Nashville, Cairo, St Louis, Chicago, and Madison…

From Kentucky I headed to Nashville. I knew that Nashville only had one ghost bike, and was out of the way, but I really wanted to see Nashville. I had been to the Grand Ole Opry as a 10 year old kid and that was cool, but it’s Nashville…it has to be cool right??
I am trying to cover a lot of ground, there is not time to “hang out” and do things in the cities I visit (and my budget only has space for gas, lodging and a small amount of food), but I do feel that in driving around a city, I get a “feel” for it…enough that I can decide if it is a city I would like to return to. I was disappointed by Nashville. With the exception of the downtown area it was sprawling strip mall after sprawling strip mall. Maybe I am spoiled by living in San Francisco and spending so much time in New York, cities you can walk and don’t have to drive to get anywhere. I could not imagine living in Nashville without a car.
The ghost bike I found was for Michael Rivas at 28th and Old Hickory St. After I had shot the bike, I noticed a woman changing the water that the flowers were in. I stopped and chatted with her for a few moments. She had known Michael, said he was around 30 years old, and she told me that his parents lived right around the corner if I wanted to go knock on their door. I chose not to, I felt it could be intrusive. I gave her my card, and she said if she saw them, that she would pass it along.

ghost bike for Michael Rivas, 28th at Old Hickory, Nashville, TN
My next stop was to be Cairo, IL. I did some research, and all the hotels in that city were one star or less, and after my experience in Zanesville, I didn’t want to risk another motel that I felt compelled to check for bed bugs. I used priceline, name your price to find a good deal on a hotel right on the river in Metropolis, IL. You heard me right, Metropolis, the home of Superman!

Metropolis, IL, sunset

Metropolis, IL, sunrise

On my way out of town, I drove by the huge Superman statue in front of the City Hall. Too funny!

Besides ghost bikes, I have been shooting a lot of dilapidated buildings and such. I had done some research and found out about Cairo, IL. It was supposed to basically be a ghost town. When I arrived, there were more people living there than I had expected, but I did find my share of dilapidated buildings. I didn’t take many photos with my phone, so you all will have to wait for the real stuff when I go through all my photos taken with the real camera.
I did however take a picture of an election sign that I found to be very ironic, creepy and funny. Do people really run for coroner?

Cairo, IL, Buchie for coroner
While in Cairo, I did meet a man that worked for the newspaper, and he told me I should go to “The Lost Cross”, which was supposed to be the oldest standing punk house. It was in Carbondale, which was not really out of my way to St. Louis, so I went. It was uneventful. Nothing to shoot, unless I was able to get in, but there were people living there. Under different circumstances it may have been a cool thing to get into.
I was going to skip St. Louis all together, but my friend Steven convinced me that I should come. There were no longer any ghost bikes there (Such a shame, because that is where it all started in 2003), but Steven said I could shoot many, many dilapidated buildings, plus I could save a little money on food and hotel.
Steven said I should try and come up through the River Rd, and I should be able to find plenty of stuff that was falling apart. I tried to find it, but never did. Lots and lots of farm land. Corn, corn, and more corn. Wait, what’s that?? Oh, it’s just more corn.
I eventually spotted these weird cave like things from the side of the road, and pulled into investigate. It was an area called the Salt Lick Trails. At the head of the trails, it had a really cool building that was falling apart.

Salt Lick Trails, somewhere in Illinois

I also found a graveyard of sorts. A bunch of broken down tractors and other crazy equipment and parts. Here is a picture of some dilapidated Cushman’s (you know..the meter maid cars).

tractor graveyard, somewhere in Illinois

I arrived that night in St Louis, and in the morning Steven took me to North St Louis. There were so many buildings with holes and abandon that it looked like a bomb had gone off. Even the neighborhood in Baltimore that was mostly abandon buildings was all boarded up. No Boards here. I shot lots of good stuff, but you will have to wait to see it. Then he took around the rest of St Louis. We had dinner with his parents, and I was off to Chicago in the morning.

On my way out, I found the River Road Steven had told me about. There wasn’t much for me to shoot, but I did find a cool building with the roof caved in that I was able to get into in Pearl, IL.

cool Chicago poster

I arrived in Chicago to my friends Christine and Michael’s house around 7:00pm. They took me out to eat and got me drunk!!

