This weekend, Dani and I had a mini-marathon of explorations, although most were just re-runs. All the weather reports for the weekend originally looked like it was going to storm, but all I saw was a little rain on Saturday. I didn't think we would get any exploration accomplished this weekend, but on Sunday we went out to Dallas/Richardson just to check out a sci-fi convention they were having this weekend. I've been building a display shelf for the Star Wars figures I collected a few years ago (and still do off and on) and Dani loves "crafty" things, so we got the idea to set up the shelves like mini-dioramas, not just static display cases. It's nerdy, but I still like Star Wars. Anyway, we realized I could pick up a few figures loose (i.e., out of the package) for a dollar or two at the sci-fi conventions, and coincidentally, the one in Richardson happened to be this weekend. Good timing!
The mini-Drop-off (gallery)
So after the convention, I figured we would just scout the area for tunnels. We ended up by 635 and 75, so I suggested we check out the small tunnel near the "Paintball Palace" that we didn't explore last time. We had all the basics in the car: flashlights, boots, my camera, and the GPS, although we hadn't planned to actually go exploring, so I didn't bring my urbex box with extra batteries, etc. The tunnel turned out to be pretty cool after all. It went back for maybe a quarter of a mile, then opened up into this large (high, not wide) room where there was a pipe (culvert) about seven feet from the floor that emptied down. Basically, we were at the bottom of a drop-off. The water was just a trickle, but it would have been an effort to pull myself up regardless, and Dani didn't have the strength to do it even if I had managed. Still, I took a quick look down it by pulling myself up and saw that it continued for some distance beyond. It's something to consider for a later expedition.
Return to the Paintball Palace (gallery)
After we left the tunnel, since we were already in the area, I decided to show Dani the "Paintball Palace," so we walked over to it. The place looked pretty much the same. No new graffiti that I noticed, and it was still wide open. However, we only managed to explore part of the first floor. We made our way through to the atrium where the tree is growing up through the skylights, then a couple rooms after that, we ran into a guy who was in the place as well.
I just about had a heart attack when I saw him, but I tried to play it cool and hoped Dani would get where she could make a break for it, but he wasn't threatening. He was maybe in his early fifties, standing there having a smoke. He claimed he was just exploring the place as well. He said he had driven up in his truck and wanted to check the place out. Of course, we didn't see any truck on our way in or out, so we are pretty sure he was just living there. We didn't want to keep wandering around while he was there either out of respect for his privacy or our renewed sense of self-preservation, so we figured it would be best to move on.
After we left the main building, we headed out to the warehouse/auto shop beyond it and had a quick look inside. The only thing different there was that one of the back garage doors was partially opened, so there was a lot more light inside. We took a few pics, then left through there so we could go back the opposite side of the building as we had approached from. No truck in sight, however. Hmmmm...
From there we headed over to the canal that runs alongside 75 by the TI center at the corner of 75 and 635. I figured we might find someplace interesting where the city drained into the canal, but we didn't have any luck, even though it was a generally interesting place to explore. I actually went all along the perimeter of the TI center further upstream, but didn't see any real tunnels there either.
Return to the Drop-Off (no gallery posted; see the earlier expedition)
We were all up for heading back by this point since I was just about exhausted and Dani is still coughing with the remains of a cold, but I thought, hey, she's just got to see the Drop-Off from the top. It was almost dark, so we just headed over to Dallas on our way home and dropped on into the tunnel.
Now, it's actually kind of hard to do this, but you have to drop seven feet down a manhole into a curbside drain (there is no cover on it, nor any cover to be found in the area even!), then crawl from there through about 20 feet of an 18" diameter pipe to get to the tunnel. Naturally, it's worth it, because the tunnel is over ten feet high in the center, and the Drop-Off alone is worth the price of admission. Well, we checked it out and had a great time, but we didn't really want to do the whole tunnel again. Like I said, Dani was sick, and I had already seen what was upstream, so the point was just to stare into the abyss and get home. We came, we saw, and we just doubled back and climbed out.
Dani went through the small pipe first, then I followed while she waited inside the curbside drain. When I was almost out, she whispered to me that she heard someone cough. She said that she couldn't identify where it had come from (remember, we're too low even to see out to the street level), but she was sure it was a person, not just a random sound.
So I make it out into the curbside part and pull myself up to look across the street. We were parked in front of a fenced in parking lot of what looked like a factory or something. Just inside the sealed gates of the place was a security guard who was (thankfully) looking down the street and not in our direction. We weren't sure what to do, but it was obvious that he wasn't going anywhere. He seemed to be waiting for someone to arrive, which would explain why he seemed to be looking in the same direction the whole time. We thought about waiting him out, but I was afraid that he might have called a tow truck or the cops about this strange car parked in front of the place. This wasn't exactly the neighborhood where a new, decent make of car would be sitting late on a Sunday night. I thought, We need to just get out of here.
I crouched and Dani stood on my back and stealthily climbed out of the manhole, quickly sitting on the top of the curbside pavement. As she was finishing climbing out, I was already putting the flashlights through the curbside slit (good euphemism for a hooker, now that I think about it) and was beginning to pull myself up by the time she was clear. Remarkably, the guard never even noticed us until we were already crossing the street, even though we were roughly fifty feet from him. I handed Dani the flashlights and had my keys out and the doors unlocked before we reached the car, then we jumped in and I immediately took off at what I hope was a speed fast enough to keep him from getting my plate number and slow enough to seem nonchalant enough for him to forget about the whole thing. With any luck, he thinks we just walked down the street before he noticed us. It is very likely he never even saw that we emerged from the hole.
Still, that's a close call I would rather not repeat anytime soon!
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