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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Sharks Cove

Snorkeling on Acid

Snorkeling Hawaii

We putted along down the congested back roads towards Turtle Bay ready for snorkeling Hawaii. Nate sparked up a cigarette puffing plumes of smoke out the window. I gazed out at the coastal beauty beckoning my eyes with blue tendrils of crashing splendor. The calm swell attracted many beach goers from all over, and normally I avoided the tourist pits, but this time was different.

Nate looked over at me suddenly and blurted out, “You want a hit of acid bro?”

Sharks Cove Sunset

Sunset on Sharks Cove

Without much hesitation, I reached down and pulled a tab off a strip of blotter paper. The tasteless square moistened under my tongue for a few minutes before swallowing it. I took acid many times in the past, throughout college, and hitchhiking up through California, so I knew what to expect. Each time felt like a new adventure as I waited for the trip to begin.

We stopped at a surf shop in Haleiwa to buy snorkeling equipment first before continuing on to Turtle Bay. The parking lot connected to the beach resort jam-packed with cars. With people all looking to bask by the cove, like beached whales, our intention of seeing tropical fish appeared dismal, but we dove in anyway.

I swam around looking at murky clouds of seawater as my eyes spotted a lone tetra jolting between the cracks of brain-coral. The cove sucked for snorkeling. Little kids splashed about causing a ruckus by the shoreline, kicking and thrashing about, while giggling with smiles of joy. Fish disappeared into the depths of the ocean, and suddenly it no longer mattered. My mind began to escape me like an endless dream of happiness.

The cool water dribbled off my skin as I immersed myself in her beauty. The beauty of Mother Nature brought a twinkle to my eye as my vision sharpened quickly.

I lost Nate through the sea of people, but I just kept swimming and swimming. Slowly my mind dove further into an imaginarium of eclectic thoughts. Everything felt happy. Everything felt alive around me. The waves. The coral. The urchins. The sand. I loved Hawaii and its random adventures as I floated there in the ocean, forgetting to breathe. I coughed up mucous and salty phlegm-like water as my body slowly became more incapacitated from the drug.

The small current pushed me to the shoreline and I fumbled to take off my snorkel, mask and flippers, tumbling into the sand. I fell on my ass and giggled with a tenacity to wander enjoying every bit of snorkeling Hawaii.

In this trippy euphoria Nate came into view and we both made our way back to the car with no destination in mind. The ground moved around us as his car felt stationary guiding us back the way we came. We laughed and chain smoked the last of our cigarettes as Nate chanted the same lyrics to a ska-punk song over-and-over again.

“It’s only just begun,” I thought. And it did. We pulled off a few miles down the road outside of an abandoned building. It felt like a primal spot to lose our minds. An old Hawaiian couple posed for the camera taking pregnancy photos in an eery door-frame. We hobbled through trash, decayed coconuts, Styrofoam and rusted construction equipment stepping over barbed wire and metal bed-frames as my body wandered to another extreme emotion, fear.

The dark, gloomy jungle cast its shadows on us making each step through the wasteland of the Convalescent home even more chilling. My heart thumped, and fingers trembled. I finagled through waste fearing I might step on a stray heroine needle. It made my toes cringe between my broken sandals, until losing them altogether when I set my eyes on a Banyan tree. It crept around the backside of the vacant building, wrapping its limbs around the roof like a parasite feeding off its master.

Underwater Trippin’ in Oahu

Snorkeling Hawaii

Snorkeling Hawaii on acid in Turtle Bay

Fear shook every ounce of blood pumping through my veins. I watched in a trembled stupor as Nate monkeyed his way to the top of the roof. Climbing and swinging up the prison-bar windows, using rusty metal pegs as footholds, he reached the top, fearless and anxious to down-climb the Banyan tree.

I took another approach for fear of tetanus. I studied the Banyan tree like a bouldering problem until finally gripping its bark, steadily inching up its trunk. Nate chucked plaster tiles off the roof as his mood shifted to destruction. I felt scared and numb as I reached a point of no return three-quarters of the way up the tree. But, my fear morphed into comfort with the slight breeze, feeling content as I sat with my legs dangling on either side of a sturdy branch. We sat up there for hours. He sang. I looked off into the canopies cascading around me. Their sharpness intrigued me looking like a blanket of green Legos.

Our moods shifted and we found ourselves back on the road headed to Sharks Cove. The low tide whispered our names putting our vehicle to a halt. Before I knew it I found myself tiptoeing barefoot across jagged coral like stepping on the tips of pointed needles. My feet ached as my mind alluded the pain. But with each step closer to the tide pools we looked out at the sun greeting us with one last smile of happiness as it shined its orange radiance throughout the sky. All my emotions felt like one as I awed in the beauty before me. This was the best acid I ever took. Snorkeling on acid turned into a series of random adventures making my last days in Oahu one to remember.

JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

The inside of the onion dome at the JN Adam Memorial Hospital…this place is even cooler than Dansville:  Castle on the Hill, no fallin’ through the floor here…

So we finally took a day to check out the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital located in Perrysburg, NY. The hospital is located in the small, desolate town of Perrysburg on 300 acres of overgrowth hidden between County Road 58 and its main entrance off Airview Drive. We read much on the web about people getting arrested so we took extra precaution, but for a Friday afternoon for a few hours, we did not encounter unwanted attention by the police.

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital from above

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Walking through the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital with the wife…looking forward to checking out the rest of Abandoned New York

Where did we park? We hit up the Perrysburg Diner across from the Spoon Saloon and ate a few sandwiches, which ended up giving us both explosive defecation. So I do not recommend eating there, but if you park around lunch time and look inconspicuous, you have a clear approach down the roadway to the entrance. Watch out for patrol vehicles that randomly drive down the access road to catch trespassers. If you hear a vehicle approaching just hop in the overgrowth and lay low until it passes. We did not have much trouble finding the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital, however, we did have a difficult time gaining entry to the complex, well Kelly did.

So if you are one of those people who does not enjoy hopping tall fences with barbed wire, then the alternative route is gaining access through holes or parts of the fence you can crawl underneath. From the main road on Airview Drive if you head left past the main entrance you will see a beaten dirt path that goes up to the fencing. Behind you stands a tall smoke stack and a building enclosed in barbed wire fencing with a bunch of huge gears and machinery and in front of you stands the rest of the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital. As of July 2016, we found two access points through the fencing here, one involved pulling up the fence and crawling underneath and the other involved squatting and crawling through an open hole. I do not recommend bringing bolt-cutters anywhere when trespassing as you will get automatic burglary charges for breaking and entering, however, if someone else does the work for you then use these entrances for entry and remember your whereabouts in case you need to make a run for it.

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Heavy Machinery???

Why was this my favorite exploration spot? Sunlight shined throughout the building with a warming feeling, while we experienced cold chills in the dark and creepy crevices of rooms cast away from any daylight. A flashlight was not necessary, but I wish we brought one to explore the darker rooms. Watch out for the floor in some places as it’s very easy to fall through the decrepit, brittle flooring after years of decay. The earth has taken over much of the complex with roofs and flooring falling inward, paint peeling from every wall-face and ceilings caving in with nothing but dust and debris dribbled across the remains of the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital.

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Theater anyone?

The experience felt similar to my other urban exploration adventures such as The Rosewood Center, and Forest Haven Asylum, but it maintained its uniqueness in many ways. The place looked abandoned in a day, where they left everything behind. We found Ritalin articles from the 1960’s, old toys and dolls, wheelchairs, light fixtures in pristine condition, and other knickknacks. Bolts, gears, engines, all lay on shelves collecting rust from oxidation over the years. Graffiti inked the walls like a series of cryptic tattoos, with numbers, German phrases and excerpts from Dante’s Inferno, but the most appealing aspect of the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital lay within its rooftop. We gained access to the roof through its stairwell leading to the fourth floor and I must say my eyes embraced the immaculate beauty cast below. Clusters of pine trees marched on in an endless parade matching their dark green colors with the light blue horizon as a series of cumulonimbus clouds painted the sky, dancing above us. I thought of the people who lived here in the past, spending their whole life in the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital, and dying, or taking a brief stay. My nose wrapped around the freshness of the air and my eyes around the splendor of the hospital’s surrounding. At least JN Adam embraced the idea of fresh air, and peaceful views to help boost the spirits of the patients here, whether suffering from tuberculosis or another illness, the architecture and design definitely considered this tranquility.

