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Before I move forward on my timeline, I’ll fill in the photos that were on my actual camera and the details I forgot because I was jet lagged. I’m now jet lagged in the other direction, but Steve helped jog my memory.
We had a layover in LA that was fairly long. Steve’s cousin Arik came to meet us and took us to The Humble Potato, tagline “the Original Hambaga.” It has American fare with a Japanese kick and was really good. The french fries were outstanding. Seriously, if you have a layover, taxi over there. It’s near LAX and worth the trip.
More photos from our hotel. I didn’t get any shots of the pool, but it was pretty impressive, too. No lazy river, like in Aruba, but a very nice swimming space with FIVE hot tubs.
That “Feral Moco” that Steve had for breakfast turns out to be a variation of a common Hawaiian dish–Loco Moco. It seems to mean “rice topped with burger topped with egg topped with gravy.” Hawaii is a place where “local delicacy” does not mean “yummy.” Remember: Spam Sushi is a thing here.
On our way home from the rehearsal, we stopped at The Coconut Experience, a roadside stand run by a darling gal named Sativa (yes, like the strain of weed). I forgot to take a photo, so I’ll just snag one from Yelp:
She had her nearly one year old baby in a high chair, handing him coconuts and fruits to entertain him, slinging him onto her hip when needed. She opened the coconuts by holding them in one hand and whacking them with a rusty machete. It was pretty badass. She had a table at the wedding and was providing the guests with coconut water with or without added booze. more on that later. Steve and I were in love with her.
After our coconut water, we went back to Lihue to change and then all the way back North to the rehearsal dinner. It was as if the wedding activities were in DC and we were going back and forth from home. Lotta driving. But much prettier than the Beltway.
The dinner was at a restaurant called The Cafe at Common Grounds. It’s a field-to-table restaurant on what was once the largest guava plantation in the world. We didn’t get any guavas here, though.
The day of the wedding, we had to buy the coconut rum and vanilla vodka that the groom wanted for the coconuts. Yuck. But one cannot have 100% good taste, right? We all have blind spots. I like stale circus peanuts. We stopped at one liquor store and it had the rum, but not the vodka. Rather than drive all over looking, Steve used his new favorite toy–the credit card concierge. He said ‘Find me a store near Lihue that has both of these liquors and is open now” and they called back with the info.
On the way, we stopped at Sweet Marie’s, a gluten free bakery. Best cup of coffee on the island. Kona, nice and strong. AND really good gluten free food. But even better, was the owner, who called us “the kids” and “bubbelehs” and was from Philadelphia. She was in constant motion and was named businesswoman of the year. We took to her instantly, realizing on the way out, when I saw her framed photos of her parrots, that she reminded me of Marlene Brown, Bubbe, Stacey’s mom. Not physically, other than the red hair, but in spirit. That “you are now part of my family” feeling that she conveyed immediately. Go to Kauai just to eat here and hug her for us.
Marie directed us to the liquor store where we got the booze. I got to check out the cuttlefish-snack heavy rack by the register:
In the parking lot, a flock of gawky young chickens, still young enough to peep, came running up to us. I resisted the urge to herd them into the car. They look a little like gang in the photos, like they were roughing up tourists for scratch. When you’re a hen, you’re a hen all the way, from each grain that you peck to each egg that you lay!
We got there early, since Steve was officiating, so I took some photos of the plants and the grounds. It never stopped amazing me that orchids just grew EVERYwhere. They were so plentiful that everyone just used them as decor, common as baby’s breath.
The ride from the garden where the ceremony was held to the meadow where the reception was help was amazing. It looked like a dinosaur might jump out and eat us at any moment. Unfortunately, it was dusk and we were moving, so I couldn’t take photos. When I search for images of Na Aina Kai, I get lots of brides, the hedge “maze,” and the horrid bronze sculptures that are all over the park–you know, the ones of kids at play that always harken faintly to Pompeii. So trust me–amazing.
Steve and I got a coconut from Sativa and headed down to the beach.
When we heard the drumming we headed back to find the Taiko drummers:
The second one in is a kid, she appears about 10-12 years old. They all have massive biceps. The video, as promised. I’ll spare you the one that includes digeridoo…
The cackle you hear in the background is Kevin’s son five year old son, Daniel. Or maybe his daughter Hana. One of them. Daniel was very taken with the fire dancers and kept practicing his routine using the little LED marbles.
When we walked to the beach the second time, it was dark. We’d stopped for a smooch only to find that the flashlight valet was right behind us. You heard me. Flashlight valet. There were dudes whose job it was to shine lights at our feet so we could make it to the beach. And all this time I’d been doing it on my own. Sucker.
Dark fell earlier in Kauai prompting us to EVERY night, say “Really? It’s only 7? It feels like 10.”
I was seriously amused when the father/bride dance was to “Country Roads” by John Denver. Hyun Joo leaned over and said “Koreans LOVE this song. This and ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra.” Well okay then.
