Roth and Ramberg and the Sgian Dubh maker

If you have one of our Roth and Ramberg calendars then you know it’s December and you should be looking at a photo of a man named Rab.

What’s a Sgian Dubh (pronounced skin-doo)? Well it’s a traditional knife worn in the sock of a kilt-wearing Scot.

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Where do you find a Sgian Dubh maker? Well, in the hills overlooking Loch Ness, of course. There, a man named Rab Gordon, hand makes the beautiful knives. He lives in an old stone farmhouse with his wife and young son. Inside one of the many buildings is a workshop beyond imagination. Think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, if you are old enough to know what that means.

Rab has a year long waiting list of people who want to own one of his pieces. Lucky for us, he took the time to be photographed in the driving rain and then share some of his whisky with us. Rab was the last person we photographed for our 2012 calendar. Soon after we made our way back to Edinburgh for our flight home. We miss Scotland and the people like Rab who made it a trip of a lifetime.

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Roth and Ramberg play catch up (5 of 5)

This is part five in our series of five blog posts where we are trying to update our portfolio and our blog. If you missed the first ones, you can check them out here.

This post finds us in Southern Alberta with our good friend Beau at Transalta. We casually mentioned one day how great it would be to photograph the wind turbines on their wind farm. Jokingly, we suggested how much Michele would like to stand on top of one of them!!

Well, Beau made it happen… well almost. Funny thing was, when we arrived it was too windy to climb on top. Regardless, Michele got to poke her head out the top and take some photos while Dale was securely planted on the ground.

Some behind the scenes photos:

We got a series of photos they are using for their photo library and we had a ton of fun doing it!

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Here is a little behind the scenes video

Roth and Ramberg play catch up (4 of 5)

We’re getting near the end of our series. If you’ve missed the beginning ones, read them here.

This post is about some work we did with Maclaren McCann Vancouver and their client, First Calgary Financial. We shot a series of three ads which show just how much First Calgary is behind their customers, and literally watching their investments. It was a great campaign with lots to organize but well worth it. Thanks to the models from Dagaz and Details for their great acting ability.

Here is one of the ads we shot, the other two are being released later next year.

Roth and Ramberg play catch up (3 of 5)

If you’ve missed the first two in our series of five, you can look back and see just what it is we’ve been doing the last little while.

In number three of the series, we had a great opportunity to do some work for Maclaren McCann Calgary.

Their client, Bayer Crop Science, wanted to photograph different farmers across the country. The project involved three separate trips and stretched all the way from Alberta to Quebec. They wanted genuine portraits of the farmers in their environments. We had the most amazing trips across the country with Alex and Bryon from Maclaren McCann, meeting farmers and learning about what it takes to grow canola successfully.

Here are some of the many photos taken.

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Roth and Ramberg play catch up (2 of 5)

Our second post in our series of five is about something we do a lot of here in Alberta. If you missed the first blog post, you can check it out here.

Corporate reports, which in this case, was the Sustainability Report for Syncrude Canada.

We’ve had the pleasure to work with the Syncrude team for many years and we teamed up with the Calgary agency Karo to work on this years’ report.

 Here are a few photos of many that we shot. Most in Fort McMurray and one of course, in Ottawa.

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Roth and Ramberg play catch up (1 of 5)

It’s been a crazy busy summer and fall, which of course, we are grateful and thankful for. But because we’ve been so busy, our blogging has left something to be desired. Well, it’s time to catch up, starting with the first of five blog posts over the next five days.

We were contacted by the great group of people at ATB Financial. They wanted to create a series of ads shot in black and white, depiciting business executives in various environments. We loved the concept and also love the fact we were able to produce them in black and white.

Below are some of the series that ran in national newspapers.

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Roth and Ramberg and the talented Rebekah

Now that it’s November, you should be seeing Rebekah on your Roth and Ramberg ‘In Search of the Loch Ness Monster’ desk calendar. If you don’t have one, drop us a line and we’ll get you a copy and we’ll also put you on the list for the upcoming 2013 version where we traveled from Chicago to Walcott, Iowa… home of the World’s Largest Truck Stop. You can also go online and see the calendar and read the behind-the-scenes stories. But for now… back to Rebekah and the monster.

