But it's not the Vista Viking Festival. Sure, getting handed a sampler of locally brewed porters by a distracted gay person is fine, but it's not like slurping a horn of mead served to you by a meaty man in a short skirt and a metal helmet. And while tapping your feet while listening to a bunch of indie bands whine about the sex they are not getting, or musically brag about the sex they are, is a worthwhile way to spend the afternoon, it's not like listening to longbows hum or throwing a flaming ax, or just wandering about a sunny glade daydreaming of living in the days of Nordic glory, when raping and pillaging was not so much a war crime as a job description.
That was pretty much what the Vikings were all about. I no doubt have Viking blood running through my veins, not because I am Norwegian but because many Vikings favored the emerald isle of my ancestors when they were in the mood for a little R&P. I don't resent them for it; you try spending a few weeks in an open boat with a bunch of other guys dressed in smelly leathers and furs and then see if merely launching a charm offensive against a local maiden works for you.
In the interest of fairness, I need to point out that the Vikings also settled Iceland and Greenland and made a stab at settling North America. Perhaps they were motivated to do so by a love of exploration, or maybe they just wanted to make sure their descendants would have somebody to rape when they passed that way again.
I just wonder how the Viking Festival ended up in Vista. Vista is a smallish California city, close enough to the ocean to still be expensive to live in, with a substantial if not majority Hispanic population. A few hours of cruising about its streets is sufficient to inform you that it has far more auto repair facilities and taco shops than your average burg. There are, in fact, so many of those two types of businesses that you realize that if you want to get your car fixed while enjoying a taco Vista is as close as you will ever come to heaven on Earth.
But it's not Norway. In fact, it's pretty much antipodal to Norway. No actual Viking ever set foot there. Those hearty sons of Odin would have had to rape and pillage their way all around South America, or zip up their loincloths long enough to dig the first Panama Canal, and then resume R&Ping their way up the coast of Mexico, in order to get near Vista. After landing, they would have had to march through Oceanside, a beach town that fantasizes that it was once a refuge for pirates, even though it wasn't. The fact is, there has only been one recorded act of sea piracy in the history of the state of California, and it occurred a long way from Oceanside.
If you're keeping score at home, that's one pirate and zero Vikings. The fact is that California is way low on the charts of places that have been invaded by howling seaborne plunderers bent on burning mayhem into its history and for some reason we seem to want to make up for that. And there's no better way to do it than spending a sunny afternoon playing spears and swords, quaffing mead and ogling girls whose attire makes you realize that it was Scandinavians who likely invented the push-up bra, even if the Viking Festival, contrary to the spirit of the merciless sea raiders it celebrates, charges admission and makes you observe a dress code.
Next year I'm going, for sure.