Monday, March 5, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Cordova Mines Vansickle House 2
In the first in this series of three posts, we explored the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 1, and I answered the question of why I am drawn to explore these dilapidated and often dangerous locations from a personal philosophical perspective. In this second post, I'll answer that same question from an adventure seeking standpoint.
Urban/rural exploration offers a custom experience, each and every time. Some people find pleasure in simpler activities, such as going to the the movies, fishing or bowling, but these activities are quite mundane. More adventurous types satiate their thrill seeking appetite by riding roller coasters in massive theme parks or bungee jumping from bridges, but these activities are too prescribed for my liking, (not that I don't enjoy them as well). There are no long line-ups or crowds at abandoned buildings. No overpriced sodas or gift shops filled with doodads and trinkets. There are no billboards or fees to pay. There is nothing corporate about it, which for me, is a huge turn on. There are not many places left to go where you will not be bombarded with advertisements and corporate agendas, but these rare places have been deemed worthless in the marketplace and are ignored by the powers that be.
Long drives filled with anticipation and wide-eyed abandonment hunting encourages the explorer to modify the way he or she looks at and perceives the environment. Stumbling upon a location that has been left behind by its inhabitants is always a unique experience, for one simple reason-The unknown.
Is the building inhabited by squatters, addicts or raccoons? Does a property owner still care for or potentially monitor the property? What will I find inside? What did the previous inhabitants leave behind? What story will it tell me? Can I even get inside? Is it safe? Is their dangerous mould (which I am allergic to) or unsafe flooring or mountains of raccoon feces? Will I get caught? If so, can I talk my way out of it? Do I have an adequate back story prepared? These are just a few of the questions that rattle around my head before I even get to the door, or start looking for a point of entry.
That gets us to the fun part-Finding a way inside, a point of entry, a puzzle to solve. Sometimes it is as easy as walking through an open door or climbing through a broken window. At this particular location, the house provided it's own P.O.E., the foundation is slipping and the walls have slowly shifted, ripping it apart at the seems and opening a massive hole in the side of the house. Other times, one must be more creative, persistent or adventurous. Scaling the walls of an abandoned hospital that was completely boarded up on the first floor, for example. At the Insane Asylum, we returned a half a dozen times before gaining entry. I will not give any further examples of how one gains entry to a location, but I will say this, I have never broken into an abandoned building using force, nor will I.
Once inside, the adventure really kicks off. Often, the element of danger heightens the level of excitement and satisfaction. Discoveries often include long forgotten objects, as well as furniture covered in spider webs and feces. Aged photographs and postcards give life to long deceased inhabitants of old farmhouses and hunting cabins like this one. Black mould clings to walls like abstract paintings in The Louvre. Collapsing floors and sketchy staircases provide a challenge, as well as a level of danger and risk taking that I have grown accustomed to in my life.
Strumming an acoustic guitar you find in a closet, only to have the fragile strings snap under the pressure of today's music. Reading aloud from an old letter or book you find in a dresser drawer or beneath a pile of snow under a collapsed roof. Standing before a dust covered piano and tapping the ivory keys that haven't hummed a note in who knows how long may very well awaken a raccoon in it's den within the walls and it may add it's scratches to the symphony. In some buildings, alarms ring out. These are the soundtracks to our adventures.
In most cases, I am joined on these explorations by my fiancé and partner for 16 years known as Ninja IX. We share in these experiences, which double as bonding exercises. We utilize each others strengths and accommodate for each others weaknesses. We trust in each other and have learned to communicate in utter silence when necessary. We photograph and document these adventures as a team, passing cameras to and fro, often competing in photo challenges based on certain objects, which allows us both to grow as photographers. We always stop and embrace, and soak in the moment that we have all to ourselves. We encourage each other to push our limits and go beyond our comfort zones. We trust each other's gut feelings and respond accordingly. All of this translates well to all aspects of our relationship, bringing us even closer.
We bask in the moments that we create for ourselves.
The most important factor here is that it is a custom experience, a real life choose your own adventure. In a world of prescribed corporate sponsored fun, where the outskirts of every city look exactly the same and all offer carbon copy experiences, urban/rural exploration provides a glimpse into the unknown, as well as into the past. With the globe completely mapped and jam packed with cookie cutter communities, and a travel industry predominantly focused on pre-planned packaged deals that see thousands of people repeating the same adventure cyclically, experiencing the unknown has become quite rare.
And so here again, we wander the path less traveled. Our footprints in the snow are the only ones to be found.
The newspaper atop the stove is The Toronto Star, dated August 13, 1996
Fly on the wall
Legs to stand on
Green with envy
The pot calling the kettle another means of boiling water
Dinner is served
Yesterday is gone forever
A ladder to nowhere
A raccoon's final resting place
Sit down shut up
A raccoon was scratching feverishly upstairs, so I picked up a broom and carried it in front of me as I ascended
Another ladder to nowhere, thankfully the raccoon was in it's den within the walls
Another bedtime story
Yet another bedtime story
The drawers were empty, but for a layer of dust
Thank you for taking the time to read this second post. In the next post, we will explore the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 3, and conclude the series.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES