Thursday, January 20, 2011

Settling In

I've been in Waldo for almost a week now. The town itself is nothing to speak of--a single bank, a small food store, a couple of churches, a gas station or two, and around 1,000 people.

I got in around 1:00 pm on Saturday and, in an effort to beat the impending rain, immediately went to work finding a spot to set up camp. There's a small service road that runs about halfway into the property. About 100 yards down this road I cut into the woods and started pushing through the underbrush until I hit a clearing. I marked several trees around the clearing with marking tape and kept going. I figured I'd find a few more spots, weigh the pros and cons of each, and make a decision.

After 5 minutes or so of weaving, fighting, and otherwise cajoling my way through the tangle of down logs, hanging limbs, vines, and thorns, I came to a clearing. I looked around and noticed the marking tape I'd put up only minutes earlier. Picking another direction, I took off into the forest again. After heading in what I thought was a straight line away from my clearing, I once again came back to my marked spot. Now determined to find a new clearing, I walked back out onto the property road and went deeper into the property. Cutting off into the woods, I picked a course that would lead me away from the clearing I'd already found three times. Venturing in the new direction I tried to maintain my bearings keeping the road directly behind me. As luck would have it, I spent only a few minutes trekking before I found myself in the exact same spot. Not one to fight fate, I gave up and settled on that clearing.

I spent what remained of the day hauling stuff to the clearing, setting up my tent, and stringing a tarp under which I can cook and store my gear. Not wanting to unpack my cooking gear, I opted to reward myself by driving the fifteen minutes into nearby Magnolia to eat at a simple burger joint called 'The Flying Burger'. A banner outside proclaimed that it had been 'Voted Magnolia's Favorite Restuarant'. My sympathy goes out to Magnolia.


On Sunday morning, I awoke to the sporadic drum roll of rain on the roof of the tent. It's really hard to motivate yourself to get out of your sleeping bag when it's only a few degrees above freezing and you know you're destined to get wet. Finally, I managed to muster the courage, immediately regretted the decision, and proceeded to go back to the warmth of civilization to shop. Supplies in hand, I returned to camp late that afternoon, ate a gourmet meal of peanut butter & jelly, and called it quits for the day.

Monday was spent fighting my desire to stay in my sleeping bag and exploring the property. There's an old toilet that has been dumped off in the woods. When I dig a permanent toilet for myself in the next couple of days, I'm going back to snag the seat. Just before dinner I went into Waldo, where I filled my water jugs at a gas station.

My roadway of green boughs.

I spent Tuesday working on the property road. Only ten or so yards off the county road, the property road turns into a giant puddle. I had been parking my truck just off the county road at the edge of the puddle, not wanting to risk getting stuck. However, leaving my truck unattended and in plain sight to any and all passersby is also a risk that I'm not comfortable with. My goal was to move the truck farther into the property and off into the woods. I cut out a Y-shaped pullout into the woods off to the left. Then I cut some down logs and staked them in to make an edge to a pathway. I filled the puddled area within the pathway with green limbs and dirt. The result is a small driveway that I can easily drive along by keeping two wheels on solid ground and two wheels on my improvised road. It's still a bit wet and muddy, but with the limbs below for extra traction and a load of cut logs along my rear axle for additional weight, I haven't had any problems yet.

Wednesday was a lazy day. After working on improving the roadwork I did the day before, I spent the most of the rest of the day reading by my campfire. I'd gotten to the good part of the book I was reading and didn't want to put it down.

With the forecast calling for rain/sleet and a drop in temperatures today, I decided it would be a good day to find the library in Magnolia. Mission accomplished. Now I'll head back to camp, finish out my first week, and begin to plot exactly where and how I intend to build a cabin.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Everything's packed. I'm a little sleep deprived, so I'm going to bed now. After a solid 7 or so hours of rest, I'll wake up and drive west. Leaving Brevard at 1:00am should put me in Waldo around 1:00pm. That should leaved me plenty of daylight to set up camp and get settled in. Here goes nothing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making a List, Checking it Twice

In my effort to leave town, I keep stumbling upon the same question over and over again: "Am I gonna need this [insert random object] in the next couple of months?" With limited space in which to pack, I attempt to be pragmatic. However, in my mind, I can create an almost endless stream of scenarios wherein an ornamental vase or box of thumbtacks might be essential to my success or survival.

Despite my early childhood dreams, I now realize I could never be an astronaut. I can't imagine some NASA handler having to patience to persuade me that a rubber chicken will not come in useful on my 5 year mission to Mars.

Will I overcome my innate desire to bring along the kitchen sink? Will I leave my home in Brevard, NC for the woods of Waldo, AR? At this point, it's a crap-shoot--place your bets.