Vacation Part II:The Camping

In which our intrepid heroes learn they’re not getting out of summer vacation without injury.

We got up around 9 Wednesday morning, hoping to get on the road by 11. We ended up leaving around 11:30, and still had some errands to run, so we hit the road around 12PM. Robin and Jillian were following us, and the Toll Road was fine, but we ran into a snarl of traffic on the inner loop of the Beltway right before 270 rejoins it. We ended up getting off at Connecticut Ave, going north to Randolph and east until we got on 95. It was approaching 1 as we neared Baltimore, and we realized we’d still be in New Jersey when rush hour hit. Jill had done that going up to her mom’s a couple months back and got caught in traffic, and we didn’t want to do that, so we headed west on 695 and north on 83 into Pennsylvania after conferring with Robin on cell phone. We ran into a little traffic in Harrisburg, but it wasn’t bad, and we made our way onto 81 and 84, stopping briefly at Arby’s (and McDonald’s for Robin and Jillian) as we changed drivers. We heard an odd noise on 84, pulled off to check the car, use the restroom, and refuel before we got into New York. The car seemed fine (and Robin and Jillian thought it was the bumpy road), but we dropped the speed down a bit until we went our separate ways at the Taconic State Parkway.

We got up to 23 fast, then made a quick stop for ice (since it was too late to buy it at the site), and got to the festival a little before 8. I called Stuart, and he came down to guide us up to Camp Edhead, aka “The Pirate’s Patch” (from the song “Payday In The Village”) in Lower Ledge camping. The festival had been held at Long Hill Farm since 1990 (with the first two at the Catamount ski area), and this was the first time at Dodds Farm, so we had no idea where to go. Our usual camp-mom Shelly was not there, and in the past she was a volunteer and able to show up early and grab space for all of us, but this time it was just some of our camp members showing up earlier Wednesday for the land grab. We parked near the camp, then wandered around looking for a good spot to pitch our tent. Jill’s main complaint about camping there the previous three years was not being able to sleep in. With music going past 2 in the morning and the sun baking down making it tough to sleep past 8, we never got much sleep. So this time we picked a spot about a five minute walk from camp, but sheltered by trees from the east, so we wouldn’t be awoken by the sun.

Darkness fell quickly, and we used the car’s headlights to illuminate the area as we assembled the tent. It took a while – by the time everything was up and the mattress inflated it was almost 10. But that was the main work, and we brought the car back and unloaded our food and chairs at the camp. There were two huge canopies (that we called lobbies, after “Loitering In The Lobby”) where we were sheltered from the rain and sun, and where everyone hung out – I didn’t have a problem having the tent so far away because I knew we’d only be there to sleep. We sat down and had some beers, and Olivia whipped us up some hot dogs, which we wolfed down. We were exhausted, and called it a night soon after.

Thursday dawned sunny. I got up around 10, and got to the camp as Stuart, Janice, and Olivia were whipping up scrambled eggs and sausage. For the past couple of years, we’ve split food with them, so we’d do dinner Thursday night and breakfast Friday. Jill was soon up and had her coffee. We needed groceries, so we went off to nearby Hillsdale with Jeremy, dropping tarps off at the main stage on the way. First stop was the wine and gourmet shop. This was our first visit to Hillsdale (the old farm was before we got to the town, and we usually came fully provisioned), and we were impressed by the little shop. They even had a really good deal on ice, good since the IGA supermarket across the street was out. The supermarket did have beer though – no Magic Hat, but we did pick up a Saranac summer sampler, a 6 of Sam Adams summer ale, and a bottle of Three Philosophers. We drove back to camp and unpacked, and hung out and chatted with folks for a while – some were still arriving. We showered in the afternoon while the lines were short and read for a while after that. Our dinner that night was fajitas, and Jill chopped veggies and I sautéed on the camp stove. I had wisely cut and seasoned the meat at home (learned my lesson last year), and we were soon enjoying them with the Belgian ale, then margaritas that Jeremy had whipped up. After dinner, it was finally time for some music, so we headed to the main stage to see the Winterpills (fine band out of Northampton) and Shawn Colvin (who sang a lot of new songs, but had something of an attitude). After the main stage was over, we went up the hill to the Budgiedome, a camp that traditionally gets big name artists to play there after the official shows were over. That night was no exception, as we got to see Eric Schwartz and Jim Infantino from Jim’s Big Ego play to an intimate audience. By the time we got back, it was after 2, so we went to bed soon after.

