A theory on places where there aren’t a lot of people:
In such places, there is less static separating the present from other points in time.
And because those places lack the clutter of development and the noise of people’s daily busyness, they aren’t as anchoring to the present, harried moment.
They are good places to disconnect and reflect, allowing us to remember we are occupying but a small moment in the history of this world. Whatever is weighing on us right that second is truly irrelevant in the grand scheme.
Here are a small handful of such escapes.
The national battlefield park is 5.8 square miles in rural, southwest Tenn., just north of Corinth, Miss.
A combined total of 23,746 Confederate and Union troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the two-day battle – which was more casualties than America had suffered in all previous wars.
According to the National Parks Service, the battlefield landscape looks much like it did during the Civil War.
The parks service website reads:
“The battlefield landscape appears much as it did in April 1862, in terms of location of roads, fields, and wood lines. One significant difference is there is far more undergrowth associated with the park forest today, on account of the forest at the time of the batte being at an advanced age (old growth), and that area farmers permitted their livestock to range freely (open range) within the forested areas, which greatly reduced the amount of understory vegetation.”
Horses, bicycles, golf carts, and four-wheelers are not allowed in the park. You cannot camp inside the park. You can drive, very slowly. You can hike. You can walk.
When I was there, I remember feeling struck by how close I felt not only to the environment, but to the past. It was a dramatic contrast to the battlefield sites in Franklin, which are surrounded or even covered with modern development and a constant influx of schoolchildren.
It was spooky, unspoiled and serene.
(Near) Pemaquid Point
Dusk near Pemaquid Point, Maine, walking on the rocky shoreline where my relatives had rented an old summer cottage.
The piers at Boothbay Harbor and the trails at Monhegan Island are exquisite, but more traversed.
To get to our cottage, you had to drive past Pemaquid Point, down the coast several miles, then turn down a gravel road that devolved into a dirt path. I believe our cottage had a television, but I don’t think we turned it on.
My mom, dad and her cousins played cards all evening while I walked along the rocks and took pictures of the ocean.
(Back of the) Taj Mahal
Late afternoon on the back side of the Taj Mahal, on a Friday. That is a Muslim holy day and the Taj, which is a mosque, is closed to tourists.
India is a very crowded country but not there, not at that time. The few people around are Hindus working at two crematoriums across the Yamuna River.
These places are like rare, treasured B sides.
Fewer people are available to have influenced your feelings about them. They retain their attributes a little better, hold up a little stronger to the passage of time because they haven’t been overplayed by one particular generation.
They are, for me, the best retreats.
Do you know what I mean?
Have you been places like this you’re willing to share?