We left the vehicle graveyard and drove a couple of miles to the old
train-yard. Having grown up in Baltimore, taking a lot of trips to the B&O
train museum (highly recommended!) I didn't see much interest in a
bunch of train-cars. It was not exactly "*yawn*" but I was getting cold
and my right ankle was ready to give out, so I decided to take it easy
on myself and just have a leisurely saunter around. Everyone else
scrambled off to photograph and explore wrecked train gear while
I scouted along the tracks, pondering what it is that makes one
thing "interesting" and another thing "not interesting" - visually, or
in general. In case you're wondering, I didn't come up with any
(all aboard the FAIL train!)
The group got a bit spread out and we hadn't done a very good job of
coordinating where we'd meet and when. Some of us got a bit concerned
and started striking off in the direction we'd last seen Arekadiusz heading.
It led us into deep woods, a train-wreck (several jackknifed train cars on
their sides) and an industrial facility. It's hard to describe the sensation
of wandering in woods and finding human-workings that have begun to
be part of the woods as well. I imagine that it's a rare experience for
people, but it must have been similar for the intrepid souls who started
repopulating central Europe after the black death had gone through.
Entire towns were abandoned and returned to forest. The debris of
the late 20th century is a bit more durable but heavy bushes turn into
small trees in under a decade and within 30 years you feel you're
right at the tipping-point where the hand of man is about to be eradicated
(Nobody builds Windy Stuff like the Soviets)
I had to include that picture above because I was hiking through this area with
Paul (the Brit) who paused and looked at this mass of - stuff - and commented
quite seriously, "that's a thing for winding stuff."
And we were off,"For winding big stuff. Soviet stuff."
"Well, nobody could wind like the Soviets."
"Yeah, there's no fucking around when you need something wound here..."
Whenever I encountered a large thing that looked like it might have been an earth-mover (the "windy thing" actually looks a fair bit like the drag-line head for a strip mining get-up but I was guessing and didn't want to sound like a pompous know-it-all if I were wrong) I'd check its rad-level. The windy thing was moderately hot. We scouted further and discovered a pair of what I can only describe as post-apocalyptic bulldozers - they appear to be a T-72 chassis with an armored cupola atop them, and a gigantic bulldozer blade. Well, a T-72 would have the horsepower, I suppose...
(Post apocalyptic bulldozers)
The bulldozer was a bit hotter than the surrounding landscape. Not extremely so - the
normal background in the area was about 10x - 20x higher than in Kiev (20x - 40x
higher than Chicago) and the bulldozer was about 80x. Eventually I'll figure out what the scale on the rad-meter means. I have to confess that every time I pulled it out I could imagine everyone on the necro-computing mailing list groaning "RTFM" especially Rick, who told me "it's a bit hard to figure out, you should download the manual..." I just didn't get around to it.
The log-mover above appears briefly in a video on youtube, here at 49 seconds in...:
There was also a giant log-mover just like the ones where I live in upstate
Pennsylvania, only huge and with a T-72 chassis. I bet that my neighbors
would love to have one like that: you could probably knock a tree down on
yourself and experience not much more than a hellacious whanging-around.
The log-mover was also pretty hot. Apparently there was an area of forest
downwind of the reactor explosion that they clear-cut and buried because the
trees were all radioactive. I suspect, but have no way of knowing, that we
have stumbled into the maintenance-yard of the radioactive loggers. May
they rust in peace.
In the distance, the van's horn sounds and we scramble back to where we started. Our next destination is Pripyat for the couple hours until it gets dark.
(Oooo! What pretty yellow!)
Driving to Pripyat we go through woods and fields staked liberally with radiation warning signs. Paul comments "is that really necessary? I would think that anyone who comes here might just think the fields are radioactive. Perhaps they should only put the signs on the stuff that's particularly radioactive?" Someone says "maybe it's the signs that are radioactive and they stuck them out in the fields just to get rid of them..." and we all crack up.