Tag Archives: camping

Faerieworlds: A Realm in Review

A week ago I took a break from the daily toil and went to Faerieworlds in Eugene, Oregon. What is it? It’s a three-day camping event involving many bands and fairies, of course. Why do this? Because I can. I can dress up, have fun, camp, sleep in, dance, party without worrying about anything more than where to eat and when to shower.

The drive was long with an accident on the other side of the highway which had the looky-loos slowing down. We went 10 miles in an hour. And it seems that regular summer volume on the I-5 also slows down to a crawl. After many hours we arrived in Eugene at Buford Park where Faerieworlds took place. This event has been going eight years according to the website and there are a few things that could have been better laid out, such as where to park when registering, or picking up registration. There was one table with a guy yakking to two people and instead of one of them serving us they continued to listen to him so I went to the vendor registration instead. We received a wristband (not to be taken off) and a laminated tag, and it was unclear if both had to be worn. I never wore the tag. There was no list of events so knowing when a band was on could only be gleaned from catching the emcee, and things like the costume contest, well, I never knew about it at all. There was an event guide but it seems the $110 membership fee didn’t cover even a photocopy of the scheduled events.

The site is a big field, like a pasture, with trees only at the perimeter, and a mixture of grass, hay and blackberry brambles mowed down and removed, but there were still scratchy snags and very uneven ground. You wouldn’t want to go barefoot. Faerieworlds (or the park people) wouldn’t let us drive onto this field with our camping gear, which seemed odd because the ground was hard and there wasn’t any nice foliage to protect. In fact, they did let us drive on to pack up so it makes no sense. Luckily for us, we were near the road and didn’t have far to cart things. Another bizarre Faerieworlds rule was no glass or campfires of any kind, including camping stoves, yet I saw one fire that people had started up for something and obviously all the food vendors used stoves of varying types. Plus the taverns had glass bottles (though they served in plastic). It’s one thing to control fires but I’ve been to some very large camping events where campstoves are never a problem and people have never tipped one over and started a fire. So this rule was just dumb and inconvenient. A friend who went last year with her two kids didn’t have a good time because she had to go elsewhere to cook and didn’t find people friendly at all. Luckily we got by on cold food.

We camped in inner circle camping, which is noisier and nearer all the vendors and stages (there was the main stage and a smaller more intimate stage in the food area). Portapotties were banked out on the road and another set on one side of the camping. Adequate number for the bodies there but they only flushed them in the morning which meant by evening there was no water or paper towels in the cleaning stations and the toilets were becoming disgustingly full and devoid of toilet paper. In the dark that’s scary. A shower trailer was also on site and though they had odd hours of operation (7-11 am and 9 pm-1am) there seemed to be little in the way of  lineups.

At least six bands played on the main stage. Faun, a German band, highlighted Saturday night with Delhi to Dublin from Canadaplaying beforehand. Other bands included Stellamara, Woodland, Gypsy Nomads, Telesma, and smaller groups on the more intimate stage called Neverworlds. What was extremely nice about the setup was that we could be at our camp and still hear the music clearly. Or we could go around the vendor area, dance anywhere or be up in front of the stage. The music was great and well worth the money. However, many people did not enjoy being woken up to the Faerieworlds alarm Saturday morning which consisted of very loud German techno. I’m not sure why they thought they needed to wake fairies up at 8:30 anyways. I just wonder why the bands ended at midnight on Saturday when it was the main day of the event. Having music go later (everything seemed to close too early that night) would have been better.

There must have been about 100 vendors and the quality was verygood. Not a lot of original jewellery but enough, as well as some supremely amazing masks out of leather or formed plastics with feathers or fibers. As well there were several vendors selling wings of course, either one of a kind, handmade or mass produced. There were two taverns. There was clothing from silk fairy tatters to steampunk, accessories, and little magical things to go along with wings. Next year I think I’ll save up to buy one of the masks. They weren’t cheap but they were beautiful pieces of art. The vendor area also included some games, courtesy of a local Renaissance faire and was a maze of colorful items. Unfortunately some vendors only took cash and the official table selling the bands’ music only took cash because they divvy the money up to the bands. Still, I could have worked out a system for having credit cards and paying out each band.

What was probably the most fun besides the music, were the costumes and spontaneous performance art. There were numerous styles of wings and costumes that people had made. There were trolls and goblins in a tug of war, satyrs and wizards, dryads and Na’vi, steampunks and purple fairies, and all sorts of people just doing their thing. Some did spontaneous performance art, like the caterpillar and the dryad pictured here and I loved that. It’s inspired me to go back and listen to more music next year and maybe try a few more outfits for fun.

http://www.faerieworlds.com/

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Penticton and Wayward Travels

I drove up with friends yesterday (this was July 1 but there have been internet issues) to Penticton. This is an extended Canada Day that will go until the weekend. The drive started out fine and one car took the Hope-Princeton route and they other, my car, the Coquihalla route. It’s been about four years since I was last out this way, I think, so how much could it change?

I have never wanted to drive through the Interior during the winter, especially on the Coquihalla Highway, which is a top of the world sort of place and has high snow. In fact, they insist you have chains and/or snow tires. The road seemed a little rougher than it had been in the past, but then it’s probably graded or plowed in the winter, which can scrape and damage pavement. As well, the temperatures go from freezing to hot, which will give it wear. But it makes me wonder where all those tolls went over the years–perhaps not to highway maintenance.

We passed a semi, upside down in the ditch, obviously there for a day or so but waiting to be removed. We also passed a guy with his car in the center ditch, facing sideways to the road, with the tow truck there to remove it. The Coquihalla may look deceptively smooth, with gentle curves but this says it can be treacherous still when absolutely bone dry (and when speeding too much).

One of Gordon Campbell’s election ploys was to remove the tolls suddenly (without even telling the workers–that went over well) so no tolls anymore. I was still expecting the toll booths. And because there weren’t any and I was talking with my friend, we missed the connector turnoff and ended up in Kamloops going, what? When did this build up so much? And then, “I thought we went through Merritt.”

So, we ended up taking the long route through Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna. One thing I noticed all through the Coquihalla and Kamloops was the number of dead pine trees. The Coquihalla is so high up that the trees are sparsely spaced. But in spots 50% were brown. I think this must be the mountain pine beetle, unless it had been some sort of selective fire, but the trees did not look like they had been burned. Shocking to see so many dead trees.

Penticton really hasn’t changed in some ways and yet has changed in others. I dropped my friend at the campground within the city limits, South Beach. How many cities can boast of a campground in the city limits? And as I drive into the campground, almost knowing where it is, I recognize it. My mother used to drag me and my younger brother to the Okanagan to pick fruit and collect rocks.

Okay, so it wasn’t quite all that but we were teenagers and wanted to hang out on the beach. So I recognized the campground, and the canal in the campground (but not the lovely lily pads, nor the trailer park, very nice trailer park, on the opposite bank), and the registration office, and the bathrooms. Yes, we used to stay at that campground, and I remember it quite well. I’m not sure how many years I went there, as a kid, but there are weeping willows, running water and electricity, which makes it a pretty good campground.

Today, we also went boating on Skaha Lake, the beach right outside South Beach campgrounds. My friends zipped about with an inner tube off the back of the boat so you can bounce along in the wake. Good fun and unfortunately I’m glowing a bit. When we returned the boat I noticed a swallow flying about,  a barn swallow I think. It came in under the roof of the boat rental place and duck into a nest made of mud and feathers and spit. And there were five little swallow babies with their wide mouths gaping. They only squawked when the parent appeared (there was a mom and dad) but were awfully cute and tiny.

And on the canal in the campground, there were ducks and ducklings, every age from the wee ones to the teenagers, making me wonder about the gestation and breeding periods of ducks (Mallards).  I also saw minnows, something larger (trout?, catfish?), red winged blackbirds, but I missed the beavers that my friends saw in the canal. It’s been relaxing so far and I’m feeling it’s too short. But at least I know where I’m going. Tomorrow, Peachland.

