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#1 May 21 2012 at 12:44 PM Rating: Excellent
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The board seems a little sleepy this Monday, so I thought I might do something unusual and create a topic.

Ever heard of urban exploration? Basically it involves getting into or on parts of the city that are abandoned or otherwise closed to the public. It rings a chord with adventurous folk, particularly those who don't mind (or enjoy) the risks of getting caught trespassing, or climbing around in places that aren't exactly prepped for safe public use.

A lot of folks that do this are amateur photographers, so there are a bunch of really cool images to be found if you do some googling about urban exploration. One site in particular had some amazing skyline photos, but I haven't been able to track it down as of the time of posting. I'll see if I can dig it up again.

A few sites:

http://www.undercity.org/

http://sleepycity.net/

Working in architecture, it's come up once in a while, but it was always pretty fringe. A lot of arch students and interns do stuff like this...they've got the combination of interest in designed spaces and reckless excitement. The movement seems to be gaining steam lately; I know that Discovery Channel and its like have been debuting a lot of urban exploration-themed shows of late, where they check out old prisons, hospitals, etc. I suppose that those "Ghost Hunter" shows are tangentially related, too.

They seem to do a lot of crawling around in drains, which isn't super interesting. But there's also a lot who sneak into new construction sites, particularly for skyscrapers. The buildings typically have night security which the exploring folk have to dodge. I wonder if those security personnel often lose their jobs when the explorers inevitably post photos of their excursion online? I also wonder how often these people get killed falling from buildings, or into pitfalls underground.

Back in undergrad, security personnel were always chasing students out of the old Bethlehem Steel factory. We took a tour of it in class...it's a creepy old hyper-industrial complex, mostly rusted over. The most interesting thing to me was a big turbine room that had partially caved into its foundation below. I hopped off the tour and climbed down a disused concrete stair that was just floating in the middle of the rubble. It led to what basically looked like the Batcave from Batman Begins...there was a big cavern, and big sewer pipes were pouring water into an underground stream that ran below the building. It was pretty surreal.*

*On a side note: the locker rooms were really creepy. Space was a premium, so instead of lockers, the workers all had individual perforated metal baskets that could be lowered to and from the ceiling on pulleys. But the baskets all had these giant meat hooks that were supposed to be used for hanging clothes and jewelry from. The baskets and hooks were just floating at all these different heights when we entered...it looked like a scene out of Saw. Very creepy.

So, ever explored a building or structure that you weren't supposed to be in? Are you morally opposed to it, or think that urban explorers ought to grow up a bit?

Myself, I do believe that it's wrong to trespass as they do. But I'm still glad that there are folks out there who're willing to do this, so I can see the awesome photographs. I think I'd be down for some of it, but I'd have to weigh the risks versus the potential benefits quite a bit. I'm not super claustrophobic, so I think I'd be totally fine exploring drains and the like, but heights do get my heart racing quite a bit (which is ironic, because in my line of work, I often have to use suspended scaffolds).

Edited, May 21st 2012 2:48pm by Eske
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#2 May 21 2012 at 1:05 PM Rating: Good
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I dunno about places not supposed to be, but a lot of training sites I've been to are generally **** holes (To, you know, simulate real Iraqi/Afghani living conditions or some other load of crap), and have quite a few inaccessible areas that have been fun getting into to set up ambush sites or places to hide and sleep when you're supposed to be awake for more than a day. I'm no fan of heights either, but finding a ladder to the roof that's not part of the scenario is always a treasure.

I think I've snuck into one construction site when I was a kid. My godfather runs a construction company so I didn't get into too much trouble, but my girlfriend at the time and I were leaving school and ran across it, so we went in to explore. Got to about the fourth floor before some cops came and took us away. Was a lot of fun up to that point, jumping over holes and climbing about. Come to think of it, that was completely lame considering the possibilities.
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#3 May 21 2012 at 1:10 PM Rating: Excellent
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In a similar vein, there were some guys who snuck onto the Mothball Fleet of the US navy a few years ago. This blog is an amazing read if you have the time, and the pictures are haunting.

http://scotthaefner.com/beyond/mothball-fleet-ghost-ships/
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#4 May 21 2012 at 1:16 PM Rating: Good
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The locker room sounds a lot like a picture Ari posted a couple years ago. It's too much of a pain to raid her images from my phone, but I'll look into it when I get home.
#5 May 21 2012 at 1:21 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:
So, ever explored a building or structure that you weren't supposed to be in? Are you morally opposed to it, or think that urban explorers ought to grow up a bit?


Just realized I didn't answer the question. The answer is yes, I did, but it was nothing too special or difficult. In Florida new houses go up all the time. I've snuck into the half-made houses, which usually have no security until the doors and electricity go in. I made some very fond memories in several of them with a girlfriend who also had a taste for forbidden exploration Smiley: sly

... wow, that sounded dirtier than I thought it would. Er, me and an ex used to go to houses that were under construction to have fun together. There we go, that sounds better.

I guess I also explored a half-finished lecture hall at my university. Didn't go too far in, as it was dark and there was precarious footing everywhere.

Edited, May 21st 2012 3:35pm by LockeColeMA
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#6 May 21 2012 at 1:28 PM Rating: Excellent
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LockeColeMA wrote:
I guess I also explored a half-finished lecture hall at my university. Didn't go too far in, as it was dark and there was precarious footing everywhere.


I worked for the Facilities Planning Dept. for Lehigh during my undergrad, and one of the things that stuck with me was how easy it was to get access to places. Simply saying "I work with Facilities Planning" was sufficient to get access to any place on the campus.

It's sort of the same with my job. When you tell people "I'm the architect, and I need access to [something]." you pretty much get it, no questions asked. It's not something I abuse, but I suspect it'd be a viable way to get into a lot of places to explore. Do anything with enough confidence and a sense of purpose, and people are like to assume that you belong there.

Edited, May 21st 2012 3:29pm by Eske
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#7 May 21 2012 at 1:36 PM Rating: Excellent
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Those ship pics are pretty awesome.

Can't say I ever spent much time breaking into buildings or construction sites or anything. Trespassing was more along the lines of hopping fences to go to someplace along the river you wanted to swim or explore, or going through someone's field because it was a shortcut, or something. More of the rural "is cow-tipping really a thing?" kind of questions that needed to be answered.

Overall I'll just write it off as a 'kids will be kids' thing as long as no damage is done. Some kids never grow up I suppose, for better or for worse.

LockeColeMA wrote:
Er, me and an ex used to go to houses that were under construction to have fun together.


Giggidy.

Edited, May 21st 2012 12:36pm by someproteinguy
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#8 May 21 2012 at 2:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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I've done this to some extent, I've gone through various govt and private structures and underground tunnel networks. The most challenging thing I've attempted was going through an partially submerged Raytheon lab. Even came out with some confidential data!
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#9 May 21 2012 at 2:12 PM Rating: Good
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LockeColeMA wrote:
... wow, that sounded dirtier than I thought it would. Er, me and an ex used to go to houses that were under construction to have fun together. There we go, that sounds better.


See, but the first way was such a great double entendre...
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#10 May 21 2012 at 2:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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someproteinguy wrote:

LockeColeMA wrote:
Er, me and an ex used to go to houses that were under construction to have fun together.


Giggidy.

Speaking of which, shameless self-promotion.. Look! I do something here at ZAM besides posting about Dragon Age!
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#11 May 21 2012 at 2:36 PM Rating: Excellent
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LockeColeMA wrote:
someproteinguy wrote:

LockeColeMA wrote:
Er, me and an ex used to go to houses that were under construction to have fun together.


Giggidy.

Speaking of which, shameless self-promotion.. Look! I do something here at ZAM besides posting about Dragon Age!


Hey, this forum isn't for shameless self-promotion. It's for serious discussion about important news. Important news like my Starhawk review, which can be found in my sig.

