Estrella War -- Arrival
Oh yeah, that would be tomorrow. :-\
Anyhoo -- where to start? I guess the easiest is with the reason we were all down in the desert for a week of close quartered camping revelry: War.
Why war? Well, they are very medieval. The middleages were strife with wars. From the crusades to kingdom invasions to the neighborhood feudal skirmish. There was an amazing amount of traveling going on in Europe alone, but also stretching out to Byzantium and beyond to Asia. And... if I go on any further I'm going to seriously reveal the fact I don't know what I'm talking about - heh. Never the less, war brought people from far and wide together. You can bet there wasn't the handy Inn along the way to house them, so they were travelling cities. It's the perfect excuese for a large SCA event.
We arrived at the site (near Florence, AZ) mid afternoon on Thursday. Fearing everyone would be off doing their thing at that time - we were thrilled to run into one of our folks at the registration tent who could point us to our barrony's staked out area on the map and gave us the ultimately useful directions to get there. While camp was fairly scarcely populated, fortunately Baron William was around and helped us stake our claim for a tent spot. And then helped us put the tent up because the breeze was blowing steadily and was prooving more than a handful for the two of us.
And then we were off and running. We had time just to set up our exterior tent and dump all our stuff inside it -- and then change into garb as I wanted to drag Rossilin off to the equestrian 'meet and greet' scheduled for 5. We got there, but as the meet and greet revealed itself to be more of a Review of the Equestrian Policies... we begged off after 45 minutes as I still had a tent to erect. Returned to finish setting up and stowing our stuff, and it was time for dinner. After dinner we were off for the Outlands Party.
Each of the principle kingdoms sponsors a party one of the nights. Ours was very fun, with a few games sprinkled around (Dave and I tried our hand at Hunker Hausen (sp?) a couple of times, but quickly decided that any more beer and that would quickly evolve into a losing proposition.) There was the ever present fire pit and the nearly ever present drum circle around that. You can tell the party was in full swing when belly dancers materialize out of the crowd to entertain. Later, a hired juggling/fire dancing/high wire group, Clan Tynker, did their show to much acclaim. They were really fun!
By this time I had to hit the hay. It was fairly early by war standards (the noise curfew is 2 am) so I settled in to sleep listenting to multiple drum circles and the bustle of several hundred folk moving up and down the lane between our camp and the next section of tents over.
I love how they stake out areas for groups to camp. This too is traditional - a barrony would show up at war and set up 'their' area. We had a space maybe 100' x 100', and within there 15? sleeping tents, and then a big kitchen tent and a gathering tent.
We have a particularly nice barronial banner, which you could see from most spots in the campground area. Which was quite large! This picture was from the highest spot I could easily get to, but still doesn't capture the extents of the camping area. The merchants are behind me and the battle fields off to the right. In the foreground is our Kingdom's reserved area - where the troops mustered for battle, and also where the Outlands party was held. But hey! You CAN see the Unser Hafen banner here...if you have the original high resolution photo and a zoom button. ;-)
The site is an alfalfa field. So the camping area is rife with furrows, and irrigation ditches, which made walking around, particularly at night, rather challenging. Stories of sprained ankles are disturbingly common. I feared we'd feel them sleeping, too, but I guess our sleeping pads did a good job covering them up. In general we slept much more comfortably than I'd thought we would. It was very cold every night - there was frost every morning. But I didn't struggle to stay warm while sleeping, thank goodness!
We'd decided to take two tents - our camping one, and the one we use as a marketing booth. The booth tent has full walls, which we'd never used before. But we figured it would both be convenient to have the extra space, but also would be a little more pavillion-looking than the camping tent. (Not that there weren't plenty of modern tents around) So we set the camping tent up inside the booth tent, which gave us 2 feet of space on two sides, for storage, etc.
The booth tent was fantastic, as the rigid structure gave us places to hang things, like lanterns and our clothes. Not to mention that it's just plain tall enough we could stand and walk around - get dressed, etc. I'm sure it helped with the warmth issue too. However, as we got up the first morning to a rainshower - inside the tent - we did discover that we needed to fold up the roof panels in order to vent it!
So here we are -- these pictures were from the first morning. Breakfast wasn't ready yet so I went for a tour of the site as we really didn't have a chance the night before. And right after breakfast: The troops muster for battle!