This past Sunday was a pretty nice day here, so I decided to go out and do a little exploring. Keep in mind that a nice day in early March in New York means that is was a balmy 41 and sunny outside. That might not sound too great to you, depending on where you live, but since it came after two big snowstorms with another storm looming on the horizon? It was pretty damn nice.
Daylight Savings Time pretty much kicked my ass. After a morning of lazing about and drinking coffee to try to feel like a functional human being again, I decided I should try to go out and enjoy the nice weather. Where to go? I didn't want to go anywhere I had been too recently -- it gets boring after a while. I wasn't sure exactly what trails or parks would be clear of the recent snow, either. The rail trail looked okay in some places -- the warmer (warmish? Probably still counts as too cold to be outdoors if you live someplace where it's perpetually 70 or the like.) weather had melted a lot of the snow on paved surfaces. So...maybe someplace where there is some pavement would be okay.
I decided to head out to the Roosevelt Farm Lane Trail because I remembered a lot of it being paved.
Apparently my memory is for crap, or I really overestimated the melting abilities of the sunny days after the last storm. This is what I found upon my arrival:
Well that's more snow than I was expecting.
You can't really tell from the picture, but off to the right is the path. Clearly other souls braver than I had already been there and had hiked right on in. They probably also had the foresight to wear something other than sneakers when they set off. I did not make such a wise decision. Hiking around with cold, wet feet for a couple of hours was not on my list of things to do that day. This was as close as I got.
I got back in the car and started driving. I didn't know where I wanted to go, so I figured I would just decide on the fly. It makes it more of an adventure, right? I'm so glad we agree, Friends.
I was headed South when I saw the sign for Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. I drive past this sign fairly frequently and always mean to stop but never do. Let me fill you in on the background.
I have been there exactly one time. A friend was having her all-in-one "Get Saved" Baptism/Communion/Confirmation celebrated there. I had never seen it done that way before, but it was for an adult so maybe that is how it works. My family always went to Holy Trinity and we had done theses things in stages: Baptism as a baby, First Communion when you were little, and Confirmation in high school. My point, and I do have one other than discussing religious ceremonies, was that I remembered the chapel being very pretty. It also had a really cool area where the Stations of the Cross were outside. I know, you might not find that to be something that should be qualified as "cool". Personally, I had never seen the Stations of the Cross anywhere other than spread out along the walls inside of a church so my mind was blown.
Back to the original exploration story.
I saw the sign and decided that it would be a perfect time to stop and see the chapel. They have mass there, so I assume everything will be plowed and clear.
I should probably mention that the chapel is on the property of the old Hudson River State Hospital, a former psychiatric hospital that has been abandoned for years. You can find some shots of the interiors of the buildings right over here and here. Added bonus: there are also rumors that the place might be haunted.
Feel free to call me a dumbass, Friends, but I kind of forgot about that part of it. Yeah, the place had been closed for years and the buildings abandoned, but I wasn't planning on going in to any of them. I was just going to drive through a little bit of the campus to reach the chapel. Shouldn't be anything too bad, right?
So very wrong, and I'm glad I had this idea in the middle of a sunny afternoon. That might have made it worse, honestly, because I could very clearly see that there was not another living soul around.
This is one of the first buildings you come to on the campus:
Rather obvious that no one has been here for a hot second.
It gets even better when you get a closer view. Yes, I did get out of the car to get a better look.
I kinda feel like the zombie apocalypse might start in a building that looks just like this.
Not just abandoned, but condemned! If the big red X doesn't give you a slight case of the heebie jeebies, then the orange sign denoting some kind of danger ought to do it. I didn't feel the need to explore any closer than that at the time. A big red X generally translates to "It might fall on your head". I've also read way too many books about such uplifting subjects as the Black Death and other plagues, so my brain dredged up the fun fact that it could also denote that there were bodies inside. I know that's ridiculous and far-fetched. Doesn't stop my brain from acting like some sort of demented Filofax.
Hindsight being what it is, that little white area on the right-hand side of the door intrigues me. I didn't really notice it until looking at the picture on my phone once I was home. I honestly can't remember if that was a hole in the door and you can see inside, or if it was the only bit of shiny metal on the door and it is reflecting a shadow.
Back in the car, and the drive through the campus continues. There are plenty more abandoned and boarded buildings. You turn right and go past an area with a bunch of low buildings, and that was probably the creepiest part to me. They were far from being in the worst shape -- much better than Pilgrim Home in the shots above -- but it felt like there should have been lots of people around.
I kept following the signs for the chapel, and on the next turn the road runs along a stone wall with a gate in it.
Gate to Nowhere
I don't know what's on the other side of the gate. Maybe it is private property. Maybe it's a cemetery. It might be a whole lot of nothing. All I could see were trees. I will note that the gate seems to be the sturdiest part of the wall, as most of it looks like it may tip over at any minute.
The road goes down a fairly steep hill, and eventually you get to the entrance to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel.
Hello, Angel! I'm so glad you look less creepy than the rest of the property!
Continue down the road to the final curve, and you are greeted by a statue.
This is good. I feel like I could definitely find sanctuary here if zombies should come busting out of that first building I saw.
The chapel looked beautiful, situated among all of the trees. I really don't know why I didn't take a picture of the chapel itself.
Unfortunately, nothing beyond the parking lot itself seemed to have been cleared. My seasonally inappropriate choice of shoes had once again thwarted my plans. I would not be getting a close look at the Stations of the Cross on this day. This was the best shot I could manage.
You can kind of see them, along the wall in the back.
There was also a small shrine. I'm assuming it is to the Virgin Mary, since they usually are. Again, snow thwarted my attempts to get closer.
I didn't notice until I was turning the car around that there was also a big crucifix outside on the other side of the chapel. That part was still covered by snow. Clearly I will have to return again on a day when there is no snow on the ground.
I headed back up to Creepy Land and my exit from the campus. It almost felt like some kind of warning when exiting and seeing the angels' backs.
You're on your own after this point, kid.
You can sort of see the low buildings I was talking about in the background of that shot.
This would also be the time when I realized that, at some point, I had turned off the radio in my car. Why? I have so many reasons.
-- Even though you are absolutely allowed to go to the chapel and it is open to the public, it still kind of felt like I was trespassing on the drive down there. I don't want to get busted by driving around with my radio blasting.
--It felt disrespectful. Not just to the chapel, but to the whole area. It was totally quiet beyond the sounds of traffic from the major roadways nearby. That shouldn't be a surprise since the place has been abandoned for years. It seemed wrong to disrupt that stillness with my radio.
--I don't know about you, but I always find myself turning down the radio in my car when I'm following directions, especially near the destination. It's not like music is suddenly going to impact my vision and make me unable to read road signs or numbers on buildings, but I do it anyway.
--I want to know if something is suddenly going to pop out at me. It could be wildlife scampering across the road, a security guard telling me to get the hell out of there, etc. (Like zombies! Cause that idea hasn't left my brain since seeing the first building.)
After leaving the campus and returning to civilization, blessedly filled with traffic and living people, I decided to head home. That was enough fun for me on my Sunday.
So what did we learn today, Friends?
- I really need to learn to wear appropriate footwear on my adventures.
- Abandoned buildings can still give off a creepy vibe, even in the middle of the day.
- My imagination is more than happy to assume the zombie apocalypse could start at any second given even the slightest provocation.