Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Return to Shangri-La, 13th Annual GOTJ, Day 1

Tuesday, August 7th through Monday, August 13th, 2012
The 13th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos
Cave-in-Rock, IL

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The day had finally arrived. After having planned, packed, repacked and packed again, I was finally ready to head out on yet another epic journey to the Gathering of the Juggalos. I ended up leaving work early at 1:30pm, and made my way to Harris Teeter to fill up my cooler. I ended up with about 6 pounds of dry ice and two 10 pound bags of ice, which should have been enough to get me through the rest of the week. I headed up to Pamela's house, and bounded inside so we could finish packing the cooler and all of her stuff. Once I packed my cooler with all of my frozen water bottles (which I had dropped off that morning), we took our first load of stuff out to the car.

It was only then that I realized...I had locked my keys in my car! Argh! Eventually I figured that I had dropped my keys in my purse, but then decided to just leave my purse in the car while we loaded everything else. In a near panic, I called AAA and requested to have my car unlocked, and contacted Krissi to let her know that I'd be late picking her up. Luckily the AAA guy arrived pretty quickly and got my door open, so we were able to finish packing everything up pretty quickly. With all of our stuff packed, I drove to Krissi's house to pick her up and we were on our way by about 3:30pm. The plan was to be at her place by a little after 2:30pm, but at least we would still be arriving when it was light.

The first half of the drive was uneventful, and we arrived in Paducah easily. We stopped to top off the tank and made one last bathroom break, and goofed around with some Superwoman cutouts at the entrance!



Once we were all done, we made the rest of the drive in to Cave-in-Rock, IL. Since we didn't want to be stuck by the ferry again like last year, we'd chosen to drive around it. This way was about a 45 minute longer drive, but we probably avoided at least a 45 minute wait for the ferry, so it all evened out.

As we arrived in the Hog Rock area, we were met with lots of people camped all over the sides of the road, some of whom were very aggressive about trying to sell us some admission tickets. Krissi still needed to buy her admission, but she ultimately decided to just buy it at the ticket booth so she could make sure she had a legit ticket and not a counterfeit one. I still had to pick up my ticket (since Pamela had given Ray her ticket, and I'd given Pamela my ticket, and Ray had given me money to buy one at the gate...long story) so that was our next stop. We were in and out easily, and made our way up the newly improved gravel entrance road that nearly destroyed my car last year. We ended up parked in just about the exact same place as last year...at the end of a very long, very wide line of people who had arrived before us.


Once we were parked, the three of us got out and walked around a bit, and ultimately Moonshine came back and found us. We all walked forward and found the rest of the guys, who had by that point mounded the entire contents of the van into the back of Moonshine's truck to be driven in. While we were there, we noticed the exact same thing going on this year as last year...people were driving up the far right hand side and filling in the extra space, while people near the back were just sitting still. So Krissi and I quickly walked back to my car and drove it as far forward as we could. But apparently everyone had had the exact same idea because by the time we got about halfway there, people were all starting to move their cars and pack in. We were at the end of a line, but we really had nowhere else to go, so we just waited it out. Eventually I ended up getting a call from Moonshine to say that he and the guys had moved their vehicles forward since the gates had been opened and everyone was moving. We also spotted Pamela along the way, who jumped into the back seat.

Since last year's entrance was so slow (since every car was being searched for glass, fireworks and that kind of thing), I was initially convinced that people had rushed the gates and barged their way in. There had been rumors that the gates wouldn't open until 10:00am the next day, which made a lot of people mad since events started at 1:00pm. But as we inched closer and closer to the single file entrance to the campground, we could see that there was some semblance of order at the front of the line, and that it apparently had not been rushed. Boy, that would have made for a great story...thousands of Juggalos rush the gates of the Gathering and totally pwn Psychopathic's efforts to contain them. Maybe one of these days :-)

As we got to the entrance, the line was still moving incredibly fast. I was briefly asked to open my trunk so they could see if I had any glass, but once I turned off the car and started to get out so they could search it, the guy just told me to keep going and go ahead in. So they didn't even look at anything! They just took my word that I had no glass, fireworks or anything like that. Sweet! As we drove past the parking lot, I saw Chris' van parked there, with him and Nick carrying stuff in after they parked. We'd planned in advance that they would walk in before everyone as soon as they opened the gates, but in the heat of the moment, I guess that idea had to be tossed since no one really knew what was going on. Moonshine was still ahead of us with Jamie, and called to say that he'd found a great spot just up the hill from where we'd camped last year.

I made my way slowly up to where Moonshine said that he'd staked a claim, and found the whole thing to be the side of a big hill! That wasn't gonna work! So we drove on past, and circled back around. When we passed the little cross street that ran along side the hill, I turned left in hopes that we'd find a big, shady, flat spot somewhere in there. Eventually the road dead ended, and slightly to the left we found a very big empty spot. It looked perfect to me! It was all wooded so we would have lots of shade, it had quite a few flat spots for the tents, and it was almost directly behind second stage! I quickly parked and we started to drag stuff around so we could stake out the whole area before anyone else found it. After we had enough stuff strewn about, I called Moonshine and told him that I would walk to him, and he could then drive me and all of our stuff to our new site.

As I headed out from the site, I got this amazing feeling of being home! I knew the place like the back of my hand, despite having not been there in a year. I went out to the main path and took a right, then another right, then a left when I got to the place where we camped last year. Moonshine and Jamie had already unpacked some stuff, so we packed everything back up, and I jumped in the truck and directed him to the new campsite. Moonshine initially didn't seem impressed with the campsite we'd staked out since it was a bit smaller than the one he'd staked, but eventually he was fine with it since it was so convenient and comfortable.

Once we arrived with all the rest of our stuff, it was dark, so we wanted to scramble to at least get the tents set up before it got too late. Everyone grabbed their own tent and started to unfurl them, then one by one, we all pitched in to make sure all the tents got set up correctly. Once we had all of the tents up, we started moving around our personal items, and Moonshine helped us inflate all the beds with his air pump. We also moved a picnic table into the center of our camp, and set up a big shelter tent directly over it (which ended up working out SO well...we always had a lot of seating, and it was always shady). At some point after we were mostly done, I looked at my clock and saw that it was 9:00pm. Unbelievable! We'd pulled in and parked right at 7:00pm, and then just two hours later, we were almost completely set up at our campsite! Crazy!

Once everyone was pretty much settled in, Pamela fired up the grill and got some burgers going while the rest of us made a trip back out to Chris' van for another load of stuff.


Once dinner was done, we all had some burgers and chips, and I eventually ended up wandering around with Moonshine while everyone else chilled at the camp. He hadn't had dinner with us, and was itching to get some Gathering food, so we headed up to the main food area near Spazmatic.


He ended up with a cheese steak and fries, which he said wasn't very good at all. D'oh! We sat at Spazmatic while he finished, and I got a Moon Mist while I waited. Once he was done, it was around 1:00am, so we headed back to the camp and headed off to bed for the first time of the Gathering.

Inside my tent, I finished arranging what I could while it was dark and settled in for the night. My tent ended up being pretty much ideal, being deep enough to accomodate my twin air bed with room to spare at the foot (which I used as storage for my dirty towels). Against the other wall, I had my dirty clothes, my cooler, my bag of food and my tub of stuff, with my duffel bag of clothes in front of that, with plenty of room to spare. I'd bought a nice camping fan that I set up to keep me cool all night, as well as a lighted alarm clock since I remembered getting annoyed last year when I'd wake up and not know what time it was. Overall, I was impressed with how much more comfortable I'd made my little home this year :-) Satisfied that I was gonna be reasonably comfortable, I drifted off to sleep.

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