Friday, October 03, 2014

Lost River Valley Road Trip, Day Two

September 28, 2014

Sink, Arco, Idaho

It rained all night. In the morning, it was still raining. The sky was dark and the clouds low in the valley. I wasn’t climbing today. I planned on waiting out the rain at least one more day. Today I thought I would revisit a photo project that I started a few years ago. For a couple of years, I shot interior space of abandoned buildings, mostly early to mid 20th Century homes. Decided to drive south to Arco looking for interesting buildings to photograph.

I scanned the landscape for promising structures. At Darlington, I found several buildings and homes that looked like they might contain interesting space. All but one were boarded up and locked. I knocked on several nearby neighbor’s doors to see if I could locate the owners of the locked homes. Not a single person was home. I returned to the open house and knocked on the inhabited home next door to see if I could get permission to photograph the empty building. Again, no one was home. It’s always best to get permission. Yet, if there are no signs posted saying keep out, I throw the dice and enter. I have encountered all kinds of responses to entering homes without permission. Most people confronting my boldness have been pretty friendly. A couple times have been tense. And, one time I had to talk a sheriff out of a trespassing ticket. Today, I had a couple of factors in my favor. The weather was keeping people indoors and the day being Sunday, lots of people were in church. Apparently, everyone was in church today. The odds were I wouldn’t be bothered.

I walked thought the various rooms looking for compelling subject matter. Almost always, the light bouncing around in the room or rooms draws my attention. Then I look for an interesting way to frame the space. Angles and objects become the next priority in making the image. For example, in this house, I found only one room with a good combination of light, angles, and objects. In the image below, after the light, I was drawn the vibrant blue rug on the floor and the angles of the frame and board on the rug. I spent about 30 minutes playing with framing the light coming in the window. I would flag the light and photograph. I tried hanging some stuff in the window. In the end, a straight, shot of the interior worked the best. When I was fairly confident I had one shot that might work, I hit the road again.

Darlington, Idaho

In Moore, I found one possibility. It was locked. Tried two neighbors. No one was home. Next stop, Arco.

I was feeling kind of grungy after two nights in the back of the Subaru with no shower, so I pulled into a Shell station to clean up. Asked the clerk if I could use the restroom to clean up. He said lots of people do. I washed my face and arms, shaved, washed my hair, and a pair of underwear. Put on a clean shirt. When I came out, I had a whole new perspective on life! I was feeling good and refreshed. Told the guy at the register what I was doing, and asked if he knew where any old abandoned homes were. He thought for a long while before he told me of a really cool old place in Copper Basin about 40 miles away. I drove down the road a half-mile and found a great place to shoot.

Shell Station, Arco, Idaho

This place held several possibilities and I spent well over an hour thinking and framing. I think I came away with several good images.

Arco, Idaho

Arco Idaho

Arco, Idaho

I drove back to Mackay to buy my lunch/dinner. There are only two places to eat in Mackay this time of year. The third, a seasonal burger joint, was closed. There are Mary Lou’s and Sammy’s. Ben and I tried Mary Lou’s several weeks ago after climbing Borah. It was a Saturday and the first day of Elk hunting. The place was packed, the prices a bit high, and then there was Mary Lou. She was running the whole show, waitressing, busing, and cooking. When I asked her about an omelet on the menu, she looked at me like I was stupid. I don’t think she likes questions. She seemed like an ornery old lady; perhaps it was just this crazy day. Anyway after waiting 30 minutes for her to return and take our order, I left her a few dollars for the water and we left. I snapped a photo of the back on the menu before leaving. It features a portrait of Amy Lou in the restaurant. She is peering over a swinging door hold a big knife. I swear it looks like something right out The Shining.

Amy Lou, Mackay, Idaho

At Sammy’s you can buy your grub and gas at the same stop, but it is clean, bright, and has fairly good pizza. And, they don’t mind if you lounge around in the eatery section to kill time. I bought a personal size Hawaiian and really enjoyed it. Spent the next several hours writing these anecdotes while Sunday football flickered on the big screen TV.


Later, tried finding some places in Mackay to shoot and struck out. Found a good place to park for the night and went to bed.

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