Abandoned Exploring California with Ginger Snaps
Welcome to the No Tracers podcast, all about urban exploration. This week I am so stoked to share with you my very first No Tracers guest episode with Ginger Snaps! You may have seen some of her content on Instagram under @_ginger_snaps! Check out Ginger's content: http://instagram.com/_ginger_snaps
Welcome to the No Tracers podcast. What's up guys. Welcome back to another week of No Tracers. My name is Kay. I am your host here on the No Tracers podcast. This week, I am going to be interviewing fellow urban Explorer. Ginger snaps. If you do not know who ginger snaps is, go to Instagram or just go down and in the description, there will be a link to her Instagram. This is my first interview of another urban Explorer. So I've compiled a list of questions to ask that I think are very interesting. And I cannot wait to get in to this episode. So before we do that, I got to tell you guys, I actually have a book out about abandoned places that I've explored full of stories and photos of these different places.
It's called No Tracers and urban explorers diary. You can pick it up on my website, justtheletterk.com/notracers. There's a link down in to the description for you. If you guys want to get a signed copy of that, I will include to photo prints with it. So you can hang those up on your wall and you can put this book on your coffee table. You can give it to a friend as a gift. It makes a really good gift, actually. So if you guys are looking for gift ideas, photography books, definitely the way to go. All right, without further ado, let's get into this episode, ginger, please introduce yourself and what you do to the No Tracers audience.
1 (1m 17s):
Hey guys, what's up? This is ginger. I'm an urban Explorer in Southern California. I've been doing this for about five years now. My Instagram is where I hold most of my content and it's a pleasure to be here and share these moments with you. All right. All right. So
0 (1m 34s):
My first question for you is what got you into exploring in the first place? What was your introduction to this whole world of abandonment?
1 (1m 43s):
It kind of happened organically. Actually. It just started with a trip I took and when I left, I was unsatisfied with all the places I didn't get to see and started just planning out small explorations, kinda close to home waterfalls and ruins and things like that. And it's so strange whenever I get this question, because there's not a real actual moment in time that it's switched over. It just kind of slowly grew into that. And I think I remember like going to a waterfall and then going to a ruin and then going to an abandoned ranch and then to an abandoned church, like it was just so smooth how it happened and before I knew it, we were just trying to do the most, you know, get into the most and just push it further and further.
1 (2m 43s):
0 (2m 43s):
When did the photography come into play? When did you start capturing this content? Were you always doing that or was that something that came up?
1 (2m 50s):
No, that was actually something that came on later. Kind of a funny story. I, I mean, the reality of it is just that we realized that we were not going to be able to capture these moments on our phones all the time. You know, we started getting into places like theaters and stuff, and it just the quality on your phone, even if you do have a tripod and long exposure on your phone is just not the same. And I actually started linking up with a couple of other explorers through Instagram and I went to meet them and it was kind of, it was, it was funny. It was kind of almost like the godfather, like interview or something like that. I went to a restaurant to meet up with this guy.
1 (3m 33s):
And when I came in, there was about eight other photographers sitting around a circle table and I sat down and they just started grilling me, asking me all these questions. And it finally came to the question of what kind of camera do you have? And I said, I don't have a camera. And I think like all heads turned right to me and I just got the worst glares. And I was like, okay. And basically the one dude looked at me and he goes, all right, well, this was fun. Hit me up when you get a camera. And I actually left there, like, damn, that dude was a Dick. And I was like, he is obviously not an Explorer, he's a photographer, but it's kind of what pushed me.
1 (4m 18s):
And what I ended up realizing in the end was that he was right. And it wasn't that he was just being a Dick. It was that he wasn't going to take his time to take me to these amazing places. If I was just going to want to go back again later with a camera. And I kind of started to understand that, you know, these places are hard to get into. It's very sketchy, it's dangerous. And, and the reality of it is, is just that the least times you have to go the better to each spot. You know what I mean? And I totally respect him now for that, he made me grow so much respect. Yeah.
0 (4m 56s):
Sometimes we need, we need to hear the harsh reality. Like I totally get where he was coming from, you know, but I also get where you were coming from, like, wow, that's kind of a Dick move. Like, why would you treat me like that my first time meeting you? But I think that, you know, it does differentiate the, the regular explorers from the ones that are documenting this stuff. So super interesting that you went through like an interrogation process to get started. It's it's so fascinating to hear people's different stories about how they got in to this. So speaking of like camera gear, what, what is some of your favorite gear? Not just your camera, like maybe your backpack or some accessories. You have a light, maybe. What, what is some of the gear that you would recommend to explorers that are just starting out?
