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What a blast! We don't know if it's the off-roading, the live music, the campfires burning 24/7 or just the joy of camping and playing games with your Tepui community, but something keeps on bringing so many familiar faces back to Hollister Hills for TepuiFest, and we love it! And of course, somebody must've told somebody else because we were equally glad to have made a bunch of new friends this year. Thank you all so much for driving out to Hollister Hills again this year for TepuiFest 2015!
Sometimes things just start off a little off. We were concerned about a fire which had started burning in the Hollister area just days before the event was set to take place, but the good news was that we lucked out and it wasn't an issue! The California State Parks Rangers stationed in Hollister cleared the area safe and the event as a a GO just a day before, due to the diligent work of the local firefighters (thank you!) and the desperately-needed overnight rainfall Hollister Hills received on Wednesday. The second thing which caught us off guard were the challenging traffic conditions. We heard that the Grapevine was shut down for hours, which delayed many guests on the road from SoCal, and there was also an accident up the road from the group campsite on Friday, which took out power to the area! Of course this happens when everyone was slated to arrive, register, get a beer and listen to some live tunes. Everything got slowed down as we waited...and waited...and waited...for the food, band, firewood, as well as the others attendees to finally get through the mess and show up. Fortunately the delicious beer from Discretion Brewing in Santa Cruz made the trip earlier in the day, so at least we had refreshments. Again, thanks to all for the positive attitudes and patience as we dealt wit the situation. Everyone and everything arrived, we ate a hot meal, danced to a lively band called Pasto Seco, played horseshoes and more, and the first night concluded amongst campfires and friendly chatter.
Hot breakfast and strong coffee catered by Mexxi's set us right in the AM, and folks started breaking camp and warming up their engines early. Saturday brought a variety of activities, of all types. Some of us chose to enjoy our weekend in the outdoors with the activities around camp, and the kids on bikes and go carts kept the entertainment level high, even as we sat around in camp chairs tossing frisbees and playing corn hole. It's camping, why rush it? Others chose to participate in the activities which required a little more gasoline and diesel.
While go you could go wheeling solo or with some friends through the epic courses and trails in the Hollister Hills SVRA, there were also several opportunities to get out there on guided tours and through specific obstacles. The North California Land Rover Club was there, and gave a handy primer course as people finished up their coffee, then led a group of a dozen or so 4-wheelers out on a seven-mile off-road tour of the park. For those of you who were looking for a little more of a challenge, be aware that we may be heading into a little gnarlier terrain next year, but this was a pretty nice overview of some of the trails which we don't get to all there time. Really nice scenery from the top of a big hill on a clear blue day, even when you are in low-4, tilted at 30 degrees starboard...
Another promising activity was the Blind Driver course, where a blindfolded driver was guided through a small obstacle course by a spotter, and timed, with prizes for the quickest time (took into account obstacle-contact penalties) given out that evening. Again, while the concept was good, we plan to make a few tweaks if we run that one again next year, to get your blood pumping a bit. Let's put that differential lock and reinforced seatbelt to use!! Of course we won't plan on pitching anyone off a cliff, but look for a little upgrade to the challenge level, or at least an addition of an advanced course. Back at camp, individual lunch prep started, and it was at this point we are got to walking around a checking out everyone's killer rigs.
It was all there: built up Jeeps ready for the apocalypse, stock 4x4s with custom fabricated trailers with fold-out camp stoves, a handful of beautiful Land Cruisers, a beautiful vintage modified VW truck with wraparound camp setup, multi-tent Tacomas, and much, much more! This is the kind of stuff we love to see. Built in solar panels, modified propane and hot water tanks, hidden gear storage and piston-powered racks, monstrous rock crawlers and just about everything you can imagine. Some of our favorites? The solo driver out here to test his/her skills for the first time. The group of friends, setting up early and staying til the end. The family, driving up after work Friday, loaded to brim with toys, snacks and excitement, whose kids burst out the door and just plain love to camp. All of the above, and many more, are our people, and we love it.
The weather Saturday held in the pleasantly warm range all day, and stayed mild into the evening. We had two more bands lined up for Saturday, and HonkyDonky and Heartbreaker brought a fun folky rock sound with an attitude to the mid-day party, with plenty of antics and a few hoots and hollers. The day wore on, and as folks were coming in and out of the trails, we fortunately saw a lot more dusty smiles than broken parts, although we did hear of a brutally snapped driveshaft in a particularly chunky section of the obstacle park. Darkness fell and as dinner was readied, served and vigorously eaten, we launched into the much-awaited raffle, Blind Driver awards, and some of the unique prizes for special unofficial categories on offer at TepuiFest. Last years Best-in-Show was passed along to a super-cool, highly modified vintage VW truck which had a full mess kit setup built into the driver's side bed, every kind of camp hookup you need and a matching custom rack on which a Tepui Tent securely rested. Per Tepuifest tradition, last year's Best-in-Show winner brought the trophy back, with their winner's own special modification, and was sent home with this year's winner with the same intent. The trophy which keeps on growing...
The Frankenstein award went to a lady who showed up with an older model Suzuki Samurai, and a ground tent (yep, that was not expected) who ended up beautifying both pieces of equipment by mounting her ground tent with gusto on top of the small cab of the Samurai after coming back from the trails! It was a thing of pure beauty, and she won the Frankenstein award with flying colors. A few more awards were passed out, and a new challenge was introduced before the groovy sounds of the third band of the weekend, Thrive, came onstage. Tepui Adventure leader Todd Rogers helped us set out challenge this year, for a BIG prize next year, should an intrepid adventurer seek the opportunity. Todd hid a particular recognizable item in a specific location, and announced the GPS coordinates to the group. The challenge was this: whomever locates the mystery item and brings it back to TepuiFest next year will be greatly rewarded!! Hope that when you wrote down the coordinates on the back of you hand, you used permanent marker, because you don't want to miss out out on this one!
Next up was Thrive, and they were incredible. People were dancing, enjoying some beverages, and it was certainly an evening to remember. Good music and good times in the outdoors, served up for the whole Tepui community to enjoy.
Needless to say, we totally scored. It was a blast, we have some ideas to make it even better for next year, and most of all, thanks again for showing us a good time!