Saturday we had plans to head down to a Pow-Wow festival on the river. It’s called The Festival of the River ironically. It’s a pretty good sized party that only costs $10 to park your vehicle and enjoy the fair vendors, 2 stages of music, logging demonstrations, traditional native american celebrations etc. etc.
The park is about 25 minutes drive from the house. Leann Rimes is the headlining act at 5 so we hang out at home for lunch and then Hattie falls asleep. We oughta be okay. It’s a little after noon.
My buddy Tony calls up to see where we are at. He’s a mile and a half from the park entrance and barely moving, we are still getting the kids dressed. Guess it’s time to go! It takes us 20 minutes to catch up to the traffic jam.
Now there are only a few ways to deal with sitting in traffic, the frustrated version never does you any good but I sure do appreciate your entertainment value. We turned on music (the kids know we are going to watch music, so they are primed) Keenan is clapping and smiling, Hattie is singing. She is at the age where she has a bit of vocabulary and can tell you her basic needs, but her singing is that angelic, no-language, “La-Lah-Naah-Bu” that occasionally matches up to the Bon Jovi beat. We are in line for about 30 minutes when we start to see the frustrated commuters turning their cars around. I smile and joke with Jodi, we are doing this right. The journey is just as important as the destination, our family is having fun.
Another 15 minutes pass and we have advanced 3 car lengths, well maybe 4, the Cadillac in front of us bailed. Now we are seeing cars start to park and walk. If it weren’t for the kids and the cooler and the bag of spare clothes and pajamas… well I’d think about it 🙂 Hattie is getting restless. Jodi crawls into the back and gets the yogurt covered raisins and PB cracker sandwich snacks doled out, how does one get carsick in a car that’s not moving? The low ceiling crawling back up to the front seat provides great cleavage… “Hey Jo, you forgot to get me a water!” It didn’t work.
Meanwhile, I’m seeing amazing swing-sets, gardens exploding with veggies, blackberries ripening and overdeveloped preteen girls walking on the “NO SHOULDER” road. My dad focus is on point. Hattie won’t have father issues. I also realize I missed the gym too much this week. It looks like I only have about 9 or 10 more years to become uber intimidating. Supplements and steroids might be in order.
We get into the park minutes before 5. As we pull into the spot we still hear hip-hop on the sound system. Every artist on the stage today has been country, let’s play hip-hop. Okay let’s be fair, most country has been pop music rejects for years anyway, it makes sense. Wait, that’s not fair, I’m a fan of pop. Just not Taylor. We pack the stroller and head to the stage.
LeeAnn takes the stage. We make our way across the lawn and find Tony. It’s amazing to see how many people are in here. I sit and chill for a bit, Jodi takes the kids to get close to the stage. Keenan claps and grooves a bit, but his attention is not on stage. He pays attention to the crowd. He notices so much that I look past, he can identify happiness on strangers faces that absolutely floors me and the strangers. Hattie doesn’t see the crowd. Ever hear someone say ‘Dance like no one is watching’? Hattie does that, granted she is only 16 months old, I hope she never loses that. I am blessed.
Tony points out a couple walking in front of us, they have a newborn swaddled in the mother’s sling thing. “those two were walking in when I was driving down here, they didn’t even have a kid then!”
Sometimes I forget how funny my friends can be. I miss hanging out.
A few songs in and the group is all together again. Hunger is starting to kick the kids into ‘acting up’ gear. I walk Keenan into the food cart area to find fries.
Okay folks, time for a get down and real with Josh moment:
I love me some fresh curly fries, like the kind where they spiral a whole potato and fry it. it comes out in the shape of a fry basket and then you dump malt vinegar and salt on the pile and only start to feel guilty 3/4 of the way through the plate. The plate has started to disintegrate at this point… the line for that booth is as long as the road was on the way in, I elect the crinkle cuts at the next booth. they aren’t as good, but they are fast. I feel shitty making that decision. I’m not doing it right. I hope Keenan isn’t picking up my self doubt, I point out a puppy close by.
