So you know that last story I wrote about my first exploration? Well, thank my 80-year old brain for the mistake, that was actually my second excursion. Allow me to share the story of my REAL first urban exploration adventure...
I wanted to get my hands dirty with my first exploration but I did not want to do it alone. Not that I didn't feel capable, but for logical safety reasons it's just not advisable to go trekking through dilapidated buildings by yourself where it's highly unlikely someone will hear you scream when you fall through the floor. I'll leave the Darwin Awards to someone else, thank you.
My Godfather of Exploration (the one who helped teach me so much) told me he knew of a couple of folks who were also new to the UE site we were on and suggested I get in touch with them. I'd done some fairly extensive research and gathered a plethora of tips for a fairly low-key location. Rumor had it it was nearly a cake walk to enter with some fantastic sights to see and we should have no problem getting in. Double bonus was having two separate institutions to explore just a few blocks away from each other. Two birds, one stone, a long and crazy day. I contacted the new couple with my proposal, made sure Clif kept his schedule clear for that day and four fresh explorers penned in a unique double date on the calendar.
Clif and I met our new friends for the first time in a parking lot above the first of two sites we were about to attempt. I was as prepared as I could possibly be and absolutely terrified at the realization that this was my show to run. I shared all of the intel I had, gave some ideas for entry and exit and established an emergency plan should we get separated and soon we were on our way.
At the bottom of a very large hill sat a very large campus of buildings that had once held mental patients before it was repurposed to hold inmates and along the road in front of that campus sat a couple of work trucks complete with workers and a backhoe making trips back and forth to the main road right in front of our point of entry. Not ideal exploring circumstances.
Well, we'd come all this way and made so much effort, half of our merry band (Clif and Laura, AKA Team Ballsy) was determined not to let the Presence of Unexpected People keep us back while the other half (me and Seth, Team Not-So-Sure-About-This) was ready to throw in the towel. Our half was overruled by theirs and we huddled in the bushes to come up with a plan.
Step One: wait until backhoe goes down the road (roughly 2-3 minutes until return) and guy by work truck to turn his back. Both needed to happen simultaneously.
Step Two: Team Ballsy runs like crazy and swan dives into ditch under guard tower next to open gate in security fence where we need to enter. Stay as flat and still as possible in the could-be-taller grass until backhoe makes its pass. Check that backhoe is back down the road and guy by work truck is still facing the other direction and gesture wildly to Team Not-So-Sure-About-This who does the same.
Step Three: When next 2-3 minute window is clear run like crazy out from guard tower ditch, into gate and start frantically looking for any open door. Strain ears for sound of backhoe returning and duck behind corner of wall when it gets close.
Step Four: run around front corner of building to be more readily exposed to busy road instead of backhoe and guy by work truck and continue frantic door search.
We eventually found a place to get in and took a collective sigh of relief. Well, half of us sighed, the other half rolled their eyes as commentary for how pansy-like their significant others were. For the rest of our time at the first site Team Not-So-Sure-About-This ended up holding everyone's gear when we finished a building while Team Ballsy was free to search for our next point of entry, unencumbered. Points of entry included rapid and graceless leaping into windows and running down metal fire stairs almost directly into the front end of some other guy's work truck. CLOSE CALLS! So much for an easy first exploration...
The second site we visited down the street was significantly easier which allowed Team Not-So-Sure-About-This a little more room to breath.