Tag Archives: mike wolfe

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JT and Kasey sitting around his dad’s Buffalo Sound sign they preserved and turned into a table for guests

Buffalo Soul is a one-of-kind vacation rental that delivers an authentic Music City experience unlike any other

When in Nashville, there are certain staple experiences that you make sure not to miss. They often include, in no particular order, hot chicken, meat and three, and honky-tonking on Lower Broadway. There’s no shortage of live music in the crowded bars, the sold-out Bridgestone shows, or out in the elements at Ascend Amphitheater, but what they lack is an eye-to-eye connection to the artist.

This is a gap that Mike’s friend and recording artist JT Hodges and his wife Kasey aim to close by bringing folks closer to the music. For those Two Lanes travelers looking to have an authentic Nashville experience away from crowds and cliches, check out Buffalo Soul — a unique house rental where intimate performances from artists and singer-songwriters are an optional part of your stay.

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Living room/ singer-song round space

It’s never fun trying to cram your crew into a cheap downtown motel. (No one wins when they draw the shortest straw and end up on the sleeper sofa for the weekend.) At Buffalo Soul, there’s plenty of room to keep everyone in your group together to fully enjoy your vacation, a couples retreat or a big birthday celebration. Rent a room or the entire place! JT and Kasey want Buffalo Soul to be your “roam away from home”.

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LEFT: Suite for rent RIGHT: Buffalo accents in guest bathroom

“People visiting Nashville know that they can buy a ticket to The Opry or Ryman, rock out for a few hours, and then go home,” says JT. “At Buffalo Soul, we’re taking guests beyond the final bow by demolishing that fourth wall, giving them one-on-one time with the artists and songwriters before the show over some drinks or with a fire in the backyard after,” explains JT. “One of our goals, along with our partner, Todd Baldree, is to make the artist to fan relationship stronger and closer than ever before in today’s new music landscape. Millions of people are searching for new music experiences and I’m here to tell you, Buffalo Soul Music Row is a live mixtape performance that will give an authentic, personal experience. It’s the real Nashville”

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Photo taken by a Buffalo Soul guest of a performance with JT Hodges and his singer-songwriter friends, Chris & Lolly and Josiah Siska

The name Buffalo Soul pays tribute to JT’s dad, who opened Buffalo Sound Studios, the first multi-track recording studio in Fort Worth, Texas. The sign that welcomed artists like Michael Bolton and Delbert McClinton for two decades is now preserved under glass as the dining room table.

“Dad was inspired to name his studio after honeymooning with my mom in Santa Fe and feeling the ground shake while the buffalo would run past them,” says JT. “He said you could feel the power and spirit of them in your bones…similar to the way good music gets in your soul. Buffalo Soul was born to honor my father, our combined passion for music and the desire to create impactful new experiences for people.”

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LEFT: Vintage advertisements RIGHT: Famous Buffalo Sound Studio sign

Buffalo Soul is a 3,500 sq ft 1927 Tudor house located in the Edgehill neighborhood across from Belmont University and just a stone’s throw from Music Row. This historic street in downtown Nashville is where folks like Little Big Town and Sheryl Crow are always dipping into meetings with their labels and recording new music. It’s a place that’s familiar to JT and Kasey who have both worked in the industry for years.

“This is about giving back to an incredible music community in Nashville,” says Kasey. “We want people to come here whether they’re an artist or not, and enjoy an unforgettable musical experience without having to put on their boots.”

When you rent out Buffalo Soul, you can get ready upstairs in one of the three guest suites. (The entire house is artfully decorated by Misti Fahr of Design Hive Nashville.) Each room has been outfitted with subtle music markers, like snare drum and guitar wall hangings. Then come downstairs and gather around the glossy Baldwin upright piano for a singer-songwriter round curated by JT’s artists and singer-songwriter friends.

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LEFT: “Room to Run” Dobule Suite with snare drum accent wall hangings RIGHT: Custom Buffalo Soul wall-art

“We’ll set up a show in the living room generally, but if the weather agrees, our guitar-shaped patio is great for acoustic fireside performances,” says JT. “When you look out from one of the upstairs bedrooms you’ll see the full shape! The sound hole is a fire pit, the neck is a splash pad, and the headstock is a picnic table. Kasey worked for Gibson for eleven years so she wanted to honor that in a creative way while also giving Buffalo Soul its iconic shareable moment.”