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Phobias, Or: Spider Spider Burning Bright

Yes, I am misquoting a William Blake poem in the title. The actual line reads, “Tiger, tiger burning bright…” Yet it speaks just as well to anyone who has ever experienced a spider phobia, known as arachnophobia.

My progression into arachnophobia started as a child. There were two incidences that I can think of that may have been the beginning of my fear of spiders. I’m not sure which came first. We used to live in a house that was a split level. My sister and I shared one of the basement bedrooms and the room was mostly below ground, with 2-foot high windows at the top. Below these windows was a ledge that ornaments sat upon.

I remember I had this plastic bubble bath container in the shape of Pinocchio as well as a plastic piggy bank that I’ve talked about in an earlier post. One night I dreamt that the top popped off of Pinocchio and out poured hundreds of spiders. One other night as I was falling asleep I heard a “plop” upon my pillow. I don’t know if I actually found the spider or imagined it but after that I feared spiders.

Calgary had daddy longlegs mostly, which, depending on where and how they’re described, may be called Harvestmen and are arachnids but not spiders. Still, they’re spidery enough for any fear. The phobia was manageable while I lived in the colder clime that controlled the spider populations. Then I moved to Vancouver.

The first year I moved in with a friend and she was gone through the summer to Greece. And the spiders came a visiting. There were so many creepy crawlies in Vancouver because of the warmer climate that my phobia escalated. The worst were the wolf spiders; large, hairy (at least I think they were) and fast. I was completely freaked out and like a true arachnophobic, I could not kill them because it meant getting too close to them. So my place was littered with plastic containers that trapped spiders beneath them. I put a book on each container for fear that they would get out. When a friend came to visit, he had to dump them for me.

When I vacuumed I’d moan and shriek as the spiders hung from the edge of the long nozzle. Every once in a while I’d dropped the vacuum cleaner’s wand and run back if I thought the spider was crawling down the pipe. I’m sure it would have looked hilarious to anyone watching but the phobia was very real. Camping was a real issue. My tent was zippered tightly shut and if there was a spider someone had to get it out or I couldn’t sleep.

The worst that first year was this monstrous wolf spider that lived in a hole in the wall of the house, right next to the door knob. It was all I could do to get the key in the lock and at night I was terrified. (Note, that people with severe phobias can die from fright. One should never find it funny to chase the person with the phobic producing object.) This spider was one of those granddaddy wolf spiders, with a body as long as my thumb. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_spider

One day I couldn’t take it any longer. I loaded a spray bottle with super hot water and went out to the spider’s home. I started shooting in sprays of hot water…and all the wolf spider did was leap out to attach the water. I couldn’t kill the bugger. Years later I read that some wolf spiders live in warm underwater currents.

My phobia became so bad that I couldn’t go near any spider. It could be the size of a pin dot but if it landed on me I was shrieking and batting it away, in full hysterics. It wasn’t funny and it was getting so bad that I was about to go to my doctor. In a coastal rainforest you can’t avoid spiders and sometimes they fly through the air on their strands. Even staying indoors wouldn’t help because spiders are everywhere. So yes, the spiders burned very brightly in my life.

Along the way I spent a year upgrading hiking trails. I had to hike in and out an hour each way. I started the job wearing gardening gloves and carrying a stick so I could knock the webs out of the way. Imagine being in the forest and keeping watch for spiders. That meant checking every branch I was under, every log I sat on, every piece of foliage I had to grab.

Then one day, about six months later, a spider was on my hand and I flicked it off, calm as you please. It took a few minutes for it to sink in. My phobia was gone. One form of therapy for phobias is a slow introduction to the phobia inducing item. I’d been doing this by being in the forest every day. I no longer freak out or cry. I still don’t like wolf spiders but I’ll leave other spiders hanging in the window and watch them spin and eat. Somehow that natural therapy probably did the job faster than months of counselling ever would have.

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