The real-life adventures of a girl who is willing to try just about anything.

Bonnaroo 2012

For the first time ever in my blog’s (admittedly short) history, this post has absolutely nothing to do with sex (although, there was that slight sight-seeing detour at exit 146…). By request from the lovely Winsome Gypsy, I am giving you my full Bonnaroo report! ūüôā I’m going to treat this as if you know nothing about the festival, so it’s going to be a long one, complete with pictures.

The What Stage

The quick and easy Bonnaroo by the numbers: 4 days; 80k people; +150 artists, bands, comedians, and performers; 700-acre farm; approximately $275 tickets including fees, 10-hour drive to get there.

Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival held every June in Manchester, TN. From Wikipedia: “The word Bonnaroo, popularized by New Orleans R&B singer Dr. John with his 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo, means “a really good time.” It is a Ninth Ward slang construction taken from the French “bon” meaning “good,” and “rue” from the French “street,” translating to “the best on the streets.” The name was chosen both for its literal meaning and to honor the rich Louisiana music tradition.”

This is the design for a flag I had made in 2010 to hang at our campsite.

This year the dates were from Thursday, June 7 to Sunday, June 10. The festival lineup featured Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, The Beach Boys, Ludacris, Skrillex, Alice Cooper, and Kenny Rogers. As you can see, the lineup is incredibly varied. Previous years have included Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Phish, The Beastie Boys (in their final concert), Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, and Nine Inch Nails in 2009; Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, Weezer, Dave Matthews Band, Bassnectar, and They Might Be Giants in 2010; and The Black Keys, Eminem, Mumford & Sons, Widespread Panic, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Lil Wayne in 2011.

I’ve been to a few other music festivals, but non as large as Bonnaroo. The festival takes place on a 700-acre farm, most of which has now been purchased by Bonnaroo but was previously leased. Leading up to the festival this year, I started thinking about how big it is in comparison to other festivals, and also to an area known to me and to others. One day while I was bored at work, daydreaming about being at the ‘roo, I made these graphics so give non-‘rooers an idea of just how big it really is.

This is an aerial view of Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN.

Centeroo is where most of the action happens.
The first inset is the entire grounds for Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park where Magnolia Fest is held in Live Oak, FL.
The second inset is the Full Moon Festival in High Springs, FL.
These are all at the same scale.

My friend and I were talking about walking around historical downtown St. Augustine, FL.
As you can see, it’s the perfect area to use as a basis for comparison.

Bonnaroo 2011 with Centeroo in the upper left
(image by Joe Karl, The Seymour Herald)

This was my 4th consecutive year going. In my previous 3 excursions to Bonnaroo, the trip was made by only my best friend, Amy, and myself. This year she and I were joined by her husband, George, and a friend of ours, Joel. There was some skepticism on our part at first, concerns that our good time would be hindered with their addition. Amy and I were both worried that we would somehow feel responsible for ensuring that they had a good time. There were many disclamatory statements made by us to them and to each other that we wouldn’t let that happen. But, you know how it goes.

The biggest concern was actually for Joel. He has been in a few car accidents and suffers from chronic pain now as a result. We were concerned about his mobility because there is a LOT of walking involved in Bonnaroo. Not just from the campsites to Centeroo (the area with the stages where everything actually happens), but also within Centeroo between the stages themselves. We were pressing him to register for the handicap accessible camping area, but he was hesitant because we misunderstood and thought we wouldn’t be able to camp with him. What’s the fun if you can’t camp with your friends? However, that was resolved, so he registered for the access area and we were registered as his companions.

Our preparations for the festival always begin weeks in advance. We have meetings to decide on what gear we have and what we need, what food we will be taking with us and budgeting for food and drinks there. Travel times and routes were discussed as well. Since this wasn’t our first rodeo, so to speak, she and I were pretty much able to dictate what was what. I mean, we are the resident experts here!

It was a happy day when I got these in the mail with barely a week to spare!

Finally the magic day arrived, Wednesday, June 6! My car was already packed with my gear and most of my personal stuff was also packed, so all I had to do was throw a final few things together. I prepared as much as I could in advance so I wouldn’t feel the need to be rushed out the door. I had a leisurely morning at home by myself (Roland was working, of course), then showered, packed up the last items, ran through my mental checklist about three times, and headed out the door to Amy’s house around 3pm. The plan was to leave around 6pm.

