May 31, 2006

How the weekend was won.

Okay, I’m over being burnt. Let me give you a brief recap of what happened last weekend. First thing first we drove up the Fort Atkinson right after work on Friday. It was pretty damn hot. Not wanting to waste gas I left the air conditioner off in the truck. Also since I don’t like the wind blowing in the window at 80 MPH, (What, the speed limit is only 65? Really? Are you sure? Cause I swear my speedometer was telling me it was 80.) I kept the windows rolled up and the vent fans on high. Which basically means I sweated off ten pounds on the ride up. Don’t worry; the family was in the air-conditioned second vehicle. We made excellent time.

Now this event has always been puzzling to me. I enjoy participating in it, yet at the same time I loathe it. Manly because it is the most piss-poorly run event I do. Everyone involved is really nice, but when you arrive there rarely is ever anyone around to tell you where you can and can’t set up. I spent a good 45 minutes to an hour searching for someone to tell me where I was supposed to camp. I was so pissed I about grabbed the family and drove home. Ktreva said she really wanted to stay so I just decided on Squatters rights and choose a spot. Sure enough as soon as we start setting up, who should appear, but the booshway (Man in charge) to collect our fee. Whenever you need to find someone “in-charge” after hours it’s almost impossible. It seems like any ounce of organization they attempt is done so poorly that they would have been better off not even trying to organize anything.

We could tell Friday night was going to be lonely. We didn’t see any of our normal friends there. We were camped kind of by ourselves, we looked really anti-social, hoping that when our friends showed up they could camp next to us. By 10:30 PM it didn’t look like any of the people that told us they were going to show up were going to. Saturday morning we awoke to a bake oven. It was already in the 80’s by 7:30 AM, and since it had rained so much the previous week the ground was saturated with water. That meant it was humid as all hell. Plus there was no breeze. After building a fire, (Yea, that sucked) and cooking French toast over it (That sucked more, especially since someone forgot the syrup… KTREVA!) we headed out to make our day. Right away we found a camp that hadn’t been there the night before. Our friend’s Will and Red showed up. They also had one of their sons and a whole slew of the Illinois River Scum with them. Since they didn’t have the big tent like I thought they had, they camped in the cooler shadier area. I don’t blame them, if my tent would have fit down there, I would have too.

After making our rounds, picking up Boopie's custom made chair from Irish Ridge and talking to our vendor friends. Boopie and I hit the range to burn powder. Boopie’s first time live firing was interesting. The gun handles fine. It’s just a little temperamental. That may have something to do with the farooking humidity making the black powder kind of gooey. I need to work on the boy’s upper body strength; he had a hard time holding the rifle up. After a couple of shots he decided he liked shooting, but didn’t like standing in the sun, so he gave it a rest. I on the other hand started the competition shooting. Again the humidity took its toll on my musket. The damn thing kept fouling up after every two to three shots and had to be seriously cleaned. Everyone shooting was having the same issues. Plus it was so hot that the lead balls were getting softer and starting to misshapen easier.

At the end of the weekend I ended up taking Second place in the Smooth bore competition, with out destroying the range. In fact this year range master Marty had a new rule, the “Seamus Clause” (In reference to last year when I exploded a two by four on my first shot). Anyone that hits one of the wooden supports or stands has to buy him a drink. I thought I was screwed. Funnily enough the only person all weekend to hit one of the stands was Marty.

My Friend Jim, his wife, his son and a friend of his son day tripped it to the event on Saturday to shoot. Since the award ceremony wasn’t until Sunday, he told Marty to give me any prizes they may have won. Well He took Second place in Adult rifle, His son’s friend took second place in the juvenile shoot, and his son took Third prize. I ended up collect 2 pounds of ham steaks, a pound of Canadian bacon, and two pounds of regular bacon. I was walking back from the award ceremony when someone asked what all I had, I couldn’t help but to say, “I won second place in the shooting competition. First place got a whole pig, Second gets an assemble your own pig.”

The ground at the range was pretty chewed up by the end of the event. However, most of the damage to the ground was my fault. My .75 caliber musket would chew up the ground behind the targets every time it hit. Other shooters and the audience would comment on the size of the divots I was shooting out of the ground. They also where amazed at the size of the furrows those round balls would create. At one point my buddy Jim was out on the range changing targets. He yelled back to everyone, “You should see the size of ditches Seamus is digging out here. It looks like World War 1 trench warfare.” He then proceeded to “Fall into” one.

After I was done shooting my competition rounds at the range. I helped Marty out by scoring other shooters. He was short handed and there where a lot of shooters there this year. That’s when I ended up getting burnt so bad. I was in the sun from 10:00 AM until 2:30 PM. 20 minutes actual shooting, 40 minutes of loading, an hour and half of cleaning and two hours judging. The whole time with out any sunscreen. Yep, my own damn fault.

Saturday afternoon is when the rain hit us. It wasn’t a heavy rain, and it lasted for only about 20-30 minutes. After it finished it did two things. Cooled everyone off some, and increased the humidity.

Saturday night we had a good time around the campfire and I had a couple more Mortar Maidens volunteer. That should last me until my July event. Both of my new Mortar Maidens portray Natives… that’s Indians to the PC crowd. We had fun trying to name them; ideas like, “Beaver on a stick” and “She who eats beaver” where two of the many ideas.

Sunday was even hotter then Saturday, and there was no cloud cover or wind to provide any relief. It was so hot that even the public stayed home and the re-enactors where all huddled under flies or in the shade of trees to stay out of the heat. Fortunately no one went down from heat stroke. We did have a couple of close calls. I had been drinking water all day, and immediately sweating it out. A lady comes up to me and asks me, “How do you do it? How do you stay so cool when it’s hot out.” Me, “You get used to it.” Lady, “You’re not even sweating.” Me, just realizing she was right, “Yea, that’s called dehydration.” The lady looked at me surprised and walked off. I don’t know if she now believes everyone in 1756 dehydrated themselves on hot days or not. But I did get something to drink.

All weekend I had a bunch of re-enactors tell me I was daft (the polite version of what they really said) for wanting to change to the 1830’s. I don’t know what was more fun, arguing the history with them, or just watching them get flustered at me for even thinking of changing eras. In fact at one point I think Will was going to have a conniption fit on Saturday night.

Sunday night most of the campers packed up and left. We stayed so we could pack during the cooler morning hours on Monday. We were able to hang out with the River Scum and some new friends we made. We cooked many pork products over fire and had a good time.

For some pictures and other stories see the review at the Spoon and Blade.

Posted by Contagion in Re-enacting life. at May 31, 2006 06:44 PM | TrackBack

Sounds like fun dude. Maybe one day I'll slip up and watch.

But it'll be a cold day in Brownsville, Texas before i wear a kilt.

Posted by: BloodSpite at June 1, 2006 09:16 AM

LOL - assemble your own pig... Love it.

Posted by: Teresa at June 1, 2006 09:56 AM

I thought about you guys having to deak with the heat this weekend... Glad you had some fun anyway!

Posted by: Richmond at June 1, 2006 12:19 PM

Serious history question - did folks of the time ever use any primitive form of sunblock, like mud, or beaver fat, or something?

I know everyone pretty much worked outdoors, so they probably just relied on their tans, but what about, say, the first big day out after a long winter when they were still ghostly-pale?

Or were they strictly "burn & peel"?

Posted by: Harvey at June 6, 2006 07:04 AM