The pick up line was immediate, the fries were ready faster than the change for a 50 was. I fill 2 of those little white ketchup cups full for the family. I only eat about 6 or 12 fries on the walk back. Once we are back on the hay bale seat, Hattie is way more interested in the ketchup instead sf the fries. she squeezed one all over. All over her hands, her boots, her dad and her surroundings. Baby wipes aren’t limited to cleaning acidic – dry heave inducing – ‘how did that get here?’ filthy diaper cleanings! They are amazing condiment mitigators as well!
About this time, Jodi looks over her shoulder. There’s a gal sitting behind us with a 12 inch Boa Constrictor. BTW, Jodi has a itty bitty phobia of snakes. Once we were walking the dogs on a grassy trail and she saw a Gardner snake, I’ve never seen her move so fast, the dogs were unable to keep up, like breaking free of the leash tired. Cartoon running fast is all I can think of, a cloud of dust where she just was… Anyway, back to our hay bale, Jodi is freaking out. I tell her to leave, get out of site, you don’t need to be in the area. She starts to argue, “and leave my children?” UMM YEAH, it’s your phobia and a very small pet., I’ll handle this babe. I thought about having the kids pose with it and tag her on facebook, but my phone was dead!
The concert was over, so we walk around a bit. there’s a few new booths to look at but not enough to keep us around so we decide to head back to the car.
Where Tony parked, got out in three minutes. where we parked… over two hours.
We again had fun, because getting upset gets you no where further up the line! We Tailgate! The car a few rows down blasts Beastie Boys. We dance! We realize we aren’t moving for a while, so I hang with the kids and Jodi goes to get more food. The worst that will happen is the kids are going to fall asleep before we get home, and that’s not all that bad! I first let the kids play in the van, then we play around the van, then we play with all the other kids around the lot…
Jodi brought back the good fries! Atta-girl!!
Most of the crowd is good hearted. There’s a handful of drunks, and a couple plain jerks, I hope letting the kids pretend to drive kept them distracted.
The line is not moving but every once-in-a-while the chorus of car horns fills the air. Folks adjust their car for the optimal extraction angles, and the bored non-coherent displaced hippie garbage collector makes her rounds. The sun has set, and we are still here.
The line finally starts moving at a pace that I’m comfortable buckling the kids up and wrapping them up with a blankie and fresh milk, if things go right they’ll be asleep before we hit asphalt!
As we are making our way up the hill, we spot these tiny dots of flesh struggling up the hill. Some of the folks that parked up on the street obviously didn’t know how steep the hill was, and that there was no sidewalk to follow. The cars driving out tke up the entire road. “That’s gotta suck” I say to Jo as she’s getting the ba-ba away from sleeping Hattie.
In a few minutes those struggling dots become a bit clearer. It almost looks like 2 women struggling with a stroller. No one stops, so there’s no way I’m seeing this right?
I get just in front of the stroller and see a freaking baby. I stop the van and roll down my window. These ladies are basically in the woods, pitch black forest next to a onelane road packed with a billion cars.
“You gals want to git in the back of my van?” I shit you not, that’s how I said it.
“YES!” is all it took. I hit the E-Brake and slammed the shifter in Park, had the tailgate open and helped load the stroller as fast as I could. Jodi hopped up between our kids and the mother held her baby in my passenger seat. People behind us were actually impatiently honking! “Well Fuuuuuuuuuuck You!!!”
One dude in a red lifted Ford pick up stopped and asked if he could help. There’s hope out there!
The look of relief on those two women is the best form of payment a guy could ever ask for. I didn’t ask how long they fought that stroller up the hill, but you could tell that they were desperate for help. We couldn’t quite close the back door of the van with their stroller and ours back there, so one gal was just kind of hoping not to fall out as I drove us out of the park. She says “If you could just get us to the top of the hill I’m sure we could get to the car.”
I repond quickly “Hell no, I’m taking you to your car.” I am pretty sure that Jodi starts reassuring them that we have a family and wouldn’t want to be stranded out like that. Once I hear her talk I realize how creepy everything I’ve said to these gals would be given any other circumstance.
Once we dropped them off and saw that they got into a vehicle, I head on down the road. Jodi giggles “You gals want to git in the back of my van!?! You still got it Josh!”