1 (5m 39s):
I mean, to explore is just starting out. The best thing I can say is don't spend a lot of money on really fancy things, because you're going to get your stuff lost, stolen, broken. You're going to leave them behind, start out basic and work from there. I actually use the camera that I used when I first started. I think the only upgrade I made was to a wide angle lens, just because some of these places are so tight and confined that you can't pull your camera back all the way to capture everything. But I use a Canon rebel. <inaudible>, it's one of the most basic starter cameras you can get.
1 (6m 20s):
And my lens is I think like a 10 millimeter wide angle lens. They're just very basic. It's me. It's mainly for me, it's mainly just about allowing yourself to grow in steps and not spend all of your money in all of your time, obsessing over the coolest gear in the world and stuff like that. I think when I started out, I just used my backpack. I have friends that still use they're just little over the shoulder camera bags that they got like with their camera. And that part is going to really just be on the person, you know, as they grow as an Explorer, they're going to find out what works best for them.
1 (7m 1s):
Is it something small that they can have on their side or do they want to have a backpack that they can put all their stuff in? As far as protection gear, I recommend rubber coated gloves. You never know when you're gonna have to climb something or grab onto some barbed wire, as crazy as that sounds or those kinds of things. I've tried different kinds of shoes. I've tried everything from like <inaudible> to boots, to just regular running shoes. And what I found best for me is regular running shoes that have a narrow tip on the toe is better because I can't seem to climb fences as well in the steel-toe boots, get your tetanus shot because you will step on a rusty nail or scrape yourself on a, on a barbed wire fence or get, you know, we went into an abandoned jail recently where I just, I just barely stood up and stabbed myself on the forehead with a razor wire.
1 (8m 8s):
And my friend looked at me like it was the end of the world. And I was like, oh no, I've got my tennis shot. We're fine.
0 (8m 17s):
Oh my God. I've been to the same jail that you're talking about. The one, I assume you just recently posted on Instagram and that, that exploration, I don't know if I'll ever go back to that place because it was so sketchy. It was so sketchy.
1 (8m 30s):
Yeah. There, some places are more sketchy than others. Some places we just returned last night to a spot that is just, I mean, it's such a, a basic go. And I don't like saying that because it sounds so blahzay and kind of rude. Every, every exploration is amazing, but it's just this old warehouse, nothing fancy to it. Just the walls are all beaten to crap and, and just a bunch of 14 year old penises, drone drawn all over the walls everywhere and stuff like that. And I've, we've been to a ton of times, it's kind of like the, just go to a place if we don't have much else to do. But randomly enough, there happened to be security.
1 (9m 12s):
Last night there, we drove up, talked to him. He said he didn't mind if we went in, but that if we got caught, it would be his job on the line. And so to, to, to lay low. So, I mean, you just never know that kind of brought an element of sketch to this spot that has never been there before. So sometimes it feels pretty chill. Sometimes I get a sketchy feeling, I would say, just go with your gut.
0 (9m 36s):
Yeah. I think that's the best thing, especially for, you know, urban exploration is sometimes whenever I'm in these places and I'm sure you've also experienced this, first of all, I don't know if you believe in ghosts or any of the supernatural stuff, but some of these places are quote unquote haunted and sometimes I'll get this like really eerie, like dark feeling and like immediately I'm like, we should probably leave right now. So do you believe in ghosts first of all? And if you do, do you have any ghost stories that you could share? I actually,
1 (10m 7s):
I'm an atheist. I don't believe in ghosts or a supernatural or afterlife at all, but I respect people that do, and I understand the feeling and stuff like that. I would say I've had tons and tons of really sketchy situations. Like my friend that I explore with the most, he's also atheist and doesn't believe in ghosts, but there's been times where some weird stuff happens where we just look at each other and I'm like, well, this is the moment that we turn. And we believe in God. But for the most part, I mean, I always think that whether you believe in ghosts or not listening to your instincts is the best way to go.
