2005 Porcupine Freedom Festival Report Bill Walker
After months of communications and planning, Porc Fest '05 sort of snuck up on Kate & me, and we began scurrying to make the necessary arrangements for organizing and packing a ton of stuff into our tiny car for the 700-mile trip to the Free State.
We got a screened-in tent for our campsite, large enough to fit over a picnic table so that we could keep things dry and insect-free during the week-long festival. We also picked up a heavy-duty fabric roof rack to supplement the limited space inside the Mazda.
Since I was and would be organizing the "Second Amendment Activities", and was therefore bringing six rifles, eight handguns, and a shotgun along with the usual related equipment, supplies, and several thousand rounds of ammunition, I needed to secure everything in a manner that would comply with Federal law for interstate transport of firearms as well as not set off any red flags for the socialist Grenzpolizei in MD, NJ, and NY. I didn't have enough locking containers to put all of the ammo and firearms into, and I needed a way to transport and secure all of the guns after we unpacked the car at the campsite. Many hours of research, design, and redesign produced a blueprint for a gun cart that could be loaded up with everything needed for a complete range trip guns, ammo, targets, cleaning supplies, a chair and shooting bench, even a padded gun vise and a Dremel tool for cleaning and minor repair. It had wheels, and it locked. Two sheets of plywood, lots of sawing and gluing, and four or five trips to various hardware stores over the next few days produced a rough prototype sans chair and shooting bench.
THURSDAY [July 21, Richmond VA]
We began packing the car on Thursday night. Piles of guns in a giant cart needed to be wheeled down a flight of steps that the rear cart edge didn't quite clear. Lift, roll, clunk. Lift, roll, clunk. As sweat poured off of me, I imagined taking a giant spill that would crush Kate and dump $5000 of guns all over the concrete below. Ugh. Finally reaching the bottom, we had only a short off-road trip up a grassy hill to the car. At least the wheels worked nicely. The cart had to be turned around and carefully maneuvered into the trunk and then the legs wouldn't clear that last 2 or 3 inches. AHHHHHHH! Murphy had predictably visited us. We popped the cart open and removed the legs, managing to JUST slide the cart into the car and then at the last second ripped off the wheels in the process. @#&*! Oh well, we can fix that after we get there.
Next we had fun shoving the roof rack onto the car, creatively securing it with straps and buckles since the metal clips that were supplied wouldn't hold onto the doorjambs of the Mazda. We dripped sweat in the heat and humidity to get the thing loaded and sealed just before it poured rain all night long. I guess we'd see if it was really as waterproof as the manufacturer claimed. I hoped so, since the tent and all of our clothes were in it.
Friday morning, we ran up and down the stairs, carrying the last of the mountain of stuff into the car and rearranging it so that WE could fit into the car as well, and so I could see out of the rear window. A few items were judged at the last minute to be nonessential (cardboard IDPA targets, etc.) and left behind. We stopped for gas and food, and began to run the interstate gauntlet while monitoring channel 19 on the CB radio my boss had gifted to me. Lots of chatter about The Man in the Big Hat, bears, "brushing your teeth and combing your hair", and girls. We listened to an intellectual and very libertarian conversation about race. Every so often we'd have someone get on the channel and teach us some new vocabulary words. Once in the Catskills we were repeatedly serenaded by an escaped mental patient singing, "Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow." Through tolls, off and on exit and entrance ramps, under "Report All Suspicious Activity" notices, and past the watchful eye of toll-collectors, we proceeded north as the July sun beat down and radiated through the windshield. Every so often we had to pull over on the side of the road and heave the roof rack forward onto the car since it had slid backwards on the roof and was dangling over the edge, causing it to flap in a truly disconcerting manner at highway speeds. Up and down mountainous roads we drove in our little 4-cylinder import, loaded down with a ton of stuff and straining against gravity and the air-conditioner to reach our friends in the Free State. The closer we grew, the gloriously cooler it got.
At long last, we arrived in Keene, and made our way to Varrin & Edi's home by about 8pm. We made good time and it was smooth sailing all the way. No blocking off all five lanes of Route 95 like the year before, no MD state po-lice confiscating all of my guns, no NJ state po-lice arresting me for 1000 years for transporting mountains of hollow-point ammunition, and no NY state po-lice shooting me to death for transporting handguns. Whew. I slid out my Galco NSA-II leather holster and proceeded to secure my H&K USP Compact (.357 sig) with the LEM trigger into the rig as an assertion of my Rights and as a celebration of my safe arrival in the Free State. I also marveled at what was surely a 30-degree lower temperature than what we left in Richmond, VA.
