Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Older than dirt. Past their prime. No spring chickens. If you are over the age of 45, you may have heard such whispers of age induced misconceptions. You may have even taken them to heart. After all, we all grow older. We all begin to feel the strain of aging upon us as we take on challenges that may have been effortless in our youth. We all begin to stare at the proverbial hill of maturity and wonder how we will fare in its relentless efforts to hold us down and to, as legend would have it, take us by the hand and lead us directly into the grave. But legends are not always the reality. As Charles M. Shulz, creator of some of the most beloved characters that have ever existed, once said, “Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.” For the two of us, these words are so magnificently true!
Now, there is just no need to spew out exact numbers as to our chronological value, but if you have seen our videos on YouTube, our pictures on Instagram or if…lucky you, you actually know us, then you will know that J&M have been around the block a few times more than your average urban explorer. Yes, there are advantages to youth that have fallen with stealth and precision into the wayside, however maturity has gained a new power and strength. Within each day of life brings new opportunities to defy perception. Age, energy, desire and determination are the cohesive bonds that, through new challenges, only grow stronger. This was never so apparent as it was during our latest and greatest exploration….
Once again, we had pulled out our cellphones to gather meteorological insights regarding our best bets for the next location for adventure. You see, we have several places around the Northeast that we love to visit and quite often find ourselves planning spur of the moment adventures based solely on mother nature and her fickle New England ways….truly, you have to have lived in this area to appreciate what a wicked chowdahead she can be….hot as frickin Hades one day, freezing your Yankee butt off the next. So it was that we were cursing her once again….66 degrees and raining? Really? It’s the end of June for crud’s sake. We looked at each other and sighed…really we didn’t have much choice, Mother Nature had decided to be a buzz kill all over the East Coast. And….as you might already know, we DO NOT let a little stinkin crummy weather pattern ruin our explorations!!! So off we went! Destination: a deserted ski resort in the high hills of Massachusetts.
It was harmless looking enough. Sure, we have seen the peak of this mountain a million times, but we never really realized the enormity of the task ahead of us until we began our trek up the jagged hillside. No, it’s not the Rockies, or the Alps, or even the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee (which, by the way, we will be going to very soon in order to bring you a new batch of adventures!!), but it is a mountain nonetheless….1,202 feet of steep, rugged, pointy, slippery when wet rock. Did we mention that it was raining? Still….no way to stop us!! We had a plan and when there is exploring involved, there will be no stopping us!
And so, up we continued….
The summit of the mountainside was a sight to behold. To take in the view, even on a misty, rain sprinkled day, was quite majestic and, extremely empowering.Admittedly, we did have to stop a few times so that J (that’s me) could catch her, now ever so close to the age of 50, breath and to also allow her heart to not beat directly out of her chest, fall to the ground and make climbing through a slippery mess of cardiac tissue even harder for someone else. But with M’s (that’s Marcel…my hero, in case you didn’t know) help and constant encouragement, I made it! It would have been nice if the summit would have been our final destination, but it was not the case. You see, good things not only come to those who wait, they come to those who hike their asses off and with our collective asses almost completely gone from the enormity of this hike, we traversed the summit and made our way toward the prize. Walking back down the other side of the mountain to reach the elusive, or so we thought, resort was quite daunting in itself, as we knew that, unless we hailed an Uber, we would be committed to walking back up. The Explore-mobile was on the other side of the rain-soaked mountain and since we had not yet seen enough episodes of Naked and Afraid to educate us on all aspects of survival, we would be forced to return to civilization.
It didn’t take long before we found our “in” spot. Ya know, the place where we could move with cat like prowess into the jungle of abandonment. Never mind the fact that there was, as we later found out, a completely incurious and less than rebellious place of entry. We bush-wacked our way across flowing wisps of thigh high grassland, taking every care in the world not to disturb the wildlife eutopia lying delicately beneath our toes. A glance to the left beheld a grand view of the ski slopes that once carried those who find their joy in dodging crystalized drifts of icy pillows through the glades on a brisk and snow-kissed day. Haunting echoes of residual laughter resonated within the boundaries of the slopes as we made our way toward an ominous looking cabin that had appeared just beyond the whispering winds.It was beautiful in it’s desolation. Within moments, we found ourselves exploring its darkened depths. A self-guided tour into rejected habitation. The usual profane graffiti could be found, but amongst the foul obscenities lay great magnificence in the decay surrounding us.
