Archive for February, 2014

February Made Me Shiver

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Albany, Fuck It Tour, Industrial

I chose Albany because it just seemed so appropriate after how bad Providence was. It was always where I’d escape to when things got out of control, back when I was with Laura, maybe even before that; a place where I knew I was still wanted, or at least understood, even if what happened there rarely went to plan. At the end of the last four Februaries I found myself in the capital district, and here I was again, and by odd coincidence, so was my best friend I’d gone to see all these times (which was something I wouldn’t know until I was about to leave anyway)

By the time I got to Albany, at least I realized it couldn’t be any worse than yesterday. Even if the people I was trying to meet here were nowhere to be found, and my attempt at saving a ruined weekend didn’t amount to anything, at least I’d be on my way out of here soon enough and back home for another helping of defeat. But, after waiting on Capitol Hill for an hour, eventually Darren did show up. I was ready for anything after Providence, and sure enough, I got “special” treatment: we could explore, but any abandoned locations were too sensitive for him to go to with me just yet, so he dragged me out to Poestenskill Falls, to take pictures of a very cold, icy waterfall. Of course, on the way down to the falls I found some old barbed wire and tore a giant slice out of my pants, after having just ruined my other ones the day before — so maybe it still wasn’t quite my day yet.

This wasn’t quite how I’d intended to spend my Sunday, and apparently I failed whatever test he meant to give me by bringing me all the way out there. He wouldn’t ‘take the chance of’ exploring with me, only asked me if I knew any new places to go around there. Whatever his reasoning though, once I told him about my annual trips to Albany, he had no problem dropping me off at an abandoned warehouse that he didn’t know about. I was hoping maybe if it wasn’t “his preciousssss” Darren might be more interested in exploring… but that wouldn’t be the case, he thanked me for the new location and sent me on my way. While nowhere near at Ryan’s level, he still thought I needed some work, and exploring alone might do the trick.

It didn’t.

I still went through the motions, lacking anything better to do, and hoping that maybe I would learn something after all, but it just wasn’t the same. Where he described a peaceful, relaxing environment without anyone getting in the way, I found only an intense, unsettling environment with no one there when it all went wrong. I’d done it once before, also in Albany, and it wasn’t so bad, but maybe I was in a better state of mind then, not having someone go out of their way to destroy my adventure the night before. I was out exploring, can’t argue with that, but I was out exploring with all of the stress and about none of the fun of just about every other place I’d been.

I still didn’t want to be there. As right as it should have felt to be back on familiar ground (I’d already explored this place once, exactly a year ago, with my friend and a screaming throbbing hangover) I couldn’t escape thinking there was something lurking around ready to ruin my day. (Did I mention I don’t explore alone?)

Going downstairs, I saw that really nothing had changed in a whole year. All those mysterious Recession-era office furnishings? Still there, still unclaimed by their owners, corporations that must have downsized, forgotten about them, and bought all new when the economy didn’t collapse as direly as predicted.

And then I finally figured out what was wrong. I heard a truck coming from far too close, and hid behind one of the many stacks of boxes of old advertising, waiting for the inevitable. If there’s one positive about this place, at least it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The truck turned out to be far closer than I could have imagined. It wasn’t outside at the loading docks — it was a Chevy pickup, doing hot laps and maybe even some donuts on the warehouse floor until the driver (security?) hit a patch of ice and drifted into one of the columns, jumped out of his truck, stomped around and swore like a climber for a while, and finally peeled out of there, smashing down another loading dock on his way.

I left through the brand new exit, more than ready to get out and very convinced not to explore alone ever again.

As soon as I was out, I called Christian and let him know what happened in our building that we discovered by mistake that one time. As it turned out, he was just about to leave from Troy to Rochester, so we tried to explore one more place together (Proctor’s Theater, and we were just a bit too late). At least I finally, for the trip home, if nothing else, got to meet up with an actual friend, and didn’t get thrown under even one bus. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to get home from a weekend of exploring!

A Bridge Too Far

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Industrial, Providence, Railroads

Stop #6, so to speak, on my Fuck It Tour was another try at an online meetup at midnight on a miserably cold January night a few days after Philadelphia. We weren’t plagued by technical difficulties this time, but only Craig, Justin and the Providence crew showed up, out of 30 or 40 people who seemed interested in the last one (where one could only see, hear or speak, but not all three at once!), I still considered it more or less a success though, considering that I got a somewhat surprising invitation out to Providence, where Charles was going to create a meetup just for me so I could finally complete that years-long quest!

Everything seemed straightforward enough at first; I took the train out through Boston (stopping for breakfast at Bagel Rising Allston, which was just as delicious as I was told it would be!) to Attleboro, and (this still surprises me every time…) Ryan was there at the station to meet me, on an unseasonably warm bluebird’s day! We walked back to what Ryan said was his house, which seemed believable enough, every inch of wall space is covered in memorabilia from abandoned places and punk bands, and met his girlfriend and a few other friends there.

I first started to wonder if something was wrong when I found out that for some reason Charles who organized this whole thing decided to go off to Philly for the weekend, and wouldn’t be joining us, which I thought was only minorly problematic, considering that I was supposed to stay with him the next two nights, but Ryan assured me it would all get figured out, and there would be someone at the party that night who could at least give me some couch space. He asked me what I wanted to explore, and I said I’d be glad to do just about anything but climbing, but I’d prefer to save the drains and tunnels for night and not waste daylight where I could be taking photos. So he tells me we’ve got a plan, and off we go, stopping by a Taco Bell on the way.

After a bit of traffic on the 95, and some wandering around in circles undoubtedly intended to make sure I had no idea where we were, or what the location even was, we arrived at our first explore: an abandoned railroad bridge. Now, didn’t I just mention I didn’t want to climb bridges?!