Friday I still made it up a little after 9, because Janice and Olivia wanted to hit the dance tent by 10. Luckily I’d picked another simple meal – egg sandwiches. I had eggs and sausage cooking on one burner, and english muffins toasting on another. Jill was up before I finished, and she made coffee with the french press. She finished cleaning, and I went over to the main stage (Jeremy had done the tarp run at 7) to catch the Emerging Artist Showcase. Ellis was an early highlight, but it was scorching in the sun and I headed back to camp. Jill was gone as she’d gone swimming at a nearby quarry with Meg and Olivia. I just sat and read my Terry Pratchett book while I used the best invention ever – a little battery powered fan with a water squirter that squirts through the fan. I’d meant to head back and catch Red Molly, but the showcase ran fast and I heard the act after them playing about the time I was planning to go over. Stuart joined me to go over and see Pat Wictor and Russell Wolff at the end. It was still hot, so I went to grab a shower in the afternoon. It started clouding up when I was in line, and the downpour started when I was 10 feet from our tent. I waited it out inside – didn’t want to get my nice clean and dry clothes wet, and it was only about 20 minutes. Later we all returned to the main stage for Crooked Still, who were great – maybe we’ll catch them around our area now (Rushad is just ferocious on the cello). We’d meant to come back later and catch Tracy Grammer, but it was steak and martini night, and we weren’t done until she nearly was. Then Pam showed us her fire twirling (Janice got some great photos of it, mine are pretty crappy). Later on there were more margaritas and fresh guacamole dip (store based, but Jeremy had added lots of fresh ingredients) and chips. Jill and I headed back to the main stage to see the Friday Night Summer’s Eve Song Swap with Christine Lavin (she’s a big fan), Cheryl Wheeler, John Gorka, and Susan Werner. By the time we got back to camp it was after 12:30, and I had to get to bed as it was my turn to do a tarp run in the morning.

I’d set my alarm for 6:45 because the tarp run was at 7 Saturday, but made it there with about 10 seconds to spare. I was not awake and didn’t get a great spot, but it was decent. It had already rained earlier, and it was drizzling as I headed back to camp. I checked to make sure chairs and other things that hadn’t been covered were, then went back to sleep ’til about 10. Jill was still out, but I was ready to get up and went to the camp to see Stuart making pancakes and sausage (with maple syrup, thank goodness). She still wasn’t up by 11:45, so we Ieft out some pancakes for her and I went off to the main stage to see Eric Schwartz. This was the musical highlight for me – he’s usually funny, but he had me in stitches with what he made the sign language interpreter do (“Eric is so hot, I just want to take him backstage and…”). Afterwards, I stayed for the Most Wanted Song Swap, featuring Jim’s Big Ego. The tarps were wet, but I sat on my cushion chair during it. I took my camp chair over to the workshop stage to see Crooked Still and all three Rowan Brothers (including the legendary Peter – not joined by Tony Rice that day unfortunately). Stuart, Seth and Don shared a tarp near me and everything started well. But the heavens opened, and we got slammed by rain for about 45 minutes – Seth and Don vanished. I had whipped out my poncho, and my video camera had its rain condom on, so I stayed mostly dry, until I moved around some and the water came in wherever it could. The rain stopped just as the set ended, but we couldn’t really appreciate the music by then – we were just happy we could move again. I was about half damp, then we started walking through the rivers of water in the main area and got a little more wet, completely soaking my shoes. We’d hoped to catch Red Molly at the Acoustic Live tent, but the tent was stuffed by people trying to keep dry, and we didn’t stay for long since we could barely see them.

