Saturday, October 08, 2005

Extreme Tourism And Two Questions

One of my favorite blogs has a daily feature called "Who Said This?" Another of my favorites offers "Question of the Week." I am going to use the same idea at the end of this excerpt, which comes from the World News section of the October 1, 2005 Washington Post. The article is titled "For $110, One Chilling Day in a Hot Zone":
"Passing through the first checkpoint, marked by a couple of low-slung buildings and a red-and-white pole across an otherwise desolate road, is an anticlimactic affair: A police officer sidles up, scans an official letter of invitation and glances into the back of the van before waving it on into the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It's a lovely fall morning.

"The two visitors, a Post correspondent and an interpreter, ride past some of the zone's 74 abandoned villages, derelict little homesteads overgrown with weeds. Many of their owners now live in high-rise apartment buildings between here and the capital, Kiev, about 60 miles to the southeast.

"The driver maintains a modest speed. Too many animals -- the fat wild boar, in particular -- tend to toddle out of the birch and pine trees now, he says. The flight of humans after one of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's four reactors blew up in April 1986 was a boon for wildlife.

"There are wolves, elk, deer, fox and bison here. Bird watchers have spotted white-tailed eagles, fish hawks, owls, black storks and the rare green crane. Fish are bountiful, and there's even aquatic life in the former cooling ponds."
Sounds beautiful, doesn't it? A place to enjoy the beauty of nature. But according to the article, the real attraction is not the scenery but rather the chance to be near a deadly site:
"Little mounds covered with radioactive signs indicate where contaminated rubble was dumped into hastily dug trenches and covered with soil. Hunting and fishing are banned within a 19-mile radius extending in all directions from the ruined reactor and reaching into neighboring Belarus.

"The town of Chernobyl, several miles from the plant, once had 10,000 residents and now is home to some of the 9,000 people who work in the zone decommissioning the nuclear power plant and servicing the forests and dams. If not exactly bustling, there are at least signs of human life -- offices, a functioning store, a bar and laundry hanging outside windows....

"At the Chernobyl Information Center, the visitors pick up their guide, Yuri Tatarchuk, 32, who works 15 days on, 15 days off, shepherding reporters, scientists and, increasingly, tourists around the exclusion zone's sights....Officials in the zone expect close to 1,000 tourists this year. A one-day excursion from Kiev cost two visitors $220, including lunch (guaranteed not radioactive!).

"At the information center, they step onto something that looks like a person-size scale and press their hands against two steel pads. A green light flashes: So far, clean.

"Next stop is Reactor No. 4, now encased in an ugly concrete sarcophagus that was hastily thrown up after the accident and needs to be replaced before the end of the decade lest it collapse. There are plans to encase the casing in a metal tomb.

"The building literally abuts another reactor, No. 3, which was shut down in 2000. There are two other decommissioned reactors and two reactors that were never completed. Snaking through the vast complex is a wide cooling channel leading to an 8 1/2 - square-mile cooling lake.

"The destroyed reactor can be observed at a distance of about 300 yards through the bay windows of a building that serves as an information center. But for security reasons, no photos are allowed from this vantage point. There are 180 tons of nuclear fuel, now in a lava state, resting inside the sarcophagus."
Remember that radioactive zone of a 19-mile radius? Human beings are voluntarily paying money to get as close as 300 yards to the center of the radius? Stupid abounds!

Like most large tourist sites, this one offers food, too--in this case, a canteen, which offers a fixed menu every day:
"Today's fare is tomato salad, borscht, meat and mashed potatoes, washed down with heavily salted mineral water. Workers pay little attention to the American, Canadian and Japanese guests, who make tepid jokes about mutant vegetables."
The visitors are not only getting close to the site of a nuclear meltdown. They are putting possibly radiation-contaminated food into their bodies. Are the tourists carrying their own Geiger Counters with which to check the food on their plates? No mention.

