Sean & Dave already have their reports up on the festival, so I guess I'd better, as well. First of all, I did not see them there, but their very telling photos of the swamp that is the Hopkinton State Fairgrounds does prove that they were. I had my camera with me, but I was a bit afraid to take it out of its case because of the rain. Besides that, my hands were numb most of the day from the cold.
Today was my second day of driving in the rain. We spent Friday driving down to an alpaca farm just north of Albany to look at a weanling boy 'paca that David's made an offer on. I had not seen him before, and as the family vet, David wanted me to give him a looking over. Only one potential concern which, if it is a real issue, likely won't manifest for 2-3 years, so now it's up to David to make some decisions and see if there's any room for negotiation on that point.
That drive took 4.5 hours, an hour longer than normal, because of the driving rain all the way down the Mass. Turnpike, which for some reason caused traffic to slow to a crawl at every single interchange along the way. The drive from there to Concord, New Hampshire, took 5 very long hours. My back was screaming by the end of it and I had regrettably forgotten to bring my muscle relaxant.
Because we were so exhausted and because we are not morning people by nature, today started off kind of slowly. As we were getting ready for the day, our friend Kit - a member of the glbt-knit listserv and more or less a neighbor (She lives less than 10 miles from us.) - called from the road to see where we were. She beat us to the fairgrounds by about half an hour and had not seen mamacate or anyone else by the time we had arrived.
We tried to look around to see if we could figure out where the blogging crowd had ended up meeting for lunch, but it ended up being a rather fruitless search. When everyone is as covered as possible against the rain and cold and wind, the chances of finding a particular someone or someones just isn't all that great. As I had brought along a box from my treasured stash of Girl Scout Thin Mints to share, I'd say it was their loss.
So we had our own little lunch in a sheltered eating area - cold, but reasonably dry - then set off to schmooze with some of the alpaca folks who were there for NEAF. The 'paca folks got a raw deal at this event, I think, as they're stuck way out on the fringe, and this year required wading through several smallish lakes to get to their exhibits, which I'm sure discouraged a lot of attendees from visiting them.
At any rate, after a considerable amount of time, we turned the corner for our last schmooze of the day and bumped right into mamacate, Norma, and JoVE with Tigger in tow. Unfortunately, they had reached their limit of cold & wet and were on their way out to drive the 3 hours back to Norma's house, so I'm hoping that maybe we'll actually really get to hang out at Rhinebeck.
As I was talking to them, I also saw Pogo of Friends' Folly Farm. Pogo and Marsha processed Madelyn's fleece for me last year, and they were in the same barn with us at Rhinebeck last year. They raise angora goats & sheep and make some wonderful hand-dyed wool/mohair yarns.
By that time, we were left with about one hour to make the rounds and do some shopping. I had visited the ATM before we left Friday to get what I figured I could safely afford to spend and I only had two absolutes on my shopping list - a shawl pin for my mother for Mother's Day (to go with her birthday shawl, which I have yet to give her), and a nice drop spindle. I found the right pin fairly quickly, but I waited until the end to go back and get it. I'm not posting photos in the event that she reads this, because it should at least be a little bit of a surprise.
As for the drop spindle, I was very excited to see that Jonathan Bosworth was there as a vendor. I had seen that he's scheduled to give a Sunday charkha demonstration, so I was hopeful. I hadn't met him before and found him to be a very personable guy. It was also the first time I'd gotten a chance to see a journey wheel up close and personal. It really is a beautiful piece of both craftsmanship and machinery, and one day when I can afford it, I shall own one. Today I decided on a 2.5" midi spindle with a whorl of cochin rosewood, which is absolutely lovely and spins like a dream. Here it is with results of a trial run tonight.
My final purchase was made as people were covering their displays and packing things up for the evening. We had been by the booth for Brimstone Hollow Farm a couple times before, and I'd had a chance to fondle the rovings, so I bought three 8oz. balls of roving - two in a heathery red/grey from Zachariah, a Romney/Leicester/Corriedale cross and one from Junior, a Romney/Border Leicester cross.
While Sean and Dave may have been among the first there, we were pretty much the last. From start to finish, the rain was just relentless. As we walked to our cars, my jeans got wetter. And wetter. And even wetter. They were so soaking wet and cold that there was no way I was going to be able to drive home in them. Fortunately, I had a clean and dry extra pair in the car, mostly in case I had gotten smeared with alpaca spit or poop on Friday. Unfortunately, when I got in the car and shucked off the soaking wet jeans, I found that the legs of my boxers, too, were sopping, dripping wet, so I decided to drive the hour and a half home, with the heat turned up, in my boxers (There is precedent for this - it involves being caught on an island by the tide and having to wade back to the mainland). Our return home was mercifully uneventful, I was nearly dry by the time we arrived, and we had Thin Mints to nosh on.