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This was rescued from a now defunct website created by Guano, a brother who has written many fine things about Rainbow Gatherings. BB


Rainbow Recollections

1996 Missouri

(Part One)

Who fears today
His rites to pay
Deserves his chains to wear.

The forest's free!
This wood take we,
and straight a pile prepare.

Yet in the wood
To stay 'tis good
By day till all is still.

With watchers all
around us placed
Protecting you from ill.

With courage fresh, then,
Let us haste
Our duties to fulfill... Goethe

My daughter Skater ("Pixie", age 13) and I had a grand time at the Missouri Rainbow. We arrived Sunday June 23 and left July 3, and those were 11 magical days! Our drive in was 12 hours, and started with thunderstorms and a downburst in central Illinois that forced us off the road near Springfield. Big booming lightning! Old Mother Nature's power chords! Ba-BOOM!! Ka-Pow!!!!!

We got in about 1 am, drove right past FS road 3173 in the dark. Whoops! When we hit Thomasville we turned around and headed back north. Right exactly at 3 miles on the odometer from Thomasville there was FS #3173 off to the right. We drove on in quietly without seeing a single cop. There was the big green and yellow "Welcome Home" banner and a quiet group with a lone drummer singing and pounding out his heartsongs. We parked in the dark fog and decided to get some sleep in our old pickup until the sunrise. Just before dawn it rained hard for about 45 minutes, and that made the air smell clean and sweet! :)

We got up and meandered through the parking lot and met a lot of kind folks at the front gate. Out in the lot we met Katie and Brian and Althea (shy white Siberian husky puppy with pretty blue eyes) in the green bubbletop "Save the Buses" bus from Chicago. We also shared munchies and explored with Funky (Matt) and Shannon in the green VW camper bus, and met Victor and Kevin. At dawn we started packing for the hike in towards Kiddie Village where we would set up our camp.

It was nearly 3 miles to Kiddie Village. The first mile was dry and hot, then we started crossing the streams and it was like heaven to stop and play in that cold water. There was a steep incline down to the first stream, too steep for bikes to ride, but not too steep for horses. Spring creek was it's name, filled with tadpoles and there were lovely Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies hovering about the banks.

The second creek crossing had MARVELOUS sand!! SO nice on bare feet! The White Dove kitchen settled here and had the secret luxury of a hidden beautiful white portable shitter with a lid. "Pixie" was a frequent stopper at White Dove and we kept their secret close to the vest. Up the hill from the "good sand" crossing was the first clearing, a beautiful meadow with five tipis. The path here was named Hanuman Highway.

The main path crossed Spring Creek again and opened onto the big meadow with main fire circle and C.A.L.M. and good water piped from underground springs. We drank copious amounts of the spring water for 11 days with no problem. Our friend Question Mark happily spent his time filtering the water for anyone patient enough to get that extra protection. The pipe system evolved and grew with the gathering, so that eventually you were always close to a source of underground spring fed clean drinking water. We give an A+ to all who hauled pipe and ran samples for tests. GREAT water is such a luxury! :)

The next creek crossing had a pipe with roaring spring water you could shower in! Fill up the canteens! No waiting! Cold clean showers! The bridge there was called H20 bridge or Rainbow Bridge, and the crossing was called "Copperhead Crossing" after a snake was sighted in the water by some shady bushes. The original location of C.A.L.M. was to the right just after H20 Bridge. Continuing up, the main path was called Son Dance Trail and opened onto another fine meadow.

At the end of the meadow on the left side was Kiddie Village, which eventually grew to a City of Wonder! We parked our camp halfway twixt original C.A.L.M. and Kiddie Village, up into the shade of the tree line in the raspberry bushes by a big broken tree. Flattening out a place for our sleeping tent we ate juicy raspberries as we stomped. There was poison ivy everywhere so we sacrificed a shade tarp to cover the ground for safe lounging and relaxing. We set up a second small dome tent for all our gear and food and clothes and schtuff. We were on the map, had our own gnome home at home!

Pixie donated a pile of her old Golden Books to Kiddie Village. She talked with the smaller kids while I helped a crew installing support poles and guy ropes for that immense circus-tent-sized tarp for the main play area. I was amazed how four folks could hold a 25' ladder firmly in the air while another person climbed fearlessly to the top to adjust rope connections. The kids were having a blast here! There were four teeter-totters and the kids had figured how to "launch" each other, so the adults were trying to calm their butts down. Then we gravitated over to Kiddie C.A.L.M. where she helped Pat take care of several kids. One had poison oak all around his eyes.

Water and Flame were the main healers at Kiddie C.A.L.M., but Pat and the Swedish Bitters woman also put in huge hours there. Pat's dog Gaia was hilarious to play stick with. Gaia would plunge pell mell into high thick weeds and come out in a nanosecond with the very same stick you'd thrown. We trudged back to parking and got a second load of supplies that day. We donated a lot of apple juice and zuzu drink (cola) and that made for heavy loads to haul.

