Sunday, March 8, 2009
Day Six - Ghost Town
It's time for me to take advantage of this weather.
No, it's not warm out (it was when I first got here, but the last couple of days have been chilly and very windy) but the sun is shining bright, and the wind has calmed down.
It's still cold... but it's a dry cold.
I hop into my Vibe (mine for another week, at least) and drive out to take photographs of the next town to the West of Eastend. Robsart.
Recent census reports have put the population of Robsart at anywhere between 11 and 8. Locals think that is a stretch. They only know of one family that lives there, on a farm. (Livestock outnumbers people in this area, and possibly in all of the province.)
I start up the hill, and see the cliffs on either side of me. As I rise to the plateau, I can see the valley spread out before me, and the prairies that go on until the eye can no longer see.
Robsart is over 40 miles away, and I have 1/2 tank of gas. I should have no problem getting there and back (I end up only using less than a quarter tank round trip, and have 700 free miles for my rental). But, as I see desolate flatness, and near total lack of civilization, I start to worry a bit.
"What if the car breaks down, or I get a flat?"
"Will there be anyone who can help me out?"
"How many cars will pass by?"
"Will there be anyone at all?"
There is a little bit of traffic. Once every 5 minutes or so, a car or a truck passes. They often wave at you as they go by... which I found confusing the first time this happened (when I was in Wyoming in the early '90s) Instinctively, I stopped the car, got out and checked my tires... nothing wrong.
They were just being friendly.
What is this friendliness thing?
In New England, when someone waves at you from their car, it's usually not with the whole hand... it's just with on finger!
My fears are subsided when I see the sign for Robsart. I almost miss it, because you can barely notice there is a town at all. But I slow down, and I turn left to discover a cluster of old houses. Most of them look dilapidated, and some are boarded up. I notice some of the derelict abodes still have Christmas lights hanging outside.
"For how many years?" I wonder.
The outside temperature reads 2 degrees, but the sunlight is deceptive. It seems like it should be warmer, but it's not. I still inside my car to take my shots. I roll down the windows to get a clear image, and feel the cold on my face, and in my nostrils/lungs. I had thought to go inside a few of these places to get intimate photos of the ghost houses, but not in these conditions.
I do notice one car idling with an old man inside. "Somebody does live here" I thought. He doesn't look too friendly. he wonders what I am up to, I'll bet. many artists and passers-through take pictures of this area, so he probably does not have to wonder much.
I'm not a vandal... there's nothing to steal!
I keep driving slowly, and shoot more pictures.
Just as I reach a spot where I discover a yard full of old junk cars on my right... I am startled by a large black dog, that comes out of nowhere from my left. Behind this animal is a house that has 2 functional looking cars in the driveway.
"okay, there's one more confirmed resident, at least."
I stop the car, snap the dog's picture, and slowly back the car up... which now convinces the dog that he has the 'upper paw' on me, and keeps up it's dogged pursuit.
I take a few more pictures of an intersection to nowhere, and head back to Eastend. (seeing a herd of 50 deer in one field, and a white horse against the white landscape... which I would have missed, had it not been for the dark object behind it!)