When I arrived at the Test Site I was greeted by this sign:
I was expecting to find the large bulletin board that the Dark Harvest boys saw on their trip to the Test Site back in April of 2011. Instead, I could only find this small sign. I didn't have a map, as I was expecting to just use that board for navigating. Because of this I was forced to head into the expansive park blindly and just wander around, looking for anything of interest. However, the first thing I noted was how strange it was to me that half of this "welcome" sign warns about the violation of trespassing. That sure made me feel at home.
After walking down a gravel path for a few minutes, I came across a series of buildings and radio towers. There were dozens of radio towers, something that is pretty unusual for a park. These radio towers jive with the story I've read about the Test Site being used to monitor the Sputnik Satellite during the Cold War. There was also a cluster of run down, seemingly abandoned buildings at a clearing at the end of the road. While I was walking over to a building that looked like a large garage, my camera started freaking out. It wasn't working properly and then shut off for a few minutes. I thought this was very odd, but luckily it started working again after several attempts to turn it back on. I finished taking pictures of the buildings before moving along down the gravel road.
I had assumed all the buildings were abandoned, but to my surprise some of these buildings were hooked up to electric lines. I could hear the hum of an air conditioner coming from a small rectangular building with dirty windows and a locked door. I approached it and could hear voices coming from inside. There was a strange amount of echo in their voices, especially coming from a building that small. I approached the windows and attempted to get a better listen, but to no avail. The voices sounded too far away, oddly enough, even though the building appeared very tiny from the outside. I was starting to definitely get an uneasy feeling about the place. Things just weren't really adding up: not to mention I had not seen a single person at this park the entire time; not even a bike rider or someone walking their dog. Not a soul.
Aside from a feeling of being creeped out, I had not really found anything of significance yet. However, my luck changed when I decided to sit down at a bench. I noticed that the bench had a name on it: the name of a member of the military. It was a memorial plaque. When I looked around at the benches around me, I saw more memorial plaques. Every single one was either a member of the armed forces or a doctor. I could have easily wrote that off saying that these individuals were the only members of society that the locals deemed worthy of having plaques, but there was a peculiar similarity among many of them. About half of these people died in 1957 or 1958. It didn't take me long to realize that 1957 was the date of the Princeton Experiment. It appeared that this experiment was very, very real and in fact took place at the Atlantic Test Site. I even took a picture of the military supervisor's plaque: Lt. Col. Everett Walker (listed on the plaque as Col. E. Walker. Perhaps a post-mortem promotion? I have no clue.) Knowing that such an unethical and bizarre experiment lead by a crazed ex-Nazi scientist took place right where I was standing made me feel uncomfortable to say the least.
I continued walking throughout the park until I eventually stumbled upon a deer path that looked like it led to a radio tower. Curious, I decided to take a walk along it. After a short, maybe ten minute, walk I finally arrived at the bottom of the tower. When I finally saw the spot with my own eyes, a frightening revelation presented itself to me. This spot looked like the exact location of the induction ceremony for Greg Benson into the Order. Nearly shitting myself, but excited at the same time, I took a look around to see if I could find any evidence of cult activity. My adrenaline was pumping as I searched the location. It was also at this time that I realized becoming a private detective might not be a bad line of work for me. Not before long, I discovered this:
Melted candle wax on the iron, or steel, lattice cross section at the foundation of the tower! The likelihood of a candle stub still being attached to the tower after nearly a year and a half seemed slim to me, so this made me think that this radio tower is still an active location of cult activity. I didn't feel safe staying there any longer, so I walked back as fast as I could. Unfortunately it took me nearly a half an hour to make it out of that dense wooded area. The deer paths branch off into dead ends and there was also a large mesh gate that sat right in the middle of the forest. In retrospect, I should have taken a photo of this gate as well, as it seemed very out of place. It could possibly be how the Order keeps out others during their meetings and ceremonies.
While I was in the forest, I had heard a helicopter circling overhead. At first I thought nothing of it; it was just a helicopter passing by. But after the sound lingered in the air throughout the duration of the investigation, I found it extremely strange. Once I got back on the main gravel road, I managed to take a quick snapshot of the helicopter before it disappeared again behind the trees. It could just be paranoia talking, but it seemed as though the helicopter was monitoring my activity in the park. I figured it was watching me personally since I seemed to be the only person in the entire park.
My last, and extremely odd, experience at the Test Site was when I spotted an area that was cordoned off with an iron gate. I, not being one to read warning signs, opened the gate and began walking into the restricted area. It was a massive empty lot, with roads stretching out all across the park. There was a building off to the side that I didn't manage to get a photo of. It seemed in good repair, unlike all the other buildings within the park. When I was finally out in the open, I saw a group of maybe thirty or forty men and women gathered around, talking outside this building. When they spotted me and my camera, they angrily told me to get out and that they would have me arrested if I didn't leave the restricted area immediately. I, of course, obliged. After I exited the area, about five large trucks (that appeared to be for construction) left the open field of gravel, spraying dust in my face as they drove by. I walked away and sat on a bench as I watched a middle aged man close and lock the metal gate to the area. He gave me a dirty look before he left. I found this entire event bizarre since there didn't seem to be a reason for so many people to be gathered in one place at once. There was absolutely no construction going on, but they all took on the appearance of construction workers. It might just be the fact that I'm prone to conspiracy theories, but it definitely looked like something fishy was going on in that gated area.
Since I had agreed to meet my friend Noah at the Test Site before heading over to the hotel, I just remained on that bench and read a book until he arrived. Once he got there, he explained to me that he had some sort of manifest relating to the Order. He asked me if I could tell him anything about it, which I honestly said I don't know all that much about them aside from what I've read. For first hand accounts, I told him to meet with the Dark Harvest guys. I agreed to drive him over to Chris's house for a meeting after contacting Chris and Alex and making sure it's alright with them. Hopefully something useful will come out of their meeting. I'm just hoping this won't delay us getting down to Florida, because my friend Sam is waiting for us down there.