The destroyed stretch of highway is less than a mile in length but is a buckled, warped and undulating mass of asphalt. It has been distorted by the heat of the underground fires to the point the pavement has cracked and broken into wide fissure that emit a spooky steam. Sometimes the ground can get quite warm and you can feel the bottoms of your shoes effected.
Less a fascination but still a curiosity is how is has become a mile long canvas for graffiti. This is literally street art, mostly spray painted and poorly crafted by coal region pubescent angst. Occasionally there is a rare gem of creativity to be taken in. Once we saw a small war of plastic cowboys and Indians being waged across a steaming cavern. The miniature scene was gone, washed and worn away as most of what I had remembered from May 2010.If anyone ever plans to visit Centralia for photographic reasons, consider that the steam is much more pronounced during different weather conditions. I thought the cold would have made it stand out so we chose to return in the winter. Unfortunately, the breezy day and less humidity made it much harder to notice in any area. The ground didn’t warm our shoes as it had in May 2010 and all that we could get photos of were some interesting graffiti. I won’t say which ones I added but I left two.
It was really breezy and made spraying paint a challenge as the morning went on. We retraced our steps, check out the cemeteries, had a snack in the car and drove back by way of Danville. The town always has me hungry for soup. The hospital always has great veggie soups but today I wanted to take my parents to Brews n Bytes.
They are coming along with their repairs and had a couple of hot and spicy soups on the menu. My parents got the Potato Jalapeño and I chose a big bowl of the vegan Tomato Thai. I overheard the waitress sharing other soups they feature daily including Saturday being the chef’s choice. Tuesday is Black Bean, Wednesday was the Tomato Thai that I really enjoyed, Thursday is Indian Split Pea and Friday is Chili. It is going to be hard to ever travel though Danville without stopping for soup.
I got home in time to run a very nice 7 miles before 5 PM; it was my first sub 9.5 minute mile in quite a while. That blistering pace (for me) helped work up and appetite for a steamy dish that had been tempting me since it was announced on Monday, Aarvark Kafé was up and running again and I was determined to make time to get a bowl of vegan Chili. Jim picked me up at the end of my trail run and we drove straight to the restaurant.
I was chilled upon reaching the restaurant (not from carrying Carrot Cake Cupcakes there this time) because of not stopping to changed out of my sweaty running clothes. Hot chili was just what I needed. Jim ordered the spicy and I got the medium but we share some of each. We both preferred the seasoning and added heat of the spicy version and told the chef since he is planning on adding it to the permanent menu. I hadn’t run with my camera so my only photo was taken with my phone. Trust me, the flavors and heartiness of this vegan Chili is much better than my photo can show.
From Centralia’s underground smoldering, Danville’s soup that was too hot for Mom, my burning lungs as I kicked it up around mile 4 of my run and a bowl of spiced vegan chili that was just right – the heat was welcome on this late February day.