Category Archives: Unconventional Ideas

Abandoned Exploration

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I’ve recently come across some of my old urbex photo albums, which I’ve started posting in the “Abandoned Exploration” section of my blog. Abandoned exploration has fascinated me long before I had my driver’s license, and it’s something I’d love to revisit in the near future. I guess what makes it such a compelling passion and hobby for me is the whole serendipity of being in the presence of such an immense force as time. I’ve never had much success with meditation, but some of my most tranquil, in-the-here-and-now experiences have been among ancient relics – engulfed by the surrounding environment. Hard to really describe or explain such a serene feeling with word (or even images). Urbex culture, in a broader sense, is something that I appreciate because I wouldn’t have been drawn to certain places were it not for their underground notoriety. I don’t much care for infamous locations being rampant with graffiti or exploited for paranormal fantasies, but I cannot deny the mystique of simultaneously witnessing the vacancy and the presence of humanity.

Whereas some of the structures and sites featured here have simply fallen naturally after years of decay, many others have fallen victim to demolition crews, vandals/arsonists, and in some cases even corporate greed. They had their run, and I was lucky to get there to document these places before overexposure attracted the attention of too many people to sustain their former state of preserved deterioration. Fortunately, there are still many places that remain virtually lost and forgotten by humankind: I’ve encountered my fair share of such well-protected secrets by simply following my gut and venturing forth into the wilderness, from the dense rainforests of Latin America to my current neck of the woods in temperate Pennsylvania – not far from home, but often overlooked or shielded by natural barriers from all but the more curious and intrepid explorers. Likewise, I’ve decided to use some level of discretion in revealing the whereabouts of some of these more regional haunts, as they seem to thrive as natural recolonization deems them fit for ecological succession.

Anyway, I’ve tried to arrange these photo albums in an order that makes sense both chronologically and categorically, but I still have a bunch of folders to sort through – and since the photos are quite dated, it may take a while to get together the batches that turned out halfway-decent. It would be a copout to use the platitude that the pictures don’t do any justice at all, but hopefully you’ll enjoy this for what it is 🙂

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Hello, Reader.

Choloepus hoffmanni (Hoffmann's Two-Toed Sloth)_2

Choloepus hoffmanni (Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth), 9/30/2014

After nearly two years of stagnancy I figured this blog could use a bit of upkeep. I also realized that the way I’d left things off didn’t exactly provide much closure for people who might be visiting this blog for the first time. Time flies and carelessness already boarded, so instead of making excuses I humbly offer you this 2016 update: https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/north-america-travels-2013-2014/

I’ve also made a few adjustments in an attempt to simplify the web navigation, but since I technically didn’t mention some of the (comparatively) newer pages in previous blog posts, I’ve decided to post a list of some of our specials. For starters, anyone who is interested in the feasibility of my travels or might even be considering doing something similar should note that I didn’t just take off on a whim, all willy-nilly…there was a method to the madness (https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/my-latest-venture-hitchhiking-across-the-u-s-oct-nov-2013/mission-statement/). No amount of planning could prepare me for life on the road, but it definitely helped to have some gear ready (https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/hitchhiking-pennsylvania-to-panama-may-november-2014/2014-revised-packing-list-with-photos/). Some of these considerations turned out to be inconsequential, while others wound up being pretty crucial; while this may be an arbitrarily subjective distinction, it is definitely better to make this distinction sooner rather than later.

