Urban Exploration – My Life Under Bridge

Recently I’ve been exploring the development of an “outdoor adventure” brand and in my market research I ran across this Wikipedia article on urban exploration:

Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespass onto private property, this is not always the case and is of innocent intention.[1] Urban exploration is also commonly referred to as infiltration, although some people consider infiltration to be more closely associated with the exploration of active or inhabited sites. It may also be referred to as draining (when exploring drains), urban spelunking, urban rock climbing, urban caving, or building hacking.

I had never heard of that term before, but it brought back memories of my own urban exploration.


When I was in first and second grade I lived in a subdivision with a concrete ditch and a storm sewer at the end of the street. The entrance was like an inviting cave beckoning me to explore its depths. My brother and I would pack our lunch and our flash lights and set off through the drain seeing how far we could go. I remember looking up through the storm drains like windows. It was pretty dangerous. Don’t do this.


After moving to Southport in third grade I began playing under the bridge in the creek at the bottom of the hill in my subdivision. I would build dams and streams using the rocks and sand that had built up there. By the fifth grade I had moved on to other bridges around town where I was actively manipulating the stream’s flow using sandbags, rocks, and any tools I could find.

In sixth grade I moved to the outskirts of Franklin into the “country”. There was a bridge and a creek there that I played in, but it wasn’t until high school that I started urban exploring indoors. The high school auditorium had a giant HVAC room in a giant attic. I would climb up into it during choir class and hang out and often thought about spending the night there. I never did.


My first two years of college were spent in Grayson which was located next to an interstate highway. There was a drainage pipe that went under the highway that I crawled through. Like in second grade I brought my lunch to eat once I got to the other side and like in Southport I took some time to play under the bridge on my way back. I actually took a video camera too and recorded the adventure, which is part of urban exploration, from what I can tell.

Like in Franklin, the auditorium at our school had a “secret room” which was locked from the outside, but could be accessed from the stage by climbing the backdrops. It was used as a sound and light booth for when they had plays (they never had plays). It had a phone. I would go there and call people to come hang out with me. They would never answer.

One day I signed up for a 24-hour prayer program and my hour was early in the morning around 2 or 3 AM. I’d wake up or stay up and walk around the dorm at night praying as I walked. Because of curfew I couldn’t leave the building. It was hard to stay awake sometimes and because I was mostly alone I started to explore. There was an access panel in the hallway outside of the bathrooms on the first floor. Upon opening the panel there appeared a ladder. I would go in between the walls and climb the ladder to the third floor and back. Do not try this at home.

Milligan College

After Grayson I transferred to Milligan College where I again lived in a dorm. Like Grayson, there was an access panel in the bottom floor of the building and like Grayson I filmed myself exploring what was inside. Unlike Grayson, this wasn’t a vertical shaft, but a horizontal one. It was sort of like a crawl space underneath the dorm that eventually emptied out through a small opening into the boiler room, which was locked from the outside. It was a neat discovery.

My Life Under Bridge

In November of 2008 I set about to tell a similar story using Google Maps Street view and Google Docs Presentations as a medium. I ended up with 19 slides that took me from my home in Raytown to my current home in Tipton. Apparently I’ve told this story before.

My Life Under Bridge

“It all started in Raytown, Missouri. I lived in a subdivision with a ditch at the other end of the road which fed into the local sewer system. We would explore the sewers with flashlights and see how far we could go.”

In Southport, “I would go down to the bridge and build dams and tiny rivers in the creek’s sand. There was a hidden waterfall in the woods.” It was near Strawberry Farm.

“Stephani lived off of Loretta Dr. Our older brothers were friends and our families went to the same church. They had a bridge near their house.”

“I dug my most massive canals and dams here using garden tools provided to me on loan from the Stephani’s house.”

“Then I moved to Franklin and played under a bridge near Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.”

“When I got older, my friends and I set out from church one day to build a new hangout spot under the bridge at the bottom of the hill. We called it the Outdoor Blue Lounge. We painted the walls blue and were blamed for cows escaping. The county Sheriff made us paint over it with white, which later peeled.”

The Outdoor Blue Lounge

“One day I skipped some class to go on a hike. I packed my lunch and a change of clothes, and took my video camera along with me.”

“Next I moved to Milligan and roomed with Ben. I filmed my exploration of Hyder Mill by the creek.” Oh yeah, I forgot about that one.

About Erich Stauffer

In addition to urban exploration, I also like making custom maps.

New Kindle Fires Sparks Interest in Google Maps App Post

My Map Strings web site has made $6.50 in ad clicks this month vs. ‘nothing’ most months (a 22,000% increase). I’m assuming this has something to do with Apple maps, but let’s look at the data:

Visits started going up Sep 5 and peaked on Sep 6 at 42 visits a day, but averaged 30 a day for the next 20 days. Most keyword searches are for ‘google maps for kindle fire’ or some variation. How To Run Google Maps On the Kindle Fire is the top content post, making up the majority of the traffic.

