Urban exploration, or urbexing- The examination, exploration and navigation of urban areas and structures that are often unseen, unused or abandoned.
Urban Decay- The natural disintegration of man-made structures and objects.
As you may have noticed, if you’re the observant RRSAHM connoisseur, that I’ve taken up a new hobby lately- a bit of urban exploration. I caught the bug the moment I entered that desolate house stopped in time- speaking of which, I have more information… a little bit more. But I am missing a huge chunk of the puzzle here… I get the feeling I’m not too far off finding it.
The TinyTrainTown and it’s surrounds are like a playground for urban explorers. There’s a stack of old and unused houses, barns, shops and farms to explore. So on the days my kids are in daycare and I can avoid doing serious adult-type things, I go urbex-ing- camera always in hand.
It’s not about ghosts…. not now, not the way it was Before. It’s about the layers people leave behind, the imprints they leave on the earth. The detritus of human life. History, crumbling and faded.
Hearing the whispers of lives already lived. Picking through pieces of the past; silent underrated homage to ordinary people living every day lives. It quells my boredom and restlessness, allows me to engage some perspective on how blessed my convenient, privileged life is.
It makes me feel alive again, even if it is just living vicariously through the existence of the past.
I’ve done my research- as you’ll see, that’s rule number one. It’s a compulsion. I can’t even hear a new term without Googling it, let alone partake in a brand new activity without finding out as much as I can. (And then making stupid mistakes because I get all cocky… but that’s another blog post for another day).
And, like most things, urbexing has its rules. Some are based in what loose community urban exploration community there is online. (OK- before anyone jumps up and down and starts valiantly justifying their website- it may just be that I am a) lazy and b) looking in the wrong places. Also throw in c) I’m not into draining or ‘urban caving’, which involves exploring the underground networks of cities. I’m claustrophobic, afraid of the dark and I have heard way too many stories about people being squashed against underground drain grills during a storm and dieing quite grotesquely. And a lot of Aussie sites focus largely on draining.) Others are just common sense and decency. And it’s probably reasonable to document the rules, as such, if I’m going to be writing my urban expeditions here on ze blog.
So… the rules of urban exploring. According to Lori. Who is absolutely no expert on the subject whatsoever.
Scout it out. Do your research- if you come across somewhere that’s worth exploring, look into it a bit. Google is your friend. Do a daylight recon before a moonlit exploration- rotted floors and spiky bushes are easier to identify by sunlight than flashlight.
Be prepared for consequences. On occasion, getting to where you’re trying to go may involve just a little bit of trespassing. And perhaps some minor break and enter… the kind where you’re cutting through padlocks made entirely of rust. (Not that I’d ever do anything like that. Obviously.) Be realistic- if you do get caught, you will be in a spot of trouble. That’s not the end of the world. You just need to be prepared for the risks and accept the consequences of your actions, should they eventuate.
Respect what’s sacred. That being said, let’s all just be… cool. Breaking into tombs or crypts, vandalism, or pushing your way into areas considered sacred or deeply spiritual? That is not cool.
Shhhhhh…. I know, I know, it’s difficult when you’re proud of yourself and FaceBook pings your location every single place you go; but keep your best urbexing finds as much of a secret as possible. Share only with like minded adventurers- half the fun of urbexing is stepping onto floorboards and watching fifty year old dust resettle. The more people who know about a particular disenfranchised property, the less eremetic it becomes.
Be prepared. For just about anything- but at the very least to get grubby. Pack a torch, thick gloves and long pants, a mobile phone, small first aid kit, gumboots, your camera and your sense of adventure. Best to bring your sense of humour as well, you just never know when you’ll need that.
Never go alone. If it’s daytime and your taking photos from a legal, public location, solo urban exploring is no problem. But if it’s dark or remote or somewhere you shouldn’t be, take at least one person with you, and let at least one other person know where you’re going. Never enter a building alone.
Show some manners. Obviously, this is exploration of places abandoned, not of any property that society still has a vested interest in.
First do no harm. Wherever possible, leave things as you found them, as ensure that any damage caused during entry is minimal.
Be safe, not stupid. It’s natural that there will be some element of risk involved in scoping out places that may have been ravaged- or at the very least nibbled at- by time and weather and neglect. Assess situations as you go. Look up, down and around. There are no prizes here for being brave or jumping high. If there’s a little voice in the back of your mind whispering that maybe that roof will cave in, it’s probably your intuition, which is way smarter than you and has already decided that the odds here are stacked. Listen to that voice. And don’t be afraid to bail- that’s part of playing the game.
Take only photos. And leave nothing but the shadow of your presence. Nothing but another slither of human energy to add to the layers already built.
And that’s that. But hey, I’m new at this… I could have it wrong. I did have one mighty urbexing adventure just recently- let’s call the photos in this post a sneak peak. Details coming soon, I promise.