Lost America: The Abandoned Roadside West, by Troy Paiva
The chapters are replete with evocative remembrances of the eerie and wondrous moments Paiva has shared with the so-called empty desert spaces. He describes desert nights teeming with the sound of fluttering bat wings, the howls of coyotes, and sounds from unknown sources carried for miles on never-ending desert breezes. He writes with compassion and insight about the hundreds of abandoned homestead shacks found throughout the American southwest. He describes the growth and eventual death of drive-in movie theaters and provides a fascinating look into the world of airplane salvage operations.
The most haunting of the chapters is his description of the development and demise of a resort community in southern California. In the early 1960's, the town of Salton Sea Beach was the favored destination of thousands of fishermen and boaters. A series of human-caused environmental disasters have turned this one-time recreational paradise into the "fetid hell of the Salton Sea" where the shoreline is littered with the skeletons of thousands of fish and the ruins of once-swanky marinas and clubs.
Although Paiva paints his canvas with the relics of apparently forgotten and failed human communities, I found the book a source of hope and appreciation for those who live and work in harsh desert environments. This visually stunning and well-written work is a rich source of ideas and inspiration for western road trippers.