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…
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. I later found out that the lady that hit Kelsie did not want the bike there because it was to hard for her to see, every day. She was Kelsie’s teacher and not at fault for the accident, Kelsie had missed her turn and ran right into the woman’s jeep. The ionia county police department made Kelsies family take the bike down.
I had a little better luck in Ann Arbor, and Canton, Michigan.
Tommorow I do Orion Township and Detroit, and make my way as close to Toranto, Canada as I can before I fall asleep!!
I woke Tuesday morning, worked out at the gym in my hotel and hit the road. As far as I could tell from the research I had done and all the bicycle people I reached out to, there were no ghost bikes in Detroit. There was a small chance for one on the very north side of Detroit, but I wasn’t counting on it.
For years, people have been telling me that Detroit is terrible, that there is no need to ever go there. Of course this has made me ALWAYS want to go there. I figured I would definitely be able to find some dilapidated buildings and things to shoot. I would give myself the morning, because I still had to get to Orion Township and Toronto by the end of the day.
I started just south of 8 mile road. Which as near as I can tell is the dividing road that delineates the area. I found so many abandon and burned out houses. I stayed shooting many crumbled houses until it felt like the people in the neighborhood were tired of this white girl crawling around their neighborhood taking pictures.
Next, I headed toward the old downtown area. This part of downtown is filled with abandon buildings. I was able to get into the Farewell building to take a few shots.
I then headed to the old train station Michigan Central Depot. I was hoping to be able to jump the fence, but there were people working on it and they wouldn’t let me in to take photos. Boo!
Along the way I stopped to shoot this burnt out house. As I scurried into to house some girls at the bus stop said “girl, you are brave!” now, I’m not sure if they thought I was brave to walk into a burnt out house, or to be running around that neighborhood (white as I am) with a camera. My guess, the latter. I hadn’t seen a white person pretty much since I left the hotel. Cities like Baltimore, Washington DC, St. Louis, and Detroit really make one think about how segregated we still are. That as far as we have come, in equality for blacks and whites, that we still have SO SO far to go.
Orion Township, MI
I headed north to not find the ghost bike I had little hope of finding. So I continued to Orion township to shoot the bike for Ralph Finneren, by th GM plant.
|ghost bike for Ralph Finneren, on Giddings Road outside the GM plant, Orion Township
Later, I found out that there should have been two bikes for him along that stretch of road, but I only saw the one.
It is possible that I didn’t see the other one, I have been running myself ragged on this trip, but I think it would be hard to miss another ghost bike on that stretch of road. Obviously Ralph was loved, because there were a number of questions about the other ghost bike once I posted a picture of the one I found.
I arrived at the border. They asked me a slew of questions: what is the purpose of your visit? “shooting a photo project on ghost bikes.” what do you do for a living? “bartender, photographer” how much cash do you have on you? “$7″ do you have credit cards? “yes” have you ever been arrested? “no” (yes that’s right people I am a sweet and innocent-I’ve been trying to tell you for years!)…please go over there and talk to immigration.
They almost did not let me in. Their reasoning: I can do my jobs anywhere, so I have no incentive to return to the states, I do not have reservations at a hotel, my car was a rental, I only had $7 in my pocket so as far as they are concerned, I can not support myself for the two days I am there. If I had a copy of my bank statement, she would have been more willing. In a nut shell she felt I had no reason to return to the states.
Eventually, she gave in. Welcome to Canada, ugh! I arrived in Toronto and found hotels to be way too expensive, but I was stuck. So I had to pay over $100 to sleep. I did however see a ghost bike on the airport strip I stayed on that was not on my list of bikes to look for.
