Dolled Up In St. Thomas

This year I wanted to have a creepy adventure on my birthday. The formerly-submerged-beneath-Lake-Mead ghost town of St. Thomas, Nevada was at the top of my list, and its close proximity to Las Vegas made it an ideal day trip destination for a costumed birthday girl and her nudist photographer friend.

St. Thomas was founded in 1865 and became home to about 500 residents, complete with farms and businesses. In 1938 the town was abandoned as Lake Mead rose following the construction of the Hoover Dam. In recent years the ruins of St. Thomas became visible as Lake Mead’s water level dropped, leaving sand, shells and broken buildings behind for us to explore.

The photos that follow were taken by myself (with my Galaxy S6) and my frequent adventure partner, Jon Miller. I hope you feel like you were there with us. Enjoy!

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We drove through the Valley of Fire and made a quick left down a gravel road. Eventually we ended up here, overlooking a 2.5 mile hiking loop that wove its way through the ruins of St. Thomas.

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The path was made up of sand and thousands (millions?) of white shells.

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A pop of color in a barren landscape.

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Critter fur caught in a huge, dead piece of wood.

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The tallest of the ruins.

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Jon on the prowl.

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Collection

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Time for school!

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Inside view of the school.

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Of course we brought props!

The following photos (minus the final three) were snapped by Jon. Enter the Creepy Doll!

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Play time!

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Then, as if my birthday hadn’t been action-packed enough, my thoughtful friend surprised me with this…

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Awwww!

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Jon had miraculously packed all of this AND cold Coke AND snacks in his backpack…and I had no idea!

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Jon in his natural state. (Not surprising in the least.)

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The Clown Motel Meets Harold & Maude: An Analog Annal

A few months back I took a road trip through Nevada and up to California’s Bay Area. I spent the night in Tonopah, NV at the infamous Clown Motel, then went on an unofficial tour of some Harold and Maude filming locations once I made it up to Colma, CA and the surrounding area.

Although I’ve already posted a bunch of digital shots from this road trip, these instant film randoms have been collecting dust, just waiting to be scanned. I’m heading out of town tomorrow and figured I should post ’em before they’re buried under dozens of Rochester memories. Enjoy!

The Clown Motel in Tonopah, NV -- Impossible 600 color film that I left in my hot car after processing

The Clown Motel in Tonopah, NV — Impossible 600 color film that I left in my hot car after processing

Life-size clown in the Clown Motel's lobby.

Life-size clown in the Clown Motel’s lobby.

Clown Motel selfie.

Clown Motel selfie.

Clown Motel remnants.

Clown Motel remnants.

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. The clearing used to be home to a large tree, featured prominently in Harold and Maude in the scene where Harold first sees Maude at the cemetery.

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. The clearing used to be home to a large tree, featured prominently in Harold and Maude in the scene where Harold first sees Maude at the cemetery. — expired Impossible SX-70 film

Also from Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. -- expired Impossible 600 film

Also from Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. — expired Impossible SX-70 film

At Holy Cross Cemetery, standing where Harold was when he spotted Maude for the first time at the cemetery. -- expired Impossible film

At Holy Cross Cemetery, standing where Harold was when he spotted Maude for the first time at the cemetery. — expired Impossible SX-70 film

I figured I should take a shot with a camera that would've been in production around the time that Harold and Maude was being filmed. Enter the Polaroid Big Shot! Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA

I figured I should take a photo with a camera that would’ve been in production around the time that Harold and Maude was being filmed. Enter the Polaroid Big Shot! Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA

Chasing Clowns and Burial Grounds

Are you ready for photos from the Tonopah Clown Motel?

Welcome to Part II of my photographic journey from Vegas to Vallejo, CA!

First, let's warm up with some photos of some ruins and abandoned buildings from the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV that I visited on my way to Tonopah.

First, let’s warm up with some photos of some ruins and abandoned buildings from the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV that I visited on my way to Tonopah.

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Clown Motel!

Clown Motel!

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The rooms are pretty normal (aside from a couple of framed sad clowns hanging over the headboards). Let's take a little tour of the magic that awaits in the motel's lobby, shall we?

The rooms are pretty normal (aside from a couple of framed sad clowns hanging over the headboards). Let’s take a little tour of the magic that awaits in the motel’s lobby, shall we?

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The lobby features a selection of old treasures available for purchase, as well as Clown Motel mugs, tees and postcards.

The lobby features a selection of old treasures available for purchase, as well as Clown Motel mugs, tees and postcards.

Then there's the old Tonopah Cemetery conveniently located right next door to the Clown Motel!

Then there’s the old Tonopah Cemetery conveniently located right next door to the Clown Motel!

