VFYW: Meep Meep, Window Lovers
For contest #390, an ordinary view of an extraordinary place.
(For the View From Your Window contest, the results below exceed the content limit for Substack’s email service, so to ensure that you see the full results, click the headline above.)
A quick followup from last week’s winner:
I’ll take the two years of free Dish! I’m so chuffed. Thanks so much!
I’m still working on this week’s photo, yikes.
That sentiment was shared by many sleuths this week:
I just LOL’d at this view. Brutal. A featureless storage facility in some dusty desert town, the only distinctive element being some Burner’s hand-painted camper van. The VFYW column is gonna be a good read this week. Can’t wait.
From the super-chef: “I have a word of advice to my fellow sleuths: don’t complain to Chris that the contest was too easy, or he will do this to you.” Even Berkeley struggled:
When this week’s window view was dropped, I would have dropped too — if I hadn’t already been on a floor mat doing leg lifts. I thought, “What kind of maniac thought this could be a good photo for the contest?” — along with expletives. I mean, “So long streak! Topped out at 37! If Chini isn’t the only one who solves this, I’ll plotz.”
Half the photo is sky, which doesn’t help, and about a third of what’s left is hidden behind foliage. But the remainder is stunningly unpromising. Someone could live around the corner from this scene and not recognize it. We’re shown the unremarkable loading-dock side of what looks like an unremarkable strip mall in the US. In front of that is an even less remarkable self-storage lot, and in front of that a single row of hotel parking spaces. All of it is framed by the thinnest ribbon of a distant and equally unremarkable ridge, which stretches across the roofline of the strip mall.
But you aren’t a maniac after all, because this place turned out to be findable. Nothing in the view wound up being quite as generic as it’d first appeared, meaning my streak managed to pull a Lazarus and it notched its number 38 in a row.
From another previous winner:
Well, it sure feels like we are back to school with this week’s assignment!
This view is incredibly challenging, and the closest I could get was discovering that there are approximately 200 ADT locations across the United States, and 22 states that don’t have front-license-plate requirements. Plus we got mountains. So I should be able to do better than simply say somewhere in Maine or Pennsylvania. Alas, that’s all I muster this week. #crestfallen.
The “mediocre super-sleuth in NYC” digs into storage:
Having stared at the this week’s view for a while, I feel the need to invoke John McEnroe: “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!” I got the Mobile Mini sign on the metal storage units, but they’re a global company at this point, so not much help. The hacienda-style wood trellis would seem to point to a location somewhere in the American Southwest or further south. The rest of the building doesn’t offer any clues. Maybe sleuths who know their landscapes will recognize the hills beyond.
All that is left to do is search images of storage facilities. But, OMG, who knew there are more than 52,000 storage facilities in the US?! That’s more than the combined number of Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Huts and Wendy’s. More fun storage facility facts: It is a monster $38 billion annual industry. There are over two billion square feet of storage in the US, in more than 23 million individual units. One in 11 Americans rents space.
Surprisingly, the contents of 155,000 units are auctioned off every year due to non-payment. The contents of Paris Hilton’s storage unit netted the next owner over $10 million. Burt Reynolds’ memorabilia, including the Deliverance canoe, was abandoned. The very first Superman comic book, Atomic Comic #1, was found in a unit and returned to its rightful owner, Nicolas Cage.
As always, George Carlin has the definitive take on “stuff”:
As for the view, I’m stumped; but I was inspired to clear out my closets. For next week, please pick a view that will inspire wanderlust.
This view is actually the city and surrounding area that inspired the most wanderlust during my three years of Airstreaming around the US, and most of my best memories were there. From a newbie in Houston:
Somewhere in the US where it rains on occasion, so that rules out Texas. I’ll go with Atlanta for the proximity win.
From a sleuth in NYC:
My wife took one look at the picture, said “Idaho,” and I’ll be damned but there’s a Mobile Mini location in Nampa, Idaho. So let’s give it a shot! If she’s right I will never live this down.
Not Nampa. From the super-sleuth in Yarrow Point:
After last week’s miss, I decided to try harder this week, devoting a cool Sunday morning to the effort. All I can say is … Wow. Last week’s VFYW had me howling at hanging chads, and gritting my teeth in a can’t-drag-my-eyes-away grimace at hyena lady-dicks. This week’s VFYW had me shaking my head at so … many … storage … units. I imagine my face looks like this:
I was visiting my parents last week, driving my 85-year-old mother around doing errands, and she commented on all the storage facilities that have popped up around where they live. “What do you think they keep in all those?” she asked. “Dead bodies,” I answered. She never did understand my sense of humor.
I know this week’s window is in the US or Canada, because of the Mobile Mini and ADT brands we see in the photo. There are mountains without snow, a distribution center of some sort, and parked RVs (one colorful one from which the local drug dealer pretends to sell ice cream, I imagine). The red circles on the two-story building will probably reveal some important clue, but try as I might, I can’t make anything out in them.
So my guess is Patience, Colorado — a village in the middle of nowhere, “three hours from the nearest city on roads that are impassable half the year”:
For those of you who don’t recognize Patience, it’s the fictional town featured in one of my favorite shows, Resident Alien on the SyFy channel. Give it a try — Alan Tudyk is hysterical as the alien who crashed on Earth and steals a quirky small-town doctor’s identity in order to survive:
After hanging up my cleats on finding the location of this week’s contest, I instead focused on the striking upper-half of the photo. It’s quite beautiful:
The view’s cloud is a cumulonimbus, threatening a thunderstorm. Did you know cumulonimbus cells usually dissipate within an hour once the rain starts falling? Neither did I.
I also didn’t know the sky changes colors at sunrise and sunset because of a phenomenon called scattering. When the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more atmosphere, which means more molecules scatter the blue light away from your line of sight. Yellow, orange and red have longer wavelengths. That’s why the sky changes to these colors during sunrise and sunset.
And this is why I’m hooked on the VFYW contest. You never know what tidbit will catch your eye, or what some other sleuth will write about. Keep up the good work — it’s SO appreciated!
Always appreciated are the bird’s-eye views from Chini:
From the super-sleuth in Kingston:
I have been using Bing AI recently and loving it until now. When I asked ChatGPT about Mobile Mini locations in the States, it said Decatur, Georgia has the most —two. Bing also provided a link, which was to Decatur. I then asked if Decatur had a Mobile Mini location, and it responded that it did not. Bing also said that there were 128 locations in the US, but Wikipedia claims there are 177 as of October 2022.
I guess Bing AI can be no better than the information on the ‘Net. Mobile Mini has its head office in Phoenix, so that is my guess.
Another guess for Arizona:
Wow, this week is tough! I don’t see anything that could help people zero in, but no doubt some of your sleuths will find something — those circular red signs under the lights?! The mountains in the background look like the Southwest to me, and both Arizona and New Mexico do not require front license plates ... so my stab in the desert is Tucson, AZ.
The SF super-sleuth reminds us, “I recall the view of Indianapolis in which I learned (by reading the wiser sleuths) that certain states only require one license plate.” Another Tucson guesser writes, “I think the Mobile Mini is a red herring and I’m convinced that it’s either the transmission poles or the mountain tops that are the only real clues to this pic.” Another:
Gah, I’m tired of looking at self-storage units on the interwebs. The picture says “southwest United States” to me, so I’m guessing Carson City, NV based solely on a gut feeling.
Not Nevada. The Berkeley champ names the right mountain range:
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