Okay - Moot Report Time! here we go...
So many images and thoughts running along through my head - guess I'll just start at the beginning. I came in from Portland through Phoenix where I found a very dear lady with lovely long hair, Ladyhawk, wafting for me at the connection. We grabbed seats together on the plane to Austin and talked the entire way there, then rented a car and promptly got lost in Austin. Turned out we were going in the exact opposite of the direction we needed, but we did get a nice tour of the roadway and learned rather quickly about Texas truckers who leap around the lanes like mini-coopers! Our freebie map being exceedingly pathetic, we nevertheless did eventually bumble our way to Bastrop, located something resembling a grocery store and then (go us!) found the park - and the cabin! But it was locked! And there was no ranger at the station because it was after 5 pm thanks to aforementioned detouring!
This meant driving around the park in a minor panic dodging the golf-carts that shot across the road intermittently from the neighboring golfcourse until we thankfully found a lady ranger who hadn't gone home yet. She told us they had simply stuck the key in an envelope and taped it to the door back at the entrance. (what? "Why do they bother locking them?" we asked each other) So, back again to the ranger-station where by-golly, there it was. Thrilled that we weren't doomed to sleep in the car after all, we gratefully moved into "our" cabin, which was the perfect home for the moot-time; we especially adored the little round fireplace with the pithy saying carved into the mantle, "Mud Thrown is Ground Lost" (thank you, Theoden for the picture!)
Our evening and the much of the following Friday were very, very peaceful - near as I could tell, we were the only people in any of the cabins. Ladyhawk and I spent most of the time sitting quietly by the lake watching fireflies (and a raccoon, butterflies, skinks, etc.) and writing, reading or sketching. We went inside and had a very companiable time just sitting at the table in the sunshine reading and writing together. I went out and found plants I had never seen and talked to the trees and listened to the birds. I had read there were supposed to be toads, but the only one I saw was a flattened one on the roadway, and a little frog who hung on my window-screen. Friday afternoon the other Ringers began to arrive and in short order the pace picked up quite a lot!
First off, I cannot emphasize enough that the food was nothing short of amazing. Firiel's Hearthside should be famous the world-round with the flair and creativity that came with it. She whirled in and in short order had turned a rather blank Lodge into a hobbit-home. Books, flowers, a banner, candles…so many small touches that just warmed us so. She, DOK and AnnaEstel were marvelous hostesses, and Ladyhawk and I soon wondered if we would use up any of our own groceries after all, for who could ever be hungry?
Eowyn's Stew, the entrée of the evening, had a "slimy lump" in it…and whoever got the lump in their bowl would get a prize we were told. Oh dear. And then I got the Lump… which wasn't a horrific blob of mutton-fat or something, it was a rather nice turnip. The reward was a Weathertop Strider (with light-up torch!) After a lovely and rather late evening, Ladyhawk and I figured it was time to find our way back to the far end of that corner of the park where our own cabin lay.
Except now it was pitch dark. And we had no flashlight. Nevertheless, we recalled there had been lamp-posts here and there along the way, and other folks had arrived to light up the windows of the neighboring cabins so we figured we could manage it. Off we went, down the paved road into the Wild.
It was dark. I cannot tell you how dark it was. We could look up and see stars and silhouettes of treetops, but that was it. Ladyhawk positioned herself behind me with her hand on my shoulder and the blind led the blind into the blackness, feeling the pavement. We did pretty good at first, navigated a curve in the road and a short stretch but then it was a case of walk, walk, walk, crunch. No, that's a bush. Okay, back this way….there's the road. Walk, walk, shuffle. Pine-needles… back this way, no that's a bush. Pine-needles. Where the heck did the pavement go? How could we lose it? It's big, and broad - a road for pity's sake. Walk, shuffle, crunch. Dang. Ladyhawk declared it "Very Dark" and figured we'd better head back to the Lodge, whose lights we could still see, and borrow a flashlight. I wanted to press on as I knew there was a light up there somewhere, darnit, and if we could just go a little further we would see it and be able to navigate, and the road had to be there somewhere if we felt around with our fingers… It wasn't until we were most of the way back to the Lodge that I remembered what I carried. Strider! With light-up torch! I experimentally bent and waved him over the road - sure enough, he could show us the pavement, if he was very close… I wanted to let Strider lead us by his torch through the Wild. No, said Ladyhawk - we need a flashlight! I finally acquiesced, I'll have to give him a try another time. We did make it back via flashlight, and we did find the curve that confused us (the pavement was covered with pine-needles)…and so returned, Strider's torch being supplemented with the bright white of wizardry.
Saturday was a marvel, for even more people arrived and we visited, ate, drew pictures, some dressed up (I loved Frodowannabe's Huckleberry Frodo). We went for a short walk (it was getting hot) and I got to see a road-runner for the first time - whoowee they move fast! - We read favorite passages from Firiel's collection of books, corralled children, wrote, walked, sang the sweetest music with our Vey Own Songbooks (oh Doc G! I love your voice! I could just sit and listen and listen!) and were given a writing challenge to have by the following breakfast. I adore writing challenges when I have time to do them, better than candy. I wrote a horrible short story that got tossed, then greatly enjoyed tacking a couple little things together as the evening wore down and none of us wanted it to end. We had an AMAZING coconut cake for Bilbo and Frodo's birthday - oh golly I want the recipe! Mrs. Gamgee came with G-Minor, and they were both so incredibly sweet and it was easy to see why Doc loves them both so much. We finally ended the night with a handful sitting around the octagonal table, so tired but not wanting to sleep… alas for Time.
Sunday morning I woke up and went out by the lake for breakfast one more time, watched a dragonfly be eaten by a fish, wrote some more… We reluctantly packed up our stuff, then went up to the Lodge to find everyone snarfing pancakes, bacon and eggs - Firiel, you are a wonder! - before we read whatever we had come up with in our writing and then helped pack things up. Many goodbyes said, many hugs and well-wishes… Ladyhawk and I followed Firiel to her home for we still had the remainder of Sunday - Firiel had a cat that I wanted very, very much to take home with me, and a cheery dog for Ladyhawk to cuddle, plus bookcases with antiquarian books that I just wanted to wade into… wow! What a hostess she was for us, and what a delight to see her home - when she climbed up a tree she looked so graceful and at home there, I almost followed her up. Back we went to Austin (with Firiel leading the way), then a late-night popcorn-party in our hotel room with her before she finally had to head back home.
Whew! I guess that's it…we flew out the next morning after having Texas-shaped waffles at the hotel - I couldn't get mine out in one piece, so I just had to eat parts of Texas in a jumble… I bought jumping-beans and postcards for my kids at the airport, left Ladyhawk in Phoenix and away to home it was. She said any number of times "We did it! And it was so worth it. I don't regret this at all." - and I am with her in that sentiment completely. Thank you so much, all of you generous people who came - I hope we can meet again someday, I truly do.
(an extra treat for me was getting to meet Theoden and his wife, for I've posted with Theoden on another little Tolkien board for almost as many years, as he said 'we've shared many a post.' - thank you for coming, though I know you didn't know all the others as well - give your little Scooby-dog a petting for us).