We first went to the Fairie Festival in 2004. I found out about it late, and we just jaunted up for a few hours on a Sunday. So this was our 8th year trekking up to Glen Rock, and–as in the past few years–staying for two days. Our entourage is different each time. For the first time since my first trip, Chris and her girls couldn’t make it (kid in a cast). And for the first time, our neighbor Lisa and her daughter joined us. They came over with the Donalds so that we could get our fairy make-up on. It was forecast to be hot and humid, so I opted to go without, but I painted some swirls on the girls.
Bev asked if I wanted to lead on the way out. Will we never learn? She has a bad sense of direction. I have a very bad sense of direction. Together, we’d get lost in our own houses. She called me, about 5 min. in…”You’re not taking 26?” (she’s very polite. She didn’t say “Where on EARTH are you going?”) I realized I’d read the Mapquest directions (it’s true. I cannot remember how to get there from year to year. And yet I was in the lead!) wrong, so I told her to just pass me and lead us on. It went off without a hitch after that. “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Buffy” Musical episode sing-along in the car. We parked, covered ourselves with sunscreen and glitter and headed in.
We had enjoyed volunteering to earn our admission fee back last year, so Julianna and I signed up again. But we’d missed the window for the craft tents. I got assigned the Tot Lot (quiet spot for nursing mothers and wee ones), and Julianna decided to just hang out with Molly, since she was only going to be with us one day. We started with the opening ceremony, as usual, where the Greenman talked some kids through…watering the Maypole or something? I was busy with the “I’ll be here at this time”s so the kids could find me if they wanted to.
It was a low-key sort of fest this time. Hot, but not the hottest. The music was better than last year. Fewer vendors, both of food and of pretty things. The crowd on Friday was pretty light, but that’s why we go on Friday. We met Stacey and Annika there, and stayed at their house that night.
None of us even wore wings this year. I started to grab an old pair at the last minute, but couldn’t make them lay right. Wings, when you’re not a real fairy, are kind of a hassle. But I felt a bit off without them once I got there.
My stint in the Tot Lot was very uneventful, it was late-ish in the day, and no one came by. I think the day’s highlight was when Otter, mud-covered leader of the River Tribe tried to give Lisa, who was wearing very tidy Normal Person clothes, a hug. We had a bit of a Braddock Heights gathering once we found Lara with Wolfgang and August and another neighbor, Wendy, with her two girls.
We drove 20 in to Hanover to stay with Stacey for the night. She has 3 French Bulldogs. They look like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch or, if you’re a Thomas Covenant fan, those black puppy things that were all teeth and dense energy. Stacey knows the owner-of-exuberant-dogs trick of saying “Wow! He really likes you!” so that you’re flattered by being covered in dog spit and hair instead of annoyed. Very clever, Stace, but I’m on to you.
Lily decided she couldn’t sleep on the top bunk, so I said I would. Tip to 44 year olds of non-pixie-ish size: the top bunk is not for you. It was about 2 feet from the ceiling and full of stuffed animals, and as soon as I got up there, I thought “I sure hope I don’t have to pee in the middle of the night…I sure have to pee.” I’d climb back up, doze off, awaken, and think, “I sure hope I don’t need to pee again…wow, I need to pee.” Just like camping, but with a mountainous ascent each time!
So I was tired the next day. We had a nice visit, though, and Stacey found a willing Disney-chat ear in Ben. The kids are threatening to swipe a credit card and go with her next time. I bid them good luck getting much farther than Georgia on that thing.
This time, Julianna and I asked for a volunteer job we could do first thing, so that by the time Bev and her girls got there, we’d be nearly done. We got to be “Yellow Paiges” and stand at the front gate handing out programs. It was excellent fun, as we got to see all the costumes as they came in, I got my favorite level of social interaction (“Hey, how ya doin’? bye!”), AND I got to work on my carnival barker skills.
“Kubiando! If you become lost or confused during your day, look for the Yellow Paiges. The Yellow Paiges are full of information! If there’s something you don’t know, Yellow Paiges are the way to go!” And I had some other rhymes, but they’ve already left me. it’s a fleeting skill.
We ended up serving more than our time, as communication and timely response don’t see highly valued in the Fairie-American community. But it was fun. Ben came up to visit us and go read the protesters’ signs. He was so happy they were there, but disappointed that the signs this year were of the boring “Wiccans are bad” variety (for the record, not a Wiccan festival, although I’m sure there are plenty in attendance). Julianna was handed a flyer for a “clothing optional” fairy festival “Where you can wear your wings and nothing else” was the tagline. There’s a fairy ball (snort. I bet there is. And I bet it hangs lower than you’d hope) and “spontaneous drum circles.” Also, a firehoop dancer, whom I imagine is a devout body-waxer. And just let me state for the record: clothing is never “optional.” Either you should or should not be wearing it. Also, do not hand my 15 year old an invitation to a nudist ball, you creepy old dude. sometimes Mama Fairies get judgey and indignant.