If you’d like to check out the photo albums, here is our current selection (in chronological order):
Hitchhiking the USA 2013: https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/my-latest-venture-hitchhiking-across-the-u-s-oct-nov-2013/hitchhiking-photo-album-dont-try-this-at-home/
Hitchhiking the USA 2014: https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/hitchhiking-the-usa-may-august-2014/
Hitchhiking Mexico 2014: https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/hitchhiking-pennsylvania-to-panama-may-november-2014/mexico-travels-2014/
Hitchhiking Central America 2014: https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/hitchhiking-pennsylvania-to-panama-may-november-2014/central-america-travels-2014/

This sort of expectation-free and largely unpredictable method of traveling led to a lot of crazy situations, interesting photos, and borderline-unbelievable stories. At the same time, the most compelling thing I took back with me wasn’t tangible or easily described. The further I ventured out, the closer I was drawn inward–the whole “journey-is-the-destination” phenomenon was simply a catalyst to better understand and utilize a higher potential of my own existential framework. In my personal opinion, the “Insights” sections of this blog are the most important things I’ve taken out of the experience, and as the years go by they still hold true!

Insights (Introduction Page): https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/related-ventures/
Insights (Part 1): https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/related-ventures/insights-part-1/
Insights (Part 2): https://existentialpace.wordpress.com/related-ventures/insights-part-2/

On the Fence, or Over the Border?

A lot of new developments have been underway in the time since I’ve updated this blog. John, the Swede I’d initially set off with, flew back to Sweden when he’d heard that his younger sister was in a medically-induced coma after a DUI accident. We parted ways in Richmond, VA, after which I slowly meandered west as I made my way down to GA and up to MI. While I was staying with friends in Grand Rapids, MI, I learned that John’s sister had been doing better and that he had flown back to Richmond, but this time he wanted to remain stationary…so I decided to stay the course and continue going west. I met another hitchhiker named John just outside of Madison, WI, and traveled over to Denver, CO with him before parting ways and spending some time at my buddy’s place in Boulder. With enough days of work and travel, I’ve finally made it to my Aunt’s place in San Antonio, TX. Ever since my plans had changed for my travel partner, I’d been struggling with the prospect of following through with the original plan and facing whatever was on the other side of the border by myself. What I’m doing has been strongly discouraged by most of the people close to me and my family members, but ultimately I knew the decision would be a matter of how mentally/psychologically prepared I felt to go for it. However, my resolve has grown stronger with each passing day. I’d say I’m 98.8463% sure that I’ll be getting this show on the road in the near future; possibly heading into Mexico as soon as the first week of September. Only time will tell…

[Update: I’ve purchased a Greyhound bus ticket scheduled for arrival in Mexico City the night of September 3rd, 2014. I’ve also exchanged $200 USD for $2,450 MXN (around $185 USD), mostly in 100/200 peso denominations (with the exception of one 500 peso bill and one 50 peso bill). In addition to national currency, I have a couple hundred USD in cash, as well as a couple hundred transferred to a VISA traveler’s debit card. I’ve made a cheatsheet of Spanish phrases that I feel might come in handy along the way, as well as a currency conversion chart for USD, Mexican pesos, quetzales (Guatemala), Salvadoran Colónes (El Salvador), lempiras (Honduras), córdobas (Nicaragua), and colónes (Costa Rica). One Belize dollar = 2 USD, and one Panamanian balboa = 1 USD, so I think I can figure out the math if I wind up in those countries. Other than that, I think I’m just going to take things day-by-day and see how things go.]

Crossing Borders and Pushing Boundaries

If you’d like to get an idea of what I’m looking at for my next big trip, check out my page titled “My Upcoming Venture: USA to Mexico (And Beyond).” I’ve also posted my “Mission Statement” page, which can be found in the same section. If I have time I’ll try to include a modified packing list geared toward the climate/geography of this particular region, which I’d like to supplement with some photos of my equipment (and possibly an overall weight calculation if I get around to it) for a more visual representation of the gear itself–and a general breakdown of what I’m dealing with, preparation-wise.

I’ve only tried hitchhiking once before, but that several-week 7,000+ mile journey around my home country whet my appetite for exploring new frontiers in alternative travel. I’d like to revisit hitchhiking for practical reasons (after the costs of important equipment/immunizations, I’m back on a shoestring budget) for the pursuit of experiences leading me deeper into the adventure of the unknown, presumably on a whole new playing field. I don’t count on making it as far as Mexico–or even out of the northeast USA, for that matter–but it is still an absolutely worthwhile prospect for me. As far as I’m concerned, preparation has a vaguely similar quality to expectation–yet it is a more opportunistic approach that openly takes into account the free dynamics of unhindered potential. As the old adage goes: “The journey is the destination.”

