cornerstone report, part 1: storm!

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hello, all!   I got back from Cornerstone Festival last night and spent the rest of my day unpacking and doing laundry.  I’ve got a million things to tell you about the festival, but tonight I need to sleep, so you’ll just have to settle for the story of the Epic Storm that Started it All.  I’m going to just do this almost verbatim from my journal, a little while after I had scoped out the perfect spot, halfway down a big hill on a flat spot tucked in under some small trees and overlooking the beautiful lake…

The new tent went up fine.  It was smaller than I had anticipated, though.  I stuffed my air mattress in and inflated it, watching with dismay as the mattress grew larger than the tent floor and bulged the tent sides out.  That wouldn’t be good in case of rain, and it looked clear that rain was definitely coming.

Next, I loaded my bags into the back of the tent – on top of the air mattress, as there was no “off the mattress” alternative available.  Between clothes, supplies, and food it was 5 big bags plus my backpack; when I was done shoving them in, there was hardly enough room for my sleeping bag and pillow.  Looked like I’d need to lie still!  Good thing I have 8 months of practice sleeping in a skinny single bed.

By 8:30 the sun was mostly down and I was wiped out.  I crawled into my tiny tent to sleep, finding that the air mattress had given up any pretense of holding air.  The ground was hard and lumpy underneath me.  Ah well…good night.

Later I woke to a spectacular storm blowing in.  My tent was whipping frantically in the wind and the sky was a giant disco ball, flashing rapid and bright.  Thunder boomed and rolled across the lake.  Very impressed but not particularly frightened, I turned on my side for a better view of the light.  The rain came beating down, sometimes smashing through the nylon of the tent to create a heavy mist.  My feet got seriously wet – I think they were in a puddle.

Still, I was mostly just impressed by the storm.  Marveling at how safe I felt, pressed against the ground in the shelter of trees, I started singing hymns at the top of my lungs.  Amazing Grace.  It Is Well With My Soul.  Agnus Dei.  Not sleeping…might as well praise Him, eh?

Eventually the storm died down, but I was dozing off even before that happened, secure in my safe – if wet – little spot.

Some time later, the second wave of the storm hit.  It blew in from the opposite direction and HARD, pushing the side and top of my tent down flat on my head time and time again.  Lightning crackled.  Thunder roared and rolled without ceasing.  Rain hammered through my tent.  Soon, I was clutching my sleeping bag over my head, trying to keep the water from soaking me, but it was really too late for that.  My hair was drenched and sticking to my face.  Little rivulets of rain were finding their way inside the sleeping bag, soaking my arms as they came.  Soon the bag was as wet on the inside as it was on the outside and all I could do was stay still, clutching the bag around me to preserve the warmth, even if it was a soggy one.

Still the storm raged on.  Inside my bag I sang hymns again, as loud as I could, not quite as sure of my safety as I had been the first round.  I kept thinking about the change of wind direction and wondering about tornadoes.  I wondered what it would be like to get blown through the air inside a tent, as the wind kept pushing up hard at the corner that held my feet.

Eventually, of course, the storm stopped, though it taunted for awhile by repeatedly getting a bit quieter and then roaring back to life to flatten my tent on top of my head again.  It’s really a wonder that my shock-corded poles held under all that strain, and a straight-up miracle that the fly leaf didn’t slide its hooks out of its loops and blow away to parts unknown.  When it finally ceased for real, I pulled my soggy sleeping bag even tighter around me, nestled my head into my saturated pillow, and went back to sleep.

Sunrise found me whining.  My “praise the Lord” attitude was gone.  I knew I needed to hurry for a porta-potty, and I knew the cold air was going to make me ten times more desperate as soon as I peeled out of that wet sleeping bag.  I refused it several times, groaning aloud, “I don’t wanna!” and going back to sleep.

But good things happened when I finally sat up.  While everything I had on was soaking wet, and my yesterday’s clothes, folded neatly on my bags, were drowned, inside the bag, tucked way in the middle (soggy clothes on top, soggy clothes on bottom) there were…DRY CLOTHES.  Pentecostal Karen broke out into a love fest, repeatedly exclaiming, “THANK YOU JESUS!!” as I found a dry jacket, dry clothes, and even dry shoes.

I hustled straight up the hill for the porta potties, only to find that all but one had been knocked down by the wind…and I didn’t trust the way the last one was standing.  I wandered a little further, seeing flattened porta-potties everywhere, but finding some standing as well.  Whew. 

One of the vendor tents was down, and several of the larger tents clearly had a rough night.  Wow.  So much work to do before the festival could begin!

I was heard to whine at the breakfast table, wondering aloud what I would do if the sun didn’t shine that day.  So much wet stuff!  But of course the sun DID shine, and I got my tent and all its contents dried out, though it did take a whole afternoon of hanging laundry in the trees and stretching things out on the ground, turning them over and over.



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