Where I Lay My Head

A blog post by Chris Sniezek, Manager (Esther’s Place).  To read more posts from Chris, click here.

Hello everyone, it is Shop Manager Chris again with another blogpost for you! I find myself falling asleep in my chair as I sit here typing this monthly blog and it got me recollecting about all the many places I have found myself sleeping in my lifetime and all the stories which come with those sleeping spots. Some of the most memorable memories, good or bad, come from trips, reenacting, or family vacations.

One of my most memorable night’s asleep was at Harper’s Ferry back in December 2012. It was a cold winter night and I was at a re-enactment, so I was sleeping outside in a canvas “dog” tent (a small two-person tent). This was my first event overnight event and I am often surprised it was not my last because I remember it was COLD and my only covers for sleeping were my winter great coat and a thin blanket.

Chris posing in re-enactor gear, facing the camera unsmilingly.
Here’s a tintype taken the next morning after the cold, demonstrating my winter great coat.

Before falling asleep, I strolled up and down historic Harper’s Ferry, the steel heel plate on my shoe ringing off the cobblestone, and stared up at the night sky. After crawling into my tent, I lay down on the ground, placed my canteen under my head, and bundled up for (what I hoped was) a restful sleep. It was anything but a restful sleep. I quickly found out I was underprepared since the ground sucked the heat straight out of my body and the temperature dipped that night into the single digits. The next morning, I crawled out of my tent, eyes bloodshot and extremities numb with cold. The cherry on top of this experience was going to take a sip out of my canteen and realizing it had frozen solid during the night.

Chris in his re-enactor gear, including a blue woolen overcoat.
This photo was taken before the temperatures dropped that night!

Another memorable night trying to sleep was back in 2009 during a family vacation. My family decided to take a family trip out West to follow the Oregon Trail in an RV. Nearing the end of our trip, we spent the night at the Devils Tower National Park site, which was extremely memorable for several reasons. The first was the location. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in the open plains of the American West with Devil’s Tower as a backdrop.

Secondly, the night sky was AMAZING. Without any large cities nearby, light pollution was minimal which allowed our eyes to soak up a crystal-clear and very starlit night sky. Finally, the campground we spent the night in held a showing of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which features Devils Tower as the final alien landing zone, projected onto a large sheet. Seeing the laccolithic butte in the background while watching the movie felt extremely special to 14-year-old Chris.

Marketing poster for the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind via joblo.com.

The third and, for this blog post, final night I remember clearly was in 2014 when my family was spending the week in a rented beach house in Matthews, VA. For over fifteen years, my family has coordinated a week in the late summer where we all head to this house and just spend the week existing. The house sits in a “dead zone” and has no Wi-Fi hooked up, meaning the entire week we are disconnected from the world. The beach is usually deserted or the number of beachgoers is so small we do not really see anyone for the entire week there unless we head into town.

A sandy coastline.
Bethel Beach, where the beach house is located.

The town is small, with a population struggling to hit 200 full time residents and is home to two small museums dedicated to local maritime history and the local Native American materials found in the dirt. At night, my favorite activity is to sit out on the porch, in the dark, and just listen to the waves crashing along the beach before swarms of mosquitoes and no-see-ums (Ceratopogonidae) drive me inside.

Small mosquito with iridescent wings, perched on a brown stone background.
Ceratopogonidae, image by xpda – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia commons.

After escaping the swarms, I usually curl up on the couch and fall asleep (the couch is my sleeping spot since the house only has two beds. My parents get one and my brothers share the other). Each morning we are up at first light, enjoying the beach once more, and preparing for a day of fishing and relaxing.

Street intersection with crosswalk. Brown brick building with green awning in the background.
Downtown Matthews, VA. Image from mapio.net.

Looking back, there are many more stories in the places I have found myself sleeping, and I’m sure you have your own stories too, but those are for another day.

Categories
Museum Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *