Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Trip to St. Catharines

Some of the ruins of the old Welland canal with Darryl and Andrew looking over the railing.

St. Catharines famous for being the "last stop" of the underground railroad and home of Harriet Tubman, a railroad conductor who helped over 200 slaves escaping from the south was our first stop on our Saturday road trip to see the Welland Canal. There was a Niagara folk arts festival that had a small gathering of people where we stopped off at to get some grub. Line ups for the various food tents were pretty short due to a small attendance overall. Probably from the cloudy skies with slight drizzle every now and then.

By the time the weather cleared up we (Andrew, Josie, Darryl and I) were out hiking through the bush along the Welland canal. Sadly, most of the canal had been fenced off from the public in the last few months. Getting photos of ships going through was next to impossible without venturing into restricted areas. We spent a bit of time going through the older, now crumbling, canal ruins and structures. In particular a tunnel noted for some blue ghost aptly named the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

Just off a dirt road, down a steep incline along a small dirt path, through trees, shrubs, and other prickily plantlife towards the tunnel entrance, we walked. As we got closer we could hear some voices talking. Squatters? Beer guzzling campers? Sacrificial ceremonies? Okay the later was thanks to watching third season of Starsky and Hutch. In particular the episode "Satan's Witches" where they borrow Dobey's cabin to visit nature and go fishing but instead stumble across a angry mob of devil-worshipping Satanists.

Josie already had a fear of being mugged before hearing the voices. Images of Ned Betty in Deliverance came to mind. "Squeal like a pig!". If I heard one note from a banjo I was outta there. As I stumbled down the last gravelly slope into the clearing and counted three guys. One of the guys, who would later be known as Dave, had rubber gloves on. They were blue. There were garbage bags at the entrance. No, this wasn't a hide the chopped up body, store it in seperate bags event. These guys were actually cleaning the tunnel and entrance!

Let me rephrase this. These guys were cleaning the tunnel! Removing graffitti and picking up waste. Just when you think the world is going to collapse in on itself, being over run by litterbugs and people who only think of themselves. This was stupendous! Thomas, Kevin and Dave were volunteering their time to clean up other people's crap.

If this didn't make them the most incredible people we met on the St. Catharines outing, then the fact that they were also ghost seekers most likely tilted the scale. Plus they liked my D70. So they have good taste in cameras at the very least. You can read more about the history of the blue ghost tunnel and their cleaning exploits by clicking on the links provided.

Ghost hunters Kevin and Thomas in the foreground. In the background you can see Dave (with the blue gloves) talking to some tunnel visitors.

The tunnel, with the exception of the tiny light at the end, was pitch black. The ghost guys were nice enough to lend us a flash light. I flashed my Nikon SB-800s modeling light to see the uneven muddy wooden planks on the ground. The ceiling was dripping with water. The water falling increased as we approched the other end of the tunnel. So much so that we decided to head back before we slipped and fell into the dark trench on our left hand side.

Andrew, Josie and Darryl in the blue ghost tunnel eerily lit with my green tinted speedlight.

The van that couldn't.

We continued the hike through more tree filled areas to a dirt road. For a place out of the way it seemed populated with a small amount of dirt bikers that would zip by us every now and then. One of the unexpected hilights of our trip was a mini van that was completely fried. Burnt to a crisp it just sat there near the top of a hill. It was almost like the driver gave up and decided to torch the van for not being able to make it up the hill. Everything from the front molded plastic of the dashboard to the hub caps were completely melted or charred.

Darryl poses for my "Freedom 55"/"Cigarette Ad" shot.

A stock car, which would later come in second place, speeding around the Merrittville track.

After an exhausting day of walking we ended it off by going to the Merrittville Raceway in Niagara Falls to watch stock car racing. It was about 7:00 pm when we arrived. Over the course of the races sitting on the wooden stands became more uncomfortable due to the temperature dropping. I resorted to putting on my 18 year old Amiga sweatshirt that I was told to bring in case of such an emergency. By the time the races were finished we were tired, cold and wanted to go home.

After dropping off Darryl, Andrew drove me to the Lucky10 set where I ended up taking pictures until 8:30am... More to follow.

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