Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Celebrate Freedom From The Mud

My family and I love the Celebrate Freedom Concert. However this year there was less celebrating than there should have been for us. In retrospect, as all things are, it’s funny now and definitely blog-worthy.

Saturday morning, we got up around 9:30 to load up and hit Celebrate Freedom. There were a few things we had to stop for “on the way” food/snacks at Tom Thumb, McDonalds for quick lunch, and Sports Authority for crocks for Jyllie and a Tarp to sit on. Then to the bank to get cash for parking. Finally we arrived at the concert. They were not allowing parking in the usual close spot so we had to park ½ mile down the road at someone’s private “yard” that was selling parking. I say "yard", but it was not a yard, because a yard has grass in it. This was a mud pit. Some little kid directs us to park way in the back, by the drop off. UH UH! I told Josh. “We’re parking up there” I pointed, “Close to the exit”. At my urging, Josh pulls up forward and park at the end of another row of cars. The little kid shrugs his shoulders. I wonder if he feels like he’s not done his job directing.

Everyone jumps out of the car and divvies up loads to carry. Josh carries the 50 lb. pop up shade. I carried 3 pack chairs, all the food, the tarp, and a wool blanket. Jada carries two chairs. And Jyllie cries all the way there about the bugs, her new shoes hurting her feet, and how far it was to walk. Despite tense circumstances, I was able to keep my sanity and begged others to do the same. We finally get in after 30 VERY LONG minutes of trekking.
I felt like we were nomads. I felt like people of the bible walking to the nearest town for the census. It was crazy. And as we finally get to the concert, we plop down in an area that was the closest- relatively non muddy area we got to. It was mostly mushy grass. I took great care in spreading out the tarp, and instructed the girls to only step on the tarp with bare feet or socks. “Please leave muddy shoes on the outside edges of the tarp girls.”
We settle down in our chairs and everyone is feeling great.
We’re passing around food, and marveling at the sounds of the bands. It’s awesome, only...we can’t see anything. After an hour of relaxing, I decide to take Jyllie around on my back to scout the area.

At this concert there’s a dividing line between where you can sit very close on chairs or blankets...and where you can put up tents/pop shades, etc. The closer parts this year are huge mountains of mud. There are little kids sitting on pack chairs on a rift of mud I notice. I’m thankful to be sitting further back under our shade this year. The weather is actually cool. Not too hot and Jyllie and I continue to hike around being very careful to only step on the high parts, because I REALLY hate moist socks in squishy shoes. Hate that more than anything.
Hopefully by now you’re catching the emphasis I have placed on being very careful to stay clean, despite sitting amidst a pool of stinky, cow poop smelling mud and muddy water. Yeah, my efforts were working. So far.

Jyllie and I find a much, much closer area with access to see the jumbo-tron screen right in front of it. I phone Josh and encourage him to move. He is reluctant. We do move, but regret it right away. Un-noticed before is a small mud puddle right next to our tarp and from here on out, every person that walks by steps right into it splashing waves of muddy spray onto us. This is not fun, but it’s not awful either. Oh well, I can just wash our clothes. I happily resolve to enjoy the music and new found ability to see who is singing.
Then...it happens.
Looking out to the horizon we see gargantuan black monsoon clouds.
“We’ll be fine..we’re under this nice shade.” I foolishly think to myself.
Yet as the looming monster rolls in ...a tidal wave of muddy yucky water comes rolling right onto and all over our tarp. Everyone who had dry shoes...no longer does. Everyone who was relatively clean...is no longer. I scramble to pull the tarp up...to keep water from coming in...but it’s useless.
Water is dumping from the shade right onto the tarp which is slightly larger than the shade above. I’m frantic to keep our tarp semi dry. I dance around mopping this place and that with the squashy wet remains of the newspaper flyer they handed us at the door. Josh chooses to stand and watch and chastise my efforts rather than help. Tensions sore to a new level.
Finally, the rain lets up and that small puddle next to us...is now a lake.
Every kid/baby/dog/adult now takes great joy in belly flopping into it, thus sending huge waves of muck onto us. I smile through “gritty” teeth at each careless and insensitive person. But how can you honestly look at someone and say “please be careful not to get us dirty” when we already are?!?

But I was content to stay wet, just did not want to get too muddy. Plus the bands were really good! In for the long haul, we endured several waves of monsoons. After the second, Jada and her friend get so dirty that they cannot even feed themselves. Their hands are covered in mud that cannot be wiped off. Which is unfortunate, since they just hiked over to get a powdered sugar funnel cake. Kids. They don’t care. They just ate it anyway- mud and all.

A need to travel to the port-a-potties has a drastic toll on my what were my still dryish shoes, and reports that the port-a-john ‘authorities’ can no longer get in through the mud to service them...means they will fill up quickly and we’ve been asked to go somewhere else to “make”.

This evening is looking worse and worse. I cannot fathom having to get through this muck to my car in the pitch black. This is no longer worth hearing my favorite bands. We lose. We give up. I shake my head in defeat and we decide to pack up and leave.

Mid trek as we are heading to the door though, here comes in another round of monsoons. This one so torrential that the pelting rain is actually HURTING my face as it hits. Drenched in a downpour, bodies aching from caring so much stuff all at once...I am the most miserable I have ever been. I am just pulling Jyllian through the mud by her arm. She’s getting so stuck in the miry knee deep stuff, (KNEE DEEP!) that I’m having to pull her out for every step we take. When we get to the entrance, I collapse and tell Josh to drop everything and just go bring the car to us.
He leaves and gets completely out of earshot when I see that the police are not letting ANYONE stop in front to pick up pedestrians. Every car that slows even a little...he runs up to and says “GO GO GO..YOU CANNOT STOP HERE!”
Grandma Jones trying to get into a car is even told she cannot do that. Apparently...it’s not safe?!?
Great. Now what are we to do?
I ask the girls to pick up all the stuff that I was carrying...and with my last ounces of strength and stamina-I heft up the pop up shade onto and across my back. It weighs 55 lbs. and is nearly crippling me to walk with it.

Halfway up the road we then are able to drop everything to wait for Josh...well out of reach of the policeman’s yelling.

He finally comes. Our car is so covered in mud you cannot tell what color it is/was. I throw the blanket over the seats for the girls to sit on, now covered head to toe in thick, stinky mud. And roll onto the front seat myself. Off we go leaving this exhausting day behind. I feel like I’ve left a war zone. Strands of hair hang in my eyes, as I blink back tears of joy to be leaving. From the back seats I can hear collective moaning. Poor Josh just stares blankly ahead and is wearing new mud sprays across his chest and face because he had to push out the car. As we are slowly begun making our way down the road, we pass more people coming in. The road is filled with new arriving families smiling and holding hands with each other. I laugh at those wearing clean, white, new shoes and carrying sweet little blankets to sit on. Those with cheerful happy faces wearing neat tidy makeup, and pretty shirts with cute little hairdos. I see a lady pulling a wagon with her kids in it and laugh because she’ll never be able to pull that thing through the lake of mud we just left. I laugh at these people, because on the horizon...we could see more dark clouds about to roll in indicating another monsoon.
I laughed because these happy people...were about to learn a huge lesson in endurance.

1 comment:

Maxi Tibbenham said...

That's hilarious reading. I loved it! Thanks for the laughter, I needed it! :-)
Maxi