We learned to linger in the shade. In the stretches of sun it was best to conserve energy and keep moving towards the shade. We drank constantly from our canteens and often poured as much on our heads as we put in our mouths. We quickly learned all the places we could get water and paced our water consumption accordingly. It was close to 100 degrees everyday, and only rained one other time just before dawn for about two hours (July 2nd). Two pack loads in one day (and setting up the camp) wore us out, so we collapsed at sunset and slept with rainbow dreams. The Missouri whippoorwills sang us to sleep.

The next morning we found our Lovin' Touch kitchen up in the trees on the hillside in the shade. The big sign said "Kitten Safety Zone, All Dogs On Leashes!" and we met Grace, who had three kittens and a full grown cat! Grace told us how she and Steps had come in on June 10th and started Lovin' Touch in a shady patch of poison ivy. They knew where to find the good spring water, and they brought in a reporter from the West Plains Daily Quill. Grace opened her trunk and showed us the beautiful photo of the start of Lovin' Touch kitchen that made the front page of the June 13th Quill, along with an excellent article. Great public relations!!

Steps gave us the best hugs of the gathering and Piper played his didgeridu, and Lizard had made some great pancakes with apples and strawberries in them. This was OUR kitchen! I helped Justin chop wood and Pixie found every cat and dog in the area and gave em all hello hugs! There was a big tie-dye of a pot frond and hammocks strung all over. John was reciting poetry in the corner and Buddy Paul floated in with his beautiful cutaway Applause guitar and just let anyone play away on it.

The next morning we went to Copperhead Crossing for a shower and to splash in the stream and we met Nancy who was entering 6th grade in the fall. She was lugging around a big heavy bedroll. Pixie and Nancy became best friends instantly. I put her gear in my backpack and we trudged off to her mom's van back in A-camp, then came back to Kiddie Village. On the way they caught 50 tadpoles at the first creek crossing and had them all in a single drinking cup! Nancy slept about half the time in a hammock at Lovin' Touch. Nancy traded for two matching filigree rings and gave one to Pixie, and they changed their names to Sunshine. Pixie was Sun and Nancy was Shine. Nancy showed us where the kids were swinging off a rope into a deep cold spot in the creek. It was too cold for me, but the kids could stand it and had a great time!

There was also a swing/hammock for kids to swing in over the creek, and children's toys scattered about. The milk for Kiddie village was stored in the cold water, a natural refrigerator. Then came early dinner call at Kiddie Village! Many courses! Seconds and thirds for all who wanted!! Filled us up (yummy!) and we went off burping to the main circle to hear all the news and see how big the OM circle was getting. My best guess was two to three thousand at the site on our arrival June 23rd. When we left on Wednesday, July 3rd there were maybe 10,000 and it was growing every hour with the four day weekend approaching.

About Thursday, June 27th, Pixie patiently had sat through another evening main circle and eaten good Rainbow food. She went to her first "Sister Circle" with an older friend. The hot topic was the rape of a sister in A-camp. It turns out a young woman had gotten real drunk and been passed around and passed out. She wasn't with the girls discussing the hearsay at Sister Circle, she was already back getting loaded with those same brothers at A-camp who had taken advantage of her. The news I heard was that she was "consenting" until she passed out, but I wonder how could she consent while unconscious? A sorry story, but she apparently knew and stood by her rapist friends even afterwards. They were her drinking buds. A more tragic story was a pregnant 14 year old who miscarried at the Rainbow. I never met either woman, just passing on what I heard at the site.

The RUMORS on the computer newsgroup alt.gathering.rainbow (when I got home to read it) were really silly! The National Guard was not called out! No one was shot in A-camp. Hillbillies were NOT beating up hippies! The locals thought we were a godsend and treated us kindly with smiles! The police traffic checks were only for driver's license/insurance/registration. We passed in and out many times and most times there was no traffic check, or they just waved us by without stopping. Pixie did catch an ancient box turtle at the gathering, and had it in her lap on our way in when we were stopped. The Forest Service made her set the turtle free, it was a protected citizen of the Irish Wilderness!!

There were about 8 horse cops we met on the main trail and we learned the names of all the beautiful horses. Rebel Command and Ollie were our favorites. The riders were especially courteous, three women and five men, I think. There were about four FS cops on mountain bikes, and they ate a lot of dust from the cars on FS road 3173 going from the site to the police command location about 2 miles down the road. We stopped and greeted the FS and Dept. of Interior police we met and they were all friendly and kind. We even had a FS cop by A-camp get out of his jeep and paw through his supplies to find Pixie a Band-Aid for a finger cut.

One woman (who was a little crazed) climbed on top of a FS jeep and jumped up and down, denting the roof! And she wasn't arrested! Many were openly rude to the cops, calling out "Six UP!" or "Doughnut!!" as they went by. A select few chanted OM towards them. I always asked if all was well, and never heard any problems, although some were nervous and would say, "No problems .... yet!" I give the cops a C+, they are only human. We saw very little of them inside the real gathering, and only on the main trail, and always preceded by shouts of warning. I wish they would have stayed out of the church altogether and turned in their guns. HA!