So I guess it has nothing to do with Apple maps, but what would cause the increase starting on Sep 5th? Maybe this stuff:

So apparently Amazon had a meeting on September 6th and announced two new Kindle Fires and because the Kindle doesn’t natively come with Google Maps (or Apple Maps) my nifty guide on how to manually add it seemed to resonate with people. If you’re interested in the new Kindle Fires, details below:

The Kindle Fire HD is $199 and comes with a 1280×800 HD display, Dolby audio, dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for 40% faster downloads and streaming (compared to iPad 3), and a 1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core for fast and fluid performance. It has integrated support for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and more, as well as Exchange calendar, contacts, and email. But here’s the kicker: free Skype video calls with front-facing HD camera and free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content. Wowsers.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re looking for a media device that can deliver Amazon content like Amazon Instant Video, you can’t get that on an iPad. This is where it works best.

Map Pins and World Maps

While not expensive, the types of map pins you choose can greatly affect the way your wall maps end up looking over time. Whether you’re displaying your map behind glass, in a restaurant, or in a corporate environment, you’re going to want to choose from a selection of different types of map pins.

Map pins are different than normal stick pins or push pins because of their balled tops and short pen stems. Choose from red, gold, and assorted colors of map pins here at Map Strings, your resource for online and offline map technology for geospatial analysts working in geospatial information technology.

Maped Map PinsMaped Map Pins in Reusable Plastic Case, 100 Pins per Box, Assorted Colors – synonymous with continuous innovation, top design and high quality. These 5mm Map Pins are packaged in a handy reusable plastic container that allows you to safely store your pins without fear of poking yourself in the finger every time you rummage in your tool box or junk drawer. They are available in a pack of 100 pins in assorted colors and perfect for all map pinning needs. For over 60 years Maped has been creating innovative, high-quality products and renewing the often traditional school and office accessories markets with an assortment of ergonomic and eye-catching products tailored to the needs of the consumer.

Map Tacks Red1/8 Inch Map Tacks – Red – 1/8 inch red map tacks from Moore Push Pin Co are perfect for marking addresses, sales territories, shipping routes, franchise locations, and more. Medium round head map tacks. 1/8″ head, 5/16″ point, quantity 100. One reviewer said, “I just pushed the little bugger in and there it stayed just like magic! so awesome, I’m so happy!” Moore Push Pin Co are the designers, manufacturers, and marketers of innovative fastener products. These include Push-Pins, Twisted Picture Hangers, Map Tacks, Clip Hangers™ and Sharks Tooth Picture Hangers. Now entering it’s fourth generation of family ownership, Moore continues to produce high quality, market creating items used around the world.

GEM Map Tacks Plastic AssortedGEM Map Tacks, Plastic, Assorted – Round head map tacks mark locations on maps for easy and quick identification. Made in U.S.A. Head Material: Plastic; Head Diameter: 3/16 Inches; Pin Material: Steel; Color(s): Assorted. 3/8″ is referring to the length of the METAL PIN only. The pin head measures 1/8″ and the full length is just over 1/2″. If you want a container for your pins, get the Maped pins above. GEM map pins are made by Gem Office Products, LLC., which is a part of Advantus Corp., a diverse consumer products company headquartered in Jacksonville Florida. Advantus has been making quality products since 1913. They manufacture over 1,500 products in Jacksonville, Florida, Mequon, Wisconsin, and in Asia.

Map Tacks Gold1/8 Inch Gold Map Tacks – 1/8 inch black map tacks. Perfect for marking addresses, sales territories, shipping routes, franchise locations, and more. When considering pin colors, think about the background color of the map. Actually, map pins aren’t just for wall maps. Art galleries buy pins with numbered heads to identify artists work and planners use map pins on schematics to identify key tasks in a project. Some Chinese plastic pin heads will crack and break, so look for pins made in America. However, this may be harder to do than meets the eye – just because a company is headquartered in America, doesn’t mean the map pins are manufactured there.

Map Tacks Assorted Colors1/8 Inch Assorted Color Map Tacks – 1/8 inch assorted color map tacks. Perfect for marking addresses, sales territories, shipping routes, franchise locations, and more. Box contains 20 of each of the following colors: red, green, blue, yellow, and orange. One reviewer said, “The tacks arrived on time and were a pleasure on the wall maps of our world travels. I had to reorder because I did not get enough.”

World Executive Poster Sized Wall Map

This elegant, richly colored, antique-style world map features the incredible cartographic detail that is the trademark quality of National Geographic. The map features a Tripel Projection, which reduces distortion of land masses as they near the poles. Corner inset maps feature vegetation and land use, and population density. Winner of the 2001 Premier Print Award from Printing Industries of America for unique ability to create visual masterpieces. Winner of the 2002 Best Reference Map from the American Congress on Surveying & Mapping.

World Executive Poster Sized Wall Map

  • Convenient, easy to frame poster size (36” Wide x 24” Tall)
  • Scale size: 1:45,366,000

Founded in 1915 as the Cartographic Group, the first division of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps has been responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking.

Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world s best wall maps, recreation maps, atlases, and globes which inspire people to care about and explore their world. All proceeds from the sale of National Geographic maps go to support the Society s non-profit mission to increase global understanding and promote conservation of our planet through exploration, research, and education.