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What I found in an abandoned house in the desert

Is some weird loner living here, ready to shoot me off of his property with his double barrel shot gun.. I sneak around the abandoned house and stand on my toes to peek into a hole in the wooden boarding of a window. I see some ammunition cases on a shelf, a – wait. Let’s rewind a bit, and see how I got here in this abandoned house:

You know how you always read how big the US is, and how the distances are vast, and all that? And now you’re reading it again through my words. I’ve driven around a bit now, and it seems like it’s true. It’s hard to describe the vastness of the country using only letters and words, but I’ll give it a shot.

Everywhere we go, things seem familiar. Thanks a lot, GTA. Familiar, but oh so pretty. The nature here is unlike anything I can put into photos or words. We’re driving east on the highway 89 towards the Hopi Reservation, the area of the Hopi Indians.

Adopt a highway

Funny thing in the US: you can ‘adopt’ a highway. I haven’t done any research on it, but from what it looks it works like this: you send a bunch of monies to mama government and she then puts a tiny sign next to the highway with your name on it. This highway is made possible by the family of Bernita Jensen, whoever that may be. (I checked, Wikipedia does not have all the answers, so it seems. MIND=BLOWN).

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Can this please be the “Jesper Black, travelleur extraordinaire-highway” in ten years time?

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Or this one?

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Or this?

There’s NOTHING here

There’s no other car anywhere close, our big white Chevy Impala is rapidly eating all yellow markings we come across. It’s a great grand tourer. Stable, with a big enough engine to pull out and speed up. “Sweet hitchhiker” from CCR is playing on the radio while the mountainous landscape slowly makes space for the desert.

We’ve been driving north for about an hour now and we have just passed a small trading post with a petrol station, an abandoned house and a few abandoned motels that gave up fighting with nature. Green plants have made their way on the roofs and doors, attacking the temporary blue-grey paint. It’s the first real sign of civilization we have past in the last hour. In the last hour. Think about that, we have been driving FOR AN HOUR, and we have not seen more than 10 trailers. 10 tiny little houses in 100 kilometres. It is something I can’t wrap my brain around, in my own little country, where ever you are, you can’t walk for five kilometres straight without encountering a farm, a village or a city.

As far as my sight goes, there is nothing. Pure nothingness. There are some plants, yes. And sometimes some trees. But other than that, there is NOTHING here. NOTHING. Nothing but rocks, sand and this massive highway ripping open the land like a can of beans.

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AWESOME panorama. Stopped in the middle of the road. Got out, watered some plants, took many pictures. Not a single car has passed in the meantime. We are alone here in this incredible piece of land.

Early settlers

My mind keeps wondering what it must have been like for the early settlers when they road into this vast nothingness on their horses, with only a couple of days worth of food and water. The land is barren, and your horse is thirsty. You have been riding through this desert for weeks now, and all the horizons gives you, is glances of more desert. Your skin is worn like leather from the piercing sun, your lips burst open days ago and you haven’t been drinking for two days now. Up ahead, you see a bunch of trees standing together and you sit up a little straighter. This must mean only one thing: water. You spur on your horse, jump off it and land on your feet. When you arrive, there is little more than a green pool of infested standing water. Do you take a sip? I don’t know. 

Maybe the early settlers had a great time discovering the land, but I can’t imagine it could have been easy. Cameron is an old trading post along the highway, the only one in the past 75 kilometres. “Don’t miss it,” a sign tells me. I can see why they say that: it is nothing more than a petrol station, some trailers and 200 odd houses. Within -literally- 10 seconds we’ve entered it and exited it. 

The sun warms up the sandy earth. I notice I haven’t seen any animals, except for a bird. This realisation also makes me wonder: what do the people that live here do? I can’t imagine they have jobs, we are in the middle of nowhere and there are not shops, malls, or restaurants. Life must be so boring here. I really want to just drive up to one of the trailers scattered over the barren land and ask the people. I don’t.

