[Resolution] #31 Visit an Abandoned Place

Abandoned House

There’s just something about these places, abandoned places. Forgotten, left alone for years yet still standing, frozen in time and simultaneously being eroded by it. It’s tragic and beautiful, frightening yet alluring. So, when I found out about an abandoned victorian mansion in a small town nearby, I couldn’t resist; I had to see it for myself.

Three friends and I piled into a car in the dead of night and traveled an hour and a half into the middle of a small Texas town (omitting the name for the hope of protecting the house from vandals or the like), and there, right on one of the main roads stood this amazing old home.  (A special shout-out to my beautiful friend Jasmine who found it and orchestrated the whole trip.) It’s something straight out of a horror movie, I tell you, which, in the case of us four lovers of horror movies and all things dark and macabre, is something more along the lines of a giant work of art.

I don’t know about them, but as we came up on this property my mind exploded with thoughts of beautifully aged rooms filled with history, a tribute to a lifetime that had long passed still standing and ready to be explored by those willing to step inside and find it. Something like this…?

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But, unfortunately the world does not have the same reverence for abandoned history as some. Some people, say, people who simply need shelter, or a dumping ground, will stumble upon places like these and use them for what they are…an empty space to occupy.

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Originally I didn’t expect to see anything but the outside of this house, maybe get a peek inside a window if I was lucky. But, our luck ended up being that nothing really stood between us and the inside of this house. We were expecting some sort of protection. A locked gate? Boards over the entry-way? There wasn’t even a “No Trespassing” sign to be found.

This meant that it was extraordinarily easy for us to get inside for a look around (which is good, because I chicken out really easily with things like this), but it also meant it was extraordinarily easy for squaters to occupy the place for the many years it was abandoned.

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Luckily, although the house has been used as a dumping ground and many of the belongings of the previous owners had been scattered about, it seemed that much was still left there to explore.

It was not a glamorous task. We had to trudge through thousands of empty soda bottles, cases worth of crushed beer cans, various food containers and even stumbled upon an open suitcase that had been used as a ‘toilet’ for quite some time. But, when you looked past all of the trash and possibly hazardous material, what stood before us was a snapshot of someone else’s life, left behind long after they were gone. I’d love to know who these people were and what happened to them, honestly, but I didn’t think to find anything to help me trace them.

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Bedrooms with draperies and clothes still hanging on racks.

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Books still on shelves,

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and tons of beautiful old architecture, still intact, like the skylight in the upstairs living area.

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After the adrenaline finally wore off, we had a wonderful time looking through the things that were still there. Books that had been published all the way back in 1910. Newspapers, still readable, from 1975 (the front page story was about a woman being promoted to Cashier. Woo!). Old records. Racks and racks of now vintage clothing. Hat boxes and trunks. We even found old suitcases filled with hand written letters and a collection of old valentines (chocolate boxes with the wrappers still inside).

It was truly fascinating. I found myself feeling, in a way, privileged, to be able to look into someone’s life like this after they were gone. I was reluctant to remove anything from the home, but part of me kind of wants to go back and ask permission to clean it out. There is so much history inside, so many things that were probably once cherished. Don’t they deserve to be cherished again, put on display somewhere rather than be surrounded by garbage and human filth?

Question of the Day: Would you rescue history from an old abandoned home, or should it be left where it is despite its former owners being gone?

It was an eye opening experience, and a perfect first big adventure for the year. 🙂 We even got this inspiring shot of this defiant little plant managing to grow in the dark sub-floor of this forgotten place.

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I think this plant will be my role model for the year. I’m really impressed with its gusto.

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Photography by the aforementioned beautiful friend Jasmine. 

Resolutions in Instagram: #20 & #59 New State, Old Friends

I love surprises. But, I’m generally pretty terrible at executing them because I’m generally pretty terrible at keeping secrets. I finally pulled one off, though, with the help of a brilliant surprise-executing friend. My good friends Jake and Jenn moved away from good ‘ol Austin about 9 months ago and–like all long distance relationships–we miss each other terribly.

I wish I could claim the idea was entirely mine, but Jake threw out the idea that as a birthday gift for Jenn’s milestone 30th birthday, I could fly in to visit and bring a little piece of Austin to her in good ‘ol Indiana. So, somehow…some way..and thanks to some brilliant misdirection on Jake’s part, I managed to completely surprise her!

Resolution #26 / #59 : Visit a Friend in Another State & Visit a New US State

(Evidently she thought family was coming over. Surprise!)

