Kilts, Camping, Archery, Bad Haggis, and a lot of rain....

Costa Mesa Travel Blog

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Arriving at the fairgrounds

The Willson’s Wet Weekend Adventure

It's Memorial Day weekend. That means it is time for the United Scottish Society's annual Highland Games festival.This year the games have been a much awaited event in our household. Back in the day when I was still married, my ex's family went to this festival every year. The event was held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Now what many people dont realize, there is a campground at the fairgrounds. We are talking full hook ups for RV's. There is also space set aside for tent camping. Now using an RV is nice, but sometimes camping in a tent can be fun too.

It was not raining, but that would not last
I like tent camping at this location. It is kind of roughing it...but kind of not!  After my divorce, my ex and I did not really feel like seeing each other much, so we split this event just like our parenting time....50/50.  She would go one year, and I would go the next. Then the U.S.S. moved the games for a few years to the LA County Fairgrounds, and there is no tent camping there, so I have not gone.  Well this year they moved back to Orange County and we were all happy. I told the boys months ago, and we agreed we needed to go and camp in tents!!! :)

Well the tickets for the event were purchased months ago. The fees to stay in the campground were paid, and everything was all planned out. All the supplies were secured, and since I had to stick around the house Thursday to wait for the garage door repair man, the Jimmy was fully packed and ready to go Friday morning.

You can see how muddy it was in places.
I wanted to take the boys out of school early (which normally they would have jumped at) but was told no they wanted to go to a dance instead! So I waited. Then it started to rain.  At first it was just a drizzle, but then it worked itself into a full fledged, cats and dogs down pour. I am thinking, this is not good! I jumped on the computer and got the information for what hotel the U.S.S. was using as a host hotel this year. I had decided we were going, hell or high water!

So the boys got home and we left for Orange County. As we drove north the rain seemed to lighten, and soon the freeway was so dry, it looked like it had never rained at all.  There was the occasional light drizzle, but all in, it looked promissing.

There were a lot of tent campers
Then we pulled into the campground. You could tell it had rained pretty hard, as the ground was pretty muddy in some places. But it was not raining when we got there. We made a decision to stay and unloaded the Jimmy and started to set up our camp.  We lucked out as I think we got one of the last tent camping spots with some shelter in the tree line. We were able to set up the boys tents under the branches of a beautiful large tree. So the tarps were layed down and the boys set up their tents. Bobby has done so before, but this was Brians first time setting up his tent. He caught on pretty quickly.  Soon our little encampment was set up.

As we were setting up, we started chatting with our neighbors. They were a group of 3 families. The converstation got to be quite amusing at one point.

We were put along the fence line under the trees....that was a good thing.
They were talking about somebody they knew, and that fact that she wore "hemp" panties.  Well the 25 yr old son that was with them thought they said "temp" panties. (I admit, I heard the same thing) and we both turned around and said at practically the same time, "I want to meet her"! .  I could see it was going to be a fun weekend!

It was still not raining, but was a bit chill, so I cooked up some dinner to get something warm in us. Soon the boys decided they were tired, and headed off to bed. I thought that seemed like a good idea, and did the same. As I lay in my sleeping bag, I could hear it start to rain. Slowly at first, and then building into the torrential down poor we had experience in San Diego.

Next week the campground will be very green.
It rained like that all night. At one point I remember waking up, and checked the tent quickly for leaks. I could not see anything coming off the roof, but when I checked the floor of the tent, I could feel some puddles building....great, just great. As I lay there on my air mattress, I wondered, would I wake up again later in the night to find my mattress floating in a deep pool of water, with my face pressed up against the roof of the tent. I also thought about the fact that we "had" walked over to the little farm they have at the fairgrounds. I quickly tried to remember if the animals were in their pens 2 by 2. (Biblical flood referrence there).

Well we got up in the morning and it had finally stopped raining sometime in the night. The sky looked good, with just some high level stuff gently floating by.

This was a camp very close to ours.
I tried to cook us breakfast, but the stove was water logged and would not light. Well that is not true, it lit but the flame was not in the right place. I thought it would be better to let is sit and eat ceral instead. We spent the morning trying dry out our camp the best we could and then headed over to the festival. Our first stop of the day was to be the swap meet that is next to the fairgrounds. It seems that while playing with his brand new tent, Brian had broken the door flap. He got the zipper stuck in the material, and int he process of getting it unstuck we some how broke the zipper. He could not zip up the flap to close his door. We had improvised a door flap with a spare blanket we had. Well it really was not a spare, dad gave up his. This incident lead to Bobby's theme of the weekend.
Here is our little encampment
When ever he was getting into, or thought he was getting into trouble, he would side track me with a quick "Brian broke his tent"! He got out of one lecture on behaviour by doing so...brat.  So we went to the swap meet to find some clips to secure the door flap for Brian's tent for Saturday night. Mission accomplished. After we found the clips, Brian wanted to head back to the festival and Bobby and I wanted to continue to check out the swap meet. So I made sure Brian had  his phone and sent him on his way.  Both of the boys had there cellphones with them and that is how we communicated this weekend. By texting each other. With the loud bagpipes scattered through out the festival grounds it was the perfect way to let each other know where we were and were to meet.
The boy's tents were under a large tree crown, I used our sunshade for extra protection from the rain.

After Bobby and I were done at the swap meet we head back to the fairgrounds. As we approached I could hear music that I knew was the group I came to see, Bad Haggis. It was too early for their show, so I figured they were doing a sound check. Perfect, they usually have a chance to chat then. I wondered over to the stage area and sat down. The first thing I noticed was there were people on stage that did not normally play with the band. Then I got my first surprise of the weekend (well except for the rain adventures). The drummer was a guy named Brian Holly. He was the drummer when I first came across the band about 8 or 9 years ago. He had left the band for some reason or another. After their sound check I asked if he was back with the band, but it turns out he is just touring with them this summer, as his replacement had some other project he was working on.

Here is Bad Haggis during a sound check.
I told Brian it was good to see him back on stage with Eric and the others, and looked forward to hearing him play again. He sat down and we chatted for about 15-20 minutes.  I found out when they would be playing, and then went and checked out some of the concession booths that were set up nearby.

At 11:30 I headed back to the stage area. The act that was playing before Bad Haggis is a group called The Wicked Tinkers. Their music is more traditional than Bad Haggis, but it is pretty good.  And the band members have a wicked sense of  humor. At one point during their show, several of the band that were at the festival to compete marched by. One of the drummers lept off the stage and went to march with them...playing the wrong music of course.

Seems like he likes to mess with their heads. But it was all in good fun!!!  The Tinkers completed their set and I had about 20 minutes before Eric and the boys took the stage, so I went looking for some food. Now this was a hard choice.  Fish and chips (I love the fish part), or some Scottish meat pies, Bangers (scottish sausage) or even haggis. (Well not the haggis, need whiskey to eat haggis). I settled on the fish....ummmm yummmmm!  And then went back to listen.  The Bad Haggis boys gave a great performance (much to the delight of the crowd). I could tell that many of the people had not heard them play before and were pleasantly surprised. Eric is the most recored piper in Hollywood. If you watch TV or go to movies you have heard his work.
From Braveheart....Titanic. He started with some of that work. It sounds very traditional....then they moved into their rock based stuff. It was great. The one thing that I started thinking during this show though was...I am hearing the same stuff over and over. I realize that they only have an hour or so...but they need to switch up their play list a bit. I have been to shows where they have more time, and they are a very talented band. They have lots of material to pick from.

After the show, I realized I had a text from Bobby about the archery.  I sent a text for the boys to  meet me at an archery booth that was set up on the other side of the fairgrounds. It was time to shoot some arrows. After a round or two it became apparent that we were all fairly proficient with a bow.

The boys from the Wicked Tinkers.
Here was a game that dad could hold his own in. In fact I think I impressed the little monsters a bit (I am pretty good with a bow or rifle, and some times the little monsters need to be reminded of that).

After the archery Brian and I went back into the concessions area. Bobby said he wanted to go back over to the farm. I had my camera with me, so I gave it to Bobby knowing he could spend hours and hours taking pictures of stuff. And he did!!!  (I did not see him again until he wondered back to camp because he was hungry for dinner). While we were in the concession area, we came across a weapons booth. Lots of cool swords, and daggers, and other shiny things to make a young mans heart beat a bit faster. Brian has been getting involved in a thing called the S.

