Monday, August 18, 2014

Laurel Caverns rappelling

Until yesterday, I'd only been to Laurel Caverns once, and it was when my parents took my brother and I when we were pretty young. But I remember getting to see a bat up close and an optical illusion where a hill is so steep, it looks like a golf ball on a rail actually rolls uphill. This steep hill is also the reason why my legs are still sore. Anyway, I remember it was a pretty cool place, too, because duh, it's a big-ass cave.

After a trip to the movies last weekend, my boyfriend's college roommate was like, "Next weekend, rappelling at Laurel Caverns." Now, there was a time when I would've refused or needed lots of coercing, and while I wasn't really crazy about the idea of rappelling until I actually did it, I somehow went along with this pretty easily.

And I actually highly recommend it for something fun to do!

They recommend you get there early, although horrible fog meant my boyfriend and I made it just in time, and the rappelling instructors tell you and show you everything you need to know. This is entirely beginner-friendly--most of us in the group had never rappelled before. And it's pretty straightforward, and it's also super safe. As they tell you in your instructions, they've had rescue dogs in training do this.

Once you get strapped into your harness, helmet, and gloves, you get a little mini tour of the caverns, and you get to gaze up at the rock wall you'll be rappelling down. And honestly, it actually calmed my nerves a little bit to actually see it in person. It's a 40-foot rappel, but it doesn't look intimidating at all.

Until you're 40 feet up on the platform, of course, waiting for your turn--and in my case, insisting to go neither first nor last but either before or after my boyfriend. The scariest part, though, is the first rappel--it felt strange to sit back into the harness and let it support me. Not because I didn't trust that the equipment was safe--I actually trusted the equipment immensely, as well as one of the instructors who operates the safety line in case something does go awry--but just because it's a bizarre physical feeling. And then comes the awkward first step off the edge.

But after that, it's fun. The first rappel is awkward and a little scary as you get used to the sensations and the actual process of the rappel. But fortunately, you actually get three rappels, and even after our first one, we were joking about using the other two to race each other--although you descend one at a time, we were talking about timing each other. That said, I was still a little nervous going down, though I did go faster and faster each time. My problem was going too fast felt weird, although some of the rappellers in our group had no problem coming down in seconds. Some of us even had an audience, as the regular tour groups pass by and stop to watch and occasionally applaud.

All in all, the hardest part is climbing up that damn hill three times to rappel down then finish the cave tour. When you're all done, you get a certificate. And we also have video and photo proof that we actually did it.

So for something fun and a little adventurous, definitely go for rappelling at Laurel Caverns. It costs 35 bucks, which gets you three rappels and a little tour, which lasted about three hours total. Granted, that also depends some on how fast everyone does their rappels.

Maybe I'll take on spelunking next.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fayette SPCA quarantined

From the Post-Gazette: 
An unknown infectious disease at the Fayette SPCA that has killed 10 dogs in as many days has caused the state Department of Agriculture to quarantine the shelter, a spokeswoman said.
The dogs, which were euthanized or died in their kennels, are suspected to have had parvovirus, distemper or intestinal worms, state department spokeswoman Samantha Krepp said. 
Most shelters will quarantine themselves, but the SPCA did not follow protocol, she said. "Our goal is to make sure these animals are safe, and our goal is to make sure no other dog gets sick," Ms. Krepps said.
As a result, no animals can go in or out for at least four to six weeks.

Frankly, any organization caring for and attempting to adopt out animals that fails to follow protocol, resulting in widespread illness and death of animals, should be shut down. Because this is the SPCA and they're basically the county's animal control, that's probably not going to happen. But any employees responsible should absolutely be sacked. There were clearly multiple failures here, and those responsible need to be held accountable.

That said, the most important thing now is to get the animals healthy, and the SPCA needs help doing that. They need bleach, Pinesol, dog food, deck rakes, garbage bags, and antibacterial dish soap. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8 to 4 or Saturday until noon. Volunteers are also needed.

They're also in need of a veterinarian to vaccinate the dogs for kennel cough in case any kind, local souls are willing to do so at a low cost.

Now, in the meantime, this means that added strain will be put on other local shelters that are already full. Fayette Friends of Animals--the only no-kill shelter in the area that's also much cleaner and more reputable--is full and can't take in any more animals, so I'm sure that if you're looking for a pet right now, FFOA would be glad to see some of their animals adopted out into a loving forever home, and you can make that happen!

I've praised FFOA multiple times, but they truly are a great shelter--and shelter animals make great pets. My parents got my puppy brother there when I was in college.

