Archive for the ‘Personal Experiences & Observations’ Category

Was Action Park the most dangerous park ever?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danm3/35-horror-stories-that-prove-action-park-was-the-6wr

this article says yes. My main memory of the park was the looping water slide. Picture a hotwheels stunt track but it was a tube not a slide and it featured you and not a toy car and there you have it. Words can’t convey how much abuse it put your body thru. it was short, fast and brutal. IIRC you had to be a minimum weight and height because if you weren’t there was a risk you wouldn’t make it thru the loop. My neck and head felt horrible afterwards and I wouldn’t ever do it again.

Advertisements

My experience exploring North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

What one explorer found in the basement

This post written by an urban explorer named Cabel is amazing. Not just for what he found but for his amazing writeup. What he found is what I always hope to find when I go checking out a place. How he felt is how I feel when I find something like this. It’s one reason why part of me prefers to explore alone or with as few people as possible. I like to linger. I like to go thru what I’ve found. Even something as boring and dry as chemical orders from 1962 can be fascinating to me.

I remember going exploring on North Brother Island several winters ago. I paddled there in a canoe with a guy I’d never met before. Maybe I met him once. Sorry, it’s been a while and I can’t remember his name. The night before it had snowed an icy rain/slush and the roads were treacherous. The temperature was below freezing and here we were, about to paddle on the Bronx River in a section known as hell’s gate, so named by the Dutch because of the horrible currents. Even with a life jacket, if we went into the water, hypothermia would set in quickly.

On the island was a hospital and sanitarium. it was made famous because it was where Mary Mallon was a nurse (Typhoid Mary to you). The place was steeped in history. Now it was a nature preserve, and being winter it was cold, quiet and you felt alone in the world. You couldn’t hear the traffic from the nearby streets because there weren’t any streets nearby. It was 1/3 of a mile from shore and only a half mile or so from Riker’s Island. That day it had that eerie post snow storm silence, as if the the weather had sucked all the ambient noise away.

In one building we found the kitchen and in it I found recipes and purchases orders from the 1950’s.

Something as simple and mundane as this was to me, a treasure. At the time I believe it was still a hospital. So in this gigantic kitchen meals were made for hundreds and hundreds of infirm patients. The purchase orders showed not only the kind of food that was ordered but the prices as well which of course seem laughable to us today. Many of the recipes were on index cards and in excellent condition when you consider their age and the passing of time.

I also found a phone book from the early 50’s. I’ve seen in movies where someone turns a page in an old book and the page crumbles and disintegrates and I always thought it was a cheap looking SFX. Turns out pages can actually crumble as if they were glass shattered by a hammer. The book was so incredibly fragile it took great care to be able to look at it without destroying it. Every phone number was along the lines of KL5-6682. I doubt anyone under the age of 30 wouldn’t even understand how that could be a phone number, unless they watched the Honeymooners or I Love Lucy. Looking in the yellow pages at the business listings gave an insight into the economy of the time, and I saw many business types that don’t even exist any more and this was just 50 years ago.

Who knew a phone book could be interesting. As we move to an age where people google everything when they want business info and phone books are not even delivered unless asked for, one day this type of find might be impossible. I can imagine in 30-40 years if Grand Central terminal is replaced and perhaps part of it is not destroyed, some urban explorer might find a way into the old sections and have to look up to find out what a “phone booth” was.

Sometimes the greatest finds and the coolest treasures are the simplest of things.

North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

Act as if.

“There’s an important phrase that we use here and I think it’s time you all learned it. “Act as if”. Do you understand what that means? Act as if you are the fucking president of this firm. Act as if you have a nine inch cock. Act as if.” – Boiler Room (Video from the movie)

Why am I posting this? Because sometimes when doing what we do, you need to act as if. Act like you belong there. Security/cops come around a corner? Walk TO THEM and flag them down (as opposed to heading for the bushes). It shows confidence that you are in the right and don’t have a guilty conscience. Now of course you need to be prepared with a good explanation/cover story, but if you act as if, it goes a long way to establishing credibility for when you explain whats up.

DIY MRE’s

Here’s an instructable on making your own MRE. There’s a bazillion reasons to DIY on these things. Like what? Lesseee… price, tayloring it to what you like to eat, taste, price, avoiding chemicals/preservatives or anything you don’t like or may be allergic to… umm… did I mention price? The entry here isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s worth a read because it can get you thinking about the subject. If you read my entry where I tried out a bunch of different MRE’s, I think that’s all the inspiration one needs. My other issue is that if you look carefully some of the items in the picture would require hot- water. I’d avoid anything that needed hot water personally unless you were going to include a mug and one of those heater thingies that plug into a cigarette lighter.

whats in the other 4 MRE’s? I had to find out

After opening up the grilled chicken MRE, I had to know what was in the other 4. It stands to reason that there wouldn’t be the same food stuffs in every single MRE right? So I held one off to hold forever in my box of stuff. (I collected various things thruout the year and create a sort of time capsule every year. driver’s license, car registration, receipts from the grocery store, issues of various magazine, various bills and my son’s school stuff among other things) I opened the other 3.

MRE #1: Spaghetti and meatballs

First of all this one came with Tabasco and it really is a tiny bottle of Tabasco. I’ve seen tiny packets of Tabasco, but never a tiny bottle. It is. SO. Cute. I’m definitely going to save these, put in my box of stuff. Also inside the package of condiments was a tiny packet of taster’s choice coffee and instead of M&M’s there were “assorted charms” (think lifesavers). Also there was toasted crackers and peanut butter, as well as the wheat snack bread and this time, instead of apple jelly, there was cheese spread. The peanut butter crackers were straight off the shelf and aside from being a bit crumbly they were ok. The bread was excellent as before. I think I can honestly say that the thing I liked most out of the MRE was the bread. The cheese spread was your standard processed cheese spread. and it tasted about as good. Ruined an otherwise excellent piece of bread.

The Spaghetti and meatballs were essentially chef boy-ardee. And they tasted on par with the chef as well (meant as a compliment) I can say that overall, this MRE was far better then the grilled chicken. The main meal item was excellent (taking into account what it is we’re talking about) and I enjoyed the snack and side items far more. PLUS IT HAD TABASCO!

NEXT: Pasta Alfredo and veggies

This MRE also came with a mini bottle of tabasco and the sides were all different. There was pineapple in a vacupouch, along with vegetable crackers and peanut butter, as well as a fruit bar and a granola bar. The veggie cracker (hakkkkkK!) was (akkkkk…. water!) just a tad (water! please!) dry. The peanut butter was excellent though and I wish I hadn’t spread so much on the cracker as I could’ve used it on some good crackers later tonight. I’m not a huge pineapple fan so i asked my wife to test them. The pineapple looked nasty. It smelled worse. My wife refused to take one for the team, so I ate one piece. How did it taste? Ummm… surprisingly not like a rank p[ile of shit which is what it looked and smelled like. Let’s just say I’m till here, but I’m staying near the bathroom. As for the alfredo pasta…. the less said the better. Seriously.

Also I did not eat the fruit bar or the granola bar. Didn’t see a point. i know quaker valley bars are good. Crunchy, brittle, dry, but good. and fruit bars? Meh.

LAST UP: Ravioli

This MRE again came w/a little bottle of tabasco. (I LOVE THESE THINGS!) It came w/crackers but these were not the same as the vegetable crackers from the last one. This was closer to a saltine and was quite tasty. Dry but not in a bad way. I could easily have put this w/pepperoni and cheese and enjoyed it. it came w/cheese spread which I’ve already discussed. Bleh. This MRE also came w/the fudge brownie which was just as dry as the last one and just as nasty. Also included was a toaster pastry. This was surprisingly good although it didn’t have enough fruit filling and so it was more aware of the fact that it was slightly dry. But otherwise it was quite edible and I’d gladly eat another. As for the Ravioli… it was a step below chef boyardee for me. Edible, but not something I’d want to eat unless I had to. the meat sauce was bland and gloppy.

After sampling all four three of the four MRE’s, here’s my assessment: for compactness and price, they’ll get you thru the day if you have nothing else to eat. Anything else you buy will either be very simplistic (i.e. beef jerky, trail mix) or require either water or heat or both. You simply can’t beat the convenience that an MRE provides. I imagine that the MRE”s would’ve tasted better had I consumed them in something less then a 5 year span. That said, however, If I were to restock my car (which I am likely to do) I’ll probably check out the camping store and go with somethign from there. Pick and match allows me to get what I want and not be obligated to whatever the manufacturer thought should go into this particular MRE. I might pay more or I might pay less. As long as I have a source of fire I can always throw water bottles and cup o soups in the trunk if that’s what i wanted to do. I’d probably enjoy them more then these MRE’s.

Pictures of all the contents can be found here on Flickr