I'm FINALLY at home, if only for the next day or so. Michele's car isn't here, and I have yet to go check and see if she's here (perhaps Rob gave her a lift?). I'll bet that there's an email trapped in the backlog downloading even as type this missive.
So, what can I say about Harbin, and the Ancient Ways Festival? Well, short answer, it was wonderful, but I've already said that. Here's the first in a series of entries to catch things up a bit:
Prologue (The Strange Tuesday Night):
I had spent the day finishing up all of the packing and such for making this as comfortable a camping experience as possible, as Roni HATES to camp. In actuality, camping wouldn't be so bad save for two things: Bugs and dealing with privies. Since any sort of camping involves both to some extent, it sort of detracts from her enjoyment of camping. More on that later.
Michele was in the mood for Chinese Chicken Salad, so I ran to the sore and bought the ingredients and made it back before she was due home. Unfortunately, she called at 8PM to ask for a ride home, as she had discovered bald tires on the Volvo and didn't want to risk the drive up 9, even during the daylight in dry weather. I'm glad she did risk it...Highway 9 is NOT a forgiving road, as my recent run in with the Killer Trees amply proves.
Knowing that she was tired AND hungry, I got dressed, hopped in the bug and made it down there by 8:36. In hindsight it might have been better if I had been delayed.
She was waiting near the tire store across from the Volvo Dealership, in case the tire store couldn't do the car. Volvo basically reams people for the tires they sell, over-charging for tires rated only 20 thousand miles. We know this, because Michele was stuck buying them at the dealership last time around, and after 25 thousand miles the tires were showing cords. Yes, that's 5K over the rating...but that means they couldn't have been safe at 20, and as an engineer I can't believe they got the tolerance on those puppies THAT close, especially for what they were priced at.
So I snagged her from her perch at Stevens Creek, and headed back up. She thought I was going to be upset because she didn't chance driving up on the tires, and I was trying to let her know I thought she was absolutely right. She then pointed out she was REALLY tired and hungry (see?) and was thus a bit more defensive then was probably warranted.
We were halfway up the mountain when I felt...uncomfortable. Like lunch, which I had eaten at 3, was not agreeing with my large intestine. No biggie...except it turned out to be somewhat of an issue when the pain and cramping got so be WAY too intense to bear.
Michele suggested pulling into one of the turn-off's and squatting in the bushes as a JOKE, one at which I laughed at. As we neared the summit, it wasn't so funny any more, even with a Privy style bathroom at one of the Vista lookouts only two miles away.
It's hard even to write about...all that socialization SCREAMS that I should be utterly ashamed about it. The fact remains: I didn't make it.
I pulled into a turn off that had an entrance to one of the trails, barely able to think clearly enough to even put the car into Park, and RAN for those damn bushes. It felt like being turned inside out. The entire time I was thinking "DAMN IT! I'm going CAMPING for the next 5 days?!" I was pretty sure this HAD to be a stomach flu (it wasn't).
Michele, bless her, thought to bring me the newspaper she had with her, a poor (but adequate) replacement for toilet paper. As it was, I felt decidedly UN-fresh as I limped back to the car, and even put the remaining paper down on the car seat for fear that I had managed to soil myself enough that it would be an issue.
Getting home, I lost the cloths into the washer, showered intensely, and managed to feel steady enough to Michele a killer salad. Strangely enough, that was the last problem I had, which makes me wonder what the hell I had at lunch that could have produced such an intense reaction. I'm beginning to think that I'm allergic to something I'm eating occasionally.
The next morning I was able to kill two birds with one stone: Since I wanted to get an early start, I offered to drive Michele down to work via the tire place. They were great there, and Michele's tires are now rated at 80K.
I stopped off at Roni's in SF to grab her things and the Mama-san chair cushion I was using to augment out tent bedding, and headed up to Harbin. The drive was pretty smooth, and I was there at 1:30 PM...just barely getting there early enough for a decent camping spot that wouldn't be in direct sunlight. A good thing, as it was amazingly hot (100 degrees).
First order of business after making up camp was registration, whereupon I discovered Joi Wolfwomyn would NOT be attending that year. Can't say I was upset at this piece of news -- Joi annoys me in that way that only someone who has managed to over-dose on their own sense of importance can.
Went to meet up with Pat, who had rented a room near the pools. I was shocked to discover that the bedding in the tent was WAY more comfortable to lie upon than one of Harbin's room beds. Smug, even.
Ok, Thursday is going to require another entry -- so I'm stopping here for now.