Sunday, June 7, 2015

Travelogue: Lightning in a Bottle, Part 2

What: An Art and Music Festival with a New Age Twist
Where: Bradley, CA
When: Friday, May 22nd to Monday, May 25th
With Whom: my friend Ashley and her boyfriend Matt

Part 2: Making Camp

I'm not sure why we end up hauling all our stuff from the car, because there is a tram. But for whatever reason, Matt ends up tying the tent to the cooler and slowly carting it up the dirt pathways, while Ashley and I throw bags over our arms and wrists. We begin our half mile march to camp.

What surprises me--and initially puts me off--is how close the tents are. No neatly partitioned lots; instead, canvas and cars crowd for space like a portable city block. My shoulders ache, and I would dearly love to throw off the bags and settle down, but the idea of finding a spot amid the chaos, of asking strangers if we can camp near them, causes me to freeze. In the end, I send Ashley to scout ahead.

She finds us a great spot next to a giant white tent with a pirate flag--a great location marker--that is close (but not too close) to a row of blue the Porta Potties and a water pump. The land is hard, but not too rocky and only mildly sloped. It's easy to lay on and not hurt our backs.

We pitch our green, two-room tent (a thin barrier separates the "rooms") and decorate the outside with solar-powered Christmas lights and a string of prayer flags and an actual flag that's really a tie-dyed scarf duct-taped to some extra tent poles. (It slopes slightly). We put our cooler under a long strip of tent flap to keep it shady and cool.

Inside, we string fairy lights around the ceiling--white for Ashley and Matt's side, blue for my side. (These are the same blue lights I wore to Shpongle.) Ashley tells me they cost about $5, but when we flick on the battery pack, they shine like constellation, wafting soft, mood lightning that is surprisingly easy to see by. 

I've been sore and tired and uncomfortable coming to the camp, wondering if I've gotten too old and lazy to enjoying camping. But once I spread myself out on the sleeping bag, I suddenly feel happy and settled. I've claimed my territory. Amid the sea of strangers, I've found my own private home.

* * *
To Be Continued...

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