It has taken me a month or so to wade through the almost 8000 images I brought back with me from my month long trip. As I went through them all, it was almost like doing the trip all over. It’s funny how visual stimuli can bring back the smell of the heat off the crops, the chill of a cool breeze as you stopped to talk with someone and the wonder at the life of another.
One such memory, if that is indeed the right word, was my time with Arv. I had just crossed the desert through Utah and was coming out of a mountain pass I had traversed many times before. This pass, outside of Salt Lake, had been my route for the 20 years I had lived in Portland and made my semi-annual pilgrimage to the 4 corners area. A small town sat at the foot of the eastern end and although I had driven through it a few times, I just never found much of interest there. On this trip I had a different agenda and felt the need to give the place a little more time.
The first exit for the town was a bit further west than I had ever entered before. I saw a few things that surprised me and made me wonder about certain socio-economic realities here. But as I drove along a lot of things looked a bit different and I soon stopped and started making photographs. As I was standing out in the middle of Main Street, a car passed behind me and the driver shouted out that there wasn’t anything of interest over there, that “this” is what I should be shooting. It was Arv in his ’66 Chevy. After coaxing him out of the car–which wasn’t difficult–and getting his picture, he asked if I would be in town long. He wanted to come back with his ’50, which I assumed was a car, and that he would be back in 15-20 minutes. I told him that I would probably be in town that long anyway, and sure, he could come on back with his ’50.
Walking around the town, I found lots of things to photograph and a lot of interesting details. Just about the time I was about to wrap up, figuring Arv had found something better to do, he drives up in a beautifully restored ’50 GMC pick-up. He was hoping I might do some photos of it. As I started, he said he knew a better place just a block away. We were off.
That block was more like 10 and we came to a little park at the end of town. Arv obviously had a different idea of what taking a picture of his truck meant than I did, he wanted a photoshoot! What the heck, I didn’t grab a tripod, but I got the truck positioned the best I could for the location and time of day–and started shooting. I wasn’t sure his “list” of shots was ever going to end, but I was having fun regardless. I couldn’t help but feel that Arv had missed his true calling as an Art Director!
When we were done, we headed to Arv’s place for a beer and some cigars. Turns out that Arv grew up in southern California just as I did. We were born the same year and even went to the same college for one semester or so. But Arv was a “‘60’s hippie back in those days” and after the draft wasn’t an issue, he left school and hit the road. I asked him how he ended up out here in the middle of nowhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this area myself, but I don’t know how someone from southern California would come to such a place and end up staying. He indicated that he had been hitch hiking back from Colorado in the mid 70’s and had stopped in the next town up for a beer. There he met a guy who offered him lodging back here for the night–he just never left. He has lived in “his first house with his first wife” all these years–something he seemed to be very proud of.
We talked for an hour or so and then I needed to hit the road. Just like the photos of the truck, I think Arv had a never-ending list of things he wanted to share. I finally got on the road-with a blessing from Arv as I backed out of his driveway- and made my way to my night’s destination where I had a great steak dinner, courtesy of the Arvster. But that is another story…..