The article mentions that local mushrooms are available. I'm not kidding! Never mind that the local mushrooms are heavily radiated. Seventy-six-year-old Evhenia Rubanova, who returned to live in her native area despite warnings not to do so, claims, somewhat mischievously, that the mushrooms are delicious: "'Just boil them and then fry them and they're fine.'"

The article further details the tour:
"Next up is the city of Pripyat, now completely abandoned and located beyond another checkpoint.... Built in the 1970s, a couple of miles from the plant, Pripyat was a young model city when it died. Lenin Avenue's pedestrian zone is now a tangle of overgrown greenery, and branches brush the side of the van as it passes down the street. Moss covers the sidewalks. The apartments themselves were stripped long ago; they stand empty, their windows bereft of glass.

"The avenue opens up onto a large square and around it stand the silent Palace of Culture, a sports complex, the Hotel Polissa, the Communist Party's local headquarters and a department store. Nearby is the amusement park with a ghostly Ferris wheel that was never used; it was supposed to start operating on May Day 1986... Hot spots with elevated radiation levels still dot the city and the wider zone. A trip to a huge vehicle graveyard where 2,000 radioactive cars, trucks and machines are parked is declined.... As the van passes the checkpoint to exit the zone, the visitors are required to step through another radiation-detection device. The green light flashes. Kiev beckons."
Perhaps I am a skeptic, but I'm not sure that I trust the integrity of a radiation-detection device at a money-making tourist site.

I admit to having visited some rather creepy places and, given the chance, I'd visit all of them again: Molokai, the island on which leprosy victims were confined for the rest of their lives; Alcatraz, where one can walk the same ground as various notorious criminals; various cemeteries, particularly in Hollywood; and Fall River, Massachusetts, which offers Lizzie Borden exhibits and poses unanswerable questions: "Did she do it?" and, more important to me, "Assuming she committed the crime of hacking up her stepmother and her father, why did she do it?" and "How could anyone, all by oneself, pull off such a bloody crime without leaving behind irrefutable evidence?" In Fall River, one can even spend the night at the Lizzie Borden Bread & Breakfast, housed in the building where the murders were committed. Of all the tourist sites I've visited, I'd return again to Fall River, in spite of already having visited there three times in twenty years. I haven't yet spent the night in that expensive Bed and Breakfast. Halloween would be the perfect time!

Questions: What tourist site is special to you? Why?


At 10/08/2005 11:27 AM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

AOW, I suggest you switch to haloscan comments. gets rid of this crap, and they are a good interface.

It's free.

On your topic... vacations to tourist spots??? Yeah right. Thats for folks with no kids, some time, and money.

I really dont fall into any of those catagories (all due to eachother).

At 10/08/2005 11:33 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Your choice wouldn't have to be weird. And some enjoy the same things as their kids. Sometimes funny things happen with kids in tow.

Most of my spots are pretty cheap.

Oh, well...

Does haloscan require typing in characters? Do I find that at Blogger?

Usually, I delete the spam pretty quickly, but I missed these. I'll zap them right now.

At 10/08/2005 11:53 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

"Are the tourists carrying their own Geiger Counters with which to check the food on their plates?"

Even worse, is the government constantly checking and letting the visitors know how much radiation is there? You never know in Russia.

I had to actually think about this question for a bit. I have been to some really old temples that I found kind of fascinating (like in Spain). But, I still find natural wonders most interesting like the volcanos in Hawaii. But, it is on a different level from Chenobal.

Last comment, I have been in the underground nuclear facility in Chico California. It is empty for the most part of course, but interesting none the less. You have to sneak in there and you better have a couple of flashlights with plenty of batteries. It is about five very large stories underground.

At 10/08/2005 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be a bore, but Disney-land/world's still my favorite. Lots of fun filled family entertainment that costs an arm and a leg but "charms" the company for "life".


At 10/08/2005 12:27 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

I don't think I'd go to a place that might require a Geiger Counter. We do go up to Villisca, Iowa to visit the Moore House every once in a while. In 1912 or 1914 eight people were murdered with an ax there. You can read about it by going to and clicking on the Mystery. Six of the victims were members of the family that raised my Mother after her Mother passed away. The case was never solved. My Sister has been their since our last trip. She tells me that you can now spend a night in the house foran extra fee. Villisca is a lazy little layed back farm town that has a good tourist season around Halloween because of the un-solved case.

