Tripping the light fantastic: Manifestivus 2011

I made it until quite late in life before attending a multiday music festival.  But, my wife Eva wanted to go to the Manifestivus in nearby Cabot, Vermont... and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do, so off we went.

Accomodations:  A crowded tent city in a pasture.  The weather during the day was great -- sunny and hot -- but rain showers moved through on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Some attendees were too inebriated to pitch tents properly and consequently suffered badly in the cold hard rain that blew through early Sunday morning.  We (being rather sober) managed to keep dry, thankfully.

Bread and Puppet added an ethereal touch to the event with oversized puppet figures moving through the venue at irregular intervals.

More giant puppet strangeness -- at night the effect was heightened.

Brett Dennen headlining on Saturday night -- after a hot day there was a beautiful sunset and the temperature dropped rapidly -- it was almost cool. Brett Dennen described the Manifestivus as a Vermont-size Burning Man festival... which I guess is a good description of what was going on, not that that I have ever been to Burning Man.

Afro-jam band Toubab Krewe playing on Saturday night.  I remember that the first two numbers they played were fast and furious and featured cigar-box guitars and other homemade instruments -- it was quite unique. Unfortunately after these numbers things got very Phishy with long meandering jams consisting of guitars interminably following bass lines. But it was still a good time...

A giant bonfire was lit at about 11:30 on Saturday night... but that was not the end of the show, which continued far into the night.

I've discovered, that all subcultures have their own mores, symbols of rank and achievement, patois, and expected behaviors:  This holds true for road racers, mountain bikers, hikers, theater people, and (apparently) the substance-ingesting young people who regularly attend such events. Camping in the crowded, damp and messy tent city for two nights, it was funny to be exposed to a new subculture, I almost felt like an anthropologist among the natives of Polynesian islands or something.

All in all it was a fun event and I'd go back -- but also don't think I'll buy an old VW van and start following the festival scene all over the country any time soon, either.


After the flood....the sun does shine: 2011 Vermont Mountain Bike Festival

A few images from the very successful 4th Vermont Mountain Bike Festival, held this past weekend in Waterbury, Vermont.

The festival organizers had been debating the wisdom of having a 'rain contingency plan' after the epically wet spring, but thankfully it turned out to be a beautiful summer weekend, and there even was some dust on the trails -- a first for this riding season.

The venue on Saturday morning, after many riders had already left for rides in Stowe, Waitsfield, Hinesburg, etc.

The Perry Hill trailhead was close at hand.  The Waterbury trails start with a punishingly steep doubletrack climb straight up the hill.

Higher up, the trails are narrower and cut into the grade, making for an easier (and more interesting) ride.

At the top, a group tackled some rough Vermont slickrock.  It was very dark in the woods and getting get the camera to work in the dim light proved to be a challenge.  My old, inexpensive Pentax with a slow telephoto lens was barely up to the task.

A fun time was had by all.  After spending a lot of time hanging around bicycle races -- both as a participant, and as an organizer -- this event has a very low key, mellow vibe, which I can appreciate at this point in my life.

More 2011 festival images here.  Images from 2010 (which came out better, but I wanted to try something new this year) here.


Quarrymen at work

Trail work on the Perry Hill network in Waterbury this past weekend.

Tools of the trail-building trade.
Waterbury is in a very central location and this trail network is very well known -- perhaps too well known for the good of the trails -- and people come from near and (especially) far to ride the trails.

Choosing work assignments at about 9:30 am, after a good stiff hike up Perry Hill.
Getting ready to hike out at about 1 pm after re-routing trail to avoid a low spot.
Want gravel?:  Collect lots of big rocks and smash them with a sledgehammer.
My contribution to this effort was mostly collecting rocks to be smashed to provide a durable trail surface in wet spots.  I've done this task before and I can say that it is a shattering full body workout like no other.  I was very tired, sore and dirty at the end of this work day.

The trails have taken a beating this spring with a lot of heavy usage in sub-optimal (record amounts of rain) conditions but volunteer crews have spent many hours cleaning things up.  I took the opportunity to ride today and the effort is making a difference and many eroded low spots have been hardened and new drainages have been constructed.

The weather finally seems to be trending towards a dryer pattern and the forecast looks promising for the upcoming Vermont Mountain Bike Festival -- which is fortunate, as this event would be cancelled if  rain was in the cards.


Rocket's red glare

Some images from the Waterbury town fireworks display at the state office complex on Saturday night.

Fireworks above the state office complex in Waterbury.

These images were taken from a cornfield that was completely underwater during the recent flooding.  The waters have now receded, though this is turning out to be a very disappointing year for Vermont agriculture.   Thankfully the long holiday weekend turned out to be mostly dry...