Earlier today, after leaving Rochester and the Mayo Clinic, we made a pit stop at Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis for our days worth of nourishment. Though we were warned of the lines and the wait to get in, we could have never expected the time we spent waiting for people to exit the diner in order to let the next ones in. Imagine our surprise when we got in the door to find out that there were no tables. Just more people lined up against the wall like a police lineup, waiting for a spot at the counter to open up.
As one who’s always loved diners and preferred sitting at the counter than be being seated at a table. Just watching the crew slide by one another taking orders, cooking and bringing food or fresh coffee to patrons can help build your energy and the appetite needed to complete the overloaded plate that will soon arrive. While enjoying our breakfast we met some locals and learned that Al’s was once an alley that cut through the block and had been serving breakfast since 1950. In the end, we had a great experience, service, food and conversation. We’re heading back to the area in late September and will definitely make Al’s a priority. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, you should too.
For as long as I can remember and probably before. I’ve always been drawn to gas stations and junk yards. From a very young age I could often be found snooping around the gas station on my corner of 83rd street and Astoria Blvd. or tagging along with my Dad to collect from many of the gamblers who worked at the junk yards outside of Shea Stadium. Drawn perhaps, by the smell of gasoline, barb wired fences, guard dogs and random car parts. These places served as the keys to some of my earliest adventures.
So when my wife pulled in to the parking space across from Central District Ice Cream. My excitement regarding a sweet weekend treat was doubled by the site of an abandoned / out of business gas station. Between the antique cars parked in the lot to the hose-less gas pumps. It was all goosebumps and fist pumps. Once again, I was reduced to using my cellphone. I snapped a few shots before joining my wife for ice cream across the street.
As for the ice cream. My wife had a cup of Peanut Butter & Plum Jam. While I indulged in a waffle cone of Coconut Cantaloupe. Great stuff and highly recommended on our part. As I get older, I take a lot of satisfaction knowing that the smell of old gas stations and the taste of freshly scooped ice cream still bring a smile to my face.
Some of my earliest memories involve my Dad taking me to the junk yards just beyond Shea stadium at Willets Point. Whether it was to scavenge for parts to keep his T-bird running or as a shark collecting on bets whose payment had over reached the official calendar dates. For me personally, the opportunity to seize the passenger’s seat and tag along on such an adventure was better than a trip to Disneyland, or at least the local arcade. That excitement I felt when the car would come to a rolling stop. Where I’d eject myself from the car, run past the half-berserk junk yard dog towards the wrecked cars, old tires and random parts that lay about like toys waiting to be opened on Christmas Day. I tell ya. From the age of five to about ten years old, there weren’t many playgrounds or theme parks worthy of such excitement on my part.
Decades later, and with many years behind me. I find myself, sometimes embarrassingly, drawn to the same things that inspired me as a child. Things that, till this day, raise my brow as well as the hair on my arm or the back of my neck.Those sensors and those knots in my stomach let me know that… as broken down as I may be. I’m still alive and full of a passion to get closer, investigate, document and report back. I hope that passion never leaves me.
If you’re not into garbage strewn streets and unkempt property. My usual route home from the train is dull city. S0 0ver time I’ve devised different ways to not only get home, but to explore areas that I’ve yet to really crack. One of those routes lies just across the railroad tracks, about a block or two from the main area called Little India. One one of this winters nicer days I found one that suits me well and doesn’t have me taking the long route to the short cut. As I turned on to “I forget the name” street. My ears were filled with the sounds of children loudly enjoying their recess. Luckily, the almost ear piercing sound had zero effect on my eyes, as I walked right in to a car that looked as if it predated the Castro regime. It’s happened a lot over the years. There was a classic hunk of classic green junk parked in the lot behind Hoboken’s Monroe Center for centuries. So boldly occupying its space. It seemed immovable by current technology. There’s yet another parked within site of the route I take home almost daily. (I need to spend some time getting to know it one day.)
For me personally, the draw is the history, stories and uniqueness that captivates my attention. These monuments to the past surely have some tales to tell. Getting closer to get a good look and to take a few pictures guarantees that years after it’s gone. It will still be remembered.
As I was pulling into a spot at the grocery store this morning. I stopped and patiently waited as a mother juggled packing her groceries into their car with keeping a mindful eye on her rambunctious toddler. The child’s energy and smile were absolutely captivating, making the extra minute or so all the more enjoyable. As I finally pulled in to the spot and waved to them both. I was met by a chorus of obnoxious honking and high beams. It seems the woman (I have no hard evidence to prove such.) who was already parked in the spot in front of me wanted to move forward into mine.
The visibly angry Q- Tip shook her fists at me, threatening a follow through of furious anger, brittle bones and thrashing about the head and shoulders. As she passed my car the threats continued. With a smile on my face and a good dose of sarcasm at the tip of my tongue. I rolled down my window, wished her a Merry Christmas and happy tidings before her soul takes that inevitable trip to the seventh layer of hell. It was a nice moment. One that reminded me of all the good these holidays bring out in people. So from me and my new old lady friend. “Happy Holidays. Be sure to enjoy the fruits of your remaining days.”
Love and Kisses, The Photo Geek