We were in. We had stepped into another world, a world through the wardrobe, through the looking glass, and somewhere utterly different. As we entered into the massive facility known as "The Quad" thoughts of the world like work schedules, obligations, and routine couldn't be further from our minds. We had now entered the largest structure on the site and had hundreds of thousands of square feet to explore. There was nothing outside these walls anymore. There was only the asylum and the adventure within.
Once we were in we quickly moved to exploring new areas, consulting blueprints I carried on my phone. As we explored the halls moving from corridor after corridor, medical wing after medical wing, the thought arose in me about what made this so exciting. As yet, I haven't the full answer. Perhaps part of it is the overcoming of difficulties and challenges that gaining access presents. New locations can be difficult and even old locations can change weekly. It's like a puzzle or game who's solution is constantly shifting. We had solved that puzzle and now we were taking in our reward.
While more trafficked recently than in the past, most of the general public will never walk these halls and never witness with their own eyes these derelict rooms where people worked, ate, and lived. It is a wondrous privilege to be one of a relatively few people to see these spaces. With the rate of deteriorating conditions, no one after will see it in the same state. It's a passing thing with so much to offer those who venture down its halls. The adventure itself becomes the reward.
Besides the reward, perhaps part of the excitement is also elicited by the very perils and dangers that require preparation, focus, and constant awareness. Make no mistake, the dangers in this adventure are real. From carcinogens like asbestos to deteriorating roofs and floors, the location is riddled with hazards. As we journeyed to the roof I came face to face with one of these dangers. This was the day I attempted to climb to the highest point of the quad. The brick of the walls jutted out just enough every 18 inches or so to get a toe or finger on it, but no real grip. I climbed up and viewed the roof with its missing shingles and screws sticking out. Just before I pulled myself on the roof my left shoulder popped out in dislocation. The excruciating pain sent me falling to the lower roof which was fortuitously only 6 feet or so below me. Later I realized that had this fall occurred on a different side or while atop, it could have resulted in a several story fall to my death.
My dislocated shoulder resulted in a very painful car ride, dinner, and hours attempting to reset it before seeking medical attention. But the thing is, and at the risk of sounding masochistic, in the long run it is worth it. Within a week we were back in another building. I wasn't climbing anything yet, but I couldn't pass this reward up. And a few months later I was scaling another building's tallest point. From the top the view was incredible. It was easy to get caught up in a euphoric tide of awe. And the experience only deepens with every visit, leaving you with the desire to see more. Like experiencing the crashing of an ocean wave for a second time, you may know how it will feel already, but it still washes over you, it still engulfs you. Familiarity may arise but there is always more to see, more to explore, and more adventure.
Here lies a world unseen by the general public.
Here lies a window into the past.
Here lies perils and dangers.
Here lies our adventure.
And adventures can be a dangerous business.
Join us before these buildings become just a part of history.