The guy with the long hair is the one that enjoyed messing with the competition bands.
C.A. (Society for Creative Anacranism) it is a medevil world and offers things like metal working, fighting, archery etc. He has decided he wants to participate in the fighting events. Well there is a lot of discipline involved if he wants to compete, so I figure it cant hurt. He is really getting into the process of making his armour. While we were looking at the swords he mentioned he would like to buy one. I had already looked at the prices and knew I had not given him enough money to do so, so I said sure.  Well the brat had been saving his money and had brought it with him. He had more than enough money to buy what he wanted. Damn!!! Out smarted by a 14 yr old with a missison.  Well permission had already been given, so we went and sat down and talked about the rules.
He could buy a sword, but it would be mounted on the wall in his room. It would not be taken down with out my being present. If it was, it became my sword. Once all the rules were agreed to, he went and found the sword he wanted. The item was purchased and immediately locked in my truck. When we got back to camp, Bobby found out his brother had bought a sword and was very upset. He said he wanted one.  This time dad was smart. I asked him how much money he had left. He told me he had $10 left. Ha... I know that is not enought he cheapest sword was about $25 dollars.  I told him that would be fine, but I did not think he had enough. So it was back to the weapons dealer. Damn it, he was not interested in a sword, he wanted a dagger. And it was only $9.
To all my Ireland trip friends...look at the t shirt that Eric Rigler from Bad Haggis was wearing!!! :)
  So it was sit down and discuss the rules again. Same rules. Now before anybody gives me flack, both of my boys are very good at following rules like these. I have not doubt that this will not be a problem.

The rest of the day was pretty mellow. We went back to camp, and while I made dinner (the stove had dried out and was working fine again) the boys were invited by the people in the next camp to play Bocce Ball. Both were pretty good at it, but to be honest I think the pretty teenage girl that was playing was more of an incentive.  Dinner was served and we spent a few hours sitting around just talking. Those of you with teenage kids will understand how much that means to a parent.  Saturday night was very  nice, no rain, not overly cold, and Brians clips worked prefectly on his tent.

The boys enjoyed a game of Bocce Ball. Well I think it was more the pretty blond girl :)
Life was good.

Sunday morning we got up and dad made breakfast burritos. After breakfast I started breaking down camp. I knew if I let them take off for the festival before I did so, "I" would be the only person breaking down camp. So we took everything down and set it in a big pile. We then went off to have some more fun. By noon we were pretty much all ready to leave, so we packed up the Jimmy and came home.

There were only 2 things about this years trip that I did not like. Sometime in the past 3 or 4 years, the campground took out the showers. After a couple of days were all feeling pretty grubby. I cant imagine what it would have been like if it had been hot like the previous few weeks where it has been in the 90's.  Also, this year there was a chain link fence up around the camp grounds.

In years past, after hours the campers had access to the farm on the fairgrounds, and a large blacktop area where the kids could ride their bikes and scooteers and skateboards. They did not have access to that this year. It kind of curtailed the activities that they had access to after the festival shut down for the day.  What were they thinking. Get them all hopped up on sweets and them confine them among their parents....some of those kids had weapons!!!

jensenly says:
Hi David -

Nice post. I love your comment about the "weapons"! You won't get any flak from me - I love weapons and think every boy should should have one or two. Who knows when they might have to defend a lady's honor :).

You sure are brave to rough it out in all that rain. Much admire.

Did you go to the Belly Up and see the Dubs? Jill and Oscar went and said they loved the venue and they had a fantastic meal at the restaurant next door. The Huntington Beach concert on Father's Day was perfect. Great weather, very nice crowd (mostly families, and the biggest crowd they have ever had for the Summer Concert Series. The Dubs played for 2 hours, with one short break. Afterwards, the police patroling the beach said it was a great concert, they loved the music, and welcomed the Dubs back to HB any time.

Looking forward to checking back from time to time.
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
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Arriving at the fairgrounds
Arriving at the fairgrounds
It was not raining, but that would…
It was not raining, but that woul…
You can see how muddy it was in pl…
You can see how muddy it was in p…
There were a lot of tent campers
There were a lot of tent campers
We were put along the fence line u…
We were put along the fence line …
Next week the campground will be v…
Next week the campground will be …
This was a camp very close to ours.
This was a camp very close to ours.
Here is our little encampment
Here is our little encampment
The boys tents were under a large…
The boy's tents were under a larg…
Here is Bad Haggis during a sound …
Here is Bad Haggis during a sound…
The boys from the Wicked Tinkers.
The boys from the Wicked Tinkers.
The guy with the long hair is the …
The guy with the long hair is the…
To all my Ireland trip friends...l…
To all my Ireland trip friends...…
The boys enjoyed a game of Bocce B…
The boys enjoyed a game of Bocce …
ARGGGG  My highland warriors.
ARGGGG My highland warriors.
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photo by: sdbleve