Expedition 2 - Into the Hole!
Sub-Commander Big E's discovery had a very hard and fast effect on our little group of adventurers. Word of an open, unobstructed, un-signed Titan 1 base switched a lot of people from well-wishers to participants. The fear of being caught on trespassing charges at the other bases we had located was keeping a lot of folks who really wanted to participate at home.
As it turned out the group for Expedition 2 consisted of 11 people. We started the evening at a local Village Inn drinking nasty coffee while waiting for the last two people (including Sub-Commander Big E who at the time was the only person who had been to the site).
We conducted a pre-mission safety and familiarization briefing over cheese sticks and chicken fingers. I was surprised at how well equipped and mentally prepared so many people were for going down a hole.
I had brought a lot of extra equipment including gloves and goggles but most people had their own and were itching to stick their heads down a hole to have a peek at a cold-war era monolith of military might.
We figured 5 cars caravanning down desolate county roads in the middle of the night would draw attention from the local Sheriff so we decided to pile most of the participants into Agent Quad's minivan and one of the jeep cherokees we had. The other cars were left at a nearby gas station.
We arrived on site about 1:15am - the wide open nature of the site meant we could have gone much earlier but we were waiting on some folks to get off work so we got a VERY late start.
Click on pictures for a full sized image.
With a quick gear up and a check to make sure everyone had goggles, gloves and masks we headed off across the plains from the vehicles.
The Power Dome was HUGE - 130' across and about 60' high by our estimates. Lots of interesting metal and machinery bits about. Also, lots of very dangerous holes in the catwalk floors we entered on. The metal grate flooring seemed fairly stable but there were holes cut in it and missing sections. Sticking to the sections with steel support beams underneath us we headed over to the stairs to the "ground" floor of the power dome.
We were quite surprised to find so much squatter/party refuse there was in the power dome and throughout the rest of the base. The air was FOUL SMELLING, but seemed life-sustaining enough, dust from all the asbestos and god-knows-what kept us on respirators and dust masks the entire trip (except a few hard-core smokers who found a flammable free section to burn a butt in the control dome).
There was quite a bit of graffiti in the power dome, and some interesting instructions on where one should relieve oneself painted on the walls next to a small utility room right at the base of the stairs from the catwalks.
We found a huge metal door ajar that lead to the main entry portal hallway. Two gigantic water tanks on the south of the hallway were fairly interesting to see.
The door to the elevator/stairs for the main entry was ajar and we peeked in there at one point. The floor was fairly muddy, someone had written "Cave In" in large friendly letters on the door, but we didn't see any sign of it.
One adventurous soul made their way up the stairs a ways and found that the top 10-20 feet of steel stairway had been hack-sawed to instability - the rest of the stairs and even the freight elevator seemed to be in decent condition.
It was at this point that Agent Riz decided that he and the buddy he'd brought along should take off down toward the missile silos (of course we didn't know this at the time and didn't realize it until after we'd checked out the Control Dome).
Just past the H2O tanks a long 1/4 mile tunnel leads off North to the Antenna Silo's and one to South to the Missile Silo's. We headed east into the Control dome to have a peak around.
Now I consider myself a good parent, and it was heart-wrenching to find in the control dome where some squatter had set up house in a small corner area. Used diapers and an empty box of baby wipes really brought home the conditions some people will live in.
The few minutes I had my mask off I nearly retched from the foul taste of the air, and all the nasty asbestos and other waste really had me wondering what a parent was thinking to bring a baby into this hole in the ground.
If this is the best environment you can find to care for a child in, it's probably time to lay off the hooch and get your kid into state care while you clean up your act and find a decent way to provide them a good home. That's all the preaching I have in me for now.
Inside the Control Dome was fairly cool too; there was a sign on one of the partition walls pointing the way to the Base Commanders Office. The stairs and the floor of the second level seemed stable enough so we headed up. The Control Dome is 100' in diameter and about 45' high, but it's partitioned off into several oddly shaped rooms.
We found a lovely puddle of VERY BLUE, very deep water under the elevated floor on the bottom level, lots of graffiti and what looked like the remains of a campfire - hmm... It also looks like there have been a few fires set where sections of the partition walls had been scorched or burnt out. All the toilets in the latrine were smashed and dangling asbestos ceiling tiles did abound in the control dome.
We headed back to the main intersection and did a quick headcount. We discovered that Riz and his buddy were no longer with the group. We did a lights-out quiet moment to see if we could hear them. Very quiet - very dark - no sign of the missing party members.
Now, this was my first time being in charge of one of these outings, and I have to say I was a bit upset in their decision to wander off on their own. Both are in good physical shape, and I know Riz is a smart guy, but we did spend a few minutes discussing what to do. We hollered and listened down both main tunnels, didn't hear squat and decided that Mr. Darwin's theory of Natural Selection would have to prevail and if they were lost, hurt or injured we'd come across them at some point as we continued exploring the rest of the facility.
We decided to head for the Missile Silo's first. We headed about 30' down the tunnel; this one was in much worse shape than the other areas we had been in. Most of the metal floor grating had been removed so we leap-frogged several cross-support beams while walking in deep, disgusting mud.
We came to a flooded section. There were several steel beams running across the 3' foot deep pool of contaminated water, it was very clear and we could see lovely bits of rusting machinery and metal submerged in it. A small doorway leads off the tunnel here, with no floor and flooded as well this room did appear to have a shaft running to the surface in it.
Several people decided to cross what has now been deemed "The Moat". A few people elected to come back another day with a rope to use as a hand rail as opposed to grabbing the thick lined (with asbestos) pipes that ran along the wall. This included Mr. Safety Nazi (Me). Apparently once over the moat it was clear sailing to the three missile silos and their adjoining rooms.
On the Power Dome Catwalks
Under the Power Dome Catwalks
Looking up the elevator shaft.
Here are some of the pictures they took of the missile launch facilities:
Agent 420 investigates an escape hatch
The small group of us that decided against crossing the moat turned back and decided to head up the Antenna Silo tunnel. This 1/4 mile long tunnel sloped gradually up and was very dry.
Lots of squatter stuff to be found in this tunnel. At one point we came across a strange white substance covering the floor for about 20 feet, it was bright white, an oddity down here and looked like little pellets. We all hunkered down and shined our lights on it.
I pulled out my lineman's tool (don't leave the surface without it) and poked at it a bit, it was very light and crackled a little as I stirred some of it around. We figured it was being used to clean up a chemical spill, some kind of absorbent - we really weren't sure. After debating for a few moments we decided it wasn't deeper than the soles of our shoes so we decided to move on cautiously.
Of course, at the other end of the "spill" we found a strange pile of cloth that was covered in the white material. After poking it with a flashlight we spotted a Marlboro logo on it...Mystery solved, it was a shredded bean bag chair. Yes, bean bag stuffing, well, we were looking for adventure, what do you expect?
At the hub where the tunnel meets the two antenna silo's there was some standing water underneath the metal grate, some more holes in the grate and one 5' beam we tight-rope walked, upon inspecting the water it was only a few inches deep and lacked the sharp rusty metal junk the moat was rife with, no problem.
The big doors to either silo were open, there was a very nasty mattress covering the walkway to the West silo so a shine with the flashlight into the darkness was all we got there. Had a bit of a spook in the East silo when she flashed our lights in, glowing eyes on the far wall, someone had used some shiny gold metallic paint on this nice piece of graffiti, and oh yeah, Metallica Rules. Once inside the East silo we found the floor in about 6 inches of mud, looks like the ol' silo roof is leaking pretty well.
The trip back down from the antenna silos was a lot more cheery, we kicked and played in the disemboweled entrails of the bean bag chair as we walked through this time, laughing at our pervious fears. We eventually made our way back to the main intersection.
We knew there was a lot more exploring to be had up at the missile silo's than we had here, so after a quick holler and listen down that tunnel we decided to investigate the diesel tanks and air filter rooms off the Power Dome.
We headed back up on the catwalks then in through the tunnel on the North wall. I'm not sure how many gallons of diesel the tanks were designed to hold, but the one we looked into was HUGE. We headed further back into an equipment room, looking at the plans afterward we decided we were looking at the air system either just for the diesel generators or for the entire complex, that isn't' too clear.
A small ladder leads up to second level that had more big machinery in it.
Amazingly this section was relatively graffiti/garbage free, no signs of any squatters. Once we explored the three big rooms atop one another we climbed down and continued further north through a crawlway behind one of the big turbine looking air movers.
We came into another large room, the back half of which was a covered in a fence, making a cage with a little crawl door in the center at the bottom. We were about halfway through the crawl door when we noticed the corpse.
Of course, it wasn't a human corpse. It was a mummified opossum. We debated the exact species of the mummy for a while and finally we all agreed with the redneck that it wasn't a cat because the teeth were too big, it wasn't a dog because the ears were too small, the tail was the giveaway. Just a few feet back from the mummy we hit concrete; we'd reached the end of the Air system tunnels.
We headed back to the main intersection after I ditched my $40 dollar 1000000 candle power super light, damn thing died 20 minutes into it and I was sick of carrying it. My 2AA light taped to my hard hat worked great the whole night. Piece of shit! I think I'll rig up motorcycle battery on my belt to run the spotlight next time and attach it to my helmet, maybe two of them, Mickey Mouse From Hell!
It was only a couple of minutes before we started hearing the other group coming back from the missile silos. Coming back into the main intersection Agent Quad stumbled and cut his shin on a lovely piece of rusty metal...Tetanus shot anyone? This was the only real injury we had.
Agent Quad was a bit excited because he'd found a newspaper from 1967 on his journey to the Missile Silo's. We snapped a few pictures with it, it was amusing watching him hold it in front of his face, it obviously smelled like...well...I'm not a good enough author to come up with an analogy for what the god-awful thing must have smelled like, sorry, it was foul.
The other group reported they had located Agent Riz and friend; they had gone to explore the Missile Silos while we examined the Control Dome. Time check showed it was coming up on 3:30am.
Three more people had gone to check the third missile silo and the rest had come back to join us. Some of them headed up the antenna silos to have a look see while a few of us headed for the surface for a smoke and a breath of fresh air.
It was amusing watching the rest of the group come crawling out of the hole while we stood around outside. We started a ritual whenever we heard someone get near the exit. We'd stand over the hole, lights out till they popped their head out, then it was lights on and we'd all hawk up a loogie right over their heads, quite an amusing reaction though we never let the gobs fly.
A couple folks went looking for some of the access points we'd located form inside while we waited for the last few stragglers to climb out.
We hiked back to the cars breathing deeply the fresh air and enjoying the light of the full moon. We were all jazzed; we'd all had a great time. We got back to the cars and started dropping gloves and hardhats in the gear box. We took a couple more group photos and cheered ourselves for a successful evening. I spent a bunch of time rinsing and spitting with fresh water to get the grit out of my mouth.
It is at this point that I would like to announce the promotion of Agent Quad to Sub-Commander Quad for thoughtfully bringing a piping hot thermos of high-quality coffee, that really hit the spot!
We loaded up and headed back to the cars...
It's been months now and some of our participants still haven't developed their film. Some who have report the pictures as useless, this was becase of the large amount of dust in the air.
Once I receive more pictures that are suitable I'll be sure to post them!