En Route to Bonnaroo

The Beginning of a Recap:
My Southern Sojourn

June 2011

When I tell my friends about my longtime friend Heather, it goes something like this, “she studied business, was in an Asian sorority, wears heels and drinks cosmos.”  When she describes me, she paints the portrait as, “somewhat of a hippy, had dreadlocks, really into agriculture and healthy eating.”

This is to say, we are quite opposite, but nerdy middle school foundations brought us together at a time when we were quite similar.   Despite (or in spite of) Heather’s brother’s predictions that we would forget each other’s last names before graduating college, our divergent paths have continued to cross, and our friendship is still very sincere.

Considering that I am the closest to a “hippy” of the two of us, I was very surprised when, in February, Heather posted online “anyone interested in Bonnaroo?”

“Do you know what Bonnaroo is?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, the music festival.”

“You know it’s camping, right?”  I inquired further, recalling the days when my Caucasian summer glow out-tanned Heather’s Vietnamese complexion due to the inordinate amount of time she purposefully spent indoors.

“Yeah, I know.  I know it’s camping, porta-potties and a lot of drug tendencies, but there are some good bands,” and just like that, Heather planted the Bonnaroo seed in me.

Various friends of mine had gone to Bonnaroo in the past.  One friend told of volunteering in exchange for admission.  Her feet swelled from days standing at the fresh-squeezed lemonade stands, but she still returned year after year.  Another friend talked about running into our woodshop monitor there and the exchange of altered consciousnesses that transpired.  Another friend boasted a Bonnaroo purchase of Jesus sandals made of rope.  I stowed the desire for those sandals in the back of mind for years!

The soil was fertile for the idea Heather had planted, even though she had yet to convince herself fully.  However, when an idea sticks with me, I am hard pressed to resist it.  I made up my mind to go to Bonnaroo.

Why Bonnaroo?  Let me count the ways.

1.  I need very little excuse to travel.

2.  I had been wanting a Southern experience.

3.  I was feeling stagnant in my music intake.

4.  Mumford & Sons

5.  Mumford & Sons

6.  Mumford & Sons

7.  The Arcade Fire

8.  Mumford & Sons

9.  Many other bands

10.  An excuse to be dusty and dirty and in the sunshine (weather permitting)

11.  The off beaten path of it all.  How many status updates were boringly giving play-by-plays of lame weddings and unimportant baby details?  I wanted to be in a youthful moment, and I wanted that moment to be dusty, dirty, sunny, musical and seemingly crazy in comparison to what a lot of my peers were doing.

12.  Mumford & Sons

13.  So on and so forth….  I had very few reasons not to go, especially once I convinced Sandra… !!!!!

Sandra and I also have our lists of strikingly opposite characteristics, but we also lived together, traveled together and know each other like an old couple.  She is my mejor amiga through thick and thin.  Sandra was feeling in a slump, and the idea of Bonnaroo struck her as well.  It was a rare display of complete spontaneity from a precise and detail oriented friend.  It is a moment for which I will forever be grateful because it made for one hell of an adventure between friends.  We were on board, and we dove straight in with very little thought.  The text messages confirmed one to the other, “I bought my tickets!!!!!!!!!!!”

Heather still sat on the fence, but with our tickets confirmed, Sandra and I started to look into transportation.  That’s when a road trip fell beautifully into place.  Sandra and her beau had bought a bungalow in Tampa, and I had only seen pictures of her remodeling.  I’d visited Tampa once before, and Sandra, playing the lazy tour guide, hadn’t even taken me to the beach.  Clearly, I still had things to do in Tampa, and from there, Georgia was calling.  I’d never stepped foot on Georgian soils (airport aside), so “The Southern Sojourn” became a brainstorm, a map and a list of potential attractions and connections along the way.

As time flew from ticket purchasing to opening night, Heather finally made the right decision:  “Bonnaroo or Bust” as the dusty concert car windshields tend to say.  My friendship worlds were going to collide in a dusty field in Manchester, TN.

The momentum for planning and brainstorming was strong in the beginning, but as is often the case, a lot of life impeded the process.  There were transitions, new interests, reflections, introspections and general gushings.  I arrived in Tampa, and we had a skeleton of a plan, a smart phone, a GPS named Jane and a general excitement for anything and everything.  In hindsight, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Aside from the general desire to share my wanderings, the flavors and the general feel of the South inspired me in ways that will be evident and bear a background story.  Accordingly, I present the city-by-city recap of my Southern Sojourn.

Much more to come…!

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