May 11, 2017
Today I embarked on a solo (solo = mistake #1) planned field trip (planned as in I came up with this “genius” idea 2 days ago) to Cameron Recycling in Manvel, TX. You can get their address from the bottom of this blog post if you’re up for an eye opening experience or just trying to avoid doing paperwork like I was (hind sign 20/20 I don’t remember ever fearing for my life while doing paperwork, so maybe it’s not so bad afterall). I drive past this facility often and have taken my kids there to sell scrap metal and cans during the summer when they wanted to have spending money, as a way to show them how to creatively generate funds at their age. I had no idea until recently that you could actually go beyond the front desk. The windmill blade hunt has been fierce lately so I figured I would try my luck at the recycling center and maybe by some off chance…I might actually find one. I didn’t find any windmills (recognizable ones anyways) but I did have an adventure that I figured you guys would enjoy hearing about (also I heard talking about it helps speed up the recovery process).
Lawd have mercy…do they have rusty metal!
So here’s the truth about how this ordeal works, some of which was truly mind blowing…
You show up with closed toe shoes and a hard hat (both are required) during their hours of operation (no appointment, no specific time frame…anything goes around here). Safety glasses are not required, however I wish I had mine with me because there was a lot of dirt flying in my eyes, so when/if I go again I will be taking mine. I always take gloves on adventures like these, so that’s a given.
When you get there…you walk into their scrap yard and you’re on your own. That is NO exaggeration. No tour guide (who would’ve thunk it right??), no guidance and no assistance whatsoever…you are lucky if someone points in the general direction for you to head, so it was a little uncomfortable at first (well the whole time really). Wait…let me take that back…one of the crane operators “cat called” me if that counts as “assistance”. While I was repulsed by his behavior…I was also somewhat relieved as I felt reassured that meant someone would know I was out there, in case I didn’t make it out alive so they might be able to recover my body before the varmints found me. I was certainly out of my element the entire trip, but I think it’s good to stretch yourself and spend some time outside of your comfort zone.
Ok now, hold onto your seat for this…you don’t even sign a waiver releasing liability!!! Literally this was probably the most dangerous environment I’ve ever been in my whole life and ain’t nobody (except you) worried about potential hazards out there. That’s not all…there is no check in system of any sort, no need to show an ID to anyone, nada! What?!?!?! I cannot make this stuff up…you could literally be buried alive out there in a scrap metal avalanche and no one would even know you were out there!!! They could lock up and leave at 5 pm, head down the road for happy hour and you could be out there dead somewhere. I cannot fathom how long it would take them to find your body when they did finally figure it out. I was raised to hold my own and protect myself and very few times in my life have I felt legitimately scared or nervous about my safety. Well today was one of them! That doesn’t mean I won’t do it again lol, I’m just trying to fully prepare you for the experience if you decide to check it out firsthand. I mean come on…did you see all of this awesome junk??
When you enter the yard…you feel completely lost, overwhelmed and not sure where to even begin. The whole time I was there (about 2 hours) it felt like I was somewhere I wasn’t allowed to be, so that feeling never fully went away, but I guess that’s a contributing factor to the adrenaline rush you will be having. I kept waiting on someone to enforce safety guidelines of some sort but nope! There are several enormous crane bulldozer thingys (this city girl hasn’t studied heavy machinery terminology yet) moving scrap piles from one stack to another with some big magnet thing just feet away from your head! It’s literally up to you to make sure to dodge these things and that you don’t wind up being taken out by a released load of metal as it slides down the mountain of rust. They aren’t distanced from you in any way…they are surrounding you. It’s certainly not for the faint at heart or anyone not physically fit (ish), but it is an adventure if you’re up for it.
Aside from running like I was in a marathon every time a crane turned and headed in my direction, I also had the opportunity to run from multiple metal hoses that appeared to be snakes at a quick glance. I was shocked that I never actually saw a snake, but I guarantee you they are out there, so be careful. I’m pretty sure I’d take a crane to the head over a snake encounter, but I would need to sleep on that one.
I didn’t do much actual climbing or digging as I honestly felt it could be life threatening at any given moment. This stuff isn’t strategically placed in piles…it’s moving and shifting every few minutes so I treated it as an active volcano at all times. After a little while, I started to figure out that these random piles of metal did actually have some logic behind them and certain types of metal were intentionally grouped together. This helped me speed up the process because a good portion of these metals are entirely too heavy for any purpose I would personally have for them, so I was able to skip over those and stick with the lighter weight metals that I could actually bend back into shape and could re-purpose for home decor use. I did find this large cool piece that I loved…
but as it turns out…it was an airplane lol…
I’m fairly certain the most intelligent approach to this experience, is to bring a chair and umbrella (maybe nose plugs too) and sit out and wait for people to come dump their fresh load of scraps they just sold to the facility, so you can just pick up what you want before it is crushed and buried, well if you have all day to kill that is. It wasn’t easy finding pieces that were actually useful to me since I wasn’t willing to physically dive in or do much climbing, but after all the trouble I went through, I was committed to not going home empty handed even if it meant I left with one piece and turned it into something for personal use as a keepsake. After finding the right piles for my needs, I was pretty happy with what I ended up finding…
If I found these items that were fairly visible and easy (ish) for me to get to without taking too many risks, then I can only imagine how many other amazing things are out there that will be surfacing as the piles are moved and items are uncovered! Overall the field trip was interesting, cardio enhancing, potentially life threatening and highly dangerous, so obviously I’m going to go again one day 😉 If you decide to go yourself, be sure to tell me about your adventure in the comments below!
How much did I pay for my high risk treasures today? $6.50, 2 hours of time and about a gallon of sweat (some of that could have been tears…I’m not certain). That’s quite the bargain, but now with a little experience behind me I should be able to reduce the sweat equity some on my next visit.