Monday, September 21, 2009

First Solo Road Trip Part 5. Natural Bridge, VA

Natural Bridge, VA
Natural Bridge, VA

On the way through a no-place called Natural Bridge I pull over at the sight of two strange spectacles. The first is an old boarded up lot covered in bright blue peeling paint, which first gets my attention with it having the Ten Commandments nailed to the heavily chained up gates. I get out, photograph, and peek into the enclosure. Inside it is filled with dozens of life size replicas of real, mythical and prehistoric animals. It is a storage facility for a closed down leisure park of some kind called and according to the faded sign inside: The Enchanted Kingdom.

It appears to have been closed a long time ago and the forest has again begun to reclaim it, like everything else left, lost and abandoned around here. The fibre glass animals are scattered, shattered, lame, limp, fractured, limbless and broken about the entire lot: A herd of Elephants in a petrified parade are lashed down with ropes between two outhouses. Two faded and peeling Tigers tied to a truck bed next to a decapitated Giraffe. A glowing green Brontosaurus which stands on three legs frozen in an eternal topple. Cattle and Deer lay sideways in the undergrowth stiff with plastic rigamortis. Giant crumbling Pharaohs stand as sentinels against the fence looking inwards. Raptors fossilized between empty corroding cars husks. A massive and horrific blue hand reaches up from the weeds with screaming faces on the ends of each of its fingers. I am astonished by this sad amazing and weird beauty and begin photographing as best I can between the small gap between the gates.

I walk around the perimeter. Its late afternoon and the sun is hot and the air thick with insects. Around the back of the lot, trampling down thick undergrowth, I am acutely aware I am now trespassing and also watching for snakes or other nasty's - (like the person who owns this strange space). Suddenly I am shocked still in my tracks as I stumble into a giant fibre glass Tic, right there in front of me. It was once a vivid blue, but with time it has lost most of its colour, looking now like it was made from bone. It stands ten feet tall in the grass with a nightmarish life size tortured human face frozen in a dreadful pain filled grimace. Its legs still lifting it above the grass, which has now gone yellow beneath it. On the Tics huge bulk it looks as though a man were trying to climb out, though trapped once on the inside of it, but had been quickly petrified in mid-motion - weathered hands reaching into the air with splayed fingers. It is a shocking wonderful and exciting site and I begin laughing out loud with its absurdity.

My photographs though are disappointing. The bright afternoon sun frazzling the strange mystery which I see with my mind. It is here I become aware of the sometimes vast space between writing and photography.

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