Last Night on Monomoy

Without warning, it’s suddenly our last night on Monomoy. Tomorrow, we break down the cook tent, pack up the guest tents, and start the move out. It’s not a short process- equipment must be stored, personal belongings packed in bins and ferried to the mainland, water jugs emptied, holes filled in, toilets packed up, and finally sleeping tents (the Weatherports) dismantled once every other piece of tarp, pipe, rope, and rebar has been removed. Deconstructing your home is hard, even if it’s only been your home for two and a half months.

In that time, it’s surprising how we’ve shaped the camp’s surroundings. The cook tent is now home for at least three families of mice and voles- under a pile of helmets, beneath the tarp floor, inside a camp stove box, under the (non-functional) refrigerator- who we’re constantly displacing as we pack up each part of the tent. Pulling up the floor reveals a smooth and densely trodden ring of sand surrounding the table, the result of ten weeks of foot traffic. Personal gear has been slowly accumulating in bins and tents, alongside nonperishable food and extra water that hasn’t been drunk yet. As a farewell feast with a touch of practicality, we combine a little (or a lot) of everyone’s food in a last-ditch attempt to lighten the load we’ll have to remove from the island tomorrow. It’s actually delicious.

The sunset is beautiful and bittersweet. It’s probably happened a little more slowly than it looks in this video, but with our time on the island winding down time was flying by.

The last morning. We’re starting to feel the final rush to clear everything out, and there’s a stream of plastic bins traveling from camp to the boat landing, from the cook tent to the Weatherport, and finally the cook tent itself comes down.  It’ll get taken off the island and scrubbed clean of the months of poop later on, but for now it’s bundled into the big Weatherport along with the rest of the camp equipment. We’re in a race to make it to the boat on time.

Unbelievably, we get everything packed in time and loaded up so the boat can head out early. Carrying a full load of supplies, there’s no room for all of the researchers so we stay behind to meet the boat on its return trip to the island. Because of the shifting tide, we have a 3 mile walk to our pickup spot and an opportunity for what might be the last hike down the island that we’ve called home. With all the gear on the boat, we’re free to walk unencumbered by packs for once and it’s by far the easiest island walk I’ve made all year. We spot a loon on the way.

It’s also a beautiful day to be on the water, and as we speed away from Monomoy’s western shore, I’m once again reminded of how fantastic it is to be able to start and end the workweek with a boat ride this picturesque. I may be biased, but I strongly believe that the quality of a job is marked by the quality of the boat rides that are required by that job. Monomoy is about as good as it gets.

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