Thursday, July 9, 2015

Urban Exploration and Weirdness

When I tell people that I like to photograph abandoned buildings, one of the top responses I get is, "What's the weirdest thing you've seen?"

Empty structures no longer wanted by society are naturally creepy. A quiet building covered in dust, cobwebs and darkness needs nothing more to feel weird. But occasionally I do run across something that is just a little more unusual than what I typical find.

Abandonment - Victorville, California
This is the only building I've had such a weird feeling about that I did not enter.
A few years back I explored and photographed the old George Air Force Base housing. I was standing in front of a two-story building that may have been offices of some sort. I wanted to go inside of it, but I something didn't feel right.

I can't explain the feeling other than it was strong and it was clear: stay out. I have no idea why. I've never had that feeling anywhere else, and even that day I entered over 20 abandoned structures and didn't have any strange feelings suggesting that I stay clear. This is the only one that gave me the creeps.

Later when I post-processed the photographs from that trip, the building that gave me the weird feeling had little white specks in the images that I captured of it (through open windows). I have not found this in any of my other exposures ever, and I didn't use a flash.

Alien - Mojave, California
Strange graffiti covers the few standing walls at a strange place.
Out in the desert near Mojave, California are the remnants of an unusual set of structures. I'm not really sure what they may have been used for. What remains are a large rock fireplace and chimney, two small stucco structures with wire windows, a bunch of foundations and a large basement. From what I can gather, the structure may have been two-stories tall at some parts and one-story at others.

My best guess is that this may have been a commune or compound of some sort. Strange people have settled in the vast emptiness of the Mojave Desert for a long time. The need to be a long ways from one's neighbors can be easily achieved.

I tried to find some information on the internet to explain exactly what this place may have been--when it was built, when it was abandoned and what its purpose was, but I didn't turn up a single thing. The only clues are what's left in the desert, but decades of decay and vandalism have left very little to be found.

Purple Beretta - Tehachapi, California
It's best not to enter this site because of how gross it is.
In the hills outside of Tehachapi, California among the wind turbines sits an abandoned mobile home. Whoever had lived there left (it seems) everything behind, including dirty dishes in the sink and old food in the cupboards.

You expect in abandoned structures to find some level of filth: dust, cobwebs, bugs, maybe even some mouse and bird droppings. This place, however, was completely disgusting! There were literally piles of decades-old dog crap throughout the place. It was so nasty that I avoided the inside of the structure. 

There was an old travel trailer on the property piled about knee-high with old junk, yet it appeared as though someone had lived in it. There was just a ton of nastiness all around. Whoever last lived on this property didn't value cleanliness whatsoever.

Abandoned Monkey Onesie - Rosamond, California
A little boy tried to stay warm at night in this outfit.
Most abandoned places have a sad story to tell. Something bad happened. Someone died. Someone went to jail. Someone went bankrupt. There are many reasons that a place might be abandoned, and very few are positive stories.

I could write a long post of the different sad stories I've encountered, but one stands out as saddest. There's a small old home near Rosamond, California that had caught fire (I think a decade or more ago). Most of the building was destroyed, but the outside walls and some of the roof survived. The inside was charred, and all of the interior walls are completely gone. Sometime after the fire had destroyed the home, someone moved in and lived in the place. They swept out some of the burnt debris with a broken broom. They made a bed in a corner. They brought in a ripped chair. And they had a baby.

I was shocked when I discovered this. Someone had been raising a little baby boy in this crumbling, burnt house! Whoever it was had long since departed. It looked like this stuff had been sitting unused for awhile. I hope that their situation somehow improved. It's heartbreaking to think that this was their home.

Abandoned Boles-Aero Trailer - Mojave, California
You never know what might be hiding inside of an old building.
Out in the desert outside of Mojave, California I found an unusual two-story-sized structure that was abandoned. It appeared as though this was once a ranch and, at the very least, there were once horses on the property.

Inside of the building I discovered a vintage Boles-Aero travel trailer. Someone had been using it as a home inside of the structure. When you enter abandoned buildings you never know what you'll find. Sometimes the surprise find is small. Other times, well, it's a large trailer.

Interestingly, not long after I photographed the building I noticed that the trailer had been removed. If whoever removed it had plans to restore it, it wasn't in great shape and that would be some project! But I'm not sure why else someone would move it. Whatever the case, I'm just glad that I photographed it when I did or else I would have missed it entirely. 

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