Friday, December 25, 2015

Midnight Journey To Balance Rock

My midnight journey to Balance Rock ... some pictures ... the story is strange, and perhaps too strange to relate just now ... but here are the photographs ...
I don't really know why I decided to go to North Salem, New York, tonight, Christmas Eve, under a full moon, to find and examine a little known and very ancient artifact named Balance Rock. I will not mention everything that happened. I will say, it was strange, exhilarating and also at times a little bit frightening. I felt I had to go. Tonight. Let's just say that I felt The Call for Adventure, and at 11pm got in my car and started driving North. The trip takes about 40 minutes or so.

Things got off to a rocky start as I got in my car with just enough time to get there by midnight... and realized that I was actually really hungry. I had eaten a light dinner hours before, and I should probably have had a snack before I left. But I was in a rush to get there by midnight, and was running a little late. I ran out and started driving. I figured there would be a place along the way, a gas station even, to get a bite to eat. There wasn't.

As I was driving I noticed that other drivers were doing the manic thing more than usual. At one point I found myself almost driving off the side of 684 during a merge by another driver who not only side saddled up to me on the left, but then refused to either speed up or slow down while the left lane vanished for the merge. That was not the only incident like that on the way up there, but that one was the most memorable. I wondered if there were forces as work, perhaps, that did not want me to make it to my destination. It was a stray thought. I didn't believe it. But the thought did occur.

The reason why is because I was about to do something odd. I was going to find the only Dolmen in North America. At midnight. On Christmas Eve. Under the Full Moon. Why is there a Dolmen in New York? Who put it there? And more importantly, why did they put it there? And how long ago?

Scientists concluded that Balance Rock is a case of errata from the Ice Age, and that by chance the 60 ton boulder nestled itself on top of five standing stones, and then sat there just like that for the next several hundred thousand years or so. Good call. The fact that there are Dolmen in Europe, in fact all over the world, that have multi-ton stones sitting exactly the same way on top of standing stones in exactly this fashion did not phase the scientists for one second. And so that's the official story. Because, well, nothing else makes sense. So that must be how Balance Rock got there. Right?

Well, count me among those who are a tiny bit more open minded than that, and are willing to look at the evidence of other Dolmens around the world, and extrapolate that if the Celts could do it there, then heck, maybe somehow or other a handful of them managed to make their way over here and do the same.

Now that would have been a long time ago. Very long indeed. At least a thousand years ago, maybe two. And possibly longer. Again, as I was driving, the question came to mind - why? We don't really know what the purpose of the Dolmen were. There's no record of that. They just sit there, silent and enigmatic sentinels of prehistory.

I thought, "I bet it will be foggy when I get there," and a chill went down the back of my neck. I sighed and figured it would be best not to think to hard about it, and just go. I drove a little faster. Finally google maps informed me it was time to turn off 684 and head into the wild country. At this point I was thinking about my game world Elthos, and making up rhymes for some of the Kobolds. They love riddles and rhymes and it helped to pass the time, rather than thinking too hard about what might lay ahead. Even so, thoughts of where I was heading crowded in, and I wondered what I would find there. Would I even find the stone at all?

When I turned off the Interstate, the road turned into a narrow windy two lane highway skirting along what at first I took to be a mist shrouded valley with dark hills on the far side, but then realized was a lake covered in fog. The road became foggy. Intensely foggy. I had to slow down to a crawl. I thought it reminiscent of that scene in so many horror movies where the dumb kid went driving into the haunted landscape unwittingly heading into the gaping maws of death. Another chill moment along the way. I won't go into how I steeled myself for what I felt might lay ahead. But the thoughts I had to steel myself against were of a rather frightening nature. I imagined that it is possible that this ancient thing was some kind of artifact from the dawn of time ... perhaps a chthonic horror was buried therein. My imagination began to run away with thoughts of ancient beings from beyond the stars... I don't know why those ideas came to my mind, but they required steeling against.

