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Had never traveled a business Interstate before…

July 24, 2016, 8:55 PM

…and now I have.  Elyse and I made an impromptu road trip to York, Pennsylvania on Thursday, July 14.  We got together in Ellicott City, but didn’t know quite what we wanted to do, and so we ended up doing that.

However, our first stop was a completely unplanned one, in Catonsville.  There, the McDonald’s in 40 West Plaza recently closed, and was in the process of being vacated.  At the time that we came by, they had started roofing over the McDonald’s-style mansard, and removed the signage, and were packing stuff up inside.

Exterior, with new roof going on, covering the double mansard that the facility had when it was still in operation. Also note the McDonald's labelscar on the side of the building. Guessing that they paint the exterior in order to hide these labelscar markings.

Exterior, with new roof going on, covering the double mansard that the facility had when it was still in operation. Also note the McDonald's labelscar on the side of the building. Guessing that they paint the exterior in order to hide these labelscar markings.
Exterior, with new roof going on, covering the double mansard that the facility had when it was still in operation.  Also note the McDonald’s labelscar on the side of the building.  Guessing that they paint the exterior in order to hide these labelscar markings.

McDonald's labelscar on the dumpster enclosure. Guessing that this will be painted out as well.
McDonald’s labelscar on the dumpster enclosure.  Guessing that this will be painted out as well.

The inside looks like it's in the process of being packed up. I don't know how far they strip it down before they vacate, but it still very much resembles a McDonald's inside at this point.

The inside looks like it's in the process of being packed up. I don't know how far they strip it down before they vacate, but it still very much resembles a McDonald's inside at this point.
The inside looks like it’s in the process of being packed up.  I don’t know how far they strip it down before they vacate, but it still very much resembles a McDonald’s inside at this point.

As to why the location closed, I have no idea.  However, if I were to take a guess, I would think that it’s because this was one of three McDonald’s locations in the immediate area, both of which are only one traffic light away, with one freestanding, and the other inside a nearby Walmart store.  I don’t know which of the three are/were corporate locations or franchises, but in any case, I suppose that three was just too many.

After that, we headed over to Alarmax up in the Timonium area.  Alarmax sells, as you would expect, alarm stuff, relating mostly to fire and security.  Elyse is friends with the folks over there, and so we stopped by to say hello and look at some of the alarms.  It’s too bad that they only sell B2B, because I would certainly love to buy some stuff from there.  Check it out:

Dual-action RSG pull station, without third-party branding. I remember this pull, with Radionics branding, at the Walmart store that I used to work at in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Dual-action RSG pull station, without third-party branding. I remember this pull, with Radionics branding, at the Walmart store that I used to work at in Waynesboro, Virginia.
Dual-action RSG pull station, without third-party branding.  I remember this pull, with Radionics branding, at the Walmart store that I used to work at in Waynesboro, Virginia.

Display of Fire-Lite BG-12s, complete with large stuffed dalmatian. The dalmatian is Fire-Lite's mascot.
Display of Fire-Lite BG-12s, complete with large stuffed dalmatian.  The dalmatian is Fire-Lite’s mascot.

Elyse poses with a stack of SpectrAlert Advance horn/strobes.
Elyse poses with a stack of SpectrAlert Advance horn/strobes.

Shelves full of Wheelock products. The top shelf contains MIN-TR sounders, the middle section is RSS-MCW strobes, and next to that are ZNS horn/strobes. Then the bottom shelf contains Exceder horn/strobes on the left, and ZRS strobes on the right.
Shelves full of Wheelock products.  The top shelf contains MIN-TR sounders, the middle section is RSS-MCW strobes, and next to that are ZNS horn/strobes.  Then the bottom shelf contains Exceder horn/strobes on the left, and ZRS strobes on the right.

Back side of a Wheelock Exceder. I had never seen the back of one of these before.
Back side of a Wheelock Exceder.  I had never seen the back of one of these before.

A shelf full of SpectrAlert classics.
A shelf full of SpectrAlert classics.

SDC door release pull stations.
SDC door release pull stations.

Then from here, we traveled up to York via I-83.  Our goal was to just go up and see where things went, kind of like my trip to Westminster in 2014.  First thing we did, however, was overshoot the town.  For some reason, we thought that I-83 ended in York, so we thought we’d try to finish it.  Turns out that it goes to Harrisburg, which was further than we wanted to go.  So we ended up backtracking a little to get back to York.  We ended up catching the I-83 business loop, which is the main road through downtown.  Neither Elyse nor I had ever been on a business loop Interstate, so… fun.

First of all, Interstate business routes are signed like Interstates… sort of.  Here are the two versions of their shields:

Interstate 83 business loop shield, without "LOOP" text  Interstate 83 business loop shield, with "LOOP" text

These shields are green, and are the same shape and general design as regular Interstate shields.  The only difference between the two versions of the shield are the size of the number and the “LOOP” text.  This is similar to how some regular Interstate shields have the state name on them and some don’t.  Otherwise, though, it’s a typical route through a city.  If I-83 had been a US highway, this route through town would have been a bannered business route for the US highway.  So this is essentially the same thing, just with an Interstate designation.  However, business Interstates are rare in the eastern US – there’s this one, and a few in North Carolina.  These routes are more common in the western part of the country.