We enjoyed meeting Virgil and Lois Swearingen (Varrin's Parents) and watching Varrin scurry around the house as he oh yes just then began to pack. We talked and drank, and ate, and played with Edison and Erin, and poo-poo'ed the government, and then ate and drank some more. We discussed the weather and how Varrin usually likes to camp without a tent, and how the last time he went camping and it rained, his friend forgot to pack one. And we ate and drank some more.
Saturday morning entailed stuffing Edison head first into my sleeping bag stuff-sack so that Varrin was free to pack and load the van, unpack and rearrange the van, search for missing items, and run last-minute errands. Once Varrin's family had loaded into the van, they all predictably had to get back out to use the restroom and then get settled back in. A few brief directions were relayed, and the caravan headed out toward the highway. A mere twenty minutes out, and I was frantically braking to avoid rear-ending Varrin's van as he swerved off to the side of the road. Varrin apparently likes camping without a tent so much that he neglected to pack one. The Fellowship parted ways and would meet up again at Roger's.
We made our way into Lancaster and stopped at the grocery store for a quick supply of camp food. And beer. Then we made our way down the street to the campground and checked in. It was still light out, we were awake, and we knew exactly where our campsite was. It was an amazing improvement over the year before. We parked the car and began setting up the campsite, and Lloyd Danforth wandered into camp to tell us that he had a 12' x 24' tent he could bring over for social gatherings since we had a double-sized campsite. As we talked and set up, we noticed that there were LOADS of people already in camp and it was still only Saturday! I had a feeling that this year's festival was going to be BIG. Mary'L Gere stopped by and dropped off a huge pile of hearing protection for the Second Amendment activities. As we walked down to Dawn's camper to see who was checked in, we met Tony Stelik and his friend Mike, Russell Kanning and Kat Dillon, Pat K., and lots of other people I recognized from either MD FSP meetings, the 2004 Libertarian National Convention, last year's Porc Fest, or one of the local FSP meetings at Millie's.
We headed down to Site 31 to cook chicken wings, meet people arriving at the festival, and take part in the Kickoff Party that of course had cake yummy cake. And beer. We met Bill Campbell, Matt and Sidney [KY], Nick and Jeremy and Carl-the-Swede (TM) who were going to film a documentary [MN], Ward and Lisa Griffiths, and tons of other folks. Some folks burned a UN flag over the campfire. We played with my Bushnell night vision monocular, and then Dawn kicked us out from in front of her RV so that they could sleep sheesh. So I lit up my ?-million candlepower flashlight so we could all find our way back in the otherwise pitch black, and a few other night owl porcs and I sat around and talked until well past midnight.
Jeremy Noyes and I drove down to the grocery store to buy real food, and he proceeded to go hog wild and buy everything in sight. He must have been hungry. Or pregnant. And then he tried to pay for it all. He must have had low blood sugar. Anyway, we loaded food-for-twelve into the car and then made a trip to the hardware store to buy eye & ear protection, some 1 x 3 lumber for target stands, and some brackets and a pound of screws for reattaching the wheels to my gun cart. We then hopped across the street to the other hardware store to get a compass for when Jeremy would go evaluating properties for the White Mountain Land Club, and I got a shovel to do a little sprucing up at the shooting range.
After we unloaded all of the goodies back at camp, we hooked up with John Conner who volunteered to come along and help set up the range. We headed out of Roger's and down Route 2 past Santa's Village, a little tourist place that was packed to the gills, and made a left onto Ingerson a gravel road across from Six-Gun City. At the end of Ingerson, we drove into the woods along Pond Safety Road an unpaved dirt road full of big rocks and sometimes even bigger potholes. The second dirt path on the left was the entrance to the range, so we parked our cars and carried the lumber and tools through the ruts and gullies until we arrived at a clearing. I had forgotten that the clearing had stretched out so far out from the left side of the road it was perfect for the clay target shooting I wanted to do the next day. We walked farther up to the little range, which was a LOT smaller than I remembered, but it would serve the purpose that I needed it to. We hacked away some brush, shoveled away some detritus, and began fashioning points on the lumber to be driven into the loose but very rocky soil. After all of that was set up, we cleaned up some of the garbage left by other people, dug some of the larger rocks out of the way, and filled in some of the holes that people might stumble into. Then we measured out yardages and pounded in stakes to mark the various ranges.
Not to let a perfectly good visit to the range go to waste, I showed Jeremy how to shoot my H&K, and he quickly got the hang of it. Unlike throwing a ball at a target you don't focus on what you're shooting at, you focus on the little front sight at the end of the gun barrel while lining it up with the distant blurry target that you want to hit. It doesn't sound right, but when you compare the results of both methods you quickly learn that keeping your focus on the front sight makes an amazing difference. I've seen people miss targets at a range of 5 yards when they had forgotten to focus on the front sight instead of the target.
John Conner was eager to learn how to carry a pistol, and we somehow managed to finally fit my inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster inside of his waistband after he loosened his belt up and sucked it in. Draw, fire, reholster. Well, that last part turned out to be a little tricky....
Later on in the evening I wandered over to Matt and Sidney's campsite and sampled some of their store-bought beer and delicious homebrew. About ten people were gathered around the picnic table, engaging in hardcore libertarian conversation and lamenting the state of affairs that the government has led our once-proud and beautiful country into.
Some time around 9 or 9:30am, people began arriving at the campsite, and wondering what was going on. I figured that we'd wait until 10 in order to give people time to finish showering, eat breakfast, and find their way over.
We got a bunch of people together and thankfully, Peter Herrick had a huge van that we could pack all of our equipment into, and would clear the ruts and gullies on the dirt path that led up to the range. I wanted to see if the two local gun stores were open so I could pick up some targets and provide people with eye protection. I hopped into the car while people were packing their stuff into Pete's van, and went to the little gun store across the street it was closed. So I came back and led everyone out to Whitefield to see if the Village Gun Store was open, but they too were closed. Well, we could manage.
I think that Lloyd showed up about then to assemble his mammoth canopy, and a group of 10-12 people sorted poles and connectors, tightened thumbscrews, and bungeed the giant tarp to the frame. We then lifted the entire roof up while we shoved poles into the connectors and then slid the whole assembly over so it overlapped the little wooden structure on the campsite. Next came a few lessons on the taut-line hitch to secure the corners down in case if high winds. The thing was as big as an aircraft hangar.
Peter, Jeremy, Joseph, Lloyd, John, Jerry Lynch and the entire Gere family all hopped in and we finally got to the range at about 1:00 and shot about half of a case of clays once we figured out how to stabilize the thrower in the loose soil with makeshift stakes and rocks. The trick to clay target shooting is to know where to position the clay in relation to the sights, and knowing where the shotgun shoots. Then just relax, get that shotgun up and mounted as fast as possible and smoothly track the clay across the sky until you're on it and squeeze the trigger. It's a knack. Sometime I got it, and sometimes I don't. Robert Gere definitely had it that day and proceeded to powder clay after clay as we launched them across the clearing. I think he may have found a new hobby. We called it quits around 3:00 and picked up a few hundred spent shotgun shells and bits of trash before heading back to camp to make dinner.
When we got back, we found a Gadsden-Style flag for the Militia hanging on the canopy, donated I'm sure by JP.
After dinner, we made our way down to Kat and Russell's campsite where there was a horde of people doing the libertarian socialization thing. This entailed large quantities of alcohol probably as a talisman to ward off the feds and vampires as well. Lisa Griffiths was having a grand old time, and Jane Aitken, Web Mistress of the Darkness was enjoying wine, lots and lots of wine, so I enjoyed some with her. Lloyd and I burned a UN flag over the campfire, sort of as a daily affirmation to avoid entangling alliances and protect the Constitution from foreign enemies. Later that evening I headed down to "31" and met more new arrivals and old friends. We got kicked out and stayed up late at my campsite talking with Robert, Thomas, David, and others about libertarian activism.
Sometime really early in the morning we awoke to the industrious crunching of plastic, and when I unzipped the tent and looked out, there was a squirrel busily chewing on a newly purchased loaf of bread. Hoots, hollers, and threats were of no avail, since the little guy just looked over at me, did a little mental "yeah, whatever" and brazenly continued munching into the loaf. I looked over at my .357 sig and decided that 115 grain CorBon hollow-points would be overkill, and settled for just pulling on some jeans and chasing the little thief over to someone else's campsite.
Sometime around 9 or 9:30am, people began arriving at the campsite, and wondering what, if anything was going on. Once again, I figured that we'd wait until 10 in order to give people time to finish showering, eat breakfast, and find their way over. Eventually we had assembled a typical libertarian gathering, where there were lots of people standing around trying to figure out how to get organized. I decided that the cats needed to herd themselves, and Peter once again let us use his van to haul our gear to the range.
While equipment was being transferred and loaded into vehicles, I hopped into the car while people were packing their stuff into Pete's van, and went to the little gun store across the street to buy a box of .38 special for Bill & Dawn and a box of .380 auto for Neil Alexander. Dave, the guy that runs the store, had gotten robbed while he was away in Florida and all of his guns were stolen. I supposed the kid who robbed him had panicked afterwards, because he dumped all of the guns in the woods or the river, and then no kidding committed suicide by shooting himself with a crossbow. You can't make this stuff up. Dave didn't have any cardboard targets, so I drove out to Whitefield risking an unfamiliar and as I discovered hardly faster route, to see if the Village Gun Store had any cardboard IDPA silhouettes. They didn't have any cardboard targets either, so I grabbed a business card to post at my campsite and headed back. By the time I got back, people were finally packed and organized, and I led a huge yes, huge caravan of cars, trucks, and vans to the sand pit. I think we had about 18 people.
