Monday evening we started off things right by going to see “Batman Begins” and a hearty meal at Don Pablo’s. We both really enjoyed the movie – really helped redeem Christopher Nolan for me as I felt “Insomnia” paled in comparison to “Memento”. And another terrific script from David Goyer. Of course the cast was excellent as well – and the villains were pretty authentic.

Tuesday we got going around 10:30. Traffic was decent (we took the warning of congestion on the Jersey Turnpike seriously and took 295 up about 20 miles to skip it). Jill had a craving for a hot dog from Nathan’s so we waited to take a break ’til we got to one. Traffic was slow due to an accident by the time we got to Hartford, and we just bailed on the nearest exit. By a weird coincidence, the way we went north turned out to be the way you go to East Granby, where Jill had lived for a while. We got to Jill’s mom’s house around 6:30. She whipped up some kielbasa for dinner, and we hung out with Jill’s mom, her stepdad, her mom’s mom, two sisters, and her older sister’s (Melissa) three kids. Later on, we hung out outside with Melissa at her dad’s house nearby and talked and drank some beers.

Wednesday was a big day at the park with the family, but I elected to skip it. I perched on the couch in the living room, reading the latest two Robert B. Parker Spenser novels, Tuesday’s Post, Kevin Smith’s collection of columns, “Silent Bob Speaks”, and started Terry Pratchett’s “Only You Can Save Mankind”. Everyone else came back from the park and hung out for a while. Jill, I and her younger sister Robin went to Northampton to eat at a bar called Packard’s (where they had Magic Hat #9 on draft). Jill and I both had roast beef with horseradish sauce, hers in a sandwich, mine in a wrap.

Thursday we went grocery shopping for Falcon Ridge, picking up food and beer. We repacked the car, and grabbed Robin. The festival was only a little over an hour away, and we were soon unloading the car. Jill wanted to get back, so they headed out, and I unpacked. Because we were showing up late (most people in our camp came Wednesday), we had asked Stuart and Janice (our neighbors from home) to set up our tent. So when I arrived, everything was set up, and I was soon plopped in one of our new inflatable chairs, enjoying a cold #9 and reading more Terry Pratchett and chatting with the other Edheads.

Thursday night Stuart and Janice made steaks and martinis. After that, I headed over to the main stage to catch Arrogant Worms. A three person group out of Canada, they’re funny in the mold of Da Vinci’s Notebook and an excellent find (I bought their CD “Toast”). Chris Smither was next, but I wasn’t that into him and headed back to camp. The night before had been a late one, so most people headed off to sleep, and I did as well, knowing how early the heat would wake me up.

I made it almost to 7:30 Friday morning before getting up. I went to the main stage to put my blanket down to save the space, then came back to the lobby (three pavilions tied together) where Stuart and Janice were making pancakes and sausage. I went off to the workshop stage where Crooked Still (a fab bluegrass band we saw last year) was playing, then the comedy workshop with the Arrogant Worms and Paul & Storm (ex Da Vinci’s Notebook). Jill’s family were all off on adventures or work, so she arrived at 3:30. We hurried off to the main stage to see Jim’s Big Ego do a short set as part of the Emerging Artist Showcase. We came back to the lobby for some beers before heading back again to see Tracy Grammer and others on the workshop stage. We were planning on returning to camp, but a line of incoming storms quickened our pace. The storms we had last year (also on Friday) had prepared us. In addition to our new nonleaking tent, we closed our bags, put things in the car, and hunkered down. It wasn’t too bad, about 40 minutes of thunderstorms, but we still had to hold the pavilion down during the storm and got damp. After the rain (and the rainbow) we changed and started dinner. We made chicken and steak fajitas and found out the hard way how to resurrect soggy flour tortillas (squeeze dry with a paper towel, then cook on a hot griddle). Others made guacamole and margaritas, and we had a fun evening as Julie from efo and Paul & Storm stopped by. We were worn out and decided not to go back for any more music that night.

