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2005-03-15


I saw a bridge on the way back from San Luis Obispo. I'd never seen it before. It cut off to the right and back to the south at a sharp angle, making it almost parallel to the north–south stretch of asphalt I sped along. The magnetism was too strong. I remembered something about some poem or something and the line the road less taken. I couldn't resist. I pulled off at the next exit and made my way to the bridge.

The bridge was empty and lifeless and in need of some care, much unlike the grass covered hills and thriving fields that flowed out and filled every inch of the land up to the horizons.

The bridge was sad and old and forgotten looking. It seemed like the kind of bridge that would lead to a ghost town full of boarded up buildings and broken down tractors and a gas station where the pumps had the glass smashed out.


I drove across to find exactly what I expected. The population sign said 112, but they may have been generous when they put that number. The buildings were almost all empty. There were no stores or services except for a post office. The gas station looked exactly like I expected. It even had a broken tractor.

A long distance bicyclist—clearly not from there—stopped to talk with the only person outside on the block long strip of deadness. I heard him clearly from a block away, as there were no sounds for his voice to compete with. "Excuse me. Are there are any restaurants in this town? Like, maybe a burger joint or diner or something? Anything at all open here?"


The woman shrugged in that way that always means the same thing—she didn't speak a lick of English. It's pretty presumptuous to expect people to speak English in California—especially in the regions that are inhabited almost entirely by slave class migrant workers from Mexico. She kept walking as if he said nothing at all. He looked confused. And hungry.

I love ghost towns. They're the end of the life cycle of an inhabited place. A ghost town is the headstone of an empire. Maybe that's why I like graveyards, too. I enjoy tasting history at the end of it all. It's like reading the last chapter of a book. It's not the whole story. But, if you don't have a lot of time you can still get some idea of what happened.

And, I never seem to have enough time for a whole book. This day was no different.

I took a few more pictures and crossed the bridge again. I didn't exactly have a home to go to, but I couldn't stay there. What would I have eaten? And, the road to San Francisco was calling me to the North. Goodbye ghost town, goodbye city whose name will soon be forgotten entirely. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.


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