Friday, June 19, 2015

A Rendezvous

I've been doing living history for six years, and Penny has been my reenacting buddy the entire time. We decided to take a quick history trip together up to central South Dakota for the 2015 High Plains Rendezvous. Now, this is not a rendezvous with destiny or anything like that: it's basically two weeks of tent camping with a bunch of wild people. We sometimes have HPRR members visit the Fort, and next year the Fort is actually hosting the 2016 Rendezvous. So we thought it might be a good time to get to know HPRR a little better.

Penny and I. New Green Dress Day. It was cold.
Most of the HPRR people I've seen have been the fur trading, Indian-like, pioneering sort of people, so that's what I was expecting. And for the most part those were common roles, but there was also a group of enthusiasts new to me: Primitive campers. Not necessarily based on any historical era, these people just enjoyed wearing simple clothing, using canvas tents, and cooking over a fire. In fact, I felt like the majority of the clothing worn there was wildly(I say again, wildly) inaccurate for any time in history. I can appreciate the joy of getting away and participating in that type of rustic atmosphere(though maybe not for two whole weeks) but now that I've seen it I think my preference would be for military living history.

All the tents were canvas with wood poles.
The majority of the campers were probably over fifty. There were some families and some older singles. One thing most of the campers had in common was that they were a fairly rough crowd. One evening I found myself watching a gambling scene straight out of a western saloon set. By the end of the weekend I was fairly fed up with profanity, vulgarity, and general poor taste. I felt the entire camp was in need of serious revival, or judgement(oh Lord! Bring the lighting!).

Old Teal Dress Day, cooking over the fire.
Before we left I finally got around to mending my faded old Regency dress. I'm not sure it will be decent much longer, but it's good enough for camping. On Wednesday I cooked lunch over the fire. I tried Scotch eggs, which is basically sausage wrapped around boiled eggs and then fried. I had about a fifty-percent success rate: half of them fell apart, and half of them turned out perfectly.

The view from our Cabin, the one second it was sunny.
Because Penny is too old and I'm too soft, we rented a nearby cabin(it was adorable, and very clean) instead of tent camping. We were glad we did, too, because it was grey and rainy and usually near 60F for most of the four days. The Rendezvous site was just a few miles away on private property. It was gorgeous: the road into the site led down a hill into several acres of woods with a creek running through the middle of the site. It was all very well-kept. And I never got a single tick.

Tent decor: He told us it was an Alligator Turtle shell, from 1949.
There were various vendors selling various goods; one blacksmith and one kitchen. Someone told us that at this rendezvous there were over 200 campsites, and that the highest number they'd seen was at a rendezvous with over 1000 campsites. I bought a cup(I'm soooooo susceptible to pottery; I love pottery) and a woven belt- that was embracing my wild side, after being around all those savages. Plus it was only $2.

A Printing block from the early 19th Century
One lady brought her stamps and let us try stamping fabric. Some of her blocks dated back to 1850, if not earlier.

That's what I stamped, while being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
On our last morning a very kind gentleman showed me how to shoot his blackpowder rifle and pistol I say he showed me, because I didn't do much except pull the trigger.

Mr. Oklahoma let me shoot his blackpowder rifle and pistol.
 The rifle was(I felt) extremely heavy. If I was actually trying to defend myself with that rifle, I'd be in trouble because I don't think I could have held it steady. The pistol was fun and surprisingly loud.

I didn't aim at anything. I just shot.
We also met a nice man from Canada who helped carry our bags down the hill. He was extremely talkative and we learned in a very short time that he only had nine toes, he'd been reenacting forever, he knew just how to bake biscuits in a dutch oven, and his wife had recently died.

A needed commodity at Rendezvous, I'm sure.
 We also met the grave digger. He was slightly morbid but friendly. There was almost always someone shooting at the range. There were specific times for rifles, pistols, shooting at a mark or shooting clays. There was also tomahawk ans knife throwing most days, but that was mostly little boys who did a terrible job of it. When it wasn't raining, there was live music in the evening. Musicians would either gather together to play, or just sit at their respective tents and all play different things at the same time.

Moonshine, for the first time ever. At least it was the good quality stuff.
Overall spending time at the Rendezvous was an interesting experience. Both our cabin site and the rendezvous sites were just beautiful, rolling prairie with woods and lakes. I'm glad to be home, though.

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