The main trail crosses Spring Creek again to the right of Kiddie village, and heads upwards past the Animal Rainbow Family first aid for dogs and cats (Arf Arf!!) and Teen Village and Granola Funk Express kitchen. If you follow it all the way to the end there were three ropes tied across the trail and a sign that said "Turn around, Private property". Just before that sign, if you turned left, you could meander down to Cafe Cough Fee (Coffee Coffee) and find the best swimming spot of the gathering! Spring Creek is 12 feet deep here, fifty feet across, and cold cold COLD! The bank on the Coffee Coffee side is full of good mud and music all day. Those who can handle the cold water swim across and scramble up the rocky bank, and the adventurous climb up to dive off rock ledges 20 and 30 feet up.

There was a cave upstream to explore, and some kind souls left an inflatable raft for kids to paddle back and forth. Frisbees hummed back and forth as didgeridus droned and the mud people drew designs on themselves. This was a hopping swim hole! Musicians would gravitate in and stay for hours singing heavenly songs. We met Megan out by Coffee Coffee and she blew Pixie dust on Skater, then told her she was now a Pixie and had Pixie dust in her blood! That's when Skater changed her name to Sunshine Pixie, but she shortened it to Pixie later, and we got some gold glitter dust so she could turn others into Pixies. Skater was a glittering gold-dusted free spirit the last five days we were there. One bottle of glitter covers a LOT of people! :) Sparkling like star dust in the moonlight and sunshine!

Early in the gathering we met Steve and Cheyenne and their daughter. Steve was giving out water about the 1 mile point from A-camp at the end of a long dry path in the hot sun. Each day Steve and Foxfire (aka: Bridge Troll, Pegleg) went on a water run to Birch Tree and brought back water to give out at the water station, as well as "PowerBurst" electrolyte drink. Steve and Cheyenne also brought two riding horses and hung out a sign that read "Horse Camp". They brought a white horse (age 13) named Patches, and another spirited brown horse, both elegant females. Cheyenne took Pixie for a four hour horse ride one day, while I baby-sat their younger girl Kailey. Kailey was 15 months old and an energetic whirlwind. Kailey was born premature at only 1 pound and hydrocephalic, but was obviously doing well and happy to be at her first rainbow!

Cheyenne and Pixie washed the two horses and brushed them and got them water. Then they rode them down the steep path to the first creek for an hour or so and tried to get them to drink. Pixie rode the white horse, Patches. The brown horse drank some and had a coughing fit, Cheyenne thought maybe she had swallowed a tadpole! Then they went up into the first meadow and galloped around the tipis. They decided to take them all the way in to Kiddie Village and back.

In the main circle meadow they walked the horses through the big fire pit and really stirred up some ashes and dust. Then Pixie had to hold on as Patches decided to take off and run some around the main meadow, even leaping over some logs by where the wash station was later set up by the water people. Patches was the type of horse that needed to be ridden firm or whacked a bit with a stick to get going. Pixie was uncomfortable doing that, but she had a great time riding nonetheless. They rode through the thick fog of the gathering at sunset and came back after dark with the fireflies twinkling around them in the mist.

When they returned, Pixie had bowlegs and saddleburns and was worn out! That's when Cheyenne's stomach began to hurt a LOT! She tried some herbal cures from C.A.L.M. but nothing seemed to help. We all felt for her. She wound up going in to the hospital the next day before feeling better, and came back to the Gathering again. After her long ride Pixie volunteered to run the water station. It was dark and she was lit by a lantern and offered weary incoming travelers water or electrolytes or pixie dust. Just about everyone wanted pixie dust! A kind soul gave her a bag of little chocolate bars with the instructions to only give them to girls, but she gave them to everybody! We were given strawberries and watermelon and also changed Kailey's diaper twice! We stayed until after midnight, then closed down the water station and finally wandered back to our tent by the light of the big smiling moon.

One evening after main circle I went to wash our dishes while Pixie played hacky-sack with a group of teens. I met George while washing. His 12-string guitar was autographed by Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul and Mary) and Stanley Jordan and Kenny Burrell and John Prine and Stevie Ray Vaughan's nephew Roy Vaughan, and about 40 others. He was from Austin and sang me a song he wrote about the Wyoming gathering... "on July 1st there was a fire, on July 2nd there was a fire, on July 3rd there was a fire, on July 4th there was a Raaaaaaainbow!" ...and as he sang the sunset disappeared quickly... where was Pixie?

The hacky-sack group was nowhere to be seen. I started looking for Pixie in her dark purple shirt. I circled the fire twice, the drummers were already roaring, a BIG crowd! I had lost her! I circled inside right next to the fire so Pixie could see me if she was there, I was wearing her giant red & black Dr. Suess hat. Night had come on in a hurry and it was too dark to see faces even up close. Being a parent is a wonderful thing, and I was VERY concerned. The gathering had grown to a sizable city. I wandered away from the fire and hollered out "Ska-a-a-a-a-aterrrrr!!!!" and she called out "Right here, Dad!" right under my feet! What a relief! After that I stuck with her like glue, and brought a white T-shirt for her to wear after main circle sunset!

That night Pixie wanted to stay by the fire, so we crept in close between the drummers and found two saxophone players and sat near them listening to the sounds. Pixie kept wanting to sit closer and closer to the fire and we wound up almost IN the fire! The fire tenders had to walk over us as they added logs, and we were well-done and roasted by the heat of the flames! All our clothes were covered in soot and the next day our throats were sore from breathing so much smoke! But we stayed right in the thick of the drums and dancers and hung in there until that blue moon finally went down behind the trees over the mountainside. Just before the moon disappeared she met her friend Eagle, they talked as the fire crackled and the dark night settled in around us. After about six hours at the main drum circle we crept back to the tent and brushed our teeth and slept.

All that night and most every night we visited the fire there was a big menacing dude like Big Daddy in sinister sunglasses with a shaved head. He apparently thought he was King of the Fire or something and would stop the drums and recite a short poem to tell us to listen to the birds or hear the spirits talk. He also threatened to shove the trombone up the ass of a trombone player! He also would occasionally give slices of sweet melon to everyone in the inner circle of the fire, and maybe also drinks of electric punch. He never bothered us, thank goodness, and Pixie was able to dust him with Pixie dust the last day we were there. Good work, Pixie! We always ended the day by brushing out teeth and started the day by brushing our teeth. We were probably the only two at the gathering that didn't have morning breath!

Three nights later it was a full blue moon! The main circle was filled with pomp and drama, lots of poetry and heartsongs and then a special OM circle where we all laid back and chanted to the sky while holding hands laying down! After the food there was a Rainbow Wedding and we got right up close to observe and take part! The crowd was swept up and chanting "HO!" as the couple exchanged vows and were blessed and covered with incense smoke and then there was a huge group hug and OM chant. Pixie had big stars in her eyes and she said, "Dad, I want a hippie wedding!"

They had piled up a huge pile of logs for the fire, and after the wedding it ROARED into life and there were tons of wild dancers circling the fire. Little blond 13 year-old Eagle came up with half his head shaved and the other half dyed bright green with braided dreads. He raced naked around the fire in circles leaping and cavorting! We were among the first to spot the moon's entrance over the hill, and the drumming soared with that big lunar energy! We hung in with the drums and the fire and wailed on our bells and trumpet and rhythm egg up till the moment of fullness at 10:58 pm, then meandered back listening for vampires and werewolves on the paths!

The full moon night, Pixie was asleep by midnight and I wanted to stay close to the tent but soak up some sounds of the gathering. About 50 feet away by the trail that leads to Lovin' Touch kitchen was a couple of flute players and a drummer that were jamming their asses off. Both flutists were singing and scatting into their flutes as they played, and throwing wild jazz riffs back and forth like two Johnny Heartsman clones with Roland Kirk egging them on! A person nearby with a laser light did a light show at their feet with that eerie flashing red light, and Piper wandered down from Lovin' Touch with his "D" wood flute and joined in.

This was the best music I heard at the gathering, these souls were on FIRE! I nestled up right next to them and leaned on my walking staff and just inhaled the magic for a half hour in delight! Afterwards there was a couple banjos and a guitar and a real fine fiddle over at Tea & Toke kitchen a hundred feet to the north of our tent. I sat down and played on the rhythm egg, and a big golden lab drooled all over me wagging his tail. They were playing real Ozark bluegrass, and they ripped through a dozen tunes and had a captive audience of about 40 clapping for more each time they would stop!

The first day we packed in I was lured into the Popcorn Palace kitchen by the sounds of Robbie playing a mandolin and singing. Robbie was older and his legs were crippled, but he could and did sing like a songbird and played that mandolin all the time beaming a big rainbow smile! He'd also been at the 1980 gathering and told us about how they had finally jailed the guy that killed the two girls hitching to that West Virginia national. While I was talking to him and his friends, a 17 year old named Cheshire Cat was trying to attach himself to Pixie! Cheshire was hard to escape the next two days. He found and followed us wherever we went. Finally Pixie met Eric (age 17) and then it was in reverse, with Pixie dragging Dad all over trying to find and hang out with Eric. After Eric, Dad got dragged around as Pixie hung out with Eagle (age 13) all day.

Eagle had a fake English accent and claimed to have 190 wives. His Mom had brought him to gatherings about every year and also to regional gatherings in-between, and he was a creative soul! After Eagle, a different fellow named Weasel decided to hang with us non-stop and try wooing Pixie. Weasel was 19, but shorter than Pixie by a couple inches, and liked to hang out with the younger kids. Weasel was extremely polite and good company, but he really had no business with a 13 year old just out of grade school. After a couple of days I told Weasel he was a little too old for my girl and he respectfully backed off. Rainbow men are cut of a finer cloth, I think. I had done my utmost patient share of being flexible and mellow and allowing Pixie to meet and mingle with a LOT of folks, all the while never letting her too far out of my sight. I did about seven days of non-interfering chaperoning before explaining to Pixie that we weren't there to chase and be chased by boys. Amazingly, she agreed! The rest of the time we hung together and still managed to have major fun!

Out in the parking lot after an early visit to Steve and Cheyenne to see about riding horses, Pixie serenaded the FS with her trumpet. They drove past in a jeep and stopped right in front of us and asked if she would play them a song. She pulled out her sheet music for "This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land" by Woody Guthrie and blasted them with about three full verses with choruses! I was mighty proud! Afterwards we sang the two banned socialist verses to folks in the lot, and a day later I heard Pixie singing those verses to people at the Bliss kitchen!

"As I was walking,
in the shadow of the steeple,
by the relief office, I seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling..
(whistle melody to "This land was made for you and me")

As I was walking, I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said, No Trespassing!
But on the other side, it didn't say nothing...
THAT side was made for you and me!"

The Krishna commune in West Virginia sent a bus and a couple of Swiss brown work bulls to the gathering. The bulls were twin brothers named Gita and Bhagavad. They were HUGE! We saw them as they arrived in a big trailer, and later grazing in a meadow. The Krishna's brought their usual assortment of fine musicians, including Indian drums and a harmonium, and put on theater in a stage in the first clearing. They had two big tipis and two large tents. Pixie and I stopped in their first tipi right after it went up, the incense was real fine and sweet and they were singing sweet songs to Krishna.

The inside of the tent had little triangular flags all around in a circle with some of the many names of god written on each flag. I wrote down the name of "Ksamah, one who is patient in all things!" Pixie grew impatient to leave and we tried to wait until their song ended, but it turned out to be an ENDLESS song so we snuck out quietly. They gave Pixie a glossy postcard of a blue lotus Shiva with four arms holding a nice talking drum and a ceremonial spear. Krishna was late arriving this year and we never made it to their kitchen, which opened about July 1st. Their kitchen has a reputation for the sweetest food!!

Josef arrived for the full moon sans his beard, but he brought his bagpipes! He remembered us from the Kentucky gathering where he worked communications and organized healers at the C.A.L.M. tipi. We also met Caribou, who maintains an unofficial Rainbow Family of Living Light homepage on the internet. Also it was a pleasure to meet Running Bear, an elder and cartoonist who posts regularly on the "alt.gathering.rainbow" internet newsgroup. Many more we met and pleasant were the times we shared, but that is for Part Two of this rambling recollection...

Ah HO!!!! Namaste!
   Peace to you
      All Ways!
         your friend,

            GUANO

 

(Part Two)

Well, here's another 6 pages worth of run-on sentences! Flee if you value your non-boredom! No names have been changed to protect the innocent! All facts are merely opinions. I am not a journalist.

Early on we met Woody and his niece and her young friend David at the main circle. They were from West Virginia, and Woody told me an interesting tale of searching caves in Belize for artifacts. He was in a tight spot in a cave and poked at a mound of bat guano when a cloud of guano dust burst into the air and right down his lungs. He went into distress almost right away and developed histoplasmosis, a dangerous lung disease. After years of herbal and natural remedies, Woody's histoplasmosis is now in remission. Beware the guano dust in caves!

Woody's camp was near ours but on the other side of the Son Dance Trail and right next to Spring Creek. Woody heard some funny sounds one night and got up with a flashlight to find two armadillos had waddled out of the creek and were rummaging through his camp! He followed them a ways with the light as they waddled slowly off, and the next day he thinks he found their burrow a bit further downstream.

I would have loved to see those critters myself, but had to settle for the armadillos we saw hit by cars on the highway. Pixie and I stopped when we saw our first armadillo road-kill. The poor thing had really been clobbered by cars and we dragged it off the asphalt and into the weeds. Soon after we saw another armadillo in the classic four feet in the air bloated road-kill posture. Woody was a trader and kept business hours by his tent with wares on display luring folks in from the main trail. His demeanor was elegantly mellow and I liked him a lot. He had been at the Kentucky National in 1993, so I brought him some apple juice and a copy of the map I drew of that Gathering. He gave Pixie a beautiful ankle bracelet with bells. Later we brought him a set of juggling balls because the ankle bracelet was so sweet.

Everywhere we went we saw juggling sticks and Pixie was fascinated. The first juggler we saw with them was in Lovin' Touch kitchen, and he was a MOST excellent and smooooth juggler! Eric's friend Sage was playing an extended set of songs on Buddy Paul's guitar, and this juggler was sitting cross-legged in the dirt and working magic with those sticks in time with the music. Sage was playing Nirvana and other tunes. He was real young but could play like my friend Johnny OH and sing like Kurt Cobain.

Sage and I traded songs later at their camp out by Granola Funk Express. Pixie was embarrassed to hear Dad chomping out God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols) and Hey Baby (Hendrix) while she was trying to make eyes at Sage's friend Eric. Eric had a joker's hat and gave Pixie a necklace that came apart later. Pixie was sweet on this guy after getting that necklace! He was a drummer without a drum, promised to meet Pixie by the Kiddie Village swimming hole, but we couldn't find him. It's easy to lose folks at a Rainbow.

Trader's blankets were spread out at all the congested spots on the main trail, slowing foot traffic and bringing the shopping MALL spirit into the church. Call me a relic but I remember in 1980 the traders were NOT allowed to peddle inside until July 4th, when they flooded inside to the main meadow with all their trinkets glittering on their blankets. For many of these traders the Rainbow is just another stop on the flea market trail, and I resent this crass materialistic merchandising. Pixie was constantly drawn to gawk at their wares, and Dad (the Old Grouch) was given to grousing & crabbing & whining & beefing as I tried to pry her from those little portable stores. Jesus threw the bastards out of the temple on their ears, didn't he? Heeheheeheheee! Enough... :)

This was the first national where I didn't squirm my way into blowing the conch shell at main circle to call the family to grub. I must be getting old. The conch blowers I heard were doing their best but weren't getting the volume that the tuba player from Michigan got back in Kentucky in 1993! We had meadow neighbors from Urbana, Illinois, that brought a trombone and blew reveille way too EARLY one morning right next to our camp! Pixie had been sleeping but that blew her right out of the tent into the morning sunshine! Another trombonist at the Gathering liked to haunt the main drum circle and would let anyone pass around his trombone while he wandered off for hours. Way up by Arf Arf!! there was a cackle of five saxophones that regularly gathered in the shady trail and jammed together. They sounded to me like Frank Zappa's "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue // Dwarf Nebula Professional March & Dwarf Nebula", a real soaring pack of honkers in disarray.

Ours was the only trumpet we saw, and carrying it around a coupla days, we indulged a lot of requests from former trumpet players to play on it! It was played at the swimming holes with didgeridus, tooted with wandering clarinets on the trail, and covered with fire soot at the main drum circle. We saw hordes of wood and orchestral flutes. There seemed to be a hundred didgeridus! There were scores of guitars from the precious to the silly variety, and hundreds of big and small drums (the new Rainbow instrument of choice). SOOOO many drummers! Deep in the thundering buffalo stampede of oblivious amateur drumming there lurked a serious core of talented and demented real percussionists. The good drumming would surface and carry the energy in surprising places, even in the Walmart parking lot in West Plains!

There was a hilarious handbill posted at info about the telltale warning signs of drum abuse! It's interesting to note that lots of regional gatherings are just called "Drum Circles" now. The domination of the rhythmic ones has beaten the melodic minority to the sidelines! All hail the thumping BEAT!! Just kidding, I like drums a lot. Someday I would like to have a talking drum and a real low pitched booming tabla. I got a chance to play on both at the Shawnee regional in Early October! I didn't see many of either at this years National, but for all I know there were undoubtedly some real fine drums out there lurking in that foggy misty pulsing valley.

Pixie's new Rainbow friend Flipper was 19 and had been married and divorced twice already. Claimed to have already owned a house and had a high powered job at one point. He had a green spiked mohawk that kept lying down without his spray and mouse, and Pixie loved to take her fingers and mess it up! For him life was black leather and tattoos and musical angst (post-Punk) but he was obviously filled with joy and had a happy soul enjoying the Rainbow. He left July 2nd, hitching his way to Colorado with friends. A kind dude!

My Rainbow friend Jarrod had sliced three toes open in a farm accident loading hay bales a week before the rainbow. He wandered into Kiddie C.A.L.M. limping on a cane with no shoes or socks, and had flies crawling in & out of the mud caked around his wound! The Swedish Bitters woman decided he needed to clean that and apply Swedish Bitters. She prescribed Swedish Bitters for everything! We donated a clean sock for him to wear and he kept returning for more Swedish Bitters and cleaning each day. By the end of our stay he was walking without a cane, and new skin was growing on his wound. It was looking 100% improved! We poured through the ancient herbal tomes but never did find out the secret ingredients of Swedish Bitters. What the hay, Jarrod was healing fast! Center for Alternative Living Medicine does it again! May the Goddess praise Swedish Bitters!

A-camp, or Alcoholic Camp, lived up to it's bad reputation as usual. While there were a few kind souls welcoming folks home out on the road before parking, the welcome home info board area was home to a motley crue of sordid motorcyclists and macho self-designated Shanti Sena bosses. There was a giant "my-size" Barbi doll, naked, with duct tape over her mouth greeting everyone. The next day we went by and they were doing rather unspeakable things to her in the grass. I had Pixie turn her head and we walked quickly by.

The next time we went by, there was a crowd trashing a compact car. They had broken all the windows and were kicking in the doors. Some people have their own special forms of amusement, I guess. For a couple days there was a nice three-wheeled motorcycle that looked like a hearse parked right at the front gate, and the cycle gang members who brought it in were loading up on beer before hiking in where their feet would have to carry them.

The woman who had jumped up and down on the FS jeep without being arrested eventually calmed down a lot. We saw her several times being reeeeeally wacky but in better control. That day when she jumped on the jeep she had been hugging people on the trail, then tearing off their metal jewelry and throwing their rings and bracelets off into the weeds. Our friend Funky had his silver ring and silver bracelet thrown down into a ravine filled with poison ivy. Pixie and I and Cheshire Cat climbed down into it and helped him search. The bracelet was found quickly, but it was a long while later when Cheshire finally found the ring. Another brother lost an amulet and necklace and was extremely upset, but did not file charges against the woman.

One brother I met had the handle of "Less Stress". Now that is a good name! We can all use less Stress! Have you heard of "Vermin Supreme"? He is the infamous Disco Ball and giant toothbrush wielding hippie we met in Kentucky. He was here and passing out bumperstickers that said VERMIN SUPREME `96 "Brush Your Teeth, It's The Law!" We ran into him with a group that was asking cosmic questions of a Magic Eight Ball. I asked an important question and the 8-ball gave me the answer I was hoping for, but the exact words were, "Of course, you dork!"

The new summer edition of the 1996 Rainbow Guide was given away at info and there was a big color photo of Vermin Supreme with a shit-eating grin right on the cover! Fame!!! We had met Vermin in Kentucky in 1993. Vermin wandered around at night with a mobile and raucous party entourage. They carried that giant-size disco mirror-ball everywhere they went, shining flashlights on it and calling out for all to "Bow down and worship the Sacred Disco Ball!!" It was too-o-o-o hilarious! :)

Out in the parking lot we met and shared grub and laughs with Geo (George) from Minneapolis. The next night we heard machete whacking sounds back behind our camp in the trees, it seemed to go on all night! It was Geo and several of his Minneapolis friends carving out a shady campsite from the poison ivy and poison oak and raspberry brambles! Wack-a-wack-a-wack!! While we had set up at the tree line and had a tarp for protection from rain, the angle of the morning sun slanted in and heated up our tent in the early morning, ewwwwwwww!!!! Hot! Geo and friends did the extra work and wound up with a fine cool site with all day shade! A few set up tents out in the baking sun, only to move them the next day when they discovered how HOT the sun can be!

Our big hot meadow suddenly FILLED with tents on the weekend of June 29 and 30. An explosion of people arriving really changed the chemistry of the gathering from seed camp to full national homecoming! I crawled from our tent to find both paths we usually took to get to the main trail were now covered by new arrivals. There were tents everywhere!! A German shepherd from out of nowhere took umbrage at my emerging and growled and advanced on me to chew on my skinny leg!! I yelped backwards and grabbed my walking staff, which saved me! Dogs do not like big sticks wielded with a little bravisimmo! This big shepherd belonged to a tent two tents over, turned out to have a name (Nebraska) and took huge shits wherever he pleased.

The next night we tucked Pixie's sandals under the drop tarp next to the door of out tent because they were too raunchy and sandy to bring inside. The next morning Nebraska was using one of her sandals as a chew toy! I took several time outs during the gathering to move and cover other folks dog shit on the main trail. As much as I love cats, the Rainbow just makes me love cats all the more! I saw several people dive in to break up dog fights and almost got bowled over by fighting dogs a few times myself. As Bob Dylan says, "If dogs run free, then why not me? Across the swoop of tiiiiime........"

My favorite dog of the gathering was a three legged little black terrier that thought he was Napoleon! His name was Weasel. He stayed wherever he wanted, and had friends at Lovin' Touch and out at Horse Camp. His owner said he had picked a fight with a big German shepherd and got his leg bit off as a result. I was baby-sitting Kailey out at horse camp when a brother handed me Weasel and pleaded with me to hold him long enough for him to get away with his lady doggie that was in heat. Weasel had been romancing his pooch non stop, haahahaahaha! Who would bring a dog in heat to a Rainbow?

We also saw a beautiful brown/gray Afghan dog roaming without an owner (I like Afghans) and several big wolfhounds. There were a number of real classy fancy doggies whose owners kept them sensibly in tow, but 90% of the dogs just ran free. We came walking down the trail when two dogs locked in intercourse were captured by their owners who tried to separate them, but they were stuck! Pixie's eyes almost popped out of her head! Here were these silly humans pouring water and oil on these two pooches to no avail and trying to pull them apart. Oh the pain! I tried to move Pixie down the trail but all her friends had stopped to gawk at the sight.

Pixie was helping at Kiddie C.A.L.M. when a guy asked her to watch his little black cuddly puppy named Zodax while he ran a quick errand. Three hours later, the guy finally comes back! In the meantime, Pat had diagnosed Zodax as starving and loaded with worms! Pat and Pixie and I marched this guy down to the Animal Rainbow Family (ARF ARF!!) first aid camp. There he got medicine for his puppy and free food and a lecture, but the next day we found out he had given the puppy away. Rainbow people are BAD to their animals! Just my $.02 opinion! We met a family of 3 week old kittens in a sack. The mother had died, they said. They were taking care of them, they said. They had no milk, no food. My heart went out for them and their chances of surviving the Rainbow. :(

We saw lots of kittens but only about four adult cats. Adult cats will not put up with these conditions! Grace had a beautiful black and white cat named Fat Cat that ran free and safe at Lovin' Touch, but there was an uncomfortable and vulnerable black cat on a tied leash at the Popcorn Palace. We saw a couple of people on the trail carrying adult cats as they hiked. We saw people carrying mice and leading goats. Someone brought a rooster that crowed all day long! There were ferrets and pet birds and snakes and baby dwarf rabbits. Pixie caught and released her box turtle, caught and released butterflies and tadpoles. She got bit by a crawfish in the creek. We were all enjoyably nibbled on by little fish.

We both got chigger bites and TRIED not to scratch `em. We still have `em scratch scratch to tell ya the truth! There weren't many flies or mosquitoes or spiders. The great paranoia about Lyme disease from ticks was totally overblown. Any black bears or snakes probably fled the area after the first drum circle. Several folks went out of their way to seek out and kill some snakes, and their unlucky hides wound up as wares on the Trader's blankets. There were beautiful little golden finches fluttering around the kitchens and Red Tailed Hawks circling the updrafts above the hills. We spotted some fast little lizards that were black with narrow yellow stripes on their backs and bright blue tails.

I was really happy with the diversity of butterflies! Beautiful butterflies everywhere! Harvesters and Checkerspots and Blues and Viceroys and Fritillaries and lovely Dark Tiger Swallowtails! Saw my first live Zebra Swallowtail ever! And tattoos of butterflies! Tattoos everywhere! Tattoos in progress in the dust of the main trail! Pierced lips and tongues and nipples and belly buttons and ears and genitals and whole body irezumi tattoos. One woman from New Orleans wore an owl foot, alligator teeth, eagle feathers, and a gris-gris bag of zu-zu mamou! The further you got from A-camp, and the closer you got to the great swimming by Coffee Coffee, there were a lot of folks who wore only woven leaves of grape vine, or creative mud designs, or just shone with the light of their smiles! Rainbow spirit embraces all!!

Packing out the tents on our last trip down the trail, we came upon a man pushing his son (Zack) in a baby-buggy with little swivel wheels. The dirt path reached a rocky bumpy stretch, so we swept the buggy up in the air and Zack was flying down the trail like a bird! We reached A-camp after a block-long flight, and set him back down on the dirt path. Dad suddenly took off and pushed that buggy about 200 yards down the path at a full sprint, with Zack laughing all the way! We were left smiling in clouds of buggy dust!

We saw a couple unloading a cello case from a van, so I asked about it. Sure enough, the kind brother got out his cello and treated us to a Bach concerto right there on the road in A-camp! Marvelous!!! I loooove cello! He was nailing the pitch and playing those hammer-ons and trills and getting those bow-stutters in there. I was in heaven! But soon we were loading the last of our gear into our old pickup truck. We ambled out of parking and onto FS road 3173. Eagle spotted us and ran to say farewell, then we headed out slowly, winding up through the Irish Wilderness towards Route 99. Farewell Rainbow '96!

Here's a partial list of kitchens and campsites we saw by July 3rd:

KITCHENS:

Tea Time
Granola Funk Express
Lovin' Touch/munchateria
Instant Soup
Ship of Love (Diva Diner)
White Dove
Bliss Kitchen
Brew Ha Ha
Popcorn Palace
Jah Love
Milliways (Cafe At The End Of The Universe)
Sun Dog
Musical Veggie
Have a Beautiful Day
The Woderfull Whirrled of OZ
Avalon
Everybody's Whatever Lovin' Ovins/NERT
Kool Aid Coroner
Cofee Cough (no fee, pop free)(Cafe Cough Fee)(Coffee Coffee)
Dee Bakery (Da Bakers)
Beeck Party
Jesus Soup Kitchen
Tow Back Go Kitchen
Krishna Kitchen
Turtle Soup
Dragon Kitchen

CAMPSITES and ORGANIZED MAYHEM:

Kiddie Village
Kiddie C.A.L.M.
C.A.L.M.
Info/Rumor control
Welcome Home
A-Camp
Bus Village
Teen Village
Kiddie Camping
Sorta First Aid
Celestial Tea & Toke
Lost Tribe
Kaw Valley
Mo Love/Dragon Camp
S.H.Y. Camp
Morning Star
Illinois Dysfunctional Family
Yoga Loca
Camp Got A Minute
Be Here Now
Butterflies & Roses
This Camp (Not That Camp)
That Camp (Not This Camp)
Thier Streak - Frier Camp
Sacred Space
Shama Lama Ding Dong
RME RUNE
Top Secret Research Facility
Area 51
Poison Ivy Camp
Teen Barbarian Space
Know Mun Land
FAEREYE Camp
Faerie Camp
Pixie Camp
Multi 4th Dimension
Polka Dot Camp
Safe Love Bowl
Baby Nap
H(({{OM}})) KLA HOMA
Sparrows Nest
Bliss Pit
Madame Frogs
World Peace Pilgrimage
Purple Gang
A.R.F. Animal Rainbow Family
Rest Area
Prop-A-Ghandi Camp
Seven Minit Low
Children Of The Sun
Health Info
Bench March
Calif Cove
Freedome Village L.P.
Camp Calm Union
Kamp U Can't Fine
Fallen Tree Tribe
Flip-N-Tripe E.E.
N.W. - S.W. Western Tribe (Scroll Deaf Tribe)
The Nurd Ick
Mother Ship of F.U.E.L.
NVR NVR LND
Bufins Party
Camp Of Know Repute
Yell Oh Flash Lite
No Feds Tree House
White Hawk
Kumformeee
Ora Gone Camp
Hum Zah
Bah Ree
Bi The Way
Serenity Ridge
Blissters
Cody Massage
Rooster Shack
Blues Party
Mayan Camp
Zoe (Ask For Oness)
High Times
Palm Tribe
Greenwitch Village
Sister Space
Aloha Camp
Om Home
Nowhere
Minnesota Camp
Turk's Head/East Wind
Katuah
No Butt Heads Be Us
The MADD Tea Party
Choc Olate Roomers
All Around The Universe
Coo Cool Ka Chew
Good Space Grove (New Amsterdam)

Well this rambling blathering spew has gone on long enough!

We had a great time and all was good!

The only way to describe a Gathering is to be there, really.

The vision doesn't get through to all, but enough get the drift to keep this magical thing afloat now for 25 years!

Thanks for your patience and ear,
   loving you,

      GUANO

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