4360 Miles in 126 Hours

Troy Paiva

5) Around mid-morning I cruise into Endee, New Mexico, a dead gas station, café, motel and roadhouse complex. Everything has been stripped out, leaving only the shells of the cinderblock buildings. The big “Café-Motel” sign, visible from miles away, paint weathered off, stands tall, but tired. As I crunch through the weeds, hundreds of birds roosting in the shade of the eaves and inside the rooms pour out of the broken windows and doorways. When I kneel to take a picture of a TV set impaled on a fence post, I fill my leg with spiny thorns, then fill my fingers with spiny thorns trying to dig them out.

The Panhandle continues to be a photographic washout. My throttle foot itches. Longing for the familiar environment of the desert, I make a beeline south. By the time I get to Lubbock the sun is nearly set and the sky begins to cloud up. Again. I begin to feel I won't find a subject to shoot tonight. Luckily, I find an abandoned farm as the last slivers of sun are burying themselves in the horizon's cloudbank. Then the overcast sky suddenly splits, bathing the landscape with a bright monochromatic blue moon glow. The baked desolation of this lonely place on the Texas-New Mexico border cuts right to my soul. The atmosphere is timeless and still. The nearest dot on the map says “Griffith, Texas,” but I know there's nothing there.