Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book: Lost America - The Abandoned Roadside West by Troy Paiva

Restaurant Cafe - Tehachapi, California
When I was a kid my grandparents took me on a short road trip to Tehachapi, California. One thing that I remember is eating at this restaurant that my grandpa recalled was one of his favorites from his truck driving days. Several decades later I find myself living in Tehachapi and grabbing breakfast or lunch at this same spot.

Last Sunday my family and I visited that restaurant, Kelcy's Cafe, for lunch. They have some great fried chicken and their biscuits and gravy are hard to beat. It's a good place, but you have to know what to order. My kids love it because you can see the train tracks from the booth next to the front door.

My 19-month-old son was having a hard time sitting still while waiting for our food to come so my wife took him and my six-year-old son next door to the model train store to keep them occupied, while I stayed in the restaurant with my seven-year-old daughter.

When they returned my wife told me that there's a Lionel train that I need to go see--it has a sound system that even includes train dispatcher radio calls. Something that you probably don't know about me is that I was once a train dispatcher for the Union Pacific Railroad. She thought it might be nice running around our Christmas Tree this year.

After lunch I headed next door to the model train store to check out the Lionel train set. While I was there I looked through their small book section, and I found something really cool. Sitting among publications dedicated to all things railroad was Lost America - The Abandoned Roadside West by Troy Paiva. It was such an odd place to find the book, so I knew I had to grab it. Interestingly enough, the train store owner didn't remember even ordering the book!
Lost America & Coffee
I was already familiar with Troy's great work. I follow him on Flickr (he follows me, as well). I've had short conversations with him via the web. He's got a nice website. If you're a urban explorer in the southwestern United States you've likely already heard of Troy Paiva.

Sometimes I have trouble finding the courage to go inside abandoned buildings. They're creepy and dangerous. Troy goes to the next level and photographs these places at night. He "light paints" abandoned things (buildings, cars, refrigerators, airplanes--most anything sitting out alone in the desert) using long exposures after the sun has gone down. Talk about guts! And his images are spectacular and ethereal.

Troy's photographs in the Lost America book are vibrant and interesting. They're accompanied by interesting stories and introspective words. It's one of those books that you want to take your time with, ensuring that you've experienced it fully. This book should be on every urban explorer's coffee table. To say that it's impressive is an understatement!

Lost America can be purchased on Amazon. You may be able to find it at your local bookstore. Troy has also authored two other books that I'll have to purchase soon. Be sure to check them out!

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