Or, This State’s a Ghost Town
On 1 October, we went further up the coast. The road, which would eventually take us up to San Francisco, was full of emptiness. Literally.
The space of California is something remarkably foreign. Though the difference is greater since I moved to England, even back in New England the difference was noticeable. The big cars, big parking spaces, big everything.
There’s enough room for everything, and everything takes up the space it’s given. It goes further. Even when it isn’t needed, it takes that space. It just fills the emptiness with emptiness.
Monterey, CA, at the end of Cannery Row. With nods to Steinbeck opposite tacky tourist trades, Cannery Row is full of hucksters and overpriced wares. It’s a stop for tourists who can’t be bothered to make the effort. At the end, where the road rises slightly above the level of the sidewalk, a gallery sits empty.
Broken windows, chain link fences. It’s a ghost town, but too recent. We saw a book about California’s ghost towns when we were in a Barnes and Noble in Long Beach, and said we needed to see one. We forgot that plan amid everything else and all the driving, but we did see this.
‘With all these houses empty, just put the homeless in,’ he suggested, snapping away. I expect they’re full of cans and needles. It’s what I imagine in every vacant building. A scurrying rat and, at best, a flickering bulb. My idea of abandoned buildings is entirely based on television.
We followed a sign for some military something. We ended up among some abandoned garrison. There must be security. Take photos quick. Don’t stop. There’s a car behind us. Is it following or just going the same way? Let’s stop at the Target.
I want to go in, but I’m afraid. Instead, I drive, photographing things out the window.
They look older than they are, I’m sure. Nothing in California is old. There is no history. It all falls down.
We drive to a church only to find it’s new. How boring. But you never know. It could have been good. We turn back out and find a cop car waiting. Not for us. It doesn’t follow. It still isn’t following. We’re back on the main road and nobody is following us. We go on in the direction we were headed but can’t see signs of the highway, so we turn back around. Back on Highway One, I see there’s an exit and on ramp built for the shopping center with the Target.
Highway 1 steps away from the coast here. The trains are allowed closer, if any ever run. The way to the beach is across them, with no warning to look for trains. To walk to the beach, you cross the tracks and go down. The risk of falling doesn’t put people off. I think the parking area was mostly used for drug dealing now, though.