I stopped at Walmart on the way to Amy’s so I could get a few last-minute supplies. And then, not long after I got to her house, she and I made a return trip to get a few more things. Joel arrived in his pickup truck not long after we got back from the store. Then we started loading things into my car and the bed of Joel’s truck. About 15 minutes into loading, it started raining. Fortunately we were able to get loaded all of the clothes and stuff we didn’t want to get wet. George and Joel finished loading the truck in such a way so that all of the stuff was wrapped in a huge tarp, like a big camping burrito, in hopes that everything wouldn’t get drenched.

At long last, all of our potty breaks had been taken, everything was loaded into our vehicles and we were ready to hit the road! I drove my car with Amy in the passenger seat and Joel drove his truck with George in the passenger seat. It was roughly 6:30pm and it was pouring!

I actually took this earlier, when I left my house to go to Amy’s.

Most of the 10-hour drive to Bonnaroo is pretty unremarkable. However, after we’ve been on I-75 for about 30 miles heading north through Georgia, we begin to see the signs that never fail to make us laugh.

No need to say anything else.
These continue until they say EXIT NOW!!

We always joke about how one day we’re going to stop, just to see what’s going on there. Maybe go in for a drink. Yanno, for Science. Well it just so happened that this year I needed to get gas at exit 146. After we filled up our tanks and emptied our bladders, I took us on a little detour to check the place out. We didn’t go inside, but I got some great pics of the outside. One day, I’ll stop to get the full scoop!

I parked right in front of this sign.

This was the front of the building.

I had to get close-ups of these signs.
There were two gentlemen just off-camera to the right
trying to entice me to join them inside.

We drove for another couple of hours and then we started to get hungry. It was around 1:30am by this point and we’d been driving for about 7 hours, which was really excellent time, so we stopped at a Waffle House in Marietta, GA for WAY too much food. And some coffee. Lots of coffee. It was great to get out of the car to stretch our legs and focus on something else besides the road for a little bit.

We took our time at the Awful Waffle, chatting and sharing our excitement. At the rate we’d been going, we would’ve hit the Bonnaroo exit around 4:30am EST, but that’s actually 3:30am Bonnaroo time, because the time zone changes from Eastern to Central about an hour before you get there. We were probably there for about an hour or so, just relaxing and killing time. Once we’d finished all of our food, taken some pottie breaks, we got on the road again.

The final 3-hour leg of the trip felt like it took no time at all. We made our final stop to fill up and use the restroom at an exit about half an hour from the festival site. It is always advisable to do this so as not to run out of gas and also to avoid bathroom emergencies because you never know how long you’ll be waiting in line to get into the gate.

For our first two years, in 2009 and 2010, the gates didn’t open until 7am CST on Thursday. Starting last year they opened the gates at 7pm on Wednesday with the hope that this would alleviate the traffic entering the festival. All three years prior, we arrived at the line at roughly the same time, give or take about 30 minutes, around 8am CST.

In 2010, this is the line behind us along
the shoulder before we were detoured.

In 2010, being detoured to the back roads at exit 127. The line was 15 miles long at this point.
It was about 8:30am.

The first year, we were in line in my car for about 4.5 hours until we got to the gate. The second year, when we got to the line, it was already 15 miles long on the highway before we before we detoured onto back roads, from which point we moved at a snail’s pace for about 6.5 hours. Last year was our shortest wait so far and that was about 2.5 hours. So we were prepared for the worst. Which was the exact opposite of what we got.

Traffic for ingress to Bonnaroo is usually so significant that it gets its own traffic signs along the roadway, telling traffic to use the shoulder. Usually by the time we start seeing those signs, we’ve already been in a line for at least a couple of miles. This year, we just kept flying past them, still waiting to see the line.

This is always a happy sign for me! Taken during our wait in 2010.

In addition to that, there has been a special highway exit created just for the festival, exit 112. George and Joel in the truck took the lead after the last pit stop because Joel needed to be checked in first due to his access privileges, so I’d been telling George to be on the lookout for exit 112. What I’d completely forgotten is that it’s not an actual exit with a real exit sign. So we blew right past that too!

In case you’re not catching what I’m throwing here: there was no line to get in. Which is why we’d missed all of the cues! We went right past the temporary exit and had to get off at the next off-ramp, exit 111. We were going to turn around, but they had an ingress to Bonnaroo there as well. So we drove right on up to the gate, practically! I mean, I think there were 2 or three cars ahead of use, but in light of previous years, I don’t consider that a line at all!

Once you get to the gates at Bonnaroo, they do an inspection of your vehicle to make sure you don’t have any no-no’s: fireworks, drugs, and especially glass bottles. Sometimes they search pretty thoroughly; sometimes it may be as little as a cursory glance through your windows with a flashlight. This year? The girl looked in the window at me and Amy and asked us if we had any of those items. We replied that we did not and she let us go. I guess there are benefits to looking like boring, almost-40-year-old women, hehe. George and Joel, on the other hand, had to unwrap the “big camping burrito” in the bed of the truck so the guys could check the coolers contained therein.

East tollbooth in 2010

After your pre-gate inspection, you actually get to the gate where they scan your wristbands and put them on you. There are very explicit instructions to NOT put on your wristband prior to arriving, because you will be turned back. Checking in and having our wristbands put on only took a few minutes. We were officially in Bonnaroo! I don’t know if it was the fatigue or the giddiness of that fact, but Amy and I ended up having a giggling fit that didn’t fully clear up for the next couple of hours. In fact, over a month later, I bet I could mention what triggered it and we’d both be laughing uproariously all over again. Sorry, I can’t share, but it was SOOOOO funny!

After checking in, we did actually have a bit of a wait to get to our campsite. I would say we didn’t really move for at least 20-30 minutes before finally crawling in a line of cars to our designated area. All campsites at Bonnaroo are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis, regardless of the area where you are camping; there is no reserved camping, with the possible exception of the on-site tents and RVs that can be rented. Even still, I don’t know that those are specifically assigned ahead of time either.

Despite arriving at roughly the same time in previous years, not long after the gates opened, we did not always get a great spot. I’ve mapped out our approximate locations below. As you can see, in 2010 when we had our longest wait, we also got the worst camping spot! To be fair, I think the issue that year was that there had been heavy rains in the days before the festival and the highway entrance “tollbooths” to get in were muddy and flooded. They are shown on the map under the light blue areas. That’s why the line was so long and why we had to be detoured. Instead of being filtered into the closer sites, we got re-routed to the east tollbooth entrance.

the Bonnaroo map, marked with this year’s
and previous years’ camping locations
Click for a slightly bigger version.

When they are filling in the camping areas, they really pack them in sardine-like. When starting a section, a row is left empty for tents and then two rows of cars are parked, followed by two rows for tents and so on. You camp either in front of or behind your car, depending on how you are parked. As soon as you get parked, you almost literally jump out of your car and start setting up camp immediately, because there is essentially a battle for space. Sometimes it’s not so bad, but sometimes, like last year, you can barely get enough room for your tent.

This is from 2010, Camp Clark Griswald facing north.

This is from 2010, Camp Clark Griswald facing east.
This is my car. The window says “BONNAROO BOUND!!!”

This is our tent last year in 2011.
I had to ask the yellow tent guy to move his tent to give us room.
There is no space to walk on any side except right where you see.

The problem is that often several people arrive together in one vehicle. Rarely do they all sleep in the same tent, so there will be at least 2 or 3 tents for a group sometimes. And it’s very common for someone to have a canopy as well. However, as I said, previously it was just me and Amy. We only had one tent and no canopy. Last year I got very grumpy because an SUV full of college-age kids that got parked in the row in front of us had set up three tents plus a canopy by the time we were parked. We were not left with enough room to even set up just my tent. I had to ask one guy to move his tent so that I could mostly set up my tent. I say ‘mostly’ because I have a 17′ by 17′ 4-room tent that has 3 “wings” coming off each side and the back, with a screened “porch” on the front. None of the wings or the porch were staked out, just the basic footprint of the tent.

This year was altogether different. My plan had been for us to arrive at the line around 5am, so the sun would not be up yet and it would be more comfortable waiting in the car for what could possibly be a few hours. I figured that if we actually got in right around sunrise, it would give us time to get camp set up before the heat of the day set in. But as I said, there was no wait, so we were at our campsite before the sun even rose. In addition to not having a serious wait before the gate or afterward, when we got to the camping area we were not rushed as we had been previously.

Because we were in the Access campsite, there wasn’t a steady stream of cars being funneled in. We were able to take as much space as we needed for our 2 tents and canopy because we didn’t get neighbors on our open side for at least an hour or so after we’d set up camp. We were also able to move our vehicles into more advantageous positions for our campsite. The end result was that we were all set up, unpacked, and able to just completely chill out and relax before the time when we had even arrived to the line in previous years!

The clock tower (just outside Centeroo)
and Ferris wheel (just inside Centeroo).
Taken from the back of Joel’s truck at our campsite.
This is how close we were to Centeroo. ūüôā

As a result, Thursday was a very relaxed day. The weather was simply amazing. It wasn’t really hot and there was an incredible breeze. Centeroo doesn’t open until 1pm on the first day (after which it doesn’t close until after the last act on Sunday night), giving us lots of time to kill.¬†So we just lazed around for the rest of the morning and napped some because we’d all been up all night.

