After Langerado, I had no idea what to expect out of my trip. My festival experiences were becoming increasing hazardous but the weather channel was reporting decent weather for the weekend, and I didn't see anything on the Rothbury site warning about local pests of which one should beware. I'd purchased a new camera that I couldn't quite afford but badly needed after my last one was broken at Langerado. I was leaving immediately after work on Wednesday to do an overnight in Chicago at Emmy and Jimmy's house before we met up with another couple, Julie and Paul, and pick up Paris at the airport. We planned to head out at five the next morning. All my loved ones had been given their copies of my itinerary and all contact information should I disappear off of the face of the Earth. Car was packed, and I was set.
I tried a new route up to Chicago. A much more pleasant way to start a trip…instead of dealing with the ugly interstate and endless corn and beans, I used a route that took me along the Illinois River before joining up with a lesser traveled interstate. Traffic into Chicago crept along due to some construction, but overall it was a blessedly boring drive compared to my last road trip. I arrived, ran some errands, took my last "real" shower and got a good night's sleep.
The trip to Rothbury was pretty uneventful. Had to be. Emmy and Jimmy believe in driving the speed limit. Not the five-over speed limit the rest of us adhere to at the least but really the posted speed limit. For me, the perpetual speeder, it was excruciating! But I'd promised Matt I'd do my very best to make sure I camped next to people that cared what happened to me over the weekend, so I endured.
We'd heard the wait for actual physical placement on festival grounds was nearing five hours once entering the line, but it wasn't nearly that long. I think from the moment we became part of the line on U.S. 31 waiting for the exit, to the moment we actually got parked was approximately three hours. The lines for security were no big deal at all and looked perfectly organized and efficient.
I have to say I l.o.v.e.d the fabric bracelets! It's a horror for me to go to any festival and have to wear one of the paper bracelets. I'm allergic to the adhesive they put on those stupid things. It makes me break out into hives up to my elbows, so I refuse to wear them. That rarely happens though. Usually they have plastic of some sort, but even those irritate the skin. But the fabric bracelets took it up a notch, and I never want to go back to anything less. Kudos Rothbury, you're gaining points right and left here.
Gates were scheduled to be opened at 8 am, but calls to friends working security in the venue informed us that we were behind the times and gates actually ended up opening during the wee, wee hours of the morning. Entry into the festival went quite smoothly. In fact all the problems one expects out of a first-time festival remained non-issues…well mostly. NASCAR traffic experts might know how to get us in and out in record time, but they certainly don't know how to pace themselves when it comes to creating living spaces for herds of grown-up kids. Maybe they didn't have much to do with the actual parking but someone should have.
Turns out they hadn't prepared properly when parking the first arrivers. Up front, the first arrivals had tons of room to spread out and really get the most enjoyment out of the festival, camping experience. By the time we arrived and made it through the gates and to the campground, they were packing us in like sardines, everyone on top of one another and no room to even walk between the tents in most cases. We managed to get everyone's gear set up in relatively decent time, though I got a lot of crap for me being by myself and taking up so much room with my extravagant tent.
We all got set up, I tried to take a quick nap while everyone else made cocktails and played bags before we took off for the night. The walk up to the venue might possibly have been the last time we were all together the rest of the weekend. We come together in bits and pieces, but Paris or I always were missing from the original group. Paris is a wanderer, and I'm constantly racing from stage to stage to get the pics. I know I always say this but I've gotta go back to being more of a festival-goer. I realize this as I'm about to write my reviews of the shows and think I'm not as qualified this time cause I was all over the place.
Anyway, I'm checking in to get my media credentials while they wait for me. I'd love to say it was patiently, but pretty soon I hear a couple of "Amanda"s coming from voices I recognize a hundred meters or so away. I wave behind me to the group but pretty soon the chant is picked up by dozens of people around them, and I suddenly look as though I have an entourage.
I rejoin the group only for us to immediately split up to go in the directions of food, cash machine and venue. While The Establishment looked intriguing, like a huge pink and yellow bouncy house like the kind you know you begged your parents to let you play in at the local fair during your official childhood, we were headed in.
The atmosphere in the very short line to the festival grounds was electric. Even before you entered, there was sooo much to see. The Establishment, home of the most eclectic acts of the weekend, was only the beginning. As soon as you entered, you looked to your left to see a huge tree-shaped carousel-type structure dripping with apes. We'd find out later what that was all about. Directly in front of you was a huge wooden structure that looked vaguely like a child's Popsicle stick sculpture.
We veered off to the left and found ourselves at the Tripolee Domes. You know those big half-circle, old-school jungle gyms? Think three of those on steroids with pieces of fabric stretched amoeba-shaped between them in front of a small stage. An intimate, small-venue experience with the cool artsy atmosphere of rest of the fest perfect for morning yoga and late, late night partying.
This entire festival provided every sensory experience possible with so much to see, search out and explore. Everyone I spoke to over the weekend continued to be amazed.