Salton Sea has been on my list for a while, thanks to an OKCupid wannabe suitor. When I found out that it was a short drive from my sister’s house in California, I immediately recruited her for a post-Christmas visit. After all, we had to work off all the Christmas junk food somehow.
We were supposed to go last year, but that trip was put on hold when my sister went into labor 3 months prematurely; a month before my trip out there. And looking back, it probably wouldn’t have been the wisest decision for a lady who was 8 months pregnant to be traipsing around a toxic sea. So, it was probably for the better that I went this year with a much-less-pregnant companion.
Sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air to take a walk through the woods and not have to worry about the police showing up.
Fireplace Jenga, anyone?
Hidden away in the forest are a small collection of ruins from the Cornish Estate (otherwise known as Northgate the the people who lived there). In 1917, Edward J. Cornish and his wife, Selina, purchased the 650 acre estate from a Chicago diamond merchant Sigmud Stern, who had built the estate 5 years earlier. At the time, the area was subject to intense mining projects, ones that threatened to destroy the face of nearby Mount Taurus. Edward, whose home was close enough to the quarries that it shook with every blast, began to worry about protecting his property as his health began to fail in the 1930s. He offered his estate for sale to the Taconic State Park Commission in 1936, however they declined claiming that the site was “not at all adaptable for a park area,” despite developing parks on several properties nearby (I’m going to take a wild guess that they soon regretted that decision).
Dundas Castle has been on my list of places to visit for a while, but I had been holding it off until the warmer months, as I could imagine nothing more magical than a fairy tale-looking castle surrounded by lush green foliage…and I certainly wasn’t wrong.
Case and point.
The Boyce Thompson Institute is one of less menacing places I’ve visited. Located in an barren industrial park in Yonkers, with an Applebee’s directly across the way, this abandoned botany institute has been left alone for years, with the city hoping that some derelict will burn it down so they do not have to pay money to either raze or develop it (or so I’ve been told). The institute was initially founded by copper magnate William Boyce Thompson. The land was purchased in the early 1900s with the intent of building a summer home upon it (His Alder Manor still sits across the street from the institute. This, however, was purchased and renovated, now a prominent wedding venue). In 1917, Thomspson went to Russia with the Red Cross – a mission sent by President Woodrow Wilson to keep Russia in World War I and to encourage the formation of democratic governments (all under the guise of a relief mission, of course). With the Tsarist Monarchy recently overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the city lay in a state of poverty. Citizens were deprived of the basic human necessities, living in the streets, and slowly starving to death as a revolution tore cities apart around them. Deeply moved by what he saw, Thompson returned with a new mission: to help the needy in his own home by finding a sustainable food supply – and thus set out to build a horticulture institute on his remaining land.
When I first started to date my boyfriend, I decided by our fourth date it was appropriate to drag him to the Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard in Staten Island. It was a little rainy and I didn’t quite anticipate just how muddy it was actually going to be. Wading through knee deep mud is romantic, right? I don’t think I’ve had so much mud caked on my body since playing high school soccer in the rain. But, neither of us lost a boot (we saw some abandoned shoes scattered throughout the space), he didn’t contract tetanus despite scraping his head on a rusty nail, and he still seems to like me, so I call that a success.
After threatening to start a blog to chronicle all of the photos I’ve taken on my abandoned travels, I’ve finally getting it together to do so – and to kick this off, I’m starting with my absolute favorite site I’ve visited to date: Penn Hills Resort.
Penn Hills Resort was a honeymoon destination for swinging couples in Analomink, PA. It was originally founded as a tavern in 1944, but slowly expanded into a large resort with over 100 rooms, booming as a destination “for lovers only” in the 1960s and 1970s. They took pride on being a place of “unbridled passion” and their New Year’s Eve party motto was, “No balloon goes unpopped.”