While I scrambled around trying to make the best of the supplies I had, Jeff Jordan "Hunter" graciously instructed people in the basics of gun safety and firearms handling. I managed to set up about 4 targets with some old cardboard I found and the really stubby staples in my staple gun, and then set up a piece of shot-up steel shelving as cover for the IDPA course I had planned to run. IDPA stands for International Defensive Pistol Association, which is where cardboard targets are set up to simulate real-life self-defense scenarios, and the shooters must engage the targets with concealed weapons as fast and as accurately as possible. Most of the people we had were new shooters, and so we spent a lot of time showing folks how to load magazines, how to operate revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, and people shot guns of their own. So IDPA got scrapped, and we had lots of fun introducing new shooters to the joys of guns. Stance, grip, front sight, and then Squeeeeeeeeeze. Bang. SMILE. These folks were having a GOOD time boys and girls ranging in age from 12 to 55. When we were done, everyone picked up spent brass and bits of trash, and helped pack everything up.
We headed back to camp and made some food while Thomas, Dave, Jeff, Jerry, and Emerson stayed to help disassemble and clean firearms. Gunmetal and moist outdoor air don't mix well, so I had invested in a few cans of Break-Free CLP, G-96, and Sheath to keep my guns from slowly corroding into piles of red powder.
Later on we wandered from party to party, sampling the different atmospheres at the different campsites. I stopped by the film crew's campsite to see what was going on there, just in time to watch Jane shift that crucial fraction of an inch beyond the center of gravity of her chair in slow motion I reached out as I watched her topple backwards, taking the folding table and its assorted beverages and condiments with it. Jane, a dedicated and enthusiastic wine connoisseur found this to be uproariously funny. The lass so endeared herself to me that I sang the opening bars of "The Hero of Canton" from Joss Whedon's libertarian space-western Firefly. Nick immediately recognized the ballad, being a huge Firefly fan himself, and began unpacking a video monitor so that we could watch an episode (or more) of the show perhaps another night since he had thoughtfully brought along the DVD's. "Mi mi mimi. Ahem. Jane! The girl they call Jane!" Now I had that song stuck in my head probably for the entire rest of the week. We made our way down to Dawn's RV, and it began to rain. Sometime after 11pm she came out and shooed us away, so we reassembled back at my campsite to discuss politics and the future of freedom until the wee hours of the morning.
A few people wandered by throughout the morning wondering if we were going shooting, but it had rained off-and-on all morning, the sky still looked a bit gray, and people staying in Roger's Motel had reported that there might be thunderstorms. The previous year had taught me how volatile the weather could be, and so I decided that we might wait until 1:00 or so to see if the sky cleared up. It didn't.
It rained. It rained and rained and RAINED. And then it POURED. Later on in the day it switched to an all-out deluge. Water cascaded in almost a solid sheet across the ground, leaving just a few dry spots under Lloyd's cavernous canopy where we piled tarps and ammo boxes. So we just ditched the day's shooting plans and made coffee, munched food, smoked cigarettes, and talked when we could hear ourselves above the thundering din of raindrops pounding against 288 square feet of canvas roof. I used my shiny new shovel to enhance the almost overflowing drainage trench around the little wooden shelter the one that drained straight into the fire pit. I checked into the tent to see how it was holding up the last North Face tent I had camped in had leaked like cheesecloth and I discovered that we had some leakage around one of the seams near the tent stake. So I shoved a few small towels against the side to keep things localized, and pulled the ground cloth out from under the tent, where water was collecting into a small lake.
We had the Minn-eh-sodah film crew come by, you know. They took some footage of us talking about politics and freedom and activism, and of a few people sinking down low in their chairs so as not to be caught on camera.
Late in the day the rain finally stopped, and we ventured out to visit our friends in other parts of camp.
