On Thanksgiving Day I went Vadding.
The holidays are the perfect time to Vad, for obvious reasons. Everyone is somewhere else, people are relaxed, and concentrating upon their family and friends, few people tend to be out in any area you might have an interest in vadding, patrols are light, everything and most everyplace is left abandoned.
Which makes the job of infiltrating extremely easy compared to infiltrating efforts one might make at most any other time. So while my family, wife, and kids relaxed and digested their food or went out to the movies or watched TV I loaded some equipment, including one of my digital cameras into the car for a little light vadding. Some people find entertainment and enjoyment at parties, some at social gatherings, some playing games, some on computers, some reading, some watching film. Me, while everyone else is out doing other things, I like to Vad and infiltrate. I’ve always been that way. I’d rather infiltrate a gang nest or explore an old abandoned building or some underground complex than just about anything else. I usually go alone though, that’s been pretty much the way I’ve always done things. I’ve always vadded alone just as I’ve always worked alone. That’s just the way I’m built I guess.
I had not intended any heavy infiltration because of the simple fact that it was Thanksgiving and I knew I would only get a few hours after dinner of movement before sundown. And I did not intend to be out after sundown on this occasion because I had a backlog of work (excuse the pun) waiting for me at home.
So the only equipment I really went out with were my camera case and my standard daypack. I did not take any of my normal vadding equipment or any specialized equipment.
First I went to a construction site that was abandoned for the holidays. The site used to be a ball field and as a matter of fact I had played ball there when I was in Elementary School. I was a pitcher. They were tearing the old field up, I’m not really sure what they intend to replace it with.
I vadded the equipment, getting inside some, exploring the equipment and the various capabilities of each piece of equipment. There were two heavy dump trucks, a couple of huge backhoes, a bulldozer, and some other pieces.
Personally I love construction sites and heavy construction equipment.
Next I went to an abandoned mill. Took several shots including some of the outer perimeters and the attached water tower. I did not penetrate far inside the mill grounds, or into any buildings proper because the surrounding area was exposed across open ground in every direction and it would have been difficult to penetrate past the security officers (they have an in-house security staff) and because the entire site was easily visible from the surrounding mill villages.
I’ll have to return at night.
Next I went to the top of a nearby mountain where I explored the Antenna Farm. In part of an area the locals used to call “The Dark Corner.” This particular site was often used as a nesting site for teenagers and for teenage criminal gangs. Most of the gang activity has been suppressed by now, though the graffiti still remains.
In addition there is a nearby house that was used as an active gang nest for some time but from my explorations the other day it has been mostly abandoned as well.
I had not really expected that as I climbed it my last expedition to the mountain. They had also placed razor wire along the top of the fencing section and placed heavy padlocks on the entrance gate. I made no efforts to penetrate because of two factors: 1 I did not have my lock pick set with me, (it was at home with my Vadding packs – I could have cracked the lock but I don’t do stuff like that, I believe in vadding without causing any damage, I have never have liked “Crackers and Taggers,” people like that are amateurs and destructive, Vadding is an art of finesse, infiltration, careful surveillance, unobserved penetration, and invisibility, not a game of hacksaws and crowbars) and 2, if you look carefully at the shot you can see that the nearby facility had attached an antenna to the structural framework, effectively converting the tower itself into either an antenna or a booster. Before attempting any new climb I’ll have to test the framework and see if any loose electrical charge is being passed through the structure itself or if it is grounded or dead.
I wanted to climb this old abandoned, mountain Ranger station but apparently the local police have had trouble in the area and so the tower is now completely fenced in.
By the way I climbed part of one antenna and you can see, if you look carefully, that both the old ranger tower and the antennas are used as nesting and perching sites for the local mountain buzzards. Some of them have incredible wingspans.
I also went to an old area of the city river way and old railway system where I had last discovered a railcar (a group of them actually) a couple of years ago that were being used as a front for various types of criminal activity. But these were the only shots I got. (I have film of it and what I discovered there, but no still shots. I had hoped to pick up some still shots when I went out on Thanksgiving but it had already been cleared away.) For reasons I’ll explain below.
For the past few years now my city has been undergoing a massive and citywide renovation. Most of the old criminal haunts I used to frequent within the city itself (or on that side of the city anyway) are now either abandoned or have been converted into reconstruction/renovation sites.
It’s kind of funny but for years and years, since I was a teenager really, I have assisted with cleaning up my city, with breaking up gangs, with suppressing criminal activity, with manhunting, with casework, with infiltration and undercover operations. And now, due to renovation, much of the crime has disappeared. Violent crimes are way down and old neighborhoods that were cesspools of violence and murder have been washed clean with new money and fresh building projects. Instead of crack and whore houses you see little strip shopping malls and police substations, commerce, and security everywhere. Rarely does an
And you’d think I’d be glad wouldn’t you? And I can’t say that I’m not. It feels awfully good to visit the city and see little kids and women walking around and old men on bicycles touring about as if they hadn’t a care in the world when just a few years before they couldn’t have passed through those areas without real and near constant fear of attack. Or robbery. Or abduction. Or rape. Or assault. Or possibly even murder.
It does my heart good to see that kind of thing. Yet strangely enough part of me misses the excitement of the days when crime was heavy, when home invasions were common, when robbery was rampant and there was always an interesting case to work. When you could go just about anywhere and ferret out a gang nest, catch wind of a shooting. When you could easily find a drug network to infiltrate, could work your way underground practically anywhere. When you could pick up leads by simply surveilling busy beats, or by watching a suspect, or catching an easy tip from an informant hoping to score three bucks for a cheap hit. But nowadays, there is very little “underground” left anymore. Not like it used to be anyway. All of the old places, all of the old haunts, all of the old vads, they’re mostly history now. The rot and decay and the murder has been driven elsewhere. The gangs are broken up or at least hobbled. The drug networks have for the most part all been driven out of the county and into other counties. The home invaders don’t even try and strike here anymore. Crime has been drastically reduced.
And although that is exactly what I have worked for, have intended for years and years, still part of me misses the excitement, the rot, the decay, the darkness of it all. I can’t really say that I’m sad to see my city clean, cause I’m not sad at all, that’s not really the proper term. It’s more like, a sort of melancholy, a sort of wistful remembrance of times past. A sort of vague desire for that kind of, or level of, excitement again.
I’ll take a safe place where kids can run around without any fear over the way it was any day. But, I have to also say; it sure was fun when it was a lot more dangerous. I have a safe city now, but it’s also prosperous, and clean, and boring as hell, comparatively speaking.
Maybe that’s just the way I’m made.
I wish you could have it both ways. That you could have a safe and secure and basically crime free city and it still be filled with a certain air of darkness and decay and rot that you could really wade into and get your hands dirty in.
But it doesn’t work that way I guess.
When you reach your goal, your goal is over, and it’s time to move on to other things.
And I have of course. It’s a big world and there’s always a Dark Corner somewhere. But part of me still misses the darkness of the old days in the old city.
I guess part of me always will.