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Mar. 23rd, 2010 @ 06:08 pm ozymandias's vacation spot
Maybe I'm just on an abandoned places kick, but...oh, hell, I'm always on an abandoned places kick.

The Concord Resort Hotel in upstate New York, from the early 1950s to 1998, was once the swankiest resort hotels in the Borscht Belt. Spanning 2000 acres (how many football fields is that? lots of them), boasting a world-class golf course (which is still open today), several Olympic-sized swimming pools, a huge bar, riding stables (with both indoor and outdoor riding areas), an IMAX theater, an arcade, a reportedly amazing kosher restaurant, and a Disneyland-esque shopping district of gift shops, this place was the poshest vacation spot in the Catskills. And then the time came when "poshest vacation spot in the Catskills" no longer meant anything, and over the course of 30 years the resort slowly went bankrupt, and in 1998 things fell apart. And the resort was abandoned, and things continued to fall apart. And continued to fall apart. And continued to fall apart. And now, merely ten years after its closure, the huge, sprawling luxury resort is now a howling, decrepit ruin.

This is what the place looked like in 1998:

This is what it looks like now:

(more pictures)
(more more pictures)

As someone who left America around the time the hotel went bankrupt and came back six years later to find the country a different place, I WANT TO GO THERE SO BADLY.

(Anyone have a crowbar and a flashlight I could borrow for a weekend, just in case I come across any faceless nurses or man-eating beds?)

(edit) Curses! They demolished the last building in 2008. Now there isn't even a ruin to explore. RIP, Concord.
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Apr. 19th, 2009 @ 01:09 am seventh avenue
Current Location: 11215
Current Mood: why do I always forget my camera?
Current Music: LCD Soundsystem - New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
Tags: ,
Today I went on a journey. Not a metaphysical one, just the plain vanilla wandering-feet variety. But it struck me, after it was over, how conveniently allegorical it was.

If Park Slope was a small American city (and not a neighborhood in a big city that got swallowed up by another big city), Seventh Avenue would be Main Street. Like the completely different Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, Park Slope's Seventh Avenue snakes right down the middle, like a spine, and running all along it are shops and offices. Commercial zoning, you see. Running roughly parallel to it are 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue, a good five minutes' walk in either direction, and running across it are a series of tightly packed numbered streets, some of them just two or three bodega-widths apart. A "block," in this neighborhood, is a traitorous unit of measure; the distance between 7th Ave and 8th Ave is very nearly the distance betwen 13th St and 16th St. The avenues are zoned for shops and the streets are zoned for houses, so to switch avenues at any point you have to walk for a couple minutes past a pleasant but relatively boring series of brownstones.

If you begin your journey down Seventh Avenue at Garfield Place, the proverbial 0th St., your attention will be drawn to nothing in particular. A row of awninged shops, a Chinese restaurant, a bodega--this could be any well-gentrified area in Brooklyn. In the distance, far behind you, you can see the towering spire of some cathedral. Grand Army Plaza, and the Brooklyn Library and the Brooklyn Museum, are only a couple blocks away, but you can't see them from here. In fact, quaint as this neighborhood is, you can't really see much of anything. So you walk.

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Jan. 8th, 2006 @ 10:39 pm the longest journey
Current Mood: i would like to take back all the times i said i was dead tired because nothing lives up to this
Current Music: John Denver - Country Roads
I'm back. Still writing my entry about London (and I'm still behind on New Orleans), but I'd like to put that off for a while to say that I did it, I finally did it.

I navigated my way to downtown Elyria from Oberlin without a map. On foot. Without half a clue as to how to get there.

"Elyria? But that's only ten miles away," I can imagine some of you saying.

Only ten miles.

Only ten miles.

For uninterrupted travel on foot, I will never consider "only" to be an appropriate adjective for ten miles again.

Not to mention that, considering the circumlocutious route I took, and the time I went two miles (and back) in the wrong direction down Oberlin-Elyria Road, it was more like seventeen.

Those of you who are automobile owners have no idea how fortunate you are. The way to Elyria seems short because the roads are long and straight, and it is not far if you know the way. Not to mention that you cover an hour's walk in two minutes.

I don't have the energy to go over my trip in detail right now--if it weren't for an enormous pig-out session at Arby's and a good two hours of rest, I'd barely have the energy to think--but rest assured that five continuous hours of walking, followed by half an hour of rest and three more hours of walking, is not an undertaking that should be taken lightly. Especially without preparation, without food, and without a map, in an area that is mostly fields and offers little in the way of food, shelter, or rest. On mostly unpaved road. In below freezing weather. If there's a hard limit on how much the untrained human body can take before it shuts down, I don't think I reached it, but I came closer than I ever had. There were moments of blurry-eyed road madness by the highway (cars streaking by like strokes on a Pollock) when I was honestly unsure I was going to survive--times when I was thinking, with surprising placidity, that my body would not be discovered for hours if my legs gave out and I succumbed to the cold. Indeed, were it not for the grace of God and the generosity of strangers, I would not have stood a chance.

"Five hours," you sneer. "That's nothing."

Think about it. When is the last time you have done anything for five consecutive hours?

Now move your left foot. Now move your right foot. Now imagine doing that through mud for five hours. Without stopping. In below zero weather.

Yes. Yes, you get the idea now.

Now imagine doing that for another three.

"Bah humbug," I can imagine the egotists among you saying. "I've hiked up mountain trails for over eight consecutive hours without rest. You wuss."

So have I, egotists, so have I--and I can assure you, the outer fringes of Elyria (non-Oberlin side) are no hike up Eighteen Peaks. I've had more experience running away from angry dogs today than most people have in their entire lives. And the mud. Oh, God, the mud. Spring thaw. These boots used to be waterproof. Nothing in Ohio was built for feet. Even the parking lots are the size of small deserts.

For a soldier, such a trek is easy. For a guy who grew up taking the bus to school every day, it is well nigh impossible.

Did I mention that I jogged down to the gym and back, and felt so good that I decided to go to Elyria on a whim? Stupid pride. Stupid, stupid pride.

But I did it. I didn't think I could, but I did. I had long stopped caring when I finally crawled (almost literally!) into Midway Mall, and, of course, the mall was closed and the last LCT back home had passed many hours ago. But I've come to learn that any destination you can celebrate arriving safely at is a destination reached too easily.

This is, of course, leaving out the many hours of excitement, despair, and adventure that led me there--and the role of divine providence in carrying me through the tedious final leg of my journey. But I really wasn't kidding when I said I don't have the energy to talk about it. I'm not sure if I'm boasting or asking you guys to laugh at me for being stupid. Maybe a little of both. I'm just glad I made it back alive.

I'd say I never want to walk again, but that's a promise I can't keep.

Thanks go to my roommate Andy and that girl whose name I can't remember for rescuing me after nine hours in the cold. I owe you guys.

(edit) This is the shortest route from Oberlin to the Arby's at my destination. My route took me down East College St. (through the bike path), into East Lorain St., down Oberlin-Elyria Rd. (off map), up Oberlin-Elyria Rd., up Murray Ridge, and east across Route 113 to Elyria. In retrospect, I could have gotten there a lot sooner if I had just gone straight north from Oberlin.

(edit 2) Holy shit--the town directly south of Oberlin is Pittsfield. Looks like I made it halfway to Wellington on a separate expedition. Guess it's settled where I'm heading next. :b
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