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UER Forum > Archived US: South > Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2 (Viewed 249 times)
RobertB 


Location: Skeeterville, TX
Gender: Male


Maybe I shouldn't be using my real name...

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Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2
< on 11/2/2007 5:46 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
A continuation of this thread. When we left off, we were looking ahead to the next phase:

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At the curve, you can see the big square drain that attracted my attention in the first place. The cut with the railing is an access ramp, but there's a surprise right before -- *two* round walkable drains!

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I'd have made the trip for these drains alone. Big, wide, and dry. Have to duck just a little bit, but still quite walkable.

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Of course, there's the usual coating of paint courtesy of the local taggers.

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The city at one point seems to have come through and painted over the graffiti. This, of course, just gave the taggers a fresh canvas. This spot was strange, though -- someone wrote something that was so bad that someone else came through and covered it up *again*. From the looks of it, though, I think the city has given up.

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If only the taggers even had a clue how cool a drain really is. A short ways in, the two drains come together into a single large vault. Way tall, with a manhole cover above but too high to reach. Note the handy pile of hardened concrete in the corner -- makes a perfect sittin' spot.

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Up the dry side was a patch of mud with a reminder that this isn't really my domain. Mr. or Ms. Raccoon may tolerate my presence, but they left their prints to remind me who really owns this drain. That's about as far as I went up these drains, because I was on a tight schedule and I knew the next one looked interesting.

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Oh, yeah, that's a biggie. And there's two of them, too!

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This baby is huge! Tall enough to run through with plenty of room to spare, and width nearly twice the height.

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Skaters rule... yeah, whatever. What's more interesting is the date -- all the datestamps were from 1997-99. This would have been a massive project right through the middle of an existing residential neighborhood. And with the size of this drain, driving home would have been literally impossible at some points for residents on the street being dug up.

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The tunnel took some sharp bends pretty close to the beginning, parallelling the streets above. And there's a side tunnel that leads...

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... across the way...

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... to the other drain. Though the exit is square, it's actually a round drain. It's large and walkable up to here, but as you can see, it narrows significantly. Don't be fooled by the brickwork -- that's just filler for where the smaller drain comes in. If that was all the drainage the neighborhood had before, it's no wonder they had to replace it. And if you're going to tear up the street anyway, why not put in a real Texas-sized drain? Yee haw!

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Of course, the Officially Sanctioned and Approved Symbol of Anarchy. It says, "I'm an Individual, just like everyone else!" This pipe, the one that branches off to the right in the previous picture, looked promising. If it weren't for the main tunnel being big enough to drain the Great Lakes, I'd have probably headed on down it. I'm starting to understand why some drains don't get explored -- its because the ones they branch off of are too cool to ignore.


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A couple of pictures looking back out of the round side. The flash is useful -- it shows you the physical details of the pipe. Good for documentation. But I really like the one taken with only the natural light spilling in from outside. It does a better job of capturing the feeling of being in a hidden, secret place... a place that ten thousand cars pass every day, but not one of their occupants even gives a second thought. Except me, and maybe you.


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A typical curb drain -- I think this was one that drained into that right-side passage that I didn't explore. The closeup was with natural light, IIRC.

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This would normally be dismissed as typical graffiti, but it's way, way further along than any of the taggers got, and it's in the same paint as several "X"s along the drain which seemed to be survey marks. Many were on seams that had been re-concreted. I think the surveyor decided to play around a bit and leave a humorous (if off-color) message for his buddies when they came through with the trowel 'n spackle.

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This panorama (courtesy of Autostitch) shows where the drain narrows horizontally, but it stays just as tall. By this point, I've gone a long ways and there's still clearly a long ways yet to go! The drain on the left looked interesting, but it was short to start with, and was blocked with mud just upstream. Worse still, the mud was blocking several yards' worth of deep, stagnant water. Traipsing through flowing water is one thing; going through that wasn't something I'm hardened enough to do at this point in my draining career.

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Coming up on this corner, I thought I saw another medium-sized side tunnel. Instead, there was this former opening, now patched. Was this something left over from construction? My kids said I should take a sledgehammer next time and find out what -- or who -- is behind it.