I later checked my email and found out that my Toronto contact had emailed me letting me know that the bike was placed earlier that day! I wonder if he had tried to get it placed before I arrived so that it could be a part of my project.
|ghost bike for unknown cyclist, Airport at Northwest, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In the morning I did the research to find out about motels in Ottawa, but it was the same thing, way too expensive! I decided that I would shoot the bikes in Toronto, make the drive to Ottawa, shoot the bikes there, and get stateside to spend the night. This would be a race for time, as there are only so many hours of daylight in a day.
I shot the bike near the airport, then went to Sir Czowiski Park to shoot the tree that was planted for fallen cyclists in Toronto and Canada.
|Plaque for tree planted for fallen cyclist in Toronto and Canada in Sir Casimir Gzowiski Park
|Tree planted for fallen cyclist in Toronto and Canada in Sir Casimir Gzowiski Park
Toronto is a beautiful city, I could even tell in the rain!
|ghost bike for Peter Cram, Queen St W near Dufferin, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When I shot this one the rain was crazy!
|ghost bike for Joe Mavec, Wychwood Ave at St Claire W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The fourth bike I was to find was no longer there. The neighborhood looked a little like it was sort of bad, so I was not surprised. It does make me sad that when I drive into a “bad” neighborhood to find a ghost bike, I am never surprised to see it gone.
As I got closer to Ottawa, I was hopeful that I would have enough light to shoot the bikes there if I could find them easily and not get too lost. Once the rain finally stopped the drive was very pretty, the sky was doing incredible things.
|driving to Ottawa
I found the first bike without a hitch, and boy was it spectacular!
|ghost bike for Danielle Naçu, 131 Queen St, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
The next one I looked for was supposed to be at 125 Sussex. It was not there. That section of town is bustling with tourism, so I assume it was taken down because of it possibly being in the way. Here are a couple of pics I took with my phone as I was driving around that area. Incredibly beautiful!!
|taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
|taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
|taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I did however find the third bike!
|ghost bike for David Tyler Brown, Innes Rd at Bantree, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Photos taken with just enough light! Now to get stateside and try and find a “cheap” motel!
I get to the border, and they give me trouble. I swear I was there for 10, 15 minutes while he asked me so many questions. Come on!! Everyone before me was there maybe a minute or two. Canada doesn’t want me, and now own stupid country doesn’t want me either. Finally, they check my trunk and let me through.
I pull over to use the internet on my phone and try to figure out where to go spend the night. There were no big towns close by, so I checked further away. I finally settled on spending a little too much instead of way too much and end up it Plattsburgh, New York, another hour and a half drive.
I pull up to my motel, and almost sh*t my pants! REALLY?? Was that really a ghost bike locked to the fence next to my motel by the freeway on ramp???? Yes it was! I took pictures of it this morning and found out it was for a boy that had come here to go to Plattsburgh State University, Yee Hao “Bryan” Chiel, and the truck driver that hit him had not known that he hit him and dragged him half way up the onramp. So sad.
Every now and then on this trip, I have wondered if this is what I am supposed to be doing right now, and then something like this happens. I had no idea about this bike, even with all the research I have done, and I probably would never have come to Plattsburgh, but here I am, and now I get to immortalize another ghost bike that represents the ill-est fate of people not being cognisant of there spatial surroundings.
|ghost bike for Yee Hao “Bryan” Chiel, Cornelia St at Interstate 87 onramp, Plattsburgh, New York
Today I drive to Maine, tomorrow, Boston, Rhode Island and Gardner, MA.
I left Plattsburg, New York and headed to York, Maine, to spend the night with friends, Casey and Niki Friar. The timing was perfect because I really needed to save some money after the expensive adventures in Canada. I arrived just after dark, and had a good visit, and drank entirely too much whiskey. The next day was painful. But there was no time to let a nasty hangover slow me down. I drove to Boston in the morning and was able to find two of the four ghost bikes that were supposed to be there.
|ghost bike for Phyo N. Kyaw, Vasser at Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
|ghost bike for Kelly Rennebohm, Huntingto Ave at Forsyth St, Boston, Massachusetts
I found Boston to be one of the most beautiful cities on my journey, but I don’t think it would be the place for me. Here is some sidewalk art that I liked.
