Tag Archives: horror

Keeper of the keys: Day 2

I’ve been advised to start stories not at the beginning but somewhere else, perhaps the middle or the end. I’ll share a few journal notes this week from my experiences as volunteer gatekeeper for a wildlife management area in Hells Canyon. Today is not the first.

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I’ve been squatting long enough my toe joints hurt but I don’t want to move. Turkeys following in line, spread to a V, marching knees high, advance quickly toward me as I crouch beneath an old black walnut tree. I want to become so much part of the environment they don’t fear me, they forget me and they move closer unaware. I can’t take it any longer. Before bracing my weight with my finger tips I check the ground  in case there is bear scat. Don’t touch ground here without looking. It’s everywhere. All around the house, in the gravel, up the banks beneath the thicket of wild ancient fruit trees. Shit. That’s what it is. Why do we call it scat? Bears shit in orchards. They shit anywhere they please and don’t much think about it. I think. Bearshit. It’s everywhere I look. Or step. Or kneel.

Day 1 – First day living at the ranch to check out keys to the gates. I arrived at 3:30, no staff at the house yet so I took out my camera. The sun was about to go behind the mountain. I love the sounds here, the creek and turkeys and then deep silence in the evening.

Day 2 – evening – Turkeys are somewhat scary the way they walk and peck at each other, wings spread wide and beating the air. When they roost in tall trees over the creek I feel like they might dive at me. But they don’t. But they might. I feel it. Sometimes I am typing this story, these notes, and I see a shadow cruise swiftly past the window out in the yard, the air space over the yard. It’s a turkey, but might it be something else? It’s dusk, what’s the science word for this time of day becoming night? It feels like when I am walking up my road at home and swallows are darting after insects and then for a brief time when it’s almost too dark to detect images as they truly are I sense bats the same size darting among the swallows, all of them feasting on flying insects. It’s a feeding frenzy. And soon the swallows are gone and it’s only the bats and mammoth moths devouring bugs all night. I need monsters flitting about doing the same thing. I need imaginary predators imitating my pets imitating predators, waiting so patiently, so alertly, so ready to snap up their prey.

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That sound? Has something with wings landed on my roof peak? Is it waiting for me to forget it’s presence, unwary, and go to the wood pile or to my truck for a bucket of paints? Will I forget it’s there, let it be part of the environment until cautionless I walk out into the dark of night, witless and mindless as a turkey, and it swoops down and snaps off my head leaving my neck spurting blood and my legs still walking as though they haven’t yet received the message they have no head managing their performance? It could happen.

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BTW I made it to the truck and back fetching a small jar of sourdough starter I had left behind the seat. Still I left the flashlight there. The moon is getting fairly full. No matter. I’m writing horror snippets and at this point something very big with wings is surely perched on the roof patiently waiting like any wise predator for its unwary prey to emerge mindlessly from the door. And I’ve learned that turkeys talking in the night sound something like wolves.

I’d better get back to writing now.

 

 

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How to be a street performer

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  1. Make yourself an appealing costume.
  2. Pose like a statue until someone puts cash in your box (which you have also decorated and set out in an obvious and inviting way).

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3. With cash secured in your money bucket do your best to pose with the payers.

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4. Stay in character and interact with your patrons. After all, they paid for a performance.

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5. Have a blast with the people you meet. It calls more attention to your performance and makes everyone’s day better.( Eduardo’s slide show has 5 photos; wait for them or click the arrows.)

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6. Perform in Madrid plazas. (Or you own street.)

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7. Or create an interesting sculpture with support so it looks like you are performing a magnificent feat when really you have built something to rest on.

I feel like I saw more street performers in Madrid than I photographed. I have encouraged my drama students to do street performances for fundraisers and I think with more confidence and rehearsals some might do it. Really, I should do this to raise funds for my next travel. Yeah, thinking about it.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Local

Winter Walk

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Walk with me on a sunny January day in the Rocky Mountains.

