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Going down the tracks to the Junction…

A evening visit to wine country. Intention was to visit an abandoned location, but it required navigating some railroad tracks. Got there at dusk. Amazed by all the great graff, started to snap with some nifty ambient lighting the cars. Was just able to get these few snaps when a trio of powerful, tight-beamed flashlights started coming towards me, and then a shout of “Stop right there!” So I did, no sense running. (The last photo was lit by the police flashlights – thx..)

Napa Police had us line up against the train, drop our gear and face the rail cars. Standard line of questions and scare tactics ensued, followed by the gathering of ID and info. They soon realized we were neither the scrapper-thieves the locals have been dealing with, nor the ones painting the cars.

Cops then actually became quite cool. We started talking flashlight tech, and about famous/notorious painters we’ve seen around the bay and had spotted around that yard. We showed them some in-camera snaps. Then they even gave some suggestions of other places with great graff. We were then escorted out of the yard with no further action taken. Bummed our plans were cut short, but we’ll go back again, via a new route, of course…

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Nirvana Live At Reading ’92 “School”

Ahhh, one of my regrets of the 90’s:  never having attended a Nirvana show.  ..

Along Buffalo River

Had great adventures in the western NY back in March 2011, a day each with DEEVA and HSF.  Among all the cool stops we made, both days included visits along/near that squiggly river that separates the First Ward and the Outer Harbor.

While shooting at night I had just finished along the water and was moving towards some factory buildings when a patrol car rolled up. Cop asked a lot of questions, but once i explained what I was doing he started sharing info/history about Buffalo, his 20+ yr life on the force, and mentioned some key spots to hit. We chatted for 30 minutes on that cold night.  So I showed him my work in the camera and he said, “If i didn’t have to do traffic for the game ending in 20 minutes I’d have you hop in and take you to some spots.”  What a cool guy, right!

He was watchful as the area is magnet for trouble.  Sports event fans too cheap to pay for HSB Arena parking lot will leave their cars here (~1/2 mile away), and they get broken into for their laptops, phones, $$, etc. Though he was wondering what this guy dressed in black was doing down there, he was more concerned for my safety and the camera gear i was $hlepping…  It looks like the city is trying to revitalize the waterfront with a walkway.  Restaurants and retail likely to follow.

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Adios, Oak Knoll Naval Hospital

The largest and last building on the base was taken out.  The only structure that remains is the historic Officers Club.

BEQ, gone. Post Office, gone. Gymnasium, gone.
Tennis courts, swimming pool, power plant, commissary, barracks, motor pool, misc offices – all gone.

Here is a slow time-lapse of the big event:

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but if you’d like to see it more in real-time, try this HD video:

Here’s a slideshow of my first and only visit on the base, May of 2010.

Neighbors, former patients and workers, all await the the next phase of the property.
Many are hopeful for some kind of memorial/marker that honors it’s military past.

Plane Crash near Alameda

Sunday afternoon a 1947 Navion single engine plane crashed into a muddy bank of the San Leandro Bay, a little pocket of water between Alameda, Oakland Airport and the Coliseum. The pilot died on impact. It was reported in several papers , including the Merc News. It was not a plane from WWII as some noted, it had just recently been decorated in a U.S. Air Force paint scheme about a year and a half ago.

Monday morning, coming back from the Oakland Airport, I stopped by the site. Several TV trucks had parked along the road, and the plane wreckage was visible from Doolittle Drive. I pulled behind the vans and started snapping. Tried to get a good angle on the wreckage, but the water and police lines kept me from getting too close. My 300mm came in handy..

FAA lead investigator explained they were placing booms around the site in case of leakage, then they were going to remove the wreck and take it Sacramento (where they take all plane wreckage apparently).  After the booms were in place, the FAA guys pulled a “Cher” by changing out of white jumpsuits and into green ones.  Why? Dunno… During this helicopters from a news station and coast guard passed by to check out the action.

Then a different crew of four guys in jeans pulled up with the long trailer. They backed it onto the model airplane field, and set it on angle. Then moved truck up to crash site to start pulling the plane out of the mud using a winch.  They wrapped lines around the fuselage and slowly started to pull it, till the tail flopped over. Then they got out a giant saws-all, sliced off the tail section and set on shore. I thought they’d take more care with the “evidence,” but the key investigation and photos where completed. They only needed to move it to storage until any follow-up investigations or law suits were completed, after which they would release the plane (parts).

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Motorcycle Graveyard: paying last respects

On my trip east in March’11, I stopped by Kohl’s Cycle Salvage in Lockport, NY, for a last peek and to confirm stories of a clean-out. I had not known it’s actual name until recently. Locals and explorers referred to it as the “motorcycle graveyard.” However, “motorcycle mausoleum” would have been more fitting. I had just visited there in August 2010, and I returned because fellow urbexers Scott H and Tunnelbug had mentioned some bike removal and big trash bins during their October pass through town. Hundreds and hundreds of bikes and parts had filled the building’s 4 floors, but were very weather damaged. Decrepitude! Everything had been exposed to the elements for many years. Timeline of the property had been unclear, but an awesome posting by Dynamite Dave explains some of the history, and his adventures.

Initially I was told the building was one of the parts plants for GM or Ford Motors back in the day; industrial use for sure. From Dave we learned it was purchased in the 1970’s by Kohl, a motorcycle enthusiast who owned several different shops over a span of 50 yrs, amassing a crazy amount of bikes and parts for sale and trade. Kohl then sold it to recent owner Frank around 1997, who turned it into salvage shop selling parts.

Back taxes were owed on the building, which needed some major repairs as it was starting to fall apart. Cost estimates for repairs were too high so nothing was done. City condemned building and locked it up. Over time people broke in to graffiti and mess with contents. Frank had to sue to get his inventory, and won, so the city gave deadline to get everything out by November 2010. Dave and some friends were able to purchase some of the choice inventory just in time, the rest was tossed into large bins and hauled away for scrap.  Check out Dave’s Story and Pics.

My visit was fun, but I was saddened by the loss of such an awesome one-of-a-kind place. It was amazing to see the place empty, however the building was in much worse shape this time. Places where I had stood just 7 months prior had collapsed. Despite the clean-out a few bikes remained, trapped in the rubble of the cave-ins.  Some were locked in ice from winter, which found its way in from many holes in the roof and walls. Walking on the ice was a bit tricky while carrying my gear. There was a cool 2 foot tall stalagmite of ice formed below a dripping pipe.

I’m sure city doesn’t have money to knock it down and will allow nature to have it’s way. I’d wager the Vegas line on major wall failure is for this summer. And I cannot imagine the place lasting another winter. It is extremely sketchy now. Glad I got my two visits, only wish I had had more! Have a few more shots of the empty floors, need to hdr them and hope to post soon.

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Silly Perch

was looking to visit the hq, but found a nifty, if not sketchy, place to snap.

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