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That One Time I Was Almost Accidentally “That Person” For a Week Long Festival Posted January 13, 2020

AKA: What To Do When You Forget Your Deodorant at a Festival.

Seeing a solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people, so when the opportunity arose to attend Global Eclipse Gathering in 2017 for the Solar Eclipse, I dropped my other plans and made it happen. I had no other friends attending but I knew it was something that couldn’t be missed. I decided to take the plunge and go alone. I bought myself a ticket, a flight, and a shuttle ride in from the airport. At this point in my festival timeline, I wasn’t exactly new to the scene. I’d done maybe 30 festivals, plenty of which involved camping, and many of which were solo. I was not at all worried about my gear, about being alone, or about my prep. I was ready to go.

One thing you have to understand about Oregon Eclipse is that it was remote.  This wasn’t your standard festival where you could hop in the car and run to the store for supplies if you forgot something. Big Summit Prairie is located on top of a mountain in the middle of Ochoco Nation Forest in Nowhere, Oregon. The drive in was a long, treacherous single lane road up the side of a mountain.

The nearest town of Prineville (pop: 10,000) was well over an hour’s drive away on a good day, and with 40,000 people making their way to the festival site; it wasn’t exactly an easy journey. Between traffic and accidents (including a massive A-Class RV that was launched off the side of the cliff at some point), impatient partiers had to wait up to 27 hours to get into the event. I’m sure the festival could see this was going to be an issue, because they had a strict no re-entry policy. Once you’re in, you’re in until the end.

 

A map of the festival site.
The festival site, surrounded by a whole lot of absolutely nothing.

 

I arrived at the festival after an approximately 18 hour journey, including my shuttle to the airport, airport wait, flight, airport wait, and 5 hour shuttle ride. Thankfully I had to skip the first day, meaning I got to miss the wait that many other people experienced.

However, I also had an excessive amount of gear. Although I always preach packing minimally, I was making a double trip. After Oregon Eclipse, I’d fly straight to Reno for Burning Man, and had no choice but to bring all my Burner gear (which is more than the average festival) along with me to Oregon. OE also recommended we bring all the food and water we needed for the week. By the time I was fully packed – I had more than 2 suitcases of gear to haul in, plus water. Something I thought would be easy with 2 rollie bags proved to be incredibly challenging once I discovered the paths were covered with large rocks that didn’t play well with tiny suitcase wheels.

Between my 18 hour journey and making multiple trips to move my regrettable amount of gear to the campsite, I was filthy, and exhausted. I got my tent set up and settled in to clean up with a baby wipe shower. I was far too tired to drag myself out to find a real shower.

All squeaky clean(ish), I dug through my bag and found my deodorant and had the sudden, awful realization that instead of packing the nice new deodorant I had set aside just for this trip, I had brought the old, almost empty deodorant from my bathroom. Alright, well, maybe I can make it last if I’m careful…

The very first time I put it on, the last bit crumbled away before I could even reach the second pit. It was EMPTY. I’m a pretty sweaty person so I kinda neeeeed that if I don’t want to be “that person” all week. It was, quite frankly, horrifying.

I’m not quite ready to start the smelly wook phase of my festival career. 

Well, no big deal – surely they have a general store at this big festival, right?  I trekked into the main part of the festival, having none of everyone else’s jovial attitude until I could deal with this, and found the general store. I also found that it was horribly understocked. Unlike most festival stores that have everything you could ever need to survive, Oregon must have lost a shipping container containing the entire stock or something. The store carried approximately 8 different items, 3 of which were different sizes of pots, and none of which were useful to me. I asked the lady working if they had deodorant. She tried her best to be helpful by offering me the closest thing she could find – a face cloth. Uhm, no, I’m good.

 

Source: Ben_Frieden on Pixabay
Source: Ben_Frieden on Pixabay

 

One of the best parts of Oregon Eclipse was the extensive number of unique craft vendors – it’s something I love about a good festival. There were at least a hundred other vendors, so I went on a fucking MISSION. Surely one of these bitches will be selling deodorant amongst their odds and ends, even if it’s some of that new-age hippie stuff. It took me (and I kid you not) a solid 3 hours to get through the full line of vendors. I came out empty handed. The only thing I found that was even in the same universe was some bullshit “natural” deodorant made of coconut oil and lavender oil that cost $28 and contained nothing that would ever stop someone from sweating. I even tried the Trading Post, where they had all kinds of overpriced toiletries for trade… But no deodorant.

At this point I was worried. I thought this mission would be easy. I went back to camp and started asking my neighbours for the week. Now, festivals are known as incredibly communal places – everyone’s got your back. Generally if you’ve forgotten something, it’ll take you about 30 seconds to ask around and SOMEONE will hook you up with what you need. It’s never really been an issue.

I swallowed my pride and started chatting up my neighbours to see if they could help me out. At this point I was willing to pay an obscene amount of money for someone’s deodorant if they asked. Someone must have a spare, or be willing to share with their partner, or SOMETHING to help a girl out. Normally if anyone is willing to indulge a crazy request, it’s festival goers. The crazier the request, the better.

After another extensive search, I found exact zero people willing to help me out. Which really shocked me, to be honest; I wasn’t expecting it’d be so difficult. I’m not sure if they thought I was trolling or drunk or what, but every single person looked at me like I was from another planet. This should be a simple request, right?

Well fuck. Kinda screwed at this point, aren’t I? I’d exhausted every option I could come up with. I ripped my bag apart hoping I had done all this for nothing and my nice new deodorant was tucked in some pocket – but no luck. I kicked myself as I pictured it sitting at home in my pile of festival things. I dug through all my toiletries, there must be SOMETHING in there to solve this problem – but unfortunately toiletries wasn’t one of the areas I’d overpacked.

I slowly started to accept my fate – that I’d be the smelly person in the crowd for the week. It was finally my turn to be “that person”. Showers and soap didn’t stand a chance in a sweaty climate where I’d be walking 30 miles a day.

Defeated, I decided to get on with my life and accept my fate as the smelly person. I pulled out my bottle of contraband vodka (in plastic, of course) to make a drink. Suddenly, I remembered something a friend had told me…

She said she doesn’t use deodorant… she just uses rubbing alcohol to kill the bacteria. I didn’t have rubbing alcohol, but I had a nice big bottle of filthy cheap vodka, ready to go!

Instantly, I transformed into MacGyver got to work on a bag of emergency anti-wook wipes. I cut a stack of baby wipes in half and placed them inside a plastic baggie. I added a couple drops of peppermint Dr. Bronners soap and a healthy shot of vodka. I let the whole mixture soak. I carried around that baggie for the entire week and used a wipe every time I started to sweat.

Much to my surprise – it worked, and it worked well! By the end of the week long festival, my underarms were red and irritated to the point that I couldn’t wear my backpack properly, but it was worth it. I had avoided certain wookdom.

Me and my poor, tender underarms would absolutely never recommend this solution to anyone if it could in any way be avoided – but desperate times call for desperate measures. To this day, I’ve beens sure to bring a minimum of TWO fresh deodorant sticks to every festival. Come find me, I’ll be happy to hook you up if you forgot.

Please, friends – shit happens, and sometimes you forget something important. But me (and everyone else in the crowd) wish for nothing more than responsible deodorant use, no matter where you may be this festival season.