Tag Archives: desolate

“They Flee into Waste Places Long since Desolate…”

4 Jan

Yesterday, I talked about desolate places I’ve been–but since the point of the post was to talk about the desolate places I’ve wanted to go to, I figured I should actually give that list. I doubt I’ll ever get there, but does your bucket list match mine?

Angle Inlet, Minnesota

This is about as deep woods as you can get and still be in the Continental US. On the Lake of the Woods, on the border with Canada, there is a chunk of land called the “Northwest Angle.” This is one of those surveying errors that happened back in the 1800’s, where American surveyors said the border should be here, and the British said it should be there. They came up with the compromise of the 49th Parallel from the Pacific Ocean to the Rainy River to Lake Superior. The problem is that these two borders don’t quite match up, and there was some debate on where they connect, and where claims already existed and were established. Thus the Angle Inlet can only be accessed by land through Canada, and apart from the native community that owns most of that land, it’s a great place to go hunt, fish, and experience nature far from the ways of man.

In a similar vein, I’d also like to go to Point Roberts, Washington, which is a small town south of Vancouver, cut off into the US by the 49th Parallel. Again, it’s only accessible by land from Canada. Apart from a beach, its main attraction is a bunch of post office boxes where Canadians can go and pick up Amazon purchases without paying Canadian taxes or shipping costs.

Adamstown, Pitcairn Island

If you’ve ever heard of the Mutiny on the Bounty, this is where their descendants ended up, on a tiny lush island in the South Pacific, living on the side of a ex-volcanic cliff and growing breadfruit. Sure, I could pick any hard-to-reach island in the world, and there are plenty of them: Ascension, Tristan de Cunha, St. Helena, Reunion… but this is the only one that takes more than two days to get to. In fact, you can’t fly there–there’s not enough land for an airport. It takes travelling on a boat which only travels for days from the nearest island airport in the French Marquesas every couple months.

It’s part of New Zealand, due to some weird diplomatic deal a hundred years ago, and although the NZ government would love people to move there, they’re actually pretty picky about travel there, and if you do, you’re not allowed to become permanent residents. It also has GORGEOUS weather, and although you’re cut off from the rest of the world, it’s got plenty of food, a small community (<100 people), and all the amenities of home including Internet! Hence it’s on my bucket list.

Stanley, Falkland Islands

When I was seven, Argentina decided to seize this clump of islands that believed belonged to them. The British had some disagreement about that and fought over this mostly windswept, treeless, sheep-filled land. Ever since then, this place had gripped my attention. You can fly there, but Lord, is it really, really hard. Your options are to either fly to Chile and then take a 13-hour flight to the island OR fly to the UK and take a 24+ hour flight from London to Ascension Island THEN to the Falklands. (Not from Argentina for… well, obvious reasons.) Either way, you land at a British military base called Point Pleasant, because frankly, it’s the only modern airfield on the islands.

Once you get there, well, it’s the definition of desolate. Cold, wet, treeless, but plenty of grass and sheep… and a few minefields leftover from the war. Plus due to the flight schedule, you’re stuck there a week regardless. However, it’s about as close to Antarctica as I’m ever going to get, and there’s a lot of history that I would love to see.

How does my bucket list match with yours? Do you have some desolate place you’d like to visit? Why? Let me know in the comments below!

A Hunger for Desolate Places

3 Jan

I’ve always wanted to travel to hard-to-reach places, simply because they are desolate, hard to get to, and have very few people. It could just be an extension of my introverted nature, but what is so special about nothingness?

As Prince Faisal says in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, “The English have a great hunger for desolate places.” Here in Arizona, we have a lot of desolation–the Sonoran Desert is a wild, beautiful bunch of nothing. Plus we get mountains, which is pretty cool, but it tends to be uncomfortably hot for exploring for half the year. However, you are never more than a hour from civilization–further depending on how you define it. However, I grew up in a small town, so I have a much wider definition than city boys.

That being said, I have found a few places that I love to go to that are blessedly desolate.

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations on the East Coast. However, at the southern edge of this beach is Back Bay, a wildlife preserve that you’re not allowed drive past the front gate. In other words, you have to hike or bike into the area. So if you’re willing to walk for a couple miles, you will find you have the whole beach to yourself.

At a time in my life that I was at my lowest (and heaviest), this was a wonderful discovery. It’s amazing!

Cliff Island, Maine

This is the farthest you can go on the Casco Bay Ferries. When I (briefly) lived in Portland, Maine, I used to take the ferries on the weekend to go exploring on the coastal islands. This particular island takes about two hours to ride out to, and because it’s so remote, it has one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses still in operation in the US. (The high schoolers still have to take the ferry both ways daily.)

As you might imagine, there’s very few people who live on the island, and there’s not much to do, but since all I wanted to do was go exploring between ferry stops, it was perfect. You can walk all around the island and not run into a single soul.

Kok Mak, Thailand

This is a tourist destination, but not a very popular one. This tiny island in the Bay of Thailand is again hard to get to. It takes two hours by ferry (or one by hovercraft) to get to, after travelling four hours by bus east of Bangkok. It was originally a rubber plantation. There are expensive resorts on the island, but there’s also nicely priced bungalows like the one me and my wife shared. We liked this place so much we went there twice–in the on season and the off–and loved it a lot. So many European tourists were there who were afraid to eat anything but spaghetti and noodles, but you can rent a moped, or just walk around, and find wonderful restaurants and shops… or just explore the beach or forest. It’s a great place.

What desolate or sparsely-populated places have you been to? Does the emptiness call to you as well? Let me know in the comments below!

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