The Ghost Bike Chronicles-Part 2: The Ghost Bike Road Trip

Here are my ghost bike chronicles-part 2: The Ghost Bike Road Trip 

July 19, 2012

Today I launch my Kickstarter project to fund a month long road trip to finish the shooting for The Ghost Bike Project.  Follow the progress here and check out the Kickstarter here:  Kickstarter for The Ghost Bike Project

August 18, 2012

FINAL RESULTS AND I SURPASSED MY GOAL WITH YOUR HELP!!

Special thanks to those of you that put me over the top!  I could not have done this without you and the ones who pledged before you. I am still in shock that it is real, and that this is really going to happen!  Thank you so so much. I will be expressing my gratitude for quite sometime, so get used to it!!
A few days before I set out on this adventure, I parked my bicycle next to a bike that I thought for a moment was a ghost bike. Upon closer inspection, I discovered remnants of flowers and decorations. The entire bike including the chain was painted white except the seat and the handle bar grips. My guess: this was a stolen ghost bike that they had put a different seat and handle bar grips.

When I returned, the “ghost bike” was gone, and so was my bicycle seat. Such an ironic and sad way to start my adventure.

Luckily, there was a bike shop near by that was still open. I was upset to have to spend the money on a new seat, but I needed my bike, as it is my main form of transportation. I went into the shop and a friend of mine was working. They had an extra throw away seat that they gave me for free! For every bad person there are good people to help even the odds.

Day one of being on the road – Friday, September 28, 2012

This morning I woke up at my friend’s house in Brooklyn, New York, at 6:45a to rainy skies. I got my things together and jumped on the train to go pick up the rental car. When I arrived I asked if the car I had reserved had an ipod jack and the woman said no. WoW! Was I really going to to do this whole trip with just the radio to listen to? She said the compact cars did not come with that feature, but not to fret because I would probably get upgraded, because they did not have enough compact cars.

We all know that rental cars always cost more than we anticipate, no matter how much you think you have everything covered. My car for the whole time cost $440 more than I budgeted for…Insurance. But that is okay, I will make up for it somewhere. My budget is $126/day to cover food, gas, and motel. I should be able to make up for some of it when I can stay with friends instead of motel.

After waiting forever, I finally get to go to my car. Space B4 she said. There was a Mustang in B4! I thought well, now that IS an upgrade! There was no ipod jack, I was bummed, I would rather have a less “cool” car and be able to listen to my music. It turns out she told me the wrong space, and I ended up with a Doge Avenger with an ipod jack. Yes!!! This trip was off to a good start.

I make the grueling drive back to Brooklyn, pick up my stuff, have one last “real” meal before I start living on my “kickstarter budget”, and hit the road at 2pm.
New Jersey
My intention for the day was to look for two ghost bikes in New Jersey. All my research and efforts in contacting the bicycle community in New Jersey had led me to believe that one of five bikes that had been placed might still be there. One of bikes that was unlikely to be there was on the way to the other, so I took a chance and looked for it. It was gone. But the other one was there!! It was dusk when I found it, but there was still enough light to shoot it.
Ghost bike for Camille Savoy, 54 years old. On Route 9W near Alpine, New Jersey.
Tomorrow, I will try to find three bikes in Philly, and head over to a ghost town about an hour outside of Philadelphia.

First night on the road – Saturday, September 29, 2012

This is the hotel I stayed at in New Jersey 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, and the scene across the street.

Philadelphia was a bust for ghost bikes!! – Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today I sought after four ghost bikes in Philadelphia, PA. Originally I was going to look for three, but after some research last night I found the possibility of one more.  None of them were there. I did find some cool stuff to take pictures of along the way, and would definitely like to spend more time in Philly, but onward I must travel. Next stop: some ghost town near Pottstown, Pa. There won’t be any ghost bikes, but perhaps a ghost or two. Here are some of the things I photographed today. The city hall picture and the one of the statue are two areas where ghost bikes once stood.

Keep on Movin’ – Thursday October 4, 2012

I arrived in Pottstown, PA close to sunset, took a few pictures,and continued on. From there, I stayed in Newcastle, Delaware. I had a great night sleep an woke up to take a run. I found some train tracks that were in the process of being built, I decided to follow them. Good idea right? Well, yes and no. Beautiful fun run, but I got lost and ended up running for about an hour instead of the intended half hour. I found my way back to the hotel an got moving….ONWARD!!!
Baltimore
Next stop Baltimore. I had a lead on 2 ghost bikes. I found the first one. I spent some time shooting it, and as I was leaving, with my Polaroid camera in hand a man stopped me to ask about my camera. He was a photographer. I told him about my project and he told me that he had known the boy that was killed. He had come around the corner right as they were carting the body off. It had been an old woman, with failing eyesight that had failed to check her mirror before turning, that hit the boy.
Ghost Bike for Nathan Krasnopoler, W. University at W. 39th, Baltimore

I then, typed in directions to the next ghost bike, and it lead me to a neighborhood called Harlem Park, where I found a beautiful destructed church and blocks and blocks of boarded up buildings. I have been very interested in shooting things that are falling apart and “destruction,” so I stopped to shoot some pictures. It turns out that my phone directed me to the wrong spot. Had there been a ghost bike in that neighborhood, I knew, form previous experience that it would have been stolen before I ever got the chance to photograph it.

I headed to where the ghost bike was actually supposed to be, and it was not there. I remember reading an article about how the bike had been hit and mangled by a car. It was taken to the Velocipede Bike Project, who said they would reinstall the ghost bike in a couple of weeks. That article was written months ago. I suppose they hadn’t gotten around to it.

Velocipede Bike Project, Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Visitor Center, bike rack donated by senator Ben Carden

Hell House in Ellicott City, MD

Next I headed off to Hell House in Ellicott City, MD (about an hour outside of Baltimore), which is the haunted, abandon, and falling apart St. Mary’s College. I spent about 3 hours there shooting. I don’t have any pictures to post just yet, except for this one I took with my phone to send to my cousin Austin, of some of the graffiti in the place.

Hell House, Ellicott City, MD

Washington DC

Next, I headed to Washington DC to look for the ghost bikes that supposedly live in DuPont Circle. They were not there, and I continued to my cousin and his wife’s house for a visit, some dinner and some rest. Let me tell you how great it was to have a home cooked meal!!! I have been living on the tiniest food budget, so real food, and hot food was such a blessing! I don’t think they have any idea how much I appreciated their hospitality.

They told me about a weird ghost bike installation near where they lived. I planned on checking that out, a few cemeteries, and a ghost bike in Fairfax, VA.
I arrived early morning, just passed dawn to shoot the “ghost bike” installation done by Tom Noll. When I was done, I decided to treat myself to a cup of real coffee (instead of the teabag instant kind I had been drinking). I got to the car and noticed a bunch of sculptures on the yards of the houses in front of which I parked. They also had a plaque (like the bike installation) saying they were done by Tom Noll with a telephone number. I was just about to write the number down, when I noticed a man getting into a truck that had “Tom Noll, landscaping and design” on the side of it. I stopped him and asked if he was Tom Noll and what the story about his “ghost bikes” were.
It turns out they are not ghost bikes at all!! They are a depiction of a children’s book that he wrote about recycling. A young boy was jealous that all his neighbors had white picket fences, and he did not, so he decides to recycle bicycles and paint them white, therefore creating his own white picket fence.
Tom Noll art installation (NOT ghost bikes), Rhode Island at NW 1st, Washington DC

 

Tom Noll sculpture, Washington DC

From here I went to check out a few cemeteries and the ghost bike in Fairfax, VA, which I could not find. Where it was supposed to be was in a very nice neighborhood next to a country club/golf course. I suspect they removed it after some time considering it an “eye sore.”

Holmead’s Cemetery in Rock Creek Cemetery (section K next to section eye), Washington DC
Freedman’s cemetary, Alexandria, VA (they were in the process of re-doing this cemetery, it was all under construction. I do not feel like this was a very “good” thing to do, it made me feel a little “icky”)

Norfolk, VA

In the morning I headed to Norfolk, VA, and took the rest of the day to do research on where to go next. I was tired of not finding bikes so I wanted to look up and figure out which bikes were most likely to be there, so I will have better luck in the future.

The next day I did not find any bikes, but did find memorial flowers and a cross at two locations.

Donnelle Worsely, 1600 block of Brambleton Ave, Norfolk, VA
Daniel Wayne Hersh, 3001 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA

Just as I was about to be done with the Virginia Beach area, I saw a bike locked up painted all pink, even the tires. I thought maybe, just maybe this might be some sort of ghost bike for someone that loved pink. I went into the cupcake shop it was in front of to ask about it, and it turns out it was just decoration for the shop.

Pink bike for decoration out front of Just Cupcakes, Virginia Beach, VA
Today I will try to find two bikes in Richmond, VA and two in Buchannon, WV, and hopefully make it to Pittsburgh to spend the night.

Virginia and beyond…

I feel as if I want to update this every day, but as the day begins, I try to get out there as early as possible to catch all of the daylight, and when I arrive at a place to sleep, I am just too exhausted to sit and write. Today, I will start my day a little later in an effort to catch you all up on my adventures since I last posted.
Richmond, VA
From Virginia Beach, VA, I headed to Richmond, VA, a cute town, that I wouldn’t mind spending another day or two in. I first looked for the bike that was to be located on Westover Hills Road. It wasn’t there. I did however take a moment to walk onto the bridge to take a better look at the James River, that is until I discovered the 18 million spider webs filled with spiders of all shapes and sizes along the walk way. Those of you that know me well, know that if there are spiders near, they will bite me (I get somewhere around 100 spider bites a year). This bridge was not the place for me.
Along my way to the next ghost bike possibility, I saw this run down house. Here is where I make the disclaimer that you all should forgive the quality of some of the pictures I post while on this trip. All the ones I am posting are taken with my iPhone. I will not be posting ones taken with the “real” cameras until I get back and can go through everything.

 

3906 North Ave, Richmond, VA

Next I find the ghost bike placed on the corner of River Road and Bridgeway Road for Anne Riley.

ghost bike for Anne Riley, Richmond, VA

West Virginia

From Richmond, I head to West Virginia. I was going to forgo West Virginia, to save time, but according to google maps, I wouldn’t lose too much time if I detoured there, plus I had a good gut feeling that the bikes were there.

on the way to West Virginia

The drive was one of the most magnificently beautiful drives I have ever been on. I drove through the George Washington National Forest. The leaves were changing colors, it was truly breathtaking, this crappy iPhone picture does not even come close to doing it justice.

George Washington National Forest, West Virginia

Light was running out, and I knew that if I were to find the bikes it would be dark. I chose to look for the first one, then I would stay the night and find the second one in the morning.

I found the first one, and it was very very dark. I was thinking I would need to do exposures of longer than a minute to get an image at all, and without a cable release, who knew if they would be in focus. After a little trial and error, I used passing cars headlights to help illuminate the bike and was able to make some images. Hopefully, they will be in focus, it was too dark to really tell. Here is an awful photo of the bike taken with my phone.

ghost bike for Daniel Duncan, Buckhannon, West Virginia

My friend had warned me that West Virginia is a weird place…

I stopped into a motel to see how much the rates were. $75. Too much for my blood, but even had it been affordable, I would not have stayed. I have seen some weird things in my life, and have been around many “not savory” situations, but I can honestly say that I have never felt as creeped out and unsafe as I did leaving that motel lobby; like I would end up chained in a basement as the town’s sex slave or something.
The second ghost bike would not make it into my project, and it didn’t matter that I was extremely tired, I was driving to Pittsburgh that night!!
PITTSBURGH!!
I let myself sleep in and got a bit of a late start, but I knew this town would be easy. I had some email correspondence that let me know there were only 2 ghost bikes in Pittsburgh, and I knew where to find them.
Here are a couple of things I found that I liked along the way. Under a bridge…
33rd at Spring, Pittsburgh, PA
and a mural next to some boarded up row houses with incredible juxtaposition.
mural at N Graham and Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA

 

ghost bike for James Price on the 7500 block of Penn Ave

 

ghost bike for Rui Hui Lin, Pittsburgh, PA

Columbus, OH

My next stop was to be Columbus, OH. I was too tired on my drive to make it there, so I started pulling over to find a place to stay. Every place I tried was no vacancy, or $100. No dice. I began to think that this would be the night I would end up sleeping in the car. I tried priceline, and found a terrible motel in Zanesville, OH. Definitely the worst place I have stayed…probably in my life. I even checked for bed bugs… But I still had dreams about them. Needless to say, I woke early, went for a run, and was on my way to Columbus, OH.

I believe this was Saturday, October 6. I was not sure what I would find in Columbus. I did not get any confirmations that there were still any ghost bikes there, but it was on the way to the next stop, so I thought I take a chance. I chose to look for the three most recently placed bikes.
The one at Snouffer Rd at Asheville Pard drive for Michail Sonney was not there. The one at Sawmill Rd at Sawbury Rd for Jeffery Tyler Stevenson, was also gone. But in it’s place was a cross made from skateboards.
memorial cross for Jeffery Stevenson where a ghost bike once was in Columbus, OH
The ghost bike for Elissa Hatfield on the 5400 block of Fisher Road was also not there, but in its place stood not one, but 4 crosses. I find in interesting how people will let a cross stand as a memorial for years, but that a ghost bike memorial seems to have a short shelf life.
crosses where a ghost bike once stood for Elissa Hatfield, Columbus, OH

Vandalia, OH

From Columbus I headed to Vandalia, OH. I had gotten word that there was a permanent ghost bike at Kenbrook and Perry. When I arrived, I realized that this bike was on someone’s lawn. Before I started crawling all over someone’s property, I went to the house to seek permission. I spoke with the brother of the woman (Becky Meade) who lost her life, told him about my project, and gave him my card. He told me they had the ghost bike at the crash site, that they had even gotten a permit for it, but the woman that hit her lived right near there and had a fit about the bike being there. Evidently the woman rushed ahead to make the turn instead of letting Becky pass and she hit and killed her. They decided the bike would be better at home, and they made a memorial to Becky in their yard for the world to see. Honestly, this may have been the most touching ghost bike memorial I have seen to date. I felt blessed and honored to be able to photograph it.

ghost bike for Becky Meade, Vandalia, OH

Here is a close up:

ghost bike for Becky Meade, Vandalia, OH

From here I headed just short way over to Philadelphia at Bon Air Dr. in Dayton, OH, where I did not find a ghost bike, but some flowers and a cross. Notice that the sign pole is bent.

crash site of Becky Meade, where a ghost bike stood for just a short time, Dayton, OH
After taking some photos, I sat on the trunk of the car and started looking at my phone. Within a few minutes, the woman that lived on the corner came home. I asked her how long the bike had been gone. She told me that it had only been there for a week or two. The family had asked her permission to put the bike there. I had a suspicion… so I asked her if the person that hit the cyclist lived near by. She pointed across the street and said right over there! At this point, I realized that I was standing at the crash site of Becky Meade, who’s ghost bike I had just shot in Vandalia.
Later that night Mary Klinedinst-Laughter sent me a message thanking me for making the stop at Becky’s ghost bike. I was touched.
Cincinnati
I planned to drive to Cincinnati that evening and shoot the bikes there in the morning, but I arrived with so much daylight left, I shot the two bikes there. I had been in touch with people in Cincinnati, so I knew it would be easy to find them. Unfortunately, they were recent tragedies.
One for Ronald Richardson, 1301 California Ave, in the Oakland neighborhood of Cincinnati. Friends and family had not only left flowers and such at this site, but many left drinks in commemoration of his life. I would tell that he will be missed, and toasted on many more occasions.
ghost bike for Ronald Richardson, Cincinnati, OH

The sky was doing wonderous things when I shot the one for Andrew Gast on the 600 block of Wilmer.

ghost bike for Andrew Gast, Cincinnati, OH

That Saturday definitely marks the most successful day I have had so far.

ONWARD TO KENTUCKY…
Lexington, KY
I had confirmation on the bike for Rick Kerr on Russell Cave Road at Park Place in Lexington, KY.
ghost bike for Rick Kerr, Lexington, KY

I spent half the day driving from Lexington to Louiseville. It should have taken about an hour and a half, but I wanted to see a little bit of Kentucky. I saw many farms, and some raceways. I even made some friends with a couple of horses that wanted to ham it up for the camera (those pics to come later) It was quite beautiful. Here is picture I took that does not justice to what I actually saw.

Kentucky

Louisville, KY

I finally arrived in Louisville, to find a very cute little town. I would love to come back to Kentucky; between the bourbon, Louisville, the train museum, and the caves, I could find some time to kill here.

I was impressed that the ghost bike for Jennifer Futrell near 1034 Bardstown Rd was still standing. I think it has been there since 2008. It is weathered, but still beautiful.
ghost bike for Jennifer Futrell, Louisville, KY
Today I head to Nashville!
Nashville, TN
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 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
Metropolis, IL
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!

Cairo, IL
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.
ONWARD!
St. Louis, IL
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.

 

Chicago, IL

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.

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.

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 ghost bikes have affected me, but to be a part of something that I know will affect others was a little overwhelming. I was honored.

South Bend, Indiana

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.

ONWARD!!
Grand Rapids, Michigan
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
Ionia, 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. 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.
where the ghost bike once was for Kelsie Henning, Washington at Pleasant, Ionia, Michigan

 Ann Arbor, MI

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

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

Canton, 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!!

Detroit, MI

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.

Canada

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.

Toronto, Canada

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.

Ottawa, Canada

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.
Plattsburgh, NY
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.

 

Finishing up the Ghost Bike Road Trip

Boston, 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.
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.

Surprise continuation of the Ghost Bike road trip

Napa, CA

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 Mitchell, Napa, CA

IMG_3422ghost 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.

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