On my project, I was almost totally removed from technology and society. In order to still document my project as I was conducting it, I kept a journal. My blog posts will consist of excerpts from that journal. They were chosen to provide insight into my thought process as I created each piece. They also work with the pieces to reflect my experience of having limited human interaction while being surrounded by nature.
Day 1 – Sunday, August 7
9:30pm – Tent
I’ve just finished setting up my tent and bed. Well, I haven’t actually finished the tent yet. Tomorrow I still need to put in the stakes.
The reason I’m so late today is because my plans got quite complicated the last two weeks. The long and the short of it is, I was in Mississippi this morning, got dropped off here to pick up my car, drove to Center Hill Lake to get some things, drove back to Sparta for gas, drove to Crossville to get food and supplies, and finally got here to set up camp.
As it was dark when I arrived at my campsite, Carson’s Point, I used the car headlights to give me light to set up the tent. Basically all I’ve done so far is put together the tent, blow up my air-mattress, and put sheets on it.
I walked onto the dock to check it out, and it’s covered in goose poop. Expecting and early morning wake up from them.
I bought some stuff that needs to be refrigerated. I just left it in a cooler and I plan to go and get ice from under the Dining Hall tomorrow.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I’m at Camp Nakanawa in Tennessee. I went here as a camper for 8 years and have been a counselor for 2 years. Over the summer, I was thinking of places to do this project that would be away from people/society, but would also satisfy my mother’s need to be assured it was 100% safe. On one of my days off, I was eating dinner with some older counselors and explaining my project, when it hit me. Nakanawa was the perfect place. Not only could I go to a remote point around the lake, it was private property owned by very nice people I already knew! In addition, it fulfilled another need I had considered lesser than the first two. It was a familiar place. A place I may have already developed memories, knowledge, and assumptions about. Because part of the project is to see if I can learn to see my surroundings for what they are, rather than my preconceived ideas about them, being in a familiar place is idea!
So, explanations aside, I’m just going to jot down some thoughts I’m having right now.
- I’m already feeling a bit odd with the absence of other people. Like, I went to Wal-Mart and stuff, but I haven’t really talked to anyone I know in a while, and it’s a bit lonely, but also empowering.
- When I first got here, I was super paranoid…and maybe still am a bit. I have a big knife next to my pillow, along with a phone. (My mom wants me to text her every day so she knows I’m alive. My dad suggested I buy a TracFone so I won’t get snapchats and ESPN updates or texts from anyone. I have to set that up tomorrow).
- I’m probably going to get on a weird sleeping schedule because I don’t have electricity or anything…and my front window/screen is pointing east. So I’ll probably start going to bed earlier, when it gets dark, and waking up earlier, when the sun comes up.
I’m starting to get a little less nervous about this whole thing; I’m actually starting to get excited! I think I’ll try to get some sleep now (10:07) – Mollie
Day 2 – Monday, August 8
6:55 – Tent
Woke up around 6:00. Now it’s 5 till 7:00. It’s a bit colder than I expected, which is nice. It’s overcast, but I’m hoping it doesn’t rain. Didn’t sleep super well. At least at first. I kept waking up. I feel like I slept well though. I’m getting hungry. Most of my food requires water or fire, and a lot of times both. So I’ll need to put in the stakes and then sort out what I’m going to do.
So I’ve pretty much set up everything camping-wise. Still need to do art stuff. I got ice for the cooler. However, I still don’t have any water. I think I may need to go back into Camp Proper to rinse out one of my coolers and fill it with water from the hose.
I haven’t eaten yet…so I definitely should soon. I think I’ll eat a bagel and then take a sketchbook and hike around the lake. I’ll take a water bottle and fill it up at Junior Camp. I’ll pick a few places to paint. I’ll sketch them and try to make note of where they are, so I can find them later.
It’s still quite cool and overcast. I keep thinking it’s going to break up, because I’ll start to see sunlight and it starts to get hot, but so far those moments haven’t lasted.
I’ve sketched 2 places so far. The second place is below the spillway of the dam. There’s this bright orange/red silt in the water that’s just so cool. While I was sitting here sketching, I heard the rustling of leaves. I glanced to my left and saw the black, scaly back of a snake. I stood up and it froze. I found its head, realized it was a small garter snake, and went to go sit back down. It took off the way it had come at what I can only assume to be a sprint.
Oh, and I did eat. I ate a bagel, one half peanut butter and jelly, the other peanut butter and honey. I think I’ll have hot-dogs tonight.
Being by myself is fine most of the time, but I’ve a feeling it’s going to get old quick.
It’s gotten hotter. It was sunny for a while, but it’s starting to thunder.
2:18 – Junior Council Ring
I went down Bunk’s Trail toward the lake, and saw a nice clearing. That’s where the 3 docks are! As I was walking down it, I heard what sounded like a sneeze and then saw something white flash across the path a good 20-30 yards ahead of me. I heard it walk/running into the woods. When I got to where it must have been, I saw hoof prints in the sand. I think it was a deer. It’s started to rain.
2:28 – Junior Camp Office Porch
It started seriously raining. I just made it to the Junior Office Porch and have decided to wait for it to pass. Then I’ll also use the bathroom and fill up my water bottles. Still thundering. I think the ground is saturated because it’s already starting to look like it’s flooding…I hope everything at my campsite is okay. Luckily not a lot of wind with this storm, and the clouds look like they’ll pass soon.
Big clap of thunder. Glad I stopped here.
4:50 – Carson’s Point
Just got back, most everything seems damp but okay. Some mud got under the tent (between the tent and the tarp) but I think it’ll be okay.
