Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I thought I'd share some photos from the Fresno portion of a brief roadtrip I took last week. As I mentioned yesterday I was drawn to the quiet and solitude of the desert. Indeed I was delighted to explore several ghost towns that haven't even been born [more on that paradox tomorrow]. Yet when the rains threatened, I decided to head north and try out some HDR photography on the motels of Fresno.
I'd been here some years back, drawn to Fresno's gritty relics of roadside Americana. As I expected, a number of my favorite motels have been razed. Others, like the Astro Motel, looked like they won't stand long. The dreary nature of this place was compounded by the sight of tent camps stretching along arterial roads, proof that the lousy economy has trashed the lives of countless Californians.
The Motel California is still standing, continuing its strange service as a satellite of the state's penal system. I can only imagine the cheery postcards that were once sent by traveling families who stopped here decades ago. I'm sure someone wrote something like, "We made it, even with a broken radiator! At last we're in California! - at a cute (and perfectly named) motel." Few residents behind the barbed wire would share such joyful sentiments today.
I wrapped up my tour with a stop at the Storyland Inn. Several years ago this motel was a haven of sorts for folks who might otherwise be homeless. Residents committed themselves to keeping drugs off the property and local organizations helped children living at Storyland stay focused on their homework. That dream was fading then, and the motel is boarded up now, another casualty of a dying valley.