Chocolate, Salmon and Directions

Look ye mighty upon my building codes and despair.

06MAR2010 – We meant to be up much earlier.  Haven’t seen a blue sky in so long, I forgot they were still in production.  The Eternal Shotgun, I am also the holder of Chocolate, Salmon and Directions. Drove north, navigating with my iPhone.  Tromped about in the woods for three quarters of a dollar.  Hard pack snow turns half-thawed hill into amusement park slides.  Old stone church just over the next rise!  Alas, chain link denial.  Rethink required.

Drove an hour West, parked the Mouse and hiked along the railroad tracks, kicking rocks and talking trash.  Engrossed in the moment, nearly ignored the train whistle coming up behind.  Fun science fact: corn syrup is transported via rusted railcars.  I swore to never drink another can of Choke, but probably will.  Poked around old power station; a fortune in dying metal and potential album cover for aspiring rock bands.  Up the hill now, brushing aside the Douglas firs.  Clearing yields two- and three-story structures masked in modern cave murals; proclamations of might, love and genitalia size by kids and kings alike.  Broken glass everywhere.  More buildings beyond.  Administration.  Staff housing.  Chapel.  Workshops.  Pool.

Right now was a long time ago, and tomorrow never comes.

Built in the 20s as an equal-treatment facility for African-Americans with tuberculosis, Henryton was briefly converted to a minimum-security mental hospital before it was boarded shut in the mid-80s.  Easily two days worth of exploring here, but we’re woefully unprepared.  Flashlight failure, relied instead upon my camera to light the voids, taking core samples of the local darkness.  Half wondered if we’d see the blood-shot eyes and grimy face of a cornered squatter captured in the camera’s LCD each time I pressed ‘view’.  Should have packed the Big Gun, brought my point-and-shoot instead.  Better low-light capabilities, colored filters, speed flash.  Still: “The best camera in the world is the one you have with you.”

Vandals tore radiators from the walls, dragged them into the hallways and beat them to death.  Threw sinks through three story windows for good measure.  Kicked out entire sections of some of the upper floors, the ribs of the buildings now visible.  Wet skin and dry wall.  Graffiti: Alice in Wonderland, dancing Lysergic acid diethylamide pills, giant koi, koala bears, sheep.  For the record, pentagrams with horns are WAY evil.  You don’t even know.

Shown here: life

Less than an hour of daylight left, we better vamoose.  Back through the woods, along the tracks.  More trash talking.  Drove to a Cuban restaurant that lied about where it was located.  Me underdressed: camouflaged hiking trousers, muddied Keens, and an old sci-fi t-shirt among the polished loafers and pressed shirt crowd.  Not content with one faux pas, I decide to brush the glass candle to the stone floor.  Terrific noise, heads turn.  I’m mortified.  Reach for the broom, offer to clean up my own mess.  Wait staff urge me to sit down and shut up.  Good food.  I tip big.  We depart.

Drive to home of Special Lady, collect needful things.  Clothes, GPS.  Enroute to Department of Awesome, spy CRT television set left sitting on interstate median.  I wonder what was going through the owners mind: “This busy intersection looks like the perfect spot to abandon a large plastic cube of glass and noxious chemicals.  Since it will take millions of years for it to decompose, I can return often to visit it.”  I should get a job going door to door slapping litterbugs:

Doorbell: (say nothing, present 8 X 10 color glossy of offender shirking their responsibility) SMACK! “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?”

Welcome back, Spring.  I nearly went mad.

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