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Greetings from the Bureau of Exploration. This is an aside from our series of reports on European expeditions over the last year, returning to the US briefly in the state of California. You might not at first imagine that there’s a ghost town in the developed, crowded Bay Area, but strangely enough there is. Sinking into a marsh in the bay wetlands is the town of Drawbridge, CA.


To get over the water to the town, one must walk atop a railway dike for a few kilometers. It’s technically trespassing and trains come occasionally, but we didn’t run into trouble. On a map it’s very close to the dense cityscapes of the Bay, but it feels a very long way from civilization.


The plants growing in the marsh feel like millions of little reddish-brown fingers gently grasping at our shoes.



The hazy golden atmosphere, the warm Californian sun, the gentle sound of the tidewater slowly moving in or out of the wetlands give this place a strangely sleepy air.





One of the weird things we stumble across in this place is this little shrine. A bust that kinda looks like Einstein, a doll  head with a railway spike through it, candles, an illuminati eye, and what I’m pretty sure is a bust of Aristotle that shows up in a lot of       VAPORWAVE videos? We ducked behind as an AMTRAK passed by.



Most of the buildings are half-consumed by the mud or filled in by murky pools. We stumble across a few by surprise which were more sunken than the others, hidden by the tall marsh grasses.



Eventually the marsh yields, coming out to horizon-spanning tide pools.



My fellow travelers and I stood at the banks of the Eibsee, surrounded by thick forest, far below the soaring peaks of the Wetterstein mountains in southern Germany. A few hours ago we’d been on a train traveling through rolling countryside- now, all of a sudden, we found ourselves deep in the Alps.



We spent a long time relaxing on the shore, taking in the spectacular atmosphere of water, forest, and alpine rock faces. At some point we dove into the water and embarked on an expedition to one of the nearby islands- absolutely freezing, but worth it! During the swim, we ran a timelapse of the clouds hitting the mountain.


High above the lake with its peak shrouded in clouds we could see the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. A train runs from the nearby town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen up the mountain, allowing us to venture to the summit.


Life amongst the clouds!

The view from the top of the Zugspitze is nothing short of otherworldly. Vertical rock faces suddenly drop off to reveal an endless expanse of mountains stretching out in every direction, and the heights are such that it almost feels like you can see the curvature of the Earth between clouds. People walk around casually atop windy platforms and jagged outcroppings, behind them the most surreal background imaginable.

It’s always seemed to me that the clouds are like the surface of an ocean, and that coming up above them is like emerging from deep underwater to encounter some strange new world. It’s so bizarre and awesome to see something which is always up in the sky above your head, all of a sudden below your feet!


Deep valleys and lush forests stretch out far below to the north, dotted with lakes and towns. To the south are the Alps, rock and snow and sky all the way to the horizon.





The Bureau of Exploration is an inextricable knot of interlocking and overlapping departments, sub-committees, and task forces that is so extraordinarily complex that it is unfathomable to even our most senior staff members. This confusion keeps increasing as the Bureau metastasizes constantly, with ever-more new departments being formed, expanded, or rediscovered in old paperwork.

It is in this spirit of exponential growth that I am pleased to announce the creation of the Bureau Overseas Exploration Division: European Branch, which shall lead all expeditions in Europe. Furthermore, in this report I am happy to introduce a sub-group within this new Division: the Alpine Exploration League! Its first journey: to Hallstatt, Austria!



Being in the region for two days, my fellow operatives and I were lucky enough to behold the surreally beautiful Hallstätter See and the surrounding mountains in two very different kinds of weather. When we arrived, the sun was beaming- a gorgeous day perfect for hiking and exploration!


We made our way through forests toward sharply-rising cliffsides. As we grew closer the cliff walls became vast and ominous, with caves hidden in the rock and waterfalls cascading down from above.



We awoke the next day to find the mountains wreathed in clouds, creating an entirely different atmosphere. I loved the sunny beauty of the first day, but I think I liked the eerie feel of the second even more.





Later in the day we finished off our survey of the region at the Gosausee, another lake surrounded by even steeper mountains. High above us the fog churned, spires of rock fading in and out of view.


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The final image was taken and edited by fellow operative Kimberly Luo- many thanks!


Greetings from the Bureau of Exploration. Over the last half-year, the Bureau has been exploring a new region: Europe! Our office was temporarily relocated to the city of Regensburg, Germany, from which we’ve been launching expeditions across Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Our reports in the near future will cover these recent exploits, presenting castles and caves, adventures in the Alps, and brutalist concrete ruins.Regensburg_1.png

Today’s report is about our base of operations: Regensburg. Located in southern Germany and close to many different countries, it’s perfect for accessing interesting surrounding places, yet is a fantastic place for exploring itself. It’s filled with countless nooks and crannies, dozens of churches (both the vast and magnificent kind, as well as the eerie and forgotten), remnants of Roman times, old monuments, and everywhere incredibly beautiful architecture.


The Danube goes through the middle of the city, connecting Regensburg to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Belgrade, and countless other cities, running from the Black Forest to the west to the Black Sea far to the east. Cargo boats run up and down the river, frequently bearing flags I can’t identify, headed to unknown ports.
Beyond the city are cliffsides and hiking trails.
Regensburg_3Rail lines snake out from the city to all across the continent.Regensburg_4


Like any place someone lives, one remembers some of the particularly cool atmospheres from there: exploring the city’s manifold side-streets and alleyways with a map and bicycle, talking and drinking on islands on the Danube for long hours, biking to the railway station early in the morning to catch a train. It’s hard to convey- I wish I could do it better justice than what I’ve written here. A fantastic place!

That is the place from which we’ve been operating. Next, onward to where we ventured out to!




“For weeks and months I’ve read about
The Independence Mine.
The wonders of its treasure vaults
The walls with gold that shine…” 

– Anonymous ¹

This is the first section of a field report on places of interest near the town of Victor, Colorado. Today we cover one of the largest abandoned structures the Bureau has ever encountered: the Independence Mine.



This building is so big that from a distance I thought it looked more like a church steeple than a mining tower. It still feels immense today, but imagine what it must’ve looked like through the eyes of someone seeing it when it was built in 1891 (when the tallest building in the United States had 20 floors!).

The Independence Mine has a history of producing extraordinary wealth but has also experienced many disturbing events. In 1904 an elevator failure caused fifteen miners to die falling down the 1500 ft. mine shaft, and a while later thirteen miners were killed in a bombing during the Colorado Labor Wars.


Beside the main structure is an ore-sorting machine.


I love the meticulous network of supports that makes up this structure. There are so many hundred-foot beams, tiny struts, wooden chutes and metal plates, intricate works of geometry that keep the colossus standing. It’s definitely one of the grandest pieces of mining history that the Bureau has encountered.


¹: Full poem (at bottom of page) and further information about Victor, CO here.



Rising over the suburbs of the modern world is a looming remnant of the Machine Age.


A few months back, there was a little slope and an entryway which led inside the smokestack itself. When I returned, I was surprised to find that the passage had vanished- a smooth floor of dirt covered where the entrance used to be. Unfortunately the only picture I got of the interior when I first visited is this, which doesn’t show much.

It was a very interesting space to be inside of. The base was ~15 ft. in diameter, entirely empty, illuminated purely by light from hundreds of feet above, and the walls made strange echoes.


Due to the surrounding construction, I expected that the smokestack would soon be torn down. However, interestingly enough there’s actually a plan to keep it and use it as a centerpiece in a planned community!


While it’s a shame that the inside isn’t accessible, I’m glad that the smokestack won’t be torn down. It was very cool to explore while in this state of flux between its industrial past and being integrated into the modern world.