#21 Adventures in the Bayou

This trip is beginning to pass by quicker then I ever could have possibly anticipated… Five months ago I was back home in Vermont feeling the most anxiety I’ve felt in quite some time. The idea of living in my truck by myself and traveling around the country was definitely one that filled me with both fear and excitement. When the time came to actually take the big first step of my journey I was scared but I knew that this was the first step to conquering my fears. Five months later and I’m sleeping in Walmart parking lots like its nothing and traveling around America seeing the sights. It honestly doesn’t feel real when I say I have lived in the truck for the last 5 months. Admittedly I have stayed with friends here and there but ultimately the fact remains…. I have managed to live rent free for the last 5 months and explore so much of my beautiful country! Since my last post I have been bouncing around like crazy! The vast amount of locations I’ve been exploring and photos I’ve been capturing has become the real struggle because I must stay on top of editing my photos. Once I catch-up on photo edits then I can finally get around to writing my blog posts as I have the necessary images to help tell the story….! Long story short I haven’t written a blog post in like two weeks because I’ve been on the move and shooting non-stop!

After I departed Kansas City I drove back down through Southern Missouri and into Arkansas. I had never been in Arkansas in my entire life so it was refreshing to get a feel for a state that had only ever been a figment of my imagination. I wasn’t very surprised to see that the landscape was very similar to Vermont; green rolling hills, beautiful forests, bright blue skies…. I may not have been home but I certainly felt “closer to home”. The only location that I really really wanted to visit during my drive through Arkansas was the open air church which I had seen so many pictures of on the internet. Arkansas apparently has a few of these churches that are found in beautiful forests or nature settings and designed to almost be one with the nature that they have been built amongst. I happened to arrive at the church on a Saturday when somebody was having their wedding…. The sign in the parking lot said Church closed to public today but I knew that I would regret not at least making an effort to see it. It was still early in the day and I could tell that people were arriving for the wedding so I said screw it and followed the path into the lush forest. As I made my way closer to the chapel people from the wedding gave me inquisitive looks but shrugged me off as they saw the hefty camera I was weilding and must have assumed I was part of the wedding. Unfortunately for me there were already some people gathered within the church so I couldn’t quite get the photo I wanted but I did however get a pretty amazing shot of the exterior!

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Standing outside the open air chapel… it looks as if it belongs in Rivendell from Lord of the Rings

Although there were numerous places I could have visited in Arkansas I was pretty determined to make it down to New Orleans by the end of Easter weekend so I continued on my journey. I would later find a Walmart in northern Louisiana and crash there before beginning a big day of explorations on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday rolled around and it truly felt like it…  I was officially in the “Bible Belt”. People in the South take their religious practices quite seriously and a day like Easter is a big thing. That also conveniently works for me as holidays tend to be the best days to explore higher profile locations or places that normally have beefed up security. So I began my drive down to Southern Louisiana with the intention of hitting a few spots along the way and hopefully making it to New Orleans by the evening. It sucks because id like to provide all the historical information and flash a bunch of pictures of the locations I visited but thats how places get ruined so I try and keep things under wraps. “Urban Exploring” is an interesting hobby in that regard. It’s similar to sports like surfing or cliff jumping where people truly treasure their spots and know that the more they keep them to themselves, the longer they will stay in tact. It may sound selfish but if people aren’t willing to put in the work, research or time to go find something for themselves, why should they deserve a handout? I have people message me all the time asking for cool places to “shoot” but they don’t understand that for me its much more than just getting a cool photo. Its the research, the history, actually driving to a place and finding out firsthand if theres security etc. I am sick of lazy people who want handouts. If your not willing to put in work than you won’t get the results you want and the same can be said for any facet of life…. Rant over.

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A historic abandoned hotel in northern Louisiana

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The entrance/lobby to a Jewish Synagogue

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The beautiful stained glass of the Synagogue

My destination for the week was New Orleans which needs no introduction. I had never been to New Orleans in my life yet I had heard endless things about it… all of them good. Whether its the beignets, the gumbo or the abandoned buildings… New Orleans has got a well rounded vibe that is certainly one of a kind. Theres something about the South that I really truly love, I think its a combination of peoples demeanor, the food, the weather and the nature. I have grown up obsessed with reptiles and knowing that Alligators are lurking in the swamps by the roads makes me happy inside (I know… I’m weird haha)! The population of New Orleans has declined by more than 50% since Hurricane Katrina and that means it has endless abandoned places to explore. I ended up staying with some friends of friends who were also fellow explorers Ashley and Micah and had a great week exploring with them and also going off on my own to do solo explorations. Here are some choice photos from the week, the captions shall tell the story:

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Outside the Market St. Power Plant in New Orleans

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Inside an abandoned orphanage

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an early morning at the abandoned Six Flags in East New Orleans known as “Jazzland”

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A house down in the Bayou built on stilts

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An aerial view of a historic plantation… what a dark past.

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On an airboat ride through the bayou

Thats all I have to share for now. I have so much of this blog to catch up on I’m just hoping I can keep it going. Its becoming work more and more as this trip progresses because I’m getting further and further behind…! Ill try and update it this week with a post about the rest of my time in south!

 

  • J.J

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