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Monday, June 21st, 2010

To Pitch a Tent

So camping is getting more and more fun as I recall it.  Way more fun than when I was lying in the tent in the middle of the night listening to the drunk guy at the next campsite that was so close it sounded like he was in the tent with us.  Yep, way more fun than at that moment.  It was quieter the second night but by that point my outlook was fatally tainted.  Aside from that, our tent which was huge and spacious and more than accommodated the Aerobed (yes, I did bring it), was fine and there was plenty to do.  Much ice cream and many marshmallows were consumed.  Food was cooked over an open fire.  There was swimming, climbing and lots of playing.  I think Ben checked everything off the camping requirements list.  Although maybe not because he went over my head and promised to take Chase again in “a couple of weeks.”  A couple of weeks?  God help me.  I need a piece of chocolate just thinking about it.

On Saturday we visited the No. 9 Mine in Landsford.  The only other time I can recall feeling so completely terrified was minutes prior to being sedated for brain surgery.  My panic was intense.  As I watched the opening to the tunnel disappear around the bend locked inside an old coal car I nearly lost my mind.  Somebody said it’s only 1600ft and I totally lost it.  Maybe that’s an overstatement.  I didn’t black out or anything but I VERY seriously contemplated screaming for the driver to stop the train or somehow trying to escape.  If there hadn’t been so many kids around or if I thought there was any chance the driver would actually hear me screaming I might have tried it.

Once we were inside I managed to hold it together and it was interesting but I didn’t want to spend any more time down there than necessary and the tour guide, a recently laid off coal worker, insisted on a heavy dose of editorializing at. every. turn.  Did I mention we were captive underground?  I thought about yelling out tough crowd! at some point but I was conflicted by having lost my sense of humor entirely and not wanting to pass up the opportunity and the moment passed.

The most interesting part of the tour was the modern day coal chute.  I fully expect to see all kinds of craziness in historical depictions of coal mining but didn’t really have any concept of how crazy it is to this very day.  Crazy scary stuff.  I’ve never been so glad to get out of a place.  Note to self… caves are not for me.  No caves, no mountains.  I can hike a mountain but I will never, ever drive up Mt. Washington again.  I don’t know how old I was but I thought we would certainly plummet to our deaths below.

Overall, I’m glad we went but I’m no convert.  I’m not opposed to trying it again but I think either it has to be really close or waaaay out there.  None of this inbetween business.  What are the best campgrounds?  You can click to enlarge the mosaic and if you click thru to Flikr you can read the captions.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chasealexis/sets/72157624204073285/

1. DSC_0002, 2. DSC_0030, 3. DSC_0034, 4. DSC_0039, 5. DSC_0046, 6. DSC_0051, 7. DSC_0059, 8. DSC_0070, 9. DSC_0072, 10. DSC_0073, 11. DSC_0047, 12. DSC_0076, 13. DSC_0080, 14. DSC_0092, 15. DSC_0093, 16. DSC_0008, 17. DSC_0098, 18. DSC_0012, 19. DSC_0100, 20. DSC_0116, 21. DSC_0117, 22. DSC_0118, 23. DSC_0122, 24. DSC_0106, 25. DSC_0124, 26. DSC_0125, 27. DSC_0126, 28. DSC_0137

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