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Guitar-shaped patio in the backyard

Forgot to mention one more incredibly unique element in the house — the studio in the basement. While Buffalo Soul entertains all sorts of groups from weekend retreats to photo shoots or anyone who wants to be near Music Row or simply loves live music – the studio is reserved for those who are inspired to record.

“If Bruno Mars comes into town and wants to lay down some demos then he can rent out the house and have the privacy and exclusivity to do so — that can be his own Buffalo Soul experience,” says JT.

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Artists, Josiah Siska and Olive Faye working with JT in the studio at Buffalo Soul

“The music industry has changed with technology. People are consuming music at a faster rate yet furthering that disconnect between the fans and the artists,” says Kasey. “Back then you’d know who they were, you’d study their album art while holding a tangible copy– there was an intelligence about who the artist was and an appreciation for that. Buffalo Soul is special in that we’ve created a place where the artist and consumer will make a very personal connection. Our hope is that intern that connection will facilitate or rekindle an appreciation and value for the art and the people that make it”

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Writing room next to the studio

Follow Buffalo Soul Music Row on Instagram and watch their progress on their second location in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee!

Book your stay at Buffalo Soul

Photos by Meghan Aileen

Photos by Paige Rumore Photography

 

Go roam the Two Lane back roads of America with Mike’s American-Made adventure brand. This chopper tee travels well and has something cool on the back. TAKE A LOOK

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Leading Preservation Group Invites Public to Get Its Kicks on Route 66 with Campaign to Secure Federal Historic Designation

Iconic highway named a ‘National Treasure’

WASHINGTON (July 2, 2018) – Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Route 66 to its National Treasures portfolio and announced plans to pursue National Historic Trail status for one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” The centerpiece of the campaign will be a month-long road trip to help preserve the “Main Street of America.” During the road trip, the organization will share the stories of historic sites along Route 66 and build support for the National Historic Trail designation.

“Driving Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip,” said Amy Webb, senior field director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “It is the most iconic, culturally-celebrated, and internationally-recognized stretch of highway in America. By promoting this authentic experience, we can help preserve a beloved icon and at the same time, revive local economies in rural communities.”

From July 2 to August 3, the National Trust, with support from presenting sponsor State Farm®, will hit the road for a month-long road trip that will travel the full length of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Through interactive storytelling and a full slate of roadside engagement events, supported by Airstream, Polaroid and Two Lanes by Mike Wolfe, this trip across the country will build support for the historic trail designation and offer a passenger-side view of the people, places, and stories that make it an icon of the American landscape. To see the road trip’s itinerary and support Route 66, visit  www.preserveroute66.org.

In tandem with the road trip, the National Trust will work with the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership to reach out to organizations, businesses, local governments, and individuals across Route 66 to provide more information about National Historic Trails and what the designation could offer. National Historic Trails are nationally significant historical travel routes that are designated by Congress.  There are currently 19 National Historic Trails including the Santa Fe and Lewis & Clark Trails.  This designation offers opportunities for federal assistance.

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Suggested tweet: @savingplaces names Route 66 a National Treasure and announces summer road trip with presenting sponsor @statefarm www.preserveroute66.org

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.savingplaces.org

About State Farm®
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its nearly 19,000 agents and approximately 65,000 employees serve more than 84 million policies and accounts – more than 81 million auto, fire, life, health and commercial policies, and more than 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 36 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.

About Antique Archeology
Antique Archeology is the home base of Mike Wolfe, creator and star of History’s “American Pickers” and inspirer-in-chief of Two Lanes, a USA-made brand for explorers of America’s back roads. In addition to the road trip, the National Trust is launching a unique crowdfunding effort with the company that will allow Route 66 enthusiasts everywhere a chance to support the campaign. Donations at a variety of levels will be rewarded with exclusive Route 66 merchandise from Two Lanes.

About Polaroid
Polaroid is one of the world’s most trusted, respected and recognizable brands, with a rich 80-year history built primarily on Polaroid instant cameras and film.  The company’s complete range of products was designed to deliver the fun, instant gratification and creative freedom for which the brand has long stood. Today, the Polaroid Classic Border Logo, rooted in the instant photo sharing that Polaroid pioneered, is the mark of genuine Polaroid branded products.  For more information, visit Polaroid.com.

Polaroid, Polaroid & Pixel, Polaroid Color Spectrum, Polaroid Snap Touch and Polaroid Classic Border Logo are trademarks of PLR IP Holdings, LLC, used under license.

About Route 66
Route 66 provided a vital transportation corridor connecting the Midwest with southern California. Commissioned from 1926-1985, it was the shortest, best-weather highway across the nation. A cross section of urban areas, panoramic scenery, tribal lands, and small rural towns, Route 66 travels more than 2,400 miles through 300 communities that more than 5.5 million Americans call home.

The hundreds of communities along Route 66 contain historic places, idiosyncratic character and cultural relevance. The independent businesses, roadside architecture and kitschy roadside attractions that originally flourished along Route 66 have gradually diminished as travelers bypassed Route 66 for the Interstate, and continue to be threatened. A permanent National Historic Trail designation will bring greater public interest and investment to these communities, support the preservation of authentic Route 66 icons and encourage the economic revitalization of this living, evolving corridor of Americana.

Media Contact: Andy Grabel, Associate Director, Public Affairs
202.588.6025 or 828.450.0507, agrabel@savingplaces.org

Fuel the campaign to designate Route 66 as America’s newest National Historic Trail by purchasing these American-Made gifts from Two Lanes produced in support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

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route 66 water bottle

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Shop Mike Wolfe’s All American-Made adventure brand, Two Lanes, inspired by 25 years of exploring the back roads.

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On June 30, 2018, Antique Archaeology hosted their 2nd ever Kid Picker Flea Market in downtown LeClaire, Iowa where the roles were flipped and the kids were the vendors and the adults were the customers. A total of 31 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 traveled with their families from all over the country to sell their antique/vintage/handmade treasures to the public—despite the sweltering heat index of 106 degrees! That didn’t stop the crowds of locals, tourists, Mike Wolfe, and his family, from coming out to support these young entrepreneurs.

Below are moments captured during Kid Picker Flea Market 2018 by LeClaire photographer, Kevin E. Schmidt/Maquoketa Studios.

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The event kicked off with a motivational speech from the American Picker himself. Holding his 6-year-old daughter, Charlie, in his arms, Mike spoke to the crowd about celebrating a child’s mind and why it’s important to encourage a kid’s interest in collecting treasures, especially in the disposable/tech-saturated generation they’re growing up in. He also spoke directly to the kids urging them to follow their picking passions because they’re the ones who will be responsible for telling the stories of American industry and history for the next generation.

063018-LeClaire-KS-051Mike declared the Flea Market open with a loud yell as the kids ran down to the levee along the Mississippi River. They assumed their positions at their booths which they had decorated themselves with homemade signs, business cards, and displays.

063018-LeClaire-KS-054Picks ranged from traditional rusty gold and vintage advertising to toys and furniture.

063018-LeClaire-NS-010During market hours, local businesses hosted events, bike races (provided by the River Valley Optimist Club), food and drinks (provided by Big Dave & Holly’s), a history exhibit of the telephone (presented by the Buffalo Bill Museum) and an upcycled craft with old keys (presented by Unique Creations and Fancy Pants Boutique) made possible by the donation of the members of Picker Nation. Even the LeClaire Fire Department fire truck came by to deliver some sweet relief from the heat with a bit of water.

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Mike stayed for the entire event walking around visiting each booth, asking questions, and buying picks.

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Flea market goers enjoyed LIVE music from Finding Home — a kids only family band.

063018-LeClaire-KS-032Even Mike’s daughter Charlie had a booth set up with a little help from her Grandma Rheta, (Mike’s mom!)

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The weather was hot, but the crowds were out in full force searching for their new favorite treasures.

063018-LeClaire-KS-050Mike added this foam gator head to his collection of oddities like Wolfe Boy, Gypsy Gramma, Oddfellows skeletal bust.

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The Twilight, a lavish Victorian riverboat and LeClaire gem, chauffered Kid Pickers and their families on cruises up and down the Mississippi River all afternoon.

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The Kid Picker class of 2018 group photo!

For details of the event and inspiration on how to host one in your town visit Antique Archeology’s Kid Picker Flea Market Page 

 

 

Show your pride for being an All-American Picker with our American-Made tee!

