When we stopped at the gas station, I cleverly spilled my drink all over the counter. Oops. This did not bode well for future tidings. We made it up to Willits without incident, and followed the map directions, counting off the miles and looking for the roadside markers, and after many many miles and twisting, turning roads, gravel dust choking the air, and confusion as to where we were supposed to end up, we come to the end of the road: a steel gate, many miles past where we had expected to be. To add insult to injury, we were boxed in by the person driving behind us - as it turned out, my upstairs neighbor, Dan. He backed up, we backed up, and then we ran across one of the locals looking amused. Dan talked to him for a minute, and then sped off.
We passed another car that looked lost, which then turned around and followed us. After much backtracking, we came across a small arch off to the side of the road, and a even rougher gravel driveway. Lo and behold, that was the entrance to Camp and Sons, about five miles prior to where we were. Arrgh. After a few more minutes' driving, we were at Camps and Sons and Chillits. Hurrah!
It had gotten dark by then, so it was time to set up the tent while I could still nominally see. My little maglite decided to burn out its bulb within two minutes of turning it on, so I borrowed another flashlight from Bez. After that fun, I get my tent nearly assembled, to find... that the person whom I had lent it to didn't include all the cylinder things that attach the support rods to the bottom of the tend. In addition, all the extra ones I'd made out of copper pipe and left in there were missing. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I coped by dragging all the heavy stuff (water, food) I had into that corner of the tent, and that seemed to work all right. After arranging things around a bit and unrolling the sleeping bag, it was time to venture down to the main lawn area and see people.
The rest of the evening was spent chatting amiably with a whole bunch of people (especially Matt, who was in town from Melbourne), taking in the stars (there were so many visible that I couldn't even place any of the common constellations), and then lying in my tent cursing the pot cookie I'd eaten. I'd had not-so-great experiences with pot twice before, but I figured I should give it a chance on more time before swearing it off entirely. It started OK - a vaguely pleasant woozy feeling - but it quickly turned into a leaden feeling, the lack of will to move or do anything, and an attention span of about ten seconds. Doing the simplest of actions became amazingly frustrating - trying to open the tent zipper, figuring out where I left the flashlight, maneuvering the sleeping bag around to the least rocky/uncomfortable position, trying to zip the damn sleeping bag up. I just wanted to relax and sleep, but the combination of frustration at the inability to do anything, the not-very-good music blasting through the earplugs, and being too cold in my tent just made my night extremely unpleasant. It was a relief to finally fall asleep.
I slept a couple of hours, and woke up with a stuffy nose and sore throat from all the playa dust still in the tent from its visit to Burning Man and the dust from the hay. Hello, morning. Ugh. I wandered down to the lawn area, and ran into some of the crowd I knew, who were making coffee. Ah, coffee. It made up a little for the previous evening of non-fun. Right by where we were sitting was a small pond with a dragon's head spouting water into the pool; apparently, Camp and Sons' place sits right on top of a couple of natural springs, and the dragon drools (their word on the sign, not mine) quite tasty spring water into the pool. Caffeine-fortified, I wandered around the gardens. They had all sorts of plants growing - kiwi fruits, apples, grapes, pumpkins, melons. There was a little nook in the garden that had been temporarily converted into a little shrine, with makeshift altars and candles set up. With the champagne grapes hanging overhead, it was positively bacchanalian.
I went skinny dipping for a while in the pool, stunning people with the majesty and terror of my nipples. The pool didn't use chlorine; instead, they had lotus roots and lillies and whatnot growing that filtered out the crud. (I think the underground spring also bubbled up into it, as well.) Cold, but nice. There weren't too many of my friends about, as my friend Chris had been giving out terribly potent pot brownies that knocked people into immobility for several hours. There were a few enjoying the sun and the scenery, though, and I sipped gin and tonic with them for a while.
Night fell, and people started to reappear. More drugs were ingested by people (I had ibuprofen and probenecid, myself) and the crowd got more rambunctious. I sat with Cat for a good long while, talking about fabric and clothes and our former workplace and other bits. Chris showed up, and we all had more gin and tonic, and peach-flavored wine for them. (My first solid food were peaches. My first traumatic food experience was with peaches, about five minutes later. I still don't like them.) After a while, Cat and I decided to go into the wood-fired hottub. It was quite nice, but got rather warm; Cat speculated the wood had turned to coal, and that was why the tub warmed back up so quickly. After that, Cat was getting kinda tired, so she wandered off and I went back to my tent, started to re-read Thomas Cleary's The Essential Tao, and drifted off to sleep.
I was awakened to the dulcet tones of mediocre techno and some fratboy going 'WOOOOOO! YEAH!' every five to ten minutes. Bananas were eaten, coffee was procured, tents were taken down, cars were loaded, lunch was eaten at the Bluebird Cafe in Hopland, traffic was snarled at in Novato and Millbrae, shower was had (with three times the normal amount of shampoo needed, yeeech), and bed was gratefully gotten into. Ah, home.
Overall, it was a nice time, but it wasn't particularly my cup of tea. Some of the conversations were nice, and it was good seeing people I hadn't seen for quite a while, and the surroundings were pleasant... but the drive was really annoying, stoned immobile people aren't particularly fun to be around, and the vibe wasn't really my thing. I'd much prefer to see people at somebody's house, where there are creature comforts like bathrooms and warm food nearby. It was good to go, as the campgrounds themselves were worth the visit, but I kinda doubt I'll return next year.