February 18, 2008

From the Journal of Seamus MacPhail

What a fun and interesting weekend. Iíve never participated in the ONW Co Winter Camp before, mainly because I was never a member prior to this past October. Having never participated before, I wasnít exactly sure what to expect, this post is written from my journal and memories of my journey this weekend.

7:00 AM 02/14/08: Left Rockford, IL with companion Randy. We have about a 5 and a half hour drive ahead of us. I am excited and looking forward to seeing my friends and meeting more of the Company men.

9:04 AM 02/14/08: Paynette Exit on I-90, WI. We have run into a snowstorm. The snow is heavy and has caused some sever driving conditions. Due to stopping for provisions, we are running a half hour behind schedule. Fortunately we are in no great hurry.

9:22 AM 02/14/08: Approaching Wisconsin Dells. The snow if falling faster. We have slowed our travel down to less than 50 MPH. I contacted Ktreva to have her check the size of the storm for me. She advised that we are going to be in the snowstorm for at least the next 100 miles of our journey.

11:30 AM (Approx) 02/14/08: Black River Falls, WI. We have finally driven through the snowstorm. We have counted numerous vehicles in the ditches or spun out. Every vehicle we passed has either been empty (Marked so by police) or already had emergency responders. Since help was already on the scene we did not feel the need to stop and possibly put ourselves into more peril.

2:10 PM (Approx) 02/14/08: Arrive at camp just northwest of Trego, WI. We made a 45-minute stop for lunch, gas and supplies. At this time there are only four other individuals at camp, neither my companion nor myself recognize any of them. We are staying in a cabin. There is a large fireplace and an electric furnace. Itís cold inside, but not as cold as outside. Things should warm up as time passes and more people arrive.

9:15 PM 02/14/08: Camp. Many more individuals have shown up, some of my friends from Illinois and other Company men. People have begun laying out trade items on the table. Much Alcohol is being consumed. The cabin is warming up some; the temps are probably in the 50s, which is comfortable with my clothing. Rumor has it that the temps are to drop down to Ė15 overnight and the High on Friday should be around 7 degrees.

10:00 AM 02/15/08: Camp. More people are arriving, including some that showed up in the middle of the night. New trade items are being set out. One of the guys that lives locally advised that the temps fell to Ė21 in Trego. They also speculated because we are in a hollow next to the lake that the temps at the cabin could have gotten as cold as Ė30. I slept comfortably with my wool blankets. I discovered that when using a porta-john in these temps that the urine can freeze to the side of the urinal before it has a chance to go into the tank. Also that no matter how many guys use it, the blue ice in the tank will not defrost. Also, after using the porta-john do not close the lid. The steam rising off of the excrement and urine can and will form ice on the seat and lid. They will sometimes freeze together. Also Iím not sure what temperature it is, but at a certain point a plastic toilet seat only gets so cold. It doesnít matter how much colder the temps get, sitting on the seat after that point will still being just as uncomfortable as if it was another 20 degree colder.

9:00 PM 02/15/08: Camp. There are 48 bunks in this cabin and most of them are full. There is a second cabin that some of the members are sleeping in. They do not allow smoking in that cabin; originally I heard it referred to as the ďnon-smokingĒ cabin. I chose to stay in the main cabin because more people I knew were going to be there. Later on I learned that they actually refer to the second cabin as the ďgeriatric cabinĒ as most of the members that sleep there tend to be over the retirement age.

10:00 AM 02/16/08: Camp. I slept like crap last night. It was too warm in the cabin. Between the fire burning for 2 days, the electric heater and the amount of men in the area, I believe that the temps were in the mid to upper 60ís. It was so warm I had to kick off the wool blankets. In turn I would get chilled and have to recover. This cycle occurred all night long. Also the gentleman(?) in the bunk next to me had some of the most horrendous gas all night long. Iím not sure what was worse, being woken up by the sound or the smell. More men have arrived and there are a lot of really nice items out on the trade tables.

Winter Camp Trade.jpg
Trade Table

4:10 PM 02/16/08: Camp. Company Meeting. My traveling companion and myself read the company charter at the opening of the meeting. Even though it wasnít said, Iím pretty sure it was implied that we did it because only the French (My companion) and the Scots (myself) know how to read. I was able to see my friend and blogspawn Petey coronated as Bourgeois (BOOSH-way) of the ONW Co. Being a new member I sat back and observed the various members and how the interacted. There are some strong political undercurrents in this organization and some comments made during the meeting solidified observations Iíve made in the past. If this isnít brought under control there could be potential serious ramifications to the company sometime down the road.

5:30PM (Approx) 02/16/08: Camp. Company Dinner. One of my friends, whom I shall call ďWind in his hairĒ or WIHH henceforth, was in charge of setting up the tables, place settings and serving food. He asked me earlier if I wouldnít mind helping him out. It was a whirlwind of activity as the tables and settings were put into place. After dinner I was put back into service helping clean up and put stuff away. This included my cleaning of a large pot that they heated baked beans. Cleaning the pot using a scrub brush and bare hands in ice-cold water is not pleasant.

Winter Camp Dinner.jpg

7:00PM (Approx) 02/16/08: Camp. The company drew the numbers for the fundraising raffle. I purchased four tickets. I ended up winning a new copper mucket (Mug and bucket combined). Iím really excited about this as I was going to purchase one of these anyway. It just saved me some money! After the raffle people were saying that bad weather was moving in and that it was going to start to snow again south of us starting at midnight. Some people that lived in Illinois left right way, others stayed.

3:00AM (Approx) 02/17/08: Camp. A lot of people were leaving to get a jumpstart on the long drive home. They did a good job of trying to be as quiet as possible for the rest of us that were still sleeping. If only they would have stopped slamming the screen door on the cabin. The nice thing about them leaving at that time is that the cabin was too warm for me to sleep again. With the door being left open it cooled down enough so that I could sleep under my wool blankets comfortably.

8:02 AM 02/17/08: Left camp, headed to local restaurant for breakfast and to use the bathroom. I didnít want to use a frozen toilet seat again today.

8:40 AM 02/17/08: Trego, WI. My companion and I left the restaurant hoping that the snow wouldnít be as bad.

9:23 AM 02/17/08: Chippewa Falls, WI. The snow has started. Upon calling Ktreva she advises that the storm will probably follow us the rest of the way home. The roads are getting slick and we see people sliding on a regular basis.

1:56 PM 02/17/08: Madison, WI. We stopped for lunch. We needed to get off of the road for a while. The weather has gone from bad to worse back to bad. We did take a 15-minute stop in Black River Falls for gas and drinks. Originally we thought we would be home by this time.

2:58 PM 02/17/08: I-90 at Stoughton Exit. The snow has turned to rain. Weíve never been so happy to see rain and just ice on the roads before. A small celebration was had in the vehicle. The vehicles in the ditches were much worse today than on Thursday. Today was say one truck flipped on itís side up by Tomah, WI and south of Madison there was a tanker truck that hand plowed into the median with two cars in the right hand ditch. We donít know what happened, but since we beat most of the emergency responders to the site, we know we just missed it.

4:05PM 02/17/08: Rockford, IL. Arrived home. The 5 and a half hour trip ended up taking seven and a half hours. Right as we pulled into the driveway, the snow started again. We must have caught up to and been just in front of the leading edge of the storm for the last hour.

Posted by Contagion in Re-enacting life. at February 18, 2008 12:43 PM | TrackBack

Good grief - are you sure that was fun? ;)

Posted by: Richmond at February 18, 2008 04:01 PM

What a great weekend!

Can't wait to go back next year.

How 'bout you?

Posted by: Petey at February 18, 2008 09:48 PM

Sounds like you really enjoyed it.....
Apart from the kitchen duties.....
And the latrines......
And the weather.....

Apart from all that I guess you had fun.

Posted by: bx19 at February 19, 2008 03:53 PM