Bev showed up with Brooke, Blair,and a friend, so we joined them when we finally got sprung from service.
And so we headed home, tired and happy. it was Cinco de Mayo, so we couldn’t eat at our usual Mexican place on the way home, but it was just as well. I’d have likely gone face-down in my food. As usual, we vowed to try to have a booth next year. This time, we’ve added the vow to bring the goats, with little goat wings and strap on horns…
Let’s wrap this up, nearly a month later, shall we?
On Friday morning, I joined the adorable Zach to make a buckskin pouch. I’d about convinced myself that I should totally get a hide and make a buckskin hoodie. I could dye it and then it would be more wearable in the not-Gathering world…But it turns out buckskin is a pain in the butt to sew and even more expensive than I’d thought. Also, once you’re away from this setting for awhile, it seems less reasonable to walk around in smoky buckskin. Like at the Renfest, where you’re sure you’d wear that pirate shirt all the time! it’s okay that it’s $150 ’cause you’ll wear it! A lot! And then, you get back to the 21st century and realize what a silly idea it was. So I’m just going to go with the pouch. It came out well and it smells like camp.
After lunch, I went on a plant walk. Every other year, Emily and I had trailed along after Sam Thayer who write The Forager’s Harvest books. Sam couldn’t make it this year, but Joe (of my beloved botany classes) was there for us. It was such a funny contrast between the two. Sam just walks along, shoving crap in his mouth as he goes. Down on the beach, Joe showed us the beach peas and said not to eat them. Sam was suggesting we could eat them fresh or grind the dried ones to flour or whatever. I said something about Sam eating them and Joe replied something along the lines of “Sam eats a lot of weird stuff.” (not a quote. He was far more diplomatic than that). Joe’s walk was more science-oriented, because, you know, that’s his job. I felt like I crammed a few more plant names into my head. I learned that the trees I’d thought were birch were mostly aspen. The fantastic rustling is Aspen. I think I’d just decided those were all in Colorado. I really appreciated his helping us see the little differences in closely similar plants and wished I could have spent more time learning that stuff.
I spent the late afternoon trying to read the Dungeon Master’s Guide on the beach, as making a pouch made me remember that I was supposed to lead a D&D group once I got home…It quickly became clear that my ability to learn by reading (never my strongest pathway anyway) is eroding. I need to find a group to watch.
Michael convinced the kids they needed to go to a presentation about a proposed mine that will likely quite wreck the ecosystem there. He thought it would be short and energizing, but it was an hour long and PowerPointy. Even he fell asleep. The kids were outraged that they’d left their Capture the Flag game for it. And when it was over? The cute boys had already gone home!
That night was the potluck. Wonderful as usual. It’s so nice to have a full spread of food cooked the way I’d cook it, with ingredients I’d use. Sadly, corned venison was the weirdest thing I got to eat. I thought I had stumbled upon a real mystery meat for a while, though. I’d gotten some kind of ricey stew. It was slightly sweet, spiced with desserty spices–cinnamon, cloves. the meat was of an odd texture–dense but soft. As I was trying to figure it out, Emily said something about a rice dish with bananas in it and it clicked: Ah, it’s dried, stewed, banana. Not meat at all. Hey, I’ve only been back on the meat wagon for a year.
The sunset behind the roundhouse was amazing. I was only able to not feel despondent about leaving b/c I knew we’d be back next year.
The girls decided to sleep on the beach that night, which seemed cute. Ben went to sleep with Steve, so the second tent was empty. Until there were fireworks in Ashland, which the girls thought was lightning, and they came scurrying up. And my other-side neighbors seemed to be pulling an all-nighter, too. I got a little cranky. I’m a stickler for quiet hours. I’d managed to doze off, thinking the neighbors were asleep. But no, they just weren’t home. They rolled in and started with the ZIIIIP! and the farging air mattress pump and the talking. I seriously would have punched them all. Even the cute little girl. And then the teen gals came up of the beach and chattered. I started muttering audibly. I heard Grace go “Hi, Deana…” but my sleep-rage was directed mostly at the adults. I realized that the Gathering cannot be more than a week b/c you cannot sleep right next to non-relatives any longer than that and not need to strangle them. My goodwill towards my fellow man was running out. And it was time to go home.
Saturday dawned bright and clear. We mailed some boxes of stuff home to make room in the car for the tents. Zach came by to say good bye and amazed us all by eating a hardboiled egg whole, shell and all. On our trip back, we ate our eggs Zach-style. It’s crunchy. And no mess!
Once again, it was move-in weekend at local colleges, so we had trouble finding a place to stay, but we made it nearly out of Michigan on Day one. We’ll not go through the UP again, though. It’s pretty, but if you get behind a slow driver, you’re just stuck. And we were. So next year, we’ll just come and go through WI. Sorry MI.
School started later this year, so the kids had a whole week between arriving back from camp and going to school. The weather stayed dry so I could air out all our stuff before putting it away until next year.