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F A Q:

What exactly is a "lost road trip"? Well, have you ever just driven around, making sporadic turns onto unfamiliar streets, trying to see if you could get yourself lost, just so that you could have the fun of exploring alien territory and trying to scout your way back to familiar grounds? That's kinda what the essence of a lost road trip is... you may not have a fixed destination in mind, but you're still going somewhere... the twist is that you don't know where you are going til you get there (or what you'll find along the way!) You know, the feeling you get when you drive around in an unfamiliar state or city while on vacation or something... how it's exciting and different and a little scary all at once, and you spot the coolest things along the roadside, things you've never ever seen before? Well, you don't have to be on vacation to have that feeling... I guess the whole point of getting lost on purpose is to have that  exciting "vacation driving" feeling right in your own stomping grounds. Getting "lost" is a state of mind... it's the exploration of places you've only read about, seen in pictures, or maybe didn't even know existed until you spied it on the roadside... it's the thrill of discovering unmarked roads and hidden treasures where most people least expect them... and the tantalizing realization that there is mystery and beauty hidden around us everywhere, all the time, just waiting for us to stumble onto it. Want some tips? Click here.

How did you get into this? I've been interested in all things mysterious and unknown for as long as I can remember; I've also loved taking pictures since I was big enough to pick up a camera. For awhile now, I have been taking photos of these abandoned and strange places- which is my hobby and my passion in life- and sharing them with my friends and family online. Eventually, others who were interested in seeing these types of pics began to ask if they could check them out also, and I was soon spending hours posting and emailing copies of them all over the place. Finally, during a midnight chat one night... my brilliant sister made a suggestion as I was showing her my latest batch of pics- why not make a website to share these pics easily and freely with anyone who wants to see them? Duh! So, that's exactly what I have done. Hope you enjoy it! If you'd still like to know more about how I got "lost", click here

How do you find this stuff? Well, I would love to say that I have some genius, intellectual method for researching and tracking down these historic gems... heh heh... the truth is, I drive around. A lot. And, since things like that are just a passion of mine, I can't help but spot them constantly. When I see the telltale yellow or red warning signs affixed to trees, empty or boarded-up windows, or a buildings being devoured by foliage... wellll... I just gotta check it out. Usually I'll try to find a nice, safe (legal!) parking spot as nearby the place as I can (even is I have to walk a little way, I feel it's much safer to park as legally as possible and of course, I get hassled less if my car's not parked right out in front!) Anyway, I really do find most of this stuff just by divine accident... a combination of driving by the right place at the right time and always keeping my eyes open for certain things. The Internet is good for researching these places, too- I find a lot of great info and inspiration on sites like Weird New Jersey. If you'd like to plan a weird roadtrip of your own, or just learn more... I've got some road-tripping tips and useful links to help you get started.

How do you know what the names of all these places are? Well, sometimes I don't. Then, I just give them "affectionate nicknames"... such as the Vacancy Motel or Desolation Diner; usually a name will just pop into my mind as I'm wandering and photographing the place. Sometimes, I find something at the site that "names" the place for me... such as the old sign nailed to a tree at Sapphire Woods... or the tombstones engraved with flowing verse at the Poetry Graveyard. Sometimes, it's just the obvious... as in Old Farm or The Greenhouse. I do always make an effort to try and find out the actual names and backgrounds of the places I photograph, but... it's not always possible to find information- some of these places really are lost and forgotten. Sometimes, someone actually remembers stuff about the things I've discovered, and it's always interesting to hear their stories and recollections.

