Found My Animal in New York makes beautiful artisan pet accessories with a meaningful purpose and message
If you’re already following Mike Wolfe on social media, you know how much he loves sharing photos of his adopted dogs, Izzy and Francie. And how could he not? Dogs are loyal, playful, and our favorite shotgun riders on a country drive. If you’ve ever rescued an animal, you know how the experience improves the quality of life for both animal and human.
Since the holidays are the perfect time to spoil the ones we love, we wanted to make sure our furry friends had something to unwrap, too! This season, give your dog a thoughtful gift that’s both useful and makes a difference for another pet in need by purchasing pet accessories from Mike’s American made backroad adventure brand, Two Lanes in collaboration with Found My Animal.
Found My Animal was established in 2007 by Bethany Obrecht in Brooklyn then relocated to the Hudson Valley of New York. Since then, her and her team have been on a mission to make products that were useful to pet parents but also advocated for animal adoption.
“I want people to see how rescue dogs come in all shapes in sizes, but underneath all that fur they have the same common characteristic: loyalty,” explains Bethany. “All dogs want to do is give love to people. It’s a natural behavior they have as pack animals to want to be in the company of others. After rescuing my dog, Walter, I was inspired to create stylish, well-made, accessories not just for him, but for all dogs. That’s why every product we make is meant to raise adoption awareness and spark positive conversations.”
Today her small company continues to make a big impact by donating part of their sales to support animal welfare and rescue organizations.
This mission statement inspired Mike to see what collaboration opportunities were possible.
Mike’s Two Lanes brand is all about finding adventure on the backroads and supporting American made craftsmanship. Mike wanted to make sure your road dog that’s along for the journey had the best, high-quality adventure gear, too! The result of this collaboration produced two quality pet accessories including a custom brass dog tag and waxed canvas portable dog bowl. The solid brass dog tag has special engraving from Mike which reads, “Less People. More Dogs”.– a play on one of our favorite travel mottos, “Less people, more life”.
There’s a lot of work and care that goes into sewing each piece of the dark green waxed canvas dog bowls.
“Currently we have a team of fewer than 12 talented women making accessories in our studio space,” explains Bethany. “Both the waxed fabric and straps are hand-folded piece by piece.”
FUN FACT: Both the dog bowl and brass tags are made using vintage equipment: the ladies a Juki sewing machine for the bowls and stamp the tags on a 1970s leather press machine.
The dog bowls are made out of an American sourced waxed canvas and stitched with a special metallic gold thread.
“We work with a high-end supplier to get the best quality materials for all the products we make, including the golden thred,” says Bethany. “Both these details add style and dependability to the dog bowl. It’s our way of making our product extra special.”
“The essence of Found My Animal is to urge people to adopt and go into the shelters to rescue these animals,” says Bethany. “We want the products we make here to evoke a positive message that any “lost” animal can always be found.”
This holiday season, give your animal the gift of American made below:
At the intersection of Aspen Avenue and San Francisco Street in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona sits a brick hotel with a haunted history that predates the Great Depression. Just to give you an idea of how active this place is, an experience here left John Wayne, America’s favorite gritty cinema cowboy spooked. Let us show you why this place is worth the detour on your next Two Lane adventure.
If phantoms, unexplained voices, and gruesome history get your blood pumping, then follow the bright buzzing neon Monte Vista Hotel sign atop building. The sign replaced a previous emergency light once used to relay danger, but today draws in those looking to navigate its haunted halls of the oldest operating hotel in the state. Let’s get you checked-in.
When the tourism boom struck Flagstaff during the Roaring Twenties, its residents began fundraising for a first-class hotel to host travelers. Thanks to the generous contributions of the community and novelist Zane Grey, $200,000 was raised in time to break ground in 1926.
The four-story, 73 room hotel was originally called the Community Hotel to honor the citizens of Flagstaff who made it happen. However, a contest to rename the hotel was chosen by a 12-year-old who declared it ‘Monte Vista’ meaning “mountain view” after the hotel’s views of the San Francisco Peaks. It officially opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1927.
During its prime, the Hotel Monte Vista was the premiere lodging choice for many Hollywood stars. This was because of its convenient proximity to Sedona and Oak Canyon where more than 100 movies had been filmed in the 40’s and 50’s. It was during that Golden Age of Hollywood when the hotel began hosting famous stars like Bing Crosby, Jane Russell, Clark Gable, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Hope and more. The story goes that even scenes from the cinema classic “Casablanca” were filmed here during Humphrey Bogart’s stay.
Rockstars like Bonjovi and Freddie Mercury have also been guests of the hotel! There have been so many famous guests over the years, that the hotel has named the rooms after the person who stayed there.
Today, the Hotel Monte Vista is recognized by the U.S. Registrar of Historic Places. People travel from all over to get a glimpse of it, but what they’re really wanting is a connection… with the other side.
Meet The Permanent Guests of Monte Vista
The stories and haunted happenings swirling around this hotel have been legendary for more than a century. In most cases, to have an extraordinary experience at a hotel you’d think to order room service or upgrade to a suite, but here at the Monte Vista, things are more out of the ordinary.
Countless accounts of paranormal activity have occurred inside the hotel walls including apparitions, physical touches, and intelligent responses. Hotel employees are happy to prep you before check-in on what’s normal and not a normal activity for your room. (We recommended asking the housekeeping staff for the best stories from past shifts.) There are more than a dozen ghosts here, but the following accounts have caught our particular attention.
The Rocking Chair Inside Room 305
Walk through the door of room 305 and you’ve just entered one of the most active rooms in the hotel. This room once belonged to an elderly, long-term renter who was always seen rocking in her chair looking down into the street. While it’s unclear who she is looking for, everyone from guests to housekeepers have reported seeing the chair move on its own, even hearing knocking coming from inside the closet! We’d recommend either asking the spirit for permission to sit, or finding a different place to tie your shoes.
