I can't tell you how many times people have recommended I start carrying a portable black light with me on the road. Useful as it may be to detect those unmentionable mattress deposits left by former guests of motels I happen to stay at, I prefer not to think about it and just take a nice long shower in the morning.

If it's something you find just too jeebie to get past, though, I've come across an alternative you might want to look into. Called the TravelFresh Sleep Sack, it's like a full-body, cotton-blend condom made specifically for motel stays and designed to protect you from both foreign fluids and biting bedbugs.

Just slip it between the flat and fitted sheets and crawl inside. It measures 43 inches by 93 inches — larger than an average adult-size sleeping bag — but folds into a pouch no larger than a pair or two of socks. Plus, it features a built-in pocket into which you can slip a motel-provided pillow, so you don't have to schlep your own.

While on the road, I always try and remember to pick up a postcard or two every place I stop. And though I've got more than I can count by now, my favorite remains this art deco number I picked up a few years ago at Carlsbad Caverns.

With minimal colors and organic, yet uncluttered lines, it portrays the majesty and scale of New Mexico's grand cave formations in a style that's unmistakably 1930s.

What I discovered much later was that this design was just one in a larger body of work commissioned by the Works Project Administration. From 1935 to 1943, the Federal Art Project hired artists to create numerous cultural and public-safety posters, which included several works encouraging citizens to visit the country's National Parks and natural wonders.

In a tangential activity that took up most of my afternoon, I perused the "By the People, For the People" archive at the Library of Congress, which holds more than 900 of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist. ... Continued

The biggest catsup bottle in the world, located in Collinsville, Illinois, is currently enjoying a refinish in anticipation of its 60th anniversary.

The 70-foot-tall bottle was erected in 1949 above the Brooks bottling factory and served as the company's water supply. When the plant shut down, locals organized a preservation group to make sure the bottle was protected and cared for. In 2002, the landmark was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.

Reinneck Industrial Coating, the firm working on the new paint job, says it should be ready in time for the 11th Annual Brooks World's Largest Catsup Bottle Festival Birthday Party and Car Show on July 12th.

When complete, the latest renovation will have consumed about 80 gallons of paint in four different colors: blue, white and two kinds of red.

About a month ago, I wrote about the hideous Inhalt camper, a travel trailer that took a comfortable-looking mobile home and wrapped it in a huge, partially digested chunk of white chocolate.

Thankfully, the future holds alternatives, a couple of which actually look pretty promising. WebUrbanist has put together a list of some of the most recent concepts to hit the drawing board.

Personally, I prefer the classically styled, teardrop-inspired T@b, pictured here ... despite the stupid name.

The portable-digital-wireless age, with its mapping software and GPS tools, has been a boon to those of us who love to venture down back roads in search of the unusual without fear of getting irretrievably lost and forced to sleep in the car behind an abandoned taco stand.

Still, it's not unusual to find oneself with an old-fashioned paper map that we were forced to buy at a gas station after our wireless service failed us or we discovered that the online map for a particular region just isn't as up-to-date as we had hoped it would be.

For just those circumstances, the Web site Map Reading offers a couple of nifty methods for folding those paper projections without suffering the dreaded "map wad."

With summer in full swing, detourists are hitting the road in search of roadside attractions and capturing their adventures with their brand new digital cameras. Unfortunately, many of them will subsequently bring home a slideshow full of mediocre photos they'll force on the rest of us.

Before you commit the same faux pas, you might want to peruse a few of the links below offering helpful tips on taking better photos while out and about.

And if you're in the market for a new camera, Consumer Reports recently posted a list of cameras they recommend specifically for travel.

Last month, I received word that the incredible Googie sign that had stood in front of the Sigel's Liquor here in Dallas since 1953 was coming down with the razing of said location. Thankfully, Sigel's was smart enough to preserve the sign, planning to erect it again in front of another of their stores.

Well, I just got word that, after a month's wait, the sign will finally be installed at their outlet in Addison, Texas, tomorrow morning at 9:00.

If you can't make it, Sigel's rep Jasper Russo says there will be an official dedication sometime next month.

We are still planning a dedication ceremony and sales event for the formal recommissioning of the sign. This will probably happen after the 4th of July and will feature a 1950s theme, including a sale featuring a number of high profile wines and spirits at 50% off.

The new location is at 15003 Inwood Road.

The Haunted Lamp has just posted their second installment of vintage neon illustrations from a rescued 1950s sign catalog.

Apparently, the catalog includes specifications for building each sign. As noted, "The giant chicken is to be executed in clear fiberglass and lit from within."

Anyone else ever discover such a catalog? I'd love to see it!

A razor that dispenses its own shaving cream and a toothbrush that applies its own toothpaste? I love technology.

With as much stuff as I have to lug with me on the road, I'm always looking for ways to lighten the load, or at least make things more compact. Enter ShaveMate's Titan 6 razor and the OHSO compact toothbrush.

The Titan, along with its stereotypically pink lady version, the Diva, eliminates the need to pack a bulky can of shaving cream by storing the foamy lubricant in its own handle. ShaveMate says the Titan holds enough cream for up to a week's worth of shaves. Plus, it's cheap: you can find a three-pack of the disposable razors for around $9.99.

Even niftier is the OHSO Travel Toothbrush. Available in a variety of colors, the OHSO is about the size of a Marks-A-Lot marker. Turn the knob on the end and it dispenses toothpaste directly into the bristles of the brush head, which is itself replaceable. ... Continued

Check out these eerily beguiling images mined from a 1958 catalog on neon-sign design, which I spotted over at The Haunted Lamp.

As one visitor put it:

What happened to design? What happened to style? What happened?

Yeah, future ... let's hear it!