Friday, July 4, 2008

Busy R&R So Far

It seems as though I've had to wait for a holiday to find time to post a blog entry . Happy Independence Day, by the way. Let's hope our Nation doesn't reach a point where another one becomes necessary.

I got off work shortly after noon on the 24th, and got an early start on the 25th to travel to Talkeetna for the 2008 Alaska State Rendezvous. The rendezvous is a celebration of America's frontier history. Living history enthusiasts gather together for 10 days to live in an earlier time, using only clothing, equipment and supplies that were available to our historical ancestors. It's always a great event, with plenty of muzzleloader shooting matches, camaraderie and stories to tell for years to come.

This year's favorite story is of two gentlemen (Rick "Lost" Wages and Sean "One Blanket" Kent) who offered to do some laundry for their camp hostess. Being guys, they didn't do a particularly good job of sorting. They learned a few lessons from their misadventure. First, red runs. Second, Jessica doesn't like pink blouses. Third, revenge may not be swift, but it's sure. Their penance? They had to wear the ruined clothing at one of the large camp meetings that are a part of the program.

We had an excellent turn out this year. Although I arrived in the middle of the event, there were already over 20 camps on the site and several more arrived through the course of the rendezvous. When we get together we quickly create a tent city that can rival many bush villages in population.

I only brought one dog with me, a little racing-type leader named Amazing Grace. We took advantage of the opportunity to do some 'recall' training. Young Grace made a new friend, an animal belonging to Jim Anderson. Taku is reputed to have more wolf than dog in his bloodlines. Here's a photo. You can make your decision regarding his ancestry.

Grace and Taku had plenty of company. We Alaskans love our dogs and it is incredibly rare for Alaskans to gather without at least a few dogs joining the fun. Here is one of my favorite "rondydog" photos of the season.

We have a group of reenactors who have been exploring the lifestyles of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Like all of us, they are intrigued by the age of piracy. Armed with matchlock muskets, blunderbusses and an array of cutlery, the Pirates and Trollops of Alaska camp was very popular this year. Here is a photo of Captain Smitty (center) and some of his crew.

This year's rendezvous was held on property owned by Ed "Tall Man" Wick, a tremendous artist and all around nice guy. He and his blushing bride decided that instead of a common wedge or wall tent they wanted to construct a wikiup (Wick - eeup). They did a very nice job of it, and the resulting lodge caught my eye very quickly.

On the last day of the event we still had over 50 participants hanging around camp. A break in the overcast gave us the perfect excuse for a group photo.

Of course we had more than our share of rain. I have yet to go to a living history event south of the Alaska range that didn't require me to bring wet canvas home. Unpacking is always more work than packing. Monday I did the bulk of the unpacking and brought the rest of my dogs home from their boarding kennels.

The past few days have been rather mundane compared to the big event of the R&R. Mostly I've focused on unpacking, washing and storing my historical gear and trying to tidy up the house a bit, as I'm expecting company during the next R&R.

Here's an interesting twist for you, though. Tuesday the weather was chilly enough that I wanted to run the furnace for a bit to break the chill. Yesterday was just the opposite, with a high in the mid-80s. If you don't like the weather in Alaska just wait a bit, it's sure to change.

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