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The Squelchy -- uh, sorry, Burning -- Flipside

I went to Flipside in 2007, the year it rained almost non-stop all summer, making water, not fire, the reigning element at Flipside. I spent half a day on Friday there, and Saturday night. I high-tailed it out of there on Saturday morning, unsure whether I'll come back. I did return on Sunday afternoon, and these disjoint blog posts speak about my mixed experiences with it.

It started with an apprehension

After fighting my own apprehension that this is not for me -- bohemian artsy events are probably not a kind of thing analytical introverts thrive on -- I set out on the road. In 2007, Flipside took place on a piece of land near Flat Creek, east of Dripping Springs. I stopped on the way at a Subway in South Austin to get a sandwich, thinking it was going to be my last "real" meal (as distinct from bagels and canned fish) for a couple of days. (Hah! How wrong I was! :-)) There was a nice Scooters coffeehouse next to the Subway, and I really had to fight a temptation to stay there and indulge in the wireless internet and air conditioning, instead of heading off into the woods. What was I thinking when I bought a ticket for Flipside? That was nearly 5 months ago, and I was definitely in a different state of mind when I decided to go there. I must have felt some temporary yearning for something different. I could not remember that frame of mind now. But it seemed silly to back out. Besides, those peculiar frames of mind come back to haunt me once in a while, and I knew if I backed out, I would come to regret it one day.

I was supposed to camp together with my friends Paul and Mykel, and their friends. My apprehension was further fueled by what Paul said. First, Paul came back to Austin on Friday morning because he had serious back problems the night before. He had to rest at home before heading back to Flipside on Saturday with Mykel. He said that due to unusually wet weather, the roads on the Flipside site were incredibly muddy, and most of the inner roads were closed. Only the main road was open. So the question was, how would I get my stuff to the camp from the car? I had a cooler I could barely lift in and out of the trunk, plus 10 gallons of water; a tent, camping gear, clothes, food. And I didn't know anybody in this camp, except Paul... who wasn't there. So it was with major doubts that I trudged off to the camp to investigate the situation. But the people there turned out to be very friendly, and helped me haul the stuff from the car. That was great -- I didn't expect them to be so friendly to strangers.

I don't have a camping gene

I also wasted lots and lots of time on trying to pick a site to pitch the tent, as well as trying to put together the said tent. The first unpleasant surprise was that even though we were in a quiet camp, the camp next to us was playing loud music. (I wonder if the quiet / noisy distinction was kept in mind by organizers when they assigned camp locations. A pool with a no-pee section comes to mind. :-)) Fortunately, the noisy camp also had a power generator they kept running the whole time, and the white noise it generated drowned out the music to some degree. (Actually, some of my campmates found the generator noise more annoying than the music!) Anyway, at first I wasted about an hour trying to decide where to put my tent. Although Paul offered me to use his tent while he was gone, I thought his tent was too close to the source of the music. So I picked a site much further away. Then I realized that the music was worse there, because you couldn't hear the generator anymore -- nothing to soften the impact of the music. Then I picked another spot. For a good chunk of eternity I struggled with the tent, which seemed so easy to set up when Paul and Mykel showed me how to do it. In my hands, it was a tangled mess. Perhaps it's not too surprising considering that the last time I went camping was 10 years ago. Finally I gave up and decided to stay in Paul's tent.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon was the name of the camp where I stayed. Well, they had hanging things, such as hammocks. More pictures from Flipside 2007 are in my photo gallery.

I went to sleep around 2 a.m. that night, but could not sleep. Even with the noise emitted by the power generator, I could hear the brain-numbing techno music all too well. And no amount of white noise helps when a random stranger (not even a campmate) decides to bang on a drum outside your tent at 4 a.m. Because it takes too much imagination to conceive that there may be actual people trying to sleep in that tent. Or perhaps I give too much credit to humanity by imagining that they would care if they only knew.

I couldn't sleep at all that night. I got back to Austin on Saturday around noon to give a break to my then-husband so he won't have to spend all weekend taking care of our daughter. But I was so flattened with fatigue I was afraid would require care myself! I never felt that way after a night of a garden-variety insomnia.

After a good sleep at home on Saturday night, I gathered my resolve and went back to Flipside on Sunday. I'm just the kind of person who won't even put down a boring book without finishing it. I feel like I won't be entitled to form an opinion about an experience unless I stay until the end.

More pictures from Flipside 2007 are in my photo gallery.