Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gentleman Buffalo

What's going on here?

That's me, bottom left. This is a screenshot from the film Gentleman Broncos. I was an extra in that there picture. See ^^ ? This isn't my first time as an extra. In the mid-'90s I spent an honest day working as an extra on the show Promised Land, but even though I got a close-up I didn't make the final cut. Also I got sunburned really badly. The sun is my enemy.

I filmed my Broncos role almost a year ago to the day. I was jobless so when the call went out from a friend-of-a-friend needing extras I jumped at the chance, even though it meant waking up before 1pm. It was a fun experience really. In this scene I'm reacting to Jemaine Clement. I really like that Jemaine. He wasn't there though, they filmed his scene the day before. Cinemagic, folks.

The movie came out last fall and though I was cautiously optimistic, it ended up being, um, kind of bad. Really bad. Pretty much the worst movie I've ever seen. To say nothing of anyone involved in the film, who I'm sure are all very nice people. But wow. I walked out of the theater feeling strange, almost sick. Still, on that day a year ago I got a free bottle of water, the fancy Hollywood stuff, and a crisp money bill. So you know, whatever.

I was scheduled to be there all day but the shoot only took about an hour. Since I was up so early and had nothing planned for the day, I decided to explore. I went north. I went west. Then I went north again. I got lost. It was grey and dark and snowing. I decided to drive to the Great Salt Lake and throw rocks into it. Strange thing is, even though the Great Salt Lake is really big, like, really big. I know in general where it is, but I've never really stood upon it's salty shores.

I felt like I was getting closer because suddenly there were no buildings. In fact there was nothing at all.

I guess I was in farm country? I don't know what they're farming out there but the air smelled like cow shit.

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon the Antelope Island Causeway, which probably would have been easy to find if I was actually looking for it. It was a nice surprise. I'd wanted to go there ever since I was a tyke but I've never made it out there.

At the entrance to the causeway a very rude park ranger told me the price was $12 per car which seemed like an awful lot. I told him I was but one man, and my car was small. I promised to take only pictures and leave only footprints, but he wouldn't budge. I figured it wasn't worth it and maybe I should come back some other time with a car full of all my rowdy friends. I turned around, but then remembered the Adventurer's Creed ("If you find something better to do, do that"), so I turned around again and paid the $12. The park ranger was pretty smug about this development. "I knew you'd come back," he said with a sinister tone.

I put on my trunks and couldn't wait to jump into the freezing, cloudy, rotten-egg smelling water, but my dreams were soon crushed.

The GSL is so big. So big I find it disturbing. I'm freaked out by vastness. Space, the ocean, the GSL. The lake is especially off-putting because at least with the ocean you know it's teeming with life. This thing is home to only brine shrimp, seagulls, and a monster with the body of a crocodile and the head of a horse.

I got out to take some pictures and the cold wind stung my face, attacking me with frozen salt. I felt unwelcome there.

The Wikipedia entry for Antelope Island doesn't want to discuss it, but the place is definitely haunted.

Maybe on a sunny summer day when it's filled with fit cyclists and friendly buffalo you get a different feeling, but on this day I was the only person on the whole island. Seriously I didn't see another human the whole time I was there.

This little snow-covered mountain was more impressive in real life. It was like, all 3-D n' shit.

The shores. Mud flats and marshes.

Over a hundred and sixty years ago some fool decided this would be a good place to live.

Well, I guess the whole Wasatch Front looked like that at the time, so it was as good a place as any. This fence surrounds the Fielding-Garr Ranch, the oldest Whitey made structure in all of Utah. It surrounds a natural spring and there's evidence that people have been springing around there for over 1,000 years.

It looked so inviting I had to go in for a closer look.

There's a storeroom full of original ranch stuff. It's spook in there, and colorless.

Murder supplies!

It was really neat inside. I'm glad I had the place all to myself.

Though I question the placement of this "no trespassing" sign. I'm no rancher but I think it should be on the outside.

Unless the no trespassing mandate was limited to that particular area of the storeroom.

This truck was owned by Fielding Garr himself. Bought it in 1848 for only six Deseret Dollars.

I was alarmed by an otherwordly sound and turned to find a cage full of dragons!

Spooky swamp around the spring.

I crossed through it to get to another ranch building.

This building felt less like a museum than the storeroom and more just like an abandoned house.

I hate it when they tease us with unusable toilets.

Well of course it's not for "public" use, it's for private use. Toiletry tends to be a very private act.

The living area was set up to feel lived in. I keep repeating itself, but it was so eerie. On any other day it might have felt like a slice of the past but on that grey windy day it just felt apocalyptic, like The Road.

Some great family portraits in the living area.

The kids.
Mr. and Mrs.

The Victorian equivalent of the Farrah Fawcet poster.

When I'm in haunted buildings I always take pictures of mirrors, in case they turn out to be ghost mirrors.

What is that glowing thing appearing through the doorway? It could be a ghost, or it could be daylight. We'll never know.

This is the, uh, North or maybe East side of the island. Might be the west side. This picture was taken looking down from a hill. Doesn't give a good sense of scale as the shoreline was really far away from where I was.

The island is famous for it's buffalo (bison) population. A herd was herded to the island for protection when white folk was busy killing them all and the herd has thrived there ever since. I didn't see any though. I went to an area called the Buffalo Holding Pens, where I saw no buffalo. Again, I was completely alone but for the sound of wind and creaky fences creaking and clanging. No adult supervision at all. Surely there are park rangers there right? So weird.

Finally I was just overwhelmed by the weird feeling and I had to get off that island. This summer I want to go back and see it when it's maybe green and stuff.

Oh, I guess I did see one buffalo, I tried to photograph every part of it but failed. I don't know how the Native-Americans did it.


  1. The only times I've had the opportunity of seeing the GSL are when I'm traveling north and it's unavoidably west of the freeway, and when in flight out of the state. Someday, as all good Utahns ought, I'm sure I'll have my day at the lake of salt.

    By the way, this was another beautifully written travel blog.

  2. You know there was an escape tunnel behind those pioneer Farrah Fawcett pictures, right?

  3. The quilt on that bed is called a Log Cabin quilt.

  4. Was that dried blood splattered on the No Trespassing sign?

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