The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

I was browsing some interesting photo blog posts and, while I wasn’t particularly lost I did find a provocative challenge – lost. Debbye Smythe hosts the the Sunday One Word Challenge and one could get lost in all the possibilities. And so…..

I hear the word lost quite often in our house. One of my grandchildren might ask, “Have you seen my backpack?” Or, “I lost my sweatshirt at school.”

I might tell my wife, “I think I lost my glasses.”
“They’re on your nose,” she says.
“Gawd. I think I’m losing it.”

During my travels though, I’ve seen other examples of “lost.”

I’ve seen things and places lost in time.
“Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.” ~ Stephen King, The Green Mile
Route 66 was once a vibrant highway. It was the way to get from west to east and vice versa. Progress took over and bypassed once thriving towns and businesses and they found themselves lost and abandoned.   .

A sign is all that’s left of a motel in Southern California along Route 66

A filling station in Adrian, Texas. Note the gas prices also lost in time

Nevada City, Montana was once a booming mining town. As happens with many mining towns the mines were played out, the boom went bust and the remnants were lost to the ravages of time. Below is what’s left of an old railcar.

When I was in Virginia City, Nevada, a once thriving silver mining town, I walked through the old cemetery and captured a metaphor for the notion of an era lost in time – a wild horse grazing near a 19th century headstone. It’s a photo symbolic of America’s Old West.

There’s an old, old graveyard on the grounds of Mission Dolores in San Francisco. It’s a fascinating place, gray with age and lost in history. Markers here date back to 1830. I happened upon a marker leaning against an old gnarled tree. The inscription on the tablet is illegible – a soul whose identity is lost in time.


Being from the San Francisco Bay Area it’s not uncommon to be lost in the fog. In the image below the Golden Gate Bridge is partially lost from view.

The Quincy Copper Mine in Upper Michigan operated between 1846 and 1945. During a recent road trip the ruins were lost in fog and in time.

Please visit Debbie’s site, Travel With Intent (link here) to see her take on “lost” and those of other talented photographers.

23 thoughts on “One Word Sunday Challenge – Lost

  1. Have been to a few of the spots you have great photos of. It’s almost like being there again. Thanks. Muriel

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Muriel, for visiting and for commenting.

  2. Thats a wonderful series of pictures, Paul. Things lost in the grand vastness of your country. But at least they are visible remnants of what once was. I remember driving the roads when signs appeared telling me about an event that had happened there a century or so ago, a battle, a meeting, a fight. And there was nothing left of it, not even a memory, just empty space. Lost.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Peter. Thank you for visiting and commenting. I particularly like visiting old cemeteries. They have stories to tell.

  3. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    “Lost” is such a diverse word, evident in the clever ways you’ve used it. Also, the B/W quality of the pictures capture lost time in a way that colour can’t.

    This line really got me. >> “The inscription on the tablet is illegible – a soul whose identity is lost in time.”

    It made me think of all the inhumanity in the world right now. All the wars … and in the end, we all end up lost in time. What a damn waste for the brief time we inhabit this earth.


    1. Martin says:

      The same line stopped me short.

    2. Paul says:

      Hi Eden!
      I’m liking black and white more and more. I still shoot everything in color even if I know that it will likely end up being edited to black and white.

      Old cemeteries are fascinating to me both for photography and for learning about a community’s history. The graveyards in New Orleans reveal the yellow fever epidemic of the early 20th century. The cemeteries of mining towns tell stories of mining accidents.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Scott Blake says:

    Those first two photos grabbed me. The first one made me think of the Milk Farm sign. The second made me remember when gas got up to $1/gallon and there were cries of outrage. The tanks are probably still in the ground there. A great selection of photos to work around “lost”, nicely done. I like the captions also and agree with Eden about “The inscription on the tablet is illegible – a soul whose identity is lost in time.”

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Scott, The Milk Farm sign was always a sort of marker indicating that we were just about home from a road trip. I don’t even know if the sign is still there. The difference between the Milk Farm sign and the old MOTEL sign is that the Milk Farm sign is just a part of the ribbon of commercialism that runs from the Bay Area to Sacto and the MOTEL sign is basically in the middle of nowhere. A little joint called the Baghdad Cafe is about 1/4 up the road. Beyond that, nothing.

  5. Toonsarah says:

    Wonderful post with some appropriately haunting ‘lost’ images. I especially like the Route 66 and Nevada ones – just the sort of scenes I imagine when I think of the Mother Road.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Sarah,
      Whenever I go through my Route 66 photos I get the urge to take that drive again, slower and with more detours on side roads. I think that black and white enhances the lonely feeling of the Mother Road.
      Thank you for visiting.

      1. Toonsarah says:

        I can see why you would want to go back to places like these, but it seems you’re finding other adventures on your current trip?

        1. Paul says:

          The current trip (Midwest) is actually past tense though I am posting at times in present tense. In a month I’ll likely be taking a short quick swing through Utah, and Wyoming.

  6. Sheree says:

    Those are some great shots

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Sheree for visiting and commenting.

      1. Sheree says:

        My pleasure Paul

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Great photos. I’d say the word for me is haunting.
    I’m from the Bay Area, too, originally. All my extended family is still there.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello and thank you for visiting and commenting. I shot all of these in color but I think the black and white enhances that haunting effect.

      1. selizabryangmailcom says:

        Sorry about that–hi! (That should come first, huh? lol) 🙂

  8. What is it about old ruins that makes them so photogenic? They seem to have a special beauty about them.

    1. Paul says:

      I like to say that they have character. Old barns, rusted old cars, ghost signs on brick buildings. It’s hard to pass them by when you have a camera in hand.
      Thank you for visiting Marie.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you. And thank you for visiting.

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