AOW, good post as always, keep it up. Thank you for the mention (link).

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 10/08/2005 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hayrides and corn mazes are GREAT Holloween fun! So's pumpkin carvin' and if you're REALLY into it, pumpkin pie bakin' and eatin' afterwards. I can really do without Jason and ole Leatherface. A few bats circling the night lights is about as scarey as I'm willin' to go.

You all can keep your extreme vacations and other haunted houses for those romantic getaways after the kids have all left the nest. Me, I'm perfectly happy swimming in what used to be the American Mainstream.

"Mickey. Minnie. Goofey. Donald. Where did you go?"


At 10/08/2005 1:12 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

You've mentioned Villisca before, and thanks for mentioning it again. I've got the site bookmarked in my "Tourist Sites" section.

Your family connection with Villisca makes it even more interesting for you. A few times, I've tried to track down the location of the house in which my grandfather died (Murdered? Suicide?), but the locals in the Tellico Plains area of Tennessee will not give me the information about the house. Maybe I'm entitled to some kind of inheritance, or maybe the site is lost under the TVA Project now. I can't get anyone there even to tell me where my grandfather's grave is! An unsolved mystery in my family, with a terrible history of feuding. Tennessee hillbillies are a strange lot, and one has to be careful up in those hills.

At 10/08/2005 1:15 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I like the old South. Partly because I grew up in Alabama, but mostly because of the historical conciousness that is pretty much interwoven into society down there. You can always find historical markers "So-and-so was born here" and "such-and-such battle took place here."

I guess that's what happens when traditionally historically-conscious peoples (Orange Irish mostly) settle into an area and make it their own. But the mass of native American place names carry a history of their own, and it's not hard to find someone who can tell you the story behind them.

One of my favorite places to visit is Nocalula Falls, near Gadsden, Alabama. It isn't much to look at, if you compare it to Niagra Falls, but the place is named for a tribal princess named Nocalula who leapt to her death after her lover, a man from a rival tribe, was forced to leap in as part of satisfying a war grievance.

It's like a Disney movie that happened in real life. A lover's leap.

The place is both spiritual and natural. And it is amazing country in autumn.

Home... sniffle.

At 10/08/2005 1:23 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm not sure the extreme sites are romantic. Some certainly aren't suitable for most kids, but some are. Also, kids today are more influenced by what Madison Avenue tells them they should like.

Even as a kid, my father and mother would take me to some unusual places, often with interesting local or familial history. Theme parks were rare when I was growing up. We did have the carnivals come through, though; I always checked out the haunted houses and the freak shows.

I've always been drawn to the unsolved, the unsolvable, and the macabre. I attribute that last to the fact that I'm the youngest of my generation and have spent a lifetime burying my ancestors.

BTW, I love Disneyland, which I find more appealing than Disney World--no doubt because of my upbringing as I regularly watched The Mickey Mouse Club. The teacup ride is the first attraction I head for. I don't much about the modern Disney stuff. For my taste, Epcot Center is not connected enough to Disney's cartoon characters. Kids today seem to like Disney World better than Disneyland. My CA inlaws visit Disney World and prefer it to Disneyland.

I like the old-fashioned Halloweens too. When I was a kid, most of our treats were homemade: donuts, popcorn balls, etc. We lived in a pretty isolated section for walking around and, therefore, visited few places. But the goodies were the best! No razor blades to worry about.

At 10/08/2005 1:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
Yes, the Old South is filled with small treasures, such as the one you mentioned. Sometimes the simplest sites are the best.

Legends and unsolved mysteries are a big part Southern tradition, I think. An ancestral connection makes them even more meaningful. I wish that I could get to the bottom of my family's mystery, but so far, no luck. I keep getting stonewalled by the locals, and I sense a danger to myself as well.