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After a year and a half of collaborating with contractors and architects on the restoration of an 1898 building that many people said would just end up as a big pile of bricks, Mike is proud to unveil his latest preservation project!

Located on Jo Johnston Street, minutes from the honky-tonks of downtown Nashville, (and just down the block from Antique Archaeology’s front door) now stands a fully restored two-story brick building, the most recent addition to the vintage Marathon Village community. The space, which in the century before it fell into ruin housed everything from a grocery store to a dancehall to a restaurant, is once again open for business in Nashville.

We will let Mike show you around…

“I approach all these projects the same by trying to learn as much as I can about the building. I wanna know what its purpose was, what time period it stood in, and how it was significant to the community. The buildings I’m tethered to have to be more than historic structures; they also have to be located in historic districts. My home in LeClaire, for example, was built in 1860 as a general store. Even my Antique Archaeology shop is located in an old car manufacturing plant from the 1880s. Along the way, I’ve learned that when it comes to working in/ restoring these you gotta consider how you can honor their history while making it possible for them to succeed in the present.”

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“Here’s the street view of the place. I’m standing on the corner of 14th Avenue North and Jo Johnston. If you turn to the right, you can see the Nashville skyline and practically hear the music from Broadway. Anyone who has ever visited Antique Archaeology will quickly recognize the water tower of the Marathon Motor Works building where the shop is. Like I said, this building was constructed in 1898. When you look at the before photos, you’ll see just how little of the structure was still holding on. (Gold leaf window lettering by Canned Pineapple)

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“Check out that iron skeleton! You see that up there? That’s supporting the roof and second story.”

Untitled51“The state it was in before was pretty rough, as you can see. It was so bad, it took me a long time to even find a contractor who would take it on. I had a number of them tell me I was gonna end up with a pile of bricks sitting on an empty lot. I wasn’t intimidated, though. I just needed to find the right company to match my passion and determination on the project.” (Dowdle Construction Group and architect Nick Dryden

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“We really wanted to make sure we gave the place an open floor plan to accommodate it as a future retail space. With a few modifications, we were able to give it a modern upgrade in a timeless way.”

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“These bricks are the storytellers of the space. They’ve been part of the location for more than a hundred years! Salvaging as many of them as possible was a huge priority during this restoration.”

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“I insisted on leaving the brick walls exposed versus smothered in plaster. It’s a reminder of the many lives this building has had. Almost takes you back in time for a minute and you’re able to imagine this place as the grocery store for the community it once was all those years ago.”

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“The interior has a real industrial vibe to it with the concrete floors and iron beams. The additional windows draw lots more natural light inside too.”

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“The upstairs area features salvaged wooden floors that give it more warmth – a different feel from the concrete floors downstairs.” (Floors by Garlan Gudger of Southern Accents Architectural Salvage)

“Whether it’s a building in a historically significant part of town, or one that’s traditionally important to the local community, or even one that simply has an interesting story all its own, each one is special. With neglect and rapid development threatening the architecture that makes every city unique, there has never been a better moment to be part of the generation that rescues history. I encourage everyone to join the preservation efforts in their own town in any way they can.”

The current tenant of the Jo Johnston property is Slumerican

Join the club! Inspired by one of Mike’s favorite motorcycle picks, this shirt is ready to roll! Get our AA Moto Club graphic tee!

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“A nod to the past and an eye to the future…”

Welcome to The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City, California. You’ve just checked into one of the oldest hotels in America. If the ornate velvet walls of this place could talk, there’d be enough material to produce the next big Netflix docuseries. Stories about famous guests like Mark Twain and Black Bart swimming in the mountain spring-fed pool in the courtyard, the legendary lore of gold-hungry hopefuls exchanging their finds in the tunnels beneath the lobby floorboards, and presidents like Hebert Hoover and Ulysses S. Grant enjoying a stiff pour in the hotel bar.

This three-story, 40-room hotel hasn’t changed much since opening day in August 1856. Garnering the title as “Oldest Operating Hotel West of Mississippi” The National has hosted hundreds of thousands of travelers and locals alike for more than 150 years. That being said, the space was more than ready for some renovations. This is where our preservation hero, Nevada City native Jordan Fife comes into the story.

After leaving to conquer the world, the road looped Jordan back to town carrying his bag of prestigious design accolades over his shoulder. Equipped with the necessary financial backing and personal connection to the hotel,  Jordan is ready to breathe new life The National in a time-honored way.

