Saturday, July 25, 2009
An Experience of a Lifetime
Wow what a trip!!! Recently, My daughter "Sock Fashion Expert", "Moon beam" and I took our first trip out to "The Gorge" in Washington. It was such an incredible and unforgettable experience. Here's the nitty gritty :
My daughter, Sock Fashion Expert, had asked to go to a Christian Rock Concert for many months if not years. She had her heart set on it. It was a big disappointment when her birthday came and went with no concert of her interest anywhere near us. This crazy "Electron Dude", had been going out to "Creation" at the Gorge for years. Since he had raved about it to no end, we decided to make the big trip. At first I didn't know if my husband was going to be all about this, but after we had good tires on our truck, he gave us the green light.
We packed and cleaned and cooked like crazy days ahead. My sons insisted that for the money we were spending, they would be happy to put on a concert of their own. They offered to wear dreadlock wigs, play and lip sink to my daughters favorite band, Pillar. Despite their tempting offer, we declined. Our first stop was at Wal mart to stock up our cooler and buy some cool earrings. The earrings happened to be giant hoops which my daughter deemed worthy of wearing to the event. I sported an identical pair which I constantly worried the baby would grap a hold of, though she never did.
We drove for many many hours. We decided that Arbys sale roast beef sandwiches would be our most popular meal of choice. Yes, by the end of our trip, they would even become our favorite breakfast. After Moon beam would take no more hours of driving, we stopped at a park and by a lake and splashed in the water for a while. We also ate some left over - you guessed it - Arbys Roast beef.
When we arrived at George, Washington, we were quite relieved. We were only to discover a horrible fate awaited. There were concert volunteers everywhere directing traffic. They really didn't know much about what they were doing. The first one directed us to a tent city. Then another one got mad and sent us back out on the road. The next workers directed us into a line of 1/2 mile long parked cars. Cars in front and in back blocked us there in the sun for 2+ hours. Another line of cars just like ours waited on the left and on the right. The sun was scorching hot. When I tried to find out what was going on, the workers I asked didn't know much English. Here we were in the middle of an old field with thistles, people sitting in lawn chairs around their cars and "Creation or Bust" slogans on many of the windows. Some teenagers were playing football in the field. Moonbeam started fussing. I began to wonder if we'd made a dreadful mistake. The cars were all shut off and none of them seemed to be going any where.
I finally put on a stiff upper lip and went over to talk to some nearby Canadians. They were quite knowledgeable and gave me the low down on attending Creation Fest. Remember, I am a country girl and the very idea of driving on the Freeway was frightening. Being in a traffic jam of sorts with thousands of cars worth of teenagers in sweltering heat was a wee bit well....stiffeling.
When we finally did move, I was disgusted to find out that at the gate, more workers, who didn't know much were demanding $30/per person "to camp". She even suggested I pay $30 for Moon beam! I started arguing with her, but was fearful of being put into another 2 hour line of parked cars, so I settled on $60. This turned both our stomachs. We just don't throw around money these days. Ironically, we were directed again to the same line of original traffic and were placed in a camping spot in a tent city left of the portable toilets and right of the cities trash dumpsters. I stepped out of the car and thought I might vomit. The heat, the smell, the thistles overpowered my sense of reason after those many hours of driving and waiting. After my wilted daughter set up our pup tent and we'd eaten in silence, we walked around to surmise the area.
Again, workers couldn't answer our questions. We watched people putting up elaborate campsites. Some had cammo blinds around their tents. Others had witty canopies. The air conditioned RVs looked luxurious to us as I walked and walked in the heat packing the baby on my back. When we got to the 3rd area of workers, I was finally able to exchange our paperwork for a bracelet for the next day. We thought about buying a bracelet for that night, but it would have cost us an extra $100 to see 2 bands play. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally a ray of light appeared. The lady behind the booth seemed to know stuff. I told her of our experiences and she was kind enough to give us a refund for the campsite. It dawned on me that I had no idea where we were going to stay the night.