Because I'm a teacher, I've hardly even been able to travel much in the autumn. And when I was a student, my parents would never let me off the hook to go traveling during the school term. Living so close to the Blue Ridge and to Skyline Drive, I took those sights for granted when I was growing up.

When I retire, I'll be vacationing during peak foliage season--or so I've promised myself.

At 10/08/2005 1:45 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

We didn't do much pumpkin-carving when I was growing up because too few trick-or-treaters showed up. But we did grow our own small pumpkins, and we made pumpkin pie from scratch. My mother always discarded the gourd and the seeds. The "possums" loved those seeds! BTW, creepy animals--what teeth! And they don't always roll over and play dead, either. Some were rather aggressive about not letting a human interfere with their feasting, especially if what they've found is a delicacy to them. Pumpkin leavings apparently qualified as a delicacy.

After I got married and moved to true suburbia, my husband carved a pumpkin every year. When I learned how to roast the seeds, I discovered a new treat.

At 10/08/2005 1:50 PM, Blogger Esther said...

I'm a big history fan. I like to go places and see if I can feel the history there. For that reason, places that have greatly impacted me include, but aren't limited to:

The Western Wall in Jerusalem
The Coliseum in Rome
The Grand Canal in Venice
Trinity Church (so sue me) in Dublin
Almost any cemetary... reading the tombstones
The Moors as well as all of Bath in England...

and while I never went as a tourist since I grew up there...

Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.

At 10/08/2005 2:06 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Confession time here...I've never outside the United States except for a quick trip to Tijuana (Ick!) and a longer trip to Ontario.

Now, if I had the money, I'd go overseas in a minute because I'm a history fan too. Just the other night, my husband asked, "If the world situation didn't matter, where would you most like to go?" My immediate answer was Egypt--as was my husband's. Those pyramids!

The Western Wall is another place I'd like to see--up close and personal. As a Christian, I'd like to walk where Jesus walked, but that is not as big a priority as some other places because I walk spiritually with Him now.

As you said, I like to go places and see if I can feel the history there.

Like you, I am attracted to cemeteries? Why is that so appealing to some people? I never get enough of cemeteries! Call me macabre.

The very first time I visited CA, I hit the cemeteries, a sort of star-search. This trip was well before the cemetery-tours business appeared, and I had to ferret out everything on my own. The same was true for Fall River the first time I visited--I had to do the sleuthing. Now both Hollywood and Fall River have made a business out of what attracted me. Sigh...

I visit local cemeteries here. We have some very old ones, with interesting and unique markers.

Living so closely to D.C., I visit the Smithsonian with some frequency. I especially like special exhibits at the National Gallery of Art. I made a point to see both King Tut and The Quest for Immortality.

At 10/08/2005 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Growing up with my family, it was always a choice for us kids between Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. I didn't get to the "farm" with my older sister until I was in my twenties doing an ACDUTRA @ LBNSY. Need any "E" Tickets?

I suspect that people's fascination for the macabre is very natural. But once you've crawled into the abyss of primitive instincts within yourself and understand their nature and origins, the fascination I have found, wears off. The talkin' cure can work.

I feel that one only becomes obsessed with certain of these taboo's, as well as certain "other" things, if one fails to understand their genesis or root causes.

Cause. The search for which seems to be man's purpose in life. It's certainly an active purpose for at least half a man's brain, anyways. Every one of Freud's psychoanalysts had to undergo analysis themselves.

My kids love roasting and salting pumpkin seeds. Me, I simply dry a few off and save em for planting in next Spring. I must say, I've never had an encounter with an aggressive possum. Nocturnal animals. I'll have to keep one eye open for 'em. Don't want to get bit this Holloween while sittin' in the ole pumpkin patch w/Linus & Sally awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumkpin.

I hear he's coming this year. But I always have my doubts.


and mr. beamish

An historical consciousness is a great thing up to a "point". That point being when Nocalula's legend is begun to become subjected to skeptical enquiries. The enquiry itself, regardless of the answers or non-answers it finds, tends to spoil the view.

At 10/08/2005 3:17 PM, Blogger samwich said...