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My wife and I grew up running through the halls of The National as kids,” explains Jordan. “Returning to the hotel now and walking across the creaky floors, up the slightly tilted lobby staircase, and getting lost in all the wild wallpaper, (so much wallpaper…) still leaves me with goosebumps every single time. And that’s just one of my memories from this place. Every local has a few good handfuls themselves!”

That’s why it’s so important that get this restoration right.

Not only is the hotel significant to the Nevada City community it’s also protected as a National Historic Landmark. Understanding that there are many rules to obey with a delicate restoration of The National, Jordan invited the Historical Society to visit the hotel to help determine what could go and stay. Afterward, he invited the 3,000 community members inside for the chance to purchase select items of the hotel that could not be saved for a very small price.

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“When we had the inventory sale, folks would grab my arm and hardly take a breather as they tried to spill out every detailed memory they had of the place,” shares Jordan. “One couple took me to the room where they got engaged and even showed me where they had hidden the ring box behind a brick over the fireplace! Their story inspired me to want to turn that room into a honeymoon suite, respectfully.”

Jordan believes that the personality and charm of the property come out in its quirky ways. He insisted on keeping that previously mentioned leaning staircase (which will be reinforced but still be allowed to lean), recreating some of the original wallpaper, the dinged wainscoting, the original brass fixtures, and knobs, as well as the original transoms above the doors. The idea is to enhance those cherished flaws – not glossing over them.

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“When The National was built more than 150 years ago, it was to be one of the best hotels in the west and reflected the best of service and design of its period,” says Jordan. “It was also completed without electricity or running water! Those amenities have since been added over the years. The new National will be designed to reflect the original Victorian style with modern influences with a 1920’s gentleman club feel – think tufted leather, oil paintings, taxidermy, built in bookcases with brass rolling ladders, and slightly ominous feel as a nod to the hotels haunted past .”

Speaking of amenities, Jordan is also establishing brand partnerships to offer guests American Made goods. The folks of Juniper Ridge are in the process of creating the scents of the in-room products while Iron and Resin will cater to guests and community downstairs with a full retail flagship store and gift shop.

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Similiar to the hotel, the Nevada City community has done an incredible job holding tightly to its roots as a well-persevered testimony to its history contributing to its spot on Architectural Digest’s “The Best Main Streets in America”.) The downtown area is also registered as a National Historic Landmark. Locals say that if not for the parking meters you’d swear you just time traveled!

Jordan wants people to see Nevada City, not just as a travel destination, but a place of fellowship between locals and visitors when the hotel is complete. It’s close proximity to Sacramento, Tahoe National Forest, and the Sierras makes it the ideal weekend destination for Two Lane travelers.

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The grand-reopening of The National will mean not only circulating money through local restaurants and shops but also into the pockets of skilled laborers like craftsmen, electricians, farmers for kitchen produce, receptionists, and an extra salty bartender to help keep the hotel operating smoothly.

“The heart of the entire project is still for the benefit of Nevada City citizens,” says Jordan. “I know I speak for everyone here when I say that there’s such value in preserving The National as part of California’s state history. We’re excited for folks to check in, drop their bags, and allow us to show them the best we have to offer. It’s incredible to think how a place can hold memories for more than 150 years and still have room for more!”

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Follow the progress of The National Exchange Hotel on Instagram

Go behind the scenes of the build with Jordan on his personal Instagram 

Photos by Ingrid Nelson

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Ride hard and free in our Two Lanes American-Made chopper tee!

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The Two Lanes are calling!

There are 4,092,730 miles of public road in America. We’re gonna show you how to make the most of all of them without the hassle of competing with the crowds at Niagara Falls or draining your bank account to see the Northern Lights. Here are five unique adventures that belong on your summer 2018 bucket list. Each as Instagram-worthy as the next!

(Be sure to tag #ontwolanes so we can follow your journey!)

