Rain, rain, rain. So far this year every both camping trips I've done have had the same weather - torrential rain on Friday followed by clear blue skies and dry, cool weather the rest of the weekend. Since we left at noon on Friday we dodged the rain, which had already moved out. Still, day's rainfall had its impact on us. When we got to Granite Hill the place was a muddy mess. A number of the tent site areas were inaccessible due to muddy roads and the whole place was pretty squishy. Add this to the fact that the staff member who "helped" us at the entrance to the campground was not particularly articulate and we wound up having to drive around for a while before finally finding what in fact turned out to be a nice site (only problem: no fire ring). Working together V & I were able to put together the Pizza Hut (as our boys christened our big six person tent years ago) and get the rest of the campsite together (stove, tablecloth, chairs) before heading out to get the lay of the land.
I don't know why, but when I'm in outdoorsy places like campground I cannot stop myself from adopting a comical Hee-Haw Southern accent in my interactions with other people. Whenever we'd pass by someone else in the campground my brain would intend to say "hello" to them, but somehow it would come out of my mouth as, "Well, Howdy, y'all! I reckon y'all done be fixin' to see some toe-tappin' bluegrass music!" or something like that. I have a similar problem when I go home to New York, where I can't help myself from ordering things like "cawwfee" and "bagels wit' buddah". Later this summer we'll be going to Alaska. I don't know if there's a Juneau accent but if there is, I'm sure I'll be unable to stop myself from faking one as soon as I get there.
We checked out the main stage, the vendors, and the camp store. Being near Gettysburg, the camp store has lots of Civil War tchotchkes*, including both Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee bobbleheads. I guess that the campground caters to visitors with affinities for both the blue and the grey. The Union paraphernalia (generally less in evidence at Civil War sites in Virginia) reminded me that we were, in fact, in the North - another reason my involuntary corn pone accent is so non-sensical.
We finished our stroll just as the dinner break started at the main stage. We headed back to our campsite where I fired up the Coleman stove and cooked up some rather tasty veggie quesadillas. V went on and on about how good they were, which she did because (a) they really were good, (b) she's trying to encourage me to cook more, (c) she was experiencing that phenomenon where everything seems to taste better when you're eating outdoors, (d) pretty much anything slathered in cheese and avocado is going to be at least somewhat tasty, or (e) some combination of (a) - (d).
After dinner we finally got down to focusing on the music. We brought our chairs over to the main stage and settled in for the evening. The timing of the May festival appealed to me because I figured it wouldn't be super hot; in fact, it was downright freezing! I found myself wishing for a few more layers and even V, who is never, ever, ever, cold, was cold. I retrieved a small fleece throw from the car and we both huddled under it as we watched the Spinney Brothers, Rhonda Vincent, and other bands as the stars came out. Our original plan had been to get ice cream, but it was too darn cold!
|V bathed in heavenly light (as always), watching the music|
The music continued until midnight but we bailed and headed for our tent shortly before 10 PM. V crawled right into bed. I, always more inclined to putter around the campsite, made some decaf, read for a while, then finally shuttled over to the bath house to get washed up. After taking my contact lenses out I realized I had forgotten to bring my glasses and so I made a fuzzy-eyed walk in the dark back to our site. Fortunately I had left our lantern on as a beacon. Unlike state parks, there seemed to be no noise curfew at this place. While I fell right to sleep I woke up at 2 AM to the sound of people still playing music at their campsites. I woke again at 3 AM at which point there was still conversation going on nearby. By 4 AM (yes, I toss and turn when camping) it was finally quiet. I slept to the unusually late (for me) hour of 7:30.
Saturday & Sunday
Saturday got off to a leisurely start. I started water for coffee in my metal French press. Being half asleep I accidentally put in twice as much coffee as was called for, resulting in a chewy brew. Fortunately I got pretty good caffeine hit off that muddy first cup since most of the rest of it spilled when I tried to reheat the pot later. The pot is too narrow to be stable on the wide-spaced grill of the Coleman stove and as it neared boiling the vibrations of the bubbles caused it to topple over off the stove. Breakfast was bagels and cream cheese. I tried warming my bagel up by holding it over stove. The end result wasn't anywhere near actually toasted, but better than just cold.
