Monday, August 15th, 2011
As Monday dawned, I got up around 9:00am, having had slightly more sleep than on previous nights. It still wasn't comfortable since I was still sleeping on the bare plastic mattress, and now the whole left side of my face was hurting. Once I was awake, I grabbed a mirror and got a good first look at my eye. It was almost swollen shut, with the two cut areas being completely red and bloody, and the entire rest of the side of my nose and upper cheek being bright purple. All the blood and other stuff was crusted into my eye lashes, so I grabbed a Q-tip and a bottle of water, and tried to clean off as much of it as I could. It looked bad...a lot worse than I was hoping that it would look. I was also pretty clearly getting sick by this point. I'd been coughing some the day before, but was hoping that my throat was just irritated from all the smoke everywhere.
Once I opened my tent door, Dennis got his first good look at my eye, and had pretty much the same reaction I did! Since I was already starting to feel yucky, I didn't even want to get off the floor of my room of the tent just yet. So I deflated the mattress and started to pack up my clothes into my duffel bag. My clothes were foul...I mean wet, smelly, dirty and generally disgusting. I knew that my unworn clean clothes weren't gonna be clean by the time I shoved my dirty clothes on top of them, so I didn't even bother trying to separate them, and just threw everything in all together. Since my shoes were all disgusting beyond belief, I bagged them all into a garbage bag to throw into the car. Lord knows that those shoes were covered in mud, beer, Faygo, pee and plenty of other stuff that I'd rather not think about! I was glad I'd brought four pair, though that meant that I was stuck in my formerly white, now disgustingly orange and yellow crusty flip flops for the drive home.
When I finally made me way out of the tent, I made my way to the showers one last time, and found that I was the only person using them! I figured that, given the lack of sleep over the weekend, people would be slow to rise and leave the campground. But it was completely the opposite, and most campsites appeared to already be abandoned. It was really tough to keep my eye dry during my shower, and I had to keep reminding myself not to reach up and wipe it off if it got wet!
Once I was done, I headed back to camp, where Pamela and Nick were just stirring. As soon as they got a good look at my eye and I told them the story of how I got my massive shiner, they both thought it was hilariously ironic. I'm really glad that I was already able to look back on it and laugh since it really was a funny thing to have happen, even if it totally sucked at the time. Pamela kept saying "A turkey leg! A God dammit TURKEY LEG!" hahaha Smiling and laughing was hurting my eye, not to mention bending over to pick something up since it would make the blood rush to my head. But it was all good. Everyone has scars from the Gathering...mine just happens to be a physical scar :-)
Since we were all up, we decided to go ahead and polish off the nacho ingredients. This time, we coated the bottoms of the plates with some bean dip we had, then loaded up the chips, chili and cheese. After I was done, I wiped out the inside of my bedroom, then started to generally clean up the entire area. At 11:15am, someone on a golf cart drove by and yelled that we had 45 minutes to get out. Um, what?? I didn't realize we had a check out time like a hotel! I literally thought we had all day. So once we knew that, we really kicked into gear to get everything packed up. We gathered up the trash and threw it into the ever growing pile by the road, and started to pack stuff into the car.
At one point, I'd just put something into the car trunk, and was stepping between the car and the tent. My right foot slipped on the wet grass, and I ended up puncturing my ankle with the metal end of my Four Loko sign! At the exact moment I did it, I thought I'd jabbed the metal stake all the way through my ankle since it hurt all the way across my ankle, a good four inches or more away from the spot where the stake had gone in. I immediately yelped, pulled the stake out of my ankle (it had poked about 1/8th of an inch deep), and saw that I was bleeding everywhere! Dennis immediately came over and grabbed my first aid kit, cleaned off the wound and patched it up with gauze and tape. It hurt really, really badly, and the entire left side of my ankle was starting to swell and make it hard to walk.
I just couldn't believe it. I got hit in the eye with a turkey leg, I was getting sick, and now I'd been stabbed in the ankle with a metal sign. Every muscle in my body was sore, and my neck hurt from getting hit with the flashlight. I just wanted to go home. I really hate when a trip makes me feel that way, but all I wanted was to just take a shower, poop in a real toilet and get a good night of sleep in my own bed. My ankle was actually hurting so bad that I was barely able to do anything else to pack up the car. I managed to throw some smaller stuff into the car, but Pamela and Nick had to take down the tent, and Dennis helped with cramming everything else into the car. By the time everything was stuffed into the car, it was right around noon time. We'd ended up throwing away a bunch of stuff, including my pillow since it was so dirty that it would be worth the $10 to just buy a new clean one, and not worry about trying to clean the dirty one.
Dennis piled all of his stuff all over himself and started to walk to his car while Pamela, Nick and I said a last goodbye to our campsite and got into my car. And lo and behold...it wouldn't start. GAH!!! Apparently charging the cell phones and cameras all weekend had drained the battery and now it wouldn't crank at all. So I yelled for Dennis to come back, and told him what was wrong. I was really breaking down by this point, so Dennis headed out and found someone who had some jumper cables and was willing to give us a boost. With that done, he piled all of his stuff onto the trunk of my car so he wouldn't have to carry it all, and I drove out slowly while he followed. Once at his car, we bid him a farewell and made the drive out of the campground.
