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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Busy Sunday

All Slept Out

The Siouxland Sleep-Out is over for the year, and we've come away from the experience with all our toeses and noses intact. I haven't seen the news, but I've heard that there were twice as many participants this year as last, and some $30,000 was raised for the homeless in Sioux City. Details follow...

"Ve should go out early und set our stuff up," my little Austrian Snickerdoodle said to me over the phone. "I vant to get a good spot." I nodded agreeable, then realized she probably couldn't see me nodding over the phone. "Okay," I said. "They open the park gates at one, so we can take a long lunch and set our tent up. That'll be fun..." So, we met at home shortly before one and grabbed our stuff and headed for the ball park.

"Ve can park right there, right by the gate," Dagmar said. I shook my head - "No, those are handicapped spaces. We'll park just over here. It won't hurt us to carry our stuff a little ways..." I parked the car and opened the door, only to be whapped upside the face with a 25 mile per hour gust of 20 degree wind. "Whooooo! This'll be fun," I muttered in my beard. We got our stuff out of the trunk of our rustbucket and headed for the ball diamond.

"Vow!" exclaimed my Viennese Turtledove. "Dat vind! It's cold! Where should we set up our tent do you think?" I stared at the windswept plain that was the ball field. "Well," I said, "there aren't any trees to hide behind... How about that corner over there? Maybe that'll be out of the wind a little." With that we put our heads down and trudged to the left-fielder's back corner. We trudged and we trudged. Then we trudged a little more. You know, when you're walking into a freezing wind, a 350-foot walk can seem like two or three miles...

"This'll do fine," I said. "It's a little protected from the wind and no one else will want to walk this far, so we'll have this whole area to ourselves." That said, we dropped our bundles and stood there, wheezing into wind for a few moments.

I opened the box with our brand-new tent and started unrolling things. Thankfully these new-fangled tents are pretty easy to put up... All you gotta do is unroll the thing, grab a pole (where are those pesky poles - ah, THERE they are), slip the pole through the little fabric guide, repeat with the next pole, then stake the whole thing down with (where are those pesky stakes anyway? Ah, there they are!) conveniently provided stakes and viola! you're done. Just that easy. And it would have been just that easy, too, except that when you put two thin poles crosswise through a chunk of large square fabric, well, you've just made a kite. A rather large kite, capable of pushing your average hippie around a baseball diamond rather effectively...

But we did eventually get the tent staked down and got all our stuff happily situated inside. As I stood up to survey our results, I couldn't help but notice that there were four or five tents set up right beside ours. Somehow these people had shown up, run across the baseball diamond, set their tents up and left again -- all while Dagmar and I were blowing up our air mattress. Kinda made me feel kinda slow...

With a brisk "brrrrr" my Austrian Snowflake and I ran back to our car and headed back to work. "What time do we need to be back?" I asked. "Oh, six or seven," she replied.

By 6:30 we were again at the baseball field, this time properly attired for the cold. "Ve can park there," my wife said, "right by the gate..." I shook my head. "It's still a handicap zone," I said. "We can't park there..." By the time I had finished the sentence I'd changed my mind. We did, after all, have to unload all my heavy bass guitar amps and stuff so I could jam with the band later that night. "Well, we'll park there, but then we gotta move the car after we're unloaded."

Three minutes later the car was unloaded and my bass amp, speakers and guitar were all sitting on the sidewalk, and the car was moved to a legal parking spot.

"What do we do now?" I asked my Viennese bride. "We vait," she answered. "Until morning. Then we go home..."

So we commenced waiting, passing time talking with friends. Eventually the rest of the musicians showed up and we set up our stuff in an out-of-the-way corner. I'd jammed with the band once or twice, not enough to be confident in my playing, but I wasn't reluctant to play, either. The problem started once we started playing... There was a TV right behind me playing just loud enough that I couldn't hear what anyone was singing as we were doing the gig "acoustically" - without microphones. I could see the guitar player's fingers moving, but I couldn't hear what he was playing... Needless to say, I don't think I played terribly well. I found out later that they were singing, too. I didn't know that at the time. Oh well... The people in the crowd seemed to like it. Or they were too polite to complain, anyway...

Once we were done playing, Dagmar and I wandered around a little bit, seeing who was there and what they were doing... There was a youth group from a neighboring town in center field that built an entire little village out of cardboard boxes - complete with a little church and everything! It was fun to watch. West High had a group of students there as well; they were writing down ideas how to alleviate the homeless problem in the area. (I would have submitted my suggestion, but my crayon broke.)

One man was there with nothing but a summertime sleeping bag. He said he'd walked two and a half hours to get to the park. He looked REALLY cold the next morning!

We eventually wound down and found our way back to our brand-new store-bought tent. Within minutes I was happily snuggled under two sleeping bags and a blanket, with two more sleeping bags and another blanket underneath me and my wife comfortably wriggling under the blankets by my side. "Ahhh," I said. "This is comfy." And indeed it was! In just a few moments I was drifting off to sleep.

"I have to pee," stated my beloved. Off went the blankets, swoosh went the tent flap, and down the field ran my wife, leaving the hippie abruptly uncovered and COLD. About the time I got the myriad blankets situated again, Dagmar was back, sticking her COLD feet back into the blankets again... Evidently cold weather does something to my wife, 'cause she had to pee about five times that night...

We all survived though to morning, though. I have to admit, it's been years and years since I've camped in the winter months, and I was a little surprised at how easily it could turn into an uncomfortable ordeal. The homeless folk really do have it rough! In any case, by seven in the morning we were tearing our tent down and loading our car. (I found it interesting to note that all the handicap parking spots were taken by brand-new SUV's, while all the rustbucket cars were in legal spots. I don't know what that says about society, but it sure seems that the well-to-do people [or people who wanted to appear well-to-do] wanted to park as close as they could to the gate while everyone else was content to obey the law and walk half a block...) By nine on Saturday both Dagmar and I were happily snoozing at home, trying to thaw out a little...

I'd like to thank everyone who sent in a pledge or donation - the money is certainly going to a good cause! If you'd like to see more photos of the event, you can find them HERE.

2 Comments:

Blogger gerberdaisy said...

othat seems like a really terrific experience. i'm jealous. that tent set up looked very cozy !!!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I found it interesting to note that all the handicap parking spots were taken by brand-new SUV's, while all the rustbucket cars were in legal spots."

Ya gotta be handicapped in the head to buy and drive SUV's for urban use. It's not like they had to pack out a moose from the boundary waters.


Did you know that the day before and the day after your campout that people were camping out in similar fashion to buy new gaming systems? Now that's effed up.

11:25 AM  

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