So after I left the Junior Office porch to go to the water fountain and the bathhouse, I saw that there was no longer a fountain and the bathhouse was locked! Then it started pouring and thundering louder and I started to see lightening. I waited on the bathhouse porch for what felt like ages, and when it sounded like the thunder had let up a bit, I sprinted back to the Junior Office. I filled up my water bottles with the hose. I sat in a rocking chair for a while, but I really had to go to the bathroom. I decided to try the office door, although it looked totally closed down, and, wouldn’t you know, it was unlocked! I found the bathroom and felt totally refreshed. On the way back I found Kettle Rock! It’s very cool! I think I’m going to do a painting of it. I’m thinking about what to eat…I’m afraid it’s a bit wet to start a campfire, but I’d really like one. And if I get one going, I can have hot dogs. But if it’s too wet, I’m going to probably have beans and rice.
9:15 – tent
When I said all was okay at my campsite after the rain, it appears I was mistaken. My tent, for some unknown reason other than it was probably cheap, did not manage to keep the rain off my bed. In fact, there were small puddles of standing water all around the inside of my tent.
Secondly, this being alone business sucks. I think I’ve said 5 words today, and they’ve all been to myself. Also, it’s very weird to be at Camp, but have none of my friends be here. I almost think this feels emptier than maybe an empty campground would, because I have so many associations with people here. It’s okay during the day. I can walk around and explore and stay fairly busy. However, once I started working on the fire and cooking dinner, it felt like everything had just sort of slowed down. And once I was done eating, it was like maybe 8. So I packed up and cleaned up and stuff, and by the time I was sitting down again it was 8:30. So I sat there staring into the dying fire, in the dark, alone. You don’t really think about it getting dark and you not being able to do much afterward until you don’t have electricity or anything to entertain you. As I was just sitting, and really the whole time I was making dinner, I started to feel more and more lonely. I’ve never really thought about how much we’re with other people and how much we interact with them. But after about 24 hours without really taking to anyone, you start to get very sad. I might end up shortening this trip by ending Sun/Mon. That way I could be home a little longer before going back to school. I’ll probably need time to re-adjust to people. But it all depends on how the art is going. I’m starting paints tomorrow! – Mollie
Day 3 – Tuesday, August 9
7:30 – tent
I definitely feel better this morning. I truly think it’s just the night and the dark and the boredom that they bring that drives me a little crazy. I didn’t sleep very well. I kept rolling over onto wet patches of sheet. Around 6am I just took off the sheet. I got a bit more sleep that way. There were geese on the dock last night and this morning. They were sort of quietly honking in the nighttime, but once the sun was up they were honking full force. I thought I heard a deer walking around at about 6:30, but I couldn’t see except for out of the door of my tent, and I didn’t want to totally get up and going yet, so I didn’t go outside to look.
I’m going to try my stove today! So I can hopefully make eggs, bacon, and maybe some cheesy potatoes. Although I’m feeling much better than last night, I’m still feeling quite lonely. I realized yesterday that even if I normally don’t talk a ton one day, I listen all the time. Here there is no one to listen to. *sigh* oh well, time to get the ball rolling, I’m painting today!
11:55 – Carson’s
I got the stove to work; I made a huge breakfast! It was actually too much, and I just finished it off for lunch. I’ve started 2 paintings! The first is the general one about my experience camping alone. I painted one corner green, decided to dip 3/4ths of the canvas in the lake, painted the upper half green and yellow, dipped it in the lake again, and let the colors run. It looked really cool, if I do say so myself, and sort of gives the impression of trees.
The second one I started is part of the fire pit and a lizard/gecko thing that comes out and suns himself every morning. I named him Leo (no idea why). This painting is more realistic, which has made it a bit frustrating. I did a brick today, and as clouds would come and go, the shading would change, so the painting sort of reflects that.
I also took some pictures.
I can’t tell if it’s going to rain or not. It’s quite windy today. It was sunny but now it’s a bit overcast.
9:03 – tent
What a day it’s been. I painted at the spillway, and there was actually water coming over it! I am doing that painting in a sort of impressionism style.
It’s hard, but I like it. I came back to Carson’s, after climbing around and rinsing off in the spillway, and put up my painting stuff. Then I drove into Camp Proper to fill up my spare cooler with water from the hose and use the bathroom. When I got back to Carson’s I was feeling really lonely. I think that the painting and stuff is okay to do alone, but I keep thinking when I’m done working, I’ll get to see someone. And I don’t. Also, I think meals are the hardest.
At one point, I am super hungry, which I think adds to my hysteria. I start the stove going to boil water for my noodles. I cook a biscuit on a stick. At some point I’m crying and talking to myself about how I’m going to get through this and what I’m going to say to people once I’m finally done. The pot takes forever to boil and I’m afraid I’m going to run out of propane. Eventually, I eat some noodles, 2 biscuits, and a Coke. I think I’m still crying while I’m eating. I’m also afraid it’s going to rain and I feel like I should be painting the sunset. Once I sit back down and finish eating, however, I calm down a bit. It’s about 8:00. I clean up my dinner things and then just sit, looking into the fire. The first 5 minutes take forever. So does the next 5. I’m so lonely and I have no idea what to do now that it’s getting dark. I’m still afraid it might rain. Over the next half an hour, I calm down a lot. My stomach is full. It’s not raining. I have a fire. Eventually I feel a quiet sense of peace.
Someone called my TracFone today around 4:00, while I was painting. It scared the crap out of me.
My friend is coming tomorrow. I’m very glad. At least before this newfound calm, I was afraid I’d go crazy if I didn’t see someone soon. I still might. I don’t know how long she’s staying, not long I’d guess. She does work. But she did say she’d bring lunch.
I’m going to try to sleep now. Pray for no rain! – Mollie