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After traveling up a very twisty, very narrow mountain road, we arrived at Rebekah’s house. Rebekah began making pottery twenty years ago as an apprentice at the Loch Ness Clay Works and she eventually took it over. Today she ships pieces all over the world, to places as far flung as Hawaii.

Originally from Inverness, Rebekah was always fascinated with Nessie. Right up until the infamous Surgeon’s photograph was revealed to be a big fake. Almost instantly, she stopped believing. But that’s not to say she doesn’t believe in things you can’t always explain. Is it Scotland after all, land of faeries and legends and lore so deep it could fill the whole of Loch Ness.

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Roth and Ramberg and Molly the skeptical lassie

The Roth and Ramberg calendar in October… meet Molly the skeptical lassie. If you don’t already have one of our calendars just send us an email and we’ll send you one or you can go online and see the calendar and read the behind-the-scenes stories.

We photographed Molly along the east shore of Loch Ness near where she lives in the town of Lower Foyers. We met Molly thru her mom, Briony, who works at the beautiful Lovat Hotel in Fort Augustus on the very south end of Loch Ness. If you’re ever in the area, you should stay there. The hotel is divine and so is the food.

Molly is a bright 17-year-old red head who has a strong zest for life and a love of all-things-photography. She doesn’t believed in the Loch Ness Monster. She figures there was probably something to it a long time ago, but now it’s just a legend. It’s hard to argue with her really. We all agreed that the stuffed Nessies for sale in all the tourist shops, complete with pink eyelashes, are pretty darn funny.

Roth and Ramberg meet Rod Michie

It’s September and it’s time to turn the page yet again. If you have one of the Roth and Ramberg calendars then you should now be staring at Rod Michie. If you want a calendar, send us an email or go online and you can see the calendar and the behind-the-scenes stories.

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Our good friend Willie the Rat suggested we head over to Inverness to meet his friend Rod. Rod has been a captain of various boats for over 30 years.

He has been back and forth across the Loch Ness many, many times, perhaps even the most of anyone in the area. Has he seen a monster…. well, no. He does however keep the mystery alive by telling us a story about how he saw something on the sonar one day.  He does point out of course that sonar can have all sorts of interesting things on them and they are not necessarily a large creature.

As he says “I’d prefer to talk about the mystery rather than the monster.”, which he proceeded to do. In the end, he summed it up beautifully. People come here in search of the monster and when they don’t find it they never ask for their money back. And Rod is right, the surrounding area is beautiful and the people are tremendous. Yes, there is something mysterious about the Loch, but in the end we didn’t need to see a monster either.

Roth and Ramberg's cool trucker swag

It’s 10-4 good buddies…like roadkill from pavement we have swag just scraped off the press (from The Dude Screen Printing—our new awesome go-to shirt guy)! It’s our spearmint green tees with tractor trailer unit showing the ‘What’s Yer 20’ logo which we promised to our winning Facebookers and Tweeters who followed us along our road trip.  

                                

If you didn’t follow us on our trip, we asked our followers to help direct our Illinois/Iowan route all the way to our mecca destination, Walcott I-80, the world’s largest truckstop. Here’s a quick run-down of what our winners got trucker cool stuff for:

JackInTheJungle started us off in Chi-Town by sending us to Acacia Park Cemetery to look for a cool building;

Next, Sarah James decided our 10-20 would be the Town of Sandwich instead of Genoa, Illinois. Sandwich was the motherlode of many things interesting as you can see from this pic of their local school!

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Marie Hohner picked Dale’s new CB handle…‘Hot Shoe’ which he used while communicating on our swanky CB set;

We gave Sue Manzuik a choice between destinations of Wyatt Earp’s Birthplace or Ronald Regan Trail. Sue picked Wyatt and off we went;

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Brian Close won a CB iPhone attachment for guessing which famous painting was within 2 hours of our then Instamapp locale. It was of course American Gothic by Grant Wood. Away we went to Eldon;

Christy Yaseyko answered which TV character came from Ottumwa, Iowa. It was of course Radar O’Reilly from M*A*SH. If Ottumwa was good enough for Radar, it was good enough for us to stay for the night. Radar lived around so, much, corn;

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Which ‘berg’ town should we go to? Well Tweeter Cam Hoff thought that out of Prairieburg, Guttenburg, Luxemburg and Petersburg that Guttenburg was a primo choice. Who can beat the expansive roads of Prairieburg?!

