Tuesday, October 15, 2013

road trip recap: ghost town

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When we arrived in Sedona, we decided to keep driving straight through to Jerome, where we'd heard there was a pretty cool ghost town.  We'd really been hoping to stumble upon an honest-to-goodness ghost town, but every lead that we'd followed dropped us off at tourist versions that didn't really satisfy.  But the Gold King Mine ghost town in Jerome was like nothing we'd ever have expected.  First of all, it was still touristy in the sense that it wasn't abandoned--there were actually people living and working there! But, that said, it was also... terrifying.  To get there, we had to drive up, up, up an incredible narrow, winding mountain road, through the actual town of Jerome, which was actually pretty cool.  It was perched precariously on the mountainside and kind of reminded me of an old European village.  But then we kept driving.  And the pavement turned to gravel. And we were in the weirdest place I'd ever seen. It should have been a sign, perhaps, that when K tried to park where the pavement ended there were two signs that creeped me out enough to force him to drive up to the actual parking lot: "I shoot people--if you can read this you are in range" (I could read it) and "Want to know if there is life after death? Trespass and find out."  I must admit that I still don't find these signs amusing, and think they are entirely inappropriate for a "family-friendly" destination, but whatever.

Honestly, the place was just weird. I don't know how else to describe it, but we both got really strange vibes.  First of all, there were so many signs like that first one about being shot for trespassing that I wasn't sure whether to take seriously or not (like "rattlesnakes are everywhere, watch out!"), the mine was actually pretty much right out in the open with "danger" signs all around it (you can see it above, a hole in the ground surrounded by chicken wire that drops several thousand feet down), but the whole thing just seemed like there was no way it was up to code.  A lot of the buildings were filled with equipment that may or may not have actually been there when the Gold King Mine was in operation, but for the most part it seemed like the people living and working there were just collectors and wanted a place to store their unusual trucks.  At one point K and I got separated when he was lured away by an older gentleman to look at his racecar, and I was actually a little bit afraid for my life.  Needless to say, we hightailed it out of there pretty fast (or as fast as we could, considering that the road out of town was even more treacherous and winding than the road up--my knuckles were white all the way down and I wasn't even driving). 

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