Saturday, August 20, 2005

scattered travelogue day 4: a scary looking guy recommends a ghost town (Thompson, Utah)

"I see you're takin' pictures all 'round town," said the bearded guy. The sun-tanned flesh of his cheek was up, hinting a sort of smile, but his eyes were murky behind the gold-rimmed sun glasses. Uh-oh, I thought. Instantly, an unsettling image creeped into my head: Patrick and me damped in one of the shrubbery field with bleeding bullet holes in our stomachs, arms dangling, and the guy triumphantly striding back to his blue beat-up Chevy van, proud of his service for the protection of his community from disrespectful intruders from a big city. Patrick seemed to feel the same way. He kept a safe distance from him as he politely talked to the guy, with stretched smile on his face.

"Have you seen the pictoglyphs on the cliff?" he asked, and started a long explanation of what they look like and what they are--something we already knew (for we'd been there earlier) but we didn't feel secure enough to risk offending the guy by interrupting him. So we listened. Patiently, like two kindergarten kids, well-behaved yet still jittery inside. "If you like taking pictures, there's something else up the road, too," the guy continued. His smile started to look genuine. Maybe he's just a friendly local guy, not a wacko, I thought.

"If you take the dirt road from the pictoglyphs and take the first major right, and drive about a mile or so, there's a ghost town called Sego Canyon. There used to be a coal mine there, but it's deserted now. The road isn't paved, but as I look at your vehicle (Chevy Cobalt), you've got high enough clearance."

"Hah, that sounds really interesting. Wanna go?" I asked Patrick. He smiled, said yeah, and thanked the guy for the information.

As he climbed back to the blue van, the guy looked back at us and said: "Don't worry, there's not many people in Thompson who shoot at you for taking pictures. We just stop by and say hi." He laughe out loud, amused by his own joke, and drove off. There was something in the tone of his voice that made me nervous again. I couldn't quite decide whether he was joking in good humor or not.

"I was almost sure he was just being nice," I said, after making sure the blue van had sped away. But oh, man are we going to run into him once we're in the deserted town (thus no witnesses), armed with a fully-loaded machine gun, grinning psychotically on the roof of his beat-up van? That's still quite possible, but I do want to see the ghost town--my mind was ripped into a thousand pieces. Finally, either rationality or curiosity won over the battle and we decided to take a detour. Yet, the creeping doubt still lingered on the back of my mind. Would we be really safe there...?


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