People started assembling at the campsite as usual, and I quickly announced that the cats had to herd themselves and find their own rides. This is a great secret for getting libertarian activities moving. We made pretty good time organizing ourselves and driving to the sand pit, and a few experienced volunteers helped set up the range while Jeff made sure that everyone new was familiarized with gun safety and basic gun handling. I made the command decision that we would actually run the 3-gun match I had scheduled, and got people to grab a handgun and get in line. One by one, I ran them through the course: move to the left as 3 targets were shot at least 3 times each with the handgun, then drop the gun, pick up the pump shotgun and move to the right while taking out 5 clay targets lined up along the ground, and then finally load and fire the AR-15 at 5 cans or plastic bottles arranged on the metal shelf. Not surprisingly, the handgun portion seemed a little challenging, but once people picked up the shotgun and the rifle there occurred an amazing transformation even first-time shooters did really, really well. And after each person shot all of the rifle targets, I just had them unload the rest of the 30-round magazine, making all of the fallen cans and bottles fly around sometimes clear to the other side of the range. Some folks supplied their own handguns, Dave brought his shotgun which he was determined to shoot at least once this week, and another Porc brought his MAK-90 (Chinese AK variant) with two 75-round drum magazines. Let me point out that there is a noticeable and very clear difference between a 60-grain .223 and a 122-grain 7.62 x 39 bullet. Maybe half of the cans and bottles went down with the AK in a carefully aimed manner before the decision to simply unload was made. The entire area around the platform erupted into flying bits of dirt and plant matter as he bump-fired from the hip and annihilated a good 6-foot square area with bullets and muzzle blast. Once Machinegun Kelly was finished "recycling" the targets, I finally stopped laughing long enough to thank everyone for attending "Bill's anger management class." When we cleaned up later, we found all of my .223 cases and picked them all up, but I don't think that any of the AK brass was anywhere to be found.
There was a lot of free-form shooting where people practiced with their own firearms, sighted in rifles, and tried more of the handguns that we brought for the events. There are many authors in the Freedom Movement who advocate that Americans reclaim our place as a Nation of Riflemen. I could not agree with them more, and after watching the joy and skill with which all of the participants engaged the rifle targets, I think that such is a sound and reasonable goal. We can peaceably assemble and teach each other the lore and craft of riflery however I think that training a nation of skilled handgunners will take a lot more effort I know that achieving speed and accuracy with a handgun has sure been an uphill battle for me. But the interest and enthusiasm are there, so I am excited to see what new equipment and skill shows up at Porc Fest '06!
I took my time getting some much needed sleep and fueling up with sandwiches and coffee before heading down to hear Bernard von NotHaus speak about the Liberty Dollar. He was down in the pavilion where Poker Face was setting up their equipment. The "dollar" (Federal Reserve Note, Ã†Â© is worthless fiat currency, and only serves to help balloon the already unmanageable National Debt. Debt to whom? Why, The Federal Reserve of course a PRIVATE company that's no more affiliated with the federal government than most banks or the Federal ammunition company. While there, I got a donation in silver from a generous Porcupine to defray my costs in setting up and running the shooting activities, and I picked up a copy of Bernard's Liberty Dollar DVD.
Poker Face was finishing setting up their equipment, so I headed back to my campsite to pick up some beer and cook dinner at Dawn's campsite Steak, onions, peppers, and pineapple. After I had stuffed my face and picked up some more beer, I headed over to the pavilion to hear the show. The sun was streaming over the hills and shining brightly onto the band as they worshipped freedom and energized themselves and the steadily growing crowd with a mounting frenzy of sound and light. These were musicians with a message, and as they sang their songs into the blazing rays of the setting sun, they appeared to me as Warriors of Freedom wreathed in fire. Laden with electronic gear and armed with instruments of Liberty, they raised their voices in unison to greet an army of Freedom Fighters bent on working towards and achieving Liberty in our Lifetime. Anyone who missed out on this show missed out bigtime. I owe a huge thanks to Chris Gronski and all of the people who worked and donated money to make Poker Face's presence at the festival possible.
The band played well into the night, and finally closed their show with what I hold to be some of their best songs and the near complete destruction of their drum set. As the band began packing their equipment up, hordes of porcupines made their way up to the campgrounds to search out the night's festivities. There were acres of food and refreshments at Joel's site, and I got to meet all sorts of people who had made their way up to Rogers for the weekend. In addition to tons of new folks, I talked with Matt and Sidney, Ritchie from Poker Face, and just an endless number of great people having a great time. Some time around midnight I finally tore myself away from the party so I could get some sleep and be up early enough to pick up Michael Badnarik from his motel room.
Somehow I managed to get up in time to get dressed and drive down to pick up Michael Badnarik at the motel he was staying at in Lancaster. There was some sort of festival being held in the center of town, and I had to take a small detour around Route 2. As Michael and I were getting into the car to return to Porc Fest, a po-lice oppresifer was walking past us and my spider sense just KNEW that something was going to happen.
