More WtT stuff.

After the main rite on Saturday, everyone sort of split up and went off to do their own things for a while. Lyssa and I went down to the kitchen to grab dinner, which was a potluck assembled out of dishes supplied by everyone at Thresholds this year. Corvaxgirl was kind enough to take command of the kitchen while the rest of us up top were doing witchy-type stuff to make it all happen. A few weeks ago, Hasufin and Lyssa canned a couple of quarts of chicken soup, so our contribution was a box of one quart jars of soup which were heated up on the gas stove and left warm for whomever wanted to partake. We also filched a couple of pieces of the honey-corn bread that Corvaxgirl made - I really need to get that recipe, it's a good skillet bread...

Later in the evening, well after the festivities were over and everyone went back to doing their thing, Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I went stargazing for a while as we walked around the camp. It really is amazing how many stars you can see when you go far enough away from the city. There really wasn't any light pollution to speak of so we could see hundreds, if not thousands of stars in the sky, from horizon to horizon. I wish that I'd had my camera with me - I'd have turned off the flash and taken some exposures of the night sky. I wound up wandering up to the drum circle just as the last people left, and the night fell quiet once more. There were only a couple of people left, and they were packing up to head down to the campsite claimed by Camp Cambodia at the bottom of the hill. Because I had my retrofitted Maglite with me (I installed a white-light LED assembly which generates much more light than a halogen bulb does), I offered to lead everyone down to Cambodia because it was a fairly dark night, the stars in the sky notwithstanding. It was at that time that I saw something that amazed me at the time, and still does when I think back on it:

When going to the lower campsite, you can either hike down the dirt road to the bottom, hang a right down by the showers, and follow the firelight into the campground, or you can take a shortcut down the hill. Fairly recently, by the appearance of the cut-back plant growth and damage to the soil, someone began to blaze another path down the hillside which cuts a good fifteen minutes of time off of your hiking time. The trade-off is that the path is much more steep and less cleared, so if you're not careful, you're just as likely to hit a rock or a tree branch and take a header down the rest of the path. This is the path that I lead everyone down, because it was closer and faster to where everyone was going.

Neia, the girlfriend of Bladeless Axe, decided that this was not, in fact, fast enough for her tastes and took off down the new trail at a dead run. In the blink of an eye she'd blown past Bladeless, Laurelinde, and the rest of us as fast as her legs could carry her and sprinted down a thirty-five degree grade - comma, rough ground cover - like a le parkour runner, her feet barely touching the ground. If you picture a spooked doe bolting through the underbrush, you wouldn't be far off the mark.

As it turned out, she beat us by probably five minutes and arrived safe and sound at Camp Cambodia.

The next morning we were greeted by Jason, a good friend of ours from northern Virginia. Nobody knew that he was going to come to the Farm for Thresholds because he hadn't pre-registered. He just got into his van and headed for Pennsylvania early Sunday morning, and spent the morning and part of the afternoon running around the camp meeting people, hanging out, and generally being Jason. He helped us break out gear down and pack the TARDIS so the four of us (Heron, Teaotter, Lyssa, and myself) could head back to DC. With Jason bringing up the rear, it took the five of us about three hours to get back to DC. Lyssa slept on the way back while Heron, Teaotter, and I talked about gaming and RPGs the entire way; he designs role-playing games for a living, so we had a great deal to talk about, in particular some of the more infamous games in history (such as the Star Wars/Star Trek licensing fiasco) and the gaming community in general.

The TARDIS was unpacked in record time because all of us had three things in mind: Getting a real shower, changing our clothes, and getting real food. While waiting for everyone to freshen up, Heron tracked down some videos of le parkour running that, frankly, blew me away. The unaugmented human body can do some pretty impressive things if you know how to use it properly, but if you actively train yourself to use your environment as an obstacle course, regardless of what that environment happens to be, you can do some truly amazing things. Things that I've never seen in years of zorking around Pittsburgh, Indiana, and sometimes other places. The community, so far as I know, is still primarily found in Europe but there have to be a couple of groups in the United States by now. Le Parkour running was first mentioned in one of Warren Ellis' comics a few years ago, in an issue of Global Frequency called The Run, so it isn't as if it's unknown here.

When everyone was ready the five of us wound up driving to the new Sakura restaurant in northern Virginia (8369 Leesburg Pike; Vienna, VA; 22182; phone number 703-356-6444). Lyssa and I go to the one out by where she works from time to time, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were in for.

The new Sakura is very large inside and very tastefully decorated. Of course, they have about a dozen hibachi stoves set up - grills with chairs arrayed around them where the chef cooks your food right in front of you, with an element of theatrical performance thrown in for fun. The staff are nice, polite, and very attentive, don't get me wrong - but please, for the love of Mike, don't play up the stereotypes.. the squeaky voices are annoying. They just opened about two weeks ago, so of course it's going to take them a while to get on their game, but we wound up waiting an unusually long time for them to get around to getting our miso soup and salads to us, let alone get the hibachi chef out to our table/grill. We were already pretty hungry because we hadn't eaten much in the way of breakfast on Sunday.

Still, Sakura has excellent sushi and good chefs. I can't complain very much about problems at a newly opened restaurant, familiar or not. One flaregun out of five - if you like Japanese food, visit Sakura.