So while on this journey around Lake Tahoe, we had first made plans specifically to come for the Valhalla Renaissance Faire. Christopher (or Duck as I usually call him) and myself packed up our car and left a full hour earlier than my parents’ car so we could make the Ren faire in due time. A four hour drive was not so bad, as we got a fair bit of breath taking views and I got some shut eye. However, all of this is not sorted in virtual memory, but in the brain of myself and Christopher. Even Rupert didn’t come out of a four hour long nap.
Never the less, try to imagine yourself sitting in a car for 4 hours, dozing in and out until you find yourself in the forest of the Tahoe mountains, waiting to get your first glimpses of the lake. All the houses you pass by while in the forest have special metal roofs to help with the snowy months. You never notice the slight grade of the road, taking you upwards so that once past all the rocky mountain side and forest, coming out over the lake is a welcome surprise. The natural beauty of this place is so heavily ingrained in my memory, it is a shame you can’t see it. But you could always go to Tahoe yourself.
This trip had some many adventures to look forward to, four hours in a car was terribly worth all of it. But once we passed into town, the real start began. From here we took a turn back into the forest and found ourselves in the midst of the Renaissance world, as traffic was slowed and costumed ladies and gents on both sides of us were waving and bowing. We parked on the opposite side of the road where we had been led by many a guard to one of the last spots in the camp grounds turned parking lot.
First thing was to unload ourselves from the vehicle for a stretch, pee break and myself to change into my Ren faire costume of sorts. Comfortably in clothe of another time, Duck escorted me into the Renaissance encampment of jolly fellows, tricksters and swordsmen. Directly after the gate, we were greeted with a fellow holding cards for us to ponder. Choosing cards for ourselves, we found words to describe the different kinds of fools in our lives. Duck took out ‘cow-handed’ to mean awkward or clumsy. While I impishly grasped a card that didn’t quite fit anyone I knew and pulled another card from the lot. Sadly to say, I have misplaced the word in my memory. However, the words fit quite well with my brother and Mikey.
Do remember I had said this place was full of tricksters; as such, we were tricked into playing a game and giving the man two pence (that is two dollars for you modern folk). Duck came away with the prize of a freshly drilled nutmeg on a string to keep away the privy smells, while the rest of us children brought home a ‘dragon tear’. We had each been given a spinning top to release all at the same time, battling until one spun alone. Mine was first to die, as it collided with everyone else’s instantly. The trickster’s assistant gave me another to pull and almost out lasted Duck’s. We cheered for our colors until they all fell to the brilliance of Duck’s purple top. Coming away from the fight, Duck announced he had won at ‘bey blades’ and was rather interested in the history lesson behind his nutmeg. Supposedly, that trickster’s game and the history won is his favorite part in the whole day.
It wasn’t long before another seller was calling to us, begging us to pay attention to his wares of flower garlands for the women’s hair. It wasn’t until much later in the day that we set foot in his outdoor shop to spot some magnificent hats a counterpart creates. Believing they would go very nicely on my head, I had tried on several. By misfortune, I had to take a liking to this certain hat. Being the end of the day, my purse was emptying rather fast and even then there was not enough to purchase such frivolous things.
Looking around at the different wares, everyone kept passing in costumed frocks or pirates attire. Many women had their blouses almost bursting, as is fashionable. Imagine all these big breasted folk just shoving their tits into view without a care. Feeling as though at any moment, I could walk right up to someone and just stare down or be shoved into their bosom. For most of the day, I tried to ignore the envy of their costumes and breasts, as many sellers had beautiful attire at a very high price. However, there was one fashion I could not ignore…
Before long we found ourselves pushing to the side, as we heard a call from a jail guard, hauling a man away with three young girls towing behind. The scandal was taken to the public humiliation or courts of sorts, where the guardsman kept yelling for anyone to bring forth their issues and be brought to fair justice for a fair price. In other words, anyone you quarreled with could be brought over if you had the money.
Following the guardsmen to the courts, we looked upon quite the scene, horrifying to Duck and rather amusing to the self. What took place may seem backwards but was the respectable thing these jailers could do, to teach the man’s step daughters a lesson. Charged of not paying for the daughter’s wares, the man was put behind bars until the judge had him at court. The girls were found to be liars and guilty, as such were punished. The step father had the honor of pouring buckets of water as they laid upon the chained wall. Mind you, these three girls screeched and hollered to stop, but were not bright enough to take punishment with dignity except for one. Two of the girls howled that they hated this man and as such all three were drenched even more so. If only they had respect for men and held their tongues, they might have been spared all that water. In truth, they were very bratty girls and the courts decided to publicly humiliate them.
