Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Schwagstock or bust - May 21-25

Last year my brother told me about this place Camp Zoe (http://www.campzoe.org/)

- that held these big concert events called Schwagstock ( I guess it's kind of Missouri version of Woodstock). Got rained out last year, but I was determined to go this year - cause I could be high and dry in the vardo. Couldn't convince anyone to go with me (think all my friends thought this might be a little too "out there" for them) so I said "what the hey I'm going on my own. Brother Jeff and Linda were planning on going too, so I wouldn't be completely alone. By the way it was his big 50 birthday coming up. So Meg and I made him a special cake with a bobber harley. Making a motorcyle out of fondant is really a challenge - but I think it turned out rather well!

I had called the Camp asking about an electic sites (air would be nice - so would my Cpap machine) they said no guarantees. I left early Thursday morning and made my merry way to Salem, MO. Course I had to stop at Walmart for stuff to sustain me the whole weekend - forgot about the cake in the truck - in 80 degree heat that's when the major melting and sliding occured - oh well at least you can still tell it's a motorcycle - although it looked like it was going down

On the way to Camp Zoe there was a hiway patrol rodeblock - a little panic (no I was not carrying any illegal substances - although I did have expired tags - no renewal sticker) The officer said -"what's with your tags" I said I worked in the inner city and someone kept stealing my stickers. He bought that and didn't give me a ticket. Guess they were more concerned with contraband than legal plates!! Easily found the entrace to camp Zoe - huge gravel hill and another checkpoint - Camp Zoe security looking for weapons and dogs (don't think they counted my mace as a weapon - thought I'd bring it along incase of another stranger in a panel van situtation!) Made it to the main entrance where I asked about needing electricity for medical reasons - they flagged over someone important in a little golf cart - she took a look at the vardo and said "I like your rig - so I'm gonna park you over in this handicapped area " it was right next to the VIP camping area (which cost another $25 bucks or so) and there was a sweet space right next to a driveway where a large RV was plugged into a outlet on a pole. I backed her in and was right next to a shady pine tree row which gave me shade from late morning on. I leveled her up and quickly pulled out my 100 foot extension cord and asked some nice hippy couple who were hanging up this big graffit banner if I could plug into their outlet. They said sure and I was wired!!!
Got the Emma Rose all set up - lights and tables and such. Settled down for dinner at my little table with umbrella light and all - and here is my perfect view of the main stage. I swear I had the best spot in the place. Could see it all from my own little gypsy domain! Met some interesting people who were curious about the vardo. One nice older man brought back his chair and sit to talk for a while. He shared that he had been diagnosed a few years ago with cancer - just finished his treatments although he still had the stint for the chemo in. He'd just gotten back from San Fran/Haight Ashbury area where he found releif from his pain in medicinal grade herbs(if ya know what I mean) That night enjoyed some mellow music with the help of a little homemade wine (delivered by a wandering vendor) that was little more potent than your regular stuff. Found myself walking a little sideways to the handicap portapotty - which conveniently was located just behind my site. Nicest port a potty I'd been in - also guarded by a Nancy - one of the friendly private security guards of Camp Zoe - who added her special touch of a candle. VIP camping is the bomb!

Next day Jeff and Linda found me (not hard to do) and I gave him the slightly tilted cake and a Harley Davidson blanket. They hung around for a while, and came back for breakfast and dinner on Fri and Sat. Linda made a mean deluxe breakfast burrito on an electric griddle and Jeff cooked up some good burgers.

Met a lot of nice people - including Tanya and her boys Credence and Red, and their friend Mike who sports the red mohawk (seen below drumming) He did some amazing fire dancing - including a flaming mohawk! If I can figure out how I'll add a video I took of his performance.
There was supposed to be a contest for best campsite and of course I had to get in the action, so I did some bartering and got this gal who does airbrushing to create my Camp Gypsy Nomad sign - let's all live like nomads! When I figure out how to enter - might win tickets to go back to another Schwag event.
It really ended up being a lovely time - pretty interesting and mellow music, dancing, light show, giant bonfire with drumming and dancing all night long (believe it or not I was able to sleep through it all. What an experience with a couple thousand friendly hippies - I'll probably go again sometime... hope someone will go with me next time!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ozark gathering May 8-10- my first solo trip

My first solo weekend in the vardo. I decided to join up with the teardrop group for a Missouri Ozark gathering at Riverfront Campground (http://www.riverfrontcampcanoe.com/) near Lebanon, MO on the banks of the Niangua river .
I decided to go down early to give myself a chance to set up camp on my own - arrived at campground on Thursday early evening. Only saw one other teardrop there - he came over and introduced himself. I’ve forgotten his name – but he was from Arkansas. He shared some firewood and thank goodness lent me a hand to put up a new screenhouse . I got the campsite all set up cute, hung party lights inside the screenhouse, set up my kitchen stuff there. Another camper drove in and introduced himself – Riverrat Ron ( he wasn’t with the teardrop group – just a wilderness survival kayak guy in a white panel van) Now that I tell the story I guess I should have been a little leary of a guy in a panel van, but he seemed friendly and not too scary! I suppose I should be little more savey and cautious about strangers – but my gut instincts said he was OK. I went to bed pretty early and air con felt pretty good that night as it was really muggy. That should have been my warning that the weather was changing. For some reason I woke up pretty early – around 6 or so. Turned on the radio and heard about all these storms and possible tornados just south of me in Springfield area. I got in car and drove to other campers (two more teardrops had arrived in the night – including Warpony who was the organizer of this event) I asked if they were concerned about the weather and they didn’t seem concerned – said it was way south. I realized I didn’t know what county I was in( something you should know when you are traveling!) , they said we were in Dallas County. So I went back to the vardo, pulled out my map and sat nervously listening to the radio. It seemed the storm path was really widening and now included Dallas County. When I heard about a school roof being blown off just 10 miles away, I must say a little panic set in. I looked around to see where I might take cover - I contemplated putting a blanket around me and a plastic tub to block the glass and just sit it out in the truck. Called Mike at work ( not that he could be much help but just needed to talk through what to do with someone!!) I drove up the hill to the camp shower house – but it had not been unlocked for the season. Looking around at the buildings – many of which had sheet metal roofs, this didn’t seem to be the safest bet. Sheer panic was growing and the other two couples drove up looking for shelter too. Also the owner of the campground arrived and suggested we go back to the main road and we’d find a motel just next door that had underground shelter. At that time the rain was really coming down in buckets and I was thankful for my truck and 4 wheel drive to make it up the mile steep gravel road to the highway. Got to the hotel and took shelter and watched the storm blow over – think I was driving through the worst of it! The other two couples and I then decided to go to the restaurant next door for breakfast. Coming back to the campground they had to add gravel and blade the road which had basically washed out in the storm.
The vardo survived without incident, but my new screenhouse took a beating (broken poles and tears in screen – cheap walmart products) - my cooking box dumped over and everything wet and muddy, partylights broken, but nothing too bad. I just spent the day cleaning and drying everything off. The river was now covering the entire lower campground and the area next to my campsite was a swamp!

That night and the rest of the weekend were beautiful. We had a group breakfast on Sat. with Gary and Trudy making breakfast in their dutch ovens – it was great. Since we couldn’t float on the river I decided to go garage saling! Found some goodies for the vardo (my stuff box, flower box, a cool bamboo octogon table for my umbrellaand few other goodies) That evening we had a great potluck – so much good food and many new people that were so friendly. Ended with a fabulous campfire – smores and all. Learned something new – if you put old Christmas lights on the fire – they will change the flames to beautiful greens, purple and blue for a long time. Not so sure this is the good thing for the environment, but a cool thing to do with cheap broken lights!! Hope to meet up with these teardrop folks at other gatherings.