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know the first thing about Indiana. I didn’t know what was there, other than the Indy 500, and I was only vaguely familiar with where it is geographically (don’t judge me). Turns out that there’s a whole lot of farm land, but also a lot of really fun places to explore…

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…even when it’s 25 degrees outside. That’s like a tourist attraction in itself. If you were able to swipe that picture of an iPhone screen you’d be able to see that at the very same moment it was a pleasant 73 degrees in Austin, TX. Cold weather does two things for me, makes me really happy first of all, because you rarely experience real cold in Austin, but also makes me really appreciate the Texas heat, which is really hard to appreciate most of the time.

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We explored some little shops downtown where I got my obligatory coffee mug for my collection. I get one from every place I go, and they generally have no obvious connection to the place I was–except for that I remember getting it there. This is my newest addition, the Tea-Rex. It came from a quirky little store called Silver in the City, which also has an online store if you’d like to peruse their quirky goods. It’s on MassAve which is apparently the slightly condensed Indianapolis equivalent of Austin’s SoCo. It was also home to a toy store that I really wish I would have known about as a child because I’d have insisted that my mom fly me to Indiana to visit it…and purchase one of everything. Plus, a whole bunch of little boutiques that I only wish I’d had more time to explore.

544464_10151554694211635_2536704_nIt was also pleasant to discover that the good people of Indianapolis have your self-esteem in mind. Not only are the people extremely friendly, but even the buildings are proud to announce to the world that you are–indeed–a beautiful person. Thanks Indy.

image (3)Next, we made a day trip to Nashville in the famous (is it famous? I’m not sure.) Brown County, a small tourist town about an hour or so away from Indianapolis. This photo has almost nothing to do with Nashville, Indiana except for that that’s where it’s taken, but you’ll see here that one of the many reasons that one should pay a visit to the little town is that it is home to a very responsible generation of children, who apparently lock up their tricycles.

In all seriousness, though, we went specifically to sample the fried biscuits and apple butter at the Nashville House Restaurant connected to the Brown County Inn. This is one of those culinary delights that I can confidently say is WORTH the drive, which is actually a really nice one through plenty of hills and tall tress, a huge difference from the flatlands of nearby Indianapolis. You don’t even have to order real food. An order of those biscuits and apple butter will keep you going all morning.

It wasn’t just about the biscuits, though. I’m not sure what exactly I can compare this town too, other than Gruene, TX if anyone knows where that is. It’s like stepping back in time where all of the shops are mom-and-pop shops, all of the products are made locally (okay, ALMOST), for some reason everyone sells fudge no matter what kind of shop it is and you get to try everything before you buy it.

The only dead giveaway was that I don’t know if they used the term “Big Ass Cookie” back in the day.

photo (8)But, hey, “big ass” sells. Got to get up with the times, eh?  I might suggest that they create a set of signs for their “Damn Good” coffee too.

Next, I got to meet the Tea Rex’s cousin at the world’s largest children’s museum.

image (4)Guy really should start watching where he’s going.  …First of all, having a dinosaur step on your foot is less than pleasant, but I’m okay. That building, however, yeah, that’s going to cost a pretty penny.

This museum should be on the list of things every child needs to see before they get too old to appreciate it, like Disney World and Sesame Street Live. I’m not a kid anymore, but the child in my heart leaped at the sight of 5 stories of pure, educational discovery. …Does that make me a nerd?

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The must see thing here is the giant carousel on the 4th level which was our first stop. I’d forgotten how magical those things are. I almost even made the mistake of telling Jake and Jenn that I would simply watch, but I boarded anyway and there’s just something special about that classical organ music and glossy plastic animals that makes your heart happy.

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I also got to look like a badass building a free standing arch with the unbelievable powers of physics, visit the real Batman suite and Riddler costumes from the Batman movies, drool over real life, giant Hot Wheels and poke around in Egypt for a minute or two. Again, I’m going to have to go back with more time because the entire thing is IMMENSE and couldn’t possibly be explored in one trip.

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So, I got me some space food for the road and we headed back to the house. I’m not sure I could be an astronaut after eating this, but for all the science that goes into putting cold dairy desserts below -40 degrees farenheit and drying it to make it shelf stable, this stuff was really good. But, the real food adventure was not anti-frozen ice cream.  It was this… the last new experience in Indianapolis was a doozy…and frankly had nothing to do with Indianapolis, but I have a long standing record of ridiculous and potentially disgusting food challenges with Jake. And so….

9208c3b69f1c11e2bc0822000a1f9737_7Canned…Haggis.  Do you guys even know what is in this stuff? Lungs…heart…EYES.  It was perfect. So, we spent the evening eating warm haggis on mini ritz crackers and enjoying each other’s company, before I finally had to say my goodbyes and head home. Do I recommend haggis?  You know…it’s not that bad, but better enjoyed with an adventurous friend.

I love visiting new places, but this whole trip just taught me that new adventures are fun, but new adventures with old friends are priceless. Thanks again, Jake and Jenn! I’ll be back soon.