The Women of the Night
During the 1940’s, Flagstaff’s Red Light District existed two blocks from the steps of the hotel. The story goes two prostitutes were brought to room 306 and never left. They were said to have been killed and thrown from the third-floor window and into the street below. Guests have reported feeling restlessness in the night and unable to sleep because they feel like they’re being watched. Men are warned that the spirits in this room will not be particularly fond of them. Many men have said they’ve woken up unable to breathe feeling like hands were over their throats and mouths. Proceed with caution.
The Bank Robber
In 1970, three men robbed a bank near the hotel. During the event, a guard got a successful shot one of the accomplices. Despite being hurt, all three men dropped into the hotel cocktail lounge to celebrate with a drink. Unfortunately, for the wounded man, the party didn’t last long because he bled out at the bar. Since then, staff and patrons say they’ve heard a voice greet them “good morning” when there’s no one else around, barstools pushed out of place, and even glasses moving! In here, we’d say “cheers!” to another day above ground.
The Phantom Bellboy
This is the spirit John Wayne met during his stay in room 210. Those who have caught a glimpse of the bellboy describe him as a young male in a red coat with brass buttons. Guests report hearing a knock at the door followed by a muffled voice saying, “Room service!”, only to open the door to an empty hallway. If you see the bellboy you are not to feel threatened — he is just doing his job. An all-new meaning to the phrase “work until you die”.
The Elevator Attendant
Here’s an interesting fact about the Hotel Monte Vista. It was home to one of the first self-service Otis Elevators in the state of Arizona. Even though it has been modernized since then, it’s as if the attendant is still on their shift. Guests often hear a faint voice asking, “Which floor?” What’s even more chilling is the staff has witnessed a phantom hand closing the elevator’s gate — even a reflection in the mirror upon exiting of a man standing behind them inside the elevator. Eyes down. Walk forward.
The Meat Man of Room 220
The most frightening active room in our opinion is 220. Hotel history says that in the 1980s the long-term renter of this room had a bizarre reputation for hanging raw meat from his chandelier. After not hearing from the man for three days, he was discovered in his room dead. Needing to prepare the room for the next renter, a maintenance man was hired to work on some repairs. Needing to run to the store to grab some supplies, the worker shut off the lights, locked the door, and left. When he returned he opened the door to discover the tv on full blast and the once made bed scattered about the room. While we will never know what happened to the renter, he continues to make himself known to anyone staying in his room. Guests report the tv having a mind of its own and feeling the touch of cold hands on them as they try to sleep. Bring bacon as a peace offering perhaps? What could it hurt.
When dealing with haunted spaces and places, the most important thing to do is to be smart and safe. Do not antagonize spirit, or else you may find yourself becoming one. If it sounds like your kind of haunted holiday, book a room HERE.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the Hotel Monte Vista is a unique place to explore. Visit our recommendations of things to do in town and nearby on our Two Lanes blog below:
Mike Wolfe and the crew of American Pickers traveled the Two Lane back roads to Hannibal Missouri 100 miles north of St. Louis. As the crew grabbed a bite after a long day of picking, they learned that there was a strong paranormal presence to this seemingly quaint river town.
What Mike and the crew discovered, is that people here are exceptional storytellers. Lean in close to hear the lore that has been passed down through the community for generations about the spirits who love Hannibal so much, they never left.
Hannibal is unique for many reasons, and like most towns, it has a light and dark side to its history. On one hand, as the boyhood home of author Mark Twain, as well as the setting for timeless novels like “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, it evokes a sweet nostalgia for visitors. On the other hand, its history of blood-stained war and tragic deaths still linger in the air.
When you roll into town, the first thing you’ll have to do is secure your seat on the Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour. This nighttime trolley ride is a history-based/guided ride around the secrets of many of Hannibal’s most notoriously haunted sites. You’ll hear stories of murder and mischief during Mark Twain’s boyhood days in Hannibal, meet the present-day ghosts of the mansions on Millionaires’ Row, and the incredible people who lived in Hannibal and are buried at the Old Baptist Cemetery est. 1844. The haunted tour includes an investigation of that same cemetery where some people have rested for more than 170 years.
Word of advice — When you’re in the graveyard, watch out for the following spirits: the 5-year-old-girl playing peek-a-boo, the tall, dark man in the long coat watching you from the fence line, the Civil War soldier, and a man named Edward who isn’t fond of the living. You’ll even get to try your hand at communicating with them via dowsing rods. Yes– Full body apparitions, EMF readings, and intelligent responses have all been reported and recorded on these tours.
If you’re brave enough to go ghost hunting solo, head to Main Street for a coffee at Java Jive. Both it and the building next door, built-in 1868, have reported strange paranormal activity.
The story goes that back then, that Maine Street was at one time Hannibal’s “Red Light” district. It was a place of gambling, taverns, and brothels. Both employees and customers alike will tell you it still feels and sounds like the party never ended. Java Jive employees often hear ragtime-type piano music playing inside the empty building and often have an eerie feeling of being “watched” during closing time. White orbs have been captured on camera!
But what we find more spine-tingling is that attempts at using copper dowsing rods to detect electromagnetic fields in the space have resulted in the rods spinning in people’s hands! If you’re a sensitive person, maybe just get your coffee to go this time…
If you have a goal in life to sleep with a ghost, check in to theGarden House Bed and Breakfast.(TheHaunted Hannibal Ghost Tour makes a stop here, too.) There is a sad string of deaths tied to this Queen Anne Victorian home first beginning with its builder Albert Pettibone who completed it in 1896.
