Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turnpike Tunnels III

Saturday morning I woke up to a grey dull morning, heavy with black clouds and chilly. I was meeting the crew to cycle the turnpike tunnels again in PA and the forecast wasn't looking that good but nevertheless I got up and prepared for the trip putting on a jacket and throwing a fleece in the car also. As I got my bike rack out of the trunk the heavens opened, forcing me to rush back indoors, put on a jacket and hat, then go back out to load the bike. I might be soaked but I wasn't going to be late.
It was a good hour into my journey when I realized that the seat of my bike was going to be sodden but there was nothing I could do about it now. I arrived at Breezewood and met the others. We all huddled in the foyer out of the rain but under freezing cold AC vents. But fortune was looking down on us and the rain gradually stopped, letting us dash to our cars and drive the last half mile to our destination.
I had a towel in the trunk and managed to soak up most of the rain from my seat but it was a little damp starting off. Scott had not dressed for the weather at all so he gratefully accepted my fleece.
We set off up onto the overgrown roadway and cycled quickly to the first tunnel, a mile away.
One guy had brought two young kids with him, about 8 years old. He paid them no attention and they rushed back and forth picking up old rusty spray cans, pieces of metal, BB bullets and chewing tobacco tins. I watched aghast. Matt asked if they were allowed into the building as one of them was already clambering in, and he nonchalantly shrugged his approval. I climbed in too. These were rooms leading upstairs to the air filtering machinery. There were huge holes in the floor, and I called out, "Don't go in dark areas!', "Keep back from those holes!" and "Stay close!" as I tried to lead them upstairs in one piece. I was a mess. Their Dad later told me that he always let them do their thing and as long as he "got them back home alive" then that was alright.
I was pretty shocked but later that evening after I'd reflected on his words, I actually admired his parenthood skills. Although I couldn't condone taking small kids into any urbexing areas, in a society where children are wrapped up in cotton wool and shielded from every danger, he was a refreshing dad. My brother and I had grown up exploring like these kids and getting into all sorts of mischief, but learning as we went along and fending for ourselves. These two kids, I acknowledged, wouldn't grow up into weak saplings with allergies and no sense of curiosity. But I do have to admit to being relieved when he turned back after the first tunnel. Those kids would definitely arrive home in one piece this time!
Margie took this one of me and Scott is above doing a balancing act.
We got up into the area above the tunnels where the smog from the vehicles was sucked up and then extracted using the huge fans. This hole I looked down through once held a light that lit the tunnel.
As we emerged from the other end of the tunnel Matt above spotted that he had a puncture and then within 5 minutes poor Lewis had one also. There was a fair amount of glass especially around the tunnel mouths. We heard a monstrous rumbling coming from inside the tunnel and I found it a little frightening, it sounded like something from a science fiction movie as we saw a light deep in the gloom that advanced towards us with the rumbling getting louder and louder. Eventually a guy on an ATV loomed up in front of us and stopped. He was patrolling the trail, helping to keep the vandals at bay.
A sedate Margie cycled past while Richard and I had to be silly. I was snapped by Matt.
When we got to the mouth of the second tunnel we came across a couple who had the largest amount of camera gear I'd ever seen, and I looked around, amazed and very impressed that it appeared to all have been carried in here on their bikes.They were from, an urbexing site, which many of us were familiar with. We were surprised at seeing how young they were, but if their camera gear was anything to go by, they were obviously very capable and knowledgeable.
We checked out the ventilation building at the far end of this tunnel since the one where Opacity had set up was thoroughly boarded up. The shot above is up above the tunnel showing Margie's flashlight as she walked towards me. It was pitch black up there.
Margie's cat, Furbex, stopped for a nap as we turned to go back into the tunnel for some photographic fun.
 There were some other folks at the end of the tunnel and Matt had the bright idea of asking them to photograph us as we all cycled out of the tunnel. The guy was a real trooper as we all sped towards and past him and ended up getting a great shot with just one take. Poor Roxanne is barely in the photo at the back and to the left. There are ledges on each side of the tunnel and she had lifted her bike up on to that thinking we were shooting a static photo. If she had ridden forward 20 ft she would have plunged headfirst down a hole. Thankfully she didn't do that but we all giggled insanely as we imagined the out take.
 We pedaled back inside to the center where there was the least light and got out tripods and flashlights to play around with some light painting.
Joe had brought some aluminum steel wire which we rigged up into a ball and after lighting it he whirled it around in front of him and above his head. I had brought some colored lights which we also played with but I don't have any photos of those since I was the one waving them around.
The top photo with me is one that Joe took. One of our crew had fallen way back while we were cycling the 4 miles or so between the tunnels so gallant Margie had volunteered to ride back and see if she was OK while the rest of us waited in the tunnel mouth.
As I was milling about looking for something to photograph an image popped into my head and so I asked Scott to assume a shocked expression while looking at the drain. And then later in Photoshop , I added the clown from IT.
I was pretty tired as we ended our ride. Even though it hadn't been very far I think most of my energy had been used up laughing. We had a great group and not wanting to finish the day we all drove back into Breezewood where instead of our usual beers, we all opted for Margaritas. I'm still not sure why that happened but they were great and more laughs ensued. I was exhausted by the time we finally wrapped up the day and headed home. 

No comments: