Inside K-ville: Amazing Grace

It’s been a pretty uneventful week in K-ville. Grace was granted from Friday until Wednesday afternoon, giving everyone (especially me) time to figure out how to deal with the snow. I’m not entirely familiar with the stuff, living in Santa Barbara, but I was surprised to see the greater Durham area shut down for the majority part of the weekend.

Friday morning, though, before the storm hit, I woke up to find squatters had taken over much of K-ville in anticipation of Blue Tenting. The next few hours saw tenters racing against the impending snow, lugging crates, plywood, cinder blocks, tarps, pillows and sleeping bags across campus. If you’ve never watched inexperienced campers try to set up a tent, I highly recommend it. Poles and stakes flew haphazardly around the area, as eventually most groups figured out how 55 tents in K-ville instead of seven tarps meant that all of a sudden we had neighbors, really, really close neighbors. Plus, it was as if the grass had seen us all coming, as it died the instant we arrived, leaving us in a giant mud pit.

My group decided to hold off on tent setup because of the inclement weather (and also because we were lazy), instead throwing all of our gear beneath a tarp before heading for more sturdy shelter. On the flip side of the five days off we found out just how good of an idea procrastination was. Tents had collapsed sporadically across the grass under the weight of the snow, leaving a bunch of groups with soggy gear and broken tent poles.

That’s basically all I’ve got from the last week, but here are a few quick thoughts from the few days of Blue Tenting we’ve actually done:

1. Outsiders don’t think you’re nearly as crazy if you do something stupid in a group.

When we first set up our tarp two weeks ago, I was approached by an older gentleman (an alum from the 60s) who asked what why we were living outside in January. When I explained the black tenting rules, he leaned over his glasses and stared at me like I had a third eye. After a 15-second staredown, he turned and walked away, muttering to his companion about the poor state of his alma mater. Yet over the past few days, visitors can’t seem to get enough of K-ville. They come to admire especially well-set up tents and take pictures, oohing and aahing. Like kids at a zoo, they observe our movements for a few minutes before moving on to the next group.

2. Find a way to stay off the ground.

Our tent is on a platform made of plywood and cinder blocks. Others aren’t so lucky, and as it’s been raining men outside for what seems like days now, K-ville is a disaster area. Rivers one part water and two parts Keystone are widening and deepening, taking out anything in their path. Today, I noticed a sleeping pad draped around a drain, partially submerged in the muck. (If that’s yours, Dick’s is open weekends!)

3. Invest in a good pair of earplugs.

It turns out nobody sets up a tent to actually sleep in it. The first night of Blue Tenting was exciting for everyone, but did it need to be exciting ‘til 3 am? I mean, maybe their stuff was wet and sleep wasn’t an option, but I’m headed out to Home Depot this weekend to solve that problem.

Catch you at the next tent check.


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