FaceBooker Brock Skywalker knew what famous movie the line “if you build it, he will come” was from and we put the hammer down and headed to the movie site Field of Dreams;

Thanks to your participation our road trip was just that much more awesome so congrat’s to our winners, we will be contacting you. For the rest of you, if you RSVP in January 2013 for our calendar launch party, we will have a whole bunch of our tee’s and more goodies that we picked up along the road (not roadkill) to give away. Hope to see you then! For now it’s over and out…

Roth and Ramberg say tomorrow is a 10-17

To recap, yesterday was a really long day. We rolled into the Iowa 80 Truck Stop late in the evening. We’ve reached our destination! 

This morning we made our way to the truck stop for breakfast. We walked through rows and rows of vintage and custom trucks; all incredibly beautiful. It was well over 100 degrees on the pavement and after 8 days of it, we could all tell we needed some cooling off in our air conditioned vehicle before spending some quality time roasting out there.

We found out that Highway 6 was the old trucking route until the Interstate 80 was put in. Highway 6 was built in one day by 10,000 people back in 1910. Well, that bit of news was good enough for us! We headed to the actual town of Walcott and made our way west towards Iowa City with the air conditioning blasting. A few towns over was a neat little town called Wilton. We could kind of make out a great vintage sign on the front of a bright white building. As we got closer we realized it was a candy shop called Wilton Candy Kitchen.

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We walked inside and an elderly man was behind the soda fountain and his wife, dressed in bright red, greeted us. Well, we spent the next two hours with Thelma and George. George’s father had been running the store until George himself took over. He is now 92 and was joking and laughing with us the whole time. Well, right up until we wanted to take his photo.

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We ordered some sandwiches, which Thelma carefully prepared.  She shared stories of their Greek heritage and explained the pictures and newspaper clippings on the wall. Then she sat us down at Gregory Peck’s table, which of course is right beside Brooke Shield’s table (they both ate there). Then came picture time and Thelma was eager, George not so much. He was hiding in the office. “He doesn’t like his photo taken, but I know this is important for business.” she said. She gently nudged him out and they sat down on the stools and we got the shot!

Just as we finished, the crowds started rolling in. We hugged our new friends goodbye and headed down the road. We made it to Iowa City and back, driving through various small towns. This time we just enjoyed the trip instead of worrying about photos.

So now our goal is to get great trucker shots. Early to bed, as tomorrow is the last day of the jamboree. We’re about to put the hammer down!

Roth and Ramberg say a big 10-10

Well, we woke up this morning a little more refreshed. The last day of the Trucker Jamboree and also the last day of our shoot. We made it to the Mecca. The mother-of-all truck stops located in Walcott, Iowa. Complete with restaurants, a dentist, a barber, a chiropractor, mechanics, a chapel, a truck-o-mat, a laundromat, a trucking museum, a movie theatre, and lots of chrome. While seeing all the sights was really cool, our goal, however, was to photograph truckers. 

Well, wouldn’t you know it, as we drove in we saw a moustached trucker with a big cowboy hat.  We pulled over and set up a shot of Jerry and his red Kenworth. Fifty one years of truck driving and still going strong. Back in the day his CB handle was ‘Wildcatter’. It seems not many truckers are on CB radio anymore. He was a great character and super nice guy! We wrapped up and then we headed to the heart of the jamboree.

We wandered around the jamboree for a while. Rows and rows of vintage trucks. All the brands: Mack, Peterbilt, International, Freightliner, Kenworth and more. Also a section of trucks loaded with of bling, even some with hardwood floors in the cabs; all with proud owners by their trucks just talking about their passion. 

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We decided to shoot some black and white portraits on a white background, similar in style to Richard Avedon’s American West series. We managed to score a tent from a friendly trucker so we could be covered from the ever-changing weather. We set up right beside the Interstate 80 and shot with the sounds of trucks rolling by. A perfect setting for photographing truckers.

What better way to end our ‘What’s yer 20?’ trip than photographing 20 truckers. Young, old, families… you name it. Whoever we saw, we asked. Mainly wanting to show the faces of trucking. Perhaps a photo exhibit down the road?

Now we’re heading down the I-80, talking to truckers on the CB. Destination Chicago. We have half a day there tomorrow to explore then back home.

