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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

Hospital 05, February 2012


We took our usual security precautions: Coming in under cover of darkness, communicating only with hand gestures, soaking our clothing in deer urine (I was never clear about the reasoning behind that last item, but my mentors assured me that it was standard UE protocol). It was all for naught. No police, no security, no cameras, no alarm system, no laser beam tripwires, no pressure-sensitive pads hidden beneath the floorboards, nothing. It was a beautiful day, and nobody seemed to mind that we were wandering around the abandoned hospital grounds. It was so peaceful that I started to feel a little ridiculous in my full-body camouflage and night-vision goggles.

So, no thrilling tales of almost getting caught by THE MAN. But hard lessons were learned, nonetheless. To wit:

  • If you’re trying to get over a mild flu/cold, you almost certainly should not spend eight hours climbing around an ancient stone building breathing frigid air visibly laden with asbestos, mold and mycobacteria.
  • Always, always, ALWAYS bring an extra tripod quick release plate.

Two extra-freaky things we saw on this trip, neither pictured (unfortunately):

  • In one of the claustrophobic and lightless utility tunnels under the hospital, a severed cable of unknown purpose dripped a viscous greenish-black liquid on the concrete floor. In the one-foot-by-two-foot pool of sticky and poisonous goo, there were – wait for it – THIRTEEN dead mice. Also two snakes.
  • In the basement of the last building we entered, we found a large wooden crate with Property of U.S. Army stamped on the side. It appeared to have been recently shipped from that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The crate had been helpfully pried open by a previous explorer, exposing the contents: A never-used military x-ray machine, presumably for use in the field (?), dated 1956. Some assembly required.

As a final note – yeah, I know I kinda went overboard with the wide-angle lens this time.

December 2012 Update

As noted above, every trip to this location has been relatively trouble-free – no run-ins with security or police or squatters or katana-wielding motorcycle ninjas bent on taking over the Miami cocaine trade. But on our most recent trip, we barely escaped with our heads un-impaled by razor-tipped hunting arrows. Apparently, the bucolic wooded area through which we normally hike is actually the private game reserve of a madman. As we crept stealthily through the forest, surprising a family of deer, golden shafts of morning light filtering down from above, we were dismayed to hear the insistent “BRAAAAAAP! BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!” of a poorly-tuned ATV. We were crouched in the dirt behind a rotting log, but the owner of the land had apparently seen us, because he drove directly to our hiding spot and parked the ATV. He was a portly, bearded man, dressed head-to-toe in camouflage. Two children in X-Men pajamas were awkwardly perched on the back of the ATV, watching the whole confrontation, their faces smeared with strawberry jam. After waving his (loaded) crossbow around for a bit, and proclaiming that he wasn’t “going to jail on a murder charge because some idiots are trespassing on my property during deer season!” he actually calmed down a bit and wasn’t really a bad guy. Honestly, he had a point. So, if you’re planning a trip to Hospital 5, you might try to kinda avoid that area.

January 2015 Update

At this location, “where to park?” is always a question. Some of my more circumspect compatriots favor the “park a mile or so away and bike in” option, while others prefer the convenience of parking at Home Depot. I wasn’t driving on this trip, so my fears were dismissed and we rolled up to Home Depot like any other homeowners doing a little light construction on our day off, except we were dressed in ninja gear and carrying large, military-grade tripods. We almost got away with it, too, until we turned the corner behind Home Depot and saw the security guard sitting in his official-looking pickup. Already spotted, brazenness seemed our best option. “Hey, how’s it goin’?” we asked the security guy. Turned out he was a fire inspector, not a security guard, and – after a friendly chat about a nearby chemical spill – he sent us on our way without question. “Hope ya get some good pictures today!” he said as we headed into the woods. “Nice weather for it.”

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One Comment

  1. Nice photos! I’m inspired to return and look for some of those scenes that I missed that day.

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