NE USA writeup for UER
What I did on my holidays (aka the blitzing of the NE USA)
Having squeezed almost every last drop out of London, UK's explore opportunities, and worked over some of the low countries treats. It was time to take on the daddy. One of the reasons I joined UER, was to see what goes on across the pond. In amongst the interesting explores and endless crap houses (?!?!!), there were numerous reports of people getting busted and facing some serious grief. This put me off going to the states for some time. In Europe, exploring mostly results in a slap on the wrist when caught, even in military sites in former Eastern Europe as seen here. I tend to visit NY State roughly every 3-4 years, to see friends I met while at Uni (SUNY) and to wander aimlessly in the Big Apple. So when it came time to cross the pond again, I figured this time i'd inflate that tiny nutsack, and pack the exploring gear.
Our first explore in the city was the always great Freedom Tunnel, sadly devoid of it's once great graffiti, crudely painted over by Dumtrak. GE011 walked us down here with another local explorer of the female variety. The weather was perfect for capturing the famous suns rays.
I guess some people don't like the idea of going somewhere with a hitlist, but i've never cared what others think. To be honest, the list was actually half of what we ended up doing. I wanted to do many things in NYC, one ambition was to get up high at night in Manhattan. As GE074 and I traversed around the city, I kept my eyes open for potential opportunities. Not really hearing much about construction sites in the city, I always assumed they'd be guarded and secured. The case with this site couldn't have been further from that, a walk in the park one might say. 61 floors up, a tick on the list.
If your exploring confidence has reached a certain level, when you come to NYC, you're gonna be looking at bridges. And we did just that. The first one we climbed was the M, probably my favourite of the ones I climbed. Just the thrill of popping a flap at the top, and turning my head one way to see Manhattan, and the other way to see Brooklyn laid before me. The rumble of the train going below shook the bridge, and added to the sense that we really were in the Big city.
After one abortive attempt at the W, we hit it again the following night, and reached the saddle-room. I didn't feel comfortable the whole time i was up the tower, due to others having been busted up here. And also the fact one is ludicrously exposed.
After heights come depths, and my favourite kind, Metro networks. NYC is very different to other cities i've visited, in that the metro doesn't close down over night, it's 24/7. Being in transit tunnels is stressful enough, but having endless unpredictable trains hurtling down the tracks just keeps the adrenalin flowing nicely. As we dodged service trains, regular trains and a worker just wandering down the Express tracks. Luckily I spotted his bouncing torch. Thankfully, none of the workers spotted our lightpainting torches bouncing all over. This was 'Worth' it!
Lessons learnt from the previous night getting a hit of Track, we were better prepared the following night. We reached the 18th hole.
Settling into the pattern of going to bed at 6am, and rising in the early afternoon, we set out for Queens and the relics from the State Fair. A stairwell of crumbling rusty stairs and some sets with no steps at all!
Another waking up after midday, and a shlump across the city, this time to the power station explored by everyone in existence. An interesting mixture of death trap, maze and beautiful decaying metal.
A dinner party with NYC's glitterati of exploring, and one of them was cool enough to straight after dinner head across town to Canal St, and the cities first sewer. This was a real highlight of the trip, and I can't thank GE012 enough. If only it hadn't of started raining just after we dropped down, yikes! Although, in some ways, this was actually a cool experience, being in a drain that was filling. Water pumping in from side pipes, the level slowly rising, the interceptor choking and flooding.
Tired of the routine of running around at night, and sleeping during the day, we left for Pittsburgh. Well, we did after paying $50 for missing our flight, and catching the next one. Cheers Delta! I mainly wanted to go to Pittsburgh for a very nerdy reason, one of my favourite films is Dawn of the Dead, and I wanted to see the Monroeville Mall! This saw a lame-ass security guard tell us off for taking zombie pics. Apparently shoplifters photograph shops before robbing them?! So we walked to the other end of the mall, and took pics there instead!
The other thing I hoped to see while in town was some steel mills, the thing Pittsburgh is famous for, and a name carried by the local American Football team. Searching around the web and on here, there didn't seem a whole host of places left to see. We tried for one old mill just outside of Pittsburgh, but it appeared to have a film crew all over it. Trailers all parked up etc. Luckily a local chap, GE080 tipped us off about a silo that was being demolished just outside of downtown.
We finally got to meet GE080, and along with a lady friend from Detroit, we were whisked off in his Jeep. I'd never ridden in a Jeep before, here in the UK most cars are small due to the road size and high price of fuel. In the grand ole US of A, who cares about fuel consumption, the lower the better, and GE080 floored that baby nicely to bring down the fuel consumption to mere metres per litre! We arrived in a run down town with scary levels of poverty I'd only seen in the bleaker areas of the former Eastern Europe. For a moment I thought we'd arrived in some African developing country. People walking around with ripped trainers (sneakers), outsized clothing with holes in. A distinct look of despair in their faces. As with most towns that are based around one factory or type of industry, when the work goes, there's little else for people to do. This was a large pottery factory that kept the town going until closure.
