Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The not-entirely-lonely Thanksgiving

I was quite thrilled at the prospect of spending Thanksgiving alone exploring industrial ruins. Other explorers I know have gone out on holidays, and it seemed entirely appropriate given that I didn't exactly get invited to spend Thanksgiving with my family. (My parents haven't visited Chicago for Thanksgiving in a few years, and they weren't going to be in their hometown; they drove to Houston for my dad's 50th [!] high school reunion, and spent Thursday in Kansas City, and I didn't see a reason to go.) Also, most of my friends were either occupied or presumably out of town. Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone doing my favorite kind of exploring back then--going on insanely long bike trips, photographing signs and buildings along the way. I did almost 50 miles, my most in one day (oh, it was 60+ degrees and sunny then).

I needed to go to the trade school to catch up on the demolition of its west building, and I figured there'd be no workers there on Thanksgiving, though there were workers at the adjoining businesses until noon or so. But first, I made it into a new place, a small abandoned oil company.

Getting in wasn't hard, but I was instantly covered in mud, and soon, in the lightly falling snow, and the burrs as I hacked my way through this wilderness. Well, it's wilderness compared to the giant factory floors I've been hanging out in recently. There are several immense tanks, and this is the view from the only one I climbed; I wasn't a fan of icy metal steps. I got a few cloudy shots on top.

There's a small building where I took this shot and the second one in this post. Then I climbed up on the structure you see here. Not much to say about this place, but I'm glad I checked it out.

Then off to the school. I walked towards the demolished wing at ground level and could swear I heard someone off that way yell "Yo!" at me twice. I got a little freaked out and took the stairs over instead. A fair amount had been demolished in the four days since I'd seen it. This was my first time photographing snow-covered ruins.

I walked through the main part of the school, which seems safe for now. This rainbow here got snapped in half since the first time I saw it.

One of my goals for the day, besides observing the demolition of the west building (achieved) and getting on the roof of the east building (not), was finding the spot with the radiating colors. It used to have a mirror in the center and many people took self-portraits there. I stumbled into the room accidentally. Did I really miss it on my prior 5 visits here?

I moved on to the east building; I'd seen plastic there last time and it looks like something's going on. Sure enough, asbestos abatement signs and equipment were everywhere. They didn't stop me, but made me a bit uneasy. My parents would probably cry if they knew how I spent my Thanksgiving, wandering through all this danger...

I went back to the demolition area; the snow had long since stopped and it was now sunny. How nice to get shots under two different light conditions. I walked through the rubble this time, since the workers at the adjacent business were gone, and noticed the icicles. Got some of my all-time favorite shots. Oh, I forgot to mention, Thanksgiving was also the two-month "anniversary" of my first real "urban exploration," another reason I was so excited to go out. So "all-time" isn't that long...

Leaving, I walked around the perimeter of the building to see the damage looking east. Oddly, there still seems to be a small functioning building attached to the demolished section. I wandered a bit more around the neighborhood--I'd honestly never noticed the small abandoned factory across the street--and got on a bus heading north.

My friend Kate surprised me with a call and an invitation to hang out that evening. I agreed, but still went ahead with my other meal plans. I needed a diner-ish place besides Golden Nugget open on Thankgiving serving a "traditional" meal, and my impulse to go to the D&L Snack Shop (which has turned into CJ's Cafe since my one prior visit) was a good one. Sure, it's the kind of place filled with depressing old guys, but their Thanksgiving meal was only $6.99, and "all you can eat." But I only had one serving of everything. I went home and cooked up a vegan dinner I was pretty happy with. I arranged it for the Flickr photo and only ate a little.

I had amazing luck with CTA buses all day (until my last one late at night): I must have waited 15 minutes TOTAL, on a holiday, for the first six buses I needed that day. Incredible. So I was early to meet Kate at Simon's in Andersonville, a great bar I've now been at on Christmas and Thanksgiving. We had quite a lot of Scrimshaw beer on tap and glogg (the season for it just started) and caught up on girl talk (you know, mostly but not entirely about boys). Needing to eat and sober up a little, we got a cab to the Golden Nugget on Lawrence and had pancakes. It was quite empty. Their Thanksgiving meal was $11.99 and not all-you-can-eat, bah. We hung out at her place for a while and I got to see her cat Sammy.

I left after midnight. One of the best Thanksgivings ever. My brother called me the next day, but I didn't call my parents back until Sunday. Oops. Oh, and I'd like to use the extra white space next to this photo to say it took me well over an hour to put this post together; my first time trying lots of photos going left and right AND links to Flickr photos. It almost looks okay...

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