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Contemplate a place to meditate next to the creek. Think of spring when iris blooms over the grave on the slope. Think of summer when you sway in the hammock strung between the trees.

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Spy on unwary quail that live beneath snow and branches.

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Discover a chickadee’s pantry where it has stashed seeds from your feeder.

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Let it show you how it cracks a black sunflower seed open for lunch.

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Wonder if it was a fox or cat that left its tracks along the creek, up the hill,

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beneath the pine, across the field, over the show covered chair, under the Elderberry brush,

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across the puddle (those are my show shoe tracks next to the animal trail), between strands of barbed wire,

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into the forest.

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Breathe deeply along the creek.

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Feel like you are being watched.

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Take your time knowing a pair of Red Breasted Nut Hatches.

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Catch a bubble and float away.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Optimistic

 

 

The watchful corridor

eerie door B & W

eerie hall with windows B & W

Bran Castle in Transylvania had just enough eerie feeling. Some thing seemed to be watching me through doors. Some corridors made me wonder what I might encounter as I approached the unknown round the far away corner.

Weekly photo challenge EERIE.

Ghosty horned skull thingy

ghost skull in flashlight

And this wraps up my creepy posts for this week’s photo challenge CREEPY. Not everything about Bran Castle was eerie, but some of it definitely was. To see more scary images from my visit to Transylvania in July look at my recent posts below or in the left sidebar. To participate in the weekly photo challenge or see what other bloggers have posted for the creepy photo challenge click here. Not all my posts are about horror so please come back and see more gentle posts, soon.

Horror Bride

She knew she would never escape the fortress if she married him. Death forever was better than submitting to his demeanor.

running into scene

horse face close

bride with lantern

girl watching rider

bride's back

It’s CREEPY photo challenge week. Here’s my theme for today. To see previous creepy posts for this week, look through my recent posts below or in the left side bar. I have been posting photographs I made in Transylvania in July. This remarkable bride and horse, created by a film crew, were at the entrance to Bran Castle. To participate in the weekly photo challenge and see creepy photos by other bloggers, click here

Hidden passages

In the Tunnel
Up the hidden stairs

Anything can happen

when you take the first steps

into a hidden passageway.

Strange lights appear.

Walls close in on you.

Pretty creepy.

Especially when

stairs are involved.

And if

it’s in the dark part

of an ancient castle

deep in Transylvania

deep in the Carpathian Mountains.

And if you’re alone.

At night.

And it’s Bran Castle,

one of several

that inspired the story

of a cunning vampire.

The setting, they say.

Would you proceed toward an unknow light source?

Would you step

round the corner

toward an unknown light

source?

step up B & W tint

Would you recall

the murderer

creaking

up the old wooden stairs

every night

to your bedroom

when you were a child?

You knew you would be the first one killed,

silently

because you were too scared

to scream.

Next,

your sleeping brothers.

Would Dad wake up

in time

to save his family?

You never found out.

down ancient steps

What ghosts crept down these

primitive planks,

before you?

Did they escape?

Will you?

Will you miss a step

and tumble down head first

screaming

as you see your belly

falling over your face

again and again

like you were a child?

Again and again?

Who will unlatch the door

at the bottom

and hold you

this time?

Keens on stairs 3 colorful

Better carry a lantern

and wear sensible shoes

lest you slip

and break your neck.

Blood wipes up

completely

from polished stones,

they say.

stone staircase

Better yet,

stay away.

Don’t go

into dark passages.

You’ll never be the same if you do.

This poem was inspired by images I made during my experiences at The Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, in July, 2015. Of the scary photos and writing on my blog for the photo challenge, CREEPY, the post Hidden Passages is the most popular. It doesn’t show images of things created to be scary like a ghost bride racing away on a ghost horse, or a skull with horns over a huge fabric draped in the woods, or animal skulls baring their teeth in a fortress window. No, instead it shows ancient wooden or stone stairs, most of them spiraling, and small dark hallways and strange lights. Those images are more real and we all have fears of the real more than the fantastic art pieces created to scare us.