Once we got into Cave-in-Rock, we found ourselves in line for the ferry for about an hour, with Dennis being two cars behind us. I kept getting out of the car to talk to him, and lots of other people were walking around as well. There was even some drama with this woman who called the police because the people behind me wouldn't let her cut in front of them in line for the ferry, and accused them of holding her against her will. Stupid. Maybe she should have tried waiting in line like the rest of us!! Pretty soon it was our turn, and luckily Pamela wasn't too freaked out by the ferry the second time across! Dennis made one last trip up to our car during the ride, and we parted ways once we made it across the river.
As soon as we made out out to Marion, KY, we stopped at the McDonalds we'd spotted along the way, and immediately made a bee-line for the bathroom. I'm honestly not sure if I'd ever been so happy to see a real toilet! Even Pamela later asked Nick "Wasn't it great to take an air conditioned shit, baby?" hahaha When we got there, the place was full of Juggalos, all obviously having the same idea that we did! One guy got my attention to ask what version of the Hatchetman charm I was wearing, and I got to tell him all about how I got my enormous black eye. Afterward, we all got some lunch, then headed out toward home.
We made one stop for gas on the way home, and when I did, I could really tell that I was in bad shape. I was so sore that I could barely get out of the car, and my ankle hurt really badly when I moved it or stood on it. My throat was hurting and obviously my eye still hurt, not to mention that I was self conscious about it. For the rest of the drive, Nick slept in the back seat with stuff piled all over him, while Pamela meditated in the front seat because of a bad toothache. It just really looked like the Gathering had chewed us all up, spit us out, then yelled "See ya next year, muthafucka!" Once I dropped them off at home, I headed home myself, and didn't even bother to unpack the car. I did manage to get all of my laundry done, which was a miracle considering how awful I felt, but there was just no way that it could wait! And of course, I had a great night of sleep that night.
So now, as I write this, the Gathering was two months ago. It really was one of those experiences that I will never, ever forget. It was such a dichotomy...some parts were completely, over the top awesome, while other parts were the total bone. Some parts would make me run back for more in a heartbeat, while other parts would really make me take pause and think about it. But even at the time, I knew that I would look back at the whole thing with rose colored glasses.
Yes, I waited in a lot of lines. Yes, I got a black eye from a flying turkey leg. Yes, I stabbed myself in the ankle. Yes I got sick from sleeping in cold, wet linens. Yes, I was disgusted by the port-a-potties each and every time I had to use one. But y'know what...it was the Gathering! There's nothing else like it in the world! I was there with thousands upon thousands of people with whom I share a very unique bond, all of which would have my back if I ever needed them. And all of whom were there for one simple reason...they are proud to be Juggalos.
The rest of the world looks down on Juggalos, but for one long weekend a year, there's a place where we can all gather and just happily wallow in the fact that the rest of the world hates us. We can listen to what we want, wear what we want, act how we want, consume whatever mind altering substances we want, and no one will be there to tell you that you need to act differently. No one cares about your national origin, your age, your religion, your employment status, who your favorite football team is, or when the last time was that you had a shower. All they care about is that you're a Juggalo. That's it. None of the rest of it matters there.
So all in all, at least for me, the good outweighed the bad. I got to see ICP, Twiztid, Boondox, Blaze, ABK, Ice Cube, MC Hammer, Psychopathic Rydas, Hopsin, Critical Bill, and Kung Fu Vampire, not to mention the incredible Dark Lotus performance! And on top of it all, freaking SALIVA was there!! I got to meet Boondox and got tell him face to face how much I appreciate his music. I got photos of me with Violent J and Shaggy, not to mention getting their autographs. I was there during the ICP seminar when so much cool stuff was announced. I laughed my ass off at the Twiztid seminar. I watched Tech N9ne from the top of a Ferris wheel. And most of all, I got hang out with thousands of friends that I hadn't met yet! It was an amazing experience, and one where the good clearly trumps the bad.
Pamela, Nick and I are already planning out a strategy for next year's Gathering. Primarily, we want a Big Balla site. We got very lucky with the weather this year, but we very well might be stuck in 100+ degree temps next year, so having access to electricity for fans as well as cell phone chargers, camera chargers, hair dryers, lights and whatever else is critical. We also decided to try our best to be able to afford an RV. It would be so heavenly to have your own dedicated toilet to use, not to mention an air conditioned place to sleep, and a place to wash your hands. But even if we can't get an RV, at the very least we need taller tents, where we can stand up inside the sleeping areas. The living room part of my tent was great, but the bedrooms weren't big enough to have a mattress for two plus room for anything else, and they weren't tall enough to stand up in. It meant that we did a lot of stooping and a lot of climbing over stuff.
We also decided to admit the fact that we will probably want to just eat at the food stalls, and budget accordingly. We had a huge tub of food with us, and while we did eat out of it, by the last couple of days, I just wanted a real meal and not snack food. I'd still take breakfast and some snack stuff, but not anything like we took this year. I'd also make sure to take plenty of grape juice, fruit and other healthy stuff to hopefully avoid getting sick. I'd suck it up and eat my Zicam drops all next year too, to give me that much more power to fight off getting sick. Pamela and Nick also figured out that you needed to buy plenty of beer and cigarettes in advance, and have an efficient way of carrying your beer around and keeping it cold. One night they used a bag from one of the folding chairs and said that it worked well but that it leaked everywhere. I'm sure they'll come up with something more efficient before next year.
So I think that's it. MCL to anyone who has made it through this entire trip report. You deserve a pat on the back! Thanks for reading! Whoop whoop!