We hurried back and threw the tent into a storage box, not bothering to fold it. As we drove away, I felt like our luck was about to change. We found a national park where the Canadian people had told us had a place to swim. It was heavenly. Waves of clear water crashed on the sandy shores. The lake was surrounded by beautiful rugged landscape. After a most refreshing swim, I was in a much better frame of mind. Moon beam splashed happily in the water. A heat rash on her bum disappeared before my very eyes. Sock Fashion Expert was beginning to look hopeful again. Despite the "no vacancy" at the campground, it was getting dark and nothing but a police car was going to drive me out. I drove all over hoping to find some place to park. Finally, I found an empty camp spot over looking the lake. I hate breaking rules, but parking there just seemed to be the best thing to do under the circumstances. After we laid sleeping bags across the seats I noticed a "reserved" sign. Then I started to feel guilty wondering if somebody would show up. I pulled ahead between that spot and the next hoping I didn't wake up with a policeman knocking on my window. Wind started blowing like crazy. I left the windows a bit cracked and it was cool and refreshing. I finally fell asleep. This is the most "living on the edge" I'd done in a long time. It made me think about what it must be like for people who are homeless and live in their cars or on the street.
When we woke up, I jumped in the lake again. It was just too good to pass up and I knew that it would be my last moment of tranquility for a long time. Packed to the hilt, we returned to festival grounds. This time, it seemed much less threatening. After walking through the gates, we made our way to the main stage. I gasped in awe at the scene in front of me. I didn't know what "The Gorge" was. It was actually a spectacular Gorge. This out door auditorium was the most incredible sight I'd ever seen. My pictures of it, don't do it justice. The lake, the rocky canyons, the grassy hill over looking it. Even my words couldn't do justice for the awe I was experiencing. The banner over the stage "A Tribute To Our Creator" gave me goosebumps. We hardly could believe the magnificence of this place. It was like nothing we'd ever experienced. Memories returned to me of my friend telling me that this was some famous musicians favorite place to preform. I could understand why. It was like nothing I could have ever dreamed. My daughter and I wondered together aloud if God had created that spot just for the amphitheatre. Surely the vision to build it was God ordained.
After that, my memory is a blur. We found a lovely grassy spot with fence on two sides and a ridge behind us where Moonbeam could play. It was safe and we could enjoy the music. We made our way to the front of the mosh pit for Pillar and yelled and danced despite one teenagers disapproval for bringing Moonbeam there. Moonbeam actually was sleeping at the time which discredited her criticism. When the baby was awake she was all smiles and bobbed her head up and down with the music most of the time. She loved being in the pack. She loved crawling in the grass. She loved the flashing lights. She was actually much happier than I thought she'd be. I diligently sprayed her down with the watering fan about every 10 or 15 minutes. I offered her snacks and drinks about that often too. Ok, so I looked a little funny dancing with a baby in a pack. Ok, so the bar from the back of my pack flung many a teen back into the crowd as I danced, but hey, it gave us a little space. After being thrown back by a lady dancing with a metal bar on her pack, they got wise and gave us room. I was pretty sure we were standing out in the crowd and amused many an onlooker. I didn't care. This was my daughters dream and I was going to make sure it happened. I wasn't sending a 13 year old home schooled kid into the middle of a mosh pit for the first time without back up. By the end of Pillar's performance, she was front row with a huge grin. She even deemed her mom to be "cool".
She acquired several t-shirts. She got Pillar's autographs. She was there from 9am to 11:30 pm with a permanent grin. We enjoyed many talented bands. We were touched by several speakers messages. When it was time to leave, we dragged our feet. I kept wanting one last glimpse of that incredible amphitheatre. The place just inspired me to no end. We decided that it was all worth the money and time and heat and initial frustrations. We also want to do the whole thing next time, Lord willing, and take more kids with us. I'd rather stay at that National Park, but for what we experienced, even the tent city would have been tolerable.
I know I wrote a lot, but it was such an incredible experience. I would highly recommend it to anybody who loves music and God (or even if you don't). Its unforgettable.