1 (10m 50s):
You know, it could be a ghost, it could be a feeling of a faulty floor. You get an uneasy feeling, just kind of like when you're swimming in the ocean, you know what I mean? The chances that a shark is actually hunting, you are a very, very low, but do you want to really take the risk? You know, if you get that weird feeling, get the fuck out. Absolutely.
0 (11m 10s):
So what about like your favorite history of a place that you've explored? Is there like one place in particular that had like a really strong history that you know about?
1 (11m 19s):
Yeah, actually, and I feel free that I can talk about this place because it's such an old school well-known historical place and that's Murphy's ranch. I, it was, it's probably a lot of explorers first places they go to because it's just so easy to look up and research and open excessively. It is still trespassing. Just, I don't want to put out there that this place is open to go to, but the trail along it is. And so it's very easy to get to. And the history of it is just so interesting and strange, I can dive into the quick version of it is basically just that a couple came from the east.
1 (12m 7s):
I met up with a German who claimed that he was Hitler's right hand, man. He believed that Hitler was going to win the war and take over the United States and that everything would fall into anarchy. So he built this ranch in the Santa Monica mountains that was basically going to how's Hitler and all of his troops. And substain them during the anarchy that would take over the United States while he was taking over the, the rain. And the interesting part about the story to me is that they never actually finished building the ranch.
1 (12m 48s):
They, they actually never even built a house to live in. I've speculated a lot on the story and thought a lot about it. I know that the Santa Monica police department were in, was investigating him and looking for him. And then he supposedly in the stories was arrested for espionage and treason, but I've really dove into the research and there's actually no arrest record or any record of him being detained. But the couple that actually bought the ranch that had millions of dollars stopped building and never even built themselves house to live on, live in, on the ranch and ended up living in one of the, one of the buildings that they had already built.
1 (13m 36s):
I think it was just a farm building. I can't remember, but anyways, and I have speculations that this gentleman actually convinced the couple that he needed to go in hiding and that it would be safest to take their money with him and that he left and left with all of their money. And so it's pretty interesting. You should look at all. I'd recommend anybody looked up the history of it. It's really interesting, really creepy. You can actually find the original blueprints and building plans for the actual house that they were going to build for Hitler. So it just very interesting and weird, especially so close to home.
0 (14m 17s):
Yeah. Especially like out here, just like in California, in the Santa Monica mountains, like it's just this weird, eerie place that, you know, carries this dark history. And so thank you for sharing that with everybody. Murphy's ranch is definitely one of the more popular places around here. We've got quite a few very well known places in Southern California. I'm not really necessarily going to name them on here, but yeah, we've got a lot of, you know, big, bigger places kind of like Murphy's ranch. We've got a few malls around, which, you know, that's kinda, my favorite thing is abandoned malls. I think that there's something fascinating about decaying shopping centers because you know, they were once so like thriving so much and when they're abandoned, there's something so just eerie about them inside.
0 (15m 2s):
And they're so vast and, and the sound travels and echoes throughout the entire building. So what, what has been your favorite exploration to date?
1 (15m 12s):
That's such an incredibly hard question. You have no idea how often people ask me that, because I think that it changes with every single experience they're also different and in different ways, you know, you you've got the, the, it was easy to walk in and that gives you like this really confident feeling where you're like, that was cool. That was chill. We were able to explore for a long time and just really relax and enjoy it. And then you've got this situations where is right outside the door. They know you're in there. They're kind of waiting for you. You're, you're trying to plan your escape.
1 (15m 53s):
And there's something incredibly eerily satisfying about running away from a building and just looking at security like you, you really fail dude. And just that, that feeling of knowing that we did this, we, we, we got away, we snuck around, they weren't able to catch us. We, we outdid them kind of a feeling. So they're all, they're all different. I would say that probably my favorite abandoned thing is airplanes. I obsess over finding airplanes and going to them and photographing them, exploring them.
1 (16m 38s):
There's just something so interesting about being in a place that you don't always get to be in, you know, like the cockpit of a commercial airplane or something like that, you know? So, yeah. So it, oh, I was just going to say, so it changes every time. I mean, I can go to something tomorrow and literally be like, this was my favorite. So you never know
0 (17m 4s):
If you could live in one place you've explored for a week. Which place would it be?
