Happy Scribe
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Hey, and welcome to the Short-Staffed, I'm Josh, there's chokecherries over there. This is short stuff. Giddy up.

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Now, I've had the time of our lives. It's pretty good.

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I can't even sing that without thinking of the great Simpsons joke. Yeah, same here. The half time of our life. Yeah. I mean, great with Dolly Parton and Snoopy. Oh, that's right. Yeah. So the good one.

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So we're talking about Dirty Dancing and specifically Mountain Lake outside of Blacksburg, Virginia, where that was the location of Kellerman's Lodge Mountain.

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Lake Lodge doubled as Kellerman's for the Eighty-seven classic film Dirty Dancing. It did.

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And that lake actually was a character in the film because they practiced in a little bit of foreshadowing Johnny Castle and Baby practice their dance move where he lifts her up over his head, which is basically the thing that brings the whole house down in the movie. It's like the climax of the movie is this dance move and they practice it in the lake.

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That's right. Quick shout out. Jennifer Grey is still around and great. She was in that TV show that I binged Red Oaks. That is so fantastic. Oh, really? That our buddy John Hodgman is and she's she plays the mom and she's wonderful.

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That's great. I got to check that show out. Patrick Swayze has left us right.

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Yeah, he was wonderful, man. Hell of a dancer. Great fighter. Pretty good actor. Great singer. Mm. She's like the wind. OK, I thought it was good. So I get chills every time I hear it's still.

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Well I say no this is short stuff but I'll rank it as dancer, fighter, actor, singer in order of his best, you know, his talents.

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I won't dispute that order but it's just a spectrum of greatness. OK, loved him and he's great, so that's what I say. So the actual name of that lake, like you said, is Mountain Lake and the actual name of the resort that that was supposedly Kellerman's resort, which I think it was supposed to be in the Poconos, wasn't it? Yeah, not Virginia. But there's the resort is actually in reality called Mountain Lake Lodge. And the people who own Mountain Lake Lodge and the people who are investors in Mountain Lake Lodge, they're not very happy about things these days because Mountain Lake keeps draining and it keeps draining.

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And what was once a lodge and a resort that was based on fun in the sun on this lake in Virginia is now turning to things like archery and horseback rides and telling guests exactly why the lake is about 35 percent of its normal capacity.

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Yeah, if you just Google Dirty Dancing Lake today or Gazebo or Boardwalk and you will see that that gazebo and boardwalk are in the middle of a field.

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Yeah, it's really creepy. Yeah, it's very weird. And we're going to tell you why right now.

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Mountain Lake is one of the only two natural lakes in Virginia.

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Georgia has zero. They have to. Yeah, in the southern Appalachian Mountains. And over the years and we're talking every few hundred years, this lake empties and fills back up again, naturally. Yeah.

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Which is kind of weird. And over the course of the six thousand years that this lake has been around, which I just find that so fascinating, don't you, that a lake has only been around for six thousand years. Yeah, yeah. I love that. But anyway, the six thousand years it's been around, it's actually empty three different times. Chuck Lake completely empty. Yeah.

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So there's two guys that figure heavily in sort of why this mountain lake is like it is. There's this one guy was named Chester. What's Chester Skipp. What's right. Skip is derivative of Chester, obviously. So he's a geologist and he knows a lot about it.

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And there's this other guy, John Colley, Laowai, that wrote his doctoral thesis on Mountain Lake in 1999.

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And they have explained that mountain lake has holes that has little holes on the bottom, a lot of them that continually drain this water out.

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And they've done dye test. I think what's did the dye test and found that this water is coming out about a mile from here and it's been doing this for 6000 years.

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Yeah, they literally got to the bottom of it. So that's it. I mean, that's the mystery holes. But the thing is, is the people over at Mountain Lake Lodge want to know why is it getting worse? Like why would this if these holes have been here for all 6000 years? First of all, why didn't we start to notice this until like 2002? And secondly, like, why isn't it filling back up? Why is it just keep going down and down and down?

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And so how I think, was it Cowley who explained it as a water budget? Yeah.

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He said if you think of it like a bank account, you got you got money coming in. You got money coming out, you want more money coming in. So that bank account gets bigger. And it's the same with this lake. You have inflow and outflow. And at various times throughout the history of this lake, there's been more outflow than inflow. Right.

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And so there was a drought that actually started in the 90s that that led to this this lower inflow and which meant that there was more outflow, which explains it partially, but it doesn't fully explain it. We'll get real really like reveal what's going on with this mystery after these messages.

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OK, Chuck, so there was a drought, sure, which means that there's more water going out than is coming in. That's great because the drought ended, but the people at Mountain Lake Lodge said, well, the drought ended. Everybody in this lake is still not filling up. What is the deal? They actually were so upset about this. They paid Jerry Seinfeld to come get on the phone and ask what the deal was about it.

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That was a lot of money, too, but it got everyone's attention. So he said there's a few reasons. He said it's not just one thing you can't say. It's even these two things. It's sort of multifaceted. He's three and it's only three. So you've got the the drought, which did not help. You've got one mountain. Lake Lodge was built a conference center above the lake. And to comply with building the saying, they had to construct stormwater management basins.

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And they said, you know, what will probably happen is I don't know if they said that, but what they assumed, I guess, what happened was that water would still get to the lake as groundwater, but they found out that wasn't happening. It was going to a creek. Yeah.

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Is that what you say? You call it a creek now? It's a creek. Boy, you just threw me off. Some people say creek, though, right? Sure. I think, you know, country country folk who say warsh. Mm hmm. Exactly.

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So that was kind of a big surprise that that water wasn't going where they thought it would, because I guess these things are fairly close to the lake. And since it's above it, they just assumed it trickle down. So that's a big problem. Right. And so the geologists are saying, well, I guess one thing you could do is plug the holes if you want, and then hopefully the rainfall will kind of raise the levels. But you want to plug these holes one at a time.

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And Mountain Lake Lodge did too late and they plugged them all at once.

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Yeah, that scared the bejesus out of the geologists.

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Well, and the reason they did this was because they knew that one of the other facets of why it was draining was the sediment cycle. And it's just like something get stuck in your sink drain. It's going to drain slower. And at various times throughout the history of this lake, there might be things either stuck in or not stuck in. So it just happened that after dirty dancing, there was not much stuck. And so it was draining out a lot quicker than it normally might have.

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Yeah, Jennifer Gray was like, thank God Patrick Swayze wasn't alive to see this shameful thing.

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So how did they plug these holes? Well, at first in the first, apparently, they were aware I don't know if they lost memory of it or thought it was an anomaly or thought it would just go away. But in the first half of the 20th century, at some point, the Mountain Lake Lodge used mattresses to stuff into the holes.

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How big are these? I tried to find it. I don't know. I'm not sure how big they are. But from what I understand, there's more there than they thought. Yeah. So one foot mattress isn't going to help. But also like what poor bellhop did they send down there to drag a mattress down to the bottom of a lake and try to stuff it in a hole. OK, because you're. No, you know, that's who did it, of course.

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So that was there on it.

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That was their first attempt. And the second attempt was much more technologically advanced. They stuffed dirt and clay into it. Yeah, dirt. Clay, is that what the bentonite is? Yeah, it's like expanding clay. Yeah, that makes sense. They should got some of that foam stuff that you spray in Mansell's.

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They basically just sped up the. Yeah. Great stuff. Yeah. They basically just sped up the sediment cycle, but they overdid it because this lake said nature will find a way and just started popping new holes.

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Yeah, it's crazy. This reminds me of the Exploding Lakes episode way back when, but yeah, the water level never got to full pond or for full pool is what you can call it. Yeah, like that. More football. Yeah.

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And they there is water there. There's more than there was in 2008. Like if you look at pictures from 2008, that's when it was literally a field. There is a little bit of water but you can't canoe or anything, you can't swim. It's kind of sad to be honest to look at it.

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But there's something to be said for archery and horseback riding. Sure. Yeah, especially archery. Archery on horseback. Oh, wow.

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Yeah. You get some you can level up. You do that stuff. Yeah. They comp your room for the night.

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But what said that you know what, they could redirect water from another local watershed. Just gravity feed it down in there. He said that would probably do it. But you got to be really careful because like we've seen like the domino effect when you start messing with nature like that. But he said that would probably work. If they want to explore that.

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I don't know if they are not. I know, but we'll see. I don't know the mountain lake lodge board. Clearly does not bow before nature. No, it does not know. Well, that's it. I guess we'll have to revisit this in a few years to see what happens to Mountain Lake. Hopefully it'll come back not just for Mountain Lake Lodge, but for the culture as a whole, the culture that loves dirty dancing. That means everybody, that short stuff is out.

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