In a stark contrast to the colorful and amazing scenic landscapes all over the country were some of the little towns and cities I rode thru during the trip. You could feel the decay. Streets were often empty, nobody was around. An almost apocalyptic atmosphere. Dystopian feelings coming up while walking around mostly in the evening hours and often with not that great weather and hence dim light conditions.

Take the decay aside – buildings get older and fall apart as people, especially the younger generations, move away from those often remote places into the bigger cities –, but I always wonder how those facades have looked like in better times. Many of them are very simple, minimalistic, often done in the 50’s or 60’s from what I could tell, and they must have had their charm when new, matching the taste and style of their time. But then over the years, as repair kicked in, and different people moved in and out and changed things according to their own preference, as shop owners changed and business signs got attached and removed again over and over, what was once perhaps in perfect style, started looking thrown together. Uncaring.

A little detail, that caught my eye after a while, are the benches and chairs in front of those decaying houses. As if the ghosts of the former inhabitants and owners would stop by from time to time, hovering out thru the closed door and taking a seat along the street to wave at their ghost neighbors sitting on a bench on the other side of the street. In Ely, NV, there must have been a sponsoring or fundraising initiative one year: There every building had the exact same metal bench in front of their house with the text “Welcome!” engraved in big letters. It felt almost like irony or sarcasm to then see all the “Closed”, “For Sale” and “For Lease” signs hanging in those houses’ broken windows and doors. The hardware store guy selling those benches at least must have had the sales season of his life. Once. Or he went out of business in the first place and the benches were all part of the bankrupt’s estate…

All photos © 2019 Björn Goerke

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