While watching this slow scene unfold, I kept noticing the passing of women with tails behind them or to the side. This trend was not something to look past or ignore, and had to be answered with finding a seller of such tails. Coming upon what seemed to be the only seller of such things as rabbit pelts, raccoon tails, fox and kit tails, even fox faces. Instantly drawn to these things, Duck and myself picked out our tails without more than a second thought. It was not until the end of our day when we found ourselves at the front of the camp once more, that we came upon another seller who sold even more gorgeous tails. My reply was insistence to purchase another fox tail with more brilliant coloring and fuller fluff. One the left is the second, fully adult fox tail while the right one was actually a kit tail or young fox tail of black and white. Both are from actual animals who were found dead in some form, before their pelts were taken. As sad as that sounds to you modern folk, wearing these is a proud reminder to look beyond death and remember what this world gives to us in all life’s moments.
As such we walked around and around, looking at wares and tasting the foods that day. Coming upon a band of pirate bards, we stopped to investigate their songs for awhile. Before long, we noticed there was to be a joust, but kept along and let the crowd condense there and enjoy everything else. All around was little camps of feasts or tents, people of the era just going about life. The Roma were of course the ones we all stayed cleared from, if you can’t understand why you don’t interact with gypsies then you must surely look at your purse strings and find it has been stolen.
It was hard to decide what to do with these little camps, wanting to interact just got us into trouble. As one of the men just outside a camp held a chicken puppet he called his cock, talking of him in a bawdy language to myself as a lady. We soon passed this chicken man once again.
However our royal queen did pass us in the streets once before returning to her courts for the people to look on at the discussion. Even as a lady, I was scantily clad and welcomed the gods that I was not royal and wouldn’t need to wear such clothe.
Street games and even archery school were available for us to partake in, although we mostly avoided all that. Next year it won’t be a problem to partake in such festivities, as being a lady can’t hold me back in these higher times. Trying to save the coins within my purse this year might have held me back. However, also Duck seemed hesitant but I won’t let that happen again. Knowing what to expect for next visit will give me courage to go for trying all of this.
In truth, I really did need to save some of my money for finding a gift for someone dear to me. Already, I had brought Duck here and we had our tails. But this next part of the adventure was to be focused on our mothers. Walking around the entire day, I was having trouble finding something Mother would approve of and appreciate. Looking at hand made pottery did not seem quite enough, although surely Duck and myself both were interested. Looking at parasols and beautiful masks did not fit the requirements of a birthday gift.
Then we came upon an incense and oil shop after already passing it up once, yet this time more determined to spend the last of my coins on a gift fit for the queen Mother. Firstly we came upon the turquoise stones and star bottle that would hold the delicious, sweet and foresty oil gift. Then came the task of finding the perfect scent from within over 180 oils of pure and hand mixed scents. Very nervous about picking correct scent, Duck and I spent a good 20 minutes peering over this arrangement and sniffing to our heart’s content. Thinking I had found it did not deter me from cross checking and finding other scents. Finally, I decided on my original choice of a mixed oil: Freak of Nature with just a hint of mother’s favorite smell of patchouli, sweet and fragrant yet very earthy. Duck also got a green tea oil for his mother.
Besides the jousts, several places held shows of one sort or another: puppet show for children in one corner, sword fights right next to it and at the end of the day there was a Death Dance travelling around the camp to stop at the gate and have others dance. All good things that should have been snapped in pictures, but sadly that will have to be part of next year’s visit. The Macabre Danse was captured however, mostly in my mind. One of the fiends even came by to take me by the arm and danced in circles with me while Duck looked across in confusion. All of them were clothed in black scraps and white masks.
With their dance marking us, the faire seemed like a good place to be exiting. Taking a stroll towards the gates, we first came upon the jousting area with the crowds and casually mulled over the scene of nothing happening while the announcer said things quite out of character for a Renaissance man.
Leaving that scene, we made our way closer back to the gates following behind the Death Dance. We stopped in some of the shops for some pictures with crazy leather hats. I also decided it was necessary to capture just a bit of the faire on camera and found some swords to snap of. There was just so much at this faire, looking back I wish I had a video camera on top of my head to film and take pictures of everything. That is why there are already plans for next year, however….on the second weekend when the theme is pirates and barbarian hordes.