Tuesday, October 28, 2014


JOHANNESBURG, RANDSBURG, RED MOUNTAIN---- A trinity of ghost towns---within a mile of each other---triangulated around a single mountain.

I plan to visit all three tomorrow.  Tonight I settle into the cool mountain pass and climb the adjacent mountain.  (pleased that I can still climb a mountain)  I look down and see that I have a visitor---a cop.
So I take a quick shot of Red Mountain

and 180 degrees to the left is Johannesburg.
I go down the mountain.  The Cop turns out to be a very nice guy who knows how to deal with a citizen.  Tells me he's investigating a report of gunshots. (I didn't believe him--but he needs a cover story to investigate) I use the opportunity learn about his work.  When the backup arrived, he was no doubt surprised to see us shaking hands) 

I've come to find the grave of "Burro" Schmidt.
Johannesburg cemetery  apparently serves all three of the towns.
I prepare myself for a long search---but this grave immediately catches my eye.

It turns out to be that of Toni Seger, the lady who bought Burro Schmidt's tunnel and house.  And guess what?  Burro is buried in the next grave over.
Toni's grave is a masterwork of memorialization.  But I seriously doubt if those dates are correct.  Did she really live to be 106 years old?
A brief history of her life is etched in stone. One interesting incident is recorded---her wishes to be removed from her cabin FEET FIRST.
And this group of people apparently paid for this interesting artistry.  I think all graves should show a little imagination and some detail like this one.
I wonder if living alone in the desert makes it more likely you will become eccentric.

I moved on to Red Mountain---one mile away.  Met this interesting guy en route
A cross country biker who has just pedaled a very long way across the desert-- against the wind.
Behind him you can see the red mountain the town is named for. 
I show you just one shot of Red Mountain---a vast junkyard with not a drop of civic price.  I count it as a minimal place to BE.
So, I moved on to Randsburg --a thriving ghost town that gets a lot of attention from tourist and off road riders.
It makes a effort to preserve its character.
I stayed the night right where I was.  (Watched my Alma Mater, LSU defeat Old Miss---the nation's number 2 ranked team)
Took an early morning walk all around town.
Something was happening a block away.
They were making a movie.  Look for it at your local theater.  Title:  "TICKETED"
Don't know his name---but he was putting his heart into the role.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Dear God (or whomever) I love this freedom to drift around--with a full "set of stuff" (comforts and connections) ---doing whatever appeals to me. You probably could do it too---if you wanted.  
Next, I think I will share with you a bizarre encounter I had yesterday with an old lover.
And I'm very curious about this mysterious clump of thriving trees I spotted from the exit of Burro's tunnel-- out in the middle of a vast desert.  I'm going to find a way out there to see what's in them


VtChris said...

I think people who choose to live alone in the desert are eccentric to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Randy, according to what I have read about Tonie she was born in 1908, so she would have been 95 @ her death, not 106. Eccentric people can be so interesting...puzzling too! Linda

bayrider said...

I went through there a few months back toward the end of a long road day. Is there a better north/south uncrowded, lonesome drive than US 395? Or east/west on US 50?

I have done them at least a dozen times each and never tire of them, few drives evoke such a feeling of spaciousness and freedom.

Randy said...

Bayrider: Re lonely roads: I've just discovered a few more: From Randsberg, Ca to Cantil to California City---thence to Barstow and South on 247 to Lucerne Valley to Joshua Tree ---east on 62 then South on 177.
If your courage is high, go from Barstow to Ludlow to Amboy to Cadiz to Rice to Blythe. Great path for the soul.