The team drove in shifts through the night so we could reach Pennsylvania by dawn. After establishing Field HQ we decided to do some exploring. They should have marked those trails with big red bows instead of big red warning signs. The team is a well mannered bunch, but we haven’t been known to take a sign’s word over seeing something for ourselves. You can’t always RSVP for a date with Trouble. Sometimes it’s just best to drop in and say hello.
We spotted some hunter orange color through the thick brush, and met a couple of men who were in the area after wild turkeys. Their names were Chip and Jason, and they took a break from their hunt to talk Trouble with us. The two have been hunting all of their lives and had stories from that area to as far away as Alaska.
During a winter hunt a member of Chip’s group took down a buck alone at nightfall and lost the trail under the falling blankets of snow. He ended up hiking in a circle, and when he rediscovered his own tracks they had the undesirable addition of fresh bear paw prints on top. His role quickly switched from hunter to hunted, and he was forced to drop his deer as bait to distract the bear from pursuing him any further. Trouble, however, was not finished there. After six hours the main hunting party still couldn’t locate him and they needed to call in the Search and Rescue team to help with the manhunt. The rescuers knew of a remote cabin and calculated that he could end up there if he kept traveling in the wrong direction. Their instinct was spot on and they found their lost friend trying to build a fire to get his body temperature back up from the onset of hypothermia.
Jason coincidentally had family ties to the knife industry. His uncle Rick Fields was a renowned wildlife artist known for his scrimshaw work on ivory handled blades. The team fought back sentimental tears as it always hits a soft spot in our hearts to meet others that have hand tools ingrained in their family heritage.
Our warm feelings of camaraderie turned to curiosity of superhuman powers when we arrived at the site of the historic Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown. We read the old reports about the disaster and became puzzled when we saw a man fishing the waters from a small vessel. We were fascinated if he was searching for Trouble of the mutinous variety, so we waited for him to dock at shore to find out what he knew.
We hit the history jackpot as the fisherman was a retired state trooper who spent his career in the area. His name was Joe, and he had been one of the first responders to the accident when it occurred. He said they established a secure command post to investigate the incident, but the real Trouble was that even the nuclear physicists didn’t know what the problem was. The uncertainty led to panic as inconsistent reports rolled out and know one knew who or what to believe. The problem all stemmed from a closed valve, but the Trouble it caused was one of the few kinds that a person can’t overhaul with their bare hands. Cleanup of the area concluded in 1993, but the true effects of the radiation are debated to this day. We inquired, but Joe insisted that the reports of two headed cows and glowing neon fish belonged in the tabloids
We continued to push further east towards Philadelphia knowing that the finale of our expedition was drawing near. The team wanted to pay tribute to the Founding Fathers while we were in the area, but the museum was not supportive of our request to ring the Liberty Bell with a Gerber machete. We settled for cheesesteaks instead.