Not so ‘Empty’ Places

I was given the road trip bug by my dad, many years ago. I grew up in the 50’s in a small town in Maine, my Dad owned a Chevy dealership, we could always hit the road in the fattest newest Chevy, always in summer.
(You wouldn’t want to do a road trip in Maine in the winter, no way.)
We traveled all over New England, eastern Canada, many, many places.
My dad was something of an amateur photographer, and shot a lot of pix, Kodachrome.
Do you remember Kodachrome?
On cold stormy snowy nights, he would break out the carousel projector, the screen, we’d all gather ’round and watch… and talk… reminisce… about the trip.

I still do the same now, take alotta pictures along the way, but with different motives and tools.
And i do the same sort of reminiscing, on rainy nights when I am far from the So.Cal. deserts – this seems to be where i take these shots, see these things, things that strike me as being ‘special’.

At some points along the road you will come upon places/scenes/views.. that will carve a memory into your mind.

Sure, I’ll shoot some pix, film, digital, or both but even if i didn’t do that, i would still remember the view, the feeling… the sense that i was stumbling upon/ into something special. What i was seeing was there to tell me something, if only I have the.. ‘capacity to accept/understand’.

Here’s a few of those places…hope you find a few of your own.

2_078EmptyNavajoStoreSouthern Utah, a lonely empty store. I guess someone tried to make a go of it, but failed.
They left some wisdom for all who passed by…. IF they were willing to listen.
Inside the store? this painted panel:

3_Dreamcatchers“…Good dreams simply slipped through the center hole in the web onto the one who’s sleeping”
When you’ve figured that one out, please, let me know.
The Navajo have tried to make a living here, they have their lands… but their land is so inhospitable, you have no have no idea, until you’ve visited.

7_JaggedHills_76Above is alot of the California landscape, rough, ragged and many times impenetrable.

Somewhere along a So. Cal. desert road, i came to 90 degree turn, with two ‘ranches’ on either side of the road, one of them called itself the ‘No-Gotta Ranch'(a pretty good description). Turn 45 degrees to the right from the entrance to the “No Gotta ranch’, and this is what you’ll see – a traffic sign.

8_NextToNoGottaRanchWhat traffic is there here? Next to none. So why the traffic sign? Do we need to direct anyone here? No one is here, No one is listening or cares… but there’s still a sign. WTF?!


Here’s a nice old song about signs, skip the ad, you’ll like the song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D59ZWa8ehgI

Some places you are NOT welcome….
An entrance to another place that’s about as prosperous as the ‘no gotta’ ranch.
9_NoTrespassingThough you can’t read them in this size jpeg, trust me, the signs clearly tell you that you have no business going further.
Why do people live out here?… and why do they want to be left totally alone?
Don’t ask them. They would tell you that if you don’t understand, you have no business here.

OwensValleyLeaving Death Valley, driving west, thru Owens Valley, and ascending once again, i stop at a turn out. I stop at any turnout, just to check out the view, they are few and far between, way too rare to pass by.
When i look back across where i have travelled, this is the view.
The road is being slowly taken over by shadow, the road sign points to ‘curvy road’ ahead (in this case, behind me). Oh yeah, you betcha, curvey indeed.
In the distance, mountains rise, separating you from where you were only hours ago, Death Valley.
My ‘memory/take-away’ from this? I guess it’s about geology, the incredible forces that made this view over millions of years. And also about how much water it took to create this view. Even though there is little here now. Yes, that’s right, water – it grinds down mountains, leaves long gently sloping grades in the land, called ‘alluvial plains’.
Last but not least… “how small we are, how short our stay here.”

NoGoCones_2139Here are the usual ‘warning’ cones, you’ve seen them many times in much more urban settings, for good reason. But here? they are totally out of place, easy to bypass.
The larger question is… who put these cones here? and why did they do it? and why did they think they could prevent anyone passing?
I like questions that have no easy or obvious answers. Enigmas are thought provoking, be happy when you bump into one.

This is my favorite ‘it happens in a heartbeat, it’ll be gone just as fast’ image from the last 10 years or so:

1_WalkinTheLineSouthern Utah… i had stopped to examine something, not sure what… on the way back to the car, this is what i saw: my long shadow, and even longer road, and the moon (infinitely further away) all lined up, some kind of cosmic alignment, that exists for a few minutes.
My shadow? gone as soon as i move… and the sun sets.
The road?…. will last a while longer…
The moon?… well, let’s hope it keeps spinning the ocean tides for a nice long time.

Lesson? …we are small, insignificant creatures. Get used to it, tread lightly on the earth, you will soon be gone.
Some old buddhist(?) wisdom – ‘life is a bridge, pass over it, leave no monuments’.

1152ThePeopleAreHereIn spite of the brevity of lives, we can still communicate even though separated by hundreds (or thousands) of years, and huge cultural divides.
I can translate this one (above) easily, i have seen the same symbol, human figure, in many petroglyphs, it is also carved in the vertical rock below the Cliff House ruins in Canyon de Chelly, it means ‘the people’. This one was carved into a rock on the trail to a tinaja (spanish for ‘a place where water collects’) in Red Rock Canyon, outside Las Vegas.
To translate further, including the arrow, ‘the people are here, just around the bend’.

A couple of other totally unique places that are now gone?

Bonk’s Jawbone Canyon store, outside Mojave CA:

4_BonksStorefrontAnd “Moby’s Place’ somewhere in the Antelope Vally, CA:

10_MobysBoth are gone, but definitely NOT forgotten here!

On the topic of petroglyphs?… a number of interesting links:

http://digital-desert.com/mojave-river-petroglyphs/
(miserable web design… but some interesting links)

http://aeve.com/route-66/
http://desertgazette.com/blog/
http://digital-desert.com/ghost-towns/
http://mojavedesertrockart.com/rock-art-gallery/swansea-ca-petroglyphs/

As always, hope you’ve enjoyed the read above, and the road, where ever it takes you.