My Favorite Tourist Place???

I guess my favorite tourist place is Green River, Utah from Flaming Gorge to the Utah Colorado state line or Lodore Canyon on the Colorado side.

I own mountain property in Duchesne,(dooshane) two hours east of Salt Lake City, Utah. That is my fortress of solitude. I have deer, elk, antelope, rabbits, coyotes, cougar, bobcat, raptors, an occasional moose or a bear and if I'm lucky a mountain sheep to watch. I don't hunt, but fish fear me! Brown Trout are my favorite.

11 years US Army, traipsing South East Asia, Europe and America.

Green River from Flaming Gorge to the confluence of the Colorado River is, in my opinion the most beautiful place on earth.

I'm sorry world, but I've seen most of you and I love America best!

At 10/08/2005 3:18 PM, Blogger LASunsett said...

I have a couple.

The Redwood Forest In Northern California. When you are in the middle of it on a summer's day, it's cool, quiet, and peaceful. A few rays of light come in but it's pretty much full of shade and serenity abounds. If you look real close, in some areas you will see a hobbit. I have some pics I will scan and post to my site, soon. (Not of the hobbits though, they do not photograph well, lol)

The other place is Europe.

When I am in the forests and other lands of our country, I can visualize the Indians living their lives, riding their horses, hunting, etc., hundreds of years ago.

But in Europe, one can almost see a knight weaving through on his horse headed for the castle that most certainly near there. In every town in Old Europe I like to go to the old part of town and see the village where people lived and imagine a bustling little community with merchants, artisans, etc. Every town has a story to tell and you can never run out of stories.

Coastlines and casinos receive honorable mentions.

At 10/08/2005 5:39 PM, Blogger American Crusader said... about poisoned mushrooms. One has to wonder why Love Canal hasn't become a tourist mecca.

At 10/08/2005 10:06 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I'm not even sure a skeptical inquiry would change the name or history of Nocalula Falls. That's what the falls were called when the white man asked about them, and that's the story about how they came to be named that.

Lots of Southern places retain their original native American names, or at least and English or French phonetic spelling of them.

There's a little town in southern Alabama called "Screamer." It was a white settlement across a river from a Creek Indian village, and that name describes the noise the Creeks would make at night during their fireside dances.

When I was a kid in 'bama we used to joke that Chocolate Soldier, a chocolate drink similar to Yoo-Hoo but of exceedingly superior quality, was made from the waters of the Black Warrior River. That one won't hold up to skeptical inquiry though, hehe.

At 10/08/2005 10:23 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Vacations to cost much moer in the near future:

Look for the DOW to break below 10,000 and retest 9750

Look for the S&P to retest 1130 and then 1080-1065

Look for the NAZ to retest 2000 and lower to 1890.

Hope I'm Wrong

At 10/08/2005 10:36 PM, Anonymous GM Roper said...

Pay good money to get close to "...180 tons of nuclear fuel, now in a lava state, resting inside the sarcophagus."

Hmmm, looks like reporters in New Orleans aren't the only ones stuck on stupid!

At 10/09/2005 1:03 AM, Blogger Esther said...

AOW... I didn't travel outside of the country until pretty much my 30s. And I still haven't gone to that many countries...not nearly as many as I hope to over my lifetime. I love to travel. If only my bank account matched my dreams. ;)

At 10/09/2005 1:09 AM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

The Chernobyl accident and nuclear engineering has always fascinated me; I hold an interest. I am also keen on the Detroit accident at the Enrico Fermi plant owned and operated by Detroit Edison.

You ask what tourist site is special to me? the Fermi nuclear plant in Monroe, Michigan. Back in 1975 before Fermi II opened, I did a paper on the accident there, and got to interview a former plant worker at Fermi 1, site of the now defunct fast breeder reactor that suffered a partial meltdown of its core thanks to a loose zirconium triangluar-shaped piece that blocked part of the primary cooling loop. I got to go inside the cooling towers and the Fermi II reactor facility as it was being built.