A well-known man about town, Albert’s family owned the Hannibal Saw Mill and Sash Company. Shortly after getting married Albert died just a few years later in 1899. The house was sold to a new family only to lose their young son at the age of three.
Guests often report depressions left on the bed, as if someone is sitting looking out the window watching people. The owners even say the breakfast silverware and place settings prepared the night before for guests will be moved by morning. When the Today Show traveled to the bed and breakfast to film a segment, their cameras would always die in the same particular place.
If ghosts aren’t your game, that’s OK— Hannibal has enough history, breweries, and activities to entertain you. You’ll notice how Hannibal has paid homage to its previous and most famous resident, Mark Tawin in many ways. Here are our recommendations for exploring the town without encountering a spooky spirit. First up. You’ve earned yourself a drink.
FOOD + DRINK
Mark Twain Brewing Company is a microbrewery in the heart of historic downtown offers views of the Mississippi River from its second-floor seating. Enjoy a tasting flight, and be sure to come back for seasonal offerings! The brewery is also a restaurant with something for the whole family. Live music and entertainment can often be found. This is the perfect place to grab a meal and a pint with friends! Craft beer growlers are available, as are cans you can purchase to take home and enjoy.
If you’re looking for a homemade pour the whole family can enjoy, head to the Mark Twain Dinette; a family tradition for over 75 years. Enjoy an ice-cold mug of homemade root beer! You can also purchase bottles to go. Also, check out Cave Hallow West Winery while you’re on a roll!
If you want to eat at the same place Mike enjoyed, head to Hannibal’s LaBinnah Bistroon Millionaires’ Row located inside an 1870 Victorian home. The food features unique, memorable European, Mediterranean, and American selections.
ART + HISTORY
As part of Hannibal’s Bicentennial Celebration in 2019, (Happy 200th Birthday, Hannibal!) ghost signs of businessess that at one time operated in town have been hand-painted in the historic downtown area on brick walls. These signs emulate the era advertisements the way they would have appeared on the sides of buildings years ago.
Many of the historic buildings on Main Street are on the National Historic Register. You’ll notice on the sides of the structures read each one you pass for a walking history lesson as you explore this historic river town! Take your time and read them all for a unqiue, solo guided tour of the local history. For even more stories about all things Hannibal, visit The Hannibal History Museum!
You can’t come to Hannibal and miss the Mark Twain Museum! Not only does your ticket get you into the boyhood home of Mark Twain (a National Historic Landmark), but also Becky Thatcher’s house, Huckleberry Finn house as well as two interactive museums. Thanks to their incredible interactive exhibits, folks of all ages can wander through some of Tom Sawyer’s most famous novels, ride a raft, explore a cave, pilot a steamboat, and paint Tom Sawyer’s famous whitewashed fence! You also can get an up-close view of Mark Twain’s Oxford gown, his white jacket, two of his inventions and other personal artifacts!
For more hands-on things to do in Hannibal, explore the world-famous Mark Twain Cave or take a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat down the mighty Mississippi.
The Annual Autumn Historic Folklife Festival has been a Hannibal tradition for more than 40 years! Every October the locals celebrate the annual Autumn Historic Folklife Festival. Downtown returns to the mid-1850s as vendors and artisans demonstrate the crafts of times gone by. All food vendors are local non-profits, so eating at the festival is always for a good cause!
Hannibal’s Halloween Festival is a month’s worth of ‘spooktacular’ events including two Halloween parades (one for people and the other a “Howl”oween pet parade!). Afterwards, the downtown windows transform into spooky LIVE scenes! Real people will dress up in the windows; from silly to scary, you never know what you’ll see!
If you’ve got the guts, every Friday and Saturday in October, the local Junior Chamber (Jaycees) organization puts on a haunted house called Warehouse of Nightmaresguaranteed to make you shake! Each year they add something new from zombie paintball to escape rooms, this experience is not for the faint of heart so don’t be a hero.
It’s historic Two Lane towns like Hannibal that remind us that charm is charm, and history is intriguing whether it’s spooky or not. With a plethora of things to do in Hannibal, this river town is the perfect destination for a unique weekend getaway or if you’d dare…a full week of history and adventure — Just mind the ghosts!
…nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people — Mark Twain
Small team of craftsman in Orono, Maine continue to make heirloom products trusted by the US Coast Guard, Carnival Cruises and canoers alike
The year is 1858. Minnesota has just been admitted as the 32nd U.S. state and we’re only two years away from Abraham Lincoln being sworn into office. Since it will still be another decade before Edison introduces us to the first electric light bulb, the craftsmen of Shaw & Tenney work in the dark shaping and sanding oars and paddles on machinery powered by the river flowing outside the workshop in the two lane town of Orono, Maine.
More than 160 years later, many of those same machines are used today by the next generation of woodworkers producing one Maine’s best exports other than lobsters and blueberries.
Shaw & Tenney has called Orono home since opening day 1858. Inside their workshop, their hand-crafted oars and paddles come to life—the old-fashioned way, from their hands for yours.
In this small community just two hours northeast of Portland, the talk of the town is Shaw & Tenney and their large, but quiet, reputation for high-quality and traditionally built marine products in the United States. (In fact, they’re the second oldest company in the country doing this!) Steven Holt, his wife Nancy, along with their team have wisely chosen not to make any modifications to the way things are done — to stay on course with the company’s legacy.
“In 2003, Nancy and I became the third family to own the Shaw & Tenney brand,” explains Steven. “As avid lovers of boating and all facets of water recreation, this was a company we already admired and believed in so much. It’s our honor to carry the torch today and maintaining a reputation to high quality, trusted products worldwide.”