We continued on, suddenly realizing that we would not only be cutting close on our video battery, an ever-important factor in documenting our adventurous and epic journeys, but also on our cell phone reliability….how in the world did we ever make it through our day without cell phones? With frugality in usage of precious batteries now on the front burner, we suddenly found ourselves prioritizing our every move. Our new-found love of documenting and sharing our explorations had become of paramount importance and we did not want to miss one single minute of showing these tattered, rotting and eroding treasures of history.
With swift steps, we made our way along the grass enveloped path and through a clearing that brought us to a cement graveyard that was once adorned with crisp new tile, flowing pumps filled with chlorine and crystal blue waters. Three and half feet at the deepest end gave clues to it’s past. A young mother sitting with eyes wide open upon the stairway leading into the chill of the pool, she is afraid to close her eyes for even a second for fear that her little ones might slip into the waist high abyss. An older couple splash each other playfully with their feet as they close their eyes to relax under the sunlight…their children are older and have children of their own…they sit content in their freedom. It is as it always is when we visit these places. Whispering memories of the past flow through the winds surrounding us. Clues to history abound, always calling for our return.
I can go for hours about all of the sites that we beheld that day. Spectacular graffiti art adorning crumbling cabins, a large and vacant wave pool wrapped in the clutches of nature, remnants of tropical drinks and food that certainly contributed to someone’s first triple bypass surgery, a forgotten vehicle blanketed with rust and clever designs of street art.It was a buffet of rejected splendor!! Our passion for exploring growing with each step as we made our way through a great majority of the resort and its amazing wonders.
There is just never enough time!! The sun was making its way toward the western sky and under the brilliant hues of blue, we knew that it was time to begin the somewhat….oh, who am I kidding?....the EXTREMELY intimidating hike back!! M placed his hand in mine and smiled, and in that moment, I was right where I always wanted to be. The musculature of our necks straining taught and tight as we gazed toward the midway point of our final destination. The slight tickle of raindrops fell softly as our grasp on each other tightened. Encouraging words carrying my body toward the misty clouds above. With strength and courage, we continued… a youthful determination prevailing amongst the aches and pains of our seasoned and careworn steps.
For some, adventure and exploration are a dream. For some, it is their life’s work. For the two of us, it is our love, and a monumental part of that love is being able to share our experiences with others. Whether you are 25 or 75, whether you are climbing up the hill of life, or zooming straight down with vigor and vibrant energy, we hope that you will always and forever live each day to the fullest. Take a moment to breathe in all that life has to offer and when you may be feeling down or having one of those days that make you want to pull out each and every strand of your hair, know that there is adventure for you around the corner. Whatever your dream of adventure may be. Don’t waste precious moments in anger or in sadness. Climb up the hill of life and when you reach its summit….rejoice! For if you have an adventurers soul….the best is ALWAYS yet to come!
And, as always and for the love of everything youthful and kind to your aching and adventurous feet….”Do whatever makes you feel alive!!!”
-Jennifer and Marcel
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Ready or not here I come!!! Discovery and elation at the Rutland Prison Camp in Rutland Massachusetts.
The oak tree stands tall against the rolling hillside as a lone sound comes from just beyond the layered bark. Three, two, one…ready or not here I come!! Muffled laughter as a child trembles with excitement in his hidden lair. Footsteps echo in the air as the hunt commences. What childhood would be complete without the exhilarating memory of a magical game of hide and go seek? It was, within the child in all of us, the first taste of an adventurous quest for that which has gone lost. Is that not what we as explorers crave? Peeping and peering through every shadow to find that which is hidden. Seeking skeletal remains of neglected infrastructure lying intertwined with wilderness gone rampant. Such elusive treasure is like sweet nectar to the lips of the adventurous soul , evoking a hunger for discovery and a passion to ignite such feelings in others.
