Busy weekend: two gigs, baseball, and camping

Friday night:

I played four hours of background music for a wine party two hours northwest of here. Great food, especially the cold herbed garlic shrimp. Mmmm. The people were nice, and a handful made nice comments about the music as they passed me on the way to or from the buffet, which was reassuring. As with most background gigs, it was otherwise nearly impossible to tell if people are enjoying the music or not; I think most people didn’t even really notice it, although they would have noticed if the music stopped. Not that I want them to particularly notice it — it’s supposed to be in the background — I just want to know that people aren’t secretly gritting their teeth waiting for the horrible noise to stop. I end up playing “by faith” in a way — figuring the hostess hired me for a reason, and figuring that if I’m having fun and enjoying the music, hopefully others will be too.

Saturday noon:

I played music for an outdoor noon wedding ceremony an hour northeast of here. The bride wanted mainly classical things, so I played some Bach and Handel and an O’Carolan piece (he was influenced by Baroque music), plus the Lakme Flower Duet she’d specifically requested. It was a lovely wedding, especially because some of the guys helped me with my “instant” canopy, which no normal person could possibly put up by herself.

These events were the debut of my new PA system. I’m disappointed with its power — I had the volume up all the way for the wedding, and almost all the way up for the party. I’ve never had to do that with any system I’ve borrowed or rented in the past. Most have only needed half the available volume. Hmmm…

Saturday afternoon through Sunday night:

As soon as I got home from the wedding, we took off for D. C. to visit our friends there. We arrived early enough in the evening to sit and talk for a couple of hours, then on Sunday we went to a Nationals game. (The husband is more a football fan than anything else, but since he grew up in the D. C. area he was very excited when the Expos moved there to become the Nationals. He had received some money for his birthday in the spring, so decided to use it to go see a game.) They lost, 0-3, to the Padres. Much of the game was less than intense — hardly any hits, and rarely did anyone touch second or third base. But there were two homeruns and two double plays, and even the less than intense parts were not bad. It was a lovely, leisurely afternoon.

Monday:

We had decided to make our way home via camping in state forests. This involved stopping at a grocery store to eat some lunch and buy something to make for dinner.

Then we reached the first forest and explored, but it was a state game lands, not a state forest, and the adjoining state park was closed to camping. Onward. The next forest looked nice, but the undergrowth not only nearly obliterated the trails, but also allowed no space for a tent. Fortunately, this forest had a state park in it with a campsite, and we were able to use their after-hours honor system to occupy one of the sites.

Not exactly roughing it. Nice shower house, a water source even closer to our site, fire pit, picnic table, our car just feet away from our tent, and plenty of other people to keep the bears away. Probably a wise decision for our first camping experience.

I got to make the fire. Mmmm, fire. My first attempt was no good, but then I remembered my camp counselor days and got a nice one going. We had soup from a can, and a nice marble rye from the grocery store bakery. Mmmm.

On the other hand, the ground was really hard. And while the husband made it to the restroom in the middle of the night without a flashlight, which we’d managed to misplace, he had a lot of trouble finding his way back. Note: know where the flashlight is.

Tuesday:

We set off for another forest further north. Found another grocery store. Stopped at a nice park to eat some lunch. Found the forest, which was much more open, and picked a good tent site. Explored the trail for about two hours, then decided to make dinner. We should have just done soup and bread again. It’s hard to do chili/cheese tortillas in a rough site. Heating up the chili was no problem with the propane stove, but it was hard to roll up and eat the tortillas without plates (note: bring plates) and without spilling most of it on the ground to attract wildlife. Our makeshift solution was to eat over the empty cans (one from the chili, one from the diced tomatoes we stirred into it).

After dinner, we sat around for a few minutes wondering what to do next. There wasn’t anything interesting around, and we’d already seen as much of the trail as we wanted to. And it was still light out, and home only three hours away, and why sit around for three hours here with nothing to do, and then sleep here, and then drive three hours the next day to get home, when we could just leave now? So we came home.

Not the most exciting or romantic camping trip you could imagine. But we learned some things and had a good time and now we can finally say we’ve used that tent we got four years ago. We decided that it would be a fun way to travel cheaply, but that it would require either going to forests where there was a particular trail or waterfall or other site that we would be interested in, or driving longer between sites, or both. And it would be lots of fun to get a group of friends together and spend a weekend at a site like that first state park had.

I’m pleased that I survived four days without the Internet. And I’m going to get offline again as soon as I catch up on the blogs I’ve missed, and answer some emails, and…

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