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I completely nerded out on Sunday, and it was awesome…

June 24, 2014, 10:21 PM

I went out on a miniature road trip on Sunday, and I had a blast, taking photos of anything that vaguely interested me.  It was more or less spur of the moment, when you consider that for what ended up being a photography trip, I only had my cell phone, and then, I didn’t bring my spare battery along.  Thus it was a bit of a continual battle to keep a sufficient charge on the phone with only the car charger, but somehow, I managed, and the results came out pretty well despite my leaving my real camera at home.  The way this trip came about is that I wanted to go up to and explore Westminster, Maryland.  I’ve been wanting to explore Westminster for a while, ever since my father took an overnight business trip to Westminster a few years ago and I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the day to go up and visit, because Dad didn’t realize that Westminster was as close to me as it was.  That sucked, because I would have totally gone up if I had known.  I’ll gladly travel an hour or so on relatively short notice to hang out with family.

So early Sunday morning, I just decided to go up and see what there was.  I like doing these sorts of trips, because it’s basically a scouting trip, seeing if there’s anything that I want to explore and photograph in more detail in the future.  Getting to Westminster is pretty easy: turn onto Georgia Avenue (MD 97) and take it all the way to Westminster.  Seriously, it’s that easy.  I got to Westminster just as the sun was coming up.  After a quick drive through the main commercial area along Route 140, I located the downtown area.

The downtown area in Westminster has what I consider an unusual feature: a single-track rail line for the Maryland Midland Railway running diagonally through the main intersection in downtown.  Main Street goes one way, and Liberty Street and Railroad Avenue (both MD 27) go the other way, and the rail line runs diagonally across the intersection.  I would have loved to have seen a train come through here while I was in the area, but unfortunately, I did not get to see that this time.

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The Skyline Parkway Motel has finally been demolished.

April 25, 2007, 5:04 PM

Afton Mountain now presents a slightly more picturesque view to those who visit it, as the Skyline Parkway Motel was demolished in the last week or so. In doing so, they not only removed the main building, which had been the target of an arson attack in 2004, but they also removed the row of cabins next to the main building. The cabins had never been torched, but had been abandoned for some time, and were in hideous shape.

And of course, here are photos:

Straight-on view of the former motel.
Straight-on view of the former motel.

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No more gate lodge for the old Howard Johnson’s in Harrisonburg…

July 30, 2005, 11:05 PM

Going through Harrisonburg on my way up to Pennsylvania on Thursday’s road trip, I noticed something unusual out my right window. At the site of the former Howard Johnson’s in Harrisonburg (which, according to both official and unofficial sources, is being upgraded in order for it to be used as a dorm again due to capacity issues), another building had bitten the dust. Recall that on October 9, 2003, I photographed the old Howard Johnson’s as Rockingham Hall – perhaps the last photos ever made of the complex while still whole. Then in June 2004, the unused restaurant was demolished. Gone. I drove by on June 23, 2004, and was shocked. A pile of rubble stood where the restaurant was, including the mangled remains of the cupola. Then this summer, you may recall, the remainder of the complex, meaning the gate lodge and the motor lodge, was slated for demolition. However, the demolition was called off, and the motor lodge building was upgraded slightly for use as a dorm once again. However, the gate lodge was demolished, having been reduced to a pile of rubble. The gate lodge had been done over in the 1990s, and there were even remnants of the blue roof installed at that time (replacing the signature orange roof) visible in the debris.

For the back-story on that, JMU learned in 2004 that they couldn’t use the Howard Johnson’s buildings anymore unless they were upgraded to higher standards. Thus the buildings were vacated, because it was not considered feasible to upgrade a building that they bought with the intention of demolishing. Thus, for 2004-2005, the facility was unused as a dorm, and offices housed there were intended to be relocated (no word on how that went). However, capacity reared its ugly head again, since JMU still hasn’t figured out that it’s not a good idea to admit more freshmen than you have space. And I also don’t believe that bunking three people in a room designed for two is a solution, either, even if you do have a suite living room at your disposal. What JMU needs to do is find the funds to demolish the R5 parking lot next to Chesapeake Hall and build the third CISAT dorm that’s in the master plan for the east campus. That would either be three separate buildings of five floors each that are basically single-wing versions of my beloved Potomac Hall, holding roughly 200 students each, or the same three structures as “A”, “B”, and “C” wings connected by low-lying corridors like at Potomac Hall. Which one it’s slated to be depends on whose drawing you look at. But until then, they’re remodeling buildings whose days are already numbered. It looks fairly nice, with JMU putting new furniture, carpeting, and fixtures in, according to some new-freshman literature I found on the Web. One may notice right offhand driving by on I-81 that the sliding doors to the balconies were removed, and replaced with a more conventional glass door with windows on either side. Additionally, new railings were installed on the balconies. And this is going to be a FRESHMAN dorm.

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Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU

Stop the presses!

June 19, 2005, 10:34 PM

After publishing the last Journal entry, where, at the end of the article, in the “Quote” part, I spoke about the demolition of the former Howard Johnson’s motor lodge in Harrisonburg, I learned from a friend that the motor lodge still exists!