Saturday morning Jill got up at 6:30 to help with the tarp run. I managed to make it to 8:30 before I got up. We made eggs, bacon and sausage before heading off to music. I caught Paul & Storm on the workshop stage while Jill saw We’re About Nine on the main stage, then she joined me for Crooked Still and Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams on the workshop stage. We were going to see Dar Williams on the workshop stage, but she was delayed (the storm had closed several area roads), so we caught Paul & Storm with GrooveLily instead. Then back to the workshop stage for efo and Redbird. We went back to camp to relax for a bit, then back to the main stage for Tracy Grammer. We skipped Lowen & Navarro to go to the vendors for dinner (ribs for Jill, cajun chicken sandwich for me) and eat at camp (and change), then back for Crooked Still and Dar Williams. Dar was great, and there was even more lights than ever for “Iowa” (the pictures I took doesn’t do it justice). Eddie couldn’t make it because of a family situation, so the efo show was a bit different without a drummer. They had a number of guests (including Paul & Storm, We’re About Nine, and members of Railroad Earth), and it was still fun. The Edheads had their own lights – when they closed with “Candido & America”, they held up lightup tubes made into Os to match Robbie’s chorus (I took a bunch of pictures, and a couple came out decent). It was getting colder afterwards, and we went back to camp.

Jill was tired and elected to stay and go to bed soon, but I was determined to go up the hill to the Budgiedome. It took a while since I had to go around, but I got up there with plenty of time to catch Groovelily and Jim Infantino. A couple of Edheads were there as well (passing out a mixture of tequila, triple sec and sugar), and we headed back together. I went down the hill with them (going down the hill with the cast was not as bad as coming up), and we heard music coming up. We argued as to whether it was coming from our camp or not. They had told me Mike, Robbie and Julie from efo had stopped by after I left, and I asked them if Mike had left before they did. When they told me no, I replied I was sure the music was coming from our camp, and I was right.

It turned out Mike had left, but he had returned with friends, Randy, Mark and Rhonda, two guitarists and a mandolin player. They and about 30 other people (and our friend Stuart on guitar) were out in the middle of the road singing cover songs. After a bizarre experience where I met a fellow who remembered me from a Noblestar project, I went out and joined in. I had come back to camp around 2:30, and by the time the singing wore down, it was 4, and I’d had a lot to drink. Janice was taking their daughter to camp early the next day, and Stuart was going to ride with us (as he did the year before), but decided she shouldn’t go by herself on a couple hours sleep and significant alcohol consumption. They packed up their car and tent and slept in our tent until they left.

We managed to sleep until 8:30. I had a good sized hangover, and Jill was feeling worn out too. We decided to stay until efo’s set was done. We caught Dar Williams at the workshop stage, then efo at the Gospel Wake Up Call. My video camera battery ran out of juice during that, and went and grabbed breakfast and bought some CDs during it. I noticed Dar Williams was signing and sent Jill over to meet her (she loves Dar). Then we packed up the tent and the car. We went back to the vendors to get some ice cream, and chatted with efo some more as they were signing, then got going around 1:30.

Since we knew the road to 87 was closed, we went south on the Taconic Parkway instead. We zigzagged back to 87 on some back roads (after stopping for coffee and an atlas at Jill’s insistence). The atlas was a wise purchase, as soon after getting on 87, we ran into congestion (not surprising, as it’d happened the previous two years). We got on a parallel road, getting back on 87 after a toll plaza. 87 and 287 were smooth after that, and we stopped at White Castle before getting on the turnpike (a family tradition). The turnpike was ok for a couple exits, but signs warned of congestion and we go onto 295 instead. Everything was fine until we got to Delaware, then traffic slowed to a crawl on 95. Jill had been driving all this time, and needed a break, so we jumped off at the service area and switched (I can drive with my left foot, but not for too long). We endured the traffic for a couple miles until a toll, then we sped up until we got to Maryland, where it just stopped. 7 miles until an exit, then we got off and took 40 (which parallels 95 in Maryland). We went back to 95 in Aberdeen but it was stopped dead, so we continued on 40 until we got to Joppa. 95 was going good at that point, but after 2 miles there were signs warning of congestion at the tunnel and we were seeing some brake lights, so we hopped onto 695 and took it around Baltimore until it met 95 again. There was no more congestion after that, and we just stopped briefly north of the Beltway to have Jill drive again before we got home around 10:45. One quick unpacking and it was straight to bed.

An interesting week, stressful at times, but fun. Hobbling around in a cast wasn’t my favorite, but it was still better than crutches (and I did see people on them). Still, I was mobile, and it was better than just staying at home. Apparently the farm they hold the festival on has been sold, and it’s not clear at this point if Falcon Ridge will be in the same place. Jill’s only interested in going back because as she points out if we stay there 4 nights in a row, we won’t get enough sleep. Options for next year include staying at her mom’s for a night or two, staying in a hotel (though most people seem to be 30-40 minutes away, not too much different than going to her mom’s), or camping not in Camp Edhead itself – more out to the fringes, under trees so it’s both quiet and cooler and we could get to sleep earlier and sleep later.

Pictures out here.

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