Every aspect of building these wooden oars and paddled is done in house by a team of fewer than 10 talented craftsmen. These guys sketch, sand, paint, and varnish each product by hand. They even know their way around a sewing needle as they personally stitch oar leathers too!
Spotted! Where You’ve Seen A Shaw & Tenney Product:
They created a wooden flagpole used in the movie Lincoln
Their oars are trusted by Carnival Cruise Liner lifeboats
The gondoliers at The Venetian in Las Vegas use Shaw & Tenney’s longer oars to guide through the canals of their hotel
The United States Coast Guard is a fan too!
If you have a reputation for being the best, the wood had better be good. At Shaw & Tenney, each oar or paddle begins and ends as one solid piece of lumber. While you’re able to customize what type of wood you’d like: curly maple, ash, or cherry, the crew here prefers to work with native-grown, clear Eastern spruce. No knots. No defects. Once sanded, shaped, and varnished, the spruce produces a lightweight product.
“It can take about a year to learn how to use our equipment and that’s why I value our craftsman so much. I love that they enjoy being here and are proud of their work,” explains Steven. “The level of hand-eye coordination they have on the drum sander is like a performance all its own. They move and rotate the wood like a dance pausing at every third motion to review their work.”
After the finish is applied and the seal of approval is wood-burned on the blade, the product is almost ready to be presented to the customer. There’s one more requirement to pass inspection, by Shaw & Tenney’s level of standards.
“The final test is to ask the craftsman if they’d use the product in front of them. If so, then the product is complete,” says Steven. “Our crew is not working to meet a deadline or units per day — it’s all about making sure the quality of the piece is so great that it’s something that they’d be proud to own themselves. These guys work incredibly hard to create products that are matched with performance on the water and beauty in your hand. We’re proud of them.”
Another great thing about Staw & Tenney is not only their consideration for detail, but also their consideration for the planet! Everything in their workshop gets a second life — right down to the sawdust! Any leftover wood under 12 inches is sold as kindling for firewood, and the sawdust is donated to a nearby university to bed horses.
Casting Beyond Paddles
With their product line casting beyond wooden oars and paddles, Shaw & Tenney is also proud to offer handmade boat hooks, masts, spars, wooden flagpoles, and full complement of marine hardware. — All made in America. Additionally, they also offer a collection of American-made products and gear like tees and hats.
“Shaw & Tenney is a nugget of American manufacturing genius,” says Steven. “We make our products just as we did in 1858 – that’s why they last a lifetime. That will forever be our legacy.”
The Legacy Lives
The Two Lanes way of life is about respecting the past and not discarding it. It’s about putting in the time to master something of real value that contributes to your community and the world. True quality will always out-live the next hot trend. The longevity of companies like Shaw & Tenney, remind us that we dont always have to be chasing what’s new — we can simply look back to the time-tested roots of heritage craftsmanship.
“These products will last generations,” explains Steven. “Not only that, they feel good in your hands and perform well in the water. You can see it in a person’s eye when they hold an oar or paddle, it’s clear they can feel that they’re holding more than 160 years of techniques and history in their grasp. It’s a purchase that requires a shift from the perspective of disposable consumerism to investing in heirloom pieces that will last a lifetime and beyond. Shaw & Tenney creates products that carry you to your destinations and lead you through the adventures that become the best days of your life. If we’ve done our job right, we’ll be in Maine doing this for another 160 years.”
We custom designed our own box for this back road-inspired soap. The cedar blend scent is the perfect balance of lush woods & clean. It’s lingering natural oil scent will last long after you use it. Handmade by the Fury Bros. in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, NY. SHOP NOW
Travelers who’d like to be immersed in Mike Wolfe’s Two Lanes backroad lifestyle can now make themselves at home in his Columbia, Tennessee loft, the Two Lanes Guesthouse.
Mike’s Two Lanes Guesthouse is officially open to the public as a unique, Main Street loft vacation rental in Columbia, Tennessee. This is the first time that fans of American Pickers get to see picks from the show that Mike has pulled out of barns and sheds across America presented as decor.
“Some people may not know, but for the past 30 years, I have been selling to designers and decorators,” says Mike. “It has been a major part of my business. This is the first time that I’ve been able to utilize that experience inside my own space for other people to enjoy. I’m on the road six months out of the year. I check-in to a lot of hotels and Airbnbs, so I understand what travelers need when they’re looking to relax after a long day in a space that feels like home. This entire project is all about creating an experience not just for a few hours in Columbia, but for a long weekend.”
Here’s a first look inside Mike’s Two Lanes Guesthouse.
The roomy, 1,100 square foot one-bedroom loft is located on the second floor of a building Mike recently bought in historic downtown Columbia. (There’s a bike shop on the first floor!) The guesthouse offers a modern kitchen and bathroom amenities set within the perfectly-sized living space decorated with Mike’s one-of-a-kind style. We are after all talking about a man who has motorcycles inside his own living room! The decor inspiration came while Mike was filming American Pickers out west.
“We were in California picking for about a month finding vintage Navajo style rugs, worn leather goods, original cowboy paintings, and more,” explains Mike. “Looking at the pieces in the back of the van, it hit me — this is the inspiration for the Two Lanes Guesthouse. It just seemed fitting to include the spirit of exploring the wild frontier in this space. I wanted it to represent the grit and passion one needs to chase down the road ahead, whether it’s through the mountains of the west or down a country back road.”
After that trip, Mike came home and started digging through his private collection to see what else he could bring into the space that could create moments that connect to his passions. He wanted guests to see that “as found” pieces, though dirty and worn, are beautiful just the way they are. And indeed, visitors will be delighted to see how Mike has expertly displayed pieces of his collection recognized from American Pickers as home decor.
AS SEEN ON AMERICAN PICKERS
Visitors will appreciate how Mike has integrated items of different vintages and locales to create one cohesive look. The incorporation of natural pieces, like antlers and bison partner well with the more Industrial rusted picks. Intentionally places vintage signs delineate and organize spaces — like the hand-painted, wooden sign outside the bedroom which reads, “Rooms for Tourists” or the double-sided turquoise “City Cafe” sign, Mike picked in Alabama and now hanging over the kitchen island.
Fans of American Pickers will also spot throughout the loft memorable picks like the model of RCA’s beloved dog Nipper, the giant fire eater circus banner, and many others. The artwork on the walls speaks of Mike’s well-known passions — hand-painted leather motorcycle jackets and 130-year-old wooden bicycles hung like art.
Since it can be tricky to do a full renovation while on the road as much as Mike is he enlisted the help of two of his favorite friends and collaborators, Trinity Shay and Sam Robertson on the project.
“The three of us live in a little village called Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee,” explains Mike. “In a small town like ours, you quickly get to know your neighbors. I was always a huge fan of their aesthetic and ability to see the beauty in distressed, and sometimes discarded artifacts. I was honored and excited to work with them. The first time I was at Trinity’s house, which she is building from scratch, I was blown away by her attention to detail and her loving way of creating moments that are timeless.”
“As a designer, you have to be a little bit of a picker at heart because you’re not always going to find what you need inside a catalog,” says Trinity. “You never know where that final establishing piece will be discovered. It’s great to bounce off Mike’s big ideas and actually make them come to life in the details. The real work to make this come together is rooted in love and appreciation for style, design, and history.”
“What I appreciated about Sam is her free-spirited approach to design,” says Mike. “Sam’s style is well-traveled, bigger than life, yet comfortable and approachable.”
“I believe we’ve created a special space that not only gives you a peek into Mike’s world of motors and rust but also honors the charm of this historic building,” says Sam.
“The three of us worked on the guesthouse for about a year,” says Mike. “I am proud to see how our collaboration of thoughts, ideas, and passions are woven into what you see when you walk in the door.”
MIKE LEFT A VESPA FOR YOU INSIDE
Expected to be the most photographed part of the loft is the mint green 1951 Vespa. Mike wanted to create an Instagrammable moment for guests to share, so he parked the ride inside, an invitation to hop on and pose in front of the fire eater backdrop!
WHY COLUMBIA, TENNESSEE
Mike has long advocated for small town heritage tourism. He fell in love with Columbia while learning about its transportation history. (He has also been working hard to renovate and preserve a 1947 Chevy dealership and Texaco station on the street he is calling Columbia Motor Alley — just a block from the guesthouse!) Columbia has proven to be a place that keeps Mike connected to the values and community he had growing up as a kid in the Midwest. However, he realized there was something missing — there were no places to stay in the historic downtown area.
“There’s so much to see and experience here,” says Mike .”I wanted to create a space that allowed visitors to experience the charms of staying on Main Street in a small town. One of my favorite things is to look outside the 13-foot windows at the 1905 courthouse and hear the clock in the tower on top of it chime every hour. You can walk downstairs into the street and see the shopkeepers preparing to open for the day — you can even smell the biscuits and bacon Puckett’s is cooking up for breakfast.”
The mission of Two Lanes Guesthouse is to draw people out of the major hotels and back onto Main Streets. Mike’s hopeful the guesthouse will be a getaway destination for families, couples, anyone who wants to retreat and reconnect to what makes small town life so relatable.
“Staying in the Two Lanes Guesthouse is like revisiting your own hometown,” says Mike. “It touches your heart in a way that you may have forgotten since you were a kid. I want everyone who stays here to feel like they’ve walked away with a better appreciation and respect for America’s Main Streets and why they deserve our support. The best part is — you have to travel the Two Lane back roads to experience it.”
“Service!” shouts the filling station attendant. With the driver sitting comfortably inside their vehicle, the crew of Reighard’s get to work pumping gas, cleaning the windshield, checking the fluids and tire pressure. This detailed level of full-service hospitality has gone unchanged since 1909 making it the oldest continual operating gas station in America.
Altoona, Pennsylvania, located about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, has been Reighard’s home base for more than a century.
Altoona was a town was created specifically by The Pennsylvania Railroad in 1849 to extend the railroad west over steep mountain ridges. The world-famous “Horseshoe Curve,” built entirely by pick and shovel to overcome the barrier posed by the Allegheny Mountains, is an engineering marvel. The Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site is 5 miles from Reighard’s. The original Pennsylvania Railroad Shops and Railroaders’ Memorial Museum are about a mile away.
This placement has ultimately allowed Reighard’s to evolve with the times.
Before the days of self-service stations, motorists had to purchase cans of gasoline from pharmacies or blacksmith shops, which is what Reighard’s first opened as in 1909 — a blacksmith shop for the Baker Estate. Elias Baker was an early ironmaster. You can still visit Baker’s 1849 mansion, a stone’s throw away. A year after Henry Ford introduced the Model T, Reighard’s decided to make a change and operate solely as a gas station. Leaning into its access point on a railroad line, they had gasoline delivered via rail car consistently making them a popular ticket in town.
Fueling up here has become not just a local tradition, but also a bucket list stop for those exploring the Two Lane backroads of America.
While Reighard’s full-service hospitality allows you to remain in your vehicle, customers are encouraged to hop out and explore the main building constructed out of cinder blocks and concrete shingles, which date back to the steam engine era. Walk inside to find black and white photos of the station’s automotive history on the wall amongst other artifacts, like the original safe! Out back there’s a garage with 10 large wooden barn doors that used to hold horses being fitted for new shoes during its blacksmith days.
The hospitality doesn’t stop at the pump!
You got to give it up to the attendants standing strongly out in notoriously harsh Pennsylvania winters making sure people’s windshields are ice-free for the road ahead! Not only are they performing a job, but they’re also creating a customer experience.
They give free hot coffee to truckers as they wait for the diesel to pump. On special occasions, everyone gets a bag of local Benzel’s Pretzels. At Christmas, customers can expect a few gooey Mallo Cups, made just a short drive down the road, to be handed to them through the front window along with novelty wooden nickels or postcards. Dogs get treats every day!
More than 100 years later, Reighard’s has found a way to remain a thriving business thanks to fourth-generation petroleum distributor, Martin Oil, who purchased the business from the Reighard family once they retired in the 1980s. While ownership may have changed, the name and exceptional service have not.
What we appreciate about places like Reighard’s is that they were one of many gas stations that helped create a driving culture in America. Before apps did all the work, the only way you could get where you needed to go was by taking a map to a gas station to get directions. Businesses like this are proof that there are still a few places that haven’t disappeared with the times — that it’s possible to go back in time when you travel on Two Lanes.
For more of our top picks for Two Lane adventures in northeast America check out:
Why detours are the best part of taking a road trip.
Summer travel is a tradition that folks of all ages have enjoyed for decades. Nothing beats packing a duffle, filling up on gas station snacks, and pointing the wheel in a new direction. However, as we rely more on travel apps to get us to our destinations, we’re changing the way we go on road trips. (Do you even have a map in your glove compartment right now? )
These apps allow us to see what’s ahead of us, like construction and congestion. They even tell us how long our journey will be without pit stops. While these notifications are helpful, we still believe there’s magic in the unplanned and unexpected when it comes to Two Lane travel — enter THE DETOUR.
This season, let’s shift our thinking into believing that detours aren’t wasted time, but an opportunity for experiences to become the stories that we’ll talk about for years to come.
To help you warm up to this idea, we’ve put together an inspirational list of people, places, and experiences we’ve discovered along the way that are waiting on you when you take the long way around.
Scroll down to see what adventures await when you take a detour.
DISCOVER AN ABANDONED PLACE WITH A STORY
Sure, this decaying home looks frightening, but look deeper. Look beyond the damaged roof and sunken porch and you can begin to imagine who this home served and what it looked like in its prime. This photo was captured by our fellow Two Lane traveler, Francesca Catalini. While out roaming the backroads, she pulls over to photograph the forgotten structures that dot the Kansas prairies. She shares the shot with the community, they tell her its story, and then she posts both on her Instagram. What began as a hobby has now evolved into a full-blown preservation project to save the history of of the small towns int he Heartland.
When taking a detour, stay curiouslike Francesca about more than just where the road will lead. Always make time to break for buildings or views that capture your attention.
We can handle no running water or electricity for a weekend camping trip, however, there are many primitive towns that exist happily without either one year round! While most of America generates power via natural gas, oil, and fossil fuels, small mountain towns like Polebridge, Montana run on only a few generators. Located about 20 miles from Canada, Polebridge is a town of fewer than 50 people who are tough, self-sufficient, and totally cool with mail arriving only twice a month. They happily offer huckleberry bear claws to welcome travelers passing through on their way to Glacier National Park just down the way.
Open your mind to a new way of living when the detour takes you to a place that challenges your idea of living.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements on the road, it’s either in our seats between driving shifts or crammed into one hotel room to save on gas money. No more squeaky pull-out sofas or stale bagels from the continental breakfast for you! Road trips are about being open to new experiences — so give unique places like Forest Gully Farms a try. This tasty hideaway in Tennessee is a 29-acre organic, self-reliant permaculture farm and homestead where you sleep in underground hobbit houses. Your reservation also includes private access to 15-acres of u-pick produce like eggs fresh out of the coop, beans, berries, and greens.
Detours have a way of reconnecting us to the simple pleasures of life inunexpected ways. Never turn down the chance to try a new way of doing something – like sleeping in a hobbit house, fire tower, or even a repurposed train car parked in the hills when the opportunity comes.
Main Streets are a physical representation of a community’s past. Allow yourself to appreciate every detail — the architecture, the way neighbors talk to one another, how quiet or loud it is when you roll into the small towns of America. Lanesboro, Minnesota, is an example of a town of fewer than 800, that seems to be frozen in time. You won’t hear buzzing neon, see a single traffic light, or pass a pair of golden arches. In fact, you’re most likely to find yourself sharing the road with a horse and buggy on your way to breakfast. Every inch of Lanesboro is photogenic from its position along the historic Root River to its quaint town square filled with local goods.
Small towns are connected to each other by miles of back roads and detours. You’ll never discover them for yourself if you don’t hop off the highway and let your curiosity safely guide you to them.
You drew the short straw and now have to drive the night shift — a bad time to recount that story about the phantom hitchhiker who appears in driver’s rearview mirrors and sometimes, the backseat! There are many miles of road littered with local lore. Next time you’re in a new town, ask your waitress, the cashier at the gas station, or the bartender if there’s anything mysterious to check out before you hit the road. (We’ve found five frightening haunted roads in our Two Lane travels so far).
Going somewhere new takes courage, but driving down a haunted road takes even more. Detours are meant to be a healthy adventure. Be curious but be smart out there.
A great habit to get into when traveling is to ask, “Where do the locals go?” Floyd Country Store in Floyd, Virginia is a great example. This small town haunt has folks arriving from all over to see what the buzz is about. For the past 35 years, the community members of Floyd have been hosting “pickin’ parties” inside the century-old country store among the peanut brittle and penny candy. Generations of all ages make the pilgrimage to hear and play traditional Appalachian music that’s rooted in this town of fewer than 500. Park your car on S. Locust Street and start walking towards the green and white striped awning until you hear the sounds of banjos and fiddles.
Floyd is an incredible example of how a community has embraced its history and invited Two Lane travelers to join in. A detour is never a loss when it means making an old tradition a new one for you and your roadies.
Learn more about Floyd Country Store
TAKE A BIG BITE OUT OF COMMUNITY HISTORY
Mike Wolfe’s General Store Tour: Tennessee
One of the best parts of a road trip is the food. We’re talking greasy gas station hot dogs, chips, and sour candy by the fist full. When you’ve reached the bottom of the cashew bag, it’s time to find that next gas station to replenish your stash. For many folks, like Mike Wolfe, who live miles away from convenience stores, the closest source for snacks, toiletries, or a thick-cut bologna sandwich is the local general store. Back before cars, people had to walk or ride a horse to the town’s general store for supplies. These businesses were responsible for providing food and goods to their neighbors during WWII and the Great Depression and many still do today!
Detours have a way of revealing truths to us. It’s generation owned establishments, like these general stores, that give us a greater appreciation for a simpler life before technology spoiled us.
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Scouring the overgrown backyards and rusting warehouses of America for various collectibles, the hosts of American Pickers are used to digging up unexpected cultural gems (which often fetch a substantial resale price). But it’s not every day you come across something wasting away in the woods that rightfully belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But that’s what happened on the Monday (July 8) episode of History’s American Pickers. Hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz might’ve been skeptical when they received a tip-off about Aerosmith’s pre-fame van uncovered in the Massachusetts wilderness back in 2016, but after founding member Ray Tabano eventually confirmed its authenticity, they were able to manage a first for the long-running reality series: Reuniting an iconic rock act with a long-forgotten piece of their history.
Aerosmith’s 1970s Tour Van Gets Restored on ‘American Pickers’
Taking a break from their Deuces Are Wild Las Vegas residency, the Bad Boys From Boston proved they’re actually pretty good dudes when it comes to honoring their legacy, showing some serious joy and vulnerability while sitting in a van that once served as their motel on wheels.
On a “hot as shit” Tennessee afternoon, Mike Wolfe spoke with Billboard about the experience of finding the rusted-out vehicle, preserving it without sanitizing it and how Aerosmith reacted when an old touring van rolled back into their lives.
I saw your talking head testimonial about Aerosmith in the montage at the top of their Deuces Are Wild Las Vegas residency, but I had no idea there was this much crossover with the band on your show.
I didn’t know that! (Laughs) They must have got that (clip) from the network. What is it, like a cut from the show?
Yeah, it’s you talking about how much they kick ass. Other fans are in the montage, too — Mark Wahlberg did one.
Badass. Good to be in that company.
So when you got the tip on the van, did you believe it? Were you excited?
I was skeptical because a lot of that stuff is just stories handed down from generation to generation and a lot is local folklore. So when I heard that could be it, I was like, “Why would something like that exist in that condition and be sitting on a property for that long?” Those are the questions I ask myself right away. I always imagine what something is going to be like before I even get there; it’s part of what I’ve done for the last 30 years. You hear about something and you’re already painting a picture in your mind.
When we saw it, it was really rough, man. There were parts (of the van) you could poke your finger through. It was interesting to me, but I thought it must’ve belonged to a super fan or something because of the logo on the side. But when Ray (Tabano, original Aerosmith member) came and pushed the story forward, I was like, “Okay this is the real deal, so how do we wrap our arms around this thing and buy it?” When he told the property owner it was the real deal, he was very excited about it too. So I thought, “Okay, this will be something we can’t buy.” But for us, sometimes on the show, it’s not about buying and acquiring, it’s about telling the story. So honestly, I thought that’s where the story would end for us. He had a lot of time to think about it. I know on the show they cut it to where it looks immediate, but he had to think about it a little bit, and as soon as he said yes, I said to myself, “This will be a long road as far as preservation.” Immediately, I was not thinking about restoring this van. That would’ve been ridiculous to do something like that to it. I’m always thinking okay, “Now that we own it, what’s going to be the back end of it?”
As far as connecting with the band, that was obviously a pipe dream, because I didn’t know they would care about it so much. That’s the cool thing about this whole thing. Once they made contact with the band, they were very interested and excited.
The band remembered it right off?
We shared photographs and they knew the van right away. But just because this was their van at one point in their lives, doesn’t mean they have a connection to it. The fact that they had such a strong connection to it says a lot about their character and honoring their past. Those guys have lived a thousand lives, ya know? That they all were interested in it was huge. It wasn’t just one of them, it was all of them as a group fucking beyond excited about it.
And that was pre-fame era for them?
Total pre-fame era. Joe (Perry) off camera was an encyclopedia of the band. He remembered all the dates they traveled in it, all the venues, he remembered people that ran the venues, he remembered every single date of anything. When he was walking around the van he had a lot of different things to say. Every one of those guys had a moment with the van, but Joe was very detailed with those things.
I’ve interviewed him before, he’s sharp.
He’s a sharp, passionate guy.
So how did it leave their lives and sit on this guy’s property for so long?
From what I was told, this guy that they all really love and consider a friend got into an argument with them, or one of them, about something. And one night he just left and took the van — because it was his van — and they never saw the van or ever heard from him again. And they didn’t know what happened to him or the van. The gentleman we bought it from, it turns out he bought the property from the guy who used to own the van and hang out with the band. If you watch the show, they all speak very highly of him and they all, I think, would like to possibly make contact with him again. It’s been years, and the van might be something that could bring them together. The van brought all of them together on that day, that’s for damn sure, man. They were supposed to spend about 45 minutes with us and they ended up spending about two and a half hours with us.
