The drive from Charlotte to Deerfields is fairly quick. Small towns dot Hwy 74 as Phyrebolt and I caravan along. Stopping for supplies and fuel, then heading up into the mountains.
The trees start to change, less of the bright green of spring and more reds and yellows, the first buds that haven’t yet opened to make full leaves. The road goes down to two lanes and starts to make the winding incline to our destination.
Pulling up to the Owl Gates at Deerfields, Phyrebolt hops out of his trusty van and motions me to follow. He lights two sticks of incense and places a large chunk of playa in the middle of the road. Picking up a stick, he draws a line across our path and grabs my arm as we walk across it. Everything is different on the other side. Reminiscent to the year Danger Ranger brought people to the Black Rock Desert for the first time…
He’s right. The vast expanse of Deerfields opens up before us. Two lakes, an old apple orchard, cabins, trails, a babbling stream winding throughout – it is more beautiful than the stories I’ve heard.
Photos really do no justice for this beautiful landscape.
We find a place to set up camp and decide to take advantage of the remaining daylight hours to tour the grounds. Phyrebolt explains each camping area – how they are all intertwined to make Mysteria, the village/ city of Transformus. 1200 people attend Transformus, making it one of the largest Regional Burns.
As dusk falls, friends Wolf and Amelia arrive from Columbia, SC. They came to the Meet n Greet at Serendipity the previous weekend. This is their first Transformus work weekend as well. A fire is started and by nightfall, our little camp of mostly Transformus newbies has the biggest camp fire going. Like moths to the flame, new arrivals and other campers stop by to warm up and admire the beautiful fire that Wolf maintained.
Wolf and his fire.
Morning starts early. Gabe, the Transformus DPW lead organizes volunteers. New bridges need to be built over the stream and there is a mountain of wood to be chopped for firewood.
The evening’s fire is re-kindled as people gather to warm up before heading off to work for the day. At the base of a large mound of raw, red earth there are roughly 3 dozen campers who have arrived to work this weekend. Quite a few people showed up over the course of the night!
There is also a Ranger Training being held. Phyrebolt and I figure that is a good thing to have under our belts and head over to the main pavilion to get our Ranger on.
About 15 people are gathered on the pavilion. Ranger Sidewinder, the Transformus Lead Ranger is present and offers coffee and hugs. We dive right in, discussing what a Ranger is and isn’t. Over the course of four hours we learn how to use a radio, handle various situations, what our costumes are to be, and other important facts and info about the art of Rangering. A very useful role playing exercise happens. You can see every one in the group really come to understanding why Rangers are a very important and useful part of our community and very good people to have at a Regional Event.
Training over, it’s time to check in with the Transformus LLC. Miss Kitten one of the Virginia Regional Contacts in on the board. It’s fantastic to finally be meeting people that I’ve only heard of or emailed with. K Lo makes me feel very welcome and makes sure that introductions are made so everyone knows everyone. The LLC has been busy today as well, they are having a meeting to finalize team leads and budgets. A long day of meeting and planning, the excitement about their event is catching as I meet everyone and make new friends.
Miss Kitten and K Lo.
Over the course of the day, tales of a big rain storm keep surfacing. Deerfields is located in a temperate rain forest afterall, rain storms are no stranger here. In anticipation of the coming storm, a huge fire is planned for the evening potluck. Truck after truck load of dead wood is hauled in. Wolf and others work to make a beautifully arranged pile of wood to be burned at dusk.
Alas, as evening approaches, so does the rain. It quickly goes from just a simple rain storm to warnings of gale winds up to 40-50 MPH, thunder and lighting. Concern grows over the mountain of red earth that is to be a berm to create more camping. It isn’t seeded yet and the property owners don’t want there to be a mud slide.
The community quickly comes together, helping each other break camp and move to the main field near the soon to be big fire. Concern continues to grow that there could be wash outs and people might get stuck so we are all instructed to park our cars carefully on the gravel patches along the road. The Transformus Parking Team Lead cuts his teeth at the challenge.
A Town Hall is called as everyone is gathered under the pavilion, information sharing time and also a word to let people know that if they can leave the grounds for the evening, it’s a good idea. Space is crowded under the pavilion and the storm is promising to be a nasty one. Fewer people mean less risk of getting stuck among other things.
Tents are being set up, benches cleared, a DJ is setting up some music and a potluck is pulled together. K Lo leads a discussion in how the day went, celebrating all that was accomplished and letting people know what the LLC was up to that day. Introductions go around as the new Team Leads and Board members are introduced and have a chance to speak about what they are working on and the volunteer help they seek.
The crowd cheers and listens attentively. Many are anxiously awaiting the word that the next round of Transformus tickets are on sale. Deborah the Board Member in charge of tickets is on hand to sell them to the hard working volunteers who showed up for the work weekend. Later that night, they go onsale to the general public and I’m told that tier sold out in 14 minutes!
As the Town Hall comes to an end, I realize that it’s probably best to say my goodbyes and head to dryer and safer ground. There is a long journey ahead of me to get home and it’s going to be a wet, cold and potentially scary night of storms.
It’s hard to leave. I’ve met so many amazing people and made so wonderful new friends on this adventure. Hugs and numbers are exchanged. When do we get to see each other again? Flipside? Transformus? The playa?
I wanted to bring Sally with me.
Driving carefully down the mountain pass and back into civilization, the rain starts to pound the trusty little rent a car that earned the name Camel Toe on this trip. I’m thankful to be on my way to a dry spot and to have met all the people I did.
The idea of home is alluring but I feel as if a part of me will remain behind with my new friends, The Dirty Southern Burners.
This about sums it up.