I think I've told you about finding your way in the Frozen North. How people around this particular geographical area never move. How several generations of families all live next door to each other. How difficult it is to break into such a close, small town, closed society.
All the above is the reason street signs are so few and far between (when you've lived somewhere for 17 bajillion generations you don't need no stinkin' street signs.), and driving directions are sketchy at best--"we-e-elll, you go down to the corner by the old tree and make a right. At the first church you turn left. Then keep goin' awhile 'til you come to the corner where the BP used to be and take another left."
I think you get the idea. Even the GPS gal/guy would have trouble finding their way here. And don't get me started about the detours put up in the summer when PennDOT rolls out every crane, roller, jackhammer, cement mixer, grader, ton of asphalt, and construction worker in the state to don orange safety vests, grab a cone or two, dig up every major road, and cause traffic jams from here to Timbuktu. (*deep cleansing breath*, thank you for listening.)
But what I haven't told you about is the BIG SECRET, the real reason directions are so vague and roads are so hard to navigate in the summer. (They don't need roadblocks in the winter, Mother Nature spreads snow and ice for free.)
It's a conspiracy to keep us from finding out what REALLY is hidden in the hills, hollers, and abandoned mine shafts of western PA. Lean in a little closer to the monitor and I'll tell you, but this is highly confidential. If you breathe a word, my Dear Professor and I will have to enter the witness protection program.
The secret is a place, a BIG place, in a HUGE abandoned limestone mine. A place so wrapped in secrecy and security that even Jack Bauer, on a good day, couldn't break into it. A place to which, it is rumored, Vice President Cheney was whisked away during the initial chaos of 9/11. It's called. . . Iron Mountain.
For the last 19 years I have heard rumors of people "working in the mines", doing "highly classified" government work, but that's all anyone would say. It's so classified, when I Googled for driving directions, I was led to the end of a dirt road at the back of a state wildlife preserve in the opposite direction.
How on earth was a common home engineer and former accidental corporate terrorist allowed access to this place? Undercover, attending an employee health fair as the representative of a local physical therapy office. But, believe me, I was vetted. A month before the event, "They" required information--my social security number, maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, blood type, shoe size and name and birthdays of all our children. Okay, I may have exaggerated. A little. "They" didn't ask for my shoe size.
My truck was searched for pirated VHS movies, and I was given a "guest id" that had to be swiped by the guard at the gate on entry and exit. Camera and cellphone were surrendered before gaining access to "the mines", so photographic proof of this event is very limited.
But the intel I garned is HUGE. HUGE, I tell ya.
Are you ready for this? When Disney announces a reissue of beloved films from the Disney Vault, it's coming from an abandoned limestone mine in the wilds of western PA. Who knows what other valuables are kept in that ten mile, underground, climate controlled fortress. Maybe even Unca Walt himself. "Their" lips are sealed.
But beyond all the secrecy, what I found most disturbing was glancing down at my "guest id" late in the day and discovering it was red. . .and inscribed with a big capital "V"!!!!
That, and the thought of Cheney, Snow White, the Seven Dwarves, and Bambi frolicking together underground.