"Excuse me, sir," the oppresifer said as he wandered up along the front of the car. "Yeah?" I said. "I see that you're carrying a firearm, do you have a permit for that?" "No, but I'm open carrying, so I don't NEED a permit." (visibly backing off) "Yes, well, thank you for carrying it openly, but there's a festival going on and people might have questions." "Well, I'm certainly confident that I can supply them with answers." (backing off further) "Well, yes, you have a nice day, and stop by and enjoy the festival." "Well, we're actually headed back to Roger's campground where we're having our own festival you're more than welcome to stop by." ..ooOO( and the folks there might have more than a few questions for YOU. )
So Michael and I headed back along the detour as the public road that was closed off began to be clogged on either side by traffic, and he just looked over at me with a hint of a smirk. He's probably been through the same sort of thing 1000 times before. If I had not joined VCDL as soon as I had moved to Virginia and became a gun owner, I would not have had the knowledge, the resources, and the resulting confidence and courage to defend myself against the lies and tricks that police officers routinely use to intimidate completely peaceful citizens just going about their daily business. I am also grateful to Michael for educating me about my Rights, inspiring me to be a proud and sovereign citizen ("It's good to be King!"), and further strengthening my resolve to never again back down from a petty tyrants while enjoying the free exercise of my Rights. Do I have a "permit" oh PLEASE! Nothing causes me to rededicate myself to my goal so much as pointless and arbitrary official harassment. Freedom. Freedom at any cost.
We made it back to Roger's without further incident, and Michael went and got his vendor table set up paperback editions of It's Good to be King! and a DVD copy of his Constitution class. I got to hear Heather Talley's presentation for Bureaucrash, and I plan to heavily plug into their activist network in the upcoming year. I really think that they can help floundering libertarian activists to network with each other and so get more accomplished in their local area. I then wandered around to check out the vendor tables and eventually made my way back to the campsite with Kate to make lunch with Hunter. I made it down to the Breaking the Chains event, which was really inspiring, and the very kind of thing I love about Porc Fest. Next, Varrin & Amanda gave out Free Stuff to festival organizers, and I got a VIP shirt (Very Important Porcupine) for going out and having fun at the range shooting guns. Go figure. I already have a job where they PAY me to hang out all day in a gun store. Maybe next year they'll actually rook me into doing something useful.
Michael was up next and gave a run-down about his plans for freedom and political action. I always love to hear him speak, because he understands the core issues so readily and is able to come right back with a clear, sensible answer that always makes me wonder why I can't think of that kind of solution and response.
Right after that another porcupine and I did get rooked into doing something useful setting up the projection screen for the next speaker. We sort of stared at each other, and then back at the screen, and then bumbled our way through setting it up with all of the things that folded out, twisted, turned, and unraveled. We didn't get injured and I'm pretty sure that we didn't break anything, so I guess we did okay. Katherine Albrecht of CASPIAN gave a talk about RFID chips and tracking consumers, which was really Orwellian and totally raised my hackles. We're talking serious creep factor. I'm preparing to start repackaging all the stuff that I buy and then dissect the containers for hidden tracking devices. It's not paranoia when they're actually there. (Some links: Spychips · Supermarket Privacy · RFID · Biometrics)
Partway through James Bovard's presentation I had to make my way back to my campsite and get dressed for the NHLA dinner. I'm glad that we had the P.A. system and that I wore hearing protection at the range, because I didn't miss much.
We then hitched a ride to the NHLA dinner with Bill & Kathy Beeman. It took about 50 minutes, which was pretty short, and we got to see a lot of really beautiful countryside. We talked about a bunch of issues and about next year's Porc Fest. Always planning ahead. We got to the dinner and Dawn Lincoln & crew were checking people in. Familiar theme there. Bureaucrash also drove down to set up a table. We had a few drinks in the lobby and checked out a bunch of vendor tables some of which had cool books about activities in the Freedom movement. I love cool books. Hell, I just love books. And books on freedom swiftly divested me of yet more cash. Well, Kate's cash.
Dinner was really good, and there was plenty of food and coffee and dessert. We got to hear a talk by Fred Cole from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), and then there was a mad dash during the break to go outside and smoke. I was steadily working my way through a carton of cigarettes brought up from PhillipMorrisLand, and I felt the need to help support the home state's economy. Congressman Ron Paul spoke next and had a good Q&A session. We made the trip back and got to Roger's around 11:30pm, and I was quite amazed to find that the parties were JUST starting! I hung out with Joel and Amy at their campsite where again there was a ton of food and beer and all sorts of stuff. We talked about next year's Porc Fest and then I got to talk to Tony Stelik about guns and his experiences in Poland, and then Evan Nappen showed us his billion-dollar holster from Mitch Rosen a very high-quality gunleather company in New Hampshire.