What do you usually take with you on a road trip? There are some things that I find indispensable when I head out on the road: my maps (cause I still get REALLY lost sometimes), a cell phone (critical for calling someone periodically to let them know where I am, or to get directions), my digital camera (a Sony Mavica MVC-FD95), plenty of extra floppies & batteries, my laptop with all the portable adapters- power supply, battery charger, etc, a good variety of atmospheric music (anything spooky, heavy, or sinister is always good)... and I always carry a little picture of St. Therese holding an armful of roses that my Sis gave me yeeeaaaars ago and a silver bullet (sort of my protective totems)

What is the most satisfying part of your trips? Finding something totally unexpected hidden along the roadside, while out shooting other places, is the best. It's like an Easter Egg hunt where you find that really kick-ass Easter egg, the delicious satisfaction of making the discovery of something amazing that's been lying there all along, waiting for you to discover it. I literally get a rush, an adrenaline high, when I find a great new place just by chance. The other satisfying part is when the pictures come out the way I wanted them to, and I feel I've captured some essence of the place in an eternal, visual memorial. It's the feeling of satisfaction that a dead or dying place will have it's tribute via my photos, and that other people who might otherwise never have even known it existed might see what I saw in it. That's a gooooood feeling.

Do you REALLY get lost? YES. I sure do! I mean, I get lost all the time. I think the worst so far was one time when I got lost in the middle of the woods in Tom's River, NJ, at night, and I didn't have my cell phone or anything with me... I was seriously lost for quite awhile, and not in a good way! But, one of the best things about getting totally lost is that I always seem to find something incredible (such as The Greenhouse)... so, when it happens... I just kinda go with it, because who knows what is lying just around that unexplored corner?

Aren't you scared going to these places alone? Well, not usually... I mean, most of these places are really just quiet and peaceful, and I feel very comfortable and contented while shooting them. And, I've always been somewhat of a loner- I've even driven on multi-state road trips completely solo- so, the isolation itself doesn't bother me at all. But, once in awhile, something spooks me or makes me nervous about a place I'm shooting... for example, going into the Jackson House all alone was pretty nerve-wracking, especially after just having been startled by a big buck jumping out of the woods behind the place and then having half a dozen huge crows cawing madly me! So, I guess it's more something about the atmosphere of a certain place that sometimes freaks me out... but, I'm never just scared because I'm alone. I rather like solitude, actually.

(A word of advice to anyone who may venture out to these kind of places alone- it's very important that someone knows where you are going, in case something happens while you are out there. Carry a cell phone if you have one, or at least let someone know specifically where you will be... it could make all the difference if (God forbid!) you put your foot through a rotten floorboard and broke your leg out in some abandoned place or something like that! You definitely want someone to know where you are at, just in case. So, be SAFE. For more tips, click here)

Why do you photograph abandoned, run-down places? Many people have asked me this question... I guess they wonder what on Earth I could possibly see in some neglected, wrecked old eyesore of a place. Well, I see lots of things in these places... I see echoes of the past in the discarded objects that litter the landscape- a child's doll, an dusty old painting of ocean sunset, a once-elegant self playing piano... I see mystery, I see questions like: why was this stuff just left here? Who used to sleep in this place, prepare meals in this place...  who worked, who laughed, who fell in love, who died inside these walls? I see a cruel kind of beauty in the inevitable crawl of Time, as a house is slowly taken back by the wild forest... trees grow through walls and brambly vines wind around chimneys, into furniture... there is something both terrifying and comforting in the predictability of Nature, the whole "dust-to-dust" thing. In their dying states, these abandoned places are at once dignified and humble, beautiful and eerie... an undeniable, real-life reflection of both the past, and the inevitable future. I also love the thrill of "discovering" these treasures... the spooky farmhouse hidden out in the woods, the forgotten old restaurant lost on the side of the road... There have been so many people who have said to me, after seeing some of my pics, "Wow- I have driven to work down that road every day for years, and I had never even noticed that creepy old house before; now I'm noticing abandoned places everywhere I go!" I think it's wonderful to be able to show people something they might have seen a thousand times, but they have never really SEEN. It exposes a whole layer of exciting and intriguing mystery, lying right there under our everyday lives, and that, my friends, is pretty damned cool! It makes life a LOT more interesting, that's for sure.

Can I purchase any of these images? Yes! For a ridiculously low price, you can help support a starving artist AND own a high-quality print of any of my original images seen on this site, or on my personal website- www.VirtualLair.com. Click here for more info about purchasing my work.

 

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