Also, follow me on twitter.
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#12 May 21 2012 at 2:42 PM Rating: Excellent
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LockeColeMA wrote:
Speaking of which, shameless self-promotion.. Look! I do something here at ZAM besides posting about Dragon Age!

Oh boy, I hope it's a story about Dragon Age. I bet that game is going to be popular once people hear about it...
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#13 May 21 2012 at 2:43 PM Rating: Default
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I'm an Urban Explorer. I live in a city that's been slowly dying as the paper mills have closed down, so plenty of abandoned buildings and properties to explore. I also make a point of exploring non-abandoned areas, mainly just because I like to walk, but also because there are cool things everywhere.

So..

Quote:
So, ever explored a building or structure that you weren't supposed to be in? Are you morally opposed to it, or think that urban explorers ought to grow up a bit?


Many times, no, and no.

Here's some pictures of random city sights, and an abandoned grain elevator/shipping facility.

I'm travelling to the west coast this summer, and am hoping to find some cool places like that to explore along the way.
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#14 May 21 2012 at 6:37 PM Rating: Good
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My siblings and I us to think construction sites were our own personal playgrounds. I can imagine the construction working coming in to work and finding that we had made tunnels and roads out of the piles of sand they had left the day before untouched. I'm sure a matchbox car or two may have been lost that way. My little brother left his toy cars in the middle of a road that was being resurface and my mom said they just paved over them.

I loved checking out old abandon buildings and in Collage we got to spend a couple of classes painting in an old shoe factory before the fire marshal found out. Ended up with some rather strange unfinished paintings of the interior.

Dad was an Architect, so our weekends were often spent checking out new model homes, or visiting a building my parents had read about.
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#15 May 22 2012 at 6:50 AM Rating: Good
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Sounds like a good way to limit your potential future career possibilities over something not really worth it.
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#16 May 22 2012 at 7:31 AM Rating: Good
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I attended college at the University of Minnesota. The main UofMN campus is this big old sprawling thing that lies on either side of the Mississippi (and consequently making it a denizen of both mpls and st.paul).

There was a secret (undocumented) underground transport system that could take you to most any of the buildings on campus. It was a connection of maintenance shafts, parking garages, basements of buildings, creepy labs, some actual tunnels, etc. it took me most all the years i spent attending classes there to learn my way completely around the campus via the underground passage. But by the time I graduated I could get to any building on the main campus. There was even once a tunnel under the river but it had been filled in. You had to surface briefly to cross over the river, however, there was a heated pedestrian bridge. It was kind of cool as very few people, students or faculty, knew all the different underground pathways.



Edited, May 22nd 2012 3:32pm by Elinda
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#17 May 22 2012 at 7:41 AM Rating: Excellent
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There was a tunnel system at Eastern Illinois (well, still is I bet) which was constantly locked up. But they were doing work in a building I had a job in and I was often the only person around very late at night. They had demo'd an interior brick wall and there was a small gap leading into the fabled tunnels so I went looking. I didn't explore too far because I was worried about getting lost (given that it was 1am and I had no map or clue) but it was nifty to know I'd been in them.

I've been in various abandoned barns and houses over the years but mainly when I was much younger. I don't blame anyone for the curiosity; there's a definite vibe to abandoned structures that's compelling. Can't blame any building owners for not wanting the liability either or the risk of vandalism, illegal activities and the like.
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#18 May 22 2012 at 5:21 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Sounds like a good way to limit your potential future career possibilities over something not really worth it.


I suppose that depends on what it is one wants to do with their life.
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Eske wrote:
I've always read Driftwood as the straight man in varus' double act. It helps if you read all of his posts in the voice of Droopy Dog.
#19 May 22 2012 at 5:30 PM Rating: Good
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Driftwood wrote:
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Sounds like a good way to limit your potential future career possibilities over something not really worth it.


I suppose that depends on what it is one wants to do with their life.
You'd be surprised how many places require you to be bondable to gain employment. We require all of our employees at hotels to be. So would a Casino, or to work in an airport.

You were thinking of things like lawyers, cops, etc... yes? It can go well beyond that. You're not necessarily eliminating yourself from a career, just from certain employment opportunities within a given field.
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#20 May 22 2012 at 6:11 PM Rating: Good
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Just about any position you'd be dealing with money or assets above a certain value, really.
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#21 May 22 2012 at 6:32 PM Rating: Decent
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So, nothing within the career I've chosen then. Woohoo!
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Eske wrote:
I've always read Driftwood as the straight man in varus' double act. It helps if you read all of his posts in the voice of Droopy Dog.
#22 May 22 2012 at 6:33 PM Rating: Good
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Not going into restaurants anymore?
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#23 May 22 2012 at 6:56 PM Rating: Decent
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Oh, I am.

The question actually came up when I was still in school. The answer the person got(he was in his 30s, had been arrested when he was in his early 20s on a drug charge(cocaine if I remember correctly) was that he might not be able to work in some hotels or casinos, but it shouldn't hinder him if he planned to work in the industry. Somehow, I figure if I was to get dumb in the way I go about exploring these places, a single trespassing charge(which would then be the only thing on my criminal record if that were to happen) won't kill my career.
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Eske wrote:
I've always read Driftwood as the straight man in varus' double act. It helps if you read all of his posts in the voice of Droopy Dog.
#24 May 22 2012 at 7:15 PM Rating: Decent
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No, won't kill your career. Might eliminate some of the best experiences possible though, as hotels and Casinos often offer more creativity to their chefs. As I said in my original post, it could eliminate some future potential career opportunities.
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#25 May 22 2012 at 7:29 PM Rating: Decent
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True, I'll admit that. However, I prefer working at non-casino/hotel restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I've kept a few places where hotels and casinos are the places to be working on my list of places I might go that aren't Thunder Bay to move ahead in my career because of that creativity thing, but I probably wouldn't shed a tear if I couldn't work at those.
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The World Is Not A Cold Dead Place.
Alan Watts wrote:
I am omnipotent insofar as I am the Universe, but I am not an omnipotent in the role of Alan Watts, only cunning


Eske wrote:
I've always read Driftwood as the straight man in varus' double act. It helps if you read all of his posts in the voice of Droopy Dog.
#26 May 23 2012 at 4:07 AM Rating: Good
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Uglysasquatch wrote:
Sounds like a good way to limit your potential future career possibilities over something not really worth it.


The first rule of breaking the law is: don't get caught.
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#27 May 23 2012 at 8:13 AM Rating: Good
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Kavekk wrote:
Uglysasquatch wrote:
Sounds like a good way to limit your potential future career possibilities over something not really worth it.


The first rule of breaking the law is: don't get caught.


Exactly!

You don't go to jail for trespassing. You go to jail for getting caught trespassing.
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#28 May 23 2012 at 8:22 AM Rating: Decent
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I hope it was your intention (both of you) to sound stupid.
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#29 May 23 2012 at 12:24 PM Rating: Good
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Uglysasquatch wrote:
I hope it was your intention (both of you) to sound stupid.


The first rule of breaking the law.
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#30 May 23 2012 at 12:26 PM Rating: Excellent
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#31 May 24 2012 at 6:05 PM Rating: Decent
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I think these abandoned communist era buildings in Bulgaria are some of the coolest pics I've seen:

oh here is the better linky: http://nikolamihov.com/forget_your_past.html


Also these are cool:

http://industrialdecay.blogspot.ca/2010/06/spotlght-may-31-june-6.html


Edited, May 24th 2012 5:11pm by Olorinus
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#32 May 24 2012 at 6:18 PM Rating: Good
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Eske Esquire wrote:

Hey, this forum isn't for shameless self-promotion. It's for serious discussion about important news. Important news like my Starhawk review, which can be found in my sig.

Also, follow me on twitter.


I was so disappointed this was about a videogame rather than a book...
but I sort of suspected it would be

Edited, May 24th 2012 5:20pm by Olorinus
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When it comes to sitting around not doing anything for long periods of time, only being active for short windows, and marginal changes and sidegrades I'd say FFXI players were the perfect choice for politicians.

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#33 May 24 2012 at 6:41 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
I think these abandoned communist era buildings in Bulgaria are some of the coolest pics I've seen:

oh here is the better linky: http://nikolamihov.com/forget_your_past.html


Also these are cool:

http://industrialdecay.blogspot.ca/2010/06/spotlght-may-31-june-6.html


Edited, May 24th 2012 5:11pm by Olorinus



Sweet. More places to add to the list of where I want to go when I can afford to travel overseas.
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I've always read Driftwood as the straight man in varus' double act. It helps if you read all of his posts in the voice of Droopy Dog.
#34 May 24 2012 at 7:08 PM Rating: Excellent
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I spent a month in Bulgaria. All I really remember was that the yoghurt was really good, and if you get the chance you have to get some cheverme.
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#35 May 24 2012 at 10:49 PM Rating: Good
God, yes. Back in High School, several of my friends and I would break into all sorts of old condemned or abandoned buildings to explore. There was always so much old cool stuff. I remember one of my favorites was the old Public Utilities Building that was scheduled for demolition. We decided to explore it and see what was there, expecting that they'd have cleaned the place out. What we found were great old maps of the sewer systems, electric grids, tax districts, natural gas lines, and all sorts of other awesome stuff like blasting caps, an old TNT Plunger, some bottles of sulfuric acid, and my personal favorite, a 20lb antique cast iron spike maul, that later became affectionately named the Whammy Bar. We started by breaking into the basement through the storm cellar, and right away found a toolbox full of old keys that let us get everywhere in the building. From the basement we just kind of wandered all over the place and poked around.

My other favorite kind of place to explore is abandoned train yards. I have a thing for trains, and just seeing all the old cars lying around turning into rust is just so cool. Its also so fun to notice who else has been here besides you, the little bits of modern trash, the fires lit by homeless people, footprints, all that is just magical.

Man, I should really go out and start doing that again.

Edited, May 24th 2012 11:53pm by AldousCayo
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#36 May 25 2012 at 2:33 PM Rating: Good
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Eske Esquire wrote:

So, ever explored a building or structure that you weren't supposed to be in? Are you morally opposed to it, or think that urban explorers ought to grow up a bit?


No, never have.

I don't see it as a moral issue. The only social concern I have about it is the cost to taxpayers for rescue/medical services if it comes down to that, but we spend all sorts of money on rescuing hikers, skiers, snowmobilers etc so, unless we are going to consider everything slightly dangerous anti-social, I don't feel the need to look down on folks who do it. (At least in the case of people breaking in to decayed structures - not necessarily other forms of the hobby... I think it's one thing breaking into a derelict wreck which will be torn down, another to break into buildings that are in use or being constructed)

I also love looking at the pictures. Another neat thing which isn't so much about trespassing but is on the theme of industrial decay is this art book - it puts text from a work about central american ruins beside industrial decay. Really neat.





Edited, May 25th 2012 1:36pm by Olorinus
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#37 May 29 2012 at 9:44 AM Rating: Excellent
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Misdemeanor trespassing? Never held a lure for me. Smiley: laugh
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#38 May 31 2012 at 10:08 AM Rating: Good
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I prefer geocaching.
#39 May 31 2012 at 12:00 PM Rating: Good
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I prefer geocaching.
I've never had a gps unit, but have found at least 1/2 dozen 'caches' while out hiking. It's pretty fun to find them. I try and leave something interesting behind.
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#40 Jun 01 2012 at 8:07 AM Rating: Good
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I keep a handheld gps piece in my dodge bag, and my cellphone has one so I'm good all those times I'm outside my place of residence.

Edited, Jun 1st 2012 10:58am by lolgaxe
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