My "recommended reading" library at home includes the following books:

1. Chernobyl by Frederick Pohl

2. Zones of Exclusion - Pripyat and Chernobyl by Polidori

Yeah, this post definitely piqued an interest of mine, thanks.

At 10/09/2005 1:12 AM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

PS - and at an undisclosed date and time, some friends and I are going to enter the old DeJarnette mental facility in Staunton Virginia to check out some reported "ghost activity." DeJarnette even looks creepy. It's one of many haunted sites near where I live.

At 10/09/2005 10:11 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...

The Communist record on the environment is one that is kept quiet. Communist governments degraded the environment in Russia and China at an alarming rate.

I am sure the Duck will come in and say his usual idiocy. It is odd that many former Commies call themselves Greens.

At 10/09/2005 10:12 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...


Is there room for a Duck in this wildlife refuge created by Communist bufoonery

At 10/09/2005 12:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

It's a shame that bank accounts have to limit our activities.

BTW, one of my favorite vacation spots is Maui. Such beaches!

At 10/09/2005 12:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for the tips. For what it's worth (I know sweet little about the markets), I think you're correct.

At 10/09/2005 12:38 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I feel the same way. I definitely wouldn't pay money to take the risk of radiation poisoning. Considering Russia's history of "protection" from certain dangers (as The Beak points out), I would avoid Chernobyl. Commenter Bassizzzt feels differently. And that's okay by me: "Different strokes for different folks."

Reporters all over the place are stuck on stupid! I've been accused of the same. LOL.

Risk-taking...a psychological malady? I think you know the answer to that one. Of course, we all take risks, but some risks are not acceptable to certain ones of us. I drive in the D.C. area on a daily basis, but I know some who refuse to or have stopped doing so--too risky.

At 10/09/2005 12:53 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I wouldn't join you in tours of nuke facilities. However, I'd go ghost-hunting.

My grandfather died at Western State Mental. He suffered from violent dementia (Alzheimer's?), back in the 1940's. If you "find" him, let me know!

From what I can gather, my grandfather had long been bipolar. The manifestation of his final decline was his chasing people around with an axe--no choice but to lock him up. For a long time, his church contributed toward his care as he was a minister (and a blacksmith by trade), but once WWII came along, the congregation just didn't have the funds as funds were diverted to service organizations to help the wounded from the war.

I never met Grandpa because he died well before I was born. He lasted only one year once he was in Western. Basically, he became catatonic and refused food. He wouldn't speak to anyone, but we don't know if that was because he was furious or just didn't recognize his own family; he was having trouble in that last regard before the axe business.

Very sad, isn't it? If anyone is roaming around Western, Grandpa might be.

At 10/09/2005 1:15 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yes, the Communist record on the environment is atrocious. And now Russia is trying to make money out of that record.

I had two Chernobyl orphans in one of my classes years ago; their parents had died as a result of the accident at the plant. These two boys were so stunted and cadaverous in appearance. Having had no milk to speak of, their bones were brittle, so they had to avoid any contact sports. Both had some form of cancer and were not expected to survive to maturity. Despite the passage of many years, I can still see their faces.

You're right that many treehuggers are former Communists. I personally knew several Communist treehuggers in college. They were right out front about their adherence to both causes. Later, many dropped the profession of Communism and just became Greenies. Most are very rich now--supreme capitalists. They won't admit it, though.

Of course, not all who care about the environment are Communists. Several Christian groups promote proper stewardship as it pertains to the environment. Those groups are ridiculed by the mainstream Greenies and virtually ignored by the msm.

You said: Is there room for a Duck in this wildlife refuge created by Communist bufoonery
Always room for ducks in a wildlife refuge, especially a Communist one. Once the ducks are in there, the managers won't let us in with our shotguns. LOL!

At 10/09/2005 1:41 PM, Anonymous Cao said...

Their bringing people in to see this place and contaminate more people is simply uncivilized, not to mention irresponsible. Is Russia still so broke as to continue treating people as though they don't matter--even foreigners--for a buck? Despicable.

At 10/09/2005 4:30 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Google: Lodore Canyon.
Warning you will decontaminate from uncivilization during this four day trip. Then you have to go home.
S..for white water wacko

Google: Jack's Plastic Welding.
I own two "Cutthroats"
S...for Screwwwwwy

At 10/09/2005 4:54 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Very interesting that your grandfather passed on at Western State. I happen to live 10-15 mins from that location.

Not sure when we're going, but it will be a weekend. Once we get the "excursion" organized you are more than welcome to attend. I'd give you ample notice.

Word has it that records are strewn all throughout the building and it's a very eerie place indeed.

At 10/09/2005 5:01 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I wonder if my grandfather's records are strewn around. I'd love to have a look.

I'd appreciate an email notification about the excursion. Maybe I can fit it into my schedule.

At 10/09/2005 5:09 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Oh, my! What beautiful pictures! I've never been whitewater rafting, but we have that activity on the Shenandoah River here, in Virginia. Our rapids look much tamer than those out west.

And I've never been to Utah, either, except for brief layovers at Salt Lake City's airport.

Is the Green River of Lodore Canyon the same river mentioned in that way-back-when rock song of the same title by CCR?

At 10/09/2005 9:19 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Hi AOW, the most difficult decisions of summer 2004 was which river gets to try to drown me today. I don't know about CCW but I do like their music. I do the Skykomish River here in Washington, it is a helmet required river because of the class v rapids and Boulder Drop.

When I commune with nature, I know God.

At 10/09/2005 9:20 PM, Blogger samwich said...

PS google Jack's Plastic Welding, I have the Cutthroat model.
Twice as fun and half as scary as it looks!

At 10/10/2005 8:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I forgot to mention that I did check out Jack's Plastic Welding. Those look fearsome to me!

At 10/11/2005 8:01 PM, Blogger Toni said...

Gads but I lead a boring reclusive life. I can't think of any place weird that I've either visited or care to visit. I'm so depraved.

At 10/11/2005 8:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Some readers here chose "normal" places. I guess that I'm drawn to the unusual.

Thanks for stopping by.

At 10/12/2005 7:57 AM, Anonymous gravelrash said...