Thank-you Iowa! And Illinois too!

Dale, Michele and Dana (aka: Hotshoe, DangerGril and AirHorn Danny)

Roth and Ramberg reach the world's largest truck stop

We slept in a little bit this morning. We crawled out of our beds at around 8:30 am. Every night is a late night on these trips since we shoot as long as we can, maybe grab some dinner, then spend the rest of the night and early morning writing blogs, posting photos and gathering the writing for our magazine app of our trip.  AirHornDanny, as it turns out, is a darn good writer (Dale is the one plowing thru writing the blogs, just to make it clear.)

First stop was breakfast at a retro diner called Rausch’s. A family owned café that was also a gas station until to a few years ago. It’s been in the family for generations. Dana even sat in the chair that President Obama sat at in 2011 when he came thru the town.

Sue Rausch and her husband run the café and also own the mechanic shop in the building next door. Sue was happy to drive home and change into her café shirt. We wrapped up our shoot and all had a piece of homemade pie with ice cream. It tasted incredible! They sure know how to make pies around here.

Last night we met the spunky owner of the local tavern. Her name was Jerri and she runs Moxie’s Mixed Drink. We had an absolute blast meeting her and taking her photo. While we were there, she made a few phone calls and set us up to meet Kerri and Jeff in the morning, to get a tour of the one of the last remaining dance halls in Iowa, Lakeside Ballroom.

We pulled up and saw a large white building nestled beside the Mississippi. Kerri pulled up and we headed inside. Stretched out in front of us was a 70 ft wooden bar that ran the width of the entire place.

After admiring it for a few minutes, we then walked thru a doorway inside to a gigantic ballroom. A stage was located at the far end of the building. The floor was maple and in beautiful condition. The ceiling was covered in white lattice with paper material in behind.

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There were great vintage lamps hanging from the ceiling. You could almost imagine the Saturday nights that have happened there over the years. People from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson have played there. The previous owner let it get a bit worn down and Kerri and Jeff and some other locals decided to buy it rather than see it torn down. As we have learned here, and in many of the towns we’ve been in, that the sense of pride and dedication is almost unbelievable.

We said our goodbyes and kind of hoped we would be back on the weekend to see it in action but we had to move on. There were a couple of highway options, but we decided to take the scenic route and head back toward the Field of Dreams to give it one more try.

On the way there, the drive took us up to a lookout that had a spectacular view of the valley. The small town right beside was Balltown: population 42.

 

We saw a huge restaurant called Breitbach’s that had a sign saying it was Iowa’s oldest bar and restaurant, and across the street, a feed store with antiques called Skip Breitbach Feeds. Dale wanted to push on, but was fortunately outvoted. The feed store was crazy good. Antiques everywhere, next to flower bulbs, baskets, dried flowers hanging from the ceiling, giant bags of dog food and cat food. It was so awesome we knew we had to get a photo.

It was owned by a man named Skip. We briefly met him but he had to run a few errands. He said he’d be back. His brother Mike owned the restaurant across the street. We went inside the restaurant and met Mike, but he was in a bit of a rush too. We hauled him outside in front of the restaurant and photographed him quickly. Then his brother came back so we rushed to shoot him at the feed store and even managed to get a shot of the two brothers together before they had to go.

Mike insisted we had to have the pork tenderloin and pie. Totally full from breakfast, we had to push ourselves to eat anymore. Well, it was so worth it. One of the best tenderloins you could imagine. The coating was magnificent. They don’t use any sauce on the bun so it has to be good, and it was!

We followed it up with raspberry pie. When they’re busy they sell over 70 pies a day and people come from all around just for a slice. The restaurant as it turns out, was featured on a tv food show called ‘Feasting on Asphalt’ with Eldon Brown.

The place has a great story that we will write about later. It burned down twice and both times the community came together to rebuild. Great guys with big kind hearts!

Another short drive to the Field of Dreams site. When we got there a baseball team was playing on the field. They were the U.S. Military All Stars baseball team. A giant bus was touring them around North America. We photographed a chaplain named Juan, dressed in his full baseball gear. We sort of shot before we got permission from the owners of the ball diamond, so we will hopefully be able to use his photo. 

