my first attempt at urban exploration was not exactly a rip-roaring success

I shot a roll of Elite Chrome slide in my Yashica and a roll of Fuji Superia in my Golden Half, but I didn’t finish either of them. If it ever stops raining this week, I’d like to go out to Grand Chenier in Cameron Parish and finish them.

Saturday was the Lomographers of Acadiana meetup, and the plan had been to photograph the 6 Flags park in New Orleans, which has been abandoned since Hurricane Katrina. It’s eventually going to be torn down and turned in a mall/theme park or something, so I figured we needed to do it ASAP. I spoke to 2 or 3 other photographers who’ve been inside, and read maybe a dozen blog entries from people who’ve been inside, and not once did anyone ever mention that there’s a security guard at the park. Guess what? There’s now a security guard at the park.

So Hope and I were taking photos from the outside, debating whether we should attempt entry anyway–the guard was at the main entrance and seemed to be staying in her car, and I think we could have sneaked into the back entrance and stayed off her radar if we were quiet. All of a sudden, a State Police trooper rolls up on us; of course I think he’s going to be an asshole and lecture us about trespassing, instead he started asking us about our cameras and where do we get our film developed.

Come to find out, he’s an amateur photographer, and he’s actually been inside the park. I’m like, so what’s the legalities here if we go in anyway, is that like do not pass go, do not collect $200 or what? And he asked me if I had a gun. Dumb California-bred liberal that I am, I think the correct answer is the truthful one: fuck’s sake, of course not. And he goes, well I’d feel better about you going in if you had one, because there are feral animals and snakes. Then he told us about a nearby building he’s photographed, it housed an incinerator that the city used to burn its trash but hasn’t been used in about 40 years.

So we went and wow, it was super creepy. Like, I wouldn’t have been surprised to stumble across a dead body-creepy.

PICT0559, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0565, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0561, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0560, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0567, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

So we’re there for about an hour, when Hope’s car alarm starts to go off. There were old gas pumps at the front of the building, and we didn’t think anything of parking in front of them because they were so old that the numbers were on dials, and we figured they were abandoned as well. Turns out they are NOT, and they’re used by city vehicles, including the NOPD, and they were towing Hope’s car away as we came running up. And we’d come together in her car from the restaurant, so I was pretty much fucked as well. I had my phone with me, but I’d left everything else other than my camera equipment in the car.

Still, it could have been worse. At least we SAW what happened to the car, instead of just walking back to find a missing car. And at least the impound lots in NOLA are open all night, every night; my sole experience with an impound lot back in California is that if you got towed after 5:00 pm Friday night you were fucked until Monday morning. We called a cab, Hope paid an impound fee of $173 for the 30 minutes or so that the car was in the lot, plus a $20 parking ticket, and that was it. I felt pretty bad about it, so I told her that I’d cover half.

So that was my first experiment with urban exploration, and I think I’m going to stick with RURAL graveyards, churches, and abandoned structures. My friend Trish and I are going to Rodney and the Windsor Ruins in Mississippi next Wednesday; she’s a member of Lomographers of Acadiana but rarely attends meetups because she’s a self-employed massage therapist and does most of her business on weekends.

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