Procuring a neon sign like the ones that hang in bars and restaurants is not as easy task. The owners typically do not want to rid themselves of the neons until they are no longer working. They may not have one of your favorite drink. Even if they do, you might not know anyone well enough to get your hands on one.
Luckily for me I do know a bar owner who has lots of neons, including a number of older ones that are in storage. A lot of them, but not all, are broken. I like Coors Light, and like most domestic beer companies they make a lot of neon signs.
My own problem was the neon I wanted was in Kansas City and I live in Las Vegas.
Neon signs do not ship very well. They are lightweight and fragile. The aforementioned bar owner once went to a specialized shipping company to send one to his father-in-law in California. It arrived broken.
Upon receiving my neon back in August I took it to a UPS Store to have it expertly packed in bubble wrap and styrofoam worms so I could carry it on the plane for my ride home. Unfortunately, the sign was so well packed the box was too big to carry on. There was no way I was going to check the box at the airlines. Have you ever seen how dinged up your regular luggage gets?
So the neon odyssey began. How was I going to get this neon from Kansas City to Las Vegas without making a more than a 2,700 mile round trip drive?
I caught a break in the Fall when my friend Dr. Duane left his teaching position at the University of Kansas for Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. He was driving back to Kansas to visit his family at Thanksgiving. Would it be possible he could pick up my neon and bring it back West? Absolutely.
Unfortunately, bad weather led him to take the southern route from Kansas back to Malibu (instead of the Denver to Las Vegas route). At least my neon was now just a eight-hour round trip away, instead of a four-day round trip drive.
This weekend I finished the journey. I made the short trek to Los Angeles. We played a little poker at Hollywood Park, watched some NFL playoff action and packed the neon in my car.
I made the drive back to Vegas today. As soon as I got home I carefully cut away all the bubble wrap, held my breath for a second while I plugged the sign in, and…it lit up nicely.
Thanks to a little patience and a little luck the procurement of my neon sign was complete.