Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thelma and Louise do the Pennsic War

I am finally home from the Pennsic War. For those of you not involved in the SCA (Society for Creative anachronism) this is the annual event where you are given the opportunity to live in a field in Pennsylvania in the middle of August, dress up in funny clothes, and live with 12,000 of your closest friends. No A/C, with no electricity, a long walk to the porta castles (porta johns) and then freeze in the solar showers, meet bugs in your bedding and eat in the "foodcourt" rather than cook.

This is called fun. Really.

I have been doing this for the last 20 years. OK-- I missed 2 years. Some people never learn.

So this year, because my darling husband could not get off from his job, I went to Pennsic with my friend Sheila. Think: "Thelma and Louise do the Pennsic War."

We drove from my house on Long Island to the site in Slippery Rock, PA. on Saturday. It takes 8 hours. She kept me awake and we got there in one piece. The best part of this Pennsic was staying at a local Comfort Inn. We had A/C, hot showers, electric lights and no bugs. Best time I have had at Pennsic in 20 years. Ah, comfort.

The down side of being a "daytripper" at Pennsic (aka: not camping) is the parking. It gives new meaning to the word hike. From the center of the camp it has to be a mile and a half to the parking lot. From there it is anyone's guess where you can find a parking space.

On the first day, Sunday, we left the car in our traditional campsite, and walked to our meetings. We left site for a while and came back, but it was no big deal. They would start towing cars the next day.

On the second day, Monday, we parked in our Row 2 of the parking lot only to spot the sign declaring we were in the handicapped parking. So we moved the car. To Row 21 and parked. People looked like ants from where we were sitting and the car was perched at a 45 degree angle. I set the parking break and we headed out. Or down, since we were parked almost at the crest of the hill.

We visited friends, I gave my class on Cosimo and Eleonora and generally had a nice time. I even picked up my new Coronet. (WOW-- gorgeous!) It was a comedy of errors getting the equipment for my class (projector, screen and laptop-- lets hear it for PowerPoint) to the site and safe but we did it. The class was successful and I think people enjoyed it.

So there we were, after the class, with the equipment locked in a safe place so we wouldn't have to lug the stuff up the hill. In the dark. Trying to find the road UP the hill. Two idiots-- with 40 years (combined) of going to Pennsic-- not able to get up the hill to find the car. The big light in the parking lot showed us the direction, but not the way. (Walk toward the light.) Finally we asked for directions, found the road and we trudged up the hill.

Remember the car was at a 45 degree angle? It still was. But in the daylight it is easier to navigate . Backing up, in the pitch dark, and trying to avoid big trucks parked right behind the car was more of a challenge. So Shelia got out and directed. I would still be there if not for her. I thought I would hit the car in back of me, but more to the point I was afraid I would hit the car in front of me, thereby setting off a chain reaction and landing on top or a pile of twisted metal and glass which would be every car parked in front of me.

The next day we parked in Row 28, but it was it the crest of the hill and flat. We did not care about walking the extra distance. I made a vow: daytripping= leaving site in the daylight.

The following day, Tuesday, was the Arts and Sciences Display. I started that 11 years ago at the behest of the Pennsic autocrat (person in charge of the event) Duchess Sedalia MacNair. It grew from 35 exhibits to about 200. It is an opportunity for SCA artisans to show their work without the competition that goes into a contest with prizes or points. It is amazing what people do-- everything from painting to calligraphy to beadwork. There was even a medieval lathe working away in the corner. Amazing work!

On Wednesday we finally left Pennsic behind until next year. We will probably camp for 2 weeks with our husbands.

Some people never learn.

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