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You have a pet name for your car... you like to take the long way home... you sometimes try to get lost on purpose... sound familiar? Well then, maybe it's time you took your own lost road trip; below are a few helpful tips to get you on you way...

 

Ask around... Lots of times, there is some really great stuff right in our own backyards, and we never know about it because it's not something that's well-known or advertised. So, ask around; next time  you have one of those friendly chats with your talkative postal carrier/gas attendant/co-worker/ancient Aunt Edna, ask them about strange and interesting local legends and places, who knows what you might learn? People love to tell their stories, and you might just get the scoop on something fantastic!

Give yourself time... Plan your trip for a day when you have all the time in the world and aren't rushed, if at all possible. There's nothing more frustrating and UN-fun than driving around in the sticks trying to find something while you're running on a rapidly dwindling time limit. Sometimes, directions are off or maps are outdated, and you may have to take more time than you intended to find a place. If you're on a relaxed time schedule, you don't have to sweat it... and you'll have a much more enjoyable experience.

Keep good company... Your traveling companions make all the difference when you go road trippin', so consider who you invite along very carefully. Some people may actually find this kind of stuff unbearably dull, and nothing can bring down a good road trip like someone who doesn't want to be there. And nothing can make a good trip go seriously BAD fast than someone who is acting recklessly or destructively, so bring along your more law-abiding friends ;) On the flip side, having a traveling companion who is just as psyched about exploring as you are can bring the trip to new highs... having someone to share the adventures with, and another pair of eyes to help you scout out interesting stuff or read the map for you can make the trip so much better. And, try to find someone who is really into this stuff... ask around and see who seems most intrigued. You might be surprised, that one person you never thought of could make a great co-pilot for your next road adventure! One final rule of thumb- keep the size of your scouting party in sync with your destination- if spookiness is what you are after, you don't want to go looking for that haunted old house in the woods with 5 carloads of people trailing behind you- think how much creepier it would be with just one or two friends in a single car! Or if you're exploring a big area... like Asbury Park for example, maybe it would be more fun to roam with a large group of friends. And don't underestimate the thrill of going solo; I actually do most of my road trips alone, I find that I really get a lot out of it... I've come up with more solutions to life's problems on the road than anywhere else! Road tripping by yourself can be a very amazing and cathartic experience.

Bring good tunes... Nothing makes a great roadtrip like the right atmosphere... and nothing can provide better atmosphere than... you guessed it- music. The right music can make a desolate road seem even lonelier, a spooky old house seem even more chilling, or an old abandoned bridge seem almost enchanted, a hidden lake seem more mystical. That's a reason that movies have soundtracks, after all... to provide a mood. And that's just what the right music can do for your roadtrip. Bring along a good selection of tunes that get you in the mood to go exploring- whatever works for you. It's different for everyone, but when you have the right music, you'll know it. I personally like to take a selection of tunes that are somewhat heavy, creepy, atmospheric, a little trippy and sinister... like Led Zeppelin, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Misfits, NIN, Iron Maiden, Portishead, Depeche Mode, just to name a few. But, whatever fits the mood and the situation is good, and can do a lot to get you in the perfect frame of mind to enjoy your trip.

Keep in touch... One of the most important things to remember is to be safe. And part of being safe is letting someone know where you will be going, and about how long you'll be gone. If you have a cell phone, bring it. Cell phones can be a pain, but they can also get you out of many different kinds of situations... you could have car trouble, get hopelessly lost, trip and sprain an ankle... anything could happen. Some of the places you might check out may be very isolated, and the possibility of injuries occurring is a reality. You really don't wanna get caught somewhere like that with no one knowing where you are... umm, that's how half of those cheesy horror flicks start out, after all. So, be safe... if you have a cell phone with you, carry it and let someone know where you are periodically (oh yeah- and make sure it's batteries are fully charged!!) If you don't have one, you can always stop at a pay phone every so often and check in, or at least let someone know where you'll be going and when to expect you back before you leave... all probably precautions you'll never really need, but better safe than sorry.

Map it out... I can't stress this one enough. You need a real map, a current map, whenever you go roadtripping... it's essential. Nowadays, you can get maps and directions right off of the Internet- like with Mapquest, and while most of these services are really good, they're not 100% perfect! They WILL screw up street names and addresses occasionally... trust me, I can vouch for that from unfortunate personal experience. So, it's always a good idea to have an actual, up-to-date complete map of the area you are exploring. If you have a current local map, you always have another option to refer to, and many times, if your directions are wrong, you can still find your way using a good map. And, maps are cheap, and you can grab one at just about any corner store, so why not have one? They'll come in handy more often than you'd imagine.

Take advantage of getting lost... I know that getting lost can suck. It's totally frustrating when you can't find something, or you don't know where you are.... but you can sometimes turn the experience to your advantage. Think about it... when you're lost, you usually end up someplace totally unfamiliar- an ideal opportunity for exploration, and the chance to stumble across things you might never have found otherwise. I have found many interesting places while completely lost! For example- I found the old deserted & overgrown Greenhouse totally by accident... I drove past it while lost one day, on a road that I would not have normally gone down. I never did end up making it to where I was trying to go that day, but if I hadn't gotten lost, I would never have known about the wicked-cool Greenhouse, and wouldn't have had the chance to shoot pics of it. So, although nobody wants to get reallllly lost, take advantage of the moment, instead of stressing out- turn it into a worthwhile experience.

Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints... break nothing but silence, kill nothing but time... this is the Explorer's Code, and it says it all. Remember that many of the places you may visit have a rich history and have stood through uncountable years. Always act in a mature manner, and be respectful of these places. If you do visit them, do so to enjoy their great atmosphere and maybe record some images of them- not to deface and destroy them. And this is not only a moral obligation, it's a courtesy to all your fellow wanderers and road-trippers out there; every time someone does something childish and retarded- like setting a deserted old place on fire- it gives a bad name to the rest of us! And every time something like that happens, police step up their patrols of these kinds of locations, and are more willing to arrest people venturing to them, making it riskier for ALL of us who are interested in exploring them. So... do the right thing. Keep your karma on the right side, and help out your fellow road trippers, by leaving everything the way you find it :) That way, we can all keep exploring these places!

Stay out of trouble... Remember, if you see "No Trespassing" signs posted, you can be prosecuted for trespassing! So, always use your best judgement. Don't do something that you know will get you into trouble. Try to be aware of where you are parked, and where you are wandering. If you do end up being questioned by the police, just politely explain to them your interest in historic places, and why you are there. Usually they are just going to want to know what you are doing, and if you explain yourself, there won't be a problem. Just remember to pay attention to what you are doing and where you are at all times, and be aware of the legalities (i.e. don't park right in front of a No Parking/No Trespassing sign, etc) It's all a matter of common sense.

Pay attention... Many of the coolest places to check out are hidden away in the woods or other isolated, untamed areas, and many of them are really old and decrepit. This is all part of what makes them so intriguing and interesting. But, this is what can also make them dangerous! There can be many hazards at a location of this type, and you need to really pay attention to what's around you when you are exploring them. Remember, houses are old and could be unstable, grounds could have overgrown wells or other holes hidden from sight, there could be dangerous chemicals left behind in old workshops... these are just a few examples. Use your common sense when checking out a site, and you could keep yourself from getting hurt.

Get inspired... Check out the lost links for a list of websites (local New Jersey stuff, as well as countrywide links) that specialize in the strange, abandoned, forgotten and unusual... and also for useful links about roadtrippin'. There is something for the lost roadtripper and Internet surfer alike, so browse through them, get some inspiration.... and maybe even plan a roadtrip, and discover some lost destinations of your own!

Make getting lost a habit... Yes- you too can lead a lost life! Getting "lost" is easy; you don't need to take an entire day-long roadtrip to do it... it can be as easy as getting into a certain state of mind. Why not take a different route home from work every other night- you may not get home faster, but who knows what you might find along the way? Don't underestimate the powerful freedom that can be found behind the wheel. Instead of spending a miserable grumpy ride home from a long day at work or a long line at the grocery store, concentrate on enjoying the curves of the road or the scenery streaming by. Keep in mind that your "you" time begins when you walk outside with your car keys in your hand... you can crank up your stereo (or not), roll your windows down (or not), take the long way home and enjoy the scenery if you want... I mean, after that point when you are behind the wheel, your possibilities are many. So, enjoy that drive home... look around you and see if you can spot things that you've never noticed before... let yourself get a little lost now and then. You'll be amazed at how much more pleasant those drives home will become.

 

Now, what are you waiting for? GET LOST!!!!!

 

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