All back in the Jeep, and we went off to another one horse town in the next state. GE080 showed us the way he'd been in before, but was now padlocked. GE074 showed that the padlock was not as it seemed, and opened up. GE080's face went a slight red shade! The theatre is apparently trying to be preserved, but I'd say it's too late, it was truly trashed, and only suited to the wrecking ball. Plaster and brickwork were falling all over the place, holes in the floor opened up with every other footstep. Seemed a good idea to climb up to a lighting gantry then, i think this looks safe, err, err!
A trip to a local spanish italian restaurant in the evening, and a stay at GE080's pad. The following day we were treated to a trip to a proper boss steel mill, complete with rolling mill and furnaces. This was awesome on the scale of awesome squared. Sadly time was limited, but we worked quickly. I took a silly number of pictures. Scaling the blast furnaces was great fun. We also bumped into another group of explorers down from Buffalo.
While GE080 headed back to Pittsburgh for a monthly UE party, I headed off by myself in our trusty hire car scaring the crap out of locals as I ploughed along a historical highway at 80mph to try to maximise my time in the next destination. Not just a building, or a couple of buildings, but a whole town that was abandoned. Well, not actually a town, it was more of an area. Most of the buildings were empty, and all were easy to access. This was a huge safe in one of the banks.
As I teamed up with GE074 again, another local explorer lead us across Pittsburgh to a tower he'd been to a few times. A live site where no one seemed to really care. Wrapped in just electrical cord, he popped out of the window to drop down and let us in. A few others turned up for a drink and smoke watching the sunset over the city.
Making our excuses at the above gathering, we hoped into the car and headed off upstate towards Buffalo. My driving style usually involves the accelerator being forced through the floor, so we made it in 3 hours. Both exhausted we crashed out in our seats in a neighbourhood of Niagara Falls, ON. As dawn rose, we pinched ourselves awake, and after wasting time looking for fuel, headed to the main tourist strip by the falls. Some looks around and we wandered a rather too visible path to a disused outfall tunnel for the HEP plant. Everything about this was amazing, from the proximity to the falls, the size of the tunnel, and the 'oh ma gawd' size of the pipes. GE074 decided to otter in the approach lip, and almost disappeared off down the Niagara river. A scary moment for both of us, as i watched him slip away. Along with the theatre above, this is somewhere i'd have liked to have had a hard hat. Debris from the crumbling tunnel was everywhere.
With time running out for GE074 before returning to the UK, GE081 had tipped us off about a culvert under a cemetery. So we quickly took care of it after a slap up feast in downtown Buffalo. The weather turned for the worst after I dropped GE074 off, and I practically floated to Rochester.
Another tipoff from GE081 was a drain/culvert carved out of rock, very different to the bricks back home.
The main prize I was after in Rochester, was the Titanic drain. I'd been pestering GE081 about it, and he joined me with members of his harem. I've seen a fair few drains, but nothing like this. It was truly a site to behold.
I stayed with some friends and hung out in Rochester for a few days, catching up on sleep, drinking and watching french films at the Little theatre. Time was marching on though, and I headed back to NYC for a few days. I wasn't planning on exploring, but it was so hard to resist. I had two sites I wanted to visit, one was an abandoned platform which has a Masstransiscope installed. Unfortunately I didn't get to see it in action from a train. I also went looking for something on the other side of the island on the metro, but it's a tricky bitch trying to work out north and south on the platforms, as well as east and west. So I lucked out, only realising how close I was when I got home.
After a day exploring NYC in a different manner, with Matt at walkin nyc (he plans to walk every street in the city). I got a few hours kip, and then headed to Queens. Time for one more bridge before I left. This one's a beauty. Sadly I spent so much time photographing this cheeky little wonder, I didn't even cross the bridge to check other options for climbing the arch. The ones on the Queen's side seemed to involve the joy of electrocution and locked doors.
Saturday night was my last night in the USA, and I planned to take it easy, not wanting to risk being busted the night before my flight home. However I did go for a drink in a bar those looking to climb the Brooklyn frequent for dutch courage. The Brooklyn is under repair for the next few years, and every previous attempt had been thwarted, so I didn't expect it to be possible as I crossed. However it was actually fairly quiet, and i just wanted to know what it was like to run the cables. So after a quick check got up to the cable barrier, as I thought about whether to keep going, I turned to see a cop van sat in the slow moving traffic, if I hadn't have been seen already, I could easily have been. So I did the sensible thing (dammit!) and came down and got the hell off the bridge.
The NE was very good to me, and a handful of explorers in the region proved to be very awesome. I don't like naming people incase of repercussions, but GE011, GE012, GE080, GE081, you are damn fine peoples! Further props for intel from Eric in NY and Toronto's favourite Polish explorer (now in the UK).
In the words of America's finest actor and thespian, 'I'll be back.'