1st of 4 very long road trips in 4 months

On our 1st trip of the year to Detroit, I’m not sure if any of us knew what we were in for. I picked up the awesome (piece of shit) Nissan Versa rental car at 3pm, hoping we could get on the road by like 4. We (I) planned ahead to stay the night in Dayton, OH – it takes about 7-7 1/2 hours to get there, then we’d get up early and finish the drive to Detroit. I think we ended up leaving around 5 or 5:30, stopped to have an extremely long dinner break (Term’s fault) at Cracker Barrel in Tennessee, and rolled into the best Embassy Suites ever, in Dayton around 1am. It’s about 3 hours to Detroit, so we just planned to hit the road around 7 and get to Detroit around 10. On our way there in the morning, Tony called and said he was off work and he would meet us at an abandoned church. Before we even get to Michigan, Tony is saying he’s at the church and there are cops driving all around. We decide to just see how it looks. By the time we get there there’s an ambulance just sitting across from the entrance with a couple of medics in it, looking at us. We decide not to risk anything (literally at the moment we got into town) and just go to another spot that I’ve been to, that should be extremely easy.

When we pull up to the spot, I’m starting to think we had really terrible luck or something…there’s a tow truck on one side (with a dude sleeping in it), some guys driving heavy machinery or semi trailers into the lot attached to the place, and construction workers on another side just seemingly digging into the ground with shovels while, of course, looking directly at us and talking amongst each other. Besides the fact that the gaping hole in the side of the building (that was there last time) was somehow sealed, Term says he heard them say something to us about calling the cops on us. We’re out on the street, so no big deal, but Tony gets a little freaked out and decides he’ll play it safe and be a lookout for us. The only spot that looked good to enter the building was right by the tow truck. I think we woke him up the first walk-by because when we came back around, he was sitting up in the truck and looking around. I think after we sat and thought about it, this guy was probably just sleeping on the job, so he probably cares as much about us as we do him. Fuck it, we’re going in right in front of him. I go in, followed by Sergio, Belina, and Term. The inside was basically how I remembered it, aside from the huge hole in the wall that was now boarded up. Pretty empty, but dilapidated and a lot of graffiti.


Clouds inside track stacks pillars

Turned out, the construction guys, tow truck guy, the workers in the front, and Tony left pretty quickly, but we still weren’t alone. While everyone was on the roof, a young looking couple (they turned out to be brother and sister) walked out of the stairwell and started shooting photos up there as well. I took it upon myself to make my way through the rest of the building to see if I had missed anything the first visit and I ended up running into a group of about 15 people on a photo tour inside the lower area of the building. I text Sergio and to find out where they are and they’re still on the damn roof. I was basically done, so I just went all the way back up there and shot through the building a second time with them. Around 2, we head to the hotel in Dearborn to check in, drop off bags, and rest a bit (or edit pics). While hanging out, I get a text from Renee asking if we wanted to meet around 6 at a tall abandoned apartment building for the sunset – definite yes. It couldn’t have worked out any better, really. We met up with Renee (who ALWAYS shows up with delicious baked goods, this time with Andes mint cookies), Rick, and Jenn there and had just enough light to go through most of the building, then hung out on the roof until the sun went down. Apparently my legs were unprepared that day for going up and down one place twice, then going up 15 stories of stairs at this place, because both of my legs were cramping like crazy when we made it to the roof. It was kinda funny because Rick had us “Atlanta people” stay still for a picture at the exact moment they started cramping, but that shit sucked. We were getting pretty tired from waking up at 6am and all the driving and everything. We had plans to meet Ahmad at 7:30 the next morning, so we had to be up at 6 again. Did we go back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep? Of course not! We went to Rick’s to hang out for a while, then we went to eat at a spot nearby, which takes forever (we now allege Term is just bad luck), before finally heading back to Dearborn to get some sleep. Can I sleep? Of course not! While Term snoozed away, I stayed up until like 2am editing pics.

nychos trashed detroit view D sunset

You’d think that another 6am alarm would be dreadful, but not for me. This is the kinda shit I live for. My body and particularly my legs hated me, but we were enthusiastically up, met with Sergio and Belina downstairs and we were off to meet at the stadium. I didn’t know it, but Tazm and friends were coming from Chicago, and Julian and his friend came too. Before we knew it, we had an unexpected instameet there and like 10 of us are all making our way to the entrance. This place was enormous. I’ve been to a couple abandoned stadiums before, but this was crazy. The restaurant area, the luxury boxes, climbing onto the scoreboard….just insane. There were hardly any clouds in the sky so most of my pics from there suck, but it was an incredible experience.

stadium dining stadium bar tunnel under the seats

After a few hours it was time to get some delicious food with the group at The Chocolate Gallery Cafe. It’s not a huge place and the four of us from Atlanta ended up at one table and and everyone else at another. This is when we notice a trend, I think we got our food around the time the others were almost done (it’s now become a fact that Term is bad luck when we eat). We decide to go to Curvy next, and meet Renee and Deanna there. Once the 12 of us were inside, we find a couple construction workers inside. Kinda awkward. Luckily, Ahmad talked them into (gave them money) letting us stay to harmlessly take our pictures inside for a bit. I didn’t take many photos, mainly because my legs were cramping with literally every step, but also because there were 12 people in there and I’d been there before anyway. The construction workers impatiently waited for us to leave, then we headed to another church where we were denied, so we made a quick stop at an abandoned synagogue. Sergio popped a smoke bomb and it created some pretty incredible rays, which I was too lazy to get my camera out to take pics of. The group got some great shots there though. After that, we went back to previous church and got in this time. One of the places that’s way bigger inside than it looks from outside.

renovations Curvy Synagogue side seating always church piano curtains doorway

Around 4, we were all pretty much tired and done, so the four of us went back to rest (edit pics) at the hotel before meeting Tony and Nathalie for dinner at Small Plates. Who sleeps after chicken and waffles? We went out to do some night shooting around Michigan Central Station instead. We were done by 10:30, so I thought we might actually get some sleep before the last day of the trip, but it’s hard for me to sleep when there are new pics to edit. After a few short hours of sleep, we were checking out of the hotel and heading to meet up with Max and Tony downtown at 8. The last day ended up probably being the best. In the morning, we had the toughest building to get into, that was just full of all kinds of shit, several floors of what looked like different businesses that were abandoned. It was full of medical stuff, but we also saw reels of film and other weird stuff inside. Tony and Max were done, so after that, it was just the four of us. After Ahmad told us that the guys in the ambulance at the first church were also explorers, we decided we’d go back there so they could see it. By the time we were done, we had time to hit one more spot before we leave to drive 11 hours back to Atlanta. We tried to stop by Southwestern High School, but there was a marked car sitting in front, so we decide to head back east (away from home). After making another super long stop for food (Term!) at a KFC with more bullet-proof windows at the drive thru than any bank, we head to a nearby school. The school was in an old neighborhood that was pretty empty, a few abandoned houses and a few houses that just looked abandoned with people in them. We reluctantly parked and proceeded inside. The last place was pretty empty, but was really creepy. The wind was blowing so hard that doors were slamming loud enough for us to seriously contemplate whether they were nearby gunshots or just doors. Nonetheless, we all left extremely tired, but happy to get so much exploring in, in such a short amount of time. We pretty much decided right then that we needed to go somewhere else really soon. Then I drove until we got home at 4am. After averaging like 4 hours of sleep the last 4 days. Really wished I’d taken that day off work. The fatigue had finally set in. Here are some pics from the last day…

patient room look through files chemicals bench meds SIN film vacuum booksside view church room school stairwell gym classroom auditorium


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