Urban exploration (UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, places usually abandoned or hidden from the general public. Like many urban explorers, the man behind UE-based blog Freaktography is always fascinated by one particular idea…
…What if it’s not abandoned?
That’s exactly what the following story is all about. “The Tourist,” a.k.a Leslie, is a popular Ontario-based urban explorer and photographer who posts beautiful photos of abandoned structures on Instagram. Freaktography became a fan of her work, saying, “My Instagram feed is always full of great photos from all of the talented explorers whom I follow and I was always pleasantly surprised with how The Tourist made something as simple as a photo of an empty chair in a barn seem interesting with a curious caption and perfectly lit with natural light through a window.”
In June of 2015, The Tourist began posting a new series of photos that changed the game of urban exploration — and Freaktography is helping turn her incredible story into a viral sensation.
On her birthday, The Tourist was heading home after a long day of exploration. On a whim, she decided to stop at a house that had caught her attention for some time. Little did she know that behind those doors was something — or someone — who would change her life forever.
Leslie, a.k.a “The Tourist” is an urban explorer who explores and photographs abandoned buildings in Ontario.
On her birthday in 2015, she made one last stop at a house that had always intrigued her.
She had no idea that stepping inside that house would change her life forever.
“This is Lawrence. He lives in a house I had believed to be abandoned. The driveway is overgrown, the roof is caving in and the interior would lead anyone to believe this land had been deserted. I found him in the living room. He has a hard time getting around so he spends most of his time in there. Alone.
He is missing his right eye and has cataracts infecting the left. Even after noticing a stranger essentially helping themselves to his life he was nothing but sweet and kind to me. He was even nice enough to let me take his picture which I will always treasure.
He is a beautiful soul and I plan on visiting him a lot. I’m posting this picture in hopes that it will inspire at least one person to reach out to someone they may have lost contact with or perhaps just forgot about. These old souls are still full of life and I feel blessed to have met this one.”
“The house that stole my heart – this is the exterior of my new friends home. Tonight we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful evening. He explained to me how his injuries started in 2000 when a bull fractured his hip. He told me of his brothers illness and how they have lost touch.
He said I was a blessing to him. I told him I couldn’t put into words what he means to me.”
“Tonight was the first of what will be many dinner dates with my new friend. Over the course of 3 hours we ate and drank and laughed. I was fortunate enough to hear about his life.. His struggles and his triumphs.
This truly was one of the best experiences of my life & I can’t wait to share another meal with such a gentle soul.”
“Dinner dates done right. Keep your promises.”
“An update on my friend – he is in good spirits and is very happy to have some room in his home. I’ve managed to remove his old fridge, stove, and chest freezer, along with numerous bags of garbage and other content. This was all made possible by a very generous company and a few awesome boys with big hearts and strong lower backs. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support and generosity during this period in my life – and in his. He is beyond grateful, not just to me. He knows you are all following his story ????
After a few recent visits to the doctors, it’s apparent that his health is declining, rapidly. These may be the last few months I have with my friend and I plan to make them as comfortable and enjoyable for him as possible. He’s informed me of his funeral arrangements and has asked me to be there. I told him I wouldn’t have it any other way.
He shared something with me that will stay with me forever. He said the day I showed up was the best day of his life. As self righteous as I feel writing that, I understand how he feels. The best day of my life was when I met him. He gave me the chance to really do something for someone – an act of kindness with no expectation of reward. It’s a rare opportunity and I’m glad I was able to accept the challenge.”
“A few weeks ago my friend asked if I would go to a church BBQ with him … Our first outing!!! I was so happy he had asked me and couldn’t wait to go. Tonight was our dinner date … The food was amazing .. Provided by the local farmers in the neighbourhood and way too much pie baked by all their lovely wives. It was great to see him out of the house and around the people he’s known his whole life.
Driving home tonight I couldn’t help but think to myself how lucky I am to have this opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful persons life. My friend is truly a blessing.”
“Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about this handsome fella so I figured I’d give everyone following his story an update. After a prolonged stay at two different hospitals after his last stroke, Lawrence is now living at a local retirement home and doing much better. He’s safe and warm and seems to be fairly happy to be around some new people, although I know he misses home.
I bring my dog Violet with me when I go for my visits, and she has now become a favorite around the home and she seems to enjoy herself thoroughly (indulging in yet another cookie as seen above). His birthday is coming up shortly (Valentines day) and we can’t wait to celebrate with him, properly…”
“Happy birthday To this young fella.”
This is such an incredible story; it must’ve been fate that led Leslie to Lawrence’s home.