We headed back to camp and a change of clothes. I only had the one pair of sneakers with me (bad idea, I know), so I dried them off as best I could. We helped Janice and Olivia pack up, as they were taking Jill’s car to get Olivia to camp in southern Virginia the next day, and we’d ride back with Stuart in their van. We went back to the workshop stage for the Rolling In The Aisles workshop – all funny songs. Eric Schwartz got a standing ovation for “Clinton Got A Blowj*b”, but all the acts were good. We picked up food at the vendors for the first time – I got ribs, Jill got a slice of pizza, and we split a salad and sweet potato fries. Stuart had some of the fries, and we had some of his bloomin’ onion. We polished off the beer, then moved on to more margaritas, until it was time for the main attraction: eddie from ohio. Nearly our whole camp was there, and we crowded on the tarps to watch. A great but short set ensued (and a little bit of rain), then we went back. The band did not join us this year for the afterparty (probably got scared off by the mud), but we had fun. We thought about going to see Dan Bern because Meg had told he was good (and she’s reliable on music recommendations), but it started raining again and we elected to stay dry. The rain ended by the time he did, so Stuart and I went back to the Budgiedome. Christine Lavin was going to come but cancelled due to not feeling well (although the fact that the artists there don’t get paid doesn’t help), so Jill didn’t come with us. Which was a shame, as Jim Infantino and his bass player had replaced her, playing songs he hadn’t played anywhere else during the festival. Following him was Iain Campbell Smith, an Australian bloke who was pretty good. Stuart and I were finally hoping to see Red Molly, but they also cancelled (a member had a family emergency), but all was not lost, as not only did We’re About 9 play next, but since their guitarist didn’t make it, they recruited Pat Wictor to play, and he was the other act Stuart really wanted to see and had missed. They finished up around 2:30, and we headed back to camp.

Earlier in the night we’d seen people setting off fireworks, and during the music we’d heard several loud booms (setting off car alarms which were a lovely accompaniment to unamplified music). But Stuart had seen one girl come running up to an audience member talking about a car fire, and as we left we saw emergency vehicles down below us and the flashing strobes in the sky of more emergency vehicles in the next camping area above us. As we walked back to camp in the mud (I slipped once), we had to stop at a road as a truck with lights flashing raced up the slope. What was disturbing was getting back to camp, turning around and seeing an orange glow in the air getting bigger. I came back to the edge of the field where people from other camps had gathered to watch, just as there was another boom. The folks from “Camp Bubblehead”, immediately above us, had several older gentlemen who seemed very knowledgeable about putting fires out, and predicted they would soon be out. The glow soon faded, and we headed back to camp. We stayed up for a while, hoping there wouldn’t be an evacuation, but that fear faded as there was no movement in that direction. I went to bed around 3:30 and was out before my head hit the pillow. I’ve since learned it was a van that burned completely out.

Sunday Jill was up before me, around 9:30, and I was soon up to put stuff away in the drizzle. We got some stuff packed, but it was soon 11 and time for the Gospel Wake Up Call. We stayed for the first round, then we left to get breakfast, and I took mine to the family tent to see Eric Schwartz do a kids show while Jill went back for the rest. He set a new ADD record (previously held by DaVinci’s Notebook), only getting through 3 songs in his 45 minute set. He was hilarious – seeing him every chance I got makes up for the fact he doesn’t make it down our way too much. I went back to camp where Jill was already packing, and we broke down the tent. We assembled everything else at Stuart’s van, then disassembled his lobby, and packed the van, finally getting on the road about 1:45. We stopped for gas on the way out of town, not getting on the Taconic State Parkway until after 2. It was a much better decision than 87, as that usually has backups on Sunday afternoon from the weekenders returning to New York City – we saw them as we went north on 87 at the end of the road to get to the Garden State Parkway. We stopped as soon as we got into New Jersey for food and bathrooms at the first rest stop. I wanted a Nathan’s chili cheese dog, while Jill had a Whopper Jr. and chicken fries, and we split cheese fries (we generally don’t eat like that unless we’re traveling). We had a fun ride home with Stuart, no real traffic, listening to new CDs, and discussing how much we’d enjoyed camping with the other Edheads and coming to the conclusion that this was our favorite Falcon Ridge yet.

The tank of gas we got in Hillsdale got us all the way back to Herndon, but we were coasting on fumes, so we filled up and got to Stuart’s house, where Janice helped us switch our loads. We finally got to out house around 10:30 and we’d started unloading the car when I heard a scream from Jill. She still had her sandals on and had bent her left little toe out on a tire. She could barely walk and I got her inside. Ice didn’t help too much, and she decided to wash her muddy feet off and head to the ER. We got there around 11:30, and there wasn’t much of a crowd – we got back to be seen by midnight. She got examined and x-rayed, and sure enough the toe was broken, so they gave her crutches and a boot, and we got home by 2. She decided to go to her CPR refresher class today and tomorrow as she doesn’t have to stand, but she probably won’t work the rest of this week. Long day today for me as I went out at lunch to pick up Illa, then had a massage, then came back to work for 6 more hours.

Pictures here.

2 thoughts on “Vacation Part II:The Camping”

  1. Oh no! I hope Jill’s toe heals quickly. See you guys at WT if not before. There are a couple Ellis Paul shows in Charlottesville coming up, if you’re interested…

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