OK I’m back from my adventure in the wilds of SE TX, camping outside a wide spot in the road named Cistern TX. Cistern is about 15 miles north of Flatonia, and 26 miles west of LaGrange, which was famous for being the setting for a ZZ Top song, and a musical comedy “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas”. The campsite I was in was called Refugee Camp and the campground is called Spirit Haven and is owned by the Council of Magickal Arts. CMA is one of the largest Pagan organizations in the world, with members all over the world, but mainly in TX.
My adventure opened with getting everything packed and ready to go Tuesday afternoon, and then going to ritual planning at church while I waited for my ride to show at the house. I had some problems with making sure I had everything I needed (I had to go back once for my ugly hat, and a second time to make sure I had packed my tickets to the event) but eventually I arrived at the staging point for the trip down. I bedded down on a couch, and thus ended Tuesday.
Wednesday we packed the vehicle after several errands were done that had to be done that day or dire consequences would ensue, with the packing getting done finally at 1630, just in time to catch the worst of DFW rush hour traffic. By 1800 we finally cleared Dallas county. Since we knew we would not get there before the front gate station was shut down we took our time and made several potty breaks and snack stops. We arrived at the gate right at 2330, and set up rough camping, one person in the vehicle and the rest of us on tarps acting as ground cloths under the clouds which later turned into a brilliant almost-full moon and dazzling stars. I quickly dropped off to sleep as I had been awake for far too long. I was awakened about 0415 by a feral hog rooting about 100 yards to the south but he decided to stay there for a while because the gettings were pretty decent. I couldn’t sleep with a dangerous creature so close but as long as he stayed where he was I was able to rest a bit, even though I was awake. About 0600 or so some friends of his showed up and they went wandering up the ditchline a few yards to the east of where we were sleeping. I woke the rest of the party up and advised them of our “company” near by. The commotion the rest of them set up convinced the ferals to continue wandering to the north and east along the ditch. We had a discussion and decided to find someplace to get breakfast since the food was buried in luggage inside the vehicle.
We set out to the nearest hamlet we thought might have a restaurant open only to find the former restaurant shuttered, so we headed to Flatonia where we found the Tower 3 cafe and bakery open for breakfast. I had a hearty eggs, biscuits, bacon and coffee meal with my companions having pancakes or biscuits and gravy. From there we got back to the campsite and started unloading the vehicle where one of the party was going to vend at the festival, while we waited for what passed for roads on the site to dry out enough that regular road vehicles would not become mired, which happened about 1400, so we set up camp and signed up for the mandatory “community service” that allows the festival to run without much paid staff. The part of the party that was vending was excused from CS because the vending is considered a community service in spite of it being usually a “for-profit” venture. When we got unpacked we went into the large community to the north to get supplies that would not travel well, alcohol and other things like propane. We discovered at this point that the person running our party had lost her credit card and I either had to pony up for the supplies or we would be severely negatively impacted for the festival, as in no cooked foods because no propane for the stove to cook them on. This had a negative impact on my shopping for gifts on Vendor’s Row as I had to spend all of my money for the supplies. Eventually we got back to the camp and cooked dinner.
The next day I had a workshop to attend and I did my first shift of CS as a “bridge troll” which consists of using humorous harassments to elicit donations to the Land Fund. Then I trudged back to camp to help with dinner. We had an early dinner as we were supposed to host a local Pagan Celebrity, the person who played Father Christmas in the local Yule and Solstice extravaganzas. We got the refreshments and libations set up just as a light drizzle began, which turned into a steady downpour and a sudden drop in temperature that caused the expected crowd to condense and run off (the opposite of “evaporate”). I managed to keep warm and dry in my tent until my breath condensing on the interior began to drip into my face when I decided to sleep under the waterproof shell of my Dutch Army surplus waterproof sleeping bag.
Saturday was interesting as it started soggy with the Troll Bridge underwater again, and lots of water standing in camp, like directly in front of my tent as I tried to get my shoes on to make the trip to the porta-potty. My socks were soaked and I didn’t make it out of the tent in time to avoid wetting my underwear. This event was beginning to take on humorous disaster overtones. Then I did my thing during the day, meeting with friends and making small talk until I had to do my second shift of CS at the front gate signing people in and out of the grounds (many years ago we had an open gate policy until someone was attacked on the grounds, so now we have sign in and out and at least one working cell phone as well as a radio for security purposes). We had been hearing gun shots all festival long as we are in an active hunting area, but the only thing we heard up until the last hour of my shift at the front gate was shotguns of various gauges. This time was different as we heard shotguns, pistols, rifles, and at least one automatic weapon, and bullets passing overhead. We found out the bullets were going through several areas on the grounds and some camp sites were evacuated, including the one where I was staying. This disrupted cooking dinner, but somehow we still managed to get a decent meal even after the rice was turned off in the middle of cooking… I went to Revel Fire Saturday night because I hadn’t been to one all festival, but as it was chilly out and I have “issues” with my joints if I get too cold I stopped at the healer’s station for a warm-up, and shortly after I got there they got a hypothermia patient. She got her shoes wet and didn’t notice the temperature drop until too late, which just pulled all the heat from her body. She was in not-good condition when she was brought in, but the application of thermal packs and body heat brought her around quickly. I went and danced the Revels for a little bit before my hip started acting up in the cold and I decided to exercise the better part of valor and retire for the night about 2300.
Sunday morning dawned cold and my air mattress had collapsed enough to turn my sleeping bag into a man trap, and I had to find a place to poop badly. Fortunately I hadn’t undressed from the previous night aside from my shoes so all I had to do was get my shoes on and get out of my tent. Twenty minutes later I was still trying to get to the door of my tent so I could put my shoes on and go to the porta-potty while my digestive tract was sending distress signals that all heck was about to break loose. Mind you my tent is barely longer than I am and my twin-sized air mattress covers about 2/3 of the floor space, to give you an idea of how heroic the struggles to get to the door of my tent actually were. The partially collapsed air mattress was the main culprit in this struggle, as I would push down to try to sit up only to have the mattress collapse under the push while raising the rest of my body and not giving me any momentum in the direction I was trying to propel my body. In fact I had several attempts that I fell back in the opposite direction. I finally got the door open and tried to stand up and ended up falling and rolling in the mud in front of my tent soaking my socks again as I still hadn’t been able to get my shoes on. I finally got upright and then sat down around our camp fire and put my shoes on minus my socks so I could walk the gravel road to the porta-potty. And as I was walking to the potty I fought a losing battle to keep everything inside. Second day in a row I failed to get to the potty in time after waking up needing to go and immediately setting out to go. On top of that I was pretty queasy from something I ate the day before and I was also hungry because of all the calories I burned the night before trying to stay warm. And some time during that debacle I managed to jam the toe next to the big toe on my left foot which caused it to turn black and blue and swell up later in the day. But I wasn’t the only one to have partaken of something that disagreed with the digestion the day before as the leader of our troop was also feeling under the weather as she was vomiting quite energetically two tent sites away from mine. Since she was supposed to be my ride home I was concerned about not getting home in time for my doctor (not the Lab Rat Keeper) appointment this afternoon, but we had two more members of the camp decide to swap rides and drive her vehicle home with me riding in the vehicle that person vacated, so I’m here.
And now I have to hit the road to make that appointment, because I had to stop and sleep last night and complete this Monday morning.