Next stop. We heard about a drive-in located on the famous Highway 61; famous because of the classic 1965 Bob Dylan album ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. The drive-in was located just south of a town called Maquoketa. We tried to find the owner, but couldn’t track him down. The manager and ticket booth attendant said he may show up. The light was going down so we decided to set up the lighting and hope he showed. Just as the sun went down, Dennis drove up. We took his photo and listened to his great stories about his drive-in. He bought it in 1972 and it is one of only four drive-ins left in Iowa.

He said everyone is happy when they come to the drive-in. Looking around, he was right; many had got there early to have tailgate parties. Families were there with their kids, playing on the swings and taking free rides on a kid-sized train. Surrounded by a cornfield, it’s definitely considered a classic American drive-in.

Dennis was very accommodating as we tweaked the lighting and waited for the dusk sky. Afterward he took us to the concession stand and we shared some popcorn and slushes.  A great experience.

We hopped in the car and drove the last 45 miles to Walcott Iowa; the goal of the whole trip. ‘Iowa 80’, the World’s Largest Truckstop! With a quick look around, we saw rows and rows and rows of semi trucks here for the Jamboree. Off to the hotel, stay up late writing and then back to meet the truckers in the morning!

Over and out.

Roth and Ramberg get a hard earned deuce

Sometimes things come easy and other times you have to work for them. Today we worked. We started out in Mount Vernon; a pretty little town.

Last night the young woman at the hotel counter told us to come by tomorrow and have coffee at the café she worked at during the day.

It was an eclectic little café and antique store called Fuel.  Alexa was smiling as we walked in. We had perhaps one of the best lattes ever and enjoyed chatting and admiring the décor. Michele bought a large retro-looking light-up sign in the shape of an arrow and we decided to ask our followers on facebook and twitter to tell us where to go.

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To back up a little, if you haven’t been following our trip, we’ve tried to make it a little more fun and interactive. We tweet out asking which town we should go to, or what road to take, or have a trivia contest. We have some cool trucker shirts, hats and a CB Microphone that plugs into your smartphone, as prizes. The point is, if you are not following us, then maybe you should. Here are the links for facebook and twitter. An added bonus is a little thing called Instamapper. If you click on the link you can see where we are at any given time (assuming we’ve got cell service).

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So the point is if you have time please follow along, and many of you are. We posted the question ‘Luxembuerg, Petersburg, Guttenburg or Prairieburg?’ and asked which town we should go to. The vote was close and we ended up driving to Prairieberg.

Lets just say when we got there it looked bleak. One gas station (not pretty), a restaurant that had been closed for a year and nothing else. We drove around a little and found a kind of a thrift store, without an entrance. Two big picture windows with all sorts of used items for sale inside. Perfect we thought! Now we just have to figure out how to get in. We wandered over to the gas station and inside were the attendant and two locals. One of the locals had a great white beard, and cool ‘Herb Tarlek’ kind of blue pants. He was very talkative and entertaining. We asked him what he did in town and he belted out “Come and sniff me and you can tell.” ‘Easy, we’ll be able to photograph him’ we thought…  this guy was perfect. Well, as soon as we mentioned taking a photo he got up out of his chair, said a polite good bye and that was that.

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No problem… we can still get the guy who has the used stuff in the windows. When we asked about him, the locals chuckled and said that that store hasn’t been open in over 17 years.  The owner Jimmy, lives in the house attached to the back of the store. He used to work as the town clerk so of course he knows the history of the town. “Just go knock on the door.” Again, perfect, we thought. Michele and Dana knocked on the door and waited… and waited. Finally a man with no shirt on answered the door. He was about to have a pork tenderloin lunch with his wife and we had interrupted. We asked if we could come back after lunch to take photos in the store and he politely declined. Damn! Struck out in Prairieberg. That’s okay, when one door closes another one opens. It determined where we’d go next.

We grabbed lunch in the next town and saw a poster for the County Fair in Manchester. It was 15 minutes away, so off we went. As luck would have it, we ran into the reigning Queen of the Fair. One photo down. Then we proceeded to the Field of Dreams movie site, just a half hour away.

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We gotta say there was something a bit magical about driving down the highway imagining being one of the cars lined up to get there in that late night scene in the movie. “Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” An easy photo there, no problem, or so we thought.

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We drove in a half hour before closing time and talked to the woman inside the souvenir booth. “No, the owners aren’t here and they don’t like us bothering them when people want to take their photo. If they happen to show up, then maybe, but never anything scheduled.” She shooed us out 3 minutes to 6pm, so we headed for the second place winner of the Berg vote; the town of Guttenberg.

Apparently they have a replica of the Guttenberg Bible. The town is right along the Mississippi River and it’s quite picturesque. We checked into a quaint little inn that used to be a button factory, complete with stone walls and an incredible view of the river.

Only three places open nearby for dinner. A pizza place, a sports bar and local watering hole. Of course we wandered into the local watering hole Moxie’s, and saw two locals sitting at the bar and a woman behind the bar. When we asked her if they served food she said “Only pizza.”

We sat down at the bar and slowly, drink after drink, she heard our story and we heard hers. She made some calls to arrange some people for us to photograph, but secretly we also wanted to get a photo of her. What we learned today was maybe we need to take it a bit more slow and ease into asking if people are willing to have their photo taken. After a few hours, our new friend Jerri, who doesn’t like having her photo taken, was posing for the people from Canada.

Great shot, great night.

Roth and Ramberg take the scenic route

If you have been following our trip, yesterday we were traveling to Monmouth, IL to see Wyatt Earp’s birthplace.

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We finally pulled into Monmouth around 11am this morning.

The town had some great historic buildings and awesome looking places to shoot, unfortunately being Sunday, everything was closed, including the museum in Wyatt Earp’s house. A bit let down, we decided to ease our sorrow with some good old fashioned pie. The only place we could find that fit the bill was a little cafe called Maple City.

After a little bit of coconut meringue and a conversation with our waitress, we found out some spectacular information. Firstly, the house used in Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting was located just across the border into Iowa. And secondly, the woman who lives in the house is obsessed with pie. So much that she’s know as ‘America’s Pie Lady’.

Allthough we didn’t get a great photo in Wyatt Earp’s town, we luckily found the location of our next adventure… Eldon, Iowa. We headed out down Highway 34 with a two hour drive ahead of us.  One thing we’ve learned about Illinois, is that the internet is a bit sketchy in the rural areas. It’s been a bit frustrating trying to tweet, goggle locations, follow maps, etc. Because of this, about an hour into our drive, Michele asked “Are we going in the right direction?”

We had to be old-school and get out an actual map. Crap! We had been traveling South instead of West. We just added two hours to our drive to Eldon. We took the first available right turn and headed towards the Mississippi River, which is the dividing line between Illinois and Iowa. We officially made it on Iowa soil at 2:14pm. All of us were silently thinking we better get a shot soon. * We think we have Instamapper fixed now. Follow us on our trip here is the link.

We pulled into Eldon around 3:34pm and saw a pie shop on main street. It looked like it had been abandoned for a long time. Again, our hearts dropped a little.

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Now what? We ran into a guy who said we could get pie at the American Gothic Center.

We hopped in our vehicle and followed the signs to the American Gothic House. As we were parking, we noticed a woman flipping the sign over to ‘Closed’. We were 15 minutes too late. We told her we were from Canada and explained about our photo road trip. She saw our matching “What’s yer 20?’ t-shirts, smiled, and suddenly the sign switched to ‘Open’.

We spent two hour taking photos and enjoying the company of Rosie and Allen Morrison. They have been volunteering at the center since it opened 5 years ago. It turns out that ‘America’s Pie Lady’ sells pies right out of the American Gothic house. Unfortunately for us, she wasn’t open today because her oven broke down two days ago.

Since Rosie and Allen were so accommodating, and we had kept then at the Center for two hours longer than they should have been, we took them for dinner at the only restaurant in town, Chommy’s.

As soon as we sat down, Allen told us he had been very resourceful and managed to arrange a shoot for us with Beth, ‘America’s Pie Lady’ for tomorrow morning. We ordered the classic Iowa-renowned sandwich. The famous super-douper-extra-large-breaded-fried Pork Tenderloin.

A one-pound piece of delight. A sandwich so big and delicious, that perhaps our next destination will be finding Iowa’s best Pork Tenderloin Sandwich…

After a few drinks and great conversation, we said goodbye to our new friends and headed a short way up the road to find a hotel in Ottumwa, Iowa. A long and frustrating day couldn’t have ended up any better.

Roth and Ramberg say give a piece a chance

It all started yesterday when we met a great couple in Eldon, Iowa - Rosie and Allen. They had generously spent time with us and during that time suggested two people we had to photograph. Fast-forward to today. We drove down main street and there was Allen patiently waiting for us on a bench in front of an old brick building. We followed him inside where there was a huge thrift store. It was run by volunteers and its sole purpose is to raise money to restore the town’s Opera House.

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A woman named Jo who was the major driving force behind the restoration. She led us back outside to a set of wooden doors. Inside was a dark staircase that led up to an old ticket booth. A few more sets of stairs on either side led to the Opera House. Wooden floors, incredibly high ceilings, metal chairs with floral cushions, in a word… spectacular! Jo figured it would be complete within two years. We think sooner given the amount of volunteers scurrying around. Oh, and they’re looking for window washers if you make it down this way any time soon.

If you remember Rosie and Allen from yesterday, then you know they volunteer at the American Gothic Centre. It’s a tourism centre located a few steps away from a tiny famous house. The house was the background for the American Gothic painting. 

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Strangely, although the State owns the house, they actually rent it out. The logic behind it is that the exterior of the house is the heritage part, not the interior.

We followed Rosie and Allen, and were soon sitting inside the house talking with Beth, the current renter. Beth has a quite a story. We’re not going to go into it here, but she wrote a book worthwhile reading. 

It’s titled ‘Making Piece - A memoir of love, loss and pie’ by Beth Howard. “You will find my story is a lot like pie, a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s bitter. It’s messy. Its got some sweetness, too. Sometimes the ingredients get added in the wrong order. but it has substance, it will warm your insides. And even though it isn’t perfect, it still turns out okay in the end.”  

Every Friday and Saturday, she opens up her living room to tourists and has tables set up with pies for sale. It’s known as the Pitchfork Pie Stand. Unfortunately her oven was broken and of course she needed it fixed to make this week’s pies. In between telling us stories and posing for our photos, she was on the phone trying to resolve the oven issue.

As we were wrapping up, everyone there suggested we head to a place named Cantril.  “You have to go see the Dutchman’s store!” Apparently it is run by the Mennonites and is supplied by the Amish? We’re weren’t quite sure of those facts but we went there anyway.

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It was a cool old-fashioned store, with bulk spices and candy. Also a section with bolts and bolts of fabric. It was well worth the trip. We enjoyed a bit of a picnic on the porch. While we were there we struck up a conversation with a man named Mike. We told him about our trip and we mentioned the pork tenderloin sandwich we ate last night. His eyes lit up and he said the best tenderloin is in the town of Solon… and that was good enough for us. We were on our way.

Highway 1 was the route. The town of Solon was about two hours away. Unfortunately, the same issue happened today that was prevalent yesterday. No internet service to speak of, so we couldn’t tweet or facebook any of the details. We’ll try again tomorrow. Follow us on twitter and facebook and we’ll ask you which direction to go or what town to visit. So far you’ve been bang on!

As we were driving, Michele spotted a great sky and photo opportunity. We pulled onto a dirt road with some farm buildings in the background high on a hill. Within two minutes a red truck pulled up (the owner). Within three minutes Michele had him convinced to take a photo.

His name was Wynton. He’s been living on and running a farm for 25 years. He gave us a great tour of his several properties, including the ultimate barn/mancave, complete with a vintage corvette, motorcycles, restored tractor, his kids old toys …. a picker’s dream!  We waved goodbye and headed out to find the Iowa’s best tenderloin!

We finally arrived in Solon and drove down main street. There was a building on the corner that had a sign claiming it had the biggest and best tenderloin in Iowa.  We knew we found the place – Joensy’s. 

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Inside we met a woman named Lisa. Her husband practically grew up in the restaurant, as his father had owned it for many years. Now Lisa, her husband Brian and their five girls all run the show.

We sat down and ordered two tenderloin sandwiches, which of course we couldn’t finish… oh and some deep fried pickles. YUM.  The interior was classic with leather benches and wood paneling. It looked as though it hadn’t changed in years - our kind of place. Tonight only Lisa and three of her kids were working and they kindly let us keep them a bit late in order to take their photos. The people here have been incredible for sure!!

