Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I lived, I breathed, and I survived....

I heard rumors that something happened last weekend? Did anyone else hear anything?

Oh! Live and Breathe XX?! Yes, I almost forgot.... NOT! =)

So Amanda and I flew out to Austin. Being the capital of Texas, we assumed it was a good-sized city with well-established infrastructure, so we were a bit surprised to learn that the tap water was considered unsafe to drink. But we weren't going to let a bit of bad water scare us off. Absolutely not! It's not a problem that a little bottled water can't solve.

And then we heard that some of the trails at the event were flooded and boxes were under a few feet of water. Whaaat?! But still, we were not deterred. The event would go on, and we would be there!

Amanda flew out a couple of days before me, but she experienced further difficulties when her flight was diverted to Tuscon (it was supposed to land in Phoenix) because of storms. She arrived the next day, a day later than expected but still in time to pick me up from the Austin airport when I landed another day later. My flight, I'm happy to report, went swimmingly. Or perhaps I should avoid terms like "swimmingly" when water is unsafe to drink and letterboxes are flooding? But my flights went well, despite a tight connection that gave me a mere 15 minutes between flights in Phoenix. Nailed it!

At the airport, Amanda picked me up, along with Princess Lea and Fleetwood7 and whisked us away to a nearby park to find some boxes. And we found boxes--including some that we weren't looking for and one that not only were we not looking for, but had been retired! That was a good start. *nodding*

The next day, we drove out to Bastrop and the scene of Live and Breathe XX. We arrived before check-in time, but that didn't stop us from hunting around the property looking for boxes. The rumors of flooded trails were true, but only the trails immediately next to the Colorado River (no, not that Colorado River) were flooded and closed--which was a very small part of the park. Most boxes were alive and well--albeit might require traversing through a fair amount of mud to reach.

The setup was gorgeous! A large Texas-themed banner welcomed everyone and signs directed everyone to the registration table. A small western town had been erected--which I thought was a permanent installation but I later found out was a creation headed by NLW. Wow! Gorgeous! 

This was a covered wagon custom-built for this event!

Others started joining us in the hunt, faces both familiar and unfamiliar. I let Amanda do all of the planning for this event and never even looked at the attendees list. I had absolutely no idea who I might run into, and it was fun being surprised with some of the faces that did pop up.

We finally checked in and got our official clue books and the hunt for boxes began in earnest. Amanda and I left for a bit during the afternoon to check into a hotel nearby and when we got back, we ran into Eidolon (and friends!) who told us that they had signed up for night boxing with us that night. Oh boy.... For any of you who've heard stories of Eidolon and I nightboxing together at the western New York gathering a number of years back, you know that you don't want to be the group following us. We bring out the worst of each other. ;o)

The whole weekend was well-organized and a joy. Temperatures were warm and humid--especially in the late afternoon--but not enough to stop people from going out. When I became hot and tired of the heat, I'd head back to the dining hall or hang out in the shade around the buildings nearby. The water issues in Austin didn't extend to Bastrop so I had plenty of tap water to drink.

On Saturday, Open Space--who spearheaded the event and did a wonderful job--gave a logbook-making presentation which I attended. I grabbed the logbook she made for a sample for my own use. The logbook I had brought, after less than 24 hours, was already more than half full and I didn't have a spare. Now I had one and I hoped it would last the rest of the event! (It did... barely....)

I also made a couple of more logbooks for future use. They're gorgeous! And I was happy that I could make my mess at the event instead of at home where I usually made my messes.

Afterwards, Open Space was occupied with other event duties and I got to help a few people create their own logbooks. Including Silver Eagle, who seemed to enjoy the machinery even though he confessed to not being into arts and crafts. Not normally, at least!

There was also a station to make your own postcards. We were given postcard-sized cardstock and a bunch of stamps and Amanda and I both made quite a few postcards. Our registration packs included stamps for one postcard (each), but we brought a lot more postcard stamps since we were planning to send store bought postcards anyhow. A few of you might be finding some of our creations in your mailbox in the next few days if they haven't arrived already.

I missed the carving demo, which I'm a little disappointed about. I heard it was awesome and later regretted that I missed it. So much to do, and just one weekend wasn't enough to do it all!

There were two nightboxing series to do, and Eidolon was there with me for both of them, but we largely behaved ourselves. I don't think anyone who came after us wound up cussing us out. At least not for our antics there!

Our last night there, we played letterboxing bingo! That was a lot of fun. Our registration packs included an empty bingo card which we filled in with 24 out of 51 hand-carved Texas-themed stamps. The only slight hiccup--some of the local teams and imagery we didn't know, so Silver Eagle had to describe many of the stamps. Everyone that played bingo now knows all of the sports teams in Texas! Well, okay, maybe not all of them, but definitely the ones the bingo board covered. (I was an armadillo away from winning too. Just one armadillo! Was that too much to ask?! *shaking head*)

After the event, Amanda and I drove out to San Antonio to check out the Alamo. I'd never been there before, and most of Texas is completely new country for me. My sole visit (not including stuff like changing planes in Houston or Dallas or driving on the Interstate through the panhandle) had been a couple of days in Dallas so the Austin area was all new for me--and I loved it! It was awesome! Bastrop, Austin and San Antonio. Thanks so much to everyone who organized the event and so many others who donated stamps and materials. The results were amazing!

I'm now sitting at the airport in Austin as I type this, waiting for my flight home. I saw in the paper yesterday that the drinking water ban had been lifted, but apparently they haven't gotten the memo at the airport because all of the water fountains and bottle-filling stations are still turned off with warnings that the water isn't safe to drink. *sigh*

But hey, that's just part of the adventure! =)