The Thrill Descends into the Pit

These are the faces of exploration

Magellan circumnavigating the globe. Leif Erikson first setting foot on the North American continent. The moon landing, if you believe that sort of thing. What do these all have in common?

They’re all stories of exploration and discovery, of broadening horizons both on the maps and in the minds. These tales are meant to educate, but more than that, they’re meant to inspire. And I can say with full surety that it was the spirit of these great adventurers before us that guided this Thrill-based expedition into the infamous Kenyon Pit.

Come join us on our journey.

the expedition begins

My name is Nathan Scott Winer and I am half of the Editor-in-Chief dream team heading the Kenyon Thrill this semester. With me on this journey was friend, confidant, pit-fiend and friend to all, Brady Anne Furlich, master of cameras and holes of dirt. Yesterday afternoon we found ourselves digging deep, deep into the bedrock of Kenyon College, quite literally.

We went on a guided pit tour.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how much is this exploration genuine, really, if it was guided by someone else? But to that I’d say, keep in mind, some of the greatest explorers had helpers and guides along the way, people who were instrumental in the discoveries they made. And our guide on this journey–our Sacagawea, if you will–was this man:

 

O captain,  my captain

This is Seth Millam, construction project manager, King of the Pit, and the only person to ever redeem the name Seth in my eyes. Truly, this is the only Seth I’ve ever met who didn’t seem like he could be knocked over by a stiff wind. And thank goodness for that, because he was our lifeline on this trek down, down, down into the lowest circle of Kenyon. Seth fielded everyone’s questions and also made us feel safe amidst all the rumbling construction equipment and roars of the bowels of hell, mere meters below our feet. Brady described him as “a chiller” and frankly I have to agree. Also, he owns just so many keys:

I don’t know what they unlock, but god am I curious.

 

Strong Seth led us past the high fences and past the barbed wire and into the thick of things. It was the closest I had ever been to either of the cranes. If you’ve ever been to one of those “walking with dinosaurs” exhibits that they have at natural history museums, it was a lot like that. At several points along this trip Seth paused to field questions, and I asked whether or not anyone on the construction team had named either of the cranes.

 

“No,” Seth said. “I don’t think so, no.”

 

So that’s that on crane names, I suppose.

 

“That’s a big drop. I’d die if I fell down there.” “Yeah, Nate, obviously.”

 

The feeling, I have to assume, was very much that of an archaeological dig. But perhaps I just had dinosaurs on the brain; I was a big dino kid, you see, and seeing all this dirt and dust and a hole in the ground reminded me an awful lot of paleontologists looking for the next great fossilized find. At one point, Seth did tell us that they were digging into bedrock, and I’m pretty sure he then went on to explain something very important about the geologic structure of the earth beneath our feet, but I stopped paying attention for a few minutes as I remembered the classic cartoon “The Flintstones,” which was always a family favorite. Ah, the fleeting nature of childhood.

 

The above photo was also quite difficult for me to take, because leaning over the ledge reminded me of a reoccurring nightmare I used to have as a kid wherein I would be leaning over the edge of the baboon enclosure at the zoo, and I would topple in, and I would usually survive the fall but then the baboons would descend on me, and I’d wake up in a cold sweat. Like I said, ah, childhood.

This photo will be used to fool others into thinking I studied abroad in Egypt or something

Believe it or not, we learned a lot during our time in the Pit. Like, for example, apparently the construction is all running pretty much on schedule, despite Kenyon construction literally never ever doing that, ever. Also, we learned that the cranes can maybe talk to each other. This one isn’t super confirmed, just a hunch I have, but I’m going to keep digging (pun intended.)

 

Sunset remains, an island in a sea of dirt. Beautiful.

At the end of the day, it seems that the spirit of adventure can only fuel you for approximately twenty-five minutes, because that’s how long the Pit tour lasted. But Brady and I got to feel closer to the grave than ever before, which is a fun phenomenon. And we got to meet Seth Millam, Master of Digging and Earth Holes, which is also very fun. The biggest takeaway from it all is this, I believe: change can be scary and hard to understand, but if you really take some time and look change directly in the eye, oops, you’re staring into the Pit, oops you’re falling in, oops we’ll miss you! It’s baboon nightmare all over again.

 

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