Here in Colorado, we have our fair share of ghost towns. GPS and smart phones make them easier to find these days, but years ago you had to get there the old-fashioned way.
One summer day, my wife and I were exploring a decently intact ghost town deep in the mountains. The roofs of the buildings were caved in, but the storefronts were still standing. After hiking around and snapping photos, we sat on the tailgate of the Bronco to share a sandwich.
In the distance, a wispy dust cloud appeared, accompanied by the growling of a motorcycle engine.
Eventually, a fancy motorcycle approached, ridden by a guy in leathers. He was covered head to toe in trail dust.
He stopped and pulled off his helmet. Red-faced and sweating, he complained about making a wrong turn somewhere way back. None of these dirt roads were marked, you see, and that was a terrible inconvenience.
By the way, he asked, which direction was the highway?
My wife and I traded glances. We were many miles from any paved road, let alone a highway.
“Sorry,” I said. “Probably best just to turn around and go back the way you came.”
The irritation was etched plain across his face. He started pointedly asking for landmarks, demanding to know how far it was to one place or another.
I just had to shrug.
I had navigated there in a 4 x 4, using a topographic map and a pencil. To this day, I have no idea how his motorcycle made it that far. I just tried to convince him to turn around and go back, but he wouldn’t hear it.
Finally, losing all patience, he demanded, “How can you not know where anything is? Don’t you live here?”
I had to smile. “Dude, look around. This is a ghost town. NOBODY lives here.”
The look on his face was priceless.
Without another word, he put his helmet back on, turned his motorcycle around, and rode back the way he came.
We had a good laugh as we finished our lunch and got back into the Bronco. And, bonus, I was inspired to put the ghost town in one of my first books, The Spider Thief.