Monday, April 02, 2012

back to surface

Exiting the lab was easier, of course. We reconvened near the lounge. Entered the locker room but skipped the showers. Some of us elected to keep our Tyvek suits. Out of the comfy shoes. Donned the coveralls. Now my rubber boots were definitely too small--several hot spots were forming... Fetched the rest of our mining gear. I forget my belt until someone reminded me. Made sure I still had my metal tag. Photo ops under the SNO LAB signs while we waited for everyone to emerge from the clean side. Then it was a rapid trek back to the shaft.

At one point, we passed a branch, beyond which we could see some heavy equipment working. I was overwhelmed with images from Aliens, the second movie in the series. We joked about it. It was easy to get creeped out.

At the staging area by the lift, we heard the various call signs. The cage was coming. We tried to guess the patterns. Soon the cage appeared and we started loading. I had not realised it until this point that it was a double-decker. Some miners and our crew were packed into the upper compartment. Those remaining, we loaded into the second section, after the lift was shifted up. And then it was all regular stops. And this time it was dark and very quiet. No one was chatting. Everyone was tired. No one had their helmet lights on. Fascinating. The life of a miner.

We had to queue up in the office before leaving the headframe. This was the head count check to ensure no one was missing. A long wait but we got through it. There was a general feeling of ebullition. We had done it. Not only visited the SNO LAB and seen some of its exciting experiments and talked to some interesting scientists. But we had run the gauntlet into a level 9 clean environment. And we had experienced a working mine.

The mine paper trail was closed. Sam gathered us up and said it was time to return to the admin building. And we stepped outside. Into daylight. A beautiful day. With a bright blue sky. It was good to be back. It
was good to be back on "surface." What a feeling. A rejuvenating feeling.

Photo by Katrina.

In the side of the admin building we entered, rather than the front, washed our boots once again, and navigated the path to the first locker room. Retrieved our personal clothes and effects. Returned the mine clothing. Back in the lobby, we returned our ID tags and signed out. Thanked Sam profusely.

Reconnected with out Meaford participant. Fortunately, they took care of her above ground, giving her a tour of the offices and other labs.

Michelle jumped in her car and was off. We boarded our bus. I nabbed a seat at the front this time. During the different route back, Phil and I chatted. What an experience.

Back at the hotel we thanked Gord and then hung in the parking lot for a bit. Lora had tucked away some lovely treats which Phil pulled out. We enjoyed a beverage in the sunlight. Bill offered Gord's daughter a lift back to Toronto. We climbed into the truck and started the long journey south.

No comments: