Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   abandoned train in the Esopus valley
Thursday, February 20 2003

The weather was beautiful today, at least by recent standards, with clear sunny skies and temperatures in the upper forties (Fahrenheit). All the snow which had recently been soft and fluffy and blowing around in drifts was now soggy and wet, the sort I would have used as structural material in a snow fort or ice monster had I been twenty years younger.
Gretchen was out somewhere - entertaining homeless cats at the animal shelter I think - and on the way home she called me to ask me to meet her at some ancient rusting railroad cars parked on a segment of abandoned track on the wide bottomland of the Esopus Valley, just across US 209 from the Hurley-area New York State Police headquarters. This seemed like a fun adventure for Sally, so she and I headed out in the pickup for the rendezvous.
The train consisted of several passengers cars and at least two different kinds of freight cars. The car nearest to 209 was a crumbling old dining car. Some of the doors were open and it was easy to get inside and have a look around - both at the formica-rich dining room and the stainless-steel and aluminum kitchen. The kitchen was centered around a charcoal-burning stove, and fuel briquettes still littered the floor in the aftermath of the last meal prepared there. There were plenty of things in this kitchen that we could imagine uses for back in our house, so we gathered up galvanized-steel drawers, heavy iron stove parts, and a small wooden table and set them aside to take back to our vehicles.
Next we explored a couple standard coach cars. They were mostly intact, although one had a large number of destroyed seats. Relatively little water damage was evident. I only saw one or two drips coming through the ceiling from the snowpack on the roof; these old trains were evidently built to last.
In one coach car some random guy had left behind Polaroid photos of himself taken there, probably not very long ago. I imagine a lot of people visit these cars, since they're an eye-catching spectacle along 209. There's a certain amount of graffiti and gratuitous window breakage, but there seems to have been precious little of the sort of pillaging that we were then engaged in. Perhaps this could be explained by the close proximity of the state trooper headquarters. But I've been told that this headquarters doesn't date back very far. Most likely, the sort of people likely to visit these trains are more inclined to break interesting things than take them home with them.
We wandered out into the middle of an open field and threw a few snowballs at one another and at Sally, who tried to grab them out of the air in her mouth. The sun was so bright and the walking so arduous that we soon became dehydrated and resorted to eating snow. Hiking handbooks are correct about snow; for the meager water it produces, it takes far too much energy to eat.

Gretchen in the front of the dilapidated dining car.

A well-lubricated mechanism and a wasp nest in the dilapidated dining car.

The dining car's kitchen.

Sally and Gretchen in the dining car's kitchen.

The rotting inside of an abandoned passenger car.

Some Polaroids I found in the passenger car.

Sally and Gretchen between cars.

Sally with me out in the snow out in the Esopus valley.

Sally digging deep beneath the snow.

A picture of Sally Gretchen made in the snow.

Edna this evening. In the background is our first floor "powder room."

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