s huge. The mall looms atop a hill and has it’s own entrance and exit ramps like the highway, congested parking lots, and enough overpriced restaurants and stores to make even Santa blush.

Very little of 1978 remains inside Monroeville Mall. Up until a couple months ago, JC Penney was the last recongnizable landmark from “Dawn of the Dead.” The store has since closed and moved to the other end of the mall. Although not shown in the movie, the Lane Bryant store was in the same location in 1978 as it is now, making Lane Bryant the single last holdout from the “Dawn of the Dead” era.

A model of JC Penney in 1978.

JC Penney in 2012, before closing.

Despite being a crowded, modern shopping mall, Monroeville Mall is still worth a visit, mostly because of the awesome zombie museum inside. Monroeville Zombies is a small, but incredibly well done little exhibit of zombie movie stuff. There’s props, posters, life size models, even movies & interviews playing on small tvs.

The best part, however, is the “Maul of Fame”wall & gallery, which has bloody handprints and signatures from actors & others involved in zombie movies. Even Romero himself has a signed photo.

No museum would be complete without a gift shop, and this gift shop is small, but mighty. There’s zombie books, toys, t-shirts, movie posters & dvds from throughout the horror genre. I picked up an awesome “Deep Red” movie poster complete with creepy baby doll. I even found a DVD copy of a crappy (but awesome) zombie  movie from the 80s called “The Dead Next Door” which was filmed in Akron (where I live if you don’t know me) and features my father-in-law as a zombie. Win.

Entrance to the museum.

Map of the mall in 1978.

Wall of movie posters.

One corner of the museum.


The other swat team guy post zombification.

“Because you of Earth are idiots!”

The government might be the last people I’d trust during Z-poc.

The Maul of Fame!!

Romero’s signed photo.

This has nothing to do with zombies, but there’s a really cool toy store in the mall right next to the Monroeville Zombies. Definitely worth popping by if you’re into comics, sci-fi or other nerdy collectibles.

This has nothing to do with zombies, either, but it’s a cool old poster hanging in the hallway by the mall’s bathrooms (which were surprisingly crappy for such an epically large mall).


Cantonese Dreams

Not so long ago, in a Saturn rocketing between Ohio and Kentucky, a friend played this music. This woman’s voice cut through the repetition of the dark highway, and my vodka and absinthe induced fatigue with the clarity of a train whistle. She had the voice of bluegrass and rock and roll, like joy in the face of adversity. Her voice sounded like Dolly Parton’s, but soaked in whiskey, dried in cigarette smoke on a rack in the blazing sun, and wrapped in a velvet bag with leather straps. How could that not appeal to the likes of me?

The music became a bit of an obsession for me, until I had discovered all of her work available, and dissected it clinically, and parted it out to the yummy bits I savored the most. I discovered that it was her and her husband, and I became even more enamored. The duo was called Shovels&Rope, and I was hooked. Being a bit of a singer at heart, I can honestly say that, as much as some of us hate the phrase, imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery. I do not intend to go around trying to rip them off, but I can at least say I walk around singing their songs often, and this is a high compliment from me. Very few songs strike me in such a way as to have me singing them in earnest, wholeheartedly, LOUDLY, and a few of theirs do.

So, being the wonderful friend she is, our lovely HumanStench texts me to tell me my treasured Shovels&Rope will be playing a mere 20 or 30 minutes from us, at reasonable cost, at a reasonable time, in a place called Canton. I, of course, squealed like a tween and promptly texted her back to say “Oh hell yeah.”  This hosting a parasite thing (also known as pregnancy) really has me down, but a trip to sunny Canton seemed totally do-able, even in my altered state. Also, let me note here, I did this once before, this gestation thing, and it was much easier the first time. 11 years ago I hardly noticed, but now it actually feels like work. *sigh*

This brings me to my topic at hand…Canton. Did you know that there are places all over the United States called Canton? At least 21 states have them. New York has a surplus of Cantons, with 2 of them. Ohio is a possessed of a most-blessed Canton, in that it is home to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, about which I care little, and many other attractions. Let me list some of them for you: The V-rock Shop (home of glorious gemstones that is open to the public, selling rough, polished, faceted, and all kinds of stones, and this is dear to my heart) The Harry London chocolate factory (absurdly cool, and very, very important to the sanity of thousands, neigh, MILLIONS of Americans addicted to the melty goodness that is chocolate) The McKinley Memorial and Museum (our 25th president; lots of stairs to climb to work off all that chocolate, practice for when the zombies come, and also so that we can pretend for a brief moment we are in that scene from Rocky) and the Blue Water Majesty Museum, where I have not been yet but intend to go soonish. Clearly, Canton Ohio has a few things going for it.

