Originally written for ParksFolio.com…
The sturdy truck rolled to a stop, dragging with it a cloud of dust and the last crunch of rock under our tires. Sliding out of the cab and stretching, I walked around the faithful rig as the dust settled again on the old road. The three of us were seemingly alone under the clear blue sky as we walked toward the lonely wooden signpost where the two rocky dirt roads met. In the distance a small dust cloud tracked the progress of another vehicle further down the road approaching us, the faint rev of it’s engine breaking the dry silence. We gathered around the signpost, inspecting the various pots and kettles strung from the structure with rope and twine hanging lifelessly in the still morning air. The dry, cracked wooden gallows supporting the abandoned ornaments read in bold lettering, “Teakettle Junction”.
Scrawled on the outside of many of the kettles left dangling here are messages, names and dates of the travelers who have passed through this remote place. We soon discovered there were further messages left inside some of the pots, some with stories of their travels and some with messages or poetry for their would-be readers.
The whine of the distant engine grew louder and soon the motorcycle weaved to a stop at the crossroads next to us, the driver climbing gingerly from his abused seat, stripping off his helmet and expertly lighting a cigarette. Conversation began, as it usually does between travelers crossing paths in the middle of nowhere. He was from Portland, riding support for a group of mountain bikers trekking through the backroads of Death Valley National Park. They had overnighted in the backcountry and were making the arduous journey over the pass on these rocky, uneven roads that had proved challenging even for the motorcycle, let alone the adventurous souls peddling through the wilderness.
Our new friend asked some questions about road conditions and travel suggestions. Luckily, we had a companion with experience on these roads in Death Valley and experience on a motorcycle and could offer valuable information. We made sure he had enough water and supplies, offering him whatever he might need. But like many people you will meet in hard, lonely places he was happy and content with what he had with him and graciously declined our offers.
Crossroads throughout the world are like this, the unofficial and impromptu meeting place of adventurers. If you want a chance to meet interesting, confident, capable people with unique stories…the kind of people who seek out enriching experiences…travel. Travel to places few people go, and at every crossroads, like Teakettle Junction, you will find them. ~
After this story was published on ParksFolio.com, we began receiving comments. One of the comments was from a traveler who had left their kettle at the junction…
My name is Evelyn and I’m from Barcelona, Spain.
I was travelling around the world with my fiancé (we got engaged during our trip, in Sedona), and one of our stops was this Teakettle Junction. When we saw it, there were’nt as many teakettles as we thought there would be. But anyway, we left ours and continued with our journey.
The thing is, after our trip, once we got home, we started googling for pictures made after our visit, to see if we could find our teakettle in someone’s picture… And voilà!, you took that picture, our teakettle is the one with the initials K & E. (Kenneth and Evelyn). So thank you for taking that photo, it made our day!
K & E