After breakfast we moseyed over to the stage area and settled in. We listened to bands from 11 to about 3: Pete Wernick, the Spinney Brothers, Dry Branch Fire Squad, and the Grascals. When it was time for the Seldom Scene to come on (not my favorite band) we decided it was time to take a break and do something else. When I'm camping I'm generally immersed in the experience and so it always seems unnatural to me to leave the campsite and do something non-outdoorsy - it would be like checking Facebook in the middle of meditating. I've got to admit, though, twelve hours straight of bluegrass can be a little much and so I had no objection to heading into Gettysburg, where we spent a few hours outlet shopping. The outlet mall is located in the middle of an area that was filled with field hospitals after the Civil War battle, and the mall has posted a nice map showing the nearby historic field hospital locations. The text accompanying the map encourages people to visit the historic sites while they're in the area. I cringed at the idea that this kind of urging is necessary - that people would come to this area, go outlet shopping and totally ignore the riveting history of the place. When I thought about it I realized that we were at the outlet mall but had no intention of visiting any historic sites.
Since we were in town we decided to skip our planned dinner of franks and beans in favor of a restaurant meal. Thanks to Yelp we had a nice dinner at a local non-touristy Italian place.
|The Main Stage|
Before I continue with the chronology, let me digress for a moment. I like to people-watch at events like this. This habit has an unfortunate side effect in that people-watching makes me notice people and their behaviors, and in every crowd there's someone whose behaviors are curious enough to distract me. Let me start with Ostrow. I don't know if that's actually his name, but that's what was written in Sharpie text on the back of his chair. See the guy with the white hair just ahead of me in the picture of the stage? That's Ostrow. From my perspective, Ostrow's main characteristic was that he gets up and down a lot. I've never seen a person get up so many times in the course of one evening to adjust his layering. The jacket goes on. The jacket comes off. The jacket goes on. The jacket comes off. A sweatshirt goes on. The jacket goes back on over the sweatshirt. The hat goes on. The hat goes off. Ostrow takes a walk. Ostrow comes back from a walk. The jacket comes off ... I should mention that Ostrow, besides not being a spring chicken, doesn't appear to be in the best of shape and so he does each of these things S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Ostrow was right in front of us Friday. On Saturday we set up our chairs in a different spot, but sure enough, Ostrow was in front of us again (not directly in front of us, but in my line of vision). For heaven’s sake, dude, just sit down and listen to the music. The sweatshirt comes off. The jacket goes on ...
When we got back from dinner in Gettysburg V decided to settle in at the campsite but I wanted to go back to hear Ricky Skaggs.The first thing I noticed as I walked over is that Ricky has a very cool tour bus. Shiny. New. Equipped with LED lights in the under-carriage which cast a soft glow on the ground making the thing seem like a hovering UFO. Unlike Rhonda Vincent, he is not sponsored by a muffin mix company and so his tour bus is not festooned with pictures of boxes of quick bread mixes. The second thing I noticed was the magic in the air. The food and schlock vendors all had their lights on. The stars were out. A band was playing. The ground had dried out (for the most part). The whole place just had this glow of energy about it.
We had left our chairs set up and so I walked over and plopped into my seat. With several layers of clothing on and equipped with a blanket and a cup of hot tea, I was better prepared for the cold than we had been the night before.
Ostrow was there, of course. But more significantly, sitting directly in front of me was distracting person number two. It was another cold evening and everyone was bundled up, some in more improvised ways than others. In front of me was a woman wearing a hooded jacket which was several sizes too big on her and extra-large bright yellow gloves - a large man's work gloves. Definite Minnie Mouse hands. The whole performance was some sort of religious experience for her. She was swaying and waving her arms the way you see people do in gospel churches, which meant that those extra-large yellow hands were in sight and in constant motion. Picture Minnie Mouse dressed as the grim reaper having an epileptic seizure and you'd be in the right ballpark. Somehow she didn't bug me as much as Ostrow did; I just found her distractingly watchable.
Ostrow and Minnie Mouse notwithstanding, I really enjoyed Ricky Skaggs' set. Great musicians, great music, and distinctive sounding (a lot of bluegrass sounds alike). When he was done the next band was the Seldom Scene. You can see them around DC a lot, plus I'm not a big fan, and so I packed up our chairs and trundled off to bed.
Sunday morning there was not much to report. Basically we broke camp and headed home.
*I note with amusement that MS Word spell-check changed "tchochkes" to "tchotchkes". The browser's spell-checker doesn't understand the word at all and wants to replace it with "hopscotches".