Freesteel Blog » Virginia caving technology

Virginia caving technology

Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 1:26 am Written by:

There are friendly cavers in darkest Virginia who are out every weekend checking holes in the ground and recording their locations on a secret database which no one can see. That’s dedication. Becka met them on her last caving trip to China.

They complimented me on the swiftness with which I tipped all my crap out of my rucksack and made myself at home on their living room floor. My thermarest kept getting tossed into the back room whenever I turned my back for fear that the cats would claw a hole in it.

That’s what a good subculture is for — when you’re in it, and other people are in it, then they’re your friends even if you’ve never seen them before. I’m sure the Amish are the same, when they travel around and stay at each other’s farms and instinctively know what chores they need to do to really ingratiate themselves with their hosts. And they know what to do if they really hate them, such as chopping off their beards. To annoy a caver as much as that you’d probably have to smash some stalactites or cook a batch of bat soup.

The Virginia cavers only do new unexplored caves that need mapping. There is excitement in the discovery of the unknown. So they didn’t actually know that the cave we drove many miles up the highway to, trekked across the hillside for, and went down two scrofulous pitches to get into didn’t go anywhere. It was an unsatisfying rift that degenerated into an unstable boulder collapse at the bottom and no further development. I left them to it and prussicked out and lay in the sun listening to my MP3 player of caving songs by Dangerous Dick and the Duckbusters that I ripped from the CD in the pile by the staircase that morning. That’s another objective question you can ask of any sporting activity: has it got any songs? I don’t think hang-gliding has any. Diving should have songs owing to the necessary teamwork, but it doesn’t seem to have. Not that I’m actually keen on singing; it’s simply an observable quantification.

The food places in Blacksburg were excellent. Probably beats Liverpool in terms of really good veggie availabilities.

I showed off tunnelx to everyone who expressed an interest, but didn’t have time to actually use it — too busy fiddling with other people’s more interesting software, and looking at database schemas for secret cave data.

More beer, food, water and beer again. Went for a nice walk up one trail to the AT (the Appelation Trail) through woods and out into the blazing sunshine on a cliff. You could see forest fires two ridges beyond. Virginia is quite ridgy.

Due to the dire shortage of public transport, the journey to Charlottesville required getting a ride at 5am to Roanoke, a shuttle bus to Lynchburg (which grounded out on the roadbed when it tried to use a driveway for a U-turn), and a train which was held back for a few minutes to allow the late bus to get there.

I had exactly 24 hours in Charlottesville because there is only one train per day on the line into Washington DC.

Spent another 24 hours in Wash working on a scheme to discredit the theory that the stock market is a predictably stable tool for setting the prices using a simple animation.

And now I’m back in New Jersey waiting for my return to home and everything that is there. It’s raining heavily.

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