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Toxic Toys for girls and boys…

We ended our exploration with a brief trek through the theater doors and the center building, shaped similar to an onion dome. Without getting into much description I will leave this for your own exploration. Maybe you will feel the spirits while you wander through the complex, or embrace the history of what took place in these rooms, sinking your eyes into the artwork that once was. Enjoy and stay safe!

Abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Rooftop views of the abandoned JN Adam Memorial Hospital

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Driving back on highway I-17 from Arcosanti we stumbled upon a huge abandoned site. It looked like the old Black Canyon Greyhound Park I heard blurbs about on other abandoned blogs, but there was no way of knowing without exploring the ruins it left behind. We pulled off at exit 242 so Kelly could grab a pack of smokes, but I felt an uncontrollable urge to explore the Park’s history and confirm its location, so we stopped to check it out. I tightened the straps to my backpack and just as I shut the rear passenger door the 5-0 pulled up at the stop sign. His piercing stare engaged me, our vehicle and then the park and my gut immediately turned sour. Kelly grabbed her phone and pretended to snap a selfie of us together with the mountains in the background. The police officer turned and parked his SUV onto the dirt shoulder trying to hide behind cacti and tumbleweeds. I noticed this and the close proximity of the park to the road and canned the idea immediately hoping to come back at some point in the near future.

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Black Canyon Greyhound Park Side Entrance

Originally we planned to drive to Lake Havasu to explore the abandoned schoolhouses and watch a warm winter sunset from across the lake, but we slept in too late and changed our plans last minute. Instead we spent the past weekend wandering around the Black Canyon Greyhound Park exploring its abrupt demise. Right off I-17 by exit 242 the park sits decaying since the 1980’s when it abandoned its operations. The small, crooked, chain link fence dangles there a few feet off of the roadway welcoming any trespassers with a misdemeanor if caught.

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Chairs piled up across the floor

We parked the car at Chileen’s Steak House and walked down the road scoping the area for policemen as we roamed in and out of the desert foliage. As we neared the exit I scanned the area for people and quickly made a run for it across the street as Kelly followed behind me. We hopped a small, crooked gate and hugged the foliage due to the park’s close proximity to the roadway. We zigzagged through the patchy grass, stepping on bald spots of dirt as I watched tumble weeds bounce by in the distance. One by one we entered the building through the side entrance, which reminded me of a run-down roof meant to cover gas pumps at a petrol station. Each pillar degraded severely over many years of decay with deteriorated concrete and exposed, rusted re-bar corroding from lack of maintenance and the wrath of mother nature. Graffiti artists tagged the inner walls of the building with bright colors making each tag stand out distinctly from the others as we scanned the walls. My nostrils flared from years of dust and decay, but the charred pieces of wood, scorched walls and caution tape all screamed signs of arson. Thick pieces of industrial glass crackled under my feet as they screeched against the concrete flooring. The building held spectators on the ground floor with plastic stadium-style seating separating each level with a concrete terrace design. I imagined all the seats lined up with spectators yelling, rooting for their greyhound to pull ahead as it neared the finish line galloping around the last bend. The gamblers all clasping their tickets, throwing their hands in the air as they spat out chants praying for victory. I opened my eyes and saw all the broken glass scattered throughout the park. The orange and yellow seats piled up in the far corner of the stadium, dull and faded from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. A set of wooden chairs off to the side all disintegrated from years of desert heat, termites and decay, all that remained, the curved, wooden backings. Everything stood there, old, dull and abandoned, as I circumnavigated the room, except for two huge, vibrant signs hanging from the rafters. The orange and yellow colors blasted the words “Red Seating, Yellow Seating, and Orange Reserve” signifying the different seating packages available in the Black Canyon Greyhound Park’s heyday.

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

Bright signs – dull stadium

We stepped through one of the panels of the shattered, floor-to-ceiling, windows facing the abandoned track and Arizona mountaintops. My eyes wandered to the metal roof access stairs. We lightly walked up them and reached the top peering across a dry-rotted timber bridge deck nailed diagonally across the roof. I noticed holes in the roof with crusty, yellow insulation as we walked on the rickety timber steps towards the box seats. We avoided the loose nails, and missing timber by tip-toeing across the support in the center. To avoid glimpsing down to the ground floor below I shifted my eyes to my feet as I slowly put one foot in front of the other as if walking a line. When we reached the end I noticed a black SUV parked off the side of I-17. A husky man exited his vehicle looking at the abandoned property 100 yards away from us. Kelly and I hid in an abandoned restroom above the box seats. A sink of shale filled to its brim where water once came out of its spicket hung from the wall. Tiled debris covered every inch of the floor and the toilet looked like someone took a sledgehammer to it.

