Friday, July 10, 2020

Mr. Wilkie's Cabin

In the Before Times, the array of abandoned and urban exploration pages I follow online would sometimes provide a blueprint for future trips. At some point, I saw a gratuitously tagged cabin and I had to do a double take when I read its location as familiar. Never before had I heard about or seen pictures of this cabin, nestled away somewhere in South Jersey. It had such a unique personality and I was shocked that I had not seen it previously. It just so turned out that my discovery of it and my subsequent trips to see it in person occurred just before most of the country entered lockdown a few months ago due to the pandemic. I had accidentally spent the last afternoon before the shutdown, oblivious of the coming health crisis, ducking through the woods to find Mr. Wilkie's cabin.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

It Takes a Village

With the proliferation of ghost hunting and other less-than-objective reality television shows available throughout the last decade or so, I always default to imagining that the regionally accessible list of every "well known" locale for such haunts has long since been exhausted. Sometimes, all that it takes to break this facade and minor hubris is a well-timed and sudden "discovery" late one Friday night, spent otherwise doing nothing. You have the cluster of medical facilities on the fringe of the larger metropolitan areas nearby (Philadelphia and New York) and the tried and true smaller facilities in my home state of New Jersey and you can tell yourself that there are only so many times you can visit and take the same photographs of familiar broken cinder blocks and causeways.

Even outside of the realm of abandoned institutional properties, recycling these visits purely for capturing some sort of media becomes redundant. Surely, always worth a day out, but always yielding diminishing returns when it comes to the photographic proof. There was a running joke when we lived in Piscataway that we had "done Watchung to death," resorting to its hiking trails and abandoned village when we could not muster the cleverness to discover someplace new. The fact that we can access these places often enough that they become familiar is a hidden blessing itself, in a way, but that does not take away from the undeniable fact and feeling of mystery that you feel wandering these places for the first time -- and that inkling of a new experience, one that was apparently not that far away, found me in bed around two am on a Friday night / Saturday morning.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Deer Lure

Certain places can exist in various, evolving forms to an individual, altering throughout their lives. Hidden shortcuts and off-trodden routes can become mundane and monotonous if abused enough. What I am describing has the same color, but necessarily the same cynicism, that you would expect from one telling of their experiences of working an unsatisfying job at a beloved theme park. Sure, you can recognize the love that is there, and why it is there, but nonetheless, that bit of magic might have faded.

Whether it is complacency, or just plain taking a mainstay sight for granted, this abstract recognition holds for me a small, near-ancient two story house in the center of a public park. It is known by a few names, registered and historic, but I've known it by a handful of my own and my family's creation over the years. Presently, and probably until it is eventually demolished and only a memory, I recognize it as the Deer Lure.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lacey Bridge - Linden, TX

It will never cease to amaze me how we will manage to create, amongst however many differences and inherently dissimilar environments, patterns and similar stories and pieces of folklore, miles and minds apart.

I have seen throughout America, especially in rural Appalachia and further in the Midwest, what appear to be similarly patterned or cut pieces of Small Town, USA: a small intersection of a main street, a handful of antique stores along the spectrum of ready-for-business and abandoned, and a single movie theater with a marquee marked up, still by all accounts within the domain of the nineties and against all odds clinging to semi-relevance and just-dodging insolvency.

Of course, this odd uncanniness of familiarity is not limited to physical locations. The stories we tell, after all, can all be reduced down to a handful of skeletons. Beyond that, in the realm of the macabre and chilling, it is probably easy to iron out the framework of what makes horror horror and why urban legends remain told. It seems to me that every place I have been to has a "Cry Baby Bridge," and I visited the one hidden away in East Texas one American summer afternoon.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Camp Meta

No, the name is not me being clever (or the horrendously on-the-nose opposite). Once again, I found myself finally exploring a location that I had known of for quite some time, but either could never recall its exact location or if it was even an actual place that had existed. Seeing its entrance in brief passing, talking about it years ago, or even having seen similar locales in my dreams, may have contributed to never coherently pinning down the campground as a place that I could see and document, but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see this past spring.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Frontier

In hindsight, the dismissive mental chuckle I felt in response to having my words received as “world-weary” might have been out of place. Perhaps that is as fitting of a title and label as someone could produce, either as a close companion or a stranger, coming across my thoughts. I have felt that I had moved beyond those fabled and cherished nights of the late teen / twenty-something with near-reckless abandon and equally as flippant of a schedule, yet find myself at four am on a Friday morning going back through the photographs of the day we found the abandoned Frontier Restaurant in the Catskills.