Lost In Hardman

I rediscovered this picture while rifling through a stack of slide pages the other day, and the long-ago moods attached to it—of subject and circumstances—were as fresh as ever.

Hardman, Oregon, was a popular ghost town in the ’60s and ’70s (I would say is except I haven’t returned, and can’t vouch for its present condition), and late one summer day in 1978 my tripod straddled the center line on the secondary highway that divided its few remaining structures. A friend’s tripod stood nearby, and we were mesmerized by the light fantastic reflected onto those four panes. The vibrant colors we focused on were courtesy of a bank of high clouds far to the west—the landscape itself had turned quite dark, as this was nearly an hour after sunset.

Darkness finally ended our shooting, and the sensation I experienced then may be similar to that of someone waking from a hypnotic trance—”I’ll count to three now and when I snap my fingers…”—I looked around and wondered “How did I get HERE?” I was suddenly back in the moment, with 400 miles to go before I slept (work the next morning came at 8 o’clock).

My friend and I used up all the bad jokes we knew on the drive home, stopped for coffee where we could find it, and straggled into Eugene as the sun peeked over the Coburg Hills. I’d only slapped myself a couple of times en route, had a picture I really liked (and still do), and learned another important lesson from The Road.

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t get lost in a place like Hardman.


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