Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tartan up Y'all

Every so often it's good to get out of town. It doesn't have to be far and it breaks up the routine. Today the wife and I made a short trip to the little town of Helotes. You can think of it like a suburb, but not really. San Antonio's explosive growth has swallowed up small towns. If a town wasn't incorporated, it got annexed by the bigger city, but that's a story for another blog post.
The reason we went out to this community on the west side of town was the San Antonio Highland Games and Celtic Festival. On the drive over, the sky opened up. Some poor sucker who forgot his raincoat was out in a field directing traffic. I wouldn't have traded places with that guy for anything. So we're parking in a field that is swiftly turning into a lake or creek. We thought it was prudent to wait out the rain in the relative safety of the car. As the puddles increased and tributaries formed, I wondered if the car would be in the same spot we left it in. Heck, I hoped we could get the car out of the mud when we wanted to go home.
Before we get to the pictures, I have to preface this. These men actually go to the gym and train for this. I couldn't do this stuff half as well as they did. It's harder than it looks.
Nothing stops these men
 Did I mention it was still raining? 
The first event we walked up to was a stone toss. At least that's what I think they call it. Think shot put, but with a stone the size and weight of a bowling ball.

Head... Rock, Rock... Head

I easily identified who was in the rock throwing competition by the tell tale streaks of mud on their necks.
That's gonna leave a mark
In a profound sense of irony, each participant toweled off their hands and the stone they were about to throw with a soaking wet towel. This was to get most of the mud off, but the rock was slick enough to begin with. Oh yeah, see that rail road tie by the guys foot in the last picture? You can't go past it or outside the marked off area or your throw won't be counted, just like a shot put. Which brings me to my buddy who I came out to see.
Tremble before my beard
Now each tartan represents a clan, much like a coat of arms. This makes him easy to spot in a crowd, much like Samuel Jackson and his purple lightsaber. 
Float like a butterfly

Sting like a bee
Now it is my understanding the winner of a round can request the next stone/object being tossed be heavier. I'm having sympathy hernias just watching them.
Now I didn't want to be accused to staring too closely, but I was wondering if any of the competitors wore some kind of abdominal belt for support or injury protection. It makes sense doesn't it?
Next up: the caber toss. Not capers, that's something else entirely.
Difficulty level: Hardass

The log is slimy wet as well

The object is to pick up this... tree trunk, carry it a few steps, and toss it end over end. Muddy field. Soaking wet twelve foot pole. Poor visibility. Good chance of injury. What could possibly go wrong?
In a side note: most of them are wearing cleats, not that it does them any good. Most of the competitors couldn't get a grip on the telephone pole. A lot of times they lost control and had to get out from under falling wood. The first person to succeed in lifting, carrying, and tossing it end over end was this guy:
Yes, he's rubbing wood

My power comes from my beard

This is the son of my friend. I almost want to say he made it look easy, but the twenty guys who failed before him tell me different. All told, only two guys successfully tossed the caber. Oh, and the winner requested a bigger stick. Insert joke here.
Thankfully about this time the rain tapered off. Not that it would of stopped these guys. You could almost smell the testosterone.
For a brief time this afternoon, I considered letting my beard come in full. In winter a beard is a handy thing. An extra layer of insulation. A Texas summer not so much. Perhaps this is why the Highland Games are held before the heat gets too bad.
I should mention there was also overpriced food, music, dancers and artisans of exceptional quality. I didn't get pictures of those, just men and women getting their plaid on.
He's got this

We're gonna need a bigger caber

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