Pennsylvania in general tends to have interesting road signage.  I found two more signs that I hadn’t seen anywhere else before:

"All traffic MUST turn right"
This one was at the corner of West 11th Avenue and North George Street, and it reads, “All traffic MUST turn right”.  I’ve seen signs that say, “Left lane MUST turn left” and such, but this was a new one by me.  Apparently, though, some people found this confusing.  While I was photographing this, a guy drove up and asked me if I had gotten a ticket at this intersection.  I did not, but he had.  Apparently, he got busted for not following the sign.  And in all fairness, while you are responsible for every sign that you encounter, this sign is also the only thing that indicates that there is a turn restriction here.  There are no pavement markings of any sort to indicate the turn restriction, and there is also nothing to guide motorists in the right direction, such as flexible bollards.  I wonder if graphical proscriptive signage (e.g. “no left turn“) would be a better solution than textual prescriptive signage.

"Street Narrows"
This sign is just around the corner from the first sign, and shows “STREET NARROWS”.  I wonder how old this sign is, and if it is now, for all intents and purposes, obsolete.  It is the same color as a normal sign for a lane’s ending, but is rectangular in shape, plus has text with it.  Plus it is paired with a more conventional, diamond-shaped sign to its immediate right.  Go figure, I suppose.

Continuing downtown, we spotted this Gamewell box on the side of a building:

Gamewell fire alarm box on the side of a building

I had never seen a Gamewell box like this before.  No pull handle, and you couldn’t open the door, either.  According to a person familiar with the system in a fire alarm group that I’m in, this is the explanation:

Sort of a Rube Goldberg machine setup at the head end. The boxes still ring to the original hand wound gong in the original fire department on Duke street, as well as operates a ticker tape at the same location. It also sends a signal next door where there are more modern (1970s) Gamewell units that monitor circuit integrity and pass a cleaned up signal to a Simplex 4100U with two 4 circuit decoder modules. It translates the code to a Mapnet address with the building name and address. That signal then shoots across town a couple miles away on a fiber network to another 4100u at the 911 dispatch center, where the calls actually get dispatched to the appropriate station.

Still more reliable than a DACT.

There you go.  Otherwise, after we rode the I-83 loop from one end to the other, we doubled back and got on Route 30, en route to the York Galleria shopping mall.  On the way, we got some water tower pix:

"YORK BUSINESS CENTER" water tower

"YORK BUSINESS CENTER" water tower

"YORK BUSINESS CENTER" water tower

The mall itself, meanwhile, was fairly ho-hum as far as shopping malls go.  The interior still had the original fittings, which were fairly uninspired:

York Galleria, photographed from the Sears end

The mall was fairly small from end to end, and contained two stories.  The smaller size of the mall surprised me, though it did have four anchors: Boscov’s, The Bon-Ton, Sears, and an empty spot.  The Boscov’s was typical for that chain: mirrored ceilings, neon lights, and garish light fixtures.  I mean, seriously:

Yikes.

Yikes.  Here’s hoping that this store gets remodeled to something less garish in the future.

Then over where the empty anchor space, formerly JCPenney, is located, they’re doing some construction.  Apparently, they filled in an opening of some sort:

Construction, filling in a hole

No idea what this is going to be.  Might have to come back here eventually and see.

Then outside, we found a remnant from a past tenant:

Texas Roadhouse signage in a Shoney's frame

This sign for Texas Roadhouse began life as a Shoney’s sign.  The accompanying building, if it ever was a Shoney’s, is now unrecognizable.  Guessing that the building is newer than the sign, i.e. it was never a Shoney’s, and the Shoney’s building is long gone by now.  Still a pretty good find.

We left York via Route 30, heading towards Gettysburg.  That was an interesting ride.  “Seeing America” comes to mind when riding this stretch of road, since you’re going right through the heart of a few small towns, with a lot of farmland in between.  We went through ThomasvilleAbbottstown, and New Oxford, and the latter two both had a traffic circle in the center of town.  Gettysburg also had this.  I don’t know if it’s a Pennsylvania thing, or if it just worked out like that.

At Gettysburg, Elyse wanted to show me the Sachs Covered Bridge.  This bridge certainly had charm, but as we got to it at the end of the day, just as the sun was going down, we didn’t get to see much of it – just a lot of dark.  But I did get a photo of the river from the bridge:

View from the Sachs Covered Bridge at sunset

The bridge certainly has its good qualities, and it definitely seems like something that would be worth visiting again for photography during the day.  A day where the bridge, as something of a tourist draw in and of itself, is not very well attended would be ideal.  Fall would work for that.

Otherwise, while we were in Gettysburg, we went for frozen custard, and also checked out the Gettysburg Hotel, right on Gettysburg’s own traffic circle.  And here’s a combination that I’ll bet that you haven’t seen before:

Fire alarm combination at the Gettysburg Hotel

That is a Wheelock 7002T with a Silent Knight pull station.  Can we say “unusual”?  As I understand it, the way this combination occurred is that the Wheelock 7002Ts were likely installed during the hotel’s restoration in 1991.  Then the hotel added onto the building in the 2000s, which brought a new fire alarm system.  The addition has Wheelock AS notification appliances with Silent Knight pull stations.  The panel is also in the addition.  Apparently, the original part of the hotel kept its original notification appliances, while the pull stations were replaced.  However, someone 25 years ago should have told them that Wheelock 7002Ts need trim plates behind them to look their best.  A 7002T looks naked without the trim plate.

Then from there, we headed back.  We went back via Westminster, which took us along Pennsylvania 97 and Maryland 97.  And true to form as a Montgomery County resident, I referred to route 97 as Georgia Avenue, regardless of location.  Thus we took “Georgia Avenue” from Gettysburg to Westminster, and then to Ellicott City from there to drop off Elyse.  Not too shabby.

All in all, I love these little adventures.  York looks like a place that I want to explore more thoroughly, though not at the height of summer.