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.
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.
Next I find the ghost bike placed on the corner of River Road and Bridgeway Road for Anne Riley.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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…
and a mural next to some boarded up row houses with incredible juxtaposition.
Here is the ghost bike for James Price on the 7500 block of Penn Ave.
And the ghost bike for Rui Hui Lin located at Meyran and Louisa.
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.
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.
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, so 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.
Here is a close up:
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.
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.
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 are 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 they had in commemoration of his life. I would tell that he will be missed, and toasted on many more occasions.
The sky was doing wonderous things when I shot the one for Andrew Gast on the 600 block of Wilmer.
That Saturday definitely marks the most successful day I have had so far.
ONWARD TO KENTUCKY…
I had confirmation on the bike for Rick Kerr on Russell Cave Road at Park Place in 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.
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.