The approach to the bridge wasn’t too bad overall, walking on rotting railroad ties high above the Seekonk River, in a slightly gusting wind, but I never particularly thought I’d fall in. At the end, where the drawbridge is permanently drawn into a state of rictus, there was a bit of a crawl under the rails, and onto the stub end of the track under the mechanisms, and we chilled there for a while. Ryan wanted to climb, more than anything, and so he did, up this thing. And expected me to follow.

I probably could have done it, but I really didn’t see the reason to, and I’d already specifically asked not to climb, and still got taken here, so I let him do his thing while I enjoyed the view further down the river.

And, I’ll admit, I eventually went up a little bit just for a better view.

On the way back, the winds increased to an entirely new level, giving the bridge an unsettling shake, and to make matters worse, I broke through one of the railroad ties, becoming rather stuck in an awkward half-split, ripping my pants in the process, and yelled for a little help from Ryan or Sam. Neither one wanted to assist me at first (“you can do it!” is the last thing I want to hear when I’m one slip away from an 80-foot fall into the river!) but Ryan finally did, calling me a pussy-wuss for it, and for being a bit shaken up for the rest of the walk off of the bridge span. At the time I thought he was at least part sarcastic, but I think now he’s serious that’s what he thinks of me, just because I basically fell through a rotten floor that wasn’t my fault!

After that, we went on to a train tunnel that was recently re-barred shut (which apparently they already knew, but just wanted to show me the entrance, or something?), which required walking through this slushy creek bed. Of course they had extra shoes in the car for the inevitable wet feet… probably just wanted to get me cold and wet so I’d (1) complain more, or (2) want to quit exploring.

From there, after a stop at a grocery store for snacks, we went on to (of course) a drain. Not just any drain, but Ryan’s admitted least favorite one. Complete with 6-12 inches of fast flowing water, and ice-cold gushers to walk through. I didn’t even bring my camera in, out of protest, but once I realized what was going on, I insisted on leading everyone as far into the drain as we could possibly go… I wasn’t about to let 33 degree water stop me, especially when I already had a bit of a scarlet letter from earlier in the day, so I thought I had something to prove.

After the drain, everyone else was cold and wet and wanted to go home, and there was less than an hour until sunset and I’d yet to even see an abandoned building. So I insisted to Ryan that we stop by one, just until dark, so I could at least get a few pictures out of the first day of our little meetup. Just to shut me up I guess, he agreed, and showed me the entrance, saying I had 8 minutes to explore as much as I could, and if I wasn’t back to the car in 8 minutes, they’d drive off and leave me there.

So I ran around furiously for a few minutes, shooting more or less blind.

It was one of the worst abandoned factories I’d ever been in, but at least it was something, and walk-in easy.

This is the only interior shot I kind of liked from the place. And only because it’s the best of what I had.

I happened to find the roof on my way out…

I just barely made it to the car on time. Apparently I’d taken 8 minutes and 20 seconds, although the timer on my phone had yet to ring when I got back to the street. I had to wonder if they would really have left me if I took any longer. I think now they probably would have.

We went back to Ryan’s house, which wasn’t actually Ryan’s house apparently, changed into drier clothes, got stoned in the basement, and as far as I knew were getting ready for some rooftopping and a tunnel party later on. I thought it seemed a bit odd that Samantha reminded me to get my backpack when we went on a beer and dinner run, but once we loaded up on 30-racks of Narragansett (that I had to pay for, of course) and ate our fill at Taco Bell, we pulled into a Dunkin’ unexpectedly, and Ryan went in for something or other, and came out saying he had to work that night. Mind you, I’m pretty sure Ryan doesn’t work at a Dunkin’ Donuts. At least he never told me that…

Sam then checked her phone, and apparently got “called in” too. Bullshit, I say.

Ever the ray of sunshine, Ryan advised that I’d have to find my own place to spend the night, and there wasn’t really anywhere suitable to be homeless in Attleboro since the police have really cracked down, and even in Pawtucket it was no place to be alone and white. Well played, Ryan. Obviously I wasn’t planning to spend the night alone on the streets of Attleboro, asshole.

So after a bit of a kerfuffle they agreed they had enough time before “work” to drop me off at the Attleboro metro station. I waited there for about 20 minutes before a southbound train came by, I asked someone who got off it when the next northbound was (I couldn’t figure out for myself with a dead phone, undoubtedly intentional too since Ryan insisted we use it for music in the car all day), and there wasn’t one. Luckily, one of the commuters at the park-and-ride was nice enough to bring me a few miles over to a station that DID have trains, and lacking any better option I went to Boston.

On the train, I finally had a chance to charge my phone, and started asking everyone I knew in Boston if I’d be able to crash at their place, or maybe even explore the next day, and no one answered until my college friend Rachel suggested I join a LARP or at least meet at Denny’s afterward. I couldn’t help but notice that Ryan and Samantha were most certainly not at work, and were actually lighting up Instagram with one picture after another of their rooftop and abandoned factory adventures (and even a plan to bring a bunch of people to Norwich in the morning!) I spent the whole train ride rage posting at the lot of them. It truly takes a fuckwad to send me down shit creek on a douche canoe then have the gall to post about how they’re doing just what they were going to do anyway, just without me!

Unfortunately my journey on the T turned into something all too reminiscent of Charlie’s, and I ended up getting off the green line a few miles away from where I thought I was headed, but after missing the LARP (and taking an explosive shit in the woods somewhere along the River Charles — damn you Taco Bell) I eventually found the right Denny’s, and met up with my friend, who I am incredibly thankful for giving me a place to spend the night and a chance to regroup and get a ticket to Albany for the morning…