Thursday August 30th, DrewPhoria and I hopped into Vita Boheme Vilfred around 12am to make our journey to Jadwin, Salem Missouri to perform with Hippie Fest day festival. The fest was held at Whispering Pines Campground in the rolling hills of MO. We left Thursday night to drive through the early morning hours. I like traveling at night much better than I like traveling in the daylight. Less traffic, less traffic jams and a straight shot to our destination.
At 7am Friday morning, August 31, I had been awake 24 hours. Thursday, I woke at 7am for work, left work around 5pm. Ran my errands, got my groceries for the weekend and packed up Vita. Drew arrived, parked his van in my garage and we were off. Our departure was between 11pm & midnight. I switched driving places with Drew around 5am .
When we drove through Salem at 8am, people were looking at Vita Van like they had never seen a colorful colored on vehicle. They knew we were in town for Hippie Fest. Apparently, there are no big festivals like that around there. Much like Woodstock, the people of Salem were worried drugs, sex and violence would be prevalent (told by towns people attending the festival.)
I personally don’t understand the fear people have in hippies, but it’s sad considering hippies can be some of the most wonderful people on the planet. People who live in fear waste their lives. The police were pulling people over on Saturday and Sunday whom were leaving and arriving at the fest to visit for the day and the campers. Of course, there were no issues beyond that.
This festival is different than those big music camping festivals. I’ve been to many and have seen many reasons why the police would pull people over. Hippie Fest is not that though. Yes, there’s music and yes there was camping but its family oriented. It revolves around the children, the vendors and the performers. It is a day event where people can come experience happiness, color therapy, shopping therapy, artist support in every way. The performing bands sing for the on lookers, and the performers interact with everyone. The vendors smile and answer any and all questions they get.
At Hippie Fest, classic rock from the 60s and 70s was played all weekend. Between the cover bands and the entrance speaker (which all become silent at 7pm), the land becomes mini Woodstock. The worst you’d see is someone who had too much to drink. I have never seen any violence. I have never seen drug use. It’s a very professional and fun setting. If the cops had shown up, they would have ended up with flowers in their hats. Guaranteed.
When we set up camp, we were one of the first campers. Anthony told us to find a power outlet that worked, some of them didn’t. We drove around the sites and tried all the outlets. When we finally found one that worked, a man had approached us and told us he was camping there too. We were happy to meet our first neighbors. The camp sites weren’t marked so we parked parallel to the drive which let our door face the walkers instead of the back or front of the van. We were parked with an outlet and a water pump between the two camp sites.
As we were unpacking, I overheard the woman start mentioning “her stuff is everywhere.” Assumingly meaning my things. Admittedly Vita vomits rainbows of circus attire, colors, bags and props at first, but I organize along the way too. She was making remarks about not being able to sleep, how they’ve been there since Wednesday, basically what I was hearing was that she did not want us close to her. She and her husband eventually came over. He didn’t say anything, but she was somewhat passively aggressive about her explanation of her feelings. When they approached, the first thing she said was, “I just want you guys to know we are going to move. We have been here since Wednesday and reserved this spot for our own privacy. Never in my years of camping have I ever seen someone set a tent up behind someones camp set up.” She was referring to drew popping his props tent right behind my van which was in the back of their van as well. I’m guessing they wanted their space and privacy because they had a shower in the back to which they felt they couldn’t use now because we parked where we did.
I sat quietly, listening to her try to guilt us into moving because of her issues which I was understanding as I psychoanalyzed her. We moved the tent she didn’t like but we stayed where we were. We have been to many music festivals. You don’t get privacy at music festival, you don’t get to sleep peacefully at a music festival. Luckily, we were vendor/performers and WE were there all for the same reason, so we weren’t partying or being loud. We went to sleep the latest at 11pm. You make friends, you share things, you love your neighbor. Which is exactly what I told her husband when he came back to further explain their feelings. I talked as a life coach this time to understand their wants. Apparently only two out of the four outlets worked, and they needed both for their big travel van. That’s why they came on Wednesday to reserve this spot. I volunteered to move my extension cord to the other four set outlets on the other side of the tree. I hadn’t understood why it was so difficult to say that instead of getting upset about it.
He was great to us all weekend. He offered us food and brought coffee to us every morning. She was friendly beyond that incident. She nodded and smiled or waved when we did. I nick named him camp dad.
I met the owner of the camp ground, I nicknamed him land dad. His wife, land mom. We got to hang out with them on Monday before we left to come back to Michigan. So now I had a campground connection down in Missouri if I ever need somewhere to stay in the south.
After we get all our stuff unloaded and replaced into its new spot for the weekend, we decided to go walk around the vendors to see what kind of booths were being set up. Anthony told us the river was about a quarter of a mile down the road. Whenever we go to a festival, especially in a new place, we find the natural water source. Of course, I was barefoot walking around because I always am. The road at first felt good on my feet. A natural massage if you will. By the time we got a quarter of a mile, my feet were starting to get sore from the sharp packed gravel rocks. We finally found the river, but it was much farther than what we were told. I’d say two miles was the real distance. I would have worn shoes if I had known because by the time we got to the water, my poor feet were raw. I sat and let them soak in the fast-moving shallow water.
