8:52 p.m. - 2005-06-14
BFRB and I arrived at a Wal-Mart in Antioch, TN, around 1 a.m. on Thursday, June 9th. We were meeting a group of people with whom we (okay, mostly SHE) had been chatting on a message board for the past several months. Our drive was uneventful, the Mapquest directions were actually accurate, and the group seemed friendly and ready to party.
After about an hour of parking lot party, bathroom breaks, purchasing last-minute items (which were rather difficult to squeeze in the car, seeing as how the doors barely shut), and interruptions from the Evil Empire's crack team of security specialists, we finally assemble the twelve-car caravan...and are informed that we are driving to a gas station about 30 miles PAST the festival site to pick up the last crew member.
By this point, everyone was tired. No one had slept. We're in a strange place with new people doing things that really didn't make much sense to us at the time. We know that, in a few short hours, we will be setting up camp, an activity with which we were not familiar. I mean, the last time I went camping, I was like 10, and it was a family vacation, and my dad gets off on that shit, so he pretty much did all the actual tent-pitching, fire-pitting, cooler-hauling activities.
Finally, we arrive in the line to get in the gates. The directions we received from Bonnaroo's coordinators informed us that no one would be allowed in before 7 a.m. (or 9 a.m., depending on which e-mail you read.) The current time was 3:30 a.m.
This would be the first of many items on the "list" which turned out to be complete and utter horse puckey. (Said list also included stuff like "no illegal substances, no fireworks, no throwing glow sticks, no glass bottles, etc.")
As we were exiting the interstate and waiting to be waved onto the side road, BFRB strikes up a conversation with the cop. Of course, the discussion turns to the anticipated drug problem. She asks if the big problem is weed, and he said "Pot? I don't care about pot. You could roll up a joint right here and I'd tell you to smoke it." He was more concerned with the meth-heads...because they get violent.
We arrive at the gate, are subjected to a rather perfunctory car search, and gather to one side to wait for the rest of the crew. Here's one of the guys directing traffic:
And here are some shots of the line o' cars, and the gorgeous sunrise over a winery on the grounds:
The cars slowly crept up the road to the Roo. Conveniently, there were periodic porta-potties. This was especially good due to the fact that most of the line was quenching their thirst with a variety of adult beverages. About 2/3 of the way to the campsite, a chick was selling breakfast biscuits, which were steaming hot and very tasty.
Through many twists and turns, our group stayed together....which was no small feat. But, at the last minute, our plans went awry. Half the group was waved to one campsite, and half to another on the opposite side of the "road." By "road," I mean "dirt path which would soon be converted to completely nasty and disgusting slimy shit." No amount of whining, begging, pleading, or bribery would convince the traffic coordinators to allow the group to stay together.
The remnants of the group were packed like sardines into the farthest possible field from the center of activity. Seriously. We were like three MILES from the concert venue, better known as "Centeroo." On the aerial photo below, to which I have applied my oh-so-professional photo-editing skillz, the red is our campsite. The purple is the main stage. The turquoise is the main entrance (I think). And the yellow is the Road of Death.
If you think I'm kidding about the sardine part, check out the pictures below. These images are of "Tent City." That would be "city" as in "more crowded than Tokyo."
This is the part where Bonnaroo went bad. There was no space between cars...and no space to pitch what one of our fellow campers called "a ginormous tent." Panic attack time. By the time we had our tent out of the trunk, our fellow Roovians had theirs pitched...in our spot. Our pleas for help and for them to move the fuck out of the way fell on deaf ears. Far from the hippie love fest we had been led to believe the Roo was, this was dog-eat-dog basic survival shit, and we were not. Surviving, that is.
Finally, after the movement of one car, the assistance of our neighbor, and the fact that part of the group that was separated were sharing a tent with the other part, we found a spot.
More bad news. The directions for assembling the tent were about as helpful as gloves to a dude with no arms. I guess the fine folks at Target Brand HQ thought that anyone foolish enough to purchase one of their tents should know instinctively how to assemble the motherfucker. Our tent was about a third the price of similarly-sized ones at reputable outdoor outfitting establishments. Clearly, the price difference paid for the instruction-writers.
At this point, BFRB and I are both completely freaking the fuck out. We just wanted to turn around and go home. However, this was not an option. We were blocked in from all sides. We were going nowhere. Once we admitted this to one another (because of course neither of us wanted the other to think "she ruined my vacation, goddammit"), things started to improve. At least we were in it together.
Finally, after much cursing, anxiety, and help from our new buddies, we were able to glean enough information from the picture to get the tent erected. (Heh. I said "erect.") We assisted our neighbors with theirs, and soon, we had a little claustrophobic tent area all set up.
By the time all of this was finished, it was only 10 a.m. We decide that, despite our completely exhausted state, it's too hot for a nap, and we start on the miles-long hike to Centeroo. Along this route, we encounter people selling tie-dye, drugs, paraphernalia, food, and drinks. We also make our acquaintance with a variety of wooden plank bridgey things. These are scary. Cheaply constructed, they bounce, have wide gaps between narrow boards, and cover areas which are just a little muddy. Considering that, on Thursday morning, it was 80-something degrees, hot, and sunny, this was ominous. (More on this in the next installment.)
We arrive, but discover that it's not open till noon...so we grab a corn dog and head back toward the tent. Since we are utterly exhausted at this point, we plop a squat in our chairs with footrests (which were also a mistake) and mooch some beer off our neighbor. A few beers and some other assorted stuff later, and we finally decide that, boiling hot or no, we're sleeping, man.
Stay tuned...the next installment features annoying drunk guy, the beginning of the deluge, and some actual music.