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LEFT: 50s Airfloat via @theshadydell RIGHT: retro movie/game night via @theshadydell

Rent a ’55 Airstream at The Shady Dell

Bisbee, Arizona

You’re gonna think the desert air is playing tricks on your eyes when you first pull off Highway 80 and turn into a vintage trailer court of Airfloats, (the same trailer models that James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor used as their luxury dressing rooms back in the day). But splash some water on your face because this place is no mirage! Since 1927, The Shady Dell has welcomed travelers looking to hang their hats and relax under the nostalgic high polished sunburst ceilings of the ‘40s and ‘50s trailers fitted with retro amenities. You remember how to use a percolator, right? Drop into The Shady Dell office, where you can borrow records and old movies to take back to your home away from home. Disable notifications, disconnect wifi, and reconnect to the glory days.

 

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LEFT: Interior of McGillian’s via @michaeljdoss RIGHT: Exterior of McGillian’s via @steviebarbagallo

Eat at McGillin’s, one of the oldest taverns in America

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Irish immigrants Catherine and William McGillin opened their ale house in 1860, the same year Lincoln was elected and just a few years after the Liberty Bell cracked. The couple and their 13 children lived in the apartment upstairs until the business became so popular that they sacrificed their home and made it part of the restaurant. When that still wasn’t enough room to accommodate customers, McGillin’sexpanded into the back alley and the oyster house next door. Located just a few blocks from City Hall, this pub is still just as popular today with locals and visitors as it was back then. Order a little bit of everything then walk it off in the city where the Declaration of Independence was created.

 

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LEFT: Longhorn Dam via @skeeter71 RIGHT: The Red Light Saloon via @chisholmtrailks

Take a ride on the trail that created the American cowboy

San Antonio, Texas/Abilene, Kansas

Between 1867 and 1871, Texas cowboys drove longhorn cattle from ranches in San Antonio along the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas, where the longhorns were put on trains and sent to growing cities in the north. It was one of the greatest migrations of livestock in world history! You can still travel the legendary cattle trail today, crossing the rivers and red dirt roads that carve through prairies and small towns along the way. One of the best is Waco, which straddles the Brazos River and boasts a bridge designed by the same company that designed the Brooklyn Bridge. The trip along the Chisholm Trail offers great vistas of the western plains before it ends in Abilene, just named one of top 10 true western towns of 2018.

 

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LEFT: Bike ride across the causeway via @paige_h_davis RIGHT: View of Lake Pontchartrain from an airplane via @oriontiger05

Drive across the longest bridge in the world 

Southeastern Louisiana

If you have a fear of open water, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you’re up for the 24-mile ride across what the Guinness Book of World Records says is the world’s longest continuous bridge passing over water, then we dare you to drive the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. This bridge was built in 1955 and stretches across a lake where the bayous meet the Gulf of Mexico, and where alligators, the freshwater apex predators, meet the bull sharks, their saltwater counterparts. For eight of the Causeway’s 24 miles, you can’t see land in any direction …  just a little something to think about as you’re white-knuckling it across the longest bridge in the world!.

 

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LEFT: Bayfield, Wisconsin via @worldpins RIGHT: Kayaking through one of the many caves of the Apostle Islands via @t.brastad

Kayak through 12,000-year-old caves and cliffs around the Apostle Islands

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Located at the northernmost tip of Wisconsin, Bayfield is home to fewer than 500 people as well as The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Drop your kayak into Lake Superior and float in and around the towering caves and cliffs along the chain of 22 islands. If you’d like to get below the water, go explore the Lucerne shipwreck on Long Island. When you come back to shore, explore the marinas, miles of beaches, and trails to take you above it all. If you’d still like to get a little higher, make your way to Sand Island and Raspberry Island to get a birds-eye-view from a 19th-century lighthouse!

 

Like to see more? Follow our On Two Lanes Blog for more adventures in America’s small towns and the roads that wind between them!

Kancamagus Highway: The Quietest Stretch of Road in New England

Wild Idaho: 6 Fire Towers For Rent This Weekend

5 Small Towns of Less Than 1K You Need to Visit

Camp Wandaweda: The Return of The All- American Camping Trip

 

 

Shop our popular “Pickin America” raglan featuring both LeClaire and Nashville locations. 

2018 BLUE GREY RAGLAN BANNER

 

 

 

 

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Across America, little handmade libraries are connecting neighbors and renewing their interest in books.

While walking the dog or picking up your kids’ at school, or perhaps on your Two Lane travels out of town, have you, by chance, come across any colorful wood structures perched in yards? Maybe something that looks like an oversized birdhouse or a land-locked lighthouse? Some interesting little model with a surprise inside – books! Well if you have, you’ve stumbled upon a Little Free Library, a unique book exchange created in 2009 by Tim Bol to encourage book sharing and creativity without the burden of membership cards or due dates.