We watched the water for a while before we made our way back. The walk back was the first physical self discipline I have experienced in a while. it was worse than anything I had ever gone through in aerial training. I had to be my own coach pushing myself through the pain. Breathing exercises and thoughts are very important to overcome any obstacle where your brain wants to quit. Not only did we have to walk the two miles back, but the whole way was up hill. I wished someone would offer us a ride but that never happened. I felt like a monk who was training to walk across hot coals. My soles burned and stung. Every little rock felt like it was cutting my feet open. Even the side of the road was no relief. I had to keep going. Quitting wasn’t an option. I never asked Drew to help me because it was my problem to work through. I felt I would have failed at something if I cried or quit.
By the time we got back to the campsite, I didn’t want to walk. I sat down and relaxed. I massaged my feet and put lotion on them for pamper. A short while later I asked Drew to massage my feet because he can apply different pressure. Normally I would not ask someone for such favor, but I was desperate. Drew is a good friend and a great person, so I was comfortable with his presence. That evening we went to sleep around 9pm. After a work day Thursday driving all night into Friday then staying awake all day Friday, an early bedtime was needed.
Saturday morning, September 1, I made eggs, salmon and turkey bacon for breakfast. Drank our delicious coffee from camp dad and organized for the day. Saturday was the first performance day. Besides just being a dangle bug, I also instructed children and adults on easy fun moves where they could record or take pictures. I put the kids in a cocoon and push them in a circle like a mini theme park ride. They love it as much as I love seeing them loving it. I enjoy sharing my circus arts. Dixons Violin played at 2pm. I recorded on the handheld camcorder, the video was uploaded on Youtube.
Saturday evening after the Hippie Fest closed its gates at 7pm, Drew and I made our way back to the campsite to get into our night costumes for the fire event. Drew was to lead a drum circle while I was dancing around the fire with my flow flags. As we made our way down to the fire, we realized the fire was not where we were told it was. We stopped and talked to some campers across the fire spot when the land worker kid was coming up on his four-wheeler. He told us the fire was at the end of the road. Just to stay on the path and we wouldn’t be able to miss it.
Without a light, we walked off the path and ended up walking through the field which was recently brush-hogged. The land was dry and hard. It was full of hard broken sticks coming up out of the ground. There were prickly sticks everywhere. The kind of thorns that are so little they break off and stick in whatever they break off in. Again, I was barefoot. More feet pain as we approached our next performance event. Drew passed out his instruments while I sat and let my feet rest. When everyone started their rhythms, I started my flag dance. I danced and swayed around the fire, intriguing the fire sitters with the dancing waving flags. I made my way twice around the fire before I sat on one side and made conversation with an older couple. I had to kneel and pick out the thorny sticks which had stuck up in the bottoms of my layered skirts.
When I realized how difficult it was to continue with my dance show, I sat by drew and asked him for the socks I had let him wear. While I was putting them on, a young girl came over and asked if I could dance with her around the fire. I told her I was taking a break for a minute because my feet were sore, but she could take my flags and dance with them. She admitted she was scared because people were watching her. I said that’s okay because they want you to dance. Use the flags and have fun. They are entertained. The look on her face when she said “really?” I knew it was a new experience for her. She got up and started swinging my flags around. She went around the fire just as I had. She stood in one place for people to take her picture while she played. I promised her I would dance with her before we left for the night back to camp. I got the socks (cut off toes) on to my feet as a dancer would wrap her balls for dancing on her toes. I pushed through the pain of all the little prickles to make this girl happy. I wanted her to never forget dancing with the performers at Hippie Fest Missouri.
The next day, Sunday, September 2. The second performance day. I again made eggs, salmon and turkey bacon. Dixons Violin played at noon that day, so I was up and silk dancing immediately. My feet were sore from the first two days of not wearing shoes in a new place but that isn't a thought in character. Dedication and passion over pain. I think I stayed on the silks the entire hour he played. His music is full of passion and grace so it’s a wonderful combination with my aerials. Another day full of silks, stilt walkers, hula hoops, kids, bubbles, smiles, laughs and dancing. The young girl from the fire was thrilled to be one of the winged entertainers when she put on my pink butterfly wings.
Though Hippie Fest was over at 7pm Sunday evening, we camped into Monday. After performing and mingling all day, we do not even think to drive. We are exhausted.
Monday morning, we packed up Vita to hit the road again. Before we left Michigan, we had decided to find a cool place to visit while we were down there. The closest place Drew found was a tourist attraction and natural landmark called Devils Well. A giant hole in the ground in which drops a hundred feet to an underground lake. There was a hiking trail which took you to the underground lake, unfortunately, it was a 3.5-hour journey. We were on our way home back to Michigan, so we already had 9 hours or so to go. If we had more time, that would have been an adventure we would have taken.