Black Canyon Greyhound Park

A walk of faith looking into the sun

We waited ten minutes. I poked out my head and noticed the vehicle scurried back onto the highway. Phew…our adrenaline passed. We walked the plank one last time to get back to the ground floor in order to continue wandering through the adjacent buildings on the property. Rental paperwork, and utility bills spread out across the floor of the next room as Kelly sifted through ransacked filing cabinets looking for clues of the Black Canyon Greyhound Park’s past. At one time, the owner’s rented the housing blocks to employees keeping the caged areas for the racing dog’s. A graffiti artist spray-painted a series of kitty cat faces throughout the property, nearly appearing in every room.

[Read More Abandoned Arizona]

Arcosanti an Arizona Oddity

Arcosanti an Arizona Oddity?

Was Arcosanti an Arizona oddity or a sustainable idea way before its time? Paolo Soleri did not think so. Despite being a completely theoretical idea, Soleri funded his life’s work through designing and producing ceramic and bronze windbells through methods he developed from silt-casting. With over 40 years of production he used this financial cushion to test out his theories on a more sustainable society. Where did he do this? The middle of nowhere off of highway I-17 in the city known as Arcosanti. A village away from the norms of society cast in the beautiful sandy desert surrounded by prickly cactus pear, dirt roads and an infinite amount of stars in the night sky, a perfect utopia. The idea of Arcosanti entailed maximizing space with limited land through roadway elimination. Basically, Soleri wanted to combine ecology with architecture in what he coined the term, “arcology.” He envisioned a future society where architecture implemented into the ecosystem with limited harm to the environment. This theoretical community, designed for 5,000 people on roughly 15 acres of land, started in 1970 and still continues construction today. Soleri built the structures in Arcosanti with similar techniques he used to make the windbells. Despite eliminating roadways and automobiles Soleri theorized for a series of escalators, elevators, moving pedestrian sidewalks and other green forms of travel for the community with roadways into and out of the city. Soleri passed away in 2013, but his passion and sustainable vision on a new path for society lives on in the souls of both old-timers and young, upcoming architects and engineers today. 5-week and 10-week workshops are held in the community at a fair price and if deemed worthy you can stick around to help the community construct more of Soleri’s plan and see it come to fruition. If you want to learn more about this oddity I highly recommend taking the tour. They ask for a small donation of $10 per person, but it’s worth every penny.

Arcosanti an Arizona Oddity?

Arcosanti

One of the few structures built within the community through similar methods used in windbell production.

Arcosanti

The auditorium where bands and other musicians play. They fill the front with water during shows to enhance the acoustics.

Normally I hate guided tours. We almost left because we arrived an hour early for the 1 PM tour and my impatience almost got the better of me. But, we drove an hour out-of-the-way to see this Arizona oddity so I toughed it out. As we walked around I noticed the expensive pricing of the windbells and immediately felt turned off by it. It seemed like a for-profit corporation squeezing every last penny out of tourists for their own personal agenda off a dead man’s idea. Do not judge them off the windbells! During the tour we learned that the money from windbell sales drive the continued construction of the community buildings Soleri envisioned. Without people buying the bells they do not have a means of financial capabilities to continue his dream. Soleri strictly wanted it this way because he did not want investors taking over on an idea meant to save society and the earth. The power of money always ruins everything. The video and tour are all worthwhile if driving through the area. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend visiting Arcosanti. Despite it never coming to fruition after 40 years they continue to make progress on his envision one step at a time. Their current roadblock being the dirt roads limiting further construction of the community as the government requires asphalt roads to go ahead. They are always looking for extra help and knowledge. If you know anything about Federal funding from grants or workarounds for continued construction please feel free to contact me and I can send your information to higher-ups in their community.

Arcosanti

Arcosanti an Arizona Oddity: This is the room they produce the bronze windbells!

The architecture within the ecosystem is utterly amazing! Families, volunteers and workers all live on site in their community of 100 people. Guests can stay in their “hotel” rooms for $30/night, which gives you access to the pool and the ergonomically designed seats for star-gazing.

