Have you ever woken up, and in a groggy, clouded state of mind had the slightest thought that it might be an incredibly fun experience to set up camp between rusted relics atop a ground coated in glass shards, surrounded by 80,000 spiders risen from hell, sizing closely to the width of your palm from leg to leg, and swarms of bees so loud you’d think Skrillex was lost in a frenzy, trying to escape through the brush of a forest? Now, we’re either a set of especially deranged individuals, or an oddly adventurous group, because to us, this was the perfect expedition to accompany the following two hot summer days.
Like a large mechanical worm, this collection of forgotten streetcars sits sprawled out, wrapping and curving its way through a forested alley of trees. A slim break in the canopy overhead creates a narrow valley of light, allowing the evening sun to shine onto this stationary parade of cars, frozen in time.
We had just begun setting up our tents, when we noticed that the entire ground, or most of it surrounding us was covered in layers of glass, busted from streetcar windows. Deciding that it would be far from a good idea to lay tents out on top of sharp glass, the search for other spots began. Eventually, after much scattered debate, a final decision was reached to set up camp directly in the middle of some old tracks, leaving us a good distance from glass, and more importantly, a great distance from any mammoth spiders of the apocalypse.
Setting up camp, in most normal situations is a relatively easy and safe activity, until you are faced with the dangers surrounding an area such as this. See, where much human interaction has been lacking for years, nature begins to mix in whatever it sees fit, and in this case, the choice was a bed of towering, flowering plants stationed aside the front row of passenger trains. The flowering foliage surrounding the cars was quite impressive, looked very beautiful, smelled of fresh, natural life coating the air and sounded like…bees? As I stopped, silencing my footsteps, standing between the flowers, a loud buzz filled the air around me; an angry sound, like a large-scale honey robbery had just taken place in the Hundred Acre Wood. It had finally hit; the true reality of what we had been walking back and forth through with our gear, a near mosh pit full of wasps and honey bees…this would make the next few trips a bit more uncomfortable. Being faced with two options, either walking through the center of each connected passenger train, which would ultimately take us past the wasps outside, or to man up and push through the bees, we continued with the opposite of what you would think. Wandering back once through the cars, it was realized that even inside here did not shelter us from wasps. These large metal containers had now become home to the bees, coated in massive nests spanning across ceilings of each piece. The small doors connecting each car furthered the difficulty of transporting our equipment and it was settled that we would rush through the tall plants just a couple more times. With each passing between the towering plants, it seemed like the buzzing continued growing louder and louder, but we had finally collected everything at the campsite.
Cars from Boston, Tennessee, Ohio and more all lay in rusted waste around us as we find ourselves in need of dry supplies to start a fire, so we did what anybody surviving in times like this would do, we began scavenging train cars. Earlier in the evening, during a run through some cars, we noticed a roll of dry toilet paper, and figuring this would work perfectly to ignite a flame in our fire pit, we set out with flashlights in search to find it once again. Dodging sleeping wasps, we were finally reunited with the savior paper, allowing us to finally start our fire.
Like a large metal vein stretching through the trees, these cars have begun to exhibit a space where many creatures of the surrounding forest now make their home, not limited to bees and spiders, but birds and raccoons as well, and as the night sky laid itself overhead, all sounds of surrounding nightlife became louder and louder. The starlight glittered in a black sky above, it felt as if we were lost. The thought that we are nothing more than a simple pin prick inside the black ink of our galaxy, simple specks of stardust floating along inside an ever expanding universe, but surrounded by such massive destruction, it’s difficult to imagine the planet after the end of life, but this hits pretty damn close.
Waking up, we were greeted by the loud ‘tip-tap’ of falling rain pelting our tent roofs. I unzipped the tent, and stepping out, glanced down the line to see a faded and fogged image of a scene much different than when viewed in sunlight. The entire forest had an overcast grey, ghostly feel as if I had entered the tent at night only to be transported to a separate, otherworldly zone come daylight. The chilled rain dripped between empty frames, which once held windows, from top to bottom in sporadic splashes. As I walked by our fire pit, I kicked about the few remaining bits of sizzling embers, hissing in the rain like an angry cat as the drops crashed upon them. It was one of those moments where you could feel completely alone in the world, more or less, a moment where you couldn’t shake the feeling if you tried.