In the mid 80's I got a contract to work on the restoration of a 700 year old flour mill in Germany, a little town called Mosbach. The mill was five stories tall and still had a fully functioning 3 storey high water wheel. My quarters were directly above the wheel, on the 5th floor. That is the most wonderful sound in the world, to go to sleep with!! Magic. The building was majestic too, a real testament to craft and enterprise. Centuries old Oak , generations of skill. The Nekar River flows past, and is diverted to drive the Mill. About 300 metres from the Mill, the channel rejoins the main stream, and there, on the last point of land, is a huge deaths head skull, radio-active material warning sign. The river is dead as a dodo! Bummer!
But the Mill is gorgeous. The milling floors were almost mirror-like, from the centuries of sacks of flour being dragged across them. The beauty of the building, and the joy of being able to work on its restoration was ALMOST, but not quite, enough to offset the fact that I froze to death for the 3 months I worked there. Being a Northern Aussie, it was a shock. Now I know why people migrate to Australia!!!
Working there led to making other work contacts. When we finished there, several of us hired on to the maintenance crew of the old Abbey on the Scottish Island of Iona.
The Abbey, as exists now, is an amalgam of work and expansions, but the original section was built in 363 (I think thats right, it WAS a long time ago!!)
THe Abbey was built by Columba, an Irish monk who is credited with bringing christianity to mainland England. Viking raiders massacred there regularly! Nearly 20 old Norse and Scottish kings and Viking leaders are buried in the cemetery, as is the REAL MacBeth. I drank several drams to his memory!!!
It was a fabulous experience... a very small island, only 3 kms long and about .5 km wide. Windswept and rocky, with the Irish Sea pounding up the channel that separates it from the 'mainland' (not really the mainland at all, another Island, Mull). I was there for about 5 weeks, and would have stayed longer if not for money running low.
I was down by a bay one day, well known for seal cub watching. I lay on a cliff overlooking the bay, in the heather, as a storm marched up the sea from Ireland, throwing light rays and lightning across the sky, and was absolutely entranced as a mother eagle taught her young how to fly, right above and in front of me. It went on for hours,no more than 20 feet from me and I didn't think about leaving until well after the birds had.
The only way on to Iona is by flat bottomed ferry. There is a concrete slab rather than a jetty, and the ferry rams the slab; if the weather and sea are favorable, the ferry grounds itself and you can disembark. If not, (as is usualy the case!!) then the island is isolated for many days at a time. It's what you hope for and was often the case while I was is great entertainment, watching the futile charges of the boats. It gives the urgency of time a new perspective. It also allowed me to meet Mrs Mc, who ran the Post Office/Ferry terminal/General Store/Pub. We got on very well, as I was extremely complimentary about her home brew!! Her daughters were travelling to Australia...I gave some addresses and names, some advice, etc, blah, blah, blah.... we became friends. One night, things were so warmly friendly, I didn't go home. Being Celtic myself, we had a great night of witty, cynical, raucous and very musical drinking and laughter.... which ended up with me asking Mrs Mac why she was being so good to me. She replied that, being Australian,I was just like them. I thought she was alluding to my celtic roots, but she actually said it was because we hated the English as much as they did!!!
Opposite Iona is Fionaphort (something like that), a village of about 300 hardy souls.
I had gone to the 'mainland', Mull, for a few days rambling around (well worth it too.. Tobermoray is a gas!)...hitched around and walked a lot. Ended back at Fionaphort...and got stranded for 3 days because of the aformentioned ferries and the pounding sea! (It was December!)
Nothing for it.... have to stay in the pub!!!
That pub is priceless, worth getting stranded for! It's not so 'olde worlde', a tad modern in fact, but there was..... the clientele, which seemed to come direct from Central Casting. The bulk of the crowd were Lobstermen, who like me, were not able to put to sea.... which pleased them greatly, as it did the landlord. A great time was had by all, and by the third day... well, I'm going back one day!
It took a bit of time.... they don't speak an English that is easy to understand!!!.... but after a while I had some mates to watch the ocean with, from the very impressive windows that looked over the sound. Sadly, I have lost the name in the mist, but I got on well with one particular bloke. At the time, Scotland was in an uproar, as the Poms were introducing something called "the Poll Tax" (google-away!). This tax gave the Scots a good reason to vent on all things English. There was a lot of this happening, with gusto!; more and more as the seas worsened and the thirsts were quenched. There were periods of sleep, in beds and out, and food in large amounts, but as I had been elected to uphold Australias reputation as 'good drinkers'.... well, I was glad I didn't have to get on a boat!!!
My dearest friend in all the world, old whatsisname, had my attention by the window on the second day. He was explaining the intricacies of lobsterfishing to someone, who might even have been me, but soon talk turned to the Poll Tax yet again. But my bossom buddy surprised me. He said "we need to be grateful to the English".
I had another beer to digest this information from left field, and then replied "Whaaaaaaaasatya say?"
He told me to look out over the Island. "Do you see that grand hooose up there?" yes "English"
and on and on, picking out one whitewashed "big house" after another, all "English... and we owe them".
My mind spinning, I thought he must be an economic rationalist, so I blurted out "OH, you mean the economy, they've saved the economy?"
~Noooo laddie, more than that. They have revived all our ancient traditions, our culture, our very ways of life!~ In the face of that, I was impressed, and suddenly ready to embrace any English who turned up for a drink, ready to thank them for returning craftwork, spinning, fancy work and assorted servitude to the grateful islanders. None did arrive, which was as well, because my best friend in the world proceeded to tell me just how beneficial the English had been.
"Yes, if it wasn't for the English, all the old ways would be gone, all the old skills disappeared." Pray tell, bossom pal, what craft, what skill?
"Oh smugglin', poachin', evadin the taxman"
I had to buy the entire bar of belly-laughing, piss-taking sailors a round!

At 10/13/2005 5:17 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for adding this interesting anecdote.


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