This post is a little on the long side so, brace yourself. In fact, go make a sandwich or two and then come on back. I’ll wait for you…
All set now? Cool, let’s go….
Gulf Wars, a war with no enemies, was held from March 9th until March 16th this year in Lumberton, Mississippi. There was a strong contingent of Ealdormerians making the trek to support our friends, The Kingdom of Trimaris in the war effort. I decided to tag along for the first time.
Now before I go any further, I need to tell you good gentles, that I have lost the notes I made while on site. As such, I’ll probably miss a few things and may even mess up what happened on what day.
I was part of a two-vehicle caravan for the 18+ hour drive. In the lead was Master Dafydd ap Sion, THL Jocelyn Roget de Cranewell and THL Brendan Hunterson. (we lost one of our merry band before we left Toronto but that is not my tale to tell). I was in charge of bringing up the rear; no easy task with Mr. Sulu driving the lead car and Scotty pushing the engines to beyond maximum warp! Have you ever driven from Ontario to Mississippi? Spoiler alert, it’s a bloody long way! We did it over 2 days and it was largely uneventful. We did play “tourist” on day 2 by visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Tennessee. The woodworker in me was intrigued by the designs and use of simple, understated woods.
We arrived on site an hour or so after troll opened. The folks running troll had obviously done this before because it was a smooth operation. There are a few cabins on site at Gulf Wars, reserved for Royalty and their entourage. I was part of the latter group so that’s where I was staying. Let me tell you, that’s a pretty sweet way to “camp” when you’re so far from home. Getting my cavern of a tent down there would have been impossible so I was grateful that Their Majesties Nigel and Adrielle took my sorry, puppy dog face in and off the streets.
A bunch of us went on a town run for dinner and supplies the 1st night. This included a trip to WalMart and let me tell you something…I completely understand why citizens randomly go off their nut and shoot people from time to time! That place is not fit for humans. Now I know, I am not known as being the most patient fellow in a lot of situations but this had me wishing I had my bow in hand.
On our 1st full day on site, a few of us trotted to the merchant areas. Her Excellency Septentria, Anneke The Furious, and I paid a visit to Greybarr to settle some business about a bow and then she took and introduced me to Boots by Bohemond. I needed/wanted some SCA-appropriate footwear and I was told that Bohemond was the man to see. Folks, let me say this… You could not ask for a better shopping experience than dealing with this man. Period. Bohemond researches his designs to make them period but, user friendly for 21st century feet. He makes his footwear himself and backs up what he makes. Best thing is that he is one of us. He’s a Scadian. Knight, Laurel, all round good guy.
Monday saw me playing the role of Entourage for His Majesty. We found our way to the stables where He would meet and get acquainted with His mount for Opening Ceremonies the next day. My job was to hang to the Crown while he rode and passed inspection with the equestrian Marshall’s (which he did). I didn’t wind up getting banished or anything so I must have done my bit to make His life easier. 🙂 Which brings me to Tuesday and Opening Ceremonies…
At Gulf Wars, the Royalty from the represented kingdoms ride into OC on horseback , through the town, on to the battlefield and the castle. The pageantry is something to see. Behind their respective Soverign marches the armies of the different Kingdoms and whoever else wishes to be part of a parade. Around 15 or 20 of us Ealdormerians made the trek to GW and we formed the (now) legendary Ealdormerian Cavalry.
The “legendary” part does not come from the fact that we stampeded the opening ceremonies, making a general spectacle of ourselves after Their Majesties Ealdormere declared the Kingdom’s support of Trimaris in the war. No, the “legendary” part arises from the fact that we did this while on our hobbie horses. You can see one of them, escorting Her Excellency Septentria, in the photo. Oh, and check out my poofy pants and fancy new booties!
***Note*** It is now early May and I am still writing this post. What this means is that I no longer have any recollection of what happened on what day of Gulf Wars. So, from here on out, I’m just going to wing it and if I get the days wrong…well, I’m sure the Earth will continue to spin. ***End note***
I took care of most of my shopping needs early in the week but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Midnight Madness in the merchant area. For me, it was a wonderful torchlit stroll with friends. Much laughter was had, pocketbook lightening occurred, marauding yet somewhat whimsical cats raced among the lanes and music happened. My advice for anyone attending Gulf Wars, Pennsic or (likely) any other war is to be sure and “do” Midnight Madness. It’s entertaining as hell, whether you are serious shopping or just noodling about, trying to make sure your Baron doesn’t wander off and trade a Canton for some “magic beans”.
This is a partial view of the rapier ravine battle. Ok, the battle is actually to the right of the frame. THIS is a partial view of the back porch of the Calontir encampment. What we see is good folks enjoying something like dinner-and-a-show, Calontir-style. There was gumbo, mint juleps and pie for everyone. It was delightful and one of my absolute favourite memories of any SCA event.
So, this happened. It was awesome.
The only other wars I have been to are the War of the Trillium (300 +\- people) here in Septentria and Pennsic (13,000 people or so). Trillies is its own local wonderfulness. A good chunk of Ealdormere comes out and because it’s in my home barony, it’s a nice close. It is also the most laid back of the wars I’ve attended.
Pennsic is a world of its own. Literally and legally, it becomes an actual town during its 2 week existence because of its population. The selection of classes offered at Pennsic University is astounding. The merchant area is so big and diverse that you could arrive on site with nothing more than a credit card (or bucket of cash) and completely outfit yourself for war including clothes and accessories, armor and weapons, food and shelter. The battlefield of Pennsic is where legends are born. Basically, it is a complete escape from the modern world, a place of non-stop action and wonder as well as a place to do absolutely nothing but sit under a tree (unless you are camped on the Serengeti), a place to revel in good companionship.
Gulf Wars is somewhere in between. With attendance of between 3,000 and 4,000 it’s smaller than Pennsic and on a much smaller piece of land. Folks are packed in pretty good at GW. The good thing about that is you are never far from where you want to be. The merchant area is much smaller here but, it seems all of the best vendors from Pennsic come to Gulf Wars. I’ll take quality of quantity. I also got the overall vibe that GW is a little more relaxed than Pennsic (but not even close to Trillies).
Would I do Gulf Wars again? Absolutely, but it won’t be on my yearly rotation. There are only so many events I can afford each year and Lumberton Mississippi is a long, long way from the Northlands. Taking distance out of the mix, which would I rather attend? Tough call but I think I would have to lean towards Pennsic. Sitting by the lake with a breeze, the sound of the drums (when I don’t to stab the perpetrators for sheer volume and lack of rhythm), being able to take all of the gack and set up a home are heavy draws for me. But, for me at least, Pennsic is an emotional place. I get all the feels there (with a large dose of the bad ones) and that is not good for me. Gulf Wars allowed me to leave most of the feels somewhere else. THAT was a welcome thing.