We arrived during the wee hours while the sunlight was still peaking just above the horizon. My significant other and myself picked our campsite and sat down our gear, then readied for our first morning safari. A chill stung in the air, so I riffled through my rucksack and pulled my Avedon & Colby field shirt and vest out and dressed quickly. The moleskin field shirt took away the bite in the air immediately. I packed my daypack and filled my vest with survival items like a compass, a folding blade and some other oddities. Mere minutes had passed but the sun had already began to rise and fill the forest with warm, golden light. We started off with our daypacks slung around our shoulders, binoculars and a bottle of water in either hand.
A few days ago, the early spring rain had finally slowed and the sky turned a vibrant blue, and I thought I ought to go exploring while the sun was still shining. In rural Ohio, rivers pulsed with streaming rainwater, so I gathered my Pangean Glider chair, a six pack of beer, and my binoculars, and I set off in my car. I made my way along backcountry roads, following the meandering river, over bridges and passed the endless farms. And just beyond the local damn, I found a rocky dirt road that took me up to a peaceful place at the edge of the Killbuck Creek. The location seemed perfect for bird watching and for some much needed time alone, with Nature, as there are no people or houses, only the fresh-tilled earth of corn fields, which ran up to the edge of trees which gathered thick along the water’s edge.
Through the rearview mirror, the orange morning sun was just visible through the skyscrapers of the city. A van followed a lead car and within thirty minutes, the city had disappeared and what seemed like endless farmland streamed by. Sleepy-eyed and quiet, each member of my family stared out, watching the cows and goats grazing in fields of green. I enjoyed the silence as I searched the skies for birds of prey with my binoculars pressed around my eyes.
Rolling foothills eventually rose up and greeted the horizon in lines of thick forest of oak and pine. In the lead, my uncle turned off the highway and within minutes the car began to vibrate violently as he continued along washboard dirt roads. And as the forest thickened, it occurred to me that there were no sign of humans, and there were no cars, or houses, or planes.
Meandering, we weaved the pothole-scarred path until we finally arrived at a dispersed camping site. I exited the car first and stretched, taking in a deep breath of the fresh air. The smell was wondering, something like pine with subtle wildflower, which seemed to intertwine with a distinct musty scent of decomposing leaves and rotting wood. I stared up at the trees soaring up from the earth. They brushed the blue sky with their rustling leaves, now bright green and vibrant with the coming of spring. The songbirds were singing and the squirrels were chasing each other over moss covered tree trunks. The ground was covered in a bed of orange pine needle, with fallen pinecones and the faint scattering of animal tracks.
As the black sky paled to light, a brilliant sea of stars faded. And soon the millions of tiny lights like fireflies became invisible to me. I looked down from the heavens, hoping the beauty of each star, striving to shine the brightest of all, would be burned forever inside the lids my eyes. Then, the sun appeared in a line of pale red against the deep purple sky. The vibrant light silhouetted the mountain peak as I finished packing my tent. Minutes later, I finished packing then slung my manliest of satchels over my head and let it rest at my side. And then I was off.
It was a dark night in the ancient floating city. The alleys were lit by the full pale moon. Shadows of crooked buildings, rusted iron balconies, and the occasional leafless tree left me in a spooky chill. The shadows seemed to elongate around me, and I doubled my nervous pace. A shutter of thunder in the nearby distance announced the creeping wake of a storm approaching. The clouds, dramatically lit, bunched around the moon like old pals separated by time until this very moment. A blood cast loomed overhead, painting the tops of the buildings with a pallid shade of sinister red. Only the sounds of the skyward rumbling, apart from my feet hitting stone, echoed through each narrow passage, and were joined with a faint scratching and scurrying and fluttering. I was the least bit oblivious in the fact that I was not alone now – there are creatures stirring in the night.
My first travel narrative, “Grave robbers of the Solway Coast, Scotland” has come along way from its initial scribblings. It’s been read by over 20,000 people since it was published originally on the blog here. But now, it’s been formally published in a new travel anthology book: “Postcards from Around the World: Volume 1”... It’s jam packed full of interesting and thrilling tales from all around the world, from other travel writers as well. I even bought the book to support the other writers, and I’ve loved reading and experiencing the stories through their words. While this isn’t a massive book deal or anything of that nature, I am proud to team up with Postcards from Around the World and be published in their first anthology!
I hope you will consider supporting me and the other talented writers featured in the book by purchasing it on Amazon (for $7.99).
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