Late in the night I made my way down to visit Tim Condon at the Circle of Liberty that was taking place down by the pavilion. We shared our thoughts and our beer around the fire, and then we packed up all our trash around 3am and headed to bed.
I wandered about to find the Seekers meeting, since there was an actual lecture on how science gets mixed in with freedom and spirituality or something. I was running on a week of whirlwind activity and a corresponding lack of sleep, so the title and the name of the speaker didn't fully register. I wasn't up for hymns at 80 dB you could hear them clear across the campsite, and the year before I had spent the morning at the atheists' gathering. I figured I'd try something new. There was a lot of really interesting history and intelligent interpretation of events, all of which was aimed at explaining how Liberty is spiritually healthy and we have a spiritual Right to destroy tyranny. There were plenty of other folks like Gardner who were really into this and who had read all sorts of books that I hadn't so I mostly just listened and then hunted and gathered breakfast and coffee.
I ran into the Minn-eh-sodah film crew, you know, and they were drooling over the opportunity to go to the range and shoot their rifles. They were just finishing filming an interview with Varrin the Porc Fest Czar, and had to rearrange half the van to get to the firearms that were buried under a thousand pounds of camera gear. We picked up Thomas, Kate, and Hunter and drove down into Lancaster to get some lunch at a little diner. We ate a ton of really good food, gave the waitress a healthy tip, and made haste to the Sand Pit. The boys had a pair of Schmidt-Rueben straight-pull rifles in 6.5mm Swiss, a .223 bullpup carbine, and a WASR-10 in 7.62 x 39; Kate and I brought a matching WASR-10 (Romanian AK-47) and a tricked-out AR-15; and Hunter brought his "FrankenFAL" FAL (Fusil Automatique Leger, or Light Automatic Rifle) in .308 (7.62 x 51 NATO).
The Schmidt-Ruebens have an interesting loading device that's sort of a cross between a fiber M1-Garand clip and an SKS stripper clip. You grab a pre-loaded package of 5 rounds, insert the metal rim into the action, push down on the casings through the slot in the fiber container, and all of the rounds are smoothly loaded into the fixed box magazine. The container is removed from the action, and the bolt is slammed home. Those things must have been one hell of a battle rifle in its time.
We put a few magazines through Nick and Kate's WASRs and cut down some of the intervening vegetation partially obscuring our view of the targets. After a while, we made use of the handguns to shoot a steel spinner,
and repeatedly pounded the target with 45 caliber bullets there are few more satisfying sounds than big bullets hitting steel targets. We each put a few rounds of .308 through Hunter's FAL, "The Right Arm of the Free World," and while Thomas was shooting I studied the gas blasting out of the muzzle brake during each shot. I noticed that the jets seemed to have rotated counterclockwise from my vantage point, and asked Jeff if they were supposed to be at an angle like that. Apparently the silver solder holding on the muzzle brake had broken loose and the brake had begun to unscrew. So we tightened it up and started winding down.
But then, Nick and I decided that the vegetable minions of the UN that were encroaching on our libertarian gun range had to be dealt with and swiftly. So we loaded up two 30-round magazines and assumed a tactical stance with our pair of Romanian AK's. "Go, go, go!" I whooped, as we rapidly made our way forward to engage the offending scrub me crouching to the right and keeping my muzzle down while Nick stayed upright and pointed his muzzle over to the left. "Now!" I hollered, as I got down on one knee and shouldered my weapon. Nick and I let off a barrage of 60 rounds of Russian ammo that seared through the scrub, felling a few branches and causing bits of foliage to erupt out the rear. Ratatatatatatatatatat! Ratatat! If terrorist trees ever have any nefarious plans for the good-ole' US-of-A, Nick and I will be there to stop them. We detached our mags and showed clear, then headed back to the van with our muzzles down. Nick had a big stupid grin that showed we had bonded in a manly fashion, with guns. All sound and fury, and signifying well that perhaps a scythe is far more effective at removing scrub than an assault weapon. We cleaned up all of our brass and then ferried everything back to the road where we transferred our gear back into my car. We said goodbye to the crew, since they were heading straight back home from the range, and then went back to Rogers to clean up.
We spent the rest of the day lounging around the campsite, saying goodbye to people as they headed out, packing the car and organizing the rest of our stuff. I dug out a huge boulder whose tip was sticking up out of the dirt and causing people to trip. Never attempt to dig up a "little rock" in New England. We had already collected some wood, and then a few bundles of split wood were donated to us, so that night we built a nice size fire and enjoyed the company of Hunter, Charlie & Dorothy Parker, Thomas Brown, and other late leavers. Charlie showed us an old "sporterized" Enfield bolt-action rifle in .303 British that he picked up for 75 bucks at an auction. A few patches down the bore and some CLP on the bolt showed it to be in good working condition, and the crown looked like it hadn't been abused. I hope he has fun shooting it when he gets back home. I think that Hunter and I finally called it quits around 1:30 and made plans for meet for breakfast.