RTA Subway System the Graffiti Within

RTA Subway System – Abandoned Rochester

For the better part of the summer last year along with this year I normally wander around Western New York by foot or bicycle.  Last year I used a $5.00, 7-speed, cruiser from a garage sale until I popped a tube and someone stole it from the airport.  Then I borrowed a mountain bike from an older woman whom I became friends with at the Village Inn.  Her kid barely used it so I traveled around exploring the abandoned parts of Akron until we shut down in September.  This year I came prepared and bought a Schwinn from Walmart for a little over a hundred dollars.  I put about 400 miles on it so far roaming around Medina, Waterport, Albion, Batavia, Hamlin, Perry, Mount Morris, Elba, Byron, and Rochester.  Recently, one of the pilots, Craig, crashes at the airport from Saturday to Tuesday instead of dreading a long drive back to Fredonia.

DCIM102GOPRO

Court Street Entrance to RTA Subway System in Abandoned Rochester, NY

If you have ever stayed or lived in an airport hangar then you know when work gets cancelled the last place you want to be is the airport.  My buddy, WizeHop, from StP, sent me directions to the RTA Subway System in Abandoned Rochester, NY a while back and told me it was worth checking out if in the area.  I put it in the back of my mind for the end of summer on my bicycle ride home, but, today seemed like the perfect day to go.

DCIM102GOPRO

Looking out over the Genesee River

My favorite places to explore carry a lot of history with them, such as, asylums, industrial plants, hospitals, etc.  So researching more about the RTA Subway System made me antsy to check it out.  I hitched a ride with Craig and we drove to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester, NY since the one entrance to the RTA Subway System sat beneath this building.  We parked on the street and spent an hour exploring the unknown RTA Subway System, which surprisingly remained completely open for anyone to access off of Court Street.  Walking down the Genesee Riverway Trail path we climbed a small ladder and walked across a wooden bridge.  Light shined in from across the Genesee River through the concrete arches.

I squinted as I looked ahead.  I supported most of my weight on the steel beams using the steel handrail to guide my path as I slowly drug my feet forward.  Not being able to see definitely hindered my ability to climb and made me use better judgement.  As we walked across the bridge water cascaded beneath us through each individual arch flowing out to the river.  Graffiti lined every piece of concrete wall including the concrete pillars supporting the RTA Subway System.  Art prospered here and with each step we took further into the subway bloomed like a variety of pretty flora.  Some graffiti remained incognito from the raised water level hiding their true beauty, but as we walked deeper into the subway pieces flourished over every tunnel wall.  Some really great talent colored the walls of the abandoned RTA Subway System.  Three dimensional tags popped out of the wall in every vibrant color imaginable.  Octopus, bats, and mythical creatures filled the empty space between the words.  The most memorable piece burnt into my mind was the artist who spray painted a “Pepsi Cola Cap” in red, white and blue.  The precise detail and coloring made it almost surreal.

So enthralled by the masterpieces covering every inch of wall we almost stopped.  However, we continued to walk deeper into the tunnel towards the pitch black entrance of the subway due to the thrill of the unknown.

I reached in my jacket and pulled out my headlamp.  Craig walked behind me following in my footsteps as I led the way through the complete darkness.  Occasionally, sunlight peeped in through the dark tunnel casting its rays through windows, drains and cracks.  We poked our heads into empty sealed off stairwells lined with graffiti, which in olden times led back to the streets of Rochester.  Despite the RTA Subway System lacking security it remained fairly clean, free of most trash and lacked home-bums.  We wandered for about two miles and I noticed structural engineers sporadically placed steel support trusses throughout the tunnel.  This tunnel closed back in 1956, but hopefully this was a sign of restoration or at least preservation of a crucial part of Rochester history.  As we walked a bit further, light illuminated the exit of the tunnel, which put us out on Broad Street by the freight trains.  Baby car-seats scattered across the ground near the exit.  I did not know what to think, a practical joke or abandoned children lying dead somewhere?  We never found out and rushed back down the streets of Rochester to beat the meter.  I plan on cycling back out this way to stake out the freight yard and catch out to wherever the train may take me.

DCIM102GOPRO

Inside the RTA Subway System looking out over the Genesee River

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