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January 6, 2020

Buckhorn Baths Buddies

My son, Kurtis, knew a place with some signs he knew I would love to shoot. We’re in Mesa, Arizona, in case you’re wondering.

My son Parker is driving, Kurtis is riding shotgun, and I’m in the back dicking with my cameras.

As we pull into the lot in front of the big sign, I realize just how right Kurtis was...this is fantastic!

Being respectable citizens, we honored the “no trespassing” signs and took our photos out front.

We walked along the side to see what was behind. It was mainly just more dilapidated cabins and broken pavement. There was one cabin that was in working order, and a man walked out the front.

“Hello,” I said, as I waved, hoping the guy would let us in.

He came out to greet us at the fence. It was apparent early on that he wasn’t going to break any rules for us.

Dan was very polite about it. He went to his place to bring out a book about Buckhorn Baths in its hat day.

He showed us page after page of famous people who had visited over the years. And there, on random pages throughout, were photos of Dan’s mother. It appears she worked at the Baths most of her life, and brushed elbows with the rich and famous.

I don’t think there is any question that Dan Gann is proud of his mother. And, rightfully so...she worked there most of her life to provide a life for young Dan.

And now he’s the caretaker of what’s left of it all.

He told us of rumors that someone is going to renovate it. Maybe. More likely it will be leveled and turned into a monster store with a monster parking lot.

Dan’s friend pulled up and joined the conversation. He was a man of few words, but I observed, right away, that he was allowed to trespass, whereas we weren’t. After further questioning, I appeared that had we come with thick-cut bologna, we’d have had the golden ticket. Unfortunately, I left my pack of thick-cut luncheon meats back at the Starlight Motel, room 108.

So we chatted and laughed and shared stories for the right amount of time, said our good byes and best wishes, and parted ways.

The boys and I headed back to the car, enjoying a strange mix of joking, laughter, and deep philosophical discussion, one topic, of which, was the need to urinate.

Author

Russell Viers

I'm just a guy who finds the world an interesting place and likes to capture certain moments with a camera. They aren't for sale, or anything. I just like them. Well, usually. I've taken a lot of photos I don't like, as well.

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