Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2001 6:03 PM
Subject: Full Moon Fever
As a reminder, I last left off describing the
events of October 5th......
After the adventures in Memphis, I was on my way
to the East Meets West Indigibus VW campout organized by the Full Moon Bus
My friend Karl had informed me about it, and this was to be my first true VW
event. The rainstorm that made the installation of my new alternator so
much fun hung around and made the drive through Arkansas a little exciting
with some crazy cross-winds. By the time I go to Missouri the
weather had cleared up and I just had to focus on not getting lost on back
roads and not overdriving my headlights (which means driving about 40 MPH,
which as you all know I am incapable of doing). The campout
was being held at the Phoenix Ranch in Birch Tree Missouri. I didn't
know much about the place, but it was to turn out to be pretty amazing.
A few miles on dirt roads and I arrived, around 10pm, and in spite of the fact
that ethylene glycol runs in the veins of my VW, I was warmly welcomed.
There was probably 15-20 people already there, with buses from all over,
including California, Tennessee, and South Carolina. I got organized and
headed over to the campfire to meet my new friends....
In the morning when I woke up I discovered my
friend Karl had arrived during the night, here are a couple of pics of our two
vans next to each other...
Some of my favorite buses included Snoopy's bus
with the Partridge Family paint scheme...
....And Dicko's bus which also had exquisite
scenes painted on the inside.
Saturday afternoon we hiked down to some cliffs
overlooking this river that runs through the land. The owners of the
ranch have several hundred acres there, and do a lot of retreat work, a lot of
it with at-risk and troubled kids, but also corporate stuff. They have a
lot of beautiful land and do some pretty cool things, the owner, John, has
studied a lot with Native Americans and likes to do Sweat Lodges. He was
telling us that the kids they get there are pretty bright and see through all
the normal institutional BS that is fed them, but that they really enjoy sweat
lodges. He offered to do one for the group, which I immediately signed
Saturday afternoon we built a big fire and put a
bunch of granite rocks into it. Behind the picture of the fire, you can
see the lodge, by nightfall it was covered with tarps. We learned some
very basic Native American chants to use throughout the ceremony.
That night, we learned a few more of the
traditions of the ceremony and entered the lodge. The hot rocks were one
of the most amazing things I have seen. The rocks glowed deep red from
the inside. As the outside edges cooled, they turned dark, but you could
still see the inside glowing. It didn't even seem real, it looked like
some kind of bad old school Star Trek special effect where they had blasted
some rocks with their phasers and they were glowing (but you could tell it was
chunks of foam with red lights inside). As far as the events and
conversation inside, that is all private, but it was a remarkable experience.
We did four "doors", one for each point on the compass, and talked
about what each point signified, and then there was an opportunity to say
something brief. As each load of rocks was brought in, water was
poured on them. The heat was very intense. Apparently there are a
lot of experiences to be had, spiritual, mystical, and enlightening. It
is different for everybody, and we didn't partake in any substances that the
old Native Americans may have used to help achieve transcendence. I
found for me that the environment somehow distilled to it's essence several
things that were on my mind, and that I was able to think about them in a very
pure and concise way, describing in a sentence or two the very heart of the
matter, in a way that would normally take me several minutes. It was
very enlightening, purifying, and peaceful. Towards the end, after I had
sorted through a few intense things in my mind and was feeling pretty good, I
stopped to notice the sweat running off my body, and the salty warm drops
running down my face and falling to the ground reminded me of tears, and it
seemed as though my body was weeping all the tears that either couldn't come
on their own, or that I didn't even know existed, or maybe even for all the
craziness in the world. It was very cool. Afterwards we rejoined
the rest of the group around the campfire and had a great meal, and stayed up
late talking and drinking beer (it's important to replace all those lost
electrolytes you know!)
On Sunday we continued the fun, learning how to
tie-die from the great folks at www.give-good-hugs.com,
check out their page, they do amazing stuff, including killer Batik (warning
to my hard-core yuppie friends, this may be a little too counter-cultural for
you...). Here you can see the most amazing fall colors on this tree....
By Sunday, the camp was starting to shrink in size
as people headed home, but we did have an impressive 7 buses (actually 5
buses, 2 vans ;-) left on Monday morning. Much like my Burning Man
experience, in a few short days I made friends that I feel certain I will know
for a long time, and met people that I may only see or talk to once a year or
so at an event like this, but I look forward to seeing again. I would
especially like to thank Shawn, David, and Snoopy for organizing the event and
making me feel at home right away. Monday morning we lined up all the
VW's for an impressive group shot that had it all, Splitties, Bay
windows, Westies, and Vanagons....
I had been trying to decide what to do next,
originally I had planned to hike the Arkansas and Oklahoma state highpoints on
the way to visit friends in Denver, but had been contemplating going straight
to Denver instead......when Snoopy told me was going to Mt. Ida in Arkansas to
do some crystal mining and invited me along, which sounded like fun and would
put me very near the Arkansas state highpoint, so shortly after the above
picture was taken, the two of us headed out for Arkansas......