But my mind was wandering at this point. Another thought occurred to me that in the fog along this narrow highway in the moonlight I was bound to pass a hitch hiker. I don't know why I thought that. Just came to me. I spent the next five miles trying to decide if I should pick up the hitchhiker or not. I felt for sure there would be one.

In fact, I supposed that such an ancient site, one of such reputed power ... oh, I didn't mention the reputed power yet, did I? Ah. Ok. Yes, well there are those who say that the 60 ton stone on top is a gigantic crystaline form of red or pink granite on top of six quartzite standing stones. The pressure on the lower stones causes a compression which generates Piezoelectricity, and it is said, magnetic waves. Thus, it is said, this artifact from the dark recesses of ancient times is a power source of some kind. A spiritual power source.

So this was also running through my mind. And I didn't think it too far fetched to suppose that others might also think of coming out this way on such an auspicious occasion as the full moon Christmas Eve at midnight. A coven perhaps? A cult of some kind? A troop of flute bearing hippies from the days of yore, perhaps? Who knows? I figured I should be prepared for any contingency. And so, it seemed not entirely outlandish to consider that someone of this ilk might be hitchhiking on their way there. Certainly it's possible, I reasoned.

No. No one was. I found the cross roads. I realized I passed the site in the fog. I turned the car around and went back. I almost passed it again, but out of the corner of my eye I caught the huge bulk of stone hovering over the collection of tiny standing stones. No one was there. I parked in front of the barn. And took a picture by the light of my car's headlights. It was eerie.

I stopped the car and turned off my headlights. The air was brisk, but the fog was lifted. I looked at the stone. Sure enough it looked just as it did in the pictures. But by the moonlight it seemed oddly eerie. I felt a third chill. I wondered if I should get back in my car. I felt scared for some reason, though nothing was there to frighten me. It was silent. There was not even a wind in the trees. I steeled myself again. After all, if you're going to come out on an Adventure of this kind, you have to go through with it - even if your brain is jumping like a cat and you feel a big-ass chill go down your spine. I knew if I went back into my car I would get scared to death, and have to leave, and be totally defeated by my own ridiculous imagination (perhaps). So I simply summoned up my courage, pushed the fear aside and went over to make a scientific examination of the stone from all sides, and take some photographs. Which I did. I even got one with both the stone and the full moon in it.

After walking around it several times, I noticed something odd by the light of my tiny keychain flashlight. There was an inscription on the side of the stone. It was engraved about a quarter inch deep. I'd heard about this inscription before when I first found about that Balance Rock existed around two weeks ago. There's letters, like someone's initials, "C W D" and under it the year. 1862, and below that a date. April 9. Next to it was another similar inscription of the same kind, and from the same date but with different letters "M T H". This one was harder to read. Further to the right was another engraving, but this one was much fainter than the others, and I could only make out that it was there at all when I happened to move my flashlight to the side of the rock and caught the shadow of the letters. There was a "B" and the others were too faint to read. I suspect they were not created at the same time, and were perhaps a lot older as the lichen seemed to cover them evenly.

I continued to circle the rock. I was tempted to touch it, but refrained. I'm not sure why. At the time I certainly couldn't think of any valid reason not to touch it. But I was, quite frankly, afraid to touch it. Later I realized it was because the entire rock was so massive, so improbable, so enigmatic and so ... powerful ... well, I simply felt that to touch it was to invite some sort of potential disaster. I wasn't willing.

I found five stones in the ground in a line right before Balance Rock, and I puzzled over what they could be for. Finally I decided they indicated a spot to stand, so I stood there and looked at the stone. I think I was waiting for something to "happen". But nothing happened. Until as I was gazing at the stone in the moonlight I realized that it had a distinct shape of a lion's head. Or rather a sort of lion. There was definitely an eye, and a mouth, and the shape of the forehead and nose were certainly lion-like. But the rest of the stone was far too oblong, and I noticed that along the ear-line was a waving line that looked like it might have represented hair. It was a very strange feeling to notice that and be standing there alone in the dark just after midnight. In my mind I felt like I discovered something. The head seemed to be gazing off into the distance with a mild and serene expression. I looked that way, but the only thing I could see to take notice of was a bright star, I know not which one.

