Fortunately, you can go to Andrew Kornylak's website to see pictures of me and all the awesome racers. He's a bad ass photographer.
I ended up arriving around noon, about an hour after I had planned, but it was a pretty casual affair and was still a fine time to set up. I ran into Namrita pretty much right away and she told me to set up wherever, so I did. I was a little nervous, since I was by myself at an event where I didn't really know many people. Fortunately, I did get to see my good friend and hilarious ex-co-worker Crispin and my acquaintance-ish friend who is nice to me despite bearing witness to several acts of drunken inappropriateness; Austin. They both had just finished the 50 mile. Crispin left soon after I set up and there I was, all my soap laid out on the table. Throughout the day, there was not a moment where I wasn't either selling soap, engaged in pleasant (not "pleasant", but actually interesting and enjoyable) conversation with racers, spectators, or other vendors. Chris Weller from Blue Ridge Outdoors was a constant source of entertainment, was promoting a really cool magazine (click above) AND he bought soap. In all seriousness, everyone that I interacted with was super nice, laid back and seemed to be genuinely interested in me and my soap. It was truly a great day.
After the entertaining and gnat infested awards ceremony, I packed up and headed out on the gravel road I thought I came in on. As I headed down the dusty road in the twilight hour, I noticed that my GPS wasn't picking up a signal. Ah, well, about a mile to the ranger station, make a right and it'll pick up once I get onto the main road... except that two miles in, there was no ranger station. Hmm.. I ended up doing the classic turn around & repeat, constantly second guessing my judgement and in a bit of a panic, noticing that while everything looked the same, nothing looked familiar. I was alone with no cell phone reception, barely any cell phone battery, no GPS reception and with low blood sugar clouding my judgement and adding to my panic. I couldn't remember where I'd turned, how to get back to the place where I'd just left hundreds of people with bikes. At one turn, a truck with two bikes on the back whizzed past me and I pulled out to follow them. Alas, they were in a big ol' 4 wheel drive truck and I was in my li'l hatchback and eventually they got away from me. Then, my rational brain slapped my overreacting emotional brain upside the head and I decided to stop turning since I was lost, and just follow the road straight ahead. It had to lead somewhere, and I had a half tank of gas that said I'd make it. I passed the parking for Bull Mountain - a ride where Matt and Crispin once almost had to snuggle to preserve their body heat after some technical difficulties since the trail is so isolated and long, which both aggravated my fears and eased them, strangely. Finally, I made it out to a main road where I regained cell phone service and satellite signal. The whole ordeal was so unnerving that I maintained a pretty high state of alert all the way home.
Book-ended between two less than desirable driving experiences was one of the more enjoyable days I've had peddling my wares. Thank you to Namrita and Eddie O'Dea for putting on a festival for fantastic people and welcoming me to set up in the midst of all of their hard work. Also, thank you to all of the engaging people I met, most of whom bought soap from me. You all made my day fantastic. I hope many of you will make it out to see me at the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival next weekend. I'll be on Savannah Circle at booth #69, three spots away from a beer tent. And no, I did not pick my booth number ;)