|sidewalk in Boston, Massachusetts
Newport, Rhode Island
From Boston, I headed south to Newport, Rhode Island, hoping to outdrive the storm that was coming in and to get there before I lost light. I made it just in time to shoot the bike, but had a hell of a drive to Gardner, Massachusettes where I would spend the next two nights.
|ghost bike for Elliot Kaminitz, Memorial Blvd near First Beach, Newport, Rhode Island
|First Beach, Newport, Rhode Island
The drive to Gardner took forever because of the rain, but I made it safely and was treated to dinner by my friend Ryan McCauley. The next day Ryan took me around to dilapidated buildings and abandon factories. We tried to get into the abandoned insane asylum, but it was too well guarded.
North Hampton, MA, and Amherst, MA
The next morning I got up early and headed west to North Hampton, MA, and Amherst, MA. I was hoping to find two bikes in North Hampton, and one in Amherst, but no such luck. I did find an article about how someone had vandalized one of the North Hampton ghost bikes with an ax. Crazy!
I stopped at a few cemeteries between Amherst and Hartford, Connecticut.
I found one of three bikes in the Hartford area.
|ghost bike for Elijah Montalvan, 160 Plain Dr, East Hartford, Connecticut
|memorial and ghost bike in the background for Elijah Montalvan, East Hartford, Connecticut
The Bronx and Harlem, New York
I originally was going to get back to the New York area a couple of days later, but there are so many ghost bikes in New York, I would be able to shoot more of them if I still had the car. So, after Connecticut, I drove New York and shot the ghost bikes in the Bronx and Harlem.
|ghost bike for Meg Felice Charlop, E Tremont Ave at Crotona, The Bronx, New York
ghost bike for Louie Eddie Morales, 132nd at St Anns Ave, The Bronx, New York
ghost bike for unnamed cyclist, 5th Ave at 125th St, Harlem, New York
|ghost bike for Shaquille “Swizzy” Cochrane, Park at 108th St, Harlem, New York
Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York
I drove to Staten Island that evening, set to hit the road before dawn. I found one of the two bikes in Staten Island, then I conquered Brooklyn and Queens. Except for Williamsburg and Bushwick. I figured that I could do this area by foot since it was near where I would be staying.
It was a very successful day! I found 10 out of 15 bikes, and one that I wasn’t looking for! I got the last bike in Queens with barely enough light to shoot it and found a place in New York suburbia to spend the night. Luckily I had caught up with my budget and was a little ahead, because staying in Staten Island and suburban New York was definitely more than my daily budget allowed.
|ghost bike for RJ Tilman, Howard near Wagner College, Staten Island, New York
|signs around Wagner College in Staten Island probably inspired by the death of RJ Tillman
|flowers in place of ghost bike for Joseph Granati, Ave T at W 9th, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Luis Torres, Fort Hamilton Parkway at 59th St, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Emma Blumstein, Bedford at Empire, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Diego Rodriquez, Bushwick at Gates, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Ralston Bryan, Utica at Fulton, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for James Pierre, E 53rd at Linden, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for unnamed cyclist on Cypress Hill, next to the Salem field cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for unnamed cyclist, Borden at Greenpoint, Queens, New York
|ghost bike for Roger Hernandez, Greenpoint near 39th Place, Queens, New York
|ghost bike for Mireya Gomez, Roosevelt near 126th, Outside of the Mets stadium, Queens, New York
|ghost bike for Tchaka Cooke, Union Turnpike at 178th, Queens, New York
I got up super early so that I could shoot one last bike in Rockaway Park before I had to return the car.
|ghost bike for Andrzei Wiesniuk, Cross Bay Parkway near Beach Channel Dr, Rockaway Park, New York
I returned the rental car, and the rest of my time in New York I will not use any money from the kickstarter funds. The last of the funds will be saved for the rental car when I am in LA.
