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Shared Explorations (Part IV)

We stood up and walked back to the steps going up to the door and walked up them. I wanted to open the door to look in, but Jesse was a little hesitant to open it. There was an odd shaped hole in the door just below and several inches over from where a door handle should have been. The door was just simply boards nailed together, which was probably what intrigued me. Jesse cautiously pushed it open. There was a doorway leading into another room. We couldn’t see into the other room very well but by what we could see it was also littered with debris and trash, at least two pop bottles. The outside door opened on to what could have been a porch – its construction seemed more simplistic than the other room. Another wooden door stood open at the opposite end; most likely it led into the rest of the house that is now almost completely collapsed. We walked back down the steps and back around the north side, taking note of the red brick chimney on the outside of the north wall. The chimney looked to be in fairly good condition yet. The roof on this section was different, it was covered in tin. The rest of the house’s roof had wooden shingles. We continued walking, past the north side to the west side which was different from the porch like section. This had the white siding like the east end. Only a small part of the west wall was still standing, the inner wall dividing the sections of the house was exposed. It had been two storied but it was hard to make anything out about the lay out from the pile of rubble. Boards lay in rows on the ground beside the frame of the house – either the roof beams or the framing for the wall. A tree grew quite close to the remaining wall on the west side. Fallen branches lay strewn on some of the rubble. Jesse and I walked cautiously around the boards lying on the ground, walking along the west side. Jesse wondered about the age of the trees growing so close to the house, doubting they had grown there before the house was abandoned.

We were enthralled by a large patch of ferns, southwest of the house. Their light green color, gave the patch a fairy like feel. Jesse loves ferns so he also paused to marvel at them when I paused to try to capture their loveliness with my camera. I love their fiddle head tips that were still unfurling. We stepped daintily through the ferns, still watching our steps. We had moved several feet away from the wall of the house, partly for safety reasons and partly to revel in the ferns. We’d come to the southwest corner. The stone or brick foundation beneath the wall was crumbling. How long could the south wall keep from collapsing? A red brick chimney stood in the middle of the south wall too.

Jesse commented, “This house has lots of chimneys.”

Some plants along the south side drew our attention away from the house momentarily, wide, green blades, like grass but much bigger – tiger lilies perhaps? We also found bone lying on the leaf litter; a deer leg – the entire thing, shoulder, upper leg and lower leg. We stepped over fallen branches and through brambles getting several yards away from the house, allowing us a better view of the whole south side. The southwest section stood out further from the southeast section. A doorway stood near the east section, in the corner of the west section. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was the sunlight, but the view from the south it looked a little less sad than the east side. We spent twice as long looking at the house than we did the barn – perhaps because we were going all the way around it and having to peek in without stepping inside.

We were done exploring all we had come to explore for the day. So we headed back along the grass driveway. We could see Goose Lake off to the east beyond a line of trees. The tall mullein plants, here and there on the prairie, fascinated us. As we walked past some trees by the barn, we found a deer leg, some of the fur still on, in a tree, a little higher than my head. It bothered Jesse; he wondered how a deer leg would end up in the tree – thinking maybe an eagle did it. It was a longer walk back to the jeep since the house is quite a distance from the barn. Before we got into the jeep, we each plucked a couple of ticks off our clothing – we both find ticks to be nasty; I can handle insects and spiders but I really do not like ticks. Jesse found two more ticks crawling on his pant legs as we drove back to Highway 84 and turned south, he threw them out the window. The thing about finding ticks on yourself is than you become paranoid that there are more and sometimes there are. On 84, we pulled into the graveled parking space of the canoe landing by the bridge. “I always like to stop at the bridge each time I come and take a picture,” I explained to Jesse.

“Ok, I’m going to wait here.”

The water was high by the looks and very open, the plants along the edge and growing in the water were only just beginning to grow and green up. I was back in the jeep in a few moments after walking on the rocks under the bridge to have a look down Schmoker’s channel. Then we continued on our way, along 84, north on 62 very briefly to 14.

We stopped in at Larry’s to visit with him a little bit. He offered us water, which was quite refreshing after our exploration. Since it was such a nice day we sat outside. We told Larry where all we’d gone and explored that afternoon. We talked about the box car, curious about how it got there. Larry said, “Wayne Hammer would know.” We also told him about the vulture flying out of the abandoned house. He explained that vultures like to nest in old, abandoned houses. Jesse and I also told him about the deer leg in the tree. He said an eagle wouldn’t have put it there. After chatting awhile about other things, Jesse said it was time to go. Once back at Jesse’s house, we both changed our clothes and checked ourselves for more ticks. I combed through my hair. Jesse had found five or six on him. I found one crawling on the floor when I changed clothes; I flushed it. I think there had been three on me. Thankfully neither of us had any attached.  We did not need that sort of souvenir from our explorations.

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