Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Festival Checklist

A lot of you long-time CBA members may remember the Festival
checklist article that I used to write for the Breakdown every year.
I forgot to remind our editor Mark Varner to rerun that article in
the Breakdown, so I thought I would take this opportunity to remind
you folks of things you really should check before leaving for the
festival this year. For you folks that haven't invested in a "Tin
Teepee", and still use a tent, let's start with all of your camping
gear. Get it down out of the rafters of the garage, storage shed
etc., And check it all out. Fill all your lanterns with fuel and
light them and make sure they work. Same thing with your camp stove.
Fill it with fuel and light it and make sure it works. I know this
sounds simple and really is, but let me tell you what happened to me
when I was still tent camping at the festival. I got home from work
Friday at noon, loaded up the truck with all my Festival gear and
headed to Grass Valley. Got there just as they opened up the gate on
Friday night. Pitched my tent, set up camp, popped the top of a cold
beer, sit down and visit with my picking buddies until it starts to
get dark. No problem says I, pull my lanterns out of their boxes,
only to find that the mantles that are made out of silk ash have
disintegrated due to the road vibrations of the trip. Do I have any
spare's with me? Noooo! So, it's off to town to find some mantles
for the lanterns. Luckily Kmart was still open and had some, and I
buy a dozen of them. Back to the campground, install mantles and get
one out of my two lanterns lit and operating. The second lantern was
so old it had a brass fuel tank on it, which made it look real
pretty when I bought it at a yard sale 10 years before, in 1969. The
gentleman that sold it to me for 10 bucks, said he bought it new in
1945. It worked real good for nine years, but for 33 years that
toxic fuel set in that brass tank, and it ate little holes in it so
that in June of 1979 it wouldn't hold pressure. Guess what? If it
don't hold pressure you don't have light! Lesson number one, but at
least I had a backup.
Here comes lesson number two. The following year of 1980, I got
about 14 miles from the house in the little town of Ione,
California, when the fan belt of my truck broke. Thankfully I was
right in town when it happened about two blocks from the parts store
so I was able to replace it for about 10 bucks. All it cost me was
about an hour of my time, if I had been another 40 miles down the
road, that $10 fan belt would've cost me about 200 bucks. But had I
learned my lesson yet? Oh noooooo! The air mattress that I slept on
was probably about 15 years old at that time, and you guessed it. I
blew that sucker up, put it on my cot,[which thankfully I had}
unrolled my sleeping bag on top of it, and I thought I was set for
two nights of comfortable sleep. About two o'clock in the morning
when I crawled into my sleeping bag I found that the air mattress
was flatter than a pancake. Well, at least I wasn't sleeping on the
ground. Lesson number three!

Come the next festival season, I made doggone sure that every thing
worked that I was taking with me. I put up my tent and hosed that
sucker down to make sure it didn't leak, filled my new lantern with
fuel and lit it, along with my camp stove, and let them run for at
least 30 or 40 min.. Filled my 5 gallon water cooler to make sure
the faucet didn't leak, check my fuel containers lid gaskets for
leaks, blew up my NEW air mattress and let it set overnight,
unrolled my sleeping bags to make sure a mouse did not use it for
his winter home, and aired them out for two or three days. [Did you
know that a sleeping bag will gather moisture when it's rolled up in
storage? To make sure you sleep nice and warm, unroll your sleeping
bag and air it out in the sun for a couple of days, it will smell
nice and fresh and keep you warm.] To make a long story short, I
checked everything in my camping gear to make sure it did what it
was supposed to do. But wait! Here comes lesson number four! What
did I forget to check on this time? My cooking utensils, that's
what. You would think a cook like me wouldn't forget something as
important as this. But that's what happens when you take things for
granted. I had everything in my cooking box but a big spatula for
turning hotcakes. And what do I always have for breakfast? Meat,
eggs and HOTCAKES! Sooooo, luckily I had learned to flip hotcakes
with a big hunting knife when I was in the Boy Scouts, after
breakfast that first morning, it was off to town to buy me a big new
spatula that I kept in my cooking box forever!!!!

So folks that brings us to May 23 of 2013. I pulled my trailer by the
house yesterday, plugged the electricity in, and started checking out
everything electrical in my trailer. Found one light switch doesn't
work and the exhaust fan for the stove. Found one drawer support
broke. Today I'm checking out the water system to make sure it's
working okay. Hopefully come time to leave for the festival
everything on the trailer will be fixed, and ready to roll.
Now for your vehicle. The most important thing to check is the
brakes. Next is the tires and everything that goes a round in
circles, such as wheel bearings, fan belts, water pumps, etc. etc.
etc.. In other words if you're not mechanically inclined, take it to
a reputable garage and have everything checked to make sure it's in
good condition. A $25 fan belt in the garage, will cost you at least
10 times that much to have it installed beside the road. That is, if
you are lucky enough to get somebody do it for you, and it's usually
in the middle of the night when you need it so that's at least
another hundred bucks. In this particular instance an ounce of
prevention is worth at least a ton of cure.

I am reminded of the time that my buddy crazy Pat Conway was about a
mile from his house heading up Highway 99 pulling a trailer, headed
for Grass Valley and the festival. He said a tire went by him doing
about 80 miles an hour, and when he looked in his side view mirror
all he could see was sparks from the trailers axle, from whence came
the said wheel that passed him! Had he checked the wheel bearings
I'm sure he would've found that they needed grease and seals, and
would have been to the festival that year instead of staying home
with a broken trailer.

Moral of the story; number one check ALL of your camping gear,
cooking utensils included. Whatever it is supposed to do, fill it,
light it, fill it with air, water, fuel, or whatever it is supposed
to hold. Make sure it works, or doesn't leak.

Have your vehicle checked; brakes, fan belt, fluid levels,
air-conditioner,[remember guys, you want to keep the love of your
life happy]. Have a complete safety check done on your vehicle, that
is the best money you can spend on making sure you get to your
destination safe and sound. I have an appointment to have my truck
checked next Monday to make sure everything is in good working

Last but not least, no drinking alcohol of any kind, texting, or any
other cell phone distractions while driving. I want to see every one
of you at the festival safe and sound. And to you Rick. Watch the
road ahead of you while driving, and should you stop for fuel do not
hit any more dumpsters with your trailer. They quit making Argosy
Windows a long, long time ago. May God protect you all in your
travels, and I'll see you at Grass Valley at the gathering of all
the faithful.Yer friend JDRhynes

Posted:  5/23/2013

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