Now that Summer has slipped away, we as explorers take a look back at where the past few months have brought us. Through the hot, muggy and miserable weather we stuck it out and did our best sneaking. Concealed within the vegetation, through the thick brush we marched, making our way over fallen trees, dodging swarms of bugs and secretly spouting off some colorful language at the fact that we should have caught that branch our fellow partner in crime let go of before it smacked us in the face. It’s always an interesting story where woods are concerned, but just as we think we can’t take one more second of nature’s cruel torture, our ivy constricted world opens up into the land of the lost. As the rest of the world spent their down time tanning it up at the beach or laying poolside with a nice fruity drink we stood gazing upon adventure. The darkend theaters brought an imaginary world of mystery and intrigue to those who occupied their seats, but ours was real. Towering over us as it beckoned from the other side of a fence which held a sign warning us that we were not invited. We didn’t come all this way just to peek through the metal rungs and head back so, with a look back over our shoulders, We ignore society’s demands and climb the fence into unauthorized territory.
Although the excitement began well before this point, it seems to explode when our feet hit forbidden ground as we know that once we disappear through that open door or broken window, we are at the mercy of the funhouse our chosen locations hold. We’ve grown so used to the dangers of hugging the walls in order to avoid sinking floors, balancing on exposed beams and scaling questionable staircases that we rise to the challenge of crossing something so crazy as a rusty old bed frame positioned awkwardly over a rotting hole. The darkness beyond is just too tempting and apprehension is replaced with the drive to discover the unknown. As we crossed, we were only too aware that we were suspended high above an empty void as the two stories below have collapsed into a pile of splintered wood in what used to be the basement. But there was no fear, only the excitement in thinking that we had to recross our obstacle course on the way back out.
Hours faded into the day as every turn we made and every door pushed open fueled our curiosity as we came upon records and artifacts, tools and furnishings from a moment in time when people occupied these spaces. Life had once coursed throughout these halls, giving them a sense of purpose and fullfillment that is barely visible under decades of neglect. And when we finally did emerge from our dark cavernous quarters, stomping mud from our shoes and shaking dust from our clothes, it was with a sense of accomplishment that while consumed within the realm of forgotten time, in the midst of beautiful decay, we witnessed a piece of history not taught in any text book or lectured in any class. We had experienced something that can’t be passed on and shared in its truest form without a first-hand account and it’s this that is treasured far above what any beach or poolside can offer.
This summer brought many adventures for me, spanning over mulitple states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Massachusetts. I was blessed to be in such great company as I ventured into the unknown with both old friends and new, exploring a broad spectrum of locations including Asylums, Industrial sites, Train yards and Military bases. Sure, I was hot and I was sweaty. At times I was absolutely miserable, wanting nothing more than to take a rest in a bathtub full of ice and forget the fact that I had been crazy enough to venture out when it was 115 degrees. But my complaints are only short lived because I know that I will always be up for the next round of challenges as summer fades away into the cold, wet months of winter with so much more to explore. To all those who have shared in my ventures, Thank you for the tour guides and history lessons, photography practice and life experiences. But most of all, thank you for the memories and the laughter; it is something I shall carry with me forever. Until we meet again….Carry on and be safe.
© Olivia Wolfe ~ 2012