Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Urbexing by Bike

On Saturday, I met with some of the crew to explore a local youth detention center. We had all brought our bicycles and met in the parking lot of a nearby park., yet it still took a while as we sat at a bench to commit to an exploration involving a considerable output of muscle power. And it was bloody hot, with a temperature in the 90's and storms forecast. But we still set off regardless, slinging camera cases on our backs and starting with an up hill pedal out of the park.
 We got to the center and rode in, feeling strange about having bikes with us. It was quite a novelty to bring them into the building. We started with the power station for the complex and got out of exercise mode into photography mode but it took me a little time to adjust and get creative.
Loved the raccoon paw print!
When we'd finished at the power station it was time to saddle up again and pedal to the next destination. What Lewis hadn't told me was that we'd be going cross country and pedaling along 12" wide gravelly sandy trails created for mountain bikes not sleek racers like mine with extremely narrow tires. But I wasn't being left behind so I rattled along at a fair old lick with my wheels slipping and sliding but never losing my speed or balance. Those rides around the bumpy roads at Marshall had paid off and I amazed myself at the pace I kept up. We finally got to the road again and finished the last leg on tarmac which was wonderful except for the hill. The sun was high in the sky now and we all realized that we hadn't brought enough water. Time to ration and be careful.
We hid our bikes in some brush and then climbed up a hill to a watch tower. We had to wiggle between a brick wall and a metal fence post.
My chest would not make it, despite valiant tugs from Huggy. So I had to wiggle round the other side of the building, with Richard following, because his chest wouldn't fit through the first gap either.
We climbed up into the tower and looked at the complex below. The old cell blocks were dilapidated with plenty of evidence of the search and rescue teams that now use the area for practice.
 The small brick wall in the middle of the floor actually had a toilet in front of it so the guard would literally never be off duty from his vigilant monitoring of the area.
We came across a couple of 'bodies' lying around from rescue events. They seemed a little sinister just lying in the long grass or in crumbling doorways. The building above gave off a smell I didn't like so I quickly trotted along one level then gave up and went outside to wait for the others who weren't put off by the fumes. I always follow my instinct in situations like this and had no intention of breathing in anything that worried me.
The sky was starting to look ominous outside with heavy black clouds and a few drops of rain plopped down upon us.
We were all really thirsty by now too and wondering if we'd make it back to the park without any water but we had one more building that we wanted to scout. It turned out to be the canteen area and we couldn't believe our eyes when we saw 5 bottles of water standing on a table with unbroken seals. They must have been left behind by a training team and we lunged at them. Huggy was a little skeptical at first but gave up with that notion when she saw the rest of us gulping down our bottles. Feeling grateful and refreshed we finished our photo shoot and started back for the bikes. The rain was coming down quite heavily as we pedaled back which seemed especially unfair as we also had to deal with another incline. But after an extra bumpy track downhill ride during which I had to stand on my pedals for most of the way with the brakes on, we finally arrived back at the cars. And the rain had stopped. Typical. But whatever. We had cycled about 8 miles and were damp from the rain and the humidity, yet that did nothing to dampen our ardor for food and beer. So the nearest restaurant enabled us to dry off and refresh ourselves with great beer, not so good food but plenty of laughs despite our sullen waiter whose writing was barely decipherable when the bill came. Bill threatened to leave his tip with a note saying it was to be used for penmanship classes.
There was a local art event on so we decided to wrap up the day with a stroll around there. For some reason we had assumed that there would be wine available and the idea of strolling around admiring the art with a glass in hand appealed to us all but we found out that there were only soda vending machines and also the place was starting to shut for the night.
So we had a quick look around at the glass displays where we all liked the eye balls and I was taken with jars of very thin strands of colored glass called stringers which are used for small details in the fusing process. We finished the evening chatting with a fellow DCUE member who was displaying a few of her photos there but I was having problems trying to focus. It had been a long day and the heat had finally sapped the last of my energy so was mightily glad to plop into Stuart, crank up the AC and drive home to bed.

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