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I had been hearing water falling for quite a while, but I figured it was just something coming in from a pipe on the side. I'd heard the sound before and expected a dramatic waterfall, but never found one... until now! Water was flowing in constantly from a manhole cover above. I'd have to guess that about half the flow at this point came from whatever was pouring in from the ceiling. This is another Autostitch picture -- somehow it is able to automatically assemble the pictures even with the shifting droplets.


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A great side effect of the obviously soaked area above were these ceiling straws. Just like in a natural cave, they appeared to be hollow, though I didn't touch them to find out. They were long enough that I had to duck to keep from hitting them, even though the pipe was still as tall as ever. The flash on my camera just isn't right for macro work at all, though -- I'll need better equipment if I ever hope to do these beautiful features justice.

Not far beyond this point was the only deep spot I encountered, but it only lasted for a few yards. Then, the pipe finally got shorter... but still extremely walkable. I was running out of time, though... I really wanted to see if it would open up to the outside again. But I told the kids not to worry until noon, and it was coming up 11:15... and I went in this tunnel at about 10:15. Would I have to leave before finding something cool to mark the end of my exploration? Maybe...

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... or maybe not! This was an interesting find... a baseball, a softball, and a wiffle ball, all right at the foot of a curb drain that went up at just the right angle to climb! Plenty big enough and dry enough. Could I make it out?

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Looking good so far...

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Made it! Well, kind of. I'm sure I could have escaped to freedom from here if I were being pursued by hungry wolves, but I figured I'd have a lot less bruises and a lot fewer questions if I just went back the way I came. I was able to peek enough to see that I was in the 4600 block of some street. Driving around later and then looking at Google Maps, my guess is that I traveled about 2500 feet -- a good half mile from where this drain met the creek.

Oh, I also did a Good Deed. Remember those three balls? I retrieved them from the floor of the drain, went back up the pipe, and pitched them up and onto the sidewalk. I can imagine a little kid who lost his toys down the drain, and thought they were gone forever... only to find them magically returned, as if by the Drain Fairy. And then one day, that same kid -- older and wiser -- sets off with a flashlight of his own to see exactly who *did* return his toys from the land of the lost.

J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte.
La voici: "Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules!"
Dieu m'a exaucé.
Explorer Zero 






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Re: Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2
<Reply # 1 on 11/2/2007 10:13 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
that some nice spelunkin mang

the stalactites seem a lot longer than they should be given that the drain aint all that old must be some extra calcium leaching out from somewhere

RobertB 


Location: Skeeterville, TX
Gender: Male


Maybe I shouldn't be using my real name...

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Re: Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2
<Reply # 2 on 11/2/2007 1:51 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by 2Xplorations
that some nice spelunkin mang

the stalactites seem a lot longer than they should be given that the drain aint all that old must be some extra calcium leaching out from somewhere


I was wondering about that. Every time I've gone to a natural cave, I've received a lecture about the fragility of cave features and how many thousands of years it takes for them to form. But then you see things like these straws, and massive amounts of flowstone in other drains. It makes me hopeful that nature will be just fine after all, once the roaches take over.

J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte.
La voici: "Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules!"
Dieu m'a exaucé.
Raticus 

Moderator


Location: Tyler
Gender: Male


Ratus exploricus abandonae

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Re: Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2
<Reply # 3 on 11/2/2007 2:34 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by RobertB


I was wondering about that. Every time I've gone to a natural cave, I've received a lecture about the fragility of cave features and how many thousands of years it takes for them to form. But then you see things like these straws, and massive amounts of flowstone in other drains. It makes me hopeful that nature will be just fine after all, once the roaches take over.


I was actually wondering the same thing. We did 2 or 3 caves over summer vacation and they talk about the millions of years it took for those things to form. Maybe it did. But then you see something like this and you're thinking it took what, maybe 10 years? lol

Maybe scientific speculations are not always so accurate. Science says it took millions of years to form the snotcicles in Carlsbad caverns. Hell, I know some UE guys that have proven it took about 56 years. hehe
[last edit 11/2/2007 2:35 PM by Raticus - edited 1 times]

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools speak because they have to say something.
UER Forum > Archived US: South > Surprising Suburban Drain, part 2 (Viewed 249 times)



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