Four months, three vehicles, my sister, her dog Buster and I, that was the Chasing Neon project. Together, with the support of 179 Kickstarter backers, we zigzagged across the United States for nearly 28,000 miles in search of vintage neon signs. The goal was simple: document more signs than I could count in various stages of restoration or disrepair, in hopes of promoting awareness, appreciation and preservation.
We started in a Winnebago I’d affectionately named Mini Winnie. By the time we’d traversed Nevada and driven into Utah, it became clear Winnie wasn’t fast enough to trek the mountainous terrain of the Pacific Northwest. We rented a car, and proceeded to put more than 5,000 miles on it over the next ten days. Let’s just say Wyoming is big, Montana is even bigger, and then there was Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
After returning the car rental… and spending more than an hour and $30 in quarters furiously vacuuming blonde dog hair from its black fabric interior… we drove Winnie home to California for her television debut with Good Day Sacramento. . When Cody walked out sporting a bow tie, I knew we were in good hands. After our TV spot the three of us set out again, this time in my sister’s car. Traveling in Winnie was a wonderfully romantic idea, but we needed speed, so we adapted. Our travels took us south, to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. More signs to love and ogle, and skies that photographers dream about.
Texas was our first experience with adverse weather, and we were tied up in Dallas longer than expected waiting for the rain to pass. Thank heavens for gracious friends who don’t mind you staying a few days more. To avoid an incoming hurricane we went north to Maryland, and traveled the Northeast before heading south, and through parts of the Midwest. We spent a day in a hotel in North Bend, Indiana waiting again for rains and flash flooding to pass, before heading back south. The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati was a must, and after we arrived my sister joked she had to clean my drool off the floor. Charming, isn’t it. Somewhere in there was Florida and Georgia and Alabama, then Tennessee and Kentucky.. We finished with Route 66, a road I’ve dreamt about traveling in its entirety for years.
Four months wasn’t enough time to cover the country, but we certainly tried; my external hard drives bear the 15,000 photographs as proof. Months later, I’m still working my way through the images and finishing a book for my Kickstarter backers. Every photo I find is a memory, to share. People often ask me what is my favorite sign, or what was my favorite place to visit. It’s an impossible question, you can’t see 28,000 miles of our countryside and choose just one place.