There are many adjectives available to describe things that have been discarded and are now…in limbo. Besides hopeless, derelict, abandoned, neglected, rundown, eroding and decaying are also good fits for this truck and trailer I came upon recently. And for a photographer, there’s one more—opportunity.
Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard.
We needn’t look far to discover circles.
I wanted to sleep in yesterday. Go easy on a sore back muscle. Putter around the office. Do basically nothing with my time. Instead I got up, showered and dressed and loaded my camera gear in the car, and drove south to the Duchess Sanctuary. Kathy could have gone without me (she gave me an out), but I didn’t want her to drive alone. And we like to travel together—the distance doesn’t matter.
Two hours later I’d left her at Duchess and was in Oakland, sitting at a window table in The Hollow Coffeehouse, the daily paper and a brevé my only concerns. Outside, the hustle of heavy equipment offered a soothing bass soundtrack to the morning as the main road through town was repaved. An older couple sat at an adjoining table, and within a few minutes I’d moved over to a sofa to better hear Tom and Marcie, who I learned also enjoy traveling together. For an hour and a half we traded stories and talked about everything from genealogy to traveling in England to pictures. Tom served in the Navy during the Korean War, and told me about the children who visited his ship during one Christmas there—I didn’t need the black and white photos he took to see their mystified faces as they ate ice cream for the first time. Marcie said at 80 they still follow the same routine they’ve always had, up early and moving.
When they left I finished my drink and went out to see if the light was right for shooting photos of a nearby wall covered in rusted, dented, corrugated metal. Still in shade, that would wait until later, after lunch, when we shared a table at the Grist Mill Cafe with two Duchess volunteers who’d followed us back to town. When I finally set up my tripod and shot the wall it seemed somewhat anticlimactic to the rest of the day, but like the coffee and conversations, it has its own fine edges.
Because of deep, soft sands, an early start is sensible when you’re making a day-trip into Arizona’s South Coyote Buttes area, and the sun hadn’t cleared the higher hills when I turned off of House Rock Valley Road onto a narrower BLM road. We’d driven twenty miles to the junction—another fifteen and we’d be at White Pocket.
It’s slow-going over raw, geologic country from that point on, and then half-way out the rough track meets another and you’ve arrived at Poverty Flats. The name fits—before nature and neglect worked it over there were a couple of attempts at buildings, but a creaking pump drawing water for the cattle who graze here is the only suggestion of human presence.
A dilapidated little shed sits off by itself, the walls are collapsing in another structure, and scattered around are sheets of corrugated metal, wire, weathered wood, a box springs, a rusting refrigerator—in fact, the only thing missing was a sign declaring PHOTOGRAPHERS WANTED.
But they didn’t have to advertise—how could anyone pass up this treasure?