1 (17m 11s):
Oh, you have no, I mean, maybe you, you explain it to you, so maybe you do know, but you have no idea how many times we've gone into places and marked it and were like, all right, well, this is where I'm going to come. When I go out on money and we're going to squat here. Gosh, I would say that my favorite are probably the abandoned mansions, just because they're so, it's so strange to me, these places that go abandoned that are just so beautiful. And it seems so pointless, you know, I can understand like the hospitals and the, the malls and stuff like that, you know what I mean? But these beautiful properties that are up on hilltops and stuff like that, that just doesn't seem to make any sense other than the fact that somebody greedy is just asking for way too much money for them.
1 (18m 3s):
We've come across a couple of military camps that would be kind of cool to stay in for about a week. Yeah. Probably the mansion's not for any like aesthetic reason, but just for the fact that it seems like such a waste, you might as well enjoy it.
0 (18m 23s):
Yeah. Yeah. For sure. So some explorers prefer to explore alone. Some people think that you should always have a group or other person with you. What is your preference? Do you like exploring alone? Do you have to like exploring with other people?
1 (18m 36s):
I would say always explore with at least one other person. I do have some friends that will explore alone. If you decide to go alone, make sure you let your other exploring buddies that are not with, you know, where you are and what time you think you'll come back, just in case something does happen. Somebody knows where you are. I've definitely known people to lose their life exploring, which is probably one of the worst things to think about with what we do, but it can happen. There's faulty floors, there's animals, there's scrappers, tweakers. You never know. And you just don't want to be in a situation where nobody knows where you are or, or something like that.
1 (19m 23s):
I would, I would recommend always go in one or two people or go with one or two people. So
0 (19m 30s):
Yeah, absolutely. I did a whole episode on that on a, you know, I think everybody should at least take one person just because there's safety in numbers, like exactly what you just said, you know? So yeah. Thank you for sharing that insight. What are some goal explorations that you have? Like for me, like, I really want to go explore Chernobyl and Fukushima. Those are like, hi, hi on my list. But what about you? Do you have any like goal explorations?
1 (19m 55s):
Well, I'm kind of a small goal type of girl where I it's, it's always fun to like, imagine like, oh man, I'd love to go to Chernobyl. And of course that's always hi on everybody's list. Japan's a beautiful place as well. But I try to make sure that I don't let my imagination step too far out of realm or trying to go for those goals constantly will kind of hinder you from what you're doing in the now. And right now, I just would like to explore the rest of the United States, parts of Mexico, link up with people that I've met on Instagram and online, and it's an amazing community out there.
1 (20m 41s):
So, I mean, for, for me, exploring is amazing, but one of the most amazing parts about it I've experienced is the connections that you can make with people that you have never even met before. So I'd like to travel to the east coast and Midwest link up with some explorers out there and start right there. And then once that's done, then think about moving across seas. Yeah,
0 (21m 5s):
Definitely. So on that note, can you just talk a little bit more about the community, the urban exploration community? I think it's extremely strong unless you go on Facebook groups, they're kind of brutal and Facebook groups, but what, what can you say about the community that you've found on, on Instagram specifically? Because that's where most of us are, I think right now. Yeah. Just talk a little bit more about the community and what it's done for you as an Explorer.
1 (21m 33s):
Well, we'll start with that question. What it's done for me as an Explorer. I would say that that's probably where I grew the most was because I was already doing this for about two years before I even discovered that Instagram had a community. And I think it was Instagram that really helped me see what else was out there in the world to want to strive for that. As far as the community on Instagram, I, I personally have nothing but good things to say. I've made some of my best friends in the entire world exploring and meeting them on Instagram.
1 (22m 13s):
I don't know about other explorers that I personally get. Sometimes we can go to a really hard place where it was really difficult to get in, or, you know, the, the chances of falling or something like that were a lot greater. I pretty much spend the next day kind of licking my wounds and being overly emotional. Like the girl I am because I get this overwhelming feeling that I'm putting my lives in these people's hands and we would never let anybody get hurt or leave them behind or anything like that. And there becomes this great emotional attachment for me to the people that I explore with.
1 (22m 55s):
Just for that fact, you can go through a lot of friendships in your life, but you know, you don't always know if you can count on somebody, making sure you're not going to fall or making sure that you make it out. Okay. You know what I mean, until you are really in those experiences and that's what I've found. There's a lot of hate on Instagram or a bad feeling. Sometimes for example, I can name something that happened recently. I took a couple of young explorers to a spot that I had personally found that not a lot of people have been to. And the day after the girl video chatted me, telling me that she's getting all kinds of hate and aggression on Instagram.
