If you venture up to French’s Camp for Reggae on the River, 2017, you will have to overcome one hurtle before you can enjoy the music: the purgatory of road construction. Having now made three round-trips in the past five days, I can only commiserate with you; I’d call it hell but remember, after purgatory, comes heaven.
I keep my backpack on the empty passenger side seat, so that my book is handy, and as soon as I have either set the brake or put the vehicle in Park, I am reading. It is one small tool that I employ to keep my mind focused, because I have found that an unfocused Markie, can create a lot of mental havoc.
Monday, as I inched my way through the confusion, under “normal” conditions, I reflected idly that come Thursday, confusion would turn to chaos, in slow motion. There is no way that northbound traffic and southbound traffic, can use a single lane to travel. Says so in the manual.
When I finally broke free for the last few miles before French’s Camp came into view, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. In mid-sigh, I realized that brake lights were going on like it was the Fourth all over again, and traffic screeched to another halt. Dang. So near and yet so far away. Last year when I had made the scene on Thursday, the opening day of the festival, the campground across the highway from the festival was a circus.
That’s where the 3,000-plus volunteers are being housed and it seemed as though they all arrived at the same time. I knew that was not the case, but the parking lot was jammed and it was painful to maneuver around. Bull had told me that we were setting up camp at noon, Monday, so I figured others had the same idea.
As it turned out, I was wrong. The slow-down was traffic-related, and when I got to the hippie gas station, and hung a left into the campground, the place was almost entirely deserted. Instead of parking in the lot that was devoid of other vehicles, I simply drove right to last year’s camping site, alongside the camp chapel, parked my loaner car, and ate a delicious sandwich that Gluten-Free Mama had hooked me up with.
In a remarkable turn of events, Bull followed only 23 minutes later, arriving with Mid-Sized David, all six foot-six-inches of him, and several other campers who were there to put up their tents. I introduced myself to the others and got to work. In 105 degree heat, I put up my tent, a second little pup tent in case HeadSodBuster decided to stay over, and two more just-purchased, 10 x 12 dome tents, for-I don’t know-whoever needs them I guess.
Before he left, I had asked Bull if he needed me over at the kitchen today.
“I would love if you could stop by,” was all he said.
“Did you get the rebar for the steps?” I asked.
“No,” he answered, “but there are some wooden stakes you can use, if you think that would work.”
“Oh, hell yes! That’s what I wanted to use in the first place. I’m on it.”
“OK, but listen, I gotta run around and do some stuff, so I won’t be back for a couple of hours. See you then,” and he was off.
Again, having been on both sides of the fence in past years, one of the blazers on the Group W Bench, and a dude with a list of jobs, I infinitely preferred the latter. After parking my ride, I hauled my skill saw, 50 ft. cord, impact driver, claw hammer, and most importantly, my torpedo level, over to the newly constructed staircase.
Once again, I attacked those steps, removing each of the 12 inch by 24 inch chunks of aged fir, and working the soil beneath to remove all rocks, to ensure the step was perfectly level. I had brought over eight of the five-foot-long wooden stakes, and I proceeded to manufacture a total of two dozen, eight-inch long wooden stakes, with extremely sharp points.
|One of last year's projects; I was the sawyer only.|
Driving one into the ground on each side of the first step, I fastened the stake to the step with with either nails or screws. I had ransacked my tool box to find scrap nails/screws, because Bull’s truck was not there to provide me with exactly what I needed.
I found a string of ten-penny nails, the kind that are fired out of a nail gun, and I had to stop and wonder, how long had these nails lain in the bottom of my wooden tool box? Certainly, I had not fired off siding on a project since before I started to teach, in 1989. Let’s call it close to thirty years.
I’m not one to let something go to waste.
I attached a third stake to each step, at the point I thought it would do the most good, and figured that should provide the necessary support to get us through the week. Besides, if there are any technical difficulties, I will be on-site to correct them, because that’s just the kind of guy I am.
Grand. I have brought you up-to-date on the physical reality of this year’s adventure; what I have kept under my ice cube-laden hat up until now, is what is going on inside that cool head of mine: trouble in the attic.