Whenever I discover a good junk shop, my final act, after exploring every other dusty crevice for oddball antiques and rare tiki finds, is to locate the inevitable box full of other people's old photographs. I'll then spend an hour or two rustling through fragile, curled bits of paper, picking out the most unusual and enigmatic shots from the lives of people I've never met.

Until now, I've simply added all my photographic finds to a collection accumulating in my closet. Starting today, however, that collection will reside at Junk Shop Photos, a new photographic blog featuring all the unusual snapshots I've liberated from dust-covered obscurity.

Check them out, rate them and, by all means, add you own captions!

Those of us who tour the nation's roadside attractions on a budget depend on many of the amenities offered by those who provide us lodging: free shampoo, free coffee, free breakfast and enough towels to wash off a long day on the road.

According to an article published yesterday by The Wall Street Journal, however, chains are starting to eliminate many of those freebies in response to the weak economy. Some items are simply being moved behind the front desk, others like towels are being reduced, while still others like free coffee are being cut entirely.

Most of the hotels mentioned in the article carry names like Marriott, Wyndham and Ritz-Carlton — not the sort of places we detourists usually settle down for the night — but you can bet the budget motels will be following suit. The good news is they're reportedly cutting their rates, as well, hoping to draw more motorists back out on the road. Let's just hope they don't start charging for all the free wifi they've installed the last few years. ... Continued

Apparently, the Far East is absolutely littered with amusement parks that just didn't fare so well. Left to the elements, their Ferris wheels, coasters and midways have quickly succumbed to the elements, creating magnificently surreal worlds of their own. Dark Roasted Blend, in a third installment to their series on abandoned amusement parks, takes a look at abandoned parks in South Korea, China, Laos and Japan through the photography of the urban explorers lucky enough to visit them. Be sure not to miss the first two parts, as well, linked below.

Entertainment Earth, purveyor of fine collectibles like the much-beloved Big Lebowski action figure, has recently announced the release of a new Cryptozoological Play Set.

The five-character set includes Mothman, the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra, Nessie and, of course, Bigfoot.

According to their Web site, the set won't be available until next month, but they're taking orders now. Listed price: $14.99.

When master carpenter Carlos Alberto of Portugal decided to restore an old Italian Vespa, he did it the best way he knew how: with chisels.

According to moto-blog Jalopnik, Alberto acquired the scooter in complete disrepair, so he built a whole new body for it entirely out of wood, including the seat, headlamp, kickstand, controls and wheel hubs. The whole thing is finished in steam-molded veneer, resulting in a true ligneous masterpiece. And yes, it really works.

A gallery of the work's progression is available at Alberto's Web site.

Roadside Resort reader Neil has reminded me of a terrific blog featuring articles from the now defunct Modern Mechanix, a science and technology magazine first published in the late 1920s to compete with the already successful Popular Science and Popular Mechanics.

Many articles, like those of its competitors, were simply outrageous. Two of Neil's favorites cover a 1934 plan to dam up and fill in the Hudson River to reconnect Manhattan Island with the mainland and a 1932 proposal to convert city intersections to two under-over levels topped by a high-rise, eliminating traffic signals (and also, apparently, left turns). ... Continued

For reasons I can't sufficiently justify, I've taken a picture of every motel room I've stayed in for a little more than the past four years. I haven't the slightest idea what I plan to do with all of them, but once you start an obsessive hobby, it's hard to stop.

Regardless, none of the rooms I've photographed compare to the stylish and colorful midcentury lodgings pictured in Flickr user Roadsidepictures' collection of motel-room postcards.

Few vehicles capture the classic midcentury spirit like the Italian Vespa, a time-honored mode of transport that has maintained its stylish and practical design even into the 21st century.

If my circumstances permitted, I'd get my hands on a classic model myself and use it as my primary source of transportation. Unfortunately, the sprawling layout of Texas just doesn't accommodate the use of such a practical vehicle.

Still, that won't stop me from enjoying Huro Kitty's collection of vintage Vespa imagery as recently featured on D+R.

And if you like those, you'll also like the photographs of the exhibits and collections from the Piaggio Museum, the official museum of the Vespa's manufacturer located in Pontedera, Italy.

Sure, you can rely on the motel wake-up call if you want to, but I personally prefer a backup. If I oversleep and miss the golden hour because some lobby jockey didn't set the time right, the rest of my day is shot.

The problem is, nearly all travel alarm clocks are either too gimmicky or just plain junk. But I may have found the perfect bedside buzzer in Industrial Facility's Jetlag.

The Jetlag does exactly and only what a travel timepiece should. The display, split in half, shows both the current time and the alarm time, all the time, so there's never any question what it's set to. Plus, each half has its own +/- button, making it almost impossible to screw things up. A switch on the underside allows you to lock the settings, so you can't accidentally change them.

The design is so simple, it's rendered an instruction manual completely unnecessary and has almost entirely eliminated the possibility of setting the alarm incorrectly while exhausted, and possibly drunk, in a foreign environment. ... Continued

For years I've assumed that one of mankind's greatest fantasies has been to develop a practical, personal jetpack. But if the covers of Popular Science serve as any measure for this sort of thing, then it seems that for the past few decades man's been dreaming less about rocketing through the sky than he has about riding in some kind of giant wheel.

The revelation struck me as I was skimming Google's new archive of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines for interesting cover art. As I quickly realized, the magazines' covers featured some crazy new vehicle every few years eschewing the apparently pesky and cumbersome multiwheel concept in favor of one enormous gyre.

Of course, once I noticed the pattern, I had to go back and scan all the issues methodically to see just how many variations have appeared over the generations. ... Continued