Abandoned Ducktown Elementary

It's been awhile, I'm slow, but I'm so excited to share this site today!  Continuing on our theme from last time--it was our unorthodox decision to see if we could creep into abandoned/neglected sites from my childhood when we booked the trip to Tennessee.  This site isn't actually a place I ever spent time, but I wanted to visit anyway.

In the wilderness from whence I come, there used to be two elementary schools.  Ducktown and Turtletown (let those sink in.)  They're both now abandoned, but I attended Turtletown school, while the "richer" --I use that term loosely-- kids went to the luxurious, two-storied Ducktown Elementary, a former college that was never actually used as a college.

Ducktown Elementary isn't even on any public road.  It has a private driveway, so I never saw the building until I was in high school and went there for a pep rally or some business.  I was awestruck by the architecture, because in the Appalachian foothills, a cabin is about as fancy as it gets.  This place looked majestic.  I remember seeing it as a teenager and getting legit pissed!  I got ripped off, I could have been getting my education there?!  Additionally, it was on every student's lips that the place was haunted.  Why hadn't I been allowed in the marble bathrooms and ghost-laden corridors as a kid?  Rude.

So I figured now on vacation, since the building is en route to Turtletown, we might as well go up the driveway and see what became of the building. After doing a little research I understood why I appreciated the looks of the place so much--it's the only building in the Copper Basin area designed by an actual architect!  Here's a pretty cool picture of it in its heyday, note the vintage cars in the lower left of the photo. It was originally built as a junior college, but lack of population caused it to change purposes until it finally shut down in the 00's.  For some reason, that fact spooks me out--lack of students is why my elementary school is closed down.  There just weren't enough kids.  I live in a constantly expanding city, so it feels extra isolating to know we were a dying breed back in the day, and that the population kept dropping.

After our unbelievable success at getting into gated, locked Ghost Town, I didn't have my hopes up for 2 out of 2.  My best hope was to show my passengers the impressive structure from the outside.  So imagine my confusion when we passed an open gate on the road. What??? I'd done my research and according to the information I had available, the place was abandoned, unsafe, in peril, and nobody could figure out what to do with it.  So why was the gate open?  We approached the derelict, imposing building and were even more confused when we saw people milling about on the playground.  WAS THE SCHOOL OPEN?

I hailed one of the lingering women and asked what was happening and why the doors were open.  I distinctly remember that I was actually enunciating my southern accent, trying to fit in and be less "stranger" because she had that Polk County twang.  As hard as it is to mute my accent all day long, I can revert back to sounding like I just crawled out of Farner alarmingly easy.  It apparently worked, because after initial suspicion, she seemed at east and informed us (me, Allyn, my sister Amanda, and my nephew Robbie) that their church was using the building for rehab classes and she would go ask her preacher (haha, there's a word I hadn't heard in years) if we could step in for a look.  I could hear some preacherly howling filtering through the open windows, drifting across the spring breeze toward us to corroborate her story.  The girl returned, without having interrupted his speech, to give us the green light.  I made a note to not question the grim, terrifying location choice for rehab, and couldn't believe we had scored yet again on gaining entry to places not open to the public.

Once inside, the place was everything that I'd dreamed!!  It was like the school in Silent Hill, except real and way, way eerie even without Pyramid head.  I have to say, it was unbelievably creepy with full sunlight streaming in.  I feel like these places are expected to turn spooky at night.  Every school is spooky in the dark, with rows of empty desks.  But during the day, it's like you know the halls are supposed to be filled with kids, with teachers, with noise, with the acrid scent of public school lunch (sorry lunch ladies.)  Instead, it was a combination of profound silence and bright sun, and not even Mr. Preacher's loud anti-devil cries made their way down the long hallways.

The only time we got interrupted was when another church member exited her class to ask again what we were doing there.  She seemed a bit more authoritative, and then I realized I knew her; I had grown up with her, she used to babysit me.  I informed her who I was.  Super awkward, because she didn't remember me at all, and I remembered her, and here she was in rehab class.  I think she wanted us to be there for rehab, but we all gave a hard pass on that, and like any good Southerner she threw in the bit about asking if we were instead joining for church.  Another hard no from the four of us, haha, sorry man, but that's what you get for not remembering me.  She begrudgingly told us not to go upstairs because it was dangerous.  Dangerous smangerous, that's where all the supposed ghost stories took place.  Oh well.  Can't win them all.  I was more than content to walk those once-majestic halls and get a feel of the splendor from back in the day.  They just don't build them like they used to.

Doesn't this place just scream "drug free and loving the Lord"?

That's the pretty uneventful story of how we got into a second "empty" building with no resistance.  I couldn't believe our luck and kept saying so.  But the real place we wanted to see was the school where both Amanda and I had spent some of our most formative, miserable, terrifying years--good ol' Turtletown Elementary.  Even if we just stuck our noses to the glass I knew I had to see the inside of that prison center of learning.  So we packed in the truck and headed for even more isolation.  Despite my huge shock at 2 out of 2 "abandoned" areas being occupied and giving us permission to enter, I knew it wouldn't be so out there in the middle of nowhere.

I'll be posting about Turtletown Elementary next!


2017 Visit to Ghost Town in the Sky

Holy smokes what a month! So glad April is over.  Anyway, let's get right into the story--the next (but is it final?) chapter of Ghost Town in the Sky.  If you're new here or are curious, the recap starts with this entry, where I share what Ghost Town is and how much it means to me.  I have a few photos on this entry, from when I visited and attempted to climb the mountain in autumn of 2016.

But this time we made it!  I had to make a video about this because it's a story that's meant to be heard, not a blog that's meant to be written.  You can watch/listen to me blab, sorry I don't have any fancy equipment for vlogging--and I'll post photos below.  If you're here from the Ghost Town Facebook group, welcome!  You guys are like an odd family to me.  It's not just me who longs for the olden golden days, and I hope this update is good news to you.

A note on the photos: I should have/could have taken more, but as I stated in the video, we were so busy exploring and being in awe at actually being there, I couldn't ruin the moments over and over by snapping 100000000000s of photos.  Also, a lot of the park was not recognizable, particularly over by the slide area.  

I will never understand repainting and renaming this coaster.  Red Devil suited it perfectly!  Anyway, look at that view. 

 I was so surprised and happy to see that the Silver Dollar Saloon looks so classy!  My mom used to tell me that one day if I practiced and got good enough, maybe I could play that piano up there.  It was my dream.  

I  hate giving attention to terrible people, but my outrage was so bad I took this for sharing with others who respected this place as much as I did.

The above and following photos are the left and right views of the entrance to the ride area.  This top photo is the once-great ride area, devoid of...well, everything.  This was the unrecognizable part, and it's easy to see why if you've been here over the past 20 years.  It looks nothing like the vibrant, busy theme park it used to be. 

The below photo shows the maw of the slide, where you can really tell just what a chunk is missing.  The entire hollowed out area took rides and fences and whatever else along with it, they're sitting at the bottom.  I'm not sure how safe the area currently is, but the whole place made me so incredibly uneasy that I went from excited to ready to leave in under five minutes.  

 One of the only recognizable rides.  How many times have I sat in these seats, placating my whiny kid sister because it was the ride she liked? Ha! 
Above photo is the sign, sitting on the edge of the slide where it almost met an untimely death.  Well, it still kind of did, but at least (most of it) is on top of the mountain rather than down at the bottom.  

Bonus bottom photo!  Change the name and signage and rebrand... THIS is the Ghost Town in everyone's hearts! 


Currently - Life Catch Up // Bloggy Brunch

I always hate writing these because they feel like they don't have a point, and yet "currently" or catchup posts are my absolute favorite things to read from others.  I have no idea what my problem is.  Haha.  Anyway, here's what's going on in my life since...what, January?  I've been sporadic since then.

Looking forward to: Work has been its usual good self, nothing to report there.  I change schedules starting in May so that Allyn and I can be on the same days on and off and it's going to be incredible.  We've only been waiting FOREVER for this.  I feel like what anxiety and annoyance I have about work will be wiped away.  I'm trying to stay realistic about that because a truck driver will always burst in and call me a retard (no, that really happened last week) no matter whose shift I'm on.  But it'll be a change of coworkers and schedule off work.

I'm also looking forward to spring, and car shows!  I fully intend to hit up a ton of them this year, as well as write more articles for Hot Rod Time.  I always struggle on wondering if what I have to say is interesting (see: this blog post) and I end up not writing anything.  TIME TO JUST LET IT GO.  I was bummed out when I realized we would be missing arguably the two coolest car events I could attend--Viva Las Vegas, and Wasteland Weekend.  But they're annual events, so it just gives me time to work on my figure for the first, and my costume for the second, right?

Reminiscing: Allyn and I had a precious one day off work in February (or was it January? idk) and we went on a sort of 'tour' for ghost towns all over Tooele County.  We hit up Ophir, Mercur's cemetery--the creepiest place I have e v e r been, and I've been in medieval Swedish cemeteries and Viking burial mounds-- Eureka, and the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill.  It was the PERFECT day except I was still suffering morning sickness and had to scream at Allyn to get the f away from me so I could go be sick in some bushes.   Twice.....  Anyway, a great day all around, and good follow up to our visit to the Home of Truth in January.  It's so great to have a partner who supports and shares my morbid fascination with rotting societal remains. And when we get our schedules aligned, not only will we see each other, but we can go exploring more!

