Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Return to Shangri-La, 13th Annual GOTJ, Day 7

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

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Around 7:30am, I was awakened by the sound of rain. Rain, which was followed by thunder, which was accompanied by some pretty heavy wind. Previous to this, we had only had one rain shower one morning, and it only lasted about 10 minutes or so. So I was hoping that the rain would pass pretty quickly so we could pack up camp when it was relatively dry. My tent held pretty solid through the downpour, though I did get some water coming in around my rain fly. That was my own fault though since I hadn't put it on correctly, and it was sitting across the top of the tent crooked, so some water was blowing in between the rain fly and the screen walls. So next year, I know what I need to do to prevent that. The water that came in was right near my head and got a corner of my pillow wet, but it wasn't too bad, and I was able to go back to sleep for another hour and a half or so. I also heard Moonshine start his truck and drive away at some point, though I don't remember what time it was.

"And it rained..and rained...and rained..."

Around 9:00am, I grabbed my phone and checked the radar, and saw that the rainy part of the storm was just about past us, so I got up and started to tidy up the inside of my tent. I packed up all of my dirty towels and my linens into my duffel bag, and shoved all of my dirty clothes into my cooler (As an aside - before I left home, I packed the cooler with 6 pounds of dry ice, twenty pounds of regular ice, a frozen gallon of water and 12 frozen water bottles. That amount of ice and dry ice got me through the entire Gathering, and I had cold drinks up until Sunday. And had my gallon of water not sprung a leak, I probably would have had cold drinks up until Monday. So I plan on doing the very same thing next year.)

Once I made my way out of the tent, Jamie and Krissi were also awake and moving, so we tried to tidy up everything as best we could. Krissi broke down her tent, and when I was done unloading everything out of mine, she helped me break down mine. Of course now that we'd had about 3 hours worth of steady rain, everything was muddy, so I got pretty dirty as I shoved my tent back into its bag. We packed up what we could into the car, then decided to go walking around in hopes of scavenging some good stuff.

The main thing I was hoping to find was a privacy tent, which you can use for a changing room, shower and stuff like that. If I'd had room in my car, I would have liked to pick up a few more tents for everyone else to use next year. But since our space was really limited in the car now, we had to stick to small stuff. We took the side street up to the area near where we stayed last year, and along the way Jamie spotted a tent that looked brand new, and was just like the one Ray had been using (but the zipper on that one broke, so we ended up leaving it behind to be thrown away). So while he broke that one down, I spotted an inflatable sofa! I had looked at them online before we left, and they were about $20, so I folded it up as best I could and kept walking.

When we rounded the corner at the end of the path, I spotted a privacy tent off in the distance with no one around it! Yay! So I ran over and quickly broke it down, despite seeing that there was a tear in the tent material near the bottom on the front. I figured that a quick duct tape job would patch it up well enough, and we could get at least one more year of use out of it. Once I had it down, I dragged it out to the road where it was dry, and folded it up as best I could. While I was at it, I folded up the sofa a little better, and put both of them in a nearby garbage bag.

When Jamie arrived where Krissi and I were, he had a whole little box of stuff with him that he'd scavenged! He'd found a bandana, some straws, some duct tape, and had four big tiki torches with him! Since we really didn't have room for much else in the car, we called it a day on scavenging, and headed back to the car to pack up everything.

Fitting everything into my car was kind of like fitting a puzzle together, but ultimately everything fit. I don't think Jamie and Krissi were very comfortable since they had stuff packed all around them, but at least we fit everything in, and everyone had a seat for the ride :-) We did a little bit of final trash collection, then walked around and said goodbye to the neighbors that were still at their sites. Most people in the area seemed to love that area, and most said that they were going to try to come back and get the same spots next year. I really hope they do, since we had some really fun neighbors (well, except for the nitrous tank guys!), and I'd love to camp near them all again.

Jamie packs a bag and runs away from home

A few minutes after noon, we all piled into the car and headed out of our beloved Shangri-La, and back to the real world. As we drove out, I was really surprised at how clean everything seemed, and how little debris was left hanging around. Leaving Hog Rock, I backtracked my way through all the directions until we had made it back to Paducah. Since the exit isn't actually in Paducah, we were pretty limited as to our food choices, but none of us cared since we were all starving. Huddle House was right next door to the gas station we'd stopped at on the way down, so that's what we decided on.

Inside Huddle House, we all grabbed menus, and we all had a tough time deciding what to get. I was so hungry that everything sounded delicious! We must have looked so crazy coming in there giggling the way we were, then taking forever to order! haha Of course, the women's bathroom was out of order, so Krissi headed next door to the gas station, and when she got back, I went over. And just like last year, it was so wonderful to be using a real toilet that flushes once you're done :-) It was also nice to have a real sink to use!

As I stood there washing my hands, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I hadn't showered, my hair was going everywhere, and I had dirt all over me from packing up camp. But y'know what? I was happy. I genuinely looked like a better, happier person than I was 7 days ago when I washed my hands in that same sink. Feelings like that are hard to define, and hard to explain to others who haven't experienced the same thing. But it really felt like I'd arrived at the Gathering as one person, and left as a someone completely different. Someone who was happy and content...someone who doesn't let the stress of life get to her any more...someone who tries to be as good of a person as she can be...someone who plays a small yet vital part in something that is so much bigger than herself, and something that she's grown to value so much. I just felt different, and changed for the better. What an amazing gift to have been given...and all I had to do to get it was go to the Gathering :-)


When I got back, we all placed our orders, and I got some sliders that were biscuits with a burger, egg and cheese on them. When our food arrived, we devoured it as though none of us had ever seen food before hahaha And we were all smiles and laughs through the whole meal. My sliders were beyond delicious, but three of them was too many, so I packed up one of them and the rest of my tater tots to go. As we drove, we listened to my copy of Mighty Death Pop, and made one more stop for gas along the way.

When we got back to Nashville, I dropped Krissi off at her place, then waited for Jamie's mom to pick him up in the Opry Mills area.

The hand goes flying one last time

After a few last minutes of hijinx, he was on his way home, and so was I. Once I was home, I unloaded most of my stuff from the car and managed to get my Faygo soaked clothes into the washer that night. And as much as I hated that the Gathering was over, I must admit that a shower in my own house, and a full night of rest in my own bed both felt glorious :-)

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