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Mid-Atlantic Naturist Gathering, Virginia
June 14-17, 2001
The TNS marketing folks are missing the boat if they do not print tee-shirts reading, " I survived the first Mid-Atlantic Naturist Gathering." Our weekend of adventure began with a four hour drive through thunderstorms to White Tail Park in Ivor, Virginia, last Friday afternoon. As we are not campers, and the park had run out of rental units before I had made my reservations, we had to drive an additional half hour to reach the recommended motels in Suffolk, Virginia. After another half hour drive back to White Tail, we were in real danger of missing dinner.
The kind, friendly lady in the office began our check-in for the gathering. Realizing it was late, and we were hungry, she gave us our food coupons and told us to get some dinner, and finish the check-in procedure after we had eaten. The dinner, consisting of salad, vegetable, potato, and dessert for myself, and all of the above, plus a steak for my meat eating companion, was plentiful, and delicious. We finished our check-in, and took a walk around the grounds.
White Tail does not have the palm trees and alligators of Cypress Cove, nor does it have the mountain view of Avalon. Never the less, it is, simply, a beautiful park. The statues, plants, trees and gardens, prove a lot of thought, talent and work goes into keeping the place looking as nice as it does. I heard about 175 folks had come out for the gathering. We saw many tents set up in a field, as well as many campers in camp sites. About a half dozen people had set up a camp fire and were toasting marshmallows. We headed indoors and stumbled upon a photography workshop where the leader was demonstrating an art form of projecting colorful patterns on nude bodies and photographing them. The procedure was fascinating, and the results, which he showed the next day, were remarkable.
White Tail has a fairly large hot tub, outdoors, but in a screened pavilion. The spa was very hot, which was good, and it had very powerful jets. My companion found the shower interesting. She noted that not only did it have a shower curtain, but, most people were closing the curtain. I suggested that the curtain may have been there to keep the water in the shower. In any case, we soaked for a while, and headed inside, again, for the disk jockey and dance. The gift shop sells a CD containing photographs of the beautiful grounds. They had that CD set up in a slide show format at the dance. We watched for a while and shared one of the bags of freshly popped popcorn, which was being given out. With the drive and all, it had been a long day, so after a couple of dances, we called it a night and headed back to our motel in Suffolk.
Early the next morning, the remnants of Tropical Storm Allison hit the area. We headed to White Tail for breakfast, and got there at about 9:00 AM. We noted that the road to Ivor was covered, in a couple of places, with water, and what had been fields the last evening, were now lakes. At White Tail, no breakfast had been cooked! The floor of the picnic pavilion was under water. The electric sockets were under water. My companion was concerned because she had an important appointment back home, Sunday evening. What if the road to Suffolk flooded, and we were unable to get back? The folks at White Tail served us up some cold dry cereal boxes to get us going. We were not having a very good time. Our spirits lifted a bit as we listened to some of the others talking about how they had been through worse, and as we watched the kids splashing in the rising waters. They didn't care about flooding or cars getting stranded or missed appointments. They were having a ball.
We decided that as the weather forecasts called for Allison not to leave the area until 1:00 AM the next morning, we would try to make our way back to the motel, pick up our suitcase and belongings, and return to White Tail where we would spend the night in the car if it came to that and drive home in the morning, when the roads, we hoped, would be better. In just the few minutes we had been at White Tail, the roads had gotten worse, with a new pool swelling up in front of the Citgo station near the park. The other places that had already been covered with water were now, even deeper. We made it through, packed, and grabbed the suitcase. Again, we headed back for White Tail. Each flooded portion of the road became a new challenge. The worst pool was back at the Citgo station. We saw some cars giving up and turning around, with other cars making it through. My companion, who was driving, decided to give it a shot. She is a better driver than I, and I trust her judgment. She said her adrenalin was pumping as she stepped on the gas, but we made it through. Once back at White Tail, we heard stories of campers waking up under water. Several of them were deciding to give it up and head home right after breakfast. Then, good things started happening. The folks at White Tail came up with an alternative cooking source to electricity, and pans of hot eggs with packages of bread appeared. Having had a warm breakfast, we noticed while the rain showed no signs of stopping, it had lessened, considerably, and we were not uncomfortable walking around in it.
All activities had been moved indoors, but that did not stop the kids. As we walked down the road, a young girl went skidding past us on a float. A dry gully that we had seen the night before had become a swiftly moving river, and a group of kids had turned it into a water park attraction. Rounding a corner, we came across a group of older kids and adults playing in the mud. Inside, we found a talk going on about how to write for N magazine. We sat for a while listening to the talk, reading the novels we brought with us, and watching the folks outside playing in the mud. It was marvelous to see how folks can turn a disasterous condition into a good time.
