Having a whale of a time in a bicycle boneyard

I’m not sure if I trespassed this afternoon. For what it’s worth, I didn’t see any “Keep Out” signs in this particular area, but the whole block had been fenced off; all the buildings boarded up, abandoned shells.

The fence to the building which used to house The Hub Community Bike Shop was open, and so I wandered in, drawn by the graffiti and twisted remains of bicycles.

The Hub is a non-profit bike shop and community resource in Bellingham, Washington. It opened in 2002 to build and refurbish custom bikes from donated parts as a service to the city. In short, people donate bikes, then The Hub‘s staff and volunteers build completely new bikes from the parts before selling them or donating them to social service organisations in town, which help put the bikes into the hands of those who need them most. They also offer full-service repairs and tune-ups, in addition to a self-repair station for people wanting  to fix their own bikes.

But at the beginning of September they were forced to move to new premises as the entire block was sold to a development company, which plans to build new housing units. Amazingly, all the parts you will see in this post were left behind when they moved.

What a treasure trove of junk!


67 and 69 are just numbers, after all

A few years ago I visited Bob, a collector of cabins and other junk. Here he is:

Bob with the licence plate that holds the most significance for him.

Last week I was driving by his house and, as I often do with anyone I’ve met just once, felt I should stop to say hello. He was in the yard raking leaves.

I said hi from a safe distance, in case he had a shotgun stashed in his wheelbarrow. He looked like the type of person who might.

“Hi, I’m Robin. I visited you a few years ago and you gave me a tour of your cabins,” I explained.

“I don’t remember you. But I do have dementia, so I don’t remember much,” he replied with a smirk. “And you’ve got one of those forgettable faces, right?”

I chose not to take it personally. After all, the old guy did have dementia. Next, I thought I would ask if he had any old car licence plates that I could look through, to possibly buy.

“Well, I don’t have any of those, eh,” he replied.

“You don’t?” I asked, surprised. Because I knew he had lots the previous time I visited.

“Well, I may have a couple,” he responded dryly, after taking a long drag on his cigarette.

“I’m looking for a ’69,” I continued. “May I go and see?”

This is how the conversation progressed, as we walked down to the cabin coated in number plates.

“A ’67, you say?”

“No, a ’69,” I replied…

Staring at the cabin he hummed and hawed. “Nope, I don’t seem to have a ’67.”

“No worries, because I’m looking for a ’69,” said I, with no hint of sarcasm.

But he only had one ’69 and wasn’t willing to get rid of it. So I asked if I could take a photo of his licence plate shed, anyway.

He immediately refused, scared that people would see how many number plates he has and try to come and steal them.

“But no one will know where this is,” I tried to placate him.

But he was adamant: no photos! So I said goodbye after thanking him for letting me see the shed.

But as I was walking up the hill back to my car, he called after me. “Okay, it’s fine, you can take a photo!”

And so I did. In fact, I took two!

And I complimented him about how neatly he had hung them, and how cool his collection of other car-related knick-knacks was. I snapped one more photo.

Once we had exhausted all the small talk, and I had explained at least half a dozen more times who I was so he could tell his wife when she got home, I said goodbye.

But Bob had the last word.

“So you want a ’67, right? I’ll look out for one for you!”

Dementia, my foot! He was just having a grand old time pulling my leg!

Seeing beyond the decrepitude …

… to what was once full of beauty and grace.

One of the things that has always struck me about the Cariboo region of Canuckistan is the number of old, decaying vehicles in people’s back yards. Literally everywhere you go you see vintage classics that people have obviously collected with the intention of fixing up one day, or selling for a profit.

But in the meantime they gather mould and layers of grunge, becoming home to squirrels and other rodents. I was fortunate to be invited to shoot in the back yard of a woman I know from church.

Her husband, who died earlier this year, was a collector. These are his legacy but, sadly, he never got the opportunity to restore them as he’d always hoped. In the meantime, people have pilfered bits and bobs off them and it’s become more and more unlikely that they will ever regain their former beauty.

Unless a dreamer and collector were to come along and see something of what these old  dames could still be. We can but hope…

Finally shooting Quesnel’s “little people”

I lived in Quesnel for about two years in 2013/2014 and shot pretty much anything of significance. But, strangely enough, I never got around to tracking down its painted fire hydrants. Until now.

So, what’s the story behind them? In 2001 the Quesnel Downtown Association decided to paint some of the fire hydrants to represent historical figures important to the town. They approached sponsors, who got to choose who they wanted represented, and then artist Leigh Cassidy got to work.

There are now 23 publicly-viewable fire hydrants, several of which have been repainted (and so look a bit different to their original versions). Gas Jockey and Blacksmith look completely different and it seems that the Hockey Player was replaced by a Dogsled Dog.

Oh, there are some funky angles because all I had was a wide angle lens. But here they are. And if anyone can tell me where to find “Betty Boop,” I will go and shoot her too.

If you would like to read more about each fire hydrant, here’s the pdf produced by the city.

A collector of cabins and other abandoned things

So, as part of my series on interesting characters and stuff they do, today I will be featuring “Bob,” a collector of cabins and other paraphernalia.

Bob once worked on the nation’s highways, and at some point started collecting articles he would find at the side of the road. These included wooden cabins, which he would break down, drive back to his place in pieces and then rebuild (replacing rotten logs and boards where needed).

Apparently Bob lives by the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” with each cabin packed to the rafters with the things he’s collected.

The week before I visited, Bob had held a garage sale, selling some of his stockpile. Considering that everything still seemed to be in its spot, I don’t know what he could possibly have sold! But I’m sure you aren’t here to read, and would love to see Bob’s treasure trove!

No more than a few sentences (and a cluster of cars)

A few evenings ago I was having dinner with a family from church, when one of them mentioned that he had, in fact, read two (and only two) of my blogposts. “The one about the moose and a Crash to Pass one,” to be precise, he said.

“Actually,” he continued, “your blog posts are just too long. I don’t have time for all that reading. Just give me a few sentences and a couple of photos or I couldn’t be bothered.”

His wife, who also blogs occasionally, was actually quite put out that he had deigned to read a few of my posts, because he never undertook to appreciate hers – plainspoken, poetic accounts of their family life.

Hopefully a few of you have stuck it out this far and will continue reading just a bit further. You will be rewarded!

While exploring our local concrete company one evening I came across these spoils – a cluster of cars (and one motorbike) neatly parked next to each other, patiently waiting to be restored. Parked in a lean-to at the heart of a gravel pit, they were all coated in a thick layer of dirt, hiding their true colours and potential. I was hoping to shoot a few of the cars their owner has actually restored, but I’m quite happy with the unembellished authenticity of these old darlings.

Sam, if you’re still reading, you can click on the thumbnails for bigger versions. (And, sorry, but there are more than just a handful…) 🙂