Drew and I walked down the stairwell and took pictures in front of the hole and the earth moss waterfalls. We got back into Vita to drive back up the one lane dirt road to continue on.
On one of the main roads, we passed an attractive store sitting away from the road. I wanted to see it, drew was in agreement therefore we turned around to visit. I grabbed my camera and hopped out. The store was an old house it seemed. It had a front porch full of items to buy. There were huge mushroom statues made from trees, old painted on cars and large appealing works of art. The store was named Airbrush & Tie Dye. Under their sign said, “Cool Gifts.” Under that was a huge red and white sign which read “OPEN.”
I pulled Vita up and parked in front of a completely painted on camper.
Inside was a store like the vendors at Hippie Fest. Tie dye clothes, shirts, dresses, pants, underwear, sweaters, anything you can think of was tie dyed somehow. I found a rack of pins, 60s rockstars and fun psychedelic designs. I picked out three of them to add to my hippie top hat. The guy at the counter gave me half off everything I bought because we were performers at Hippie Fest. He expressed his understanding of how the people come together to create such a beautiful event. Without the performers and the vendors, the festival would be nothing. He was thankful we drove all the way from Michigan to be a part of this wonderful event.
He even told an entire group of people we were performers at the Hippie Fest, as if we were celebrities.” Hey guys, guess what! These guys were artists at that Hippie Fest up the road. They’re circus people who came all the way from Michigan. She does that curtain thing and he does that balance board thing while he plays guitar.” It felt welcoming to be recognized for our arts. As artists, when someone loves our work, that’s what we live for. That’s art. Having an impact on how someone feels or how they think. People who appreciate artists understand the will and determination behind the art. I suppose working in the place we were standing was good education for that. The land the store was on, the entire placement of the store itself, had to have taken time to plan and put together.
We left the store, only stopping once more at a gas station to fill up before we hit the highway.
For whatever reason the traffic was horrid on that highway. People were driving between 45 and 95 so there were traffic jams at least three times for no reason that we could see. Cars break lights were coming on left and right from all sides at all times. Signs posted said the speed limit was either 65 or 70. I was happy to be out of traffic when it all cleared.
As we floated along in Miss Vita, I kept seeing billboards for a wax museum. The Jesse James Wax Museum. It got me, after the fourth sign I asked Drew if he minded that we stop. He was a great travel buddy, he was as interested as I was to adventure, even if it was a short one. We got off the exit and turn right. Neither of us saw the sign of the entrance so we ended up driving all the way down into the parking lot of the Meramac Caverns in Missouri. We almost ended up going into the caverns on the visitor’s tours, but I had a feeling we were in the wrong place. I asked the guy about the museum. He told us the museum wasn’t in the caverns. It was right off the exit 3.5 miles back toward the interstate. As we were walking out, I noticed a beautiful drug rug I wanted. So, I bought it. They got me again.
We found the museum as the guy had said. I had no idea who Jesse James was (damn millennial), so I was interested in learning some history about him. I had heard the name and some of the story but not enough to interest me before. I learned that he lived until he was 102 years old. The story had been he was shot and killed but apparently, that was a cover up story. I believe that he paid the mayor off to say the dead body was him when it really wasn’t. He lived his life in hiding in the meramac caverns. Hence the tour they have upon paying $24 a person. The wax museum was not as I had expected but that’s expected when you expect anything. It had all kinds of real weapons used back in those times, we were able to see fencing used in those times, it showed a short film about his life. The short adventure was very educating. On our way out, I bought two rings. Both were sterling silver. One has a blue and green gem in the center and the other was a rainbow stone going all the way around. I should have gotten one size smaller because when I am cold my fingers shrink. The ring hasn’t fit properly since I bought it. I get a laugh out of that.
The rest of the drive home was calm and quiet. We stopped for subway around 9ish. Filling up for the second or third time. We arrived home about 2am Tuesday morning. Drew packed up his van and headed to his home. I left my van packed up and went inside to see my babies. Romi and Dozer are always so excited to see me when I return home. I always wish they could come with me, but they're high maintenance. They are best left at home until we have a sustainable area for them to stay while we are adventuring such as a camper or bigger living area.
I crawled into bed to snuggle my littles. The following day after arriving home from a long festival, I use as my recovery day. Being Rainbow is amazing and I absolutely love everyone I meet but a day completely alone to recharge as we like to say, is needed. A day to be with my animals and meditate on cleaning and clearing the weird travel energies. As great as being a traveling performer is, it can take its toll. Before the event you worry for everything to go well, traveling you worry everything needs to go well, you worry everything is okay back at home. There is lots of stress internally whether we chose to show it through our happiness or work ethic. I love this character life, but I also love my alone time with my furbabies. I can only imagine what it's like to live on the road. As long as I have my dogs, I have to provide their needs first.
Our next Hippie Fest is in Mears, Michigan. It’s next weekend, October 6, 2018. Stay tuned for that journaled experience.