Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm now a bad influence

So now I've done it. In only 2 1/2 months, I went from my first "urban exploration" of an abandoned building (a group excursion), to exploring with a partner, to exploring familiar and then unfamiliar places on my own, to showing a person new to this around. Yes, I'm "growing up so fast," as someone joked. The occasion: a recent Flickr friend from Milwaukee, Carol, took a weekend trip to Chicago for various reasons, including her first "urbex." And I was the guide.

I picked a few easy-to-get-into places. Or so I thought. First we tried the factory seen in this Flickr set of mine. I've been several times by myself and once with DK and KTown. Things seemed a bit iffier each time, though...Our first challenge was getting in over snow-covered trestles. Okay, snow is slippery. And it tends to disguise which pieces of wood aren't quite solid. Happily we got in without incident, and looked at the smaller building. Then Carol noticed a guard dog outside. How did it miss us coming in? Then I noticed we couldn't get to other building without going by the dog. Um, no. I believe this place is off-limits for a while. We got out--the dog barking most of the time, of course.

But the abandoned silos are reliable, right? Indeed, they were. No one around, an open fence, a little icy getting in. And a statue that wasn't there before. We went up the 138 steps to the middle level where you can really good skyline shots (or the one at the top of this post). Carol knows a lot more about graffiti than I and kept noticing the tag of a well-known Chicagoan she knows. We crossed over to the actual silos, which I find enjoyably terrifying. I don't know which are scarier; the well-lit ones you can see the bottom of, or the dark ones you can't.

I'd love to climb into one, if I had proper safety gear, and knew for sure the ladder was sturdy. I noticed graffiti at the top of one. "Wow, wouldn't it be crazy if someone wrote graffiti at the bottom of one?" I mused, then noticed someone had. All they wrote was "Fuck." Okay, whatever. If you'd written "Fuck, I dropped my keys!" that would be hilarious.

We went the additional 100+ steps and walked around the top level, which offers more great views, mostly through bits of ruined windows. After exhausting the main structure, we headed to the basement; I'd only been once, and by myself. There's a basement and sub-basement; there's a surprising amount of graffiti in the sub-basement.

That shot is missing the "what." We walked out and around the canal side of the structure, and into one of the ruined garages. Here's my Flickr set from my various silo visits. Saturday, Dec. 8 wasn't the prettiest day, but it was my first chance to see the silos with snow, so I appreciated getting a different view. And all that climbing warmed us up...And here's Carol's Flickr set of the silos.

We drove over to Washburne (this day would have been unbearable without a car). I knew the east building was getting demolished (predicted in my Thanksgiving post) but I was heartbroken to see the walkways connecting it and the main building had come down. Just that day, as it turned out. A mountain of school debris had been pushed out of the building. I got a few shots, because I wanted to be the first to post the end of the walkways on Flickr, of course, and took a brief tour of the main building. It was getting dark so we didn't stay long, and besides, there'd be a group excursion there the next day. More on that, and the decline of Washburne east, later.

I just wanted to say I had a fine time being a "tour guide" for the first time. The factory was a bit more adventure than I would have liked, but the silos and Washburne were a success. I hope to show Carol around on more visits, and to lure many more people into this crazy hobby...

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