Walking home alone in Bucharest

In Bucharest, Romania a few nights before going to Bran,Transylvania for the Horror Writers Workshop, I left my dinner group at the beer hall, and walked back to my hotel alone so I could make some photos. I definitely prefer my Olympus DSL for night shots but the Canon Powershot 530 provided well enough. I feel the curse of Gypsies in the last shot, the fiddler near my hotel. He shook his head for me to stop photographing him and I stopped, reluctantly. I didn’t realize the woman pulling the child and cursing me was the same one as in the photo until I worked through my shots back in my room. She followed me and was deadly serious with her ever-so-quiet tongue in a language I barely understand. But her tone was direct and her glare pushed forward all the venom it could collect as she steadily strode toward me, gaining on me until I had to turn around and notice her. I gave it right back at her with a hearty look of offence more powerful than the defence I felt. And I meant it just as much as she did. Our locked and loaded eyes were our common language. I don’t know what she was saying but I silently warned her, “You’d better not if you know what’s good for you.” She backed off and turned away as I stood facing her, ready for confrontation. So far so good.

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The New Plank

Frank's Outhouse Nearly Monochrome

Emily squinted toward the privy, hoping Frank was still there. When she last saw him he had rolled up the Cabella’s catalog and stuffed it in his hip pocket, grabbed a PBR from the cooler, and left the kitchen door swinging open. That always signaled he was heading to his one-holer library. But this time he had not returned. She would have heard the creak of the cooler lid as he reached for another beer. Dusk deepened in a whispering symphony of shadows and the sky pressed down upon the ridge saying hush. How she hated this time of evening when she could distinguish few colors except crimson tones in the outhouse plank that Frank had replaced after he’d come at her with his axe last November. She wouldn’t hide from him ever again. She pulled back the hammer on Frank’s Winchester and pressed the butt firmly against the soft flesh below her collarbone. The heavy steel was cold in her grip. She felt her neck swell with blood pulsing so hard she could hear nothing else. Her fear and wrath excited her. And it felt so right.

glass door with window and stove

The story is flash fiction, I  made it up today. If you knew Frank you wouldn’t doubt one of his six wives might have killed him. For his privacy I won’t tell you what really killed him, but he did have a meaningful part of himself amputated in an attempt to save his life. Failed. I didn’t know a man can get cancer there! Look closely and you can see the top of my home in the background. I don’t have an outhouse. Nor a Winchester. And the horror genre is new to me. I’m getting ready to go the the Horror Writers Workshop in Transylvania this summer so this is just a small step in that direction. You’ll more likely see fantasy and magical realism in my poems and stories. Those are also in the horror genre, the “new black”. Dark fiction. This January post tells about the Horror Writers Workshop. There are still a few openings. You can find the link in that post. I posted a poem with another monochromatic version of Frank’s place here.

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Today’s photo challenge is Architecture and Monochrome. I photographed Frank’s place in Feb. 2015. It’s decaying since he died several years ago. I doubt there were building codes when he constructed it. Shadows lend the look of Mystery, a previous daily photo challenge. And the walls address the weekly photo challenge Wall. Click https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/ to see more Wall photos by other bloggers and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/wall/ to see my earlier Wall post, rather macabre. I took some time adjusting these photos in Photoshop CS4 to create moods and tryout monotone design techniques. In the slideshow above you can see the untouched images next to those I adjusted. I’m still more comfortable in a real true old fashioned darkroom with an enlarger and chemicals. But digital tools are rather amusing, cheaper, and maybe faster. To find out about the WordPress Photo 101 course, which has a daily photo assignment, and see more photos in this challenge, click here https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/. You might have to be registered for the course to use the link.