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To honor his mother, a much-beloved educator, Tim built a mini schoolhouse out of an old garage door, filled it with books, and put it at the end of his driveway in a quiet Wisconsin neighborhood. The sign he hung on it read ”Take a book. leave a book.” And just like that, his Little Free Libraries were born, giving millions free, easy access to books, often for the first time since grade school. His simple gesture has spread into every state in America and to 80 countries around the world, and there are now more than 60,000 registered book-sharing boxes worldwide proving that in this screen-saturated digital world, there is still a love for, and now a place for, the written word.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press in 1439.

Little Free Libraries, a nonprofit in Hudson, Wisconsin, hires woodworkers in Wisconsin and Minnesota to build beautiful wooden libraries and to fill orders that are now coming in at more than a thousand every month. Each mini-library is shipped to a school, business, or individual who has a passion to preserve the joy of turning an actual page in order to read a story. Once delivered and set up, each unique box is filled with donated books, the library always changing as each book is borrowed and replaced with another.

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The first book ever written using a typewriter may have been Life on the Mississippi; the first novel was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – either way, Mark Twain for sure!

Books are the original vessels that carry us to castles and mysterious lands. They’re portals we cross to transport our imaginations and influence our way of thinking. No download, wifi signal, or a battery charge required. It’s no wonder the book is always better than the movie! It’s because books allow us to interpret a story in our own way rather than simply ride along on someone else’s vision. (Think about that next time your kids ask for your Netlifx password. Hand them a paperback of “Treasure Island” instead!) Little Free Libraries reopen those possibilities, offering the joy of turning pages and creasing corners to folks of all ages. Even cooler, they’re creating new conversations between neighbors.

73% of people say they’ve met more neighbors because of these little libraries.

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Too often we put up walls between passersby and ourselves because eye contact makes us uncomfortable or we’re too distracted by the podcast playing in our ear. These libraries are shifting that mentality and creating dialogues between neighbors and friends in the community who may otherwise have never met. It’s an open hand extended from the volunteer librarian to the community, and an invitation to come take a look inside.

You may happen upon a college student’s second-hand copy of “The Great Gatsby” or a garden club member’s book about native plants. Whatever catches your eye will be one of a kind because unlike anything in the local public library, each book comes with a personal recommendation from the donor. Some leave bookmarks, highlight their favorite quotes, or leave handwritten notes inside, addressed to the next reader and sharing how this book influenced them.  Flipping through the books and finding those personal touches may be just the thing that inspires you to take that book home, tell a friend, and eventually donate a book that has meant something to you and may now enrich someone else’s life. (Chances are there’s more than one near you. Here’s a map to check!)

little-free-library-3Summer vacation and road trip season is about to start, so now is a good time to pick up some new reading material at a Little Free Library near you.

If you’re looking for a summer project to do with your kid pickers, grandkids, scouts, or whomever, we encourage you to go find some supplies in your garage or order one from Tim to customize and create a Little Free Library in your community. Your act of kindness is your pledge to preserve books while creating a conversation in your community!

Here’s how to get started!
Donate books
Learn more about Little Free Libraries

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Throw on our Antique Archaeology “Sweet Pickin'” dark heather grey t-shirt on your next walk to a little library!

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Paul d’Orléans and Susan McLaughlin travel on Two Lanes, using a Sprinter van as a mobile darkroom, as they capture wet plate-style photos of motorcycles and their owners.

Wet plate photography is an art that’s as old as the state of California. That’s where Susan McLaughlin, a tintype photographer, met Paul d’Orléans, a motorcycle culture expert, author, and rider, in the 1990s, not knowing that one day their two specialties would unite, and discover new ways of picturing biker culture.

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Paul d’Orléans and Susan McLaughlin

“Susan and I have known each other for over 20 years, but I didn’t know she was a wet plate photographer,” explains Paul. “In fact I didn’t know anything about wet plate before 2010, when I saw an exhibit of original 1800s photographic portraits by ‘Nadar’ in Paris, and was deeply moved. These were original 8″x10″ glass plates, and the detail was incredible! It was as if these amazing people were still in the room, even though they were long gone. I mentioned the show to Susan, who explained the wet plate process, as she’d been using it for a few years already.”