Obsessing over:  So many things.  First that comes to mind is Bates Motel.  This show has hit it out of the park since season 1, and though I'm not a "tv aficionado" I pride myself on my taste in stories.  And damn was this ever a crazy story.  The last season in particular, this season, has been on point every single moment.  They're not going the True Blood way, where they ruin every single positive plot and run the thing into the ground.  Bates is ending after this season and I think I may be the saddest person on the planet because of it.  I'm also totally obsessed with the footage from Rammstein: Paris, and caaaaaaaan't waaaaaaaaait to own it.  In the meantime I may see if I can use the footage to paint a few Till studies, i.e., the subject I enjoy painting most of all.

he's just so...so...photogenic and all

Planning:  Hard to believe, but, another Tennessee trip!  I have been stressed over ticket prices and whether or not Allyn and I would get ANY damn time off together in our lives, but we jumped the gun and got some great tickets.  I very, VERY rarely travel with others.  Allyn, minus a trip to a ballpark, has been in the West his entire life, so we are both excited at a "new" experience for both of us.  I have come to understand through planning trips the last decade that I am like the wise old sage of travel.  That's super weird considering I'm a cranky shut-in who likes her cat and Till Lindemann.  But it's nice to plan trips, and I find myself "in my element" when I am booking tickets, looking at itineraries, comparing activities and all of that.  I think I will just always have a bit of traveler in me despite the homebody-ness.  I'm happy with it.

Frustrations:  Honestly, food?  I had this great plan of getting back to LCHF and finishing off the massive weight loss I had, and then BOOM nope! I couldn't stand the sight of a vegetable for a good 2 months, and now my excuse is more "cravings" and "convenience" than anything else.  I live with two men, and one of them won't eat practically anything I touch because I use white-people flavors.  I like cooking big extravagant meals, but there's always waste, and I always get frustrated and decide to never do it again when it feels like I am the only one stuffing down the healthy food while everybody else runs out to get hamburgers and Panda Express.  But I really need to get it under control.

I'm also having a lot of frustration with the whole "intrusiveness" of making a life and all that.  I am not one to lay everything on the table anyway, but now I get "how are you feeling" a good thirty times a day.  What if I say I feel like I want to run into traffic and jump off a bridge? Do people even listen?  It's just like a "check-in" button that means nothing.  Then when I complain about symptoms or feeling like a whale or whatever problem I'm having, they shut it down.  It's like that twitter post:

But like everything else, the appropriate response is to just ignore and forget about it, over and over again.  I truly don't think that people mean badly with it, but it adds to the exhaustion.  I prefer to be treated like a normal adult, same as I've always preferred, and I'm thankful for those who have the ability to see that.  I've just never wanted to run away and build a cabin in the woods more than I do now.

Which leads up to the last part of this post:

Thinking about:  I have wanted to make the jump back into school for geology or chemistry for awhile now, and couldn't really find the motivation or more specific niche within those communities.  Now I'm remembering how great it was to grow up in a forest, surrounded by nature, and what a magical childhood I had (minus the beatings and screamings you know) and how I definitely don't want to raise a family in suburbia.  I somehow came across the idea that working in Forestry was a good idea.  I would even consider wildland firefighting, (heavily!) but with a degree I could do so much more.  Fish and wildlife, parks, environmental science, and naturally move to areas in close proximity to nature for whatever work.  I could even keep up my credentials with fire and rescue, and work to make people+nature safer, which is a passion of mine. Kind of sounds like paradise, and also kind of sounds like I'll be going back to school soon.


The Time I Dodged Being Used in Child Porn

Note:  My story is unfortunately not atypical for a youth in foster care.  Rape, abuse, neglect and emotional harm are all rampant in the system.  If you'd like to help please don't hesitate to search for your local foster care groups -- even if you can't parent, you can still volunteer, become a CASA, or otherwise make a difference.

It's funny how the past fragments sometimes.  Mostly I just have two big bundles of my shitty childhood.  There's "home" and "foster care."  Foster care consisted of home after home after home, and subsequent disappointments (of mine and my foster parents'...) it really just blurs into one miserable lump until something comes into my consciousness that demands attention.  That's usually when my therapist learns about it, I get to revisit it and process it, and occasionally rant about it here because that's how I do.  When it's time to share, well, it's time to share.

The foster care system just about breaks its neck getting parents and kids reunited, even though logic would dictate that isn't always a reasonable or good thing.  Some families suck.  If "reunification with bio parents" (I remember all the shitty legal terms) isn't possible, sometimes an alternative in the State's eyes is a permanent guardian in the child's family--think aunt, uncle, grandparent.  The theory here again is that family=better than strangers.  I might even argue for that one, but on a case by case basis.  Sorry, but blood does not guarantee safety, as I unfortunately learned when I was sixteen.