Harv

man walking away on prairie

In the Depression Harv moved around. He didn’t have his own home. Harv stayed with different relatives. He’d stay on one ranch and help them out. Then he moved on to another kin’s place and helped them do chores and fix things. He tried to be handy, but he was more in the way than useful. He stayed a couple of months usually. He wasn’t always appreciated, but he was family, so folks let Harv live with them to help him out. For a while. Harv made the rounds living with one brother or sister, then the next, and that’s how he got by in those days. After several rounds of putting him up,  Fred had had enough of his mooching brother . You see, Harv drank a lot and wasn’t at all helpful.

Fred liked to get up early and get at the chores. There was a skating rink in the town and Harv would go there every night and drink himself blind. He came home, Fred and Letha’s home, when the joint closed and slept it off until late in the morning. Every day. One morning when the shadowed edges were beginning to darken into things we know, Fred took Harv’s knife while he lay sleeping. He walked to the chicken pen in dim lantern light and selected a young hen. He twisted her head until he felt her spinal cord snap and then he cut her throat with the blade. Then he plucked out her feathers , dressed her out, and sliced her in pieces. He dropped the pieces in a pail hanging on the side of the hen house. He tossed the slick innards into the hog pen. And then Fred carefully slipped back into Harv’s bedroom and put the bloody knife back where he found it. Letha came humming across the yard to the hen house swinging a basket for fresh eggs, the way she did every day. She folded up the bottom of her apron forming a pocket and held it tightly in one hand. Then she picked up the bloody chicken parts and dropped them into the fold. She carried the flesh into the kitchen, rinsed them in the sink, and put the pieces in a bowl in the ice box next to the new eggs. They’d have chicken dinner tonight.

When the sun was well up, Harv sat in a kitchen chair waiting for his breakfast the way he did every day. Fred poured a cup of weak coffee for each of them and looked down at his brother. “Harv”, said Fred as he set the cups on the embroidered table cloth, “Were you at the skating rink last night?” “Sure I was” said Harv. “Every night.” Fred looked at Harv for a long silence. “Harv, the Sherriff was here this morning. He wanted to talk to you. Said there was a fight at the skating rink last night and a fellow got stabbed. He didn’t think he’s gonna live. Sherriff wanted to ask you if you saw the fight, if you know anything about it.” Harv looked at his steaming cup for a long silence. He didn’t remember any fight the night before. He didn’t remember much at all from last night. Harv left Fred and Letha’s ranch that day and he never came back. That’s the way Aunt Jewel always tells it about Harv.

About this story: Duree Shiverick, Eagle, Idaho, told me this story in her shop January 22, 2015 while she replaced the string attachment cord on my antique violin. I was wandering the shop examining imaginatively carved fiddle heads while she spoke. And then I sat on a beautifully upholstered chair opposite her while she worked and gave me the tale. I asked her permission to embellish the story and use it in my storytelling bag. Harv’s name is real but I created the others. After telling the story several times it will change. When I am telling stories to an audience, that’s often when the language emerges by itself and makes a better fit. Repetition of words and phrases like “every night” is common in storytelling. I tried to keep the language simple and straight forward. I am putting more dark or magic or mythical elements in my story making since taking a writers workshop last year in a http://www.mccallarts.org/cabinfever program sponsored by the McCall Arts and Humanities Council, and in anticipation of the Horror Writers Workshop in Transylvania this summer.

How this story originated. After I published this story I was contacted by Miki Odendahl who says she is the original author. She says she wrote it in a high school creative writing class. Duree, who gave me the story, is her mother. I put my own storytelling style to it and the tale above is the result. Stories change over time when they are passed down orally. I want to give credit to the young lady who first composed the plot. She owns the story, though her version is much different from this. I am grateful that she came to me and set me straight, and allows me to publish it here.

In the original author’s words:

Duree is my mother. I grew up in Eagle, Idaho–first on Pimlico Drive, then in the cul de sac on North 2nd Street where she now lives with my 96 yo grandmother, Velma.