Let me interject my praises of Canton by saying that it has improved, apparently, from the Canton I used to know. I used to spend an unpleasant amount of time there, and it was filthy. Not in the fun way, not in a dirty-hippie way, but in the “get pulled out of a moving car by your throat, by some huge random crackhead” or “A policeman from Canton went bananas and killed his wife, his mama, a neighbor, and his kids” or a “foster mom throws kids out 3rd story window” kind of way. Ok, I exaggerate, but only a smidge. It was mostly just his wife and kids. I think.

Needless to say, I didn’t have much optimism about going to Canton itself, but my love of these musicians was so great, I couldn’t force myself NOT to go. Hence, we went. Me, and H.S., and my sister and kid all piled into her car, and sallied forth. In the car, H.S. put on David Byrne and St.Vincent, and that was pretty cool. We gorged ourselves on candy, as whiskey is not an option at the moment (parasites and all that), and got ourselves juiced up.

We get to the club, a place called The Auricle. Street parking was a fair option, thanks for that Canton. The venue name for some reason had put me in mind of the Neverending Story, and when we walked up, the logo on the sign and on the glass of the door was…a griffin, reminding me all the more of the Neverending Story’s sphinxes, and my warped mind was delighted. Somewhere between the fantastic company, excitement over the music, belly full of candy, luck with parking, good weather, and the childhood movie references, I forgot I was in a city I once feared and despised. I looked around with new eyes.

We walked down the stairs into the club, and hear Cary Ann Hearst singing Boxcar, one of my sister and I’s favorite songs to sing together. The show was fantastic. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are not only talented musicians, but entertaining people, and an adorable couple. At one point during the show, she mentioned how Ohio had been so welcoming to them ( I was glad to hear it) and that when she found out they were playing in Canton, she was tickled because she had been in another place called Canton in Mississippi.

HumanStench found cake-pops for sale, and (gobless ‘er) she brings me a pumpkin pie pop…holy smokes. I recommend them. Like 6 of them. Do it, I implore you. Cake-pops seemed absurd to me, but I promise you, they were worth eating. We all ventured to the pisser at some point, where we saw one of H.S.’s friend’s band poster…but it was just a close up of the lead singer’s face.  At least it wasn’t directly IN the bathroom stall. Bad enough having that guy looming over your shoulder ( he was obviously vamping and trying to look saucy) while your washing your hands. Nice guy in real life, I guess, but a weird sensation, to be sure.

After the show, we went by the merch booth, a place both H.S. and I are all too familiar with, having worked both sides of them many times ourselves, and met Cary Ann Hearst. She was gracious, and funny. Very personable, and didn’t seem to mind that I never meet a stranger (I figure nobody is stranger than me) and that I just figure everyone wants to know me. She signed my daughter’s arm, let me hug her like we were old friends, (bit of a fan-girl moment really) and took pictures with us. I can’t wait to see them again.

The point here, I think, is that we should all go into things without preconceived notions, even when they are founded in your own personal history. Cesar Milan would be pleased, I think, with my living in the moment, and not the past. My excitement about the show trumped my previous crappy experiences in Canton. We did not get mugged. Our car was not towed. I got to spend an evening with 3 of my most beloved ladies, watching live performers that I (also) adore. Ran into an old friend from high school. Got told by both her and the singer I idolize that I looked young (a most welcome comment in my current state.) The backache and swollen feet were well worth the effort. C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me. Thank you Canton, HumanStench, Court, Nel, and Shovels&Rope for the good time.Image