Saturday, January 28, 2012


"Draining"  -  what on earth does that mean?
answer  -  "draining" refers to the exploration of storm drains.
It was a hot summer day in Phoenix, Arizona.   I decided that it might be fun to go up the storm drains of the city of Phoenix.    I knew of the hazard of flash floods but this was summer and the sky was clear with no clouds.   I knew where a storm drain entered the dry river bed of the Salt River which went in a general east-west direction along the southern portion of Phoenix.   I called my buddy Rick and invited him to come along.   He quickly agreed and off we went on our grand adventure of exploration.   I had to climb down the grating cover of the storm drain.   I was afraid that the cover might be locked or welded shut.   It wasn’t, plus it was hinged.   You can see the large hinges at the top of the grating in the picture above.   I was surprised that we were able to move the grating on its hinges so that we could slip inside.
There was a steady flow of water but not bad.   I was surprised that there was water since I expected the drain to be dry in the arid desert region of Arizona.
When I looked into the drain all that I could see was a tunnel going off into an infinity of darkness.   There was initially some graffiti on the walls but the graffiti ended after about 50 feet into the tunnel.   From then on I had the feeling that we were traveling where no one had traveled since the storm drain was built.   The light from our lights was the first light that had shone on these tunnel walls in a very long time.   We walked and walked and came to a small opening in the side of the tunnel where there was a pipe with water pouring out of it.   At least it looked like water.   Perhaps it was a toxic chemical from some manufacturing plant.  
We continued on our way up the tunnel.  How do you like my spear which was an old cut-off broom handle with a nail in the end of it.    I was worried about encountering rats, but surprisingly, never did see any.   We traveled on for a long time and my chest started to feel a heaviness on it.   The breathing started to become a bit labored.   There was something wrong with the air.  We came to a vertical pipe that led up to the street above and was covered by a man-hole cover.   We could hear the traffic above driving over the manhole cover.   Our breathing problem was probably being caused by carbon monoxide from the car exhausts trickling down though the holes in the manhole cover and over time was possibly building up to toxic levels.    I had never thought about the dangers of carbon monoxide.   Rick climbed up and tried to move the manhole cover by pushing on it.   
He couldn’t budge it so much as an iota.   Nothing, nil, nada.   Either the manhole cover was too heavy or it had gotten sealed down by the asphalt of the road.   Because of the problem with the breathing we decided to leave.   So we turned around and retraced our steps back to the entrance.   We were glad to “see the light at the end of the tunnel”.   (pardon the pun)
Rick has borrowed my spear but I can’t remember what for.   I hoped that there wasn’t anything toxic or bacterial in the water because as you can see in the picture that our feet were in the water the whole time.   Since I have survived these many years I guess that the water wasn’t that bad.    Yeah, I know that hiking up storm drains is a bad thing to do but back then I was young and felt invincible.  Today they call exploring storm drains as “Draining”.   Have a good day and please don’t go “Draining”.   It is too dangerous.     Lew


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