Updates: New Photo Album; Upcoming Content/Substance; PSAs

The album page is listed under the “Hitchhiking Across the U.S.” tab (http://wp.me/P4slfO-9v). It took me a while to finally get around to sorting through the thousands of pictures–selecting the decent ones to organize into an album–and putting them into chronological order, with factually accurate (or at least semi-relevant) captions took a few more whiles. But I think I’ve finally got it all in the right order–with the right names, places, and other details from the trip. Likewise, I’ve put my plans regarding book publication on hold. Although I’m about halfway though reading over my rough draft–weighing in at just over 78,000 words–I’d like to start drafting up a mission statement for whatever new adventure the future has in store for me rather than spending that time reliving past events. Getting the key elements that comprise the heart of my journey down on paper and organizing the structural principles behind each of those concepts is a necessary step for me to clear my mind. Collecting my thoughts and feelings through such media content is just one of the ways that I’m able to share the raw essence of the bigger picture until I can buckle down and smooth out the edges of the underlying substance so I can distill the roles I’ve played into the more universally-accessible state that exists in all of human potential. A casual look through my photo album reveals a glimpse of the circumstantial ebb and flow that helped facilitate my experience, but my point is that I simply decided on hitchhiking as a means to an end that any one of us could find a million other ways to reach on one’s own terms. In other words, the places and situations I share are just personal applications from my own screwy toolkit. The execution itself isn’t suitable for everyone, but the purpose is something I think we all owe ourselves to embody the full nature of who we are as individuals of spiritual truth incarnate. For the time being I can only demonstrate the qualitative subjectivity of why taking our surface reality for granted is a blindfold that may only be removed with a self-induced paradigm shift. But don’t take my word for it–how much sense does all this rambling make to you in the first place? When it comes to trying new things, you can’t always get talked into doing something different–sometimes you have to be the one who talks yourself into doing it!

The Vegetarian Amputee Chef–A Personal Thought Experiment:

I’ve posed this hypothetical situation to several people before, but I’d like share this with the vast realm of online peers on WordPress and consider a wider range of perspective from this global collection of worldviews…I’m also a bit curious to see if there is some general consensus independent of one’s dietary preferences. Feel free to comment with any opinions or additional input on this matter…

First off, I want to emphasize that I am completely against animal cruelty, and although I am not a practicing vegetarian, I respect the virtues and dedication of those who are. I also understanding that vegetarianism stems from a vast range of beliefs–from religious affiliations, to health concerns, to environmental principles. This particular scenario deals specifically with the aspect of vegetarianism that meat consumption is unethical–with an underlying moral premise that animals cannot explicitly consent to being killed for humans to eat/use their flesh. With that, here’s a little something I call The Story of the Vegetarian Amputee Chef: Herbert I. Vorr is a five-star chef who happens to be a vegetarian of the aforementioned demographic–while Herb has always been curious about trying meat, he would never betray his ideals and eat a non-willing creature. One day, he severs his arm in an accident. The doctor is unable to reattach Herb’s arm, so the limb is amputated and kept on ice to preserve the flesh. Herb’s open-minded doctor suggests that, being a master chef in top physical condition, Herb might want to consider taking his discarded arm into the kitchen as an opportunity for him to prepare a gourmet meal with flesh that came from an organism with the ability to decide its own culinary fate: As a part of Herb’s body (his own flesh and blood) is the source of this meat, his recent circumstances have provided an exception to his self-determined lifestyle.
Discounting the cannibalistic implications of the issue at hand, does going along with his doctor’s recommendation allow Herb the chance to partake in meat consumption–as a deliberately consenting individual–while justifiably staying true to the fundamental nature that represents his vegetarian beliefs?