We got the last of our stuff together and shoved it into the car for the ride home. Of course, the car got packed slightly differently from the ride up, and I had less legroom and reclining space. We took a quick breather and talked with our friends, then finally headed out to begin the long journey home. Somewhere along the way we had packed up the power adapter for the CB, but I think that we were zonked enough to enjoy the silence on the ride back. We stopped in Vermont on the way back to peruse a sale at a sporting goods store, and get some coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts.
We picked up some snacks at the gas station across the street so I could guiltlessly use their restroom, since I was ready to pee out of my eyeballs, and I used the cleanest gas station bathroom I have ever experienced. We made another stop for gas in New York, and met a biker and his wife coming back to New Hampshire from their vacation.
We made good time, and again successfully snuck under the radar of the oppressive authorities. Worn and tired, we carted most of our gear from the car to the apartment, and then passed out.
So now that I'm back in Virginia, what are my impressions of the festival?
I just met 400+ people who proved that Liberty can and does work. An entire campground was filled with people with backgrounds and upbringings as diverse as any college campus or large corporation, probably even more so yet there was no Government that was centrally planning how many of what type of people were going to show up, and there were no penalties to be paid for failing to have the appropriate number of racial, cultural, or social minorities. I would have to think very hard to find a segment of the population that wasn't represented. [Whoops, we had no lefty democrats, I mean Communists.] We had whites, and blacks, and Polish immigrants, and Latinos, and women, and atheists, and republicans, and polyamorists, and Christians, pot smokers, and old white men, and open gay people, smokers, and black women, and democrats, gun nuts, and children, and college students, and libertarians, and Asians, and Costa Ricans, and on and on. We didn't need a Board of Diversity to tell us to show up, in what numbers, and who we should hang out with camp with, cook with, eat with, sleep with, or indeed who we could be and what our value as people was for just being US. And everywhere I went people were getting along, and doing things, and working together without anyone telling them what they had to do, or that they had to do it a certain way or with certain types of people. And they were having fun. And they were responsible and trusted each other. That was obvious. People were handing over valuable personal property to use, lending money, lending people cars, leaving their campsites unattended, and there were a heck of a lot of people drinking beer or walking about with openly carried or concealed handguns and no one got into a fight, got shot, got robbed, or injured a child, and all of the campsites were clean.
New people would roll into camp, and folks would just show up and help erect tents and canopies, give directions to local businesses, explain the layout of the campsite, and invite perfect strangers to drop by for dinner and drinks once they had gotten settled. At night, I could wander down the pathways and be welcome at any number of small or large parties taking place and everyone brought food, and drinks, and chairs, and a ton of other creature comforts. People would talk about books, and music, and almost everyone was smiling! You could even tell that the people who weren't smiling because they were deep into discussing serious subjects were having a good time, because they were in the company of people who really thought, and understood. There was a large Quantity of Quality Time spent at Porc Fest, and I found it very rewarding. It really cleansed my soul and energized me to DO what needs to be done to move to the Free State and kick major statist butt. I think that I'm really going to love my new neighbors, whoever they turn out to be, and I'm excited to see the results of all the discussions and collaborations that took place throughout the week.
There was a very strong sense of can-do attitude. No task seemed daunting, and the speed with which people grasped and exploited entrepreneurial opportunities was impressive. T-shirts, bumper stickers, CD's, books, beer, chili, FSP Buck knives (!)
and loads of other goods and services were available or in the process of being planned out by people sitting in the grass. It was so pervasive, that people you'd never met before would show up and say, "Can I help?" and it was just so natural. You'd meet someone for the first time, and 5 minutes later you'd be discussing business opportunities or the streamlining of some existing service.
I would walk through the woods and stumble upon a group of 3 or 4 people with widely varying opinions and viewpoints discussing not arguing economics, gun Rights, religion, politics, housing construction, schooling, entrepreneurial business, and a host of other intellectual subjects. They discussed, and considered, and reasoned, and didn't try to shove their opinion down someone else's throat or out-shout an opposing view. While drinking beer. While armed.
I had to travel 700 miles to a mountain campsite to find real, civilized people. It was awesome.
[I have to admit that Kate and I were quite busy during the whole week, and I look forward to reading other attendee's Festival Reports to learn about what I missed and gain insight into events that I attended from someone else's point of view.]