That night I caught up with a friend I haven’t seen in years.
|good times with old friends
And the next day I spent with my good friend Chris. I do have to say, it was nice to eat like a normal person again. I was truly lucky and honored that when I did stay with friends they fed me real meals, but mostly to stay within the budget, I ate a lot of protein bars, beef jerky, apples, celery, peanut butter, and canned beans.
|good times with good friends
Williamsburg and Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York
The next day I set out to shoot the ghost bikes in Williamsburg and Bushwick.
|ghost bike for Nicolas Djandji, Borinquen Pl at Rodney St, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Jonathan Neese “Bronx Jon”, Robling at S 4th, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Craig Murphey, Ten Eyck at Union, Brooklyn, New York
Some of you may recognize, or not recognize the bike below as the same bike, or what is left of it from my piece “ghost bike 1″
|ghost bike for Dan Valle, base of Williamsburg bridge, Brooklyn, New York
Ghost Bike 1
|Ghost Bike 1 © Genea Barnes
|ghost bike for Erica Abbott, Bushwick at Powers, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Matthieu Lefeure, Morgan at Messerole, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Matthieu Lefeure, Morgan at Meserole, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Timothy (TJ) Cambell, Varick Ave at Meserole, Brooklyn, New York
I ran out of light, so I would have to get the other three Brooklyn ghost bikes later. I met up with a friend, had some drinks and then ended up at a Halloween party. Haven’t been to one of those in 18,000 years or so. I am always working Halloween weekend, so no parties for me.
In the morning, I headed to Manhattan to find the bikes there and meet a friend for lunch. I was hoping to find five ghost bikes, but only two were still there.
|ghost bike for Ray Deter, Canal at W Broadway, Manhattan, New York
|ghost bike for Andrew Morgan, Elizabeth at Houston, Manhattan, New York
After lunch there was enough light for me to find the three bikes in Brooklyn that I still had to shoot. I found 2 of them.
|ghosts bike for Terence Connor, Metropolitan at Gardner, Brooklyn, New York
|ghost bike for Christopher Doyle, Metropolitan at Gardner, Brooklyn, New York
I was supposed to fly to LA tomorrow to shoot the ghost bikes in Long Beach and surrounding areas, but Hurricane Sandy has other plans for me. I am stuck in New York until Wednesday, so I will fly home then, and just have to try to make a quick day trip to LA in a few weeks.
All in all, the trip has been a great success. I drove just under 6000 miles in 27 days. I found 66 out of 121 ghost bikes that I looked for. I went to 45 different cities. I am only disappointed that I was not able to make it to Atlanta, Georgia, and Albuquerque, New Mexico because I had people in the bicycle community reach out to me. I will still try to get to LA, to get the bikes there.
When I return home I will get to work on turning these photographs into art, so that I can put together a book. Please stay tuned to see the pieces as I finish them, and thanks again for all the support.
On November 24, I received a facebook message from Paul Asbojorn. A man I met while working at Delirium over a year ago. He said that he left a map of where to find a ghost bike in Napa. When I arrived at work that night Paul was still there. He said that he wanted to donate to my Kickstarter fund. I let him know that it was done, and the trip was over, but he really wanted to donate $100 so that I could go to Napa and take photos of the ghost bike for Don E Mitchell.
On Wednesday, December 5th, I rented a zip car with the $100 Paul gave me and drove to Napa in search of one more ghost bike.
ghost bike for Don Mitchell, Napa, CA
ghost bike for Don E Mitchell, Napa, CA
May 22, 2013
I don’t know if I will make it to LA to shoot the ghost bikes there. Right now my concern is working on the photos that I have and finishing as many pieces as I can to put together this book. I am not sure how I am going to publish it, but I do have someone to design it. Thanks again to all of you that have supported me in this journey, I am truly grateful.