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My experience at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2014, Pt 2 of 9

Continued from Part 1:

Sunday, June 15th:


(That's me in the car ready to hit the road! Yes, I was wearing an Obituary shirt, because on the back it says "Back from the Dead", and that's exactly how I felt going Home.)

I was showered, strapped in and on the road by 6am. Even though Earlville, IL is only less than a two hour drive, I always leave three hours early so I can avoid tolls and make one stop at a store before arriving. I’m what some would call a “Time Nazi”, and for me, being on time is being late. Most of my stuff sit in my 2001 Mazda Tribute with the back seats down, and I had the front passenger seat vacant except for my purse and registration in the glove compartment. My soft, light but bulky items (bedding and foam mattress) were tried together then wrapped up in a large tarp – kind of like a poorly-wrapped gift. It wasn’t pretty, but with the straps on the roof rack, it wasn’t going anywhere. Or so I had hoped!


(Is that thing going to stay on top? I sure as hell hope so!!)

Because there is always major construction here, I drove down Western Avenue to get on I-55 and avoid the whole less through the loop (what we natives call downtown). It was a pleasant ride with little traffic, and it was also a good reminder of what I was leaving behind. I’m a city girl and probably always will be at heart, but getting away from pollution, graffiti, potholes, sirens and such every once in a while is definitely needed.


As I got on the expressway, I became concerned about how good of a job I did with strapping stuff down. The sun was coming up behind me, and the shadows in front of me made it appear my stuff up on top was sliding around. I figured I left early enough, so I kept it at just the speed limit. Besides, the last thing I wanted was a speeding ticket to ruin my trip before it even began. I was occasionally assured everything was okay when I rolled down the window to smoke a cigarette and could hear the flap-flap-flap from the tarp slapping on itself. “Okay. It’s still there. I’m good!”


I got off at the Plainfield exit a little bit west of Bolingbrook where the Ikea is, taking the back roads the rest of the way. Usually I stop at the Target in Yorkville/Plano, but this year, I went to the Walmart mostly to see if I could see any other PSGers camping out in the parking lot. I’m glad I stopped there, because they had a sale on wood chips/mulch, and I was able to grab one of the last bags of cedar mulch for a little over three dollars. I had the front seat vacant, so there was no problem making room for it.


I hung out in the parking lot, eating a breakfast of chocolate milk and honey buns, until my GPS on my phone said it was time to make the last leg. I took the back road the bulk of that through a little town called Sandwich, which was a pleasant journey. The closer I got, the more I reduced my speed so as not to arrive too early. It was at this point where I really felt like I was on vacation. The birds in the morning sure are loud!


At that last turn of the road, I started seeing lots and lots of cars, trailers and RVs, so I didn’t need the GPS any longer. Just follow the caravan! I got very giddy at that point! Well, in spite of my best efforts, I arrived at the gate a little too early, so I had to drive a mile past and come back around. I didn’t want to just sit on the side of the road, not only because we were asked not to do so, but because I really needed to use the bathroom (even though I went at Walmart), and the slight vibration from driving kept the seal locked!


When I turned around, I joined the others in the southeast bound caravan coming from Leland. We got in quickly enough, though the anxiety was killing me. I was thinking to myself how much I’m used to sitting in traffic, but at least with city traffic, it was just going to A to B – not trying to go Home.


Getting in the gate was pretty easy. Because I had several registration sheets (ticket, merchant, electric and parking onsite), I was greeted by a couple different people. One gentleman walked alongside me to make sure I was parking my vehicle in the right spot. I was concerned about rolling over a nail or something, so it was very helpful to have him there.


As I pulled in, my vending neighbors from Hawkdancing, Nels and Judy, were there to greet me, as was a family set up behind me. I spent the next nine hours getting everything just so, with many breaks and cocktails in between. I really didn’t do much venturing away from my campsite as you can imagine, as I’m just that darn particular. I also was running on little sleep, and it was a hot day, so things were wearing on me quickly.


Fortunately, I had some help getting set up. I was really funky-feeling, too, but I was just too tired to take a shower. So I went to bed early, around 10 or so, and I slept the first night away from home in the back of my car. It was actually pretty comfortable, too! I had nice, satin bedding and lots of pillows, a thick mattress, and the driver side windows were down, protected by a tarp connected from my back canopy over my car and homemade screens made from bridal veil material and magnets (which did not ruin the paint finish). I was feeling so funky I stripped naked inside, which is a habit I do not have at home. Meh, I figured I had tinted windows and the tarp for privacy, so it’s not like anyone could see me. I was lulled to sleep with drumming in the distance, bits and pieces of various conversations and night time woodland critters. I probably snored, but hopefully being in the car, it didn’t disturb people much.


(Yeah, I slept pretty good back there!)


To be continued...

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back, a mom to an adult son and has been together with her husband over twenty years. She is a real estate broker primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.


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