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We packed up and headed down the highway a few miles upstate to Mount Vernon. We checked into the hotel and at the front desk met a young woman who we will try to hook up with tomorrow. Right now we are all pretty tired from our day of shooting. We think we have 4 or 5 solid photos and need some more, but tonight we have to rest!

Follow our journey tomorrow on instamapper. We will try to tweet a little more and be more interactive. If you’ve read this far, tell us the classic movie that was filmed here in Iowa. That’s where we’re heading tomorrow. Be the first and you win this shirt!

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Roth and Ramberg attempt to escape

Well, we went to visit our new friend Becky’s antique store this morning, located near downtown Sandwich. We had met Becky at our hotel the night before. Within a few minutes of seeing her this morning, she blurted out “I have your whole itinerary planned for you today. Go book yourself into the hotel again.”  She was half kidding, but she did, in fact, have our day planned for us.

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It started first with meeting her sister, Carolyn, who own the antique store right across the street. Aptly named Two Sisters Antiques. We decided to shoot them outside in front of Carolyn’s store. It seemed simple enough, but we were battling two things. First, the traffic, since the best shot was from the middle of the road. And second, the heat. Another day over 100 F and nothing could stop the sweat dripping from our bodies. The heat was killer, but we all plowed thru. Next stop… back to the Bull Moose, this time for lunch.

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The part of the Bull Moose facing the main street is an old railway car. Attached to the railcar is a decent sized bar. The railway car was one of the original five cars that Teddy Roosevelt traveled around in when he was seeking his third nomination as President of the United States. During one of his trips he was shot mid speech on the train and somehow managed to continued his speech before heading to the hospital, where the attending nurses claimed he was “as strong as a Bull Moose”, hence the name of the restaurant. The owners Ron and Sue had purchased the restaurant back in 2010 and spent a year restoring it to its now beautiful condition. We had another great lunch of sandwiches and then took some photos of Ron and Sue.

In the meantime, our itinerary captain Becky, had arranged for another local man named Ron to tour us around the town. He picked us up and toured us around Sandwich. We saw it all, including main street, his house, lots of amazing historical buildings and the fair grounds. We also saw the school where he and his high school sweetheart and wife of 58 years went. He even treated us to ice cream… now that’s a tour. And then to top it all off we went to visit the Sandwich Police…

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One of the local officers, Rich, was game to have fun so we did a little video and some photos of us being arrested by the Sandwich Police. It was already 4 o’clock and even though Becky had arranged more events, we had to depart. We could have spent our entire trip in Sandwich and been happy. Everyone there was incredible and we are grateful to all the people we met.

One of the locals having lunch at the Bull Moose said “travel down highway 34 and you will get to Iowa eventually”… and so we did.

On our trusty old-school map, we discovered two famous people were born in Illinois: Ronald Reagan and Wyatt Earp. We tweeted out for help to decide where to go and Wyatt Earp won!  (The tweet winner Sue Manzuik will get one of these lovely prizes.)

Thus, we continued down highway 34. We passed a drive thru liquor store near Princeton. We thought it would be a great excuse to buy some beer so we did yet another u-turn and headed back. We mounted a video camera right beside our CB on the dash before driving in… unfortunately, we went through the exit door. The owner firmly told us to go around to the other side and come at it from the right direction. We backed up and swung around to the entrance. When we pulled in, he noticed all the gear on the dash and couldn’t help but ask what it was all about. We told him our long story, during which time we had to drive through the liquor store a couple of times to let other customers thru to buy stuff.

Take a look below and you can see GPS tracking of the never ending drive thru. If you’ve been paying attention throughout our journey, you know if you go to Instamapper, you can see our location at any time along the trip.

It was getting later and later, and we still hadn’t reached Wyatt Earp’s house! The weather changed, a thunderstorm moved in so we took a few scenic photos along the way, until we hit the town of Galesburg.

Now we sit in our hotel just before midnight to push through our blog. Tomorrow, we go find adventure at Wyatt Earp’s birthplace.

Follow along on Twitter and Facebook and you could win a cool trucking t-shirt. Logo designed by our good friend Marie Hohner.

Oh yeah, and speaking of Marie, she came up with Dale’s new CB handle… Hotshoe. Michele is DangerGirl and Dana is AirHornDanny. What’s yours?