The story about Harvey was originally written for my creative writing class at Meridian Senior High School, about my own rabbit in the guise of another, and was a tribute to my friend, Valerie Harvey’s, brother who drowned when we were in grade school at Eagle Elementary. Yes, my mother can spin a yarn, and does so often, especially about me (according to her, I’m a serial killer, too), but this particular story was entirely mine.

Your story was forwarded to me by one of my childhood friends, who knows this story well.

About this photo: Someone took this photo of my nephew on either his family ranch near Sweet and Ola, Idaho, or in Wyoming. I adjusted curves and gave it a shape blur in Adobe CS4. I think it gives a ghostly image illustrating Harv leaving that day, although it’s a sunrise shot. Memories and stories retold have a blurry quality, rather dreamlike and that’s the mood I was trying to capture in this photo.

Invitation to Horror

I am thrilled to get to partcipate in the horror writers workshop in Transylvania this summer! I get to visit Bran’s castle and have a bite at Dracula’s house (lunch). I invite you to take up the challenge, too.

Horror is not my best writing genre, but then I don’t really know because I’ve only peered into it. This workshop will immerse me in the craft. The author teacher, Richard Thomas, is one of the best. (More about him in the link at the end of this.) I’ve been assured that exploratory writing will be just the ticket.

When I wondered if my writing is up to the challenge, the Program Director, an accomplished author herself, Tausha Johnson gave me this to think about. (She’s in the link below, too.)

“Writing a Horror Story

Every story is, in its tiny way, a horror story. Horror is about fear and tragedy, and whether or not one is capable of overcoming those things. It’s not all about severed heads or blood-glutton vampires. It’s an existential thing, a tragic thing, and somewhere in every story this dark heart beats.”

She said, “Yes, Kay, horror is very open and covers a lot of ground, such as dark fiction, dark fantasy, gothic, noir, psychological horror, weird, supernatural, surreal, grotesque, suspense & thriller, slipstream (crossing lines with sci-fi and fantasy), etc. Then there’s the horror I write which is more literary horror. Flannery O’Connor & Shirley Jackson often fall into this horror sub-genre. Whatever our style or genre of writing, there are elements to the genre that can help us create suspense and unique, original stories.”

Roots, photo from The Storyteller’s Abode at https://thestorytellersabode.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/roots.jpg

In my LaWrynn stories (in the menu at the top of this blog) there is much fantasy and darkness. She arrives in our world from the other world, the Celtic idea of where we are when we are dead or where the enchanted beings live. She enters our world through a portal on Samhain, the Celtic celebration when spirits can enter our world for 3 days, then go back to their world. It occurs at Halloween time and celebrates the end of the old year and beginning the new with festivities and community bonfires. Once in our world, she lives in the dark underground, Badger’s hole, and encounters life on this side, including dangers and horrors as well as light mischief and fun. She’s trapped here for a year because she didn’t get back through the portal at the end of 3 days. Her horror is having to live in this world. There’s magic and fantasy and lots of room to add darker elements. LaWrynn is mostly living in a real notebook with me for now. I need to prod myself to get more of her stories into this blog.  You can read the draft of her appearance here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/

And I have more ideas for dark stories. My new neighbor might be a pyromaniac and he’s obsessed with sealing wasps out of his house. For real! Wasps really scare me!They attack me every chance they get. I feel like their target. His house was abandoned for several years so wasps moved in and I don’t doubt ghosts abide there, too.

In my https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/the-cat-rock-letters/, I plan to animate the stone formation, a cat that overlooks the river and section house where Frank lives. In Celtic lore rock formations have powers and can change and cause changes. But this set of stories is not so dark and maybe I’ll leave them as they are.

I have other ideas in my journal, too, so maybe horror writing is not that far off for me. My fiction writing is more like dark fantasy than gore. But the horror genre seems to be experimental and flexible these days, according to the instructor’s podcast. http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tih-025-richard-thomas-on-the-dos-and-donts-of-short-story-writing/

Dracula’s Castle

I like the ravine in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.  I long to produce a play adapted from Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death”. I love Stanley Kubrick’s directing in the suspenceful movie “The Shining”. Nicole Kidman’s performance in the ghost story “The Others” convinced me. And I could not put down Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk even when the snow outside was the best ever on my vacation. He wrote Haiku in the story! Poe also wrote poems in his stories like https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/haunted-palace/ in “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Shakespeare’s stories showed ghosts and seers and tragedies. Mythology is full of tragedies. I got this!

Farewell Bonfire

If I never wanted to write horror, and never contrived a place I’d like to be when I write it, and people I’d like to be with…well sometimes I just need to be spontaneous and go with the demon when it stretches its claw toward me. With a generous scholarship offer from the workshop director, Tausha Johnson, I am 93% sure I am going to be in in Transylvania in July for the horror writer’s workshop. I’m looking at travel costs before making 7% more commitment. I’m sure I can do it! Just do it for no good reason. Going!

Get me there…alive…

I’ve never traveled off the North American continent and I need a little guidance about making flight arrangements. If you can advise me, please reply! I can fly from Boise or SEATAC. Here’s where I need to go:

“We recommend that guests fly to Henri Coandă International Airport, Romania which is located 16.5km (10.3mi) northwest of the city of Bucharest. Once all travel arrival times have been confirmed, a shuttle will bring you from a designated meeting point directly to the hotel in Bran. Please be aware that travel time to Bran is approximately three hours.”

http://www.workshopwriters.com/

http://www.workshopwriters.com/us/

https://www.smore.com/y6es9-horror-writing-in-transylvania

Washtucna, No Town for Old Dogs

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Washtucna, Washington, USA. We pulled over for coffee at the highway stop shop where they also offer a menu of hot dog dressings and sell antique dishes. Hot dogs on  a road trip? Let’s see if we can find an interesting locals diner in town instead.

The welcome sign at the edge of town invited us to cruise Main Street and shop local businesses. The whole town was closed, many buildings boarded up, something like a ghost town! We spotted Sonny’s, the only place open in town, and determined it was not the cafe-tavern for us. The only people we saw were the two coming out of the tavern, a driver watching wild turkeys from his car parked by a stream in a park, and one woman in bright pink pajama pants who stood on her porch and yelled at us to get off unmarked private property, a scrubby deserted lot across the highway from her home. We didn’t even see a dog. But we did find plenty of subjects to photograph before we ate hot dogs and hit the highway again.

We drove to the not-so-far end of town and made our way back to Highway 26. Looks like population 100 or maybe less. Stark! Washtucna has at least 5 tiny parks, put in so they could qualify for a grant. Nobody we talked to at the highway stop remembered anything else about the grant.

We toured town in gusty wind, and then ate our hot dogs in the parking lot of the Sunflower Park next to the highway. There, four signs warned us that dogs are not allowed so we kept the German Shepherds in the van. After lunch I photographed the four signs and more. When I walked through the little grassy area I discovered why dogs are banned. And possibly why there are no dogs to be seen in this ghostly town, except hot dogs.

Here is my photo tour of Washtucna. Click the first photo to start the slide show. Look for silos in the background, signs of the grain industry that thrived here almost a hundred years ago. Today I get hints of a setting for a horror or sci-fi tale, or maybe an unlikely romance story. Zombies…and dogs…lots of dogs…

To see my photo-journal of my autumn trip across the Pacific Northwest click this link.  https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/pacific-northwest-autumn/

For another town tour go to Aberdeen, Scotland with Rachel. http://rachelsquirrel.com/2014/10/06/footdee-aberdeen/

Show me your town or one you pass through on your travels. You can send me a link in comments. Happy trails!