Get in the Road Trip Mood

Find a vintage motel or hotel postcard on eBay. Pick something from your local area so you will know the streets, more or less. Use Google Street View (find the location on the back view of the postcard) see if you can find the motel now. Is it still there at all? If so, is the name the same? Spot the differences between then and now.

Source: Caribou Motel Barrie Orilla Ontario ON Canada Vintage Chrome Postcard | eBay

Take it on the road and visit the site. Get a photograph and (if you have a site) post the then and now images. Find some history, if you can. Or design a history for the motel yourself. Who owned and operated it over the years? Did they love it, grow too tired to keep it going, run out of money? What changes happened around them in the local area?

I found the Caribou Motel in the present, it’s gone. Replaced by a new gas bar. Nothing left of the old motel and diner except the space around the new building. You can see some curb out by the road and the parking lot is bigger than the current commercial business would need. Small hints at what once was.


You can see what became of the Caribou in urban exploration photos from CopySix and other explorers who posted to Flickr and Ontario Abandoned Places. Note: the CopySix post has a comment from the original owner’s family.


From Wikipedia: Serendipity is a propensity for making fortuitous discoveries while looking for something unrelated.

Now and then you find a really good word for something you never thought had a good word for it. I like the way this word sounds, like the slippery curved back of a sea serpent snaking up and down along the waves.

Think about looking for something online, reading a few blogs, sites and forums then finding something else that just takes over your full attention, something you never would have found otherwise. This happens to me quite a bit. I find new art forms, new ideas and names for things I had an interest in but never would have guessed others are actually involved in enough to give it a name, like urban exploration, ASCII art.

Write a scene where your character has a chance discovery, a case of serendipity.

The Zoo of Depressed Animals

I read The Zoo of Depressed Animals on the Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars blog.

A site about elephants also has some background about the zoo – “Louise Terry was the owner of Terry-Lou Zoo in Scotch Plains. The 7-acre zoo was established more than 49 years ago. Most of the animals housed at the zoo were castoffs from other zoos. Some of the animals were too old to breed, were deformed or had been injured or maimed by hunters.

Mrs. Terry and her husband, Franklyn T. Terry, owned the zoo until they sold it in 1993. In 1997, the zoo was closed and the animals were relocated.”

Jack English has a photo of Frazee Homestead on the zoo land. He wrote about the history of the place, before it became a zoo even.

So far I can’t find photos of the abandoned zoo itself. I did find an abandoned petting zoo, Benson’s Animal Farm, Hudson, NH.

What is the point of all this? Not much, mostly a personal interest in rural and urban exploration (abandoned places). But, think of those animals at the now abandoned zoo or petting zoo. What kind of life must they have had before winding up at the bottom of the barrel zoo?

Write a tribute to one of them, make up the name, the history and decide what kind of an end they came to. Will you write it in a sentimental, sad or practical point of view?