This vacation was a lot of things for me, including a painful metaphorical tooth-pulling that I’m still not sure how to process. It’s also the last “free” flight we’ll be able to take with the boy, because you have to purchase a seat for anyone over 2. I wanted to live it up and really enjoy the time but unfortunately there was almost as much bad as good in this trip.
There was at least around a 50/50 ratio, so I’ll take it. I don’t want to get into the dark stuff here, so I’ll share some of my favorite photos and moments.
One of the things I love about home, and one of the things I wanted so desperately to experience, was that lost/forlorn feeling I got while wandering around as a kid. Even family trips and happy experiences were overshadowed by the dark misty trees and mountains. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it has a lot to do with the intensity of my childhood, but whatever the reason the landscape did not disappoint.
This day was special to me for a few reasons, but the one that stands out the most is Ender seeing his first lightning bug. We were hanging out above the falls, mostly playing in the water (he found a new hobby/pastime of throwing rocks in the water…very satisfying.) He’s been talking a lot to or at bugs, notably ants, and will waste an hour on the sidewalk chatting it up incoherently while pointing in excitement at the bug in question. Anyway, he caught sight of the lightning bug and was just about to launch on a tangent when it lit up, and I wish I had a camera recording–his shock and bewilderment were perfect. He didn’t even know what to say.
This next location comes with cool photos, but also a ghost story! We kind of ended up here on accident on the fourth. There was a really cool cemetery and drive we took that I didn’t get photos of, but the mining museum is where we walked until the sun went down. It was so eerie and quiet on the hilltop. The whole community feels the ‘what was’ of this booming mine town, and the lack of income after years of prosperity, but being onsite made that absence almost ominous in a way. Allyn is no stranger to industrial machinery and he and Chris took turns explaining to me what things were. We passed a large building, the old blacksmith and machine shop, and as we walked maybe fifteen, twenty feet away, we heard loud low bootsteps coming from the inside. We all heard them, paused, and listened…we heard them again.
These buildings are boarded up and welded shut, so either it was an old miner, or a heavy, strutting raccoon.
I choose to believe it was the former.
A lot of these photos are low quality–my ‘good’ camera was dead, and I took the point and shoot to capture what was left of the daylight. The weird flash and grain effects remind me of an old Super 8 or budget horror flick filter, so I’m leaving them as-is and enjoying them. One of these days I’d love to see the inside of these buildings, or the top of the sulfuric acid plant, but I’ll trespass when I don’t have a toddler with me.
I didn’t get to go everywhere I wanted to go, but I still had so many memories flood back to me with this last place. My dad and I tried to traverse it when I visited in April, but there was a gate up. The word around town was that the property was private, but I don’t believe that’s the case; the gate looked forest-service in nature and someone had lowered it. Allyn’s theory was that it had been lowered a long amount of time, but I also have to point out that things rust and get ‘grown up’ around in a quarter of the time it would take in Utah, due to the moisture. Whatever the case, the road was open and we were thrilled.
I can’t explain why, as I approach these places, my overwhelming urge to BE THERE!!! (see: Ghost Town, the Lost Sea, the elementary schools…countless others) is slowly infiltrated with fear, or an almost paranoia that I should not be in this area. I want to explain it away as trauma-related, but it feels almost primal, like a snake or a bear or some other totally conceivable predator is nearby. The dread almost adds to the sensation of being home since dread is a pretty good word to use to describe my life, haha. At least, my life before I was eighteen.
I wish that I could just enjoy the surroundings and remember their glory and be thankful they even exist, instead of being torn down into condos or something tragic, but I can’t. I want the brush around home to be burned down. I want the economy to come back. I want kids to roam around again. I want to be closer, so that taking a weekend drive and exploring the areas I grew up is something not strange, novel, or foreign to Ender. It’s a lot of want, and a lot of past heartache, but mixed in with that are all these beautiful, ethereal memories and places.