Knights Inn Rensselaer In
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Higher and higher...
The sprawling metropolis...
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Exploring College Grounds
The campus tours don't usually take you through the old steam tunnels connecting most of the buildings, nor do you often get the opportunity to see miles and miles of cornfield from the old rickety belltower of the on-campus chapel. Included here will be some details about both activities. Be forewarned: while nothing we did was illegal, rumors were that it was grounds for expulsion.
How safe is that balcony?
Here's a shot of the inside of the chapel on a sunny day. The doors in the back are the main front doors you can see on the previous photo. From this photo's perspective, there are stairs that climb to the balcony from the right side of the foyer beneath it. The stairs are surprisingly creaky, especially at night when you're worried that somebody will hear you. Scattered around the balcony floor are indentations and signs that the pipe organ once filled a void up here. Now, though, you have to tread carefully, not knowing where you may fall through. There's nowhere to go but back to the stairs on the right side.... but in addition to going down, they also continue upward!
No matter what you do... do *not* look down!
So it's about 1AM, and you're about twice as high up as the balcony. From the steps that continue up, you're actually traversing a relatively new set of metail stairs, which consist mostly of grating. They're pretty steep, and you feel as if you're on a ladder instead of stairs. The problem is they go straight up through a ceiling, blocked by a wooden hatch that suggests this is the end of the road.
Yup, there's a hasp over the opening, with a locked padlock attached. It's a pretty shoddy install job because you can actually peer through the space between the ceiling/floor and "door", into the room above you. Looks pretty eery, because you can't get much light in there.
You and your buddy regroup. You start reviewing your options. There's a pretty feeble attempt at picking the lock. Unfortunately the hasp is riveted to the door and the frame. The hinges at the opposite end are apparently on the other side of the door. While trying to get a wider angle view into the room, you've noticed that the door is merely about an inch of plywood. It bends a little as you push upwards. :-> Your buddy is a little more foolhardy than you; he climbs as high up as he can and squares his shoulders against the flimsy door. The metal stairs tremble ever so slightly, and he grunts and flexs his legs, pushing up. Nothing, at first. He pushes harder, and then... BAM! - the door flies up and open, and suddenly your crazy friend can stand up straight, where moments ago he was crouched up in the corner.
No matter... part 2.
First, you freeze. A hasty whispered discussion concludes that it would be wise to just sit tight for at least 5 minutes... because that sure was loud.
The older priests are probably the closest people, and they're still about 300 meters away, far away enough for them to continue sleeping soundly. Campus security sure has better things to do than hang out within earshot of the chapel.
As we inquisitively ventured into the room above, we were greeted with the ladder you see pictured here. The window in the background is one of the front windows of the chapel, to give you a better idea of where exactly this is. At the top of this ladder was yet another hatch. While we couldn't see anything attached to the hatch, the ladder climb would definitely be a lot more.... interesting, than the climb up the sturdy stairs. Instead, we went through a small doorway that we noticed connecting the room to an adjacent room of some sort. That's when it got interesting...
A small town of 5000 or so, Rensselaer is smack dab between Indianapolis and Chicago, Lafayette and Valparaiso, and a whole lot of nothin' else! While it boasts quick access to the major cities, it is sufficiently far enough from *everywhere* that you can nearly forget what planet you're on. Or, rather, that you're sharing this planet with other human beings.
That's not to say that I don't love the town. No, I truly love it, and would even be happy settling down there someday. Most of what I'll be sharing about Rensselaer will be about a particular entity in the town limits that contributes a lot to make the town what it is. SJC. There may be some other stuff here eventually as well.
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