Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gas station at the end of the world...

Driving from Salt Lake City to Canyonlands National Park in Utah, my wife and I found ourselves on a long straight stretch of highway. There was no sign of civilization - just desert on one side and a long wall of bare grey peaks on the other. Overhead the sun blazed. Only the occasional car passed us in the opposite direction. We had passed the last town a long way back.

Suddenly we shot past this abandoned gas station in literally the middle of nowhere. I felt compelled to take a photo so I pulled off the highway, grabbed my camera and trotted back to the gas station a couple of minutes back down the road. I left my wife to wait patiently for me in the van.

I was intrigued with the gas station because it was the perfect setting for a typical horror movie. You know the ones... where inbred hillbilly cannibals man an out-of-the-way hotel or gas station to overcome and terrorize unwary travellers.

Things got a little weird though... as I was walking back to the station a big semi roared past me, braked hard and pulled over into a pullout across from the gas station. I expected the driver to get out and stretch, maybe check his truck for something amiss...

Nothing. Nobody gets out of the truck. As I get closer I glanced across the road into the cab. I didn't see a driver at all. Did he get out on the opposite side? Disappear into his cabin behind the driver's compartment?

Ever see a movie called Duel? It was directed in 1971 for TV by a then unknown Steven Spielberg and featured a man driving in the desert terrorized by a faceless, unknown truck driver. That movie suddenly came to mind as I contemplated the driverless idling truck.

A little disquieted I turned my attention to the gas station. The property was fenced off with barbed wire. There were a few RV-style trailers around the back of it but there was no sign of movement, no sign that anyone had been there in a long while.

The listed gas prices on the sign were half of what gas sells for now suggesting the station had been abandoned for some time.

I took a series of photos. It was quiet except for the hot breeze whispering over the landscape. Finished with my photos I started back toward our van. Suddenly a black pickup truck coming towards me veered off from the opposite side of the highway, passed me and screeched to a stop in front of the gas station. I had a quick glimpse of the dark-haired man behind the wheel but -- like the truck across the street -- he too remained in the truck.

Did somebody set off an alarm somewhere? Why did these two vehicles suddenly show up now in front of this gas station at this particular time? What the hell were the drivers doing in their respective cabs?

I hurried a little faster to the van. I heard a crow somewhere and I glanced down to see the remains of some roadkill -  a squirrel perhaps, its limbs gnawed down the bones.

Gah, it's like I've slipped into a David Lynch movie, I thought. I glanced over my shoulder. Both trucks still there across the street from each other, neither driver visible. I couldn't shake this feeling that they were connected somehow. But for what purpose? I walked faster still.

When I got back to my wife and our van even she admitted that the place unsettled her a bit while she had been waiting for me. Both of us were too glad to see the gas station disappear in our rear view mirror.


  1. Yes, something odd in the photo is how new the advertising materials look and yet the grass/sagebrush indicates no activity.
    Perhaps it's an entrance/exit hatch into an underground bunker like in the Resident Evil series?... or perhaps it's an underground grow op that's been handed down from generation to generation from Grandpa Billy?... an electromagnetic vortex which makes big vehicles stall out? Either way, I love the photos... Have you considered a spooky postcard series with text or the story on the back?