Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Festival Phase Closes on a High Note

The Northwest String Summit, this past weekend, wrapped up the music festival portion of the "Free Wheelin Tour".  What a perfect ending to three fun-packed, uber-stimulating weekends.  I get a chance to reflect as we take a day to drive from Portland to (hopefully) Missoula.  Although not too far (500 some miles), it is pushing it for us in Mama.  Leaving  Portland, this morning, we were treated to stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge for the first few hours.  Beautiful cliffs, sparkling water and thousands of wind surfers was a nice complement with the morning coffee.  Now in eastern Washington, the views aren’t as scenic, but not ugly either.  A little warm for my taste. 

As anticipated in the last post, after leaving Eugene, we did meet up with friend of Kali’s living in Corvallis.  We spent a nice evening visiting with her and then were led on a nice trail run through the McDonald Forest, just outside of town, the next morning.  We then headed to a town just south of Portland to spend the evening with another friend and to position ourselves in close proximity to the Portland Airport, to pick up my brother, Dan, who would be joining us for the week.  When we arrived at our friend’s (a mutual friend we had worked with at Stanford Camp in the spring) we were surprised to find he lived in a VFW hall and worked as a caretaker and bartender.  So, we spent the night drinking with some vets before retiring to the van in parking lot.

Shortly after slipping into half-drunk sleep someone pounded on the van.  It took me a few seconds to realize what was happening.  When I shouted out asking what they wanted a police officer identified himself and asked us to get out of the vehicle.  In dramatic fashion I got out van making it very clear he had just woke me up.  I mention this whole scene because I find it very entertaining.  This has happened to us a few times.  First time on this tour, but it usually goes down the same way.  Although in the past the authorities showed up in the morning.  When I emerge from the van the tone of everything changes very quickly.  One second they are banging on the car like a hard-ass, then they see me and become very apologetic, even when we are clearly in the wrong.  Same scenario this time.  I don’t know what he was expecting to be inside, but when he saw two girls, he started to joke around and quickly went through the routine things (i.e. checking our identification and asking if we have weapons in the car).  After he established we weren’t wanted fugitives and that we had permission to be in parking lot, he was gone and we were quickly back to sleep.

The next morning we retrieved Dan from the airport and headed into Portland for his and my first visit to the highly-regarded big city.  We drove around for quite a while getting our bearings and trying to find our staple stores to load up for the festival.  After a nice lunch and shopping we drove in circles for a while before finding our direction and heading west out of the city to the town of North Plains,  home to Horning’s Hideout.

I have been hearing about Horning’s Hideout for quite a few years.  It is a private camping/fishing/disc golf spot.  It is awesome.  Lush, green rainforesty terrain.  Creeks and a lake.  Open grass fields.  Views into the adjacent valley.  A natural amphitheatre, shaded by huge old-growth trees with a beautiful stage built in the bowl.  It is the perfect place for a festival. 

 One of many peacocks that live at Horning's Hideout

The Northwest String Summit is a festival I’ve wanted to attend since I started listening to Yonder Mountain String Band six or seven years ago. They play a show each of the three nights and other bands play throughout the day.  It is very chill compared to the action-packed, multiple-stage events of the last two weeks.  Although there was plenty of music all day long I didn’t get the feeling I was missing something every time I sat down to chill at the campsite. 

We had our campsite dialed in for the third festival in three weeks.

This is my favorite festival I have been to…yet.  It was so perfect.  Three nights of my favorite band, pretty chill atmosphere (less costumes and sideshow freaks than the last two), and a beautiful setting for it all.  Luckily it was still crazy enough for Dan to get the full festival experience…dancing weirdoes, ripping music, and an all-night every night disco party next to our campsite. 

I can’t wait to attend any event or even just go to play disc golf at Horning’s Hideout again.  Definitely a special place.

Dan had one more day with us before heading home, so we headed out to the coast about 60 miles from the festival.  We enjoyed a lovely drive through the lush Coast Mountains and then camped at the beach for evening.  Although we weren't even there for a whole day, it was nice to get to see the rocky coast of northern Oregon.  We then returned to Portland to send Dan off.  It was so great he got to hang for a week.  So much laughing.  

 Dan and I on the beach.

Now what?  The festival madness is over for now, but the summer is just beginning.  We are enroute to Montana, where hopefully the snow has left the high country for its short window.  Aside from a wedding and some friends to visit, I don’t have any concrete plans in Montana.  I hope to get in as much trail running as possible.  I figure it is the best place with the super-long days.  I have no idea how long I will be here for.  I haven’t even been gone a year, but I am very excited to get back and am confident I will find adventure and some kind of crazy along the way.

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