The rain varied from heavy to light to misting and back to heavy all morning and most of the afternoon. During one of the lighter moments, I noticed one lady braving the sports pool. I decided to try it myself. I convinced my companion the water was not too cold. She joined me. Next thing I knew, another gentleman jumped in, as well, and we were in the middle of a water volleyball game. Now, neither of us have any athletic ability, but my companion loves water volleyball. A younger couple, and a couple of guys joined in, and we had fun just trying to keep the ball going back and forth over the net. Although I suspect one or two of the other players actually had some talent, nobody used the words "rotation," or "position" and we continued to play just for fun until the rain increased, and we all started to chill. Several of us warmed up in the hot tub. After a while, I found a chair at tub side, and made some progress in reading my novel. My companion engaged in conversation with another lady in the tub who turned out to be in a similar line of work.
Lunch was a delicious vegetable lasagna. I didn't notice what the meat eaters had. Bob Morton of NAC gave a wonderful talk explaining who the enemies of naturism are, and what motivates them. He is an excellent speaker. It is no wonder he is so successful in being a voice of reason. By about three o'clock, the rain was mostly just a mist, with only brief periods of heavy downpour till the late evening. This respite allowed the drainage to work and the ground to soak up the water, so that as the day went on, the waters went down. This allowed the pudding toss to take place. I admit I still do not understand the attraction of being covered in pudding, and hurling it at others, so I did not participate. Perhaps, one day.........
As we wandered back to the hot tub, we came across an interesting workshop. A photographer positioned nudes in the shapes of letters of the alphabet and photographed them. Again, the finished product, displayed that evening, prior to the dance, was very well executed. White Tail owns a fire engine. One of its prime functions is to give kids (of all ages) a ride around the park. Sure enough, in mid afternoon the fire hats were passed around, and a bunch of kids (and a few grown ups) climbed on the fire engine. With lights flashing, and sirens wailing, down the muddy road they went. The kids in their fire hats waved as the fire truck went by, and we waved back. The only drawback to a day that had proven to be a lot more fun than we expected, was dinner. They ran out of chicken! This, of course, did not bother me, but my companion, briefly, went into grumbling mode.
The evening activities began with the premier of a new naturist video about clubs and resorts. It was very well done, but seemed quite long. If the purpose was to make people aware of some clubs or resorts they may want to visit one day, then the video achieved success. We noted at least two that we hope to visit one day. The problem is that after a while, they all began to look alike, with rooms, pools, hot tubs, sports courts, etc. The only differentiators seemed to be whether a club was modern or rustic, and what part of the country it was in, for those who want to use the resort as a base for tourist activities. Still, we got to see it before anyone else, which was fun.
Wende and Raye, the vocalists for the dance, had beautiful voices, and kept the crowd entertained throughout their first set. We enjoyed their performance and danced. When they took a break, NAC raffled off some door prizes and a trip to Grand Lido Braco. I did not win. After a warm up comic, whose name I did not catch, prepared us, the main comic, Hoop, took the stage. Although we had heard many good things about Hoop, and most of the crowd seemed to be laughing, we would have rather listened to more of Wende and Raye. We heard, next morning, that Wende and Raye continued to perform till three in the morning, but we left in the middle of Hoop's act. It had been a long day, so we decided to head back to the motel. Just as the water had subsided in the park, so did the water on the road to Suffolk. As we passed the Citgo station which had been the site of the flood earlier in the day, I noticed a news crew filming in front of the place. I wondered if the day's road conditions had made the evening news.
The next morning we found an old friend we had not seen all weekend. The sun had come out. A drive back to White Tail brought us to a warm, bright sunny park we had not seen before. As we headed for our first visit to the swimming pool, after a breakfast of pancakes and eggs, the lady collecting the food tickets reminded us to be sure to put on our sun lotion. We capped off a morning of sunning, and swimming with a final walk around the grounds. We found the basketball court and shot a few baskets. We found a unique checker/chess board, with three foot high pieces, and moved a few, just to say we did it.
Unfortunately, we had to leave before lunch. After reluctantly dressing, I located my lunch tickets and offered them to a couple who had just parked in front of us. They accepted, and thanked me. As we drove off, we talked about all the things we had done this weekend, and how different Sunday's weather was compared with Saturday's. We will always be able to say we survived the first Mid-Atlantic Naturist Gathering.
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