I know what you're thinking--"But which one is the puppy brother!?"
Other than being a spoiled brat with very selective hearing, Duke is an awesome dog. He's so fun and lovable and affectionate, and after I went home after a recent road trip with him and my parents to Ohio for his post-cataract-surgery checkup, he put his paw on the door, looked for me, and whined. He is the cutest.

Check out FFOA and adopt, or donate supplies or time to the SPCA when they need it most--or both! I don't want to have to make this blog the equivalent of a sad commercial. I am not above changing the blog header to a slideshow of animals who need homes and setting to Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" to auto play when you visit the site.

Ironically, that song is used in ads for SPCA.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Golfers hospitalized after fight over rules

This is why we can't have nice things.
An argument about water hazard rules started on the fifth hole. The debate “escalated quickly” in the fairway of the seventh hole. 
“One of my pro shop employees got a call that someone got hurt on No. 7, got hit with a club, but thought it was a ball,” said golf course owner Joseph Gudac Jr.
I get arguing over rules. Fine. Anyone who has ever played a board game with a sibling has been there. But I like that they just kept going until they got physical, although that's obviously the only way we know how to solve our problems.
When he arrived, Gudac found a 43-year-old golfer who was seeing birdies of a different kind. 
“Symptoms of a concussion, says he was hit with a club,” Gudac said.
The golfers' names haven't been released, which leads me to believe they're well-known/reputable enough in the area that some reputations may be bruised and some people may be embarrassed--especially considering this was the Fayette County Open Championship. On second thought, that makes the violence all the more expected.

Both are being charged with assault.

And quite unsurprisingly, Gudac also said he was "embarrassed."

Friday, August 1, 2014

So, It Hasn't Been a Great Week for the Fair

I was just out of town with my parents and dog, lamenting the likelihood that I'd miss the fair festivities this year--but from the sounds of things, the fair was a bit rough this year.

The trouble started with the abysmal weather we've been having, which meant the fair's fireworks were postponed twice and other events got canceled.

Then a man was injured on an ATV during motocross events.

And then last night, a horse was killed in an accident involving two cars.
[A]n SUV was traveling northbound on Route 119 near Ranch Road in when it struck the horse at 9:56 p.m. A passenger in the SUV was flown to a hospital for non-life threatening injuries. 
The fair board has yet to comment, but the horse was involved in events at the fair. The Facebook theory is that the horse got spooked during the rescheduled fireworks. This hasn't been confirmed, but it does seem likely and fireworks while animals are out does seem unwise. I mean, my aforementioned dog is hard enough to wrangle during fireworks.

The good news is you can win a knife that says "SUPER BITCH."

UPDATE: So, a U-Haul overturned nearby Saturday night, so basically all emergency personnel is so done and glad the fair is over.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Children to name road to jail

Because what better way to name the road to a jail than hold a contest for students? It's one of those things that sounds like a joke, but nope, it's real. And anyway, who needs traditional student contests like anti-drunk-driving posters or projects on historical Connellsville?

The winner will get a $200 gift card, but the good news is it was paid for through personal contributions and we're not dicking around as a county spending 200 bucks to name a road, most likely because no one had any worthy ideas at a commissioner's meeting.

If your kid (or you posing as a kid) wants to enter, e-mail your submission to by 9 a.m. Friday and include the child's name, address, phone number, grade, and school. Fayette 911 will review the entries, and the winner will be chosen by the prison working group.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Facebook was so UT yesterday

I'm guessing this was a thing yesterday, because more than one person posted "so UT" statutes--and by that I mean two--and I saw a spike in hits on my "So UT" blog post. So I don't know what the deal is, but I'm stealing your Facebook proof of how UT y'all are.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fayette County Cultural Trust receives grant

How about something good and not mock-worthy? The county's Cultural Trust has received a grant for $100,000. The money will be used to improve Connellsville.
Fayette County Cultural Trust President Michael Edwards said the grant will be used in ways to improve the appearance and the commercial heartbeat of the city. 
“This is just overwhelming,” Edwards said. The money will be used to continue beautification projects such as decorative benches, trash receptacles and hanging planters and baskets, and in other areas to boost the economic development of Connellsville. 
“It will be used to support the facade improvements and it will also be used to continue the classes that are offered to help to educate and support the local entrepreneurs.” 
Edwards was referring to classes that have been offered to local small business owners and potential business developers that focus on areas pertaining to operating their facilities. 
The classes, offered through the trust, focus on business operation and areas of finance that are helpful in their educational value and input.