Monday, May 18, 2009

Days of Thunder part 3: the end of the century

This. This is an atomic blast as seen from the town of Wendover, Utah. Pretty remarkable that I was able to capture it on film last weekend.

You will undoubtedly recall that the first post in this three-part entry began with a video clip of OMD's "Enola Gay." Is it starting to come together for you? Wendover, Utah was home to the airship Enola Gay, the flying fortress responsible for dropping the atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" over Hiroshima, Japan. The historical implications of this cannot be ignored. Arguably ending WWII but leading to the decades long standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. Killing over 100,000 civilians, but perhaps preventing countless more innocent deaths. The philosophical paradoxes could tie your mind up for weeks.

Those paradoxes were on our minds as we stood and gazed upon the actual ship itself, the Enola Gay.

That guy standing in front of it is a volunteer who insists that the ship must be ready to go in the event of renewed U.S./Japanese hostilities. If you ask me he's a little paranoid, and insists that the worst day of his life was when Ichiro Suzuki broke the single-season hits record. Kind of racist really.

Parts of the airfield are still in use for the high-rollers (ha!) coming in to gamble in West Wendover, but most of it is abandoned now. Despite being all spooky and decrepit, it's actually one of the most well-preserved WWII airbases around.

This is the hanger the Enola Gay rested in while the crew trained. At one point there were over 20,000 personnel at this base.

Recognize this plane?

How about now?

It's one of three planes used in the movie Con Air. The film that gave us Nicholas Cage with a Foghorn Leghorn accent and a Michael Bolton hairdo. This plane is to cinema what the Enola Gay is to warfare.

Scott insisted that he could fly that bucket o' bolts, but I think he was lying.

I think Nathaniel is doing an impression of popular WWII graffito "Kilroy."

My favorite part of this plane is that it finally gave me a place to put all the floor plugs and d-rings I'd been carrying around all day.

I didn't stay too long in there because it was kind of starting to freak me out.

I mean, who knows what could be lurking in that darkness.

Climbed to the top of the old control tower which was a bit unnerving what with the narrow, steep stairway with the see-thru grating. But what a view!

Look how high it is! That tiny blue speck is Lisa.

Nice parking job, idiot.

The old barracks looked friendly and uninteresting.

This truck was hanging around in like Jaws waiting for its prey.

The truck was beaten and broken down. The back doors were open revealing... chips?

Someone had a truck full of chips and decided "I'm just going to park here in the middle of nowhere and let this truck rot here til the end of time." Weird! Maybe it was a heist gone wrong.

We started to get an eerie feeling from the abandoned barracks. Junk everywhere. I named this Mount Tetanus.

The grounds outside one building were strewn with baby socks and childrens' blankets. A peak in the broken window revealed a bad scene at the laundromat.

Things were getting progressively more Stephen Kingy.

As far as I can tell from my research, the base has been completely de-activated since 1969 and declared surplus in 1976. It seems like everyone just up and left, leaving everything behind. Was the base de-activated, or was there a zombie attack? A The Stand-like virus? Who leaves two perfectly good television sets behind?

Coyotes howled in the distant hills and wild dogs barked in the labyrinth of wooden buildings.

One boarded up garbage building had the sound of a television or radio coming from inside.

Do not trespass inside that car! The other one is fair game.

"Beware: Racers, Parts Thieves, and Californicators are not welcome!" I'm none of those things but I still didn't feel very welcome.

Here's a big chain. Probably to keep the planes from running away.

I'd already decided that this was the creepiest place I'd ever been (Nathaniel said second creepiest. Lee wasn't bothered at all. I don't know where Scott or Lisa rank it) when I ran into this.

Why yes, that is a dead mummified zombie cat. What the...? Why is in attack position? How did it die? Why haven't wild animals or flies or weather taken it away? Does it come alive at night?

Here's a close-up. You might find it disturbing so be warned.

That's about it for Wendover. Oh, we also saw a brigade of ghost soldiers. They didn't photograph well but they did wave to Scott.

The end.

Link: the historic wendover airfield needs your support!


  1. Hey, this place is endangered (such endangerment even made the National Geographic travel blog a few weeks ago). Sad that it's so decrepit, but gooooooo history!

  2. great photos. especially the 2nd half.

  3. That cat made me pee in my pants.

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