PENNSIC33-2004

DAY 1 (Saturaday Night-Sunday)

Both Brian and I arrived at Pittsburg International Airport from Atlanta about 6pm. Brian (SCA name: Hadrurus) had arrived in the US a day before myself (SCA name: Kage), and spent the previous night in Washington State. We met in Atlanta and flew on to Pittsburg, arriving about 6pm. Rob, our fencing instructor (SCA name: Tora) was due in a few hours later about 10pm. Rather than getting our rental car, driving an hour or two to our hotel room and then back to pick him up almost immediately, we decided to wait at the airport. To my great surprise and delight, an old friend of mine, Win Moore was at the luggage pickup area waiting for me. I had told him I was flying in for the event, but did not know if he would be able to spare any time for me, as he travels alot, and isn't always there at Pittsburg. He took me and Brian out to the Cracker Barrel (my suggestion) for dinner while we waited for Rob's plane to arrive. It was great to see him. I had not seen him for almost two years, but he hasn't changed a bit!

A busy street by the merchants row. (Borrowed photo)

Later, we went back to the Airport to meet Rob. His plane did not actually arrive until after midnight, so Brian and I rented the rental car and waited the last few hours for him. He finally got in, and we got into our rental car and drove north to our hotel room. Why did we rent a hotel room you might ask? Well, after a long hard days fighting, a good shower and soft bed are a very tempting notion. Too strong to pass up I think, so all 3 of us were very happy to be at "Camp Super-8". The night was very foggy, and we had been changed from the Super-8 in New Castle, to a different Super-8 in another town called Butler. We got in about 3am, and immediately crashed. Early the next morning we drove out to a dinner called "Kings" (appropriate name, don't you think?) and had a large breakfast. We also called our rental agency, and let them know the van we rented was overheating, and it needed replacing. We agreed to meet at the entrance to Cooper's Lake entrance at 11 to noon. About 2 our replacement van arrived. We were a bit steamed to miss so much time warming up, getting the lay of the land and doing some pickup fighting. (Asking people in rapier gear if they want to do some sparring). Still, we got there with some time left. We drove into Pennsic, and I was immediatly impressed with the size of it. I had been hoping it was large, and it certaintly was. As you first drive in to Pennsic, on the left is some overflow camping, (For about a thousand people) then on the left is the main battle fields. Near the road is the rapier and heavy tourney field, then behind it is a large open field with the front fasasde of a large castle behind it. Futher up the hill is a large open area that had the Roman Numverals XXXIII mowed into it, then on the top of the hill was pavilions for archery. To the front were large stretches of tents of merchants and group encampments. We had to drive into the middle of this to register. Now going to Pennsic is not free, in fact, our one week stay was over $100. You get a metal medialion, which has a serial number stamped into it. This is your pass, and is good for your entire stay. The entry fee keeps out people who are just breezing in for a "Renessaince Festival" which it certinatly is. But, it's crowded as is, and you have to be in period garb, (medeivel style clothing) to be there. The fee keeps the event more exclusive, and helps pay for all the free things, such as the hundreds of Porta-Castles. (Porta-toilets).

Porta-Castles were all over the place...and very clean!
A view towards one of the many camping fields.

We had to park a good distance away from the rapier field, and it took a good 10 minutes just to walk back to it with our gear. We then did pickup fights for about two hours. There were only about 30 or 40 people doing pickups that late in the day. This was Sunday, about 4pm. It was fun, and I got to fight against my first Don's. (The rapier rated equivilent of a Knight.) You only get to be a Don usually by being a pretty good fighter. I'd only had about 4 months of experience, so I was a little intimidated, despite what Tora (Rob) had told me. He had told me that my training was of an advanced nature, and that I should be able to hold my own against most. I actually did pretty decently for my first non-Tora students. The Don's did kill me without too much effort on their behalf. One of them gave me a huge bruise on my right arm that took 3 weeks to go away. Still, it was all in good fun. Tora had alot of fun fighting against numbers of people he had never met before. He dominated every fight, and people noticed him. Then, since the Pickup fighting was winding down, we did some quick shopping before heading out for dinner. I picked up a fencing vest (I had borrowed Tora's spare), some new gloves, a spare dress shirt and a belt. I got these all from The Gypsie Peddler. They have some of the nices fencing clothing, made out of heavy duty trigger cloth. I was very lucky to get their last large black fencing shirt and vest.

Here I am ready to do some of my first pickup fights at Pennsic! I am the one in all black of course!
My opponent presses his attack. I parry with my shield and make a kill on my opponent with a hit to my  attacker's  head!

Then, we headed to the town of New Castle and had a nice steak dinner. We then went back to Pennsic and tried to find the Caid or West Royal encampments. Tora had been designated the official Rapier Champions for both Kingdoms, and there was a Champions tournament the next morning. To make sure he was entered, it was necessary to find the Royals, and make sure he was designated to be in the Champions Pool. Luckily we happened to meet up with the Royals, (Our friend we met at the Pickup Fighting area helped us there. His name is Connor, and he is a great guy. Very gentlemanly, a good fighter, and a good friend now.) and get ensured of his placement in the following day's Tournament. We then left to go to the "Shark Party" which was the first of many Pennsic Parties went went to. We had been invited to the party by some of the rapier fighters we had done pickup fights with. The "Shark Party" was a collection of Rapier Fighters from around the Kingdoms, and it was a good group to hang out with. We really only knew ourselves, but we did find some of our earlier pickup fighting friends. The drinks were free, the torches and campfires and mist made it very cool. Almost surreal. Electrical lights at Pennsic are shunned, so the lack of electric lights, and the large volume of torches and campfires made each night at Pennsic a real enchanting thing. Later that night about midnight, we headed back to our camp at "Super-8".

The great Wooden Castle
An entrance to one of the many camps
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