Lost at Sea

Author | Mattia A.

Editor | Rex S.

Every day, I try and fail to get up within the first three alarms I set. This time, I felt especially motivated, only setting one! Needless to say, that didn’t work out well. After shutting it off, I woke to the sound – and blinding light – of my amazing, kind, communicative, organized, accepting, and tastefully talkative roommate, Jeremy (Supp. Figure 1), coming back into the room. Thankfully, I was still able to take a drought-inducingly long shower before heading over to the bus. 

This lake had better be the most breathtaking feat of nature I’ve seen in my life. My only real basis of comparison being Lake Tahoe, I wasn’t ready for what I was about to experience. Arriving at Lake Monroe, Indiana’s flat landscapes immediately morphed into rugged alpine peaks, effortlessly shaping this Midwestern topographic anomaly. My expectations were blown out of the water.

Adjacent to the lake, I encountered a multitude of wonders! Namely, I thoroughly enjoyed navigating nature’s minefield every time I crossed the grass to get to my bag or to get food. Later, we saw the workers of the lake’s greenery on their way to make the obstacle course even tougher (Figure 1). After spending more than enough time taking in Lake Monroe’s scenery, I was finally ready to go kayaking.

Teaming together with fellow SSPer Maria (Supp. Figure 2), I began traversing the daunting Lake Monroe. Upon our arrival to a sizable nook in the lake, we, along with a few other kayakers, stopped to swim, chat, listen to rooster noises that suspiciously sounded like they were being made by a young child coming from the woods (??? hope you’re okay), and (for me at least) nap (Figure 2). At this point, most of us were ready to turn back, but two anonymous SSpers decided that traversing thus far wasn’t enough – they set out to kayak the entire apparent perimeter of the lake. Little did we know, this would be the time we’d be in contact with said SSPers (they did actually come back, promise).

Throughout our brief journey back to shore, and for the rest of our trip, I was worried sick. What could possibly be obstructing the Super Speedy Progressors? Mountain lions? Tigers? Box jellyfish? A Portuguese Man of War? Mantis shrimp packing painfully pernicious, powerful punches?? In the biodiversity hotspot that is Lake Monroe, although diminished by its questionable turbidity and mesotrophic character (trophic state index of 36 in total phosphorus levels and a whopping score of 49 in chlorophyll a levels), anything could happen.

Speaking of things that could happen, at any given moment, malevolent spirits could wreak havoc on anyone brave – or naive – enough to navigate the treacherous terrain. Lake Monroe, unknown to most (being that most people don’t live in Monroe County, Indiana), has a dark, controversial past. The loomingly lurid lake was originally intended to serve as a source of clean drinking water for Bloomington residents [see previous paragraph to understand how effective and beneficial this plan has been (further, this happens to be IU’s only source of drinking water, so I sincerely hope that the established water filtration systems are in peak condition)]. In order to clear the area for the reservoir to be constructed, eight different graveyards had to be displaced. Only seven were found. What does this mean? There’s only one explanation: Lake Monroe was built on top of a local family’s long-standing graveyard; therefore, their ghosts are actively haunting all casual lake enjoyers.

Evidence for these Spirits, Specters, and Phantoms terrorizing Lake Monroe’s stunning sights can be observed in the lake’s literal deterioration. According to the Herald-Times, an esteemed Bloomington newspaper, the lake is “dying,” and needs to go on a “diet.” Are unsustainable levels of pollutants magically running off into the lake through anthropogenic means? Does tidal motion of the reservoir’s water somehow erode the reservoir’s abutment? Nonsensical. By now, the mechanism of degradation of Lake Monroe should be quite transparent…

Though this may scare you to your core, do not fret if you happen to come across Lake Monroe. Esteemed Redditor u/Dieselfred on r/Bloomington claims that existing agencies are “pretty good about finding the bodies.”

In other news, when I got back to our home base, I remorselessly munched on some tender, fresh beef for lunch, although slightly deterred by aforementioned peer Maria’s frightful frank (Figure 3). Going out on a limb, I explored (to an extent) the recreation area, intermittently napping throughout my somewhat-silly searches. Noteworthy finds included a bench and sensory table (Figures 4.1-4.2). 

The rest of the day was a drowsy blur, considering the concerning amount of sleep I was running on combined with inadequate caffeine levels in my bloodstream. For unnecessary context, it is currently 10:43 p.m. and I am waiting for my laundry to dry. Don’t worry, I have an extension on my computer access, so I’ll have until past 11 to finish this. I’m almost done anyway. 

Only 1 week remains of this camp program. The past month has either gone by in a blink of an eye, or has lasted an eternity – I can’t tell yet. Either way, I’m eager to see how the finishing stages play out. For now, my main concern is to avoid hideous error bars in our final IC50  procedure tomorrow, not to mention the fact that the TALENT SHOW is in three days (SSPer Maria’s and my alto sax + trombone duet will prove to be an out-of-body experience for all). 

Stay tuned


Figure 1: a native gaggle of geese spawning in

Figure 2: enjoying a light nap

Figure 3: said frightful frank

Supplemental Figures: 

Figure 4 (4.1-4.2): scenic bench; sensory table

Supp. Figure 1: SSPer Jeremy: roommate, potentially talented pianist, mother bear

Supp. Figure 2: SSPer Maria, extremely angered

Miscellaneous Figures:

Misc. Figure 1 (1.1-1.3): SSPer Zach, a true Floridian, having the time of his life

Misc. Figure 2: Post-kayaking foot cleanse

Misc. Figure 3: Two SSPers unknowingly threatening the native Lake Monroe goose population

Misc. Figure 4: View of Lake Monroe, as seen and captured by two, and only two, unnamed SSP adventurers

Misc. Figure 5: a factually incorrect statement after frolicking in Lake Monroe