1 (23m 41s):
And that really made me feel bad because these are just young girls that, I mean, they didn't any of what was happening to them, but basically they had a couple of guys bullying them to give them the spot. And one of the guys just kind of, you know, had mentioned that the urbex community on Instagram is lame and don't want to share things and stuff like that, but really what it is about is trust. And, you know, we don't, I don't have a problem sharing locations, but what I do have a problem with is when you tell somebody that you're unable to share a location, that they give you this backlash and this hatred or this like really negativity when it should really be about like, okay, I can respect that.
1 (24m 32s):
You know what I mean? And just move on and, you know, find it on your own or find something else. And just to understand that for whatever their reasons are, they're unable to share it on my personal experience with these girls were just that I told them anybody asks you for it, just tell them to talk to me and all decide, you know, what I want to do with it. And this guy just, I mean, it was really interesting. He basically started attacking all of her friend's on her Instagram and, and saying that into the urbex community is lame and stuff like that. And I thought he was pretty lame for doing that, but so it can be, it can be a little bit weird and if he gets some, some highs, some lows, but for the most part for me, I love the community.
1 (25m 16s):
It's brought me a lot closer to friendships and to what I do. So I'm grateful.
0 (25m 23s):
Yeah. And I think a lot of people that are not necessarily in the community that are trying to start that are asking for locations so aggressively like that, I think that, you know, a lot of times it comes back to education and they don't understand that we're also trying to protect our places. Like we're trying to protect these spots because we don't want them to get burned. We don't want, you know, the cops to shut it down because then we won't get to explore it anymore. You know? So if you're on Instagram and you're treating people like that, like you guys need to seriously like reevaluate what you're doing and realize that you're, you're damaging what we're building here. So, you know, just be more respectful, I think is the main, the main takeaway. And then my last question for you is what is something, you know, now that you wish you knew when you started exploring light painting
1 (26m 17s):
That, I mean, I said that so quick light painting. And if for those of you that don't know what that is, it's basically putting your shutter speed on all day long exposure and using your flashlight to paint the room with light and the room comes out completely illuminated. It's a, it's a really silly thing to say, but it was just the first thing that came to my head because it's, it's, it's interesting. I think that most explorers, if do it right, to be honest with you, if you, if you learn on your own and you take the steps of just, you know, from ruins to warehouses, to bridges, to actual bandos, you kind of learn along the way, all these things.
1 (26m 59s):
And I don't, I don't know that I would say that there's anything really, that I wish I knew then that I know now other than how to use my camera better, because it's all an experience and you just learn along the way. And if you're doing the correct baby steps, you should never have to look back and say, man, I wish I knew that. Then I think that that's more of a statement for people that get into it and they just want to dive right into the big stuff. They don't want to take the actual baby steps to get their, and to learn. They want to go to all the cool places. That's when you have those experiences where you're like, man, I wish I would've known about my footing, my stepping, my lighting, things like that.
1 (27m 47s):
That's when you, you regret those types of things. But for me, I mean, I hope it doesn't sound cocky, but it was just such a growth in such a natural organic path that I think I learned everything that I was supposed to learn when I was supposed to learn it.
0 (28m 3s):
I think that's amazing, honestly, like I think that is the, the perfect answer to that question. I mean, learning the natural way and going slowly and taking your time with this, instead of jumping into like the big stuff, like you said, I think that's a great way to go. And that's how I started out too. You know, I started off going to the smaller spots and then we tried to hit a bigger spot. And then we were like, okay, this isn't going to work. They have security. And so it's all a learning process. And I I've loved, you know, growing with this community online and meeting these people in person and, and becoming close. Like you said, like almost like a family. So if somebody wants to check out your content, where can they find you online? Where can they find your photos?
0 (28m 44s):
1 (28m 45s):
Post everything on Instagram. My handle is underscore ginger, G I N G E R and then two underscores and snaps as an APS. Perfect. That
0 (28m 56s):
Was great. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. You're the first guests that I've had on this podcast. So I'm very excited for people to hear this episode. No way.
1 (29m 5s):
I'm excited too. That's awesome. Well, if you ever, if you ever want to do this again or meet in person, explore some time, just let me know. I'm right down the street. Ooh. All right.
0 (29m 16s):