What was it like driving the van down the Las Vegas Strip to them?
(Laughs.) To be honest with you, it drives like a fast tractor. It’s rough as hell but it’s so cool. We were driving it down the Strip and all the people are yelling at us and whistling, they saw the logo on the side of the van – since the residency is in Vegas, they got all these digital billboards over the Strip and people were like “Whoa no way!” People saw it on the road and were losing their minds. For me, it was bittersweet in a way. We worked a long time on the van, made calculated decisions on how it should look and feel for everyone to see it in the future, so we got close to it too. I wanted to drive it on its maiden voyage, but who knows if it’ll ever be driven again. It’ll be rolled out of the hotel and then, probably, I think Joe mentioned maybe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So (some) guys might drive it off a ramp or into a building, but not drive it down the Vegas Strip.
Its last hurrah. So specifically with that cartoon painted on the side, how much clean-up did you have to do?
What was weird about that logo on the side was it was painted with some really thick pastel paint. So the rest of the paint on the vehicle had faded out, but those colors were still super bright. If you look at the front of the van, the grill is painted the same way, a pastel green, so whoever painted the grill painted the logo. The rest of the van, on the top, it’s amazing the paint polished out as well as it did. That’s original paint on the top of that van all the way across. So we matched the paint down below what they call the rub rail, a rail along the side, and anything below that was from the donor van and we had to match that paint. But we tried to match the rust as best as we could too. We understood the importance of the van. When the band decided to preserve the van, every detail was taken seriously, from using the original glass to the original tires to the original rims and the original interior. The seat leather is the same – we just had it fixed and repaired. I’m thinking this will be something people will appreciate for years to come, way beyond us. It’s a true historical artifact.
The great thing that happened with the band is what happens on my show; we find something and that piece becomes a story from the person who owns it. So you’ve interviewed them before, but when are they so open and candid and vulnerable and detailed about their past? And the van was the vehicle for them to do that. That was really cool. I said to my friends before the show, “I guarantee you’re going to hear these guys talk about stuff they’ve never talked about before.” They might not even remember anything until they see something and then it triggers them. When Steven (Tyler) opens the door and it makes that sound and how he absolutely loved that, simple things like that. Joe laying across the dash, Steven talking about riding on top of the amps in that tiny space, like 14 inches tall. Just cramped in there. It was interesting to see the band in the back of that vehicle — and (back then) all the equipment had to be there with them.
It must have been cramped, and not terribly safe.
Oh my God, beyond cramped. They gave us so much of their time and shared their stories; they’re just all real fucking guys who obviously honor their past. I know that now about them because of the way they felt about that van and elevated it and wanted it preserved. Now you’re telling me the van is in the beginning of their (Vegas montage)? For them to think that much of their past and history speaks volumes to where they are on their journey in life.
We were blessed to be able to document that. It’s one thing to be sitting on a barstool next to a dude and he’s telling a story, but when we’ve got four cameras on them and they’re just spilling all these incredible stories, I was like, “wow, this is more than I ever could have imagined.” Think about it. I pitched this show for five years; I’m just a guy from Iowa who had a good idea. And then 10 years into it, the band thought enough of my show to trust us to do the van. They could have said to me, “Hey man, we want the van, we’re going to buy it, and we’ll have someone handle it ourselves.” But they trusted us from the beginning to the end, which is huge.
They don’t know us. A lot of people would have restored it totally, but it was so important to Joe and Steven — although Joe was driving the bus in terms of “I want this thing to look like it did when we drove it.” To me, when he says that, he’s not thinking about himself, he’s thinking about the fans. He knows it’s going to be on display, not parked in his garage. He wants people to see their life the way it was before and not have a clean slate of a restored van.
How did this compare to other music items you’ve had on the show?
We’ve had a lot of badass musicians on the show. We had Jack White do the show, Dan Auerbach, now Aerosmith. Me living in Nashville, I’ve sold a lot of musicians stuff over the years. But this to me was one of the most authentic pieces. Usually, if I’m selling something to a musician it’s because they collect guitars, or in Jack White’s case taxidermy. Whatever it is, I’m selling them something they love but don’t have a past with. This was something we were selling to them they had a past with, and we were able to build on that story. The van was seriously, seriously a piece of shit. The frame was rotted, it was like, anything and everything that could’ve been wrong with this van was wrong with it.
Well, it’s a lot of years.
Oh my God, 40 years in the woods through all those east coast winters. For us to be able to drive that thing on the Vegas Strip and look the way it did — we recruited the right dudes to do it. Even the guy who stitched the leather on the seat, he was a huge fan of the band. Anybody who touched that thing, this is a story they’re going to tell their grandkids.
What else is on your bucket list, music-wise, in terms of picking?
I’m really into vintage clothing. I think that’s really personal and shows someone’s stature and speaks to periods of different decades. So to me, anything clothing related through the early ’60s and ’70s rock n’ roll years. Some of Hendrix’s stuff, I’d love to find those clothing pieces. That to me is the most personal. A lot of people are into the instruments, but the clothing is more personal to me.
But this van is hard to beat.
Joe and his wife, and Steven and his girlfriend, sat in the back of that van for, dude, I bet an hour and a half talking. On the floor. They did not want to get out of that van. Seriously, they were in the back of the van forever. And everybody was letting them do their thing and be alone. I kept looking over there, the backdoor was open, and was like, “That’s so fucking cool, man.” To be able to facilitate and create that space for them is pretty cool because they created so much for all of us, so it was neat to give something back to them.
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