I woke up next to Sarah, which is always a nice sensation after four months apart.
Previously on the trip, everyone else was awake before me and they needed to awaken me in the most Rocko's Modern Life way possible, so I was paranoid that now that we were sleeping upstairs that everyone was awake ALL DAY and impatiently tapping their feet for us to come down. I herded a bleary, sleepy Sarah downstairs only to discover that everyone was asleep. Whoops.
We go back up for about an hour and there are more people up and Adam. Sarah's plan for today was to make EVERYONE omelets. Partially because I've gone on record as saying that omelets suck. She wants to prove to me that omelets are amazing and that I'm stupid.
Now, because I hate ham and Siro hates meat, she makes fried potato omelets which are actually very good. The potato adds a crispy substance that omelets otherwise lack. Good work, Sarah. We enjoy these while playing Actraiser. Bloodpool's coagulated ocean of blood is distressing for some of us.
So what now gang? What crazy adventures are we gonna get into today. Well, Reno informs us, we're taking you to prison.
Earlier this year, Reno went to take a midnight ghost hunt at Mansfield Reformatory. A historical prison that is aging in the most visually awesome way possible. It is basically Silent Hill jail town, with rust and crumbling paint. All it's missing is some obtuse puzzles. Considering how haunted the place is supposed to be, jump scares are provided on-site. We'll be doing a self-guided tour during the daytime though, as the midnight tours are completely booked.
The drive to Mansfield is a doozy, but we occupy ourselves chatting about horrible austrailian animals that do horrible things to you. And therefore discuss how Platypus claws are apparently super poisonous, cause excruciating suffering that lasts for days by overloading your pain sensors, and there is absolutely no anti-venom for it.
Mansfield is an imposing structure, very gothic and huge. The place was crumbling down, but some fans of the place got it turned into a historic site that is preserved non-profit. There is also a functional prison neighboring it, that signs everyone dictate that we are not allowed to take pictures of.
First thing everyone does after such a long trip is hit the bathrooms. Immediately. En masse.
Reno, who remembers all of the interesting stories from his previous tour of the place, is able to stop and tell us fun facts about nearly any section of the prison.
We enter, pay for our tickets, and watch a short introductory video (that only half of us watch) that warns us about there being lead paint in the building and that we should wash our hands and not be pregnant (seriously, don't be pregnant) and warning us that if we lock ourselves in a cell, we will be held liable because they DO NOT have the keys.
There is a small museum near the entrance to preserve all sorts of interesting trinkets, such as horrific dentist chairs for prisoners, a huge collection of old shivs, and records of the awful things people did to be imprisoned. (Such as being a bigamist.)
Relics of faith.
Makeshift weapons hold up remarkably well, apparently.
The dentist chair. It could easily be mistaken for an electric chair.
Okay guys, are you ready? It's time to actually cross over into the Nightmare layer. There's no going back.
There is so much exposure in this place that it really creates a lot of interesting textures. Sarah snaps a lot of pictures for possible future use in creative projects. Apparently the prisoners would paint over the walls without stripping or priming anything, so it's layered like crazy. They just didn't care.
Any given warden had the authority to change anything about the decor arbitrarily, since he and his family had to live on site. (Uncomfortable!)
Fun fact. Mansfield was used to film some of the interior shots for The Shawshank Redemption. This is the prop safe used in the film for the Warden's office. Apparently this was added to the room under a week ago. GOOD TIMING.
I joke that I wish we had a prop skull or something to fit inside the safe.
Siro, don't be ghost.
Wilco will find you.
The intro video also pleaded with us not to use any of the bathrooms on the tour. Which is a good idea because every toilet is plugged with plaster.
This place is taking hold of us. Slowly, but surely.
The radiant sun is entirely too much for this place.
The reflection is looking at something else.
Sarah's tired you guys, we'd better split up.
Can you hear the ringing, Wilco? It's calling.
Wait. If Sarah is sitting there, who's behind me...?
The scooby doo gang has to halt for this curiosity. The architect for this place was very clever. He made it so that the room cast through the windows all creature a narrow beam of light over the door frame, which creates an X on the floor here. It's pure architecture skill to do something like this, but some cite it as proof of the paranormal's grip on this place.
A fun fact. This prison is the largest freestanding structure in the united states. Meaning it has no foundation or basement. If you were strong enough, and picked the build up by the center point, you could lift it off the ground. (Or spin it, if you wanted.)
Siro stands in the center to absorb its power.
Another mark left here by the film crew.
Every sunday the entire prison was gathered here for church service. It housed several thousand people, and originally had a huge balcony to accommodate so many bodies.
This area is roped off to the public, but apparently upstairs is the 'TB' room, which is one of the more haunted areas of the building. You have to pay extra for the ghost tours. Apparently, no one can discern what the purpose of that small, cramped room up there above the chapel.
There are a lot of roped off areas here, compelling.
Siro prays that the ghosts will take Wilco.
We arrive at the prison blocks. This is where things start to get serious.
It is an absolutely staggering drop. The prison cells are five stories high and the sheer scale of the place hits you here. This is just one wing of the prison blocks.
Again, you don't want to close the door of a cell on yourself. They would literally have to call a locksmith to get you out.
Although there is obvious decay here, according to records, this is about the quality of the place while it housed prisoners. Disease, rust, confined spaces and inhumane conditions were standard and little to no money was spent on renovating.
The rooms and halls are claustrophobic and tight. They're uncomfortable for me to bend down into and even worse for Reno.
The tunnel from Shawshank Redemption.
TIME TO CHECK OUT THE LIBRARY!!!
Wilco fits right in here.
The cages in the infirmary are, questionable.
It's when Siro made his daring escape from the library that tragedy struck and my camera finally ran out of battery life. Which SUCKS because Solitary confinement was up next. Reno and Wilco took pictures too, but I don't have access to Wilco's pictures yet.
Cryptic graffiti in solitary.
The only functional bathroom in the complex is connected to a 'safe spot' during ghost haunts where people can food up and recover their wits. There is also a map here where visitors can pin up where they're from. Wilco steals a pin that is holding up the 'pin' sign (There are zero regular pins left) to leave Tasmania's mark.
An artifact of the halloween march.
In solitary confinement, while Reno is talking about how a prisoner killed a guard at this very spot for taunting him, Sarah moves a latch that makes the LOUDEST RUSTY GROAN EVER that gets a jump out of me. Nice.
Other fun facts: The shower and the fusebox are in the same room together. Which is an accident waiting to happen.
A member of the Cleveland Browns football team was arrested, and the guards painted up a special cell for the guy in his team's colors.
I'm really not doing Reno's tour of the place justice as the finer points of the stories are foggy in my memory, but still the tour was oodles of fun. We're all a bit tuckered though, and on our way out we stop at the giftshop. People get old-timey sodas (Branded Mansfield Reformatory!) and Sarah buys a floaty pen for her mom and a T-shirt for me. Awesome. We also stop a guy with a billion cameras to take a group picture of us outside the place with Wilco's camera. Which is why you aren't looking at it right now.
We joke that the camera guy, who has like five DSLR cameras around his neck, might just run off with the camera. You can trick people into thinking you don't want to steal their camera if you've got ten better ones clearly visible.
We ride off, deciding to break up the long drive by stopping to eat at the Lodi Mall, a place that Reno and Jess have never been to but have meant to. On the way, we pass Ashland whose sign claims houses the world headquarters for nice people.
Sarah and Wilco get into an argument about horses. Sarah thinks they are beautiful, majestic wonderful creatures while Wilco recognizes them as savage, brutish monsters that are only restrained by the yoke of domestication. (It is possible that he is only thinking about Australian horses, which like everything in Australia are probably poisonous.)
The Lodi mall is all outdoors and pretty slick. It's TRAIN themed and has a mini train running a winding circuit along rows of shops. Everything here is train themed. Sarah, although hungry, lingers kind of wanting to shop but is denied the opportunity.
Jess gets pizza, and Wilco tides himself over with a pizza pretzel. The rest of us see these ridiculous deep dish pizzas at this shop called Villa and decide we need to get it. We get too, a veggie and a meat lover. We're told we have to wait a HALF HOUR for it though, which is devastating as we're all about ready to go cannibal. We occupy ourselves playing napkin-based chinchiro via Reno's iphone. Siro winds up owing a zillion billion dollars.
The pizza, however, is huge and ridiculous and very filling. Reno is ready to tear up from joy as this is the first time that he's had to hold a slice with both hands. Two slices of this pizza is like a whole regular pizza. It's mostly bread, though, but we gorge ourselves and have plenty of leftover in spite of seven people partaking.
DO NOT TOUCH
Wilco discovers that there is a vending machine that sells rubber dice. Wanting to play Liar's dice with everyone, Wilco stands there with his wallet open and buys like 30 pairs of dice
Gettin' kinda fetishy.
Now, because the group hasn't consumed ENOUGH calories yet, half of the group go to get icecream. Reno and I are brutally stuffed, though. I will continuously offer Reno the left over pizza to torment him. But Wilco still pushes a chocolate coin on me.
The rest of the car ride is debaucherous. Somehow Sarah gets to talking about how she'd love to go to a sex shop in the area. Reno says there's this one place, but it's way out of the way. We review my notes again, and this is where contextualizing 'make a dinosaur rubber' turned into a conversation about creating dinosaur condoms. This is one of Siro's many terrible business ideas during the trip, like opening a sex themed cake store called Cocks and Cakes.
Dinosaur condoms include such products as:
Which exactly resemble the head of the dinosaur of question.
I literally develop SCOWL CRAMPS from listening to this conversation.
As a prank, Reno secretly instructs Jessie to make a special turn. It isn't until we pull into the driveway of the sex shop Ambiance that his evil plan is brought to fruition.
I have an exasperated meltdown and everyone howls with laughter.
I really don't want to go inside but am goaded to not be a stick in the mud. I'm asked if I plan to bring my pizza into the store.
The staff comments on how it's cute that we all come into the store as a group. Siro comes here on a mission to get his girlfriend a vibrator, and Sarah wants to find edible body paint. They do not have any, however. The staff are apparently super cheerful and helpful and explain Siro the props and cons of every possible variation of vibrator.
I stand around, awkwardly. I glance at crude greeting cards. Sarah runs up to me every so often, like a kid in a toy store showing me something excitedly to see if I'll buy it. All she gets is increasingly stiff sores out of me.
I eventually, at Jessie's suggestion, go sit in the car with her. Where we watch as a clearly drunken man stumbles out of the neighboring bar and contemplates driving. The bar owner calls the cops on him thankfully, and he is stopped from serious drunk driving.
We leave, and at this point the ice cream that Wilco bought has melted into a toxic slop at the bottom of his cup. He left the cup on top of the van before we entered the sex shop but I noticed it and saved us from getting ice cream slop all over the roof of the van. Wilco struggles to dispose of the gunk.
We arrive home and crash in carbohydrate comas. When we come to, we engage in another fruitless battle against Binding of Isaac, now with even more people trying and failing to surmount the cathedral.
We open the dice Wilco bought and using markers, we make the pips more visible. The irony is that we NEVER PLAY LIAR'S DICE during the trip and Wilco leaves the dice at Reno's by mistake. Whoops!
We watch the Big Lebowski tonight. It is a good movie, full of instantly iconic. It's not quite my cup of tea, but it was very much a Siro film and he'd never seen it. We are quoting the movie for most of the remainder of the visit.
We have to stop the movie at one point and this somehow turns into a fruit intermission as everyone starts eating fruit we bought from the grocery store.
We gamble again, chinchiro with Teiai funbucks. Siro cleans house because he's able to 'read the flow' and woop all of us. I somehow manage five consequetive pushes against all odds, it's ridiculous
Jackson Moneybags Wyse.
Personaly, I'm much better at poker and fair much better when we swap dice out for cards. Eventually, though, we call it a night a bit earlier than past nights. Though not before deciding that today has been Hedonism day. Let's see how many seven deadly sins we covered!
Lust: Sex Shop
Pride: Our continued push to conquer Isaac
Sloth: Carbohydrate crash when we got home.
Gluttony: TOO MUCH PIZZA
Wrath: My explosive exasperation at arriving at a sex shop
Envy: This is the only one not covered, as we are having a fantastic time and envy no person on Earth.