I-10 takes you to Los Angeles if you stay on it all the way.
Out of Wilcox, Arizona the Interstate takes you along a steadily winding uphill road that goes from long flat expanses to foothills and into rugged mountains. Several miles before you get to Texas Canyon, a collection of rock formations that look like a group of dinosaur’s ridged backs, you come to a ghost town called Stein’s. There is a faded billboard promoting the place that has survived highway beautification and Ladybird Johnson.
Usually Stein’s has just been a glance to the right and is passed by. There is nothing here but old wood cabins, rusted machines, cactus, barbed wire fences and trailers for people who want to live away from other people because it is easier that way.
I drive under an overpass, follow a gravel road that ends at a closed chain link gate. There is a sign with red lettering that says the place is closed and two men inside the fence today are burning weeds and trying to get the best of their rakes and shovels.
“They are,” one says, suspicious of my intentions.
“Good place for a movie shoot.”
“They did a few here,” comes a grunt, “but the highway noise makes it hard. Kills the sound man. ”
“Is the Museum open?”
“No, the owner’s husband was murdered here and it has been closed four years. She doesn’t know what she is going to do. ”
When a place has a population of two and one gets murdered you have devastation.
My love affair with Stein’s ends as quick as it began and I pull back out on the Interstate out with relief, glad to leave the two prisoners to their work detail.
Stein’s is now in my rear view mirror and its history is sad.
It is just another comma in a long winded Faulkner novel where people are born, live, and die while moss grows thick in the trees and the difference between humans and animals is only razor thin.