We’re home from our first Pennsic War! The Midrealm didn’t win, but we certainly feel like victors! We successfully prepared, survived, and enjoyed a 10-day long SCA event/camping trip filled with both amazing and challenging events. If you want just the highlights, check out this short video I made of our “Epic Pennsic” — it even has a soundtrack and some battle footage.
As is to be expected, our Pennsic was not perfect. But I believe strongly that mistakes can be the best path to success (if you learn from them!) so it’s all okay. Here are the bumps in the road we encountered:
- Strapping stuff to our car rack was NOT easy! We’d chosen to put our futon up there and it kept flapping up when we got up to highway speeds. We had to stop three times to re-strap it, and that put us behind schedule. Solution for next Pennsic: Buy or rent a small trailer so we don’t have to put stuff on the roof!
- Arriving too late in the day to set up camp before dark! This was related to the point above, as stopped to re-strap really slowed us down. Solution for next Pennsic: Plan to leave by at least 9:00 am.
- Putting the tarp under the canvas pavilion as if it was a modern nylon tent with a floor resulted in a moat around the inside perimeter of our tent after a rainfall on the first night. It was sprinkling and getting dark fast when we arrived, and we didn’t understand that the tarp had to go OVER the edges of the pavilion so that the rain would run off the canvas into the ground, not into the tarp. Had we not been pressed for time when setting up, we could have probably figured that out. This is one of those cascading issues. But we learned fast! Solution for next Pennsic: Set the tarp up the right way to start with, and think carefully about where water will go when it lands on the canvas.
- Not enough garb! Gregor laughed when I told him I thought we needed at least one outfit for each day. He changed his tune once we got to Pennsic. We need more! Doing laundry was too time-consuming. Solution for next Pennsic: Try to have at least one outfit for each day PLUS a few extra for clothing changes due to heat, humidity, or rain.
That list isn’t so bad, really! Much worse things could have happened, such as my painter’s canvas shade fly collapsing due to all the rain. But, amazingly, it stayed up for the entire time and provided MUCH needed shade. I am glad I took a chance on that, but next year we’ll have a proper shade fly that keeps out water, too.
Some of my personal highlights of Pennsic XL are:
- Retaining for the king, His Majesty King Arch, immediately after Opening Ceremonies. I’d never retained before, so I totally winged it … and it worked out fine. I got to see the Heroic Belted Champions Battle and Belted Champions Battle up close. I got to see the broken arrow that starts the war! I got to see Her Majesty Queen Runa give out awards (tokens?) to the Belted Champions on the field. It was a terrifying but thrilling experience for me! Definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing.
- Camping with Cynnabar. Everyone was kind and welcoming, and helped us feel like part of the group. The showers were awesome, as were evenings around the fire. And my son even had another 7-year-old to play with, which I wasn’t expecting. Cynnabar was also VERY convenient to shopping, food, and the battles — a really prime spot. We are very fortunate!
- Going to a vigil for a knight-to-be with Their Excellencies, Cynnabar’s Baron and Baroness. They invited us along one evening, which we really appreciated. So not only did we get a chance to speak with them for an extended period, during which they patiently and candidly answered our questions about the SCA, but we also were able to witness a vigil. Very cool!
- Seeing all my camp furniture in action. Everything worked and stood up to the rain, wind, dew, and heavy use we gave it. That made me feel great!
- Volunteering for guard duty at the Midrealm Royal Encampment. We did it twice, and it helped us newbies feel like we were involved and useful. I highly recommend this for other newcomers.
- Walking with Gregor when he was in his full plate armor. This was an unexpected experience. I mean, yeah, I thought he looked cool, but I didn’t realize how unusual his armor was until people stopped and stared, took pictures, and gave him kudos. It was a little like walking with a celebrity. He did look really good!
- Talking a stroll at twilight around Pennsic. Gregor and I went exploring one evening and walked down around the lake. There was a mist everywhere and it was pure magic. At one point when we’d paused to stare across the lake at the encampments, a woman stopped to tell us how she and her husband stopped every year on that exact spot to take it in, and how she and her husband had met at Pennsic 20 years ago.
- The Cynnabar’s Got Talent show. Lots of fun, but let’s just say that Ermenrich is lucky Gregor didn’t challenge him in defense of my honor. Ha ha. ‘Nuff said.
- Getting my first SCA award — the Award of Elephant’s Heart! This was totally unexpected and it made me really happy!
I could go on and on, but then I’ll never get any new blog posts up. So I’ll just end it here with some of my favorite photos. And this …. I can’t wait for next Pennsic!