Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Brits and Bikes

On Saturday, a couple of my British friends, Mary and Carolyn, along with Hannah, one of Mary's friends who I've been out with a few times before, came over to Meadow House so I could take them out for their first taste of Urbexing. I'd decided to take them to some abandoned houses in the area, not wanting to put them at risk in more industrial or off limit places. I wasn't even sure if they'd enjoy it, or would simply get bored at the first building.
 This old theater in Marshall couldn't be accessed but looked quite interesting from the outside. I just took a couple of snaps then walked around answering their questions.
 This next old house really fired up their enthusiasm and after that I guessed my other locations would be fine for them too. It was fun watching these newbies 'ooh' and 'ah' over textures and the old materials of the building.
The next place is my favorite abandoned house and I was excited to see their reactions. I wasn't disappointed, They were enamored. We were saddened to find that it was no longer accessible, but on reflection I was glad, if it meant keeping vandals out.
 We spent quite a long time just shooting the outside and exploring the outbuildings. Someone had been looking out for the old place, the grass was cut, with branches and logs stacked neatly at the back. It was so pretty with spring flowers, blossoms and new leaves shining vibrantly against the old wood of the house and buildings.
The next house was one I dubbed Vulture House as many times when I've driven by there have been vultures perched on the old chimney. We didn't see any as we walked towards the structure but when Carolyn and I walked back to the old hen house, we startled one, and it loped out of the barn, noisily flapping its wings as it slowly took off to sit on the house roof and stare down at us.
 After checking out one more old residence we stopped at The Plains for lunch. Hannah took a photo of us crossing the road, none of us aware of her pointing her camera. Afterwards we thought it reminiscent of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road.
We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out some more abandoned houses in the neighborhood and were amazed when we found it was well after 4pm when we were done. We were all tired but the girls had really enjoyed their first urbexing experience, and it made me realize just how many old abandoned houses I have in my area!
The next morning I met with Richard to get some more cycling practice in. We were cycling the W&OD trail from Rte 28 to Purcelville, a total of 42 miles. I didn't bother with a camera today but was glad I had my phone to capture a few shots. I didn't take any on the way out to Purcelville. We stopped there for lunch, having a starter to share and a main course washed down with 2 beers each. I knew we'd pay dearly for this! Afterwards as we unlocked our bikes the warm sun on our backs encouraged us to keep jackets off and then we made a huge fuss of securing them to our bikes since we had no bungee cords or saddle bags big enough. I had wrapped mine around the seat post using the sleeves to tie knots and hold it in place while Richard had screwed his up so tightly that somehow he manged to finally force it inside a tiny postage sized bag on his rack. But not even 2 minutes into our ride and we'd stopped, quickly pulling them back on over our cold arms!
This poor black snake must have had a shock as I cycled past his tail and Richard past his head. I stopped not wanting any other cyclists to run over him while he was sunbathing on the warm tarmac. I walked up to him and nudged him until he moved into the undergrowth.
A lovely old barn where we found the Easter Bunny inside, very appropriate for the day.
Some old cars at a scrapyard in Leesburg and an old kiln. We struggled a bit with the pedaling after our huge lunch but nowhere near as much as we deserved to and by the time we got back to the car, I realized that I could happily have done quite a few more miles. I usually dislike riding on this trail because being the suburbs where the population and interest in cycling is steadily increasing, this is more often than not a busy route, but we had lucked out choosing to ride on Easter Sunday. We passed few folks, most were likely at church or with families, we smelled a few BBQs on the way. If we keep cycling regularly like this, we'll be ready for a century by late summer!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mega Church & Mansion Urbexing

On Sunday I meet with friends to explore a couple of places, the first being a mega church in Baltimore. Emily and I had first discovered this place 3 or 4 years ago but after gaining access to the back of the house, we saw alarms had been set up, and not being sure if they were linked to a police station we left.
Today the church part of the building was open so we strolled in. Vandals had obviously spent some time here along with scrappers. Parts of the ceiling were hanging down, pews were ripped up and walls had gaping holes smashed in them.
There were a lot of these fans scattered on the floor and I could imagine the great atmosphere and loud singing that had once rang around this huge room.
A corridor led directly to the house and a metal shutter could be brought down in front of a pair of French doors leading directly into a living room where huge mirrors on the walls had been smashed. We had barely set up our tripods when we heard a door slam upstairs. We had company but we weren't sure whether they were friendly or not. We stood stock still and heard footsteps with more door slamming. We decided to quickly take some photos but not go upstairs.
We crept through the rooms, silently setting up our shots but the guy upstairs continued his racket undaunted. I was getting a little frazzled by this, and stuck close to the others. An old piano kept us occupied for a while and then we decided to leave.
Emily and I peeked up the staircase, Emily noting the great light. I quickly positioned my tripod and as soon as I pressed the shutter a huge crash thundered from immediately above us. I leaped out of my skin and we fled. We had also heard an engine noise from out the front and so crept around to our exit. Outside was a police car. Obviously our friend upstairs had created such a din that the neighbors must have put in a call.
We ended up waiting around for an hour and someone had the great idea of sliding down the pole above. That wasn't happening. I was concerned about the angle of the pole and it possible pulling away from the wall and also we didn't have gloves to control our down speed and stop the metal burning our palms. Eventually we decided to just stroll out as though we'd never spotted the patrol car. There were 2 officers inside studying a monitor and we didn't see them look up. so we strolled nonchalantly past looking the other way, assuming that if we couldn't see them then they couldn't see us. Besides there were no signs forbidding trespassing, so we sauntered towards our car without looking back. Either the cops never looked or we must have looked like a sad bunch because we weren't stopped.
We then took a drive over to a mansion I'd visited a few weeks ago. Thankfully it wasn't freezing cold like before and I was glad to return. I still won't divulge the house's location but it seemed already others had started pulling the place apart.
My main objective on this trip was to document the glass. I'll get around to putting the photos onto Flickr so they can be publicly accessed. I've been paranoid about the glass being smashed and the beautiful windows never having been photographed.
These were 4 windows in one room, representing the 4 seasons.
I missed these 2 in the hallway last time too. I'd been having doubts since my last visit as to whether the windows really were stained glass or transfers. I inspected them closely, these were stained glass with hand painted panels. I hope to God someone saves these before some ingnorant degenerate lobs a rock through them. The thought makes me shudder.
I took some more photos of the wood panels too and discovered that more elephant drawings had been added to the walls, so I shot those also.
Another trip up to the roof, and I noticed that the hearing test equipment had been taken. Fair enough, as long as it's appreciated. But someone had been in and pulled ceiling panels around and strewing the other contents about the floor.
We pottered around the grounds, looking in outbuildings I hadn't noted on my last visit.
On leaving the mansion I felt a little relieved that I had photos of all the glass and wood panels from inside the 100 year old building but was still a little restless wondering about the mansion's future. It's not beyond restoring and is still structurally sound. I hope it can be saved...
Our crazy day was rounded off with our customary beers. We found a cool little dive bar which although it didn't have food, it had fine beer and a magnificent ceiling covered with prominent album covers. A fun day with my mission accomplished with cool friends and a situation dealt with that showed our dependable team spirit. An excellent reason to toast with another beer!