So I went into JMU’s Facilities Management master schedule online, and found out that a lot of different scheduled projects are listed as being on hold. All sorts of projects are marked “ON HOLD”, such as:
Renovating humidity controls in the ISAT/CS Building
Reconfiguring the old WMRA space in Anthony-Seeger Hall for JMU Police use
Building a turning lane into the Convocation Center
Asbestos abatement and demolition of Lincoln House, Shenandoah Hall, Smith House, Wellington Hall, and Zirkle House
Demolition of Rockingham Hall (the old HoJo’s)
Replacement of UREC astroturf

As you can see, a lot of stuff is on hold. And it seems that ALL the demolition projects are on hold, for that matter. I really have no idea why all of these projects are on hold, but they are. By the way, all the other demolition projects aside from the HoJo’s are all on the same block, to make way for a new performing arts center.

So maybe the old Howard Johnson’s motor lodge will be with us for a tad longer than anticipated. Not like it will be of any use to us, though, as it will more than likely remain closed, as it has been for the past year.

Now to clarify, I am referring only to the MOTOR LODGE complex (guest room buildings and the gate lodge). The restaurant had already been demolished in June 2004. I describe my discovery that the restaurant had been demolished in the June 29, 2004 Journal entry.

Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU

When I did the photo set, I never thought I was going to be documenting the last days of the complex…

June 19, 2005, 4:27 AM

When I shot the photos that comprised the two-part photo set Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress, I never really thought that what I was documenting would disappear so quickly. The focus of the photo set was threefold, if you recall:

Howard Johnson's Restaurant
Howard Johnson’s Restaurant

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My adventure in College Park…

May 26, 2005, 7:51 PM

I went up to the DC area today, and, in an unusual twist of things, spent NO time above ground in downtown Washington DC.

Arriving at Vienna, one thing I quickly noticed in the North Garage was that the contractor had completed work on the first section of the garage to undergo rehabilitation, and had moved to the second section. I’m not quite sure what they did in rehabilitating it, since it looked exactly the same as it did before. Who knows. On the top level, a pickup truck was parked so badly in its space so as to make the opening for the space next to it a little too close for comfort. Thus there was this very attractive looking empty space, but it was a little too tight of a squeeze to get in there. I ended up having to wait for the guaranteed spaces to open up at 10:00, and then parked on the third level.

Getting on the train at Vienna, I rode a mixed consist of Breda 4000-series cars and CAF cars. Leaving the station, the 4000s were in front, and the four CAFs followed behind. The operator out of Vienna knew me from a previous trip.

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Things we do on our off-days…

July 28, 2004, 8:37 PM

I was off yesterday and today, and it was quite an interesting time. The highlight of the days off was going to Roanoke on Tuesday afternoon and evening. I did some very minor photography, mostly night photography at Mill Mountain Park, home of the Roanoke Star. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just a certain draw to that location for photographing it at night. The only problem is that with the warmer months, darkness comes later, and thus I get far less time topside before they kick us out of the park at 11 PM (that’s when the gates close) than I would during the winter when it gets dark at like five.

Still, I managed to get a few gems. My only major problem up at the star this time was children. Elementary-aged children running around doing child-type stuff, getting in my way, tromping around on the wooden overlook platforms, messing up more than one shot. One child actually bumped my tripod, creating a double image with some strange trails on it.

On this trip, I also realized why winter is the better time for visiting the Roanoke Star. Besides there being more dark up there at night, the leaves are gone from the trees, permitting us to see more of the area. Foliage is a big blocker, let me tell you.

And then after I was finished at the star, I went over to Hooters, where I had a meal, and also got into a conversation with Cierra, one of the Hooters girls, about the Metro in DC, MARTA in Atlanta, and other transit-type topics. Also found out that Roanoke indeed does have transit service – a bus service called Valley Metro. I will have to chase this and photograph service one of these days. It may be more difficult than I would like it to be, considering that I had never even seen buses in Roanoke before this trip. Still, we’ll figure it all out in the end. May pair it up with the BT in Blacksburg.

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Photos of the Skyline Parkway Motel fire, and some other stuff

July 15, 2004, 1:56 PM

First of all, before I start showing you photos, guess who I saw on Tuesday afternoon at Wal-Mart. I saw Mrs. Kucs (pronounced “kooch”), my sixth grade math teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School. That was a lot of fun. She’s retired now, so I don’t see her around SDMS when I go visit. Still, Mrs. Kucs was a great teacher. The one phrase that has stayed with me that I learned from Mrs. Kucs was “That will be fifty whacks with a wet noodle!” All in all, great math teacher, and it was great to see Mrs. Kucs again.

Anyway, after seeing Mrs. Kucs as I was leaving work, I headed out to Afton Mountain and then beyond. Going to Afton, I went by way of downtown Waynesboro, because I had a few other photo spots I wanted to hit on the way. For one, the “scar” on the mountain in Waynesboro:

The scar on the mountain in Waynesboro

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Another Howard Johnson’s bites the dust…

June 29, 2004, 12:03 AM

It’s sad… in the same month, Palace Amusements in Asbury Park, New Jersey bites the dust (see my related quote article), and then the old Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Harrisonburg also gets demolished.

First of all, in its time as a Howard Johnson’s, it looked like this, as seen in these photos from Autoage.org

Howard Johnson's in Harrisonburg while open

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Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU