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Pennsic: Day 1

Let’s see… when last we left our heroes, they were going to bed to sleep the sleep of the just, prior to attempting a midnight departure. We rejoin them at 11:30pm. The house is dark, but in an upper corner an alarm is sounding…

The alarm went off at 11:30, and given that we were actually able to get to sleep early I even got up with it. Bob got up as I was packing up and loading the last few things, I scritched the kitties, and we went to pull the pin on the grenade get Charlotte out of bed and into the Jeep.

A side note on the kitties. I always feel terribly guilty leaving them. I feel like they should get extra attention before we go, but because we’re so busy prepping, they actually get less. Then we up and abandon them. When we get home, Nishka at the very least makes that all clear. Becket is too much of a friction slut to maintain a good snub. But I digress.

We got Charlotte loaded with minimal fuss, although unfortunately she had already gotten enough sleep that she was disinclined to doze right back off. I pulled the Jeep down far enough for the trailer to clear Bob’s car, he put his car in the garage, and we were on our way. We got out of our street and halfway down the next before Bob said “I left my checkbook.” Sigh. Do you want to go back? Yes? Okay – u-turn and back to the house. Luckily we hadn’t gotten very far, so it only added a couple of minutes and we were on the road for real before 12:30am.

We had our usual I’m-certain-that-something-is-wrong-with-the-load-on-the-trailer stop in Southington. Nothing was wrong, and we got back on the road. Across Connecticut, across New York, all was dark and quiet. Very little traffic. I was settled in with the tow, and was having to pay attention to keep the speed down on the downhills. At one point on I-84 just east of Scranton I realized that I was going way too fast – I like to keep the speed down if I’m towing. Just ‘cause. But Bob was asleep, my mind had been wandering, and apparently my foot had been getting heavy, so I was not happy when I glanced at the speedometer. Just as I lifted, the check engine light came on. I hit the brakes a bit to slow down further, but not only did the light stay on, the engine started missing. Not good. We hadn’t even made it to Scranton yet, I’m driving my mother’s car, towing a trailer, and the bad light is on. Remember, the Jeep is sixteen years old. These days, the check engine light just means that something is amiss in your emissions system. Back then, it could mean that your gas cap is loose or it could mean that your engine is about to self-destruct if you don’t turn it off *right now.* No way to know. So I woke Bob up, pulled onto the shoulder, and turned off the engine while we consulted the owner’s manual. Nothing – just vague warnings of impending disaster. What to do? It’s the middle of the night, I don’t want to spend Pennsic in Scranton having the transmission replaced or something, and this is Not Good. So after some fretting, we figure the next step is to turn the engine back on and see if whatever the glitch was had resolved itself with a little time to think it over. I cranked over the engine, the assorted dashboard lights came on and went back out again, aaaaannnndddd….. we were good. I pulled back out onto the highway, and we proceeded on our way. I have no idea what that was all about.

It wasn’t until we were *on our way home* over a week later that I remembered that I have AAA now.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. We made our usual gas stop on the east end of I-80, and drove through the night. Somewhere in the west of the state I turned the wheel over to Bob and caught a nap. When we got to I-79 he pulled off so that we could switch drivers so that I could maneuver the trailer into camp. We got in and checked in uneventfully, and collected our medallions and Charlotte’s hospital bracelet, and headed for camp.

Epic fail the first: the hospital bracelets for the under 5 crowd are printed with the medallion numbers of both parents – presumably so that they know who to return said child to in the event of misplacement. They were not printed with waterproof ink. She had sweated off all the information before we were even done putting up the tent. I spoke to Information Point about it, and when next year’s mayor is posted I’m going to drop him a note. That was truly unfortunate.

We set up in our usual spot, and actually got the tent up in record time – I think it only took us forty minutes from the time we started pulling things off the trailer to having the tent completely up. Of course, then we bogged down, but we got through the bits where we usually argue without angst. Once the tent was up, we offloaded the assorted “stuff” and headed for storage. Not for the first time, I wished that we had asked for an interior unit – I’m just flat out afraid to attempt to back the trailer in along the drop off, all the way to the end. Bad things, man. Baaad things. However, I also really didn’t want to walk back and forth as many times as it would take to walk the stuff out to the end. Instead I had a stroke of brilliance. We uncoupled the trailer, walked it back to the unit, then I backed the Jeep up to it and recoupled it. Voila! Problem solved.

The unit was definitely showing that we hadn’t had stuff out for a few years. One mattress cover was just a touch mouse chewed, but not badly. There were, however, whole generations of harvester spiders (I’m told that’s what they’re called). Luckily the wispy ones like that don’t particularly bother me. I swept off everything we pulled out, and then swept the unit out as well as I could while Bob loaded. While we were finishing up, some folks from the Quatrefoil camp stopped to get some things out of the unit to our left. Lucianus tells me that they had more extensive mouse damage – I guess they store tastier things than we do. Back to camp – unloaded, parked and unhitched the trailer, set up the furniture and such in the tent. At that point it was getting late in the day, and I was worried about the logistics. We still needed to make our grocery run. The car needed to go to the parking lot. We needed dinner. It didn’t all come together nicely. To get dinner in the food court we needed to change, which would make it happen last – and Charlotte wasn’t going to last that long. So we headed for the grocery store, and when we got there, I thought to check the GPS for local food. Low and behold – there was a Subway right around the corner. We went and did that first.

Epic fail the second: I have never felt like that much of an inconvenience at a Subway before. The girl behind the counter was rushing us so badly that I checked three times to make sure they weren’t closing in five minutes. I figured at first that she didn’t like the people from Pennsic. But then as we were sitting eating our sandwiches I watched her treat a local the same way. Still a problem, but not ours. Charlotte ate all my chips and drank her milk, and she was so close to a meltdown that I wasn’t inclined to argue with her about eating real food. Instead we hit the grocery store and headed back to camp. Bob dropped us off with the groceries and went off to park. I got things squared away in the tent, and when he got back we put Charlotte to bed and I went to bed myself. I was wiped out.

Bob stayed up drinking with Thorolf and came to bed at about 2:15. My sympathy the next morning was… limited.

And the evening and the morning and the evening was the first day and a bit.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
lucianus
Aug. 18th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Lucianus tells me that they had more extensive mouse damage – I guess they store tastier things than we do.

We had several items that we were storing for others and was those things, 2 rolled up indoor/outdoor carpets and a tent which had gotten chewed. The tent basically had been abandoned in our unit, it's owner is unlikely to return to Pennsic IMO and we had no compunction about dragging it out and pitching it. Jim will be burning it, if he hasn't already.
kls_eloise
Aug. 18th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Ah - we saw that. I was a bit concerned that either someone was littering, or it had been forgotten. All is apparent now.
vynehorn
Aug. 19th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Did the straw mats for the common area finally give up the ghost?
isabeau_lark
Aug. 18th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Take it from one who knows. Engine lights coming on when you have a full car on your way to Pennsic can be pure hell.

Three hours in blistering heat while cars scream past you waiting for AAA; finally getting a tow to a mechanic you know, then walking two miles to a pickup point where someone can come get you and take you back home. I was very lucky that my dad had an extra vehicle that I could borrow so I could finally get there.
kebbykate
Aug. 19th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
Love this travelogue, by the way. I may not have been to an event in many years, but I enjoy Pennsic again vicariously through you.
kls_eloise
Aug. 19th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
You wouldn't even recognize it any longer on so many levels. Roads that were there are gone, areas that are parking are camping, areas that were untouched were parking and are now camping...

The biggest thing that always strikes me is that when you round that curve on I-79, it's canvas as far as the eye can see. It used to be a sea of nylon.
galingale
Aug. 22nd, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about cars but... I wonder if that check-engine-light could simply have been "My hamsters can't run that fast for this long!" and by slowing down & letting them cool off you did exaclty the right thing!

I'm enjoying this as much as kebbykate.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )