Friday, September 26, 2008

Boxers 'n' Briefs: I Lived, I Breathed

Hello, Intrepid Boxers!

This isn't going to be a "normal" BnB (like ANYTHING I do is "normal"). Normal is gone, out the door. Has no meaning any more. You see, I went to the most amazing "event" of my life. I went to "Live and Breathe".

To say that it was a great experience would be like saying ArchimedesScrew is an okay carver, or that SHH kinda likes Star Wars, or that Shiloh talks a little funny - it completely falls short of the mark. I know that all of you who didn't go are probably getting a little tired of hearing everyone go on about it, and for that I do apologize. But maybe if I just outline a bit of what the weekend was like for me, you can get a feel for what a unique and bizarre and uproarious and magical time we had. Note: Forgive me if I get a few details wrong - much of the weekend was a blur...

I arrived at Portland Airport (PDX) Thursday morning, and was soon met by my wonderful hostess, Maiden, as well as Poodle Dudes, Woohoo Crew, and a very funny woman wearing a shirt with the words "HI WASSA!" emblazoned on it - whom I immediately KNEW was Ki from Spiralseekers (Hi Ki!). After throwing my prodigious luggage into the back of the LetterVan, they immediately spirited me away to one of the local Letterboxing hotspots - Ikea. We quickly snagged a couple of boxes outside the store, checked the time (Shiloh was arriving at PDX shortly after me), and decided we had time to get the box INSIDE Ikea.

Ikea Mistake #1: although Maiden is a master of directions in the woods, her internal GPS gets a bit fuzzy inside Big Box stores.

Her "shortcuts" really only allowed us to roam in endless circles more efficiently. The good news was, we kept passing by these big bins of FREE LITTLE PENCILS, and I could grab another handful and stuff them into my cargo pockets with each pass.

Ikea Mistake #2: those little pencils are SHARP when you shove your hand in your pocket.

Once we eventually extricated ourselves from the clutches of Swedish Urban Design, we hopped in the LetterVan and headed back to PDX to pick up Shiloh. Shiloh was easy to spot, due to the combination of Mountain Man facial hair and blatant "Arkansas" T-shirt. Naturally, we passed right by the first time without noticing him. Apparently the "internal GPS" has trouble at airports, too.

Let me get this out of the way right now: Shiloh and I have been communicating online for a few years now, and when L&B was first announced, we immediately decided we would be "roomies". Although no doubt he regrets that decision, I gotta say that Shi is one of the nicest, funniest, most pleasant-to-be-around people I have ever met, and it was a blast hanging out with him for the weekend. Here's to you, buddy! (Yes, he bribed me to say that with a bottle of homemade mead.)

Back to Ikea, while waiting for Sits N Knits' plane to arrive. Shiloh headed out to get the boxes while the rest of us hung back doing exchanges, and in a harbinger of how the rest of the weekend would go, while we were in the parking lot, Lord and Lady Bug approached us (having noted the stamping frenzy) for even more stamp carnage.

Back in the LetterVan, back to PDX for SnK, more hugs and exchanges and luggage, and (although we CONTEMPLATED one more swing by Ikea) off to meet some other boxers for lunch! Lunch was at a WONDERFUL little English pub somewhere in some area somewhat near somewhere. (Apparently, now MY internal GPS was a bit off as well). We met, to my total surprise and incredible delight, with Lock Wench (my gosh... THE LW!! Excitement was in the air, or at least in the beer), as well as Kreepy Kelli, Dragonrider, the Wildcats, and other boxing luminaries. More exchanges, more laughter, and MORE BEER!

Pile back in the LetterVan, off to pick up Maiden's kids from school. But wait - who is there at the school? MORE BOXERS! We waved to the lovely and Happy Papaya as well as Dorks Anonymous of demxxmen as we barreled through campus on our way to... more letterboxes! Note: in a remarkable feat of skill and cunning (and spoonfeeding) I was actually able to be a First Finder on a Portland Letterbox! Woot!

After that... more letterboxes (in particular, a puzzle clue that I had solved months before but never thought I would get the opportunity to find - the spectacular "Hoot and Cheer" by demxxmen). Then meeting up with some more letterboxers, flurries of exchanges, and (eventually) some of that world-famous PNW Night Boxing.

Eventually, it occured to us that we had not eaten. Back into the LetterVan, and off to a pizza parlor and MORE BEER! The cast of zany characters at this point included me, Maiden, Shiloh, Papaya, Tonx of demxxmen, and Kreepy Kelli. Much hilarity ensued, most of which cannot be published on a family-friendly blog, but culminated in several "emergency" calls to Dorks Anonymous informing him of the preponderance of certain phone numbers being tattooed on certain body parts of certain people... it's really best not to ask too many questions...

To the LetterVan, and crashing at dear hostess Maiden's house.

It is here I would like to point out that L&B had not even STARTED yet! Hmmm, this could be a long post...

Friday morning - L&B Day!! Shiloh and I drag ourselves into the LetterVan, while Maiden, distressingly perky for it being o early, took us to a local Fred Myers (yet another mega store) for coffee and donuts. Here, she also made us run around the store looking for the most pungent, muskiest smelling liquid we could find for a special "odor-clue" night box. Nothing like "stealth" when you are shouting across half the store "Hey, Shiloh! Come sniff this, it's really stinky!"

Finally, after snagging a couple more boxes, we arrived at Camp Adams. We were there early, since Buppsters had conscripted Shiloh and I to be "Parking Monkeys". My job, such as it was, was to greet cars as they came up the dirt road, point to the big building right in front of people's faces telling them that was where they needed to go, and making sure they knew their License Plate numbers for registration purposes. I had a blast "working", since I got a great chance to meet all the wonderful boxers from all over the country before the real madness began! I tend to get a little excited under such circumstances, and spent a good deal of this time bouncing up and down as all the famous trailnames I had been dreaming about passed through!

I realize this post is getting to be pretty long, and we are JUST starting in on the actual Live and Breathe event... so, since the rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur, and to give you, the reader, a well-deserved reprieve, let's just stick to the highlights...

- I got to meet Der Mad Stamper and Raqs Enigma. There had been much speculation that if DMS and I ever got into the same room, the universe would implode. Fortunately, this did not actually occur.

- I got to meet (insert Incredibly Long List of Trailnames here), and they were WONDERFUL!

- Letterboxing. An INCREDIBLE amount of Letterboxing, at all times of the day and night. Miles and miles of gorgeous Oregon wilderness trails, wonderfully written clues, amazing stamps by boxers from across the nation, clever hiding spots... really, no words to describe it all.

- The Campfire. The skits, songs, bagpipes, and flutes were all tremendous fun. Much to everyone's chagrin, I got to perform a "sing-along" song, as well as a new song I wrote called "The Live and Breathe Song" (catchy title, huh?) Special thanks to Light-Girl (aka Lexi-bug). Also thanks to KuKu for the use of her Magical Guitar, which amazingly didn't hit too many bad notes.

- Some people will do almost anything for a PT. Like lick a banana slug, for instance. Just sayin'.

- When you are wearing a giant pair of boxer shorts, people are hesitant to shake your hand.

- When night boxing in said giant pair of boxer shorts, be careful where you stick your flashlight. Or your head.

- When you see kitten without mittens, do an exchange RIGHT THEN, because you may not get another chance :(

- Festivus is my new favoritest holiday.

- Capperpillars are cute

- It was absolutely unbelievable the amount of work, creativity, and love of the sport (and the people) that the Committee and volunteers and helpers put into this. I am agog with gratitude.

- It IS possible to laugh for four days straight.

- Lock & Locks can fly like frisbees, but they bounce like rubber balls... sorry about that, Maiden!! Samurai Stamper made me throw it!!

- deniserows makes INCREDIBLE logbooks.

- I spent an amazing amount of time doing exchanges and visiting old and new friends, and it wasn't NEARLY enough.

- Magic happens.

- Mark Pepe said it in his blog, and I couldn't agree more... "It's All About the People!!!"

Ok, really, I must sound like I am blathering on about now. I want to thank everyone who made my L&B experience so wonderful (which would be everyone there)... and thanks for indulging me in this non-traditional Boxers 'n' Briefs.