Wednesday, August 17, 2005

scattered travelogue day 4: "I see you're takin' pictures all 'round town" (Thompson)

This is a part of my recent trip to Northeast corner of Utah and drive back and forth on I-70 between Denver, CO and Moab, UT.

From time to time, tiny, bipedal kangaroo rats with long tails scurried across the roughly paved road, disappearing into green shrubs that leaned over to the charcoal-colored road. The sky was infinitely blue, the colorful sandstone cliffs towered a few hundreds yards behind the sage-green field. Surely it hadn't changed much since the times of the Native Americans when they left the amazing petroglyphs which were destined to last for thousands of years. We were driving back to the I-70, enjoying the brief fresh breeze coming through the rolled-down windows. My upper left arm had started to toast under the direct sunlight. A coyote trotted along the edge of the road in a distance and went into the thick bush with a swing of its black-tipped tail. A few minutes later, the road wound back into the dying town of Thompson and came to a railroad crossing. Patrick photographed a house, whose wire fence boasted a dozen of cows' pelvises, dry and white after years under the cleansing sun. With curiosity, as we waited for a railroad maintenance truck to move out of the way, we looked around the town with a feel of the end of the world; the town was described as having "a gas station, a cafe, and a general store" in Lonely Planet, and the faded facade of the cafe told us that it had closed a long time ago.

"Wow! Turn around!" Patrick exclaimed, a few feet past the railroad crossing. "There was an abandoned motel. Turn around and make a left." I did, and there it was, a strip of parking lot filled with a congregation of tumble weeds (which I saw for the first time in my life) and a stretch of small motel rooms with faded pink walls. Most of the glass windows had been broken and the once-colorfully-painted doors were ajar, exposing the dim interior of the incredibly tiny motel rooms, probably 10 ft. by 10 ft. at the maximum. Some rooms still had furniture--moldy armchairs, clouded mirrors, veneer cabinets from which one or two layers were peeling off. The floor was covered with a long-fibred carpet of mixed colors--cream, brown, and white--exactly the same hideous one my room in our house from the '50s was originally decorated with. On the interior walls, somebody had left tens of white handprints, adding more to the abundant creepiness of the decrepit establishment.

check-in here
door to the front office

I see you toilet
one of the vacated rooms

then there was light, more intense than anyone could ever take
in the front office

sweet wasn't no thing
another view of the front office (the graffiti says "sweet ain't no thing!")

I was peeking into what used to be the front office, very carefully through the sharp broken glass of a window, when a blue beat-up Chevy van pulled up. A chunky bearded guy with dark sunglasses and a meager pony tail (he was mostly bald) came out, looked around, like a hawk scanning a field for a prey. I smelled trouble.

"Good day," he said, grinning behind his dark glasses. "I see you're takin' pictures all 'round town."

(to be continued, obviously)


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