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Did you know there's ANOTHER cemetery just down the street from the Clown Motel? It's the new Tonopah Cemetery!

Did you know there’s ANOTHER cemetery just down the street from the Clown Motel? It’s the *new* Tonopah Cemetery!

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Crazy Tonopah-related urbex near Benton, CA.

Destruction and Tonopah-related graffiti over the border near Benton, CA.

Are you cravin’ more creepin’? The journey to Vallejo continues…stay tuned!

On The Road To Tonopah

I’m writing this from the guest bedroom belonging to my ladyfriends in Vallejo, CA. It has been more than three years since I last made my way up to the Bay Area for a visit and I was way overdue. (My ladies just opened a cafe here, so if you’re ever in the ‘hood do yourself a favor and enjoy some quiche and coffee at LEAF on Marin St. in Vallejo.)

I drove up here, opting to take a meandering route north of Vegas and west/northwest of Tonopah, stopping at several ghost towns along the way. I even spent one night at the infamous Tonopah Clown Motel (those photos deserve their own post…stay tuned!).

Here are some unedited photos of some old cemeteries and abandoned places located between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park. I hope you enjoy Part I of this who-knows-how-many-parts trip to Vallejo!

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Armagosa Desert Memorial Cemetery, NV

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Lizard in Armagosa

Lizard!

Abandoned Armagosa

Abandoned Armagosa

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Desert Hills Cemetery, Beatty, NV

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Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery, Rhyolite, NV

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Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite...

Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite…

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

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Goldfield Cemetery, Nevada

Goldfield Cemetery, NV

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Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

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Perfect 10: Exploring Central Nevada’s Cemeteries

The other day Glenda and I drove up to Cathedral Gorge State Park for an overnight camping trip. Our adventuring included Glenda giving me a delightful massage in a tent, snoozing in said tent with her two puppies, and freeing Glenda’s truck from a rut in a dirt road somewhere between Pioche and Sunnyside, Nevada. These sisters were doin’ it for themselves!

Our travels also led us to what amounted to ten different cemeteries. Some were on the agenda and others were unexpected treats. Here are a whole lot of (mostly) cemetery photos straight from the ol’ Canon Rebel T2i. Enjoy!

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

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I'm not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who's buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

I’m not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who’s buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery, Alamo

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Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

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Cemetery #4, Conway Memorial Park Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

Cemetery #4, Conaway Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

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Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

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Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF Masonic Cemetery

Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF and Masonic Cemetery

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Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

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Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

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I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

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Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

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Gem Theater, Pioche, NV

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Until next time…

Pet Cemetery Backpack: An Analog Animal Annal

NOTE: If viewing pet cemetery backpacks and the contents of pet cemetery backpacks brings you feelings of discomfort you don’t want to deal with at this time, stop reading now. Do not look at the photos contained within this post. Do not visit the Boulder City Pet Cemetery. Do not, under any circumstances, poke around unattended luggage of any kind. Cheers!

Saturday, June 6th, 2015.

Paul and I drove out to the off grid pet cemetery near Boulder City, NV. I made a beeline for the last known location of the mysterious, exhumed-but-still-zipped-up L.L.Bean backpack. There it was! But now it was unzipped…and empty?!?

Empty Grave

Empty Grave

Empty Backpack

Empty Backpack

Empty Duct Taped Blanket and Garbage Bag

Empty Duct Taped Blanket and Garbage Bag

The blanket and garbage bag bundle had been dragged and torn. Who had been wrapped up in there? The first clue presented as tufts of tan fur scattered around the parcel, the second an almost mummified scapula sitting on top of it.

Paul wandered off into the depths of the graveyard while I scanned the desert floor for signs of critter activity. A few minutes later he returned and commented on how bad it smelled downwind from where I stood. Assuming it wasn’t me, I asked him where he noticed it. We didn’t have to walk far before our little friend made himself/herself quite obvious.

(FINAL WARNING, GUYS!)

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!!!

We were using our Polaroid Spectra cameras and playing with a crazy filter/accessory kit on this fine day. That's why you get to see our little friend five more times (seven if you count double exposures).

We were using our Polaroid Spectra cameras and playing with a crazy filter/accessory kit on this fine day. That’s why you get to see our little friend five more times (seven if you count double exposures).

Portrait

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backpack9I wonder if this puppy’s humans ever come back to visit. I wonder what will remain of him/her when and if they do. I wonder what they’ll see and make of the fact that their little buddy is still riding the wheel of fortune, the circle of life, even in death.