"Are you alive?" I found my mind asking the stone. There was no answer, but the serene face I was staring at left me with the feeling that no answer was required. It simply stared into the infinite, and I suddenly had the feeling of being ever so vanishingly minuscule. I continued to look. Nothing happened. I walked around the rock again. This time something on the side of the rock flashed. I thought it was a crystal side of the rock perhaps, reflecting the moonlight, but in fact someone had placed a quarter on the stone along a crack. I was tempted to take it. I refrained. I wasn't there to change anything, only to observe.

I looked under the stone and made a careful study of the standing stones. They were pink in color. Some of them touched the under part of the upper stone, but several didn't quite. The ground underneath was flattened, and a bit rocky, but mostly dirt. One could lie down under the stone. I didn't dare. Somehow, overall, I decided that to touch the stone, or climb under it, or do anything like that would be ... well, disrespectful somehow. So I didn't do any of those things. I walked back to the five line stones and stood there again observing the lion face. I thought to it that perhaps we could be friends. Although I had nothing of value to offer, except perhaps that we might trade knowledge? Nothing happened. Just the serene staring into the vastness of space. I looked around and noticed that Balance Rock is in something of a little vale. I wondered why. What is the purpose of its position here? Most Dolmen, like Stonehenge, have peculiar alignments with the sun, moon and stars, and often are positioned in very specific ways to catch certain stars on specific days. I wondered what the alignment for Balance Rock was and whether or not the nearby hill was a sighting point for it. Perhaps the best time to go there is at sunrise on the solstice and see.

After another walk around the stone, this time offering my right arm up for healing (I've had a mild case of tendinitis since the summer), and nothing happening I walked over to the side where my car is. I had a thought. I don't remember what that thought was, actually. But at that moment I noticed a dog was barking. It was about 12:20am. The barking went on and on. Then another dog was barking about a half mile away, maybe, in another direction. Another chill went down my spine. I wondered if the dog was sensing some energy from the stone then. Of course it was more likely that it smelled a coyote, or racoon, but I'm only saying that this is what my thought process was, not that they thoughts made sense.

Then, for no reason, I thought that someone, or something, may be coming toward the stone. I suddenly felt scared. Like really scared. The dogs had been barking for five minutes by then, maybe. Their sound was echoing off the hills so I wasn't sure if there were more than two or not. The fog had come up again. I didn't want to stick around and find out what might be coming. I was standing next to my car door.

Instead of getting into my car, I decided to wait and see what might come. I felt that it was important for me to do that. I guess I had the idea that if I had come all that way on such a night as this, and had in the process awoken something or summoned something in the process, that it was up to me to meet it. If I had to wage a war against some evil thing, I should be willing to do so. Right? I mean, why go all that way, and then turn tail and scamper off at the first hint of evil? So, one more time I steeled myself for ... whatever might happen. And ... nothing happened. I waited. The dogs kept barking.
Finally, I got in my car. I decided it was time to go home. As I drove away I felt that something had happened out there. But I am really not at all sure what it was. I do know that my ride home felt more stable, and more ... sure. I felt I had actually accomplished something. But what it was, I can not say.

I guess the upshot of the story is that sometimes I simply go on the Adventure for it's own sake. Not because I've got a reward in mind ... but just to challenge myself to go at least one step beyond the ordinary ... to escape the mundane world for a while ... and hopefully return just a little bit stronger than when I left.

And I think it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, ... such adventures ... are they not food enough for my World of Elthos? Indeed. Indeed.


I was curious and did a bit more poking around. I found this interesting video.

Also, it seems there is actually another Dolmen in New Jersey called Tripod Rock.

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