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Seconds before we entered -and exited- Cameron. Eyes on the road, didn’t miss a thing.

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Sorry. I can’t get enough of the roads here. Just think they look phenomenal.

Abandoned house

Instead, I pull up at what seems an abandoned house and get out. A bit apprehensively I get out of the car and approach the house. The windows are covered with wooden panels, a tree has overgrown the entrance of the front door and there’s rubbish everywhere. Is it really abandoned? Or is some weird loner living here, ready to shoot me off of his property with his double barrel shot gun.. I sneak around the house and stand on my toes to peek into a hole in the wooden boarding of a window. The little room is filled with old stuff. I see some ammunition cases, a horse saddle and an old, glass Dr. Pepper bottle. Everything is covered in a layer of dust. **BANG** My heart skips a beat and I’m ready to run for my life. Then I realise it is just a piece of metal I’ve stepped on. I think I just got ten years older.

Still rather carefully I walk around the abandoned house. I absolutely LOVE these kind of places, last year Laia and I jumped the fence and entered the Spree Park, an abandoned theme park in Berlin and walked around for 2 hours before leaving the park running for our lives. There is something about an abandoned place that makes me tick. The realisation that people have been there, have lived stories here and have, for some unknown reason, left the place behind, releases my brain to come up with the most unlikely stories. “Maybe a couple of cowboys owned the house and retired after cowboy-ing for long enough. Or a big mafia boss hiding from the law. Or a hunter on the prairie. I see there’s an old black and white screen TV lying in the front yard and I realise how unlikely my ideas are.

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In the middle of nowhere stands what once was a house. Spooky. And exciting.

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The unknown inhabitants did know how to treat themselves. A couch! Such comfort!

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Sticked my camera through the window of the abandoned house. Wish I could get in and snoop around..

When I walk to the front door to take a picture of it, something on the floor catches my eye. I squad down and remove the sand. It’s a ten dollar bill. What?! How?! Why?! When?! My brain is overloading with questions. Who left it here, and why? Did he or she do it intentionally for the lucky finder to discover? Or has there been a big drug deal here and has this note been left by accident. I decide it’s enough with the silly questions and head back to the car. 

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My lucky ten dollar bill.

After having a look at the Hopi settlements on the so called Mesa’s (big mountains with a flat, table like plateau on it), we drive for another 2 hours, I eat a corndog (you always see people on tv eating them and I had no idea what it was. It’s a hotdog on a stick. ‘MURICA!) and we drive deep into Navajo country to see a rock with a hole in it. I take a picture, we get back into the car and head towards Flagstaff again.

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View from the second mesa. Mesa’s were pretty depressing, if you ask me. People here have almost no means of supporting themselves. There’s rubbish everywhere. Would not want to live here.

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Seriously confused by the sight of a real life corndog.

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“Hole in a rock” might have been not enough credit. It was actually quite nice to see.

What an amazing day. What great views, what a great abandoned house. It’s fascinating to see the landscapes around you change from green mountains to steppe, to desert and back to mountain again. I am a very lucky boy. One day, I will come back and adopt my own highway!

Love, Jesper

N.B. After writing this yesterday, I talked to my neighbour Bill. He told me the settlers did not take the route we took today, but the Oregon trail, many miles to the north where there was actually water. Forget all about my earlier ramblings before, except for maybe the one of the abandoned house. :’)

READ NEXT: HOW DEEP IS THE GRAND CANYON?

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This is Travel Viking
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This is Travel Viking

Captain of the Ship at This is Travel Viking
Writer. Traveller. Bearded man child. Better-looking than Donald Trump. Skinnier than Steven Seagal. Probably the best writer on this website.
This is Travel Viking
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This is Travel Viking

Writer. Traveller. Bearded man child. Better-looking than Donald Trump. Skinnier than Steven Seagal. Probably the best writer on this website.

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