Inspired by the remarkable preserved images of those long-ago French faces,  Paul began thinking about his community of bikers back in the States. As a veteran rider, bike blog contributor, author of three books, and founder of The Vintagent (a media company dedicated to vintage motorcycles and biker culture), he knew he could portray motorcyclists through photography in a way that had not been seen before. He had storytelling skills from his career as a motorcycle writer but needed a partner with expertise in the tintype style that had so captured his imagination. His vision would only work if his Susan agreed to join him in this new venture. She said “Yes!” and MotoTintype was established in 2012.

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LEFT: Paul and Susan’s Sprinter van RIGHT: Cannonball riders

For the past six years, Paul, Susan, and their Sprinter van have been attending vintage motorcycle events nationwide – at Bonneville, El Mirage, and the Motorcycle Cannonball – capturing portraits of bikers and their rides using the antique wet plate method. The thing is, it’s called wet plate because you must develop the photos immediately, while the chemistry on the glass or metal plates is still wet. To accommodate that, they transformed the back of their van into a mobile darkroom, allowing them to process their photos on site, and share the prints with their subjects right away. Paul converted the Sprinter just before participating in the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball, the most difficult antique motorcycle endurance run in the world.

Having been a member of the vintage motorcycle scene since the 1980s, Paul is close to most of the riders they shoot at these events. Being part of the culture and creating the close bonds with riders that allowed them to document the unique details of their individual styles made it possible for Susan and him to build their portfolio. Photographs of these riders and their machines preserve their personal footprints – or tire prints – capturing distinct moments for all time.

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“These riders and I have been on the same journey together for years, but the community was new to Susan,” explains Paul. “She has an incredible presence that makes our subjects feel comfortable, which is important because Cannonball riders come in all types — from rough riders who sleep on the ground to riders with elaborate semi-trailers with machine tools and professional mechanics servicing one or two bikes. Everyone is riding the same 4,000-mile race and I make no judgments, I only want to capture their unique character.”

MotoTintype prefers the wet plate process because of its magical qualities. It’s a true chemistry experiment with silver nitrate, requiring precise execution to develop the perfect photo. (Remember Lindsey Ross and the abandoned gold mines of Telluride?) The process can create unusual light, swirls, and spots that add to the effect, and which are totally unpredictable. Paul jokingly calls them “Victorian Polaroids”.

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“The instant gratification is amazing,” he says. “One of our favorite parts of what we do is bringing the biker into the van to watch the development process. You never know what you’ll get, as the ‘wet plate’ process is sensitive only to ultraviolet light. While it can be unpredictable, the detail is remarkable. Not only are we able to capture surface features like scars and wrinkles, we’re also able to see what’s below the skin, like defects and pigmentation, all which appear darker once developed. There’s nowhere to hide on a tintype, which is what drew me to the style all those years ago. It’s so personal. To look at a portrait of a rider and see every distinct detail representing years of exposure to the elements, allows Susan and I to help tell their story without words.”

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There are many faces, ages, and tastes in biker culture. When motorcycle lovers come together the crowd spans generations and includes all walks of life. Many appreciate the classic design of antique bikes and how with some maintenance, they’re still able to function just like they did in their glory days. They love a bike built with ancient iron that squirts oil and growls. Others may be more interested in a reliable brand new custom bike created just for them. The one thing they can all agree on is that to feed your soul, there is nothing like miles passing under two wheels.

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When he’s not in the darkroom or behind the lens, Pauls likes to reunite with his brotherhood of bikers for a back road cruise on his own vintage ride: a 1933 Brough Superior v-twin. Ask him why he has lived and documented the biker culture for the past 30 years and he’ll say it’s all about the people.

“Motorcycle culture is like a hologram,” explains Paul. “If you break it down, and look at any individual part, you can see the whole picture – politics, industry, finance, design, art, passion, competition, and even the darker human tendencies. It’s all there. I invented a job for myself that allows me to do what I’m most passionate about…. telling the stories of these men and women who love the freedom of the road, and roaming the landscape on two wheels.”

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Purchase MotoTintype photos

Follow MotoTintype’s adventures on Instagram

 

Check out Two Lanes by Mike Wolfe. American-Made adventure brand for this double-sided off-white graphic tee inspired by a vintage shirt Mike found. 

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