It was in our latest expedition to the Rutland Prison Camp in Rutland Massachusetts that we once again felt such triumph and a ravenous desire to share our experiences with those who would plop down on their couches for 20 or so minutes to watch our somewhat goofy, however (insert shameless plug here) highly entertaining video antics on YouTube. Our commentary began as it always does with our unpolished, unrehearsed, off the cuff, what you see is what you get, style of recording the adventure of the day. We had seen our fellow YouTubers exploring this location and had ourselves been inspired by their videos to visit the remnants of this prison camp which once housed the not so naughty drunkards and low caliber criminals of the early 1900’s. The sights were fairly familiar echoes of what we had previously viewed, but captivating nonetheless. To be amongst such familiarity could quite possibly seem redundant, however, the vivid colors of street art, the bright sunlight peeking through the decayed rooftops, the smell of burnt remnants of soot from the last kegger bonfire, only fueled our drive to inspire. We pressed on through the desolated isolation cells, where once the prisoners who had disobeyed common laws of incarceration would peer longingly to the fields beyond their freedom. Whispers of abandoned decay spoke clearly through the soft afternoon breeze, leading us further toward a dark cavernous, graffiti blanketed opening in the hillside just beyond the rotting cells below. Apparent remnants of a root cellar (NOT A HOSPITAL…See our YouTube video to sympathize with Marcel on his daily tolerance of me constantly yapping my yapper.) with a dark and mildly creepy vibe. It was perfect in its cognizance…a grand place to bring all of our seven subscribers on YouTube too! But….there just had to be more!!
Enter geocaching…. (Seriously, you have to get involved with this activity!) We had filmed just about all we were going to film. The sun had provided us with just enough warmth to make it feel somewhat like spring and had just begun to descend into the lower three quarters of blue hued sky above. It was then that we collectively (as has become a new habit with us) pulled out our cell phones to bring up the geocaching app we have come to enjoy so much. Surely there would be a geocache somewhere in sight, as we were in a State park with complete public access allowed. A few swipes to the left and to the right, and there it was…a geocache to be found!! We quickly gathered our GC backpack filled with BYOP’s , swag and trackables; and made our way through the knee high grasslands toward our GPS coordinates. I’m sure in some perfect world, there MUST have been an easier pathway to this destination, but we are rebels and prefer a challenge (Attention Wildlife advocates…no wildlife or foliage was harmed in our quest to find a 5x5 waterproof container filled with goodies). A few dodges of thorn covered bushes and tick infested shrubbery led us to an opening within the canopy. There before us was the most beautiful site we had seen all day….Crumbling remnants of architectural magnificence. Engulfed by nature’s web of foliage, intertwined with never ending vines and surrounded by crumbling rock. It was gorgeous, and the euphoric feeling of discovery blasted the two of us as we gazed upon it’s, untouched by vandalism and other dark clues of human intrusion, grandeur. Camera rolling, we delighted in the fact that others may too come along on this grown up version of hide and seek. Elated by our find, and ever watchful of the setting sun, we decided to forgo the whole reason why we had found this treasure in the first place and drag our weary, but completed satisfied rear ends back to the explore-mobile (aka Marcel’s cool car). The cache would lay untouched by the two of us, but would be held in high regard and respect, for it had taken us both by the hands and led us to yet another precious moment in time. And as we are inspired by these places that we find, so often times by chance, we long to be the catalyst for discovery in others….to lead our subscribers and all that may stumble upon our newly born YouTube channel to…
”live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms...” –Henry David Thoreau
And to….for the sake of all that is untouched, undiscovered and just waiting to be explored…”Do whatever makes you feel ALIVE!!”
-Jennifer and Marcel
For the amazing video footage of this adventure, please visit…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-DTyEyBayY