The Boulder City Pet Cemetery: An Analog Annal

Most folks cruise right by the (illegal!) Boulder City Pet Cemetery, never noticing the assortment of rustic and homemade markers gathered just off to the side of the highway. It’s easy to do: If Mike and Jamie hadn’t driven the first time, I don’t know if I ever would have found it.

The marked graves date back to the 1950s on up through 2013. During previous visits I’d come across old animal bones scattered across the dirt, but yesterday’s visit held a special surprise.

The photos in this post are multiple exposure shots taken with my Polaroid 230 Land Camera. I’m thrilled with how these came out…everyone will see something different in each one. If you’re looking for something a bit more conventional, I posted a few quickies on Instagram; feel free to check them out and follow me at feetishspa. Enjoy!

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The LLBean backpack wasn’t there last week…not above ground, at least. Densely packed, weighing approximately 15 pounds, spongy to the touch and reeking of decomp, the bag had been dug up from a nearby grave, now half-filled with sand and surrounded by coyote poop and paw prints. The frayed nylon straps had been completely torn from the body of the pack, however the bag itself was still tightly closed and intact. It appears that coyotes have not evolved to open zippers…yet.

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Packing it in.

Change is Constant: Saying Goodbye to the Riviera

In 2004 I visited Las Vegas for the first time and life changed.

My friend Alicia and I attended the National Organization for Women’s national conference with our Rochester chapter in July of that year. Of all places, it was held at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, a land of wanton irresponsibility and showgirl tuckus worship. We were very excited.

We listened to sex workers’ rights group members and Dar Williams. Alicia took me to the spas at Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace (before its multi-million dollar renovation). I dragged my dear Alicia to Quark’s Bar and Star Trek:The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton (may their souls rest in peace), where we met snarky Klingons and drank blue liquids. This city held almost all of my favortie things, executed at such a high level of no-holds-barred-fuck-it-we’re-doing-this. I was in love.

As far as life changing goes: Vegas 2004 convinced me to enroll in massage therapy school the following year, and this career shift has played an integral part in where life has taken me, and in who I am today. Then came the big move to a warmer climate with job opportunities and stucco houses in 2007, free from snow and without regret.

On May 4th, 2015, the Riviera will close for good to make way for a Convention Center expansion. For old times sake, Paul and I paid our respects on April 21st. Here are some images (mostly) from that day, taken using my Polaroid 600…

A sign of the times.

A Sign of the Times

Showgirl assets.

Showgirl Assets

Showroom Neon

Facing the Future

Neon Its Head

Neon Its Head

On the Outside, Looking In

On the Outside, Looking In

Last Meal

Last Meal

The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Cashing Out

Cashing Out

Gravely Intimate in Overton

Located about 90 minutes from my little corner of Las Vegas, Pioneer Hill Memorial Cemetery in Overton, Nevada houses a fascinating mix of highly-personalized grave markers and offerings, both decades old and relatively recent.

I made a quick stop at this desert burial ground on my way to St. George, Utah on Saturday, March 21, 2015. As the gobble-gobble of local turkeys (birds, not humans) peppered the temperate morning air, I was struck by the varied and unconventional style exhibited by many of these graves. I say this with the utmost respect: It reminded me of the off-grid Boulder City Pet Cemetery in a lot of ways. Handmade markers, weathered stuffed animals, toys and personal effects dotted the landscape, drawing me deeper into the adventure of discovery that only a quiet graveyard can offer.

Stay close as we become gravely intimate with the residents of Pioneer Hill…

Welcome!

Welcome

The Landscape

The Landscape

BJ's Toys

BJ’s Toys

Fate, Cemented

Fate Cemented

The plots are super personalized.

The plots are super personalized.

In the Deadlights

In the Deadlights

(Not an actual cowboy.)

(Not an actual cowboy.)

On this day, I saw three scarecrows on graves. Three!

On this day, I saw three scarecrows on graves. Three!

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Marked and Unmarked Mounds

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It's rare that a monument brings me to tears. This one did.  Later, an internet search revealed that this mother and son had passed in a tragic traffic accident on their way to Las Vegas. It's clear they are missed dearly.

It’s rare when a monument brings me to tears. This one did.
Later, an internet search revealed that this mother and son had passed in a tragic traffic accident on their way to Las Vegas. It’s clear they are missed dearly.

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Again, I'm struck by the personalization.

Again, I’m struck by the personalization.

There's always at least one monument at each cemetery I document that grabs me and won't let go until I take shots from every angle, obsessed. Here, she's The One.

There’s always at least one monument at each cemetery I document that grabs me and won’t let go until I take shots from every angle, obsessed. Here, she’s The One.

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Nothing rounds out a post like a decapitated cherub.

Nothing rounds out a post like a decapitated cherub.