Even the roadside signs had been vacated.

Grants, New Mexico. Ex-mining ghost town of sorts, at least as far as their main commercial strip goes, one of the many seemingly exsanguinated by the fast food places and chain gas stations clustered by the highway exits. Also unexpectedly home to some of the more impressive public art encountered in small-town america along the way. This gave rise to a story idea involving a town devoured by public art run amok. Clearly, though, this wasn’t what had happened, as we were able to find a cozy local bar in which to shoot pool and take in the karaoke. Then, it was on to Arizona.
(I realize there’s been a gap in this narrative of a couple months, but this continues my attempts to put a month-long road trip from last May entirely onto tumblr.)

Two Guns, Arizona. Road-weary, pulling off at a randomly chosen exit sign in the desert midway to flagstaff, we found ourselves in an eerie non-place.

A modern but gutted gas station gave way to a desolate camping area, but off to the side, barely visible…

We found much older, stranger structures perched over a dry canyon pockmarked with caves. Later, we discovered this to be the remains of a zoo, constructed over “apache death caves” on the edge of “Canyon Diablo” in the first half of the last century.

Earlier, in holbrook:

Santa Fe, New Mexico: A beautiful place to spend your 40th wedding anniversary.

I normally wouldn’t side with drum circles, but they got kicked out of the park by the police at about 9pm, which is lame by any standard, and then we couldn’t find a single open restaurant, anywhere in the downtown.

Also: hypertrophied indigenous parking garages.


As we made our way into Colorado, up and up into the Rockies along the winding of the Colorado river, the weather turned colder, and at somewhere around 10,000 feet above sea level, we found ourselves creeping along the highway in a blizzard (this was late May 2011). Wandering through closed between-season ski resorts, we eventually found shelter in the mountain town of Silverthorne. After our first, more ordinary room lost power suddenly, the very awesome, possibly very stoned night desk guy put us into premium suite, absurdly large and complete with a jacuzzi. 

Stopped off in the hillside city of Jerome in the evening, which none of these photos can possibly do justice to (plus, it was already dusk when we arrived). In person, it’s stunning, houses sticking to the tops of narrow ridges and terraced up near cliffs. But everything seemed closed, until at last we found one long building sticking out over the valley, lit up and with people outside. Asking for a recommendation on a restaurant in town, we were instead invited into a benefit potluck (we never found out for what exactly). Here, it seems, was the entire town, all engaged in in a raffle that seemed to ensure that everyone gave somnething they’d made to someone else the probably knew anyway.

The next day, in Prescott, we heard the following story about Jerome from the girl at a natural foods place called the Honey Man (which was generally awesome): Originally a mining town, then some kind of hippie retreat that got buy selling pot to travelers in the 60s or 70s, basically the entire town got arrested on drug charges. Since arresting an entire town is a pretty terrible prospect, they were, instead, put back to work on community service in their own homes, building the retaining walls, winding roads, and terraces that make up the town today.

Arizona, a day that took us from desert sun to mountain blizzard and beyond. A hard wind came up in Two Guns, and soon heavy clouds were raging across the sky. By Flagstaff, we were getting hit with mid-may snow and hail. After a break, in which we took the worst to be over, we left town only to be hit with near-highway-closing snow and ice on our way south, finally giving way to an actual double rainbow. Then onwards to the mountainside enclave of Jerome.