Saturday, May 16, 2015


Ghost Town Series: Toyah School and Chata Ortega's from Fandango (Episode #52)

In this episode of Tim Kreitz Adventures, we ride deeper into the West Texas desert than in any previous installment and get a little more than we bargain for in the semi-ghost town of Toyah. We end the day at a nearby ruin which has become known as Chata Ortega's. Both of these sites were filming locations for one of my favorite movies of all time, the 1985 cult classic film Fandango starring Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson. Along the way, we visit a busy train bridge on the Pecos River. Click the play button and ride along.


Creepy incident at Toyah aside, this ride and shoot was one of the most enjoyable for me so far in the ghost town series. But behind the scenes I was quietly mourning the loss of my dear friend Eric Teel who had passed away earlier in the week due to complications from heart surgery. Eric had been part of my life since about the time the movie Fandango was released, and he and I –– along with several other close friends in our immediate circle –– formed our own version of The Groovers that, unlike in the movie, has stayed largely intact for the past 30 years. Eric was only 47 years old at the time of his passing and his loss came as a shock to us all. That loss –– so heavy in my heart and mind –– punctuated the importance of the Toyah motorcycle trip for me, since it featured places used in the very movie which reflects Eric's and my friendship in so many ways.

For me, the deepest beauty of Fandango as a piece of filmmaking has always been the movie's near-perfect depiction of paradigm shift; specifically, that exact moment when a young man realizes he is no longer a child and must let go of childish things. During the chapter of my life when I began to experience some of those same revelations, Eric had been there with me. In fact, our resemblance to characters in the movie is pretty astounding as I view that time of our lives through the window of youthful, idealistic memories. I was the indecisive and insecure Waggener; not sure of where I was going in life and somewhat self-loathing (traits I still deal with at times as a middle-aged man). Eric was Dorman; the serene, gentle giant who quietly stood guard over his friends with absolute admiration and loyalty. In fact, every person in our real-life iteration of The Groovers eerily reflected characters in the movie someway or another. If there was ever a time when art imitated life, it was when Kevin Reynolds came to my neck of the woods with his film crew and seemingly made a movie about me and my friends. That's one of the reasons Fandango remains one of my favorite and most relatable movies. The nostalgia it invokes for me goes far deeper than the film itself.

Nostalgia, however, is not always a good thing. I have a tendency to indulge way too much in memories of the past, and the loss of Eric poses a definite challenge for me not to delve too deeply into sentimental thoughts of the "good old days". I think the trick is to remember and enjoy the past, but to always keep moving forward; to make tomorrow's memories even better than today's and yesterday's. We should remember the past but not live in it. In doing so, we take the spirit of lost loved ones with us, using the blessings and love they once gave us to help brighten –– not only our own futures, but –– the futures of those around us.

Rest in peace, Eric. We will meet again someday in splendor.