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Back to school in an old ghost town

This place is desolate, and it’s not hard to see why nobody lives here. It’s absolutely inhospitable, with zero water, a sun that burns the skin off of your face and stinging cacti (cacti? or cactusses?) all around. Every hundred kilometres there’s a house in the middle of nowhere. Why do people live here? And what do they do, how do they spend their day? There is NOTHING to do here.

Except for quickly dipping in the pool and sending some new post into the interwebs, then.

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What a view to wake up to..

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Could stay here for the views.

Hitting the old ‘ghost’ town

Speaking of nothing, we leave the camping ground this morning to go to the abandoned village of Calico. The ARRR VEEE is parked some three hundred meters from highway 15 and after a quick dip in the pool we pack things up and drive up to the famous (well, not really) ghost town.

The little black and white folder we get with our 16 dollar entrance explains that the town had only eight person living there in 2001, and when those people left (standing up or lying down, it doesn’t say that) the old mining town had turned to ghost town. In an attempt to draw some tourism to the region, they made it into some sort of an attraction. And with great success: there are at least 4 buses parked outside the main entrance of the village. 

As you might have noticed by now, I love old and abandoned places. The abandoned house in the desert was one of my favourite things and so my expectations for the village were high. They weren’t met, though. Abandoned as it may have been at some point, it is now less more than a tourist trap, with in the supposedly old – i find out later that the entire village has been rebuilt in 1950, and isn’t as old as 1880 as it had me believe- buildings all kinds of shops, attempting to get the money out of the pockets of the many tourists- myself included- that come here. Honestly, 8 dollars for some shops and a couple of fifty year old buildings is a joke. There is even a starbucks at the end of the village, how authentic is that?

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Beautiful old style building.

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Locked up for: …. (leave in comment section below)

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The town from above. 

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They even sells rocks in here. Rocks. They sell rocks.

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My favourite bit of the town: the old school. Can you imagine the kids walking over this little bridge every morning to get there? And do you see them running back over it when school’s out?

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Photo I took of the inside of the school. Weird thing: on the first table on the right somebody wrote in Dutch: “Never ever school again here.” Did Dutchies live here or was it just a tourist….?

Cactusses or cacti? Help me out here

Ah, well. We walk around for a bit, and the one thing I really liked was the old school -also from the 1950s. I can’t imagine what is must have been like to go to school in such an abandoned village in the blithering heat – we are still in the desert and its still 40+ degrees celcius here-, it must have been incredibly tough and incredibly boring. The world obviously was a lot smaller, fifty years ago. 

We’ve only walked around for 45 minutes max and the desert sun has coloured my cheeks red and my beard blond. Great. Annemiek takes the wheel of our RV and hits the road, the 58 west towards Bakersfield. It’s a funny thing, we drive all afternoon and there is very little to write about because the landscape doesn’t offer anything but dried up river beds (washes, they call them here) and bleak and arid desert.

There are even less houses here than in Arizona. It is more nothingness filled with catusses (cacti?), up until we drive over the hill and the cacti (cactusses?) are replaced with trees. TREES! Real trees! A sign tells us “End of Californian desert area.” Another says to look out for cows. Cows, bloody cows! If THEY can survive here then so can we.

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Long roads with no bends. Apparently people crash here out of boredom (no joke) and it’s not hard to understand why.

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A bend! A bend! Hold on to your spleen everyone!

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Mr. Stop sign.

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If you wonder what driving around in the desert is like, this is it: copy this photo about a million of times and you have a clear idea of what might go on here (very little).

Feeling hot hot hot

It’s a fertile little valley, some 35 km from the campground. With the harbour in sight a dude with a stop sign tells us just that. We wait, I take a picture, we wave and continue driving. Beautiful. The temperature has gone down a little too, although it is still about as dry as it can get outside.

I notice the temps getting down because of the aircon. Do you know how when you are at home in the summer and the car has been sitting outside in the burning sun and when you get in it is really really hot ? And to cool it down you have to put the aircon on full power for a while to make it liveable? It’s a nice thing, isn’t it, but at some point you put the aircon back down on a stable 22 degrees so that you don’t get too cold. In the desert? In the 45 degree heat we had the on as cold as possible and as hard as possible THE WHOLE TIME – and still it didn’t cool down enough for it to be comfortable. Now in this valley though I can finally put it down a little.

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The itinerary for today

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You might have noticed I like my pano shots. I might be colourblind, but I do see these colours (well at least I think so)

Arriving at the camp site I’m happy to see there’s a pool. It might have cooled down a little, it’s still bloody hot. I talk for a bit with my Spanish señorita, Annemiek makes taco’s and before I know it, it’s time for bed. More excitement tomorrow, when we head up to the big trees!

This is where I am right now (my mom said this would be a good idea):

READ NEXT: THE TRAVEL BLUES (OR MAYBE I’M JUST REALLY HANGRY)

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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
Stalk me

Latest posts by This is Travel Viking (see all)

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.

2 thoughts on “Back to school in an old ghost town

  1. De foto’s zijn prachtig, het uitzicht zou mij dan wel wat vervelen omdat het vooral uitgestrekt ‘niks’ is, maar het stadje is heel mooi. De sfeer die het uitstraalt!
    En de stenen die ze verkopen, zou dat niet iets voor kinderen zijn? Dat er iets in zit ofzo? Omdat er ‘Crack open’ boven staat.’

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