Good times at the Hopleaf with Christine and Mike

It was lots of fun, but none of us were very excited about our 6am wake up time. I headed out and started shooting the Chicago ghost bikes at dawn. I had 8 to find and shoot, plus a stupid doctors appointment in the middle of the day (UTI–no fun).

ghost bike for Clinton Miceli, 900 block of LaSalle, Chicago, IL
I actually took pictures of this bike in March. It was decorated completely differently, both times it you could tell it was done with love. There was also a planter in front of the bike this time.

ghost bike for Clinton Miceli, 900 block of LaSalle, Chicago, IL

Next was the one for Patrick Stack

ghost bike for Patrick Thomas Stack, Huron at Orleans, Chicago, IL

This one may be the most run down of all the ones I found in Chicago, but it still had soul and impact, even being tucked away under a freeway overpass.

ghost bike for Tyler Fabeck, Western at Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL

The next one might be the most elaborately decorated bike I have come across.

ghost bike for Liza Whitacre, Welington at Damen, Chicago, IL

ghost bike for Liza Whitacre, Wellington at Damen, Chicago, IL

While shooting this one, my memory card became full, so it was time to go and reload; plus it was almost time for my doctor’s appointment, and the light was getting too harsh. I might have been late otherwise.

ghost bike for Mandy Annis, W Armitage at N Kedzie, Chicago, IL

The crazy thing about the Mandy ghost bike, is that it was on the diagonal corner of this ghost bike for another person.

ghost bike for Blanca Ocasio, W Armitage at N Kedzie, Chicago, IL
I love that they put that he (Jespson Livingston) loved to cook on his sign and attached a spatula to his ghost bike.

ghost bike for Jepson Livingston, Diversey at Avers Ave, Chicago, IL

There will also be a new ghost bike for Neil Townsend installed at Wells and Oak. I believe the ceremony for it will be this upcoming Friday, October 19. I am not positive of the time, but will a little internet research, I am sure you could figure it out.

Once I was done shooting, I went to grab some thai food with my little cousin, Lucas and his wife, Sam. We had a great visit. In the morning I grabbed some breakfast with Christine, and was off to Madison, Wisconsin.

Originally, I was not going to trek to Madison, because there was only one ghost bike there, and it was opposite the direction I needed to go for everything else. Unfortunately, just last week 2 cyclists were killed, and a friend of mine was making arrangements to install two ghost bikes for them. I arrived to town and shot the ghost bike for Dave Nieft.

ghost bike for David Nieft, Baldwin at Wilson, Madison, WI
I made it to my friend Dave and Athena’s house. We went to dinner then added some flowers and signs to the bikes that he had painted. We would install them early in the morning and then I would hit the road.

It was raining in the morning.

ghost bike for Tyler Knipfer, Huxley at Aberg, Madison, WI

ghost bike for Carrie Pete, Highway M near Governor Nelson Park, Madison, WI

Placing these bikes was a very intense experience for me. I know how much they have affected me, but to be a part of something that I know will affect others was a little overwhelming. I was honored.

From Madison I headed to South Bend, Indiana. There was a slight possibility that there would be three bikes there. I was only counting on one, because I had read an article about it being there in May of this year. It was not there, and neither were the other two.

I spent the night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and thought for sure I could conquer the entire state in one day!! Ha ha! I didn’t do too bad, but I kept getting sidetracked shooting something that most of you would think is disgusting…road kill. I think maybe I am spending too much time alone…

ghost bike for Greg Siemion, Bridge at Fremont, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The next bike I looked for was in Ionia, Michigan. I thought for sure it would be there. It was just placed 10 days ago on October 5th. It was gone, and this was all that remained, some flowers, and an angel figurine that I don’t think you can see in this photo.

where the ghost bike once was for Kelsie Henning, Washington at Pleasant, Ionia, Michigan

I had a little better luck in Ann Arbor, and Canton, Michigan.

ghost bike for Tim Pincikowski, Maple Rd near Elisworth, Ann Arbor, MI

ghost bike, Michigan at Haggerty, Canton, MI

Tommorow I do Orion Township and Detroit, and make my way as close to Toranto, Canada as I can before I fall asleep!!

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