Welcome to the Orchard Motel. Time hasn’t been kind to this roadside escape. The current issue of Bakersfield, Earth takes place in 1991, eighteen years after we are first introduced to this location. It was here in 1973 that Judy and Betrice have their one and only night of passionate bliss. In the end, it’s also the location where they are forced to part ways.
Growing up in Kansas, my family would drive every summer to Colorado. Along the way, on I-70, there were different versions of The Orchard Motel scattered along the side of the interstate. Most were shut down, replaced by more modern, corporate motels like Holiday Inn and Howard Johnsons. I always liked seeing the sad, broken down remnants of another era and I’d imagine all the different transient visitors most of whom stayed only one night on their way to somewhere else. I like the idea of someplace so unremarkable could also be the location of an extraordinary event. This is a common trope of some of my favorite sci-fi movies. I think of the railroad crossing scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the scene outside the diner in John Carpenter’s Starman. Stories of alien visitation often happen in the most remote locations and transform a normal space into something extraordinary.
Below is a page from Bakersfield, Earth: Evolution which features the fictional motel.