All in all this was a most enjoyable trip with the family. The tent was dead simple to set up, and with Sarah and I working together we had it up within 15-20 minutes. It has a ton of room in it, and with both queen sized air mattresses in there, one at each end, we had a good 3-4 foot path down the middle. We had chosen a tent with a high peak expressly so that I could change clothing easily without having to stoop, and we learned that it was high enough throughout that I could stand upright anywhere in the tent.
The kids absolutely loved the camping experience, which was something that we were concerned with as this was the first time we had taken them camping. They were real troopers, and had a blast with the whole thing. Sure, we got cranky behavior when they didn’t get enough of a nap, or when we were close to naptime, but they really were well behaved. They had fun just running around chasing balls and bugs. There were tons of dragonflies in the area as well as a few butterflies. We even had a few grasshoppers which completely fascinated Caulla when she discovered one.
We had some really nice neighbors as well. Stacy, a lady who came up from Crescent City, CA for the event with her granddaughter was a real treasure. She was a veteran of the event and shared a wealth of info about it, what things to hit up, and so forth. A fantastic neighbor.
Other neighbors, while nice, were a touch…dodgie. There was a young man camping with a young lady, and he was doing the whole spiritually enlightened thing with her, including meditation, energy exchange, the whole thing. But something about him felt…off, and I really felt like he was taking her on a “spiritual journey” as more of a con, probably for the sex, than any kind of real spiritual enlightenment. I have learned to trust my gut on these things, and I think that it really proved to be true this time. When I talked to Sarah about him on the drive home she indicated that she felt like he was attacking her psychically the whole time he was there, and that she felt a bit uneasy around him as well. Even so, he was a courteous neighbor, and didn’t cause problems.
The neighbors on the other side though…they appeared to be dispensers of marijuana for many others, and the crowd showing up at their site on Sunday was the final straw that caused us to pack up and head home.
Another of those deciding factors was the large group a few sites over who appeared to be performers of some sort. They were traveling as a group, and had quite the site set up. Body modesty was also not an issue among this crowd as we saw on more than one occasion. Not really a problem as we are a bit prone to not worrying about it ourselves, and it did make for nice entertainment while in camp. Then again, the event had a lot of exhibition taking place, so it really wasn’t out of place.
They were traveling with a large dog, significantly larger than any of the dogs that Sarah’s folks keep, and it came wandering over to visit on Friday. It really seemed taken with me, and laid down and put its head on my foot for much of the time it was in our site. What was really amazing was that Tiernan came up and petted this dog without any sign of fear or any prodding from us. Tiernan has shown some definite signs of fear of the dogs out at the farm, so his approaching a larger dog on his own and without fear was really surprising to us.
We heard some good music, discovered a couple of bands that we want to track down now that we are home, and saw some interesting merchants, including one leathercrafter from down in Ashland that we definitely want to track down. We didn’t have any spare funds for this trip so all we did was collect business cards in the hopes that we could do business with them once we had some funds to spend.
All in all, this was a good trip. The event was not quite what we expected. The thing was far more commercial than we had expected, and many of the merchants were selling variations on the same commercial junk that you can find anywhere. There were a lot of clothing and jewelry vendors, but while they may have had clothes for men, it was clearly targetting the women in the crowd over the men.
Do we regret going? No, not really. Will we do it again? Probably not, at least not as a camping trip, though perhaps as a day trip. Who knows though, we just might give camping at the event a try again in the future. Time will tell, and the next couple of years have different priorities for us.
There was a Heathen gathering the same weekend that I would have loved to have attended, but as we had already purchased tickets to Faerieworlds we decided to go to Faerieworlds instead. Given a choice, I think we would do that or a trip up to Gig Harbor, WA for the rennaissance fair that goes on up there instead as that one seems to be more our style. SCA events are also a possibility, though we have garb to contend with there, and we really don’t feel like investing the time and energy into really getting into the SCA as active participants.
Depending upon how finances and jobs work out we are hoping to take a few weeks next summer to travel across the country to visit my mother, and then from there journey down to Kansas for the Lightning Across The Plains event so that I can meet some of the heathens that have come to mean so much to me over the last few years.
One thing that we really learned from this is that we really do enjoy camping as a family. We had not done that until this point, and it was an unknown for us. Both Sarah and I knew that we liked camping, but we just were not sure how well the kids would do with it. We have come out of this trip with a renewed conviction that we need to get out camping more often now that we know how well the kids do with it. We hope to get in another trip or two this summer and fall if possibly, likely out to Beverly Beach or someplace similar.