Home Sweet Home at Bonnaroo.
Amy, George (pictured here), and I shared this tent.
Joel’s tent is barely shown at the bottom left.
That’s my flag flying behind the tent. ūüôā

Amy and George

Amy, Joel, and George
Bonnaroo clock tower, Ferris wheel, and my flag

After lazing around and resting for the entire morning, we made an easy lunch of sandwiches. Then we packed up our camping chairs and headed over to Centeroo around 2pm. We probably waited ¬†in line for about 30-45 minutes. The first acts weren’t scheduled to start until 4pm. There wasn’t really anyone on that first day that we cared about seeing, so we just kind of wandered around a bit, showing George and Joel around since this was their first time.

Map of Centeroo

The clock tower and Ferris wheel, from inside this time.
The entrance is just to the left of the frame.

The Silent Disco. We have yet to ever check this out.
Everyone puts on headphones and dances their asses off.
Onlookers can’t hear any of the music.
It’s very entertaining to watch!

As you can see, this is The Other Tent.
It’s the first venue encountered upon entrance.

Some of the shade offerings in Centeroo.
That first tent is a misting tent.
I took a nice long nap under that 2nd tent on Thursday afternoon.

That Big Ass Water Slide is the main attraction of Splash-a-roo.
This is on the left side of The Other Tent.

The Fountain
Taken on the last day, after it had been turned off.
It’s repainted every year.

 

There really isn’t much to report from that first day. I know we saw some bands and some really good music, but I couldn’t really tell you who they were. What I can tell you is that it was the longest first day at Bonnaroo EVER!!!¬†Once we were back at camp later that evening, just sitting around and chilling, we just kept saying to each other, “Wow, this is really only the first day? We still have three more days!” It seemed like the longest day because we got such an early start. In previous years, it seemed like we didn’t even get camp set up until after 1-2pm. It was very relaxing and we retired pretty early that first night. I want to say that we were all asleep by 11pm or midnight at the very latest.

Before I recap the next few days, I feel like I need to express something to you. For me, Bonnaroo isn’t necessarily about the bands that you see. It’s about the whole experience of being there. For four days in June every year, the little town of Manchester swells from its typical population of just over 10k people to about 100k. Bonnaroo is its own little world. It’s one big party with 80k of your closest friends.

I say this because I feel like there has been a lot of build up in this post to get to this point and that the rest is going to be a letdown for everyone who has made it this far. The experience of actually being there is really hard to capture, I’ve realized. There is A LOT¬†of walking around (think of all the walking they do in the Lord of the Rings¬†trilogy): walking from camp to Centeroo, from one stage to another between acts, from your seats at the stage to the port-a-potties or to get food and back, and then back to camp at the end of the night. And then there’s just the walking with no definite destination.

There’s also a lot of people watching. There are lots of people just wearing regular clothes. There are people wearing a lot of clothes. There are people wearing as little clothes as they can get away with. Some are only in tiny swimsuits. We saw guys wearing only their jockeys. Girls who were topless, save for body paint. And there are people in costumes and all kinds of other crazy getup. You just never know¬†what you are going to see at the ‘roo. And it’s impossible to even try to detail that. For example, on the last day of our first Bonnaroo, we saw a person in a penguin suit. Standing on top of a pile of ice. True story. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me to get a picture.

Another thing I should mention is that I pretty much stay high the entire time. Which could understandably impact my ability to relay details. ūüėČ One of the things I look forward to most is being able to stay high for 4 days with no worries. I wake up, take a marinol¬†(obtained from a friend who is HIV+, is prescribed it for nausea and appetite encouragement but who doesn’t take it: he just smokes weed instead) as soon as I wake up. It takes about an hour to hit and then I take one every 3-4 hours for the rest of the day. I don’t do this just¬†to be high. It also helps me to deal with things. Like the back pain from walking on mostly hard-packed ground for 4.5 days. Like temperatures of 100F. And most of all, the fact that I am constantly surrounded by 80k people. It kills my crowd anxiety and lets me just relax and have a good time.

Now back to our recap, already in progress…

On Friday we took our time about getting up and about. After having some bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, I headed over to the sinks to wash up and brush my teeth. Since my first ‘roo, I have become an expert at washing my whole body using only a sink in less than 15 minutes. I only use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Peppermint Soap¬†for my hair and body, so there aren’t a lot of products with which to keep up. I allow myself to drip dry on the way back to camp, and it’s so refreshing.

Again, the weather was amazing, not too hot with a nice breeze. But I could tell that it was going to be a bit drier. I’d noticed the day before that some dust was starting to kick up from the foot traffic. Having had a very dry time the year before, I was prepared with a bandanna, which I kept wet and wore over my face. Keeping sun off my face is also imperative, so I have a hat that I wear as well.

Joel and I, the Bonnaroo bandits

I look like I belong in Mortal Kombat.
“Get over here!”

The acts we most wanted to see on Friday were Little Dragon, Ludacris, Foster the People, and Radiohead, starting at 5pm and pretty much running back to back from there. LD and Luda were at This Tent; FtP was on Which Stage, and of course RH was on What Stage. This made a nice progression from one stage to the next and allowed us to just chill a bit between LD and Luda. I actually missed a good deal of Little Dragon’s set because of wandering around and waiting in line for food and the restroom.

However, I did not miss ANY of Ludacris’ set! He was one of the main attractions for me and Amy. This Tent was completely packed under the tent and the crowd was spilling out on all sides. I tried to find capacity info but all I could get were estimates of 4-6k people. There were easily as many people around the tent as there were inside. We started from outside the crowd at the left corner (stage right) and I managed to work our way through the crowd all the way up until we were underneath the canopy at that corner so that we could actually see Luda on stage. It was a fantastic show! ūüôā

This Tent

After Luda, we made our way over to Which Stage for Foster the People. They put on a really good, energetic show. The only song I knew was “Pumped Up Kicks,” of course, but we enjoyed it. Not long before the set was done, Joel needed to go back to camp for his meds. When he hadn’t returned by the end of the set, I sent Amy and George ahead on to What Stage. Radiohead is one of Amy’s most favorite bands and I didn’t want her to miss any of it. I said that I would stay and wait for Joel to get back.

I waited around at Which Stage for about 45 minutes and Joel never came back. This situation could have been resolved with a few text messages but my ONE serious complaint about Bonnaroo is that although there is a tower on-site, there are so many people connected to it that we couldn’t ever get a signal. So I ended up just heading over to What Stage to try to find Amy and George.

By the way, did I mention that the field for What Stage holds approximately 100k people? So yeah, theoretically ALL of the people at the festival can be in that area at one time. Needle in a haystack much? Fortunately, we were able to briefly get enough signal just when we needed it most and I had a general idea where to find them. About 15 minutes later, Joel found us, too. I only missed about 20-30 minutes of the show.

The only decent pic I was able to get of
Radiohead’s light show on stage.
I did get a video, however, that I will put on FB.

After Radiohead was over at midnight, we hung out to let a good deal of the crowd disburse (the headliner is always the last show on What Stage each night, although they continue for much later on the other stages) and headed back to the campsite. We sat up and talked for a short while before crashing for the night.

Saturday was the laziest day of all for us. There was such an incredible breeze that none of us really wanted to do much of anything. So we spent most of the day napping! Sure, we missed some good bands, but nothing compares to being able to just let go and relax. It’s just a priceless opportunity and we took full advantage of it.

Poor Amy came down with a nasty migraine in the afternoon, and had no choice but to take it easy until it subsided. Joel and I finally got up the motivation to head over to Centeroo sometime between 6 and 7pm, I think. The Roots were on What Stage from 7:30pm til 9pm, with Red Hot Chili Peppers following at 10pm. After getting something to eat, we made it to What Stage in time to catch the last 45 or so minutes of The Roots. They were fantastic, of course.

Red Hot Chili Peppers was at the top of my personal list for the festival. I’d been wanting to see them live for years but never had the chance. We’d settled in at almost the exact spot as the previous night, so Amy and George were able to get there just in time for RHCP to take the stage.

Now, I don’t want to say here that I was disappointed by the show, because that’s not entirely right. See, I have always loved RHCP but that love is mostly based on Blood Sugar Sex Magic. It is easily one of my all-time top 10 favorite albums. On any given day, it could be in the top 5. I know it frontward and backward. I’m familiar with their other albums and definitely love their radio hits, but I don’t know them like I know BSSM. The funky groove on that album is the core of my love for RHCP. And apparently they aren’t always that funky. They are funky, but way more mellow and not as high-energy as BSSM. So I was hoping for that kind of bouncing-off-the-walls craziness, but didn’t get it. With all of that being said, they were still amazing! Hearing “Under the Bridge” live with 80k of my closest friends singing along was a dream come true!

Anthony Kiedis during “Under the Bridge”

Flea during “Give It Away”

Things on poles (but not girls on stripper poles) were common sights.

A flash makes all the difference in the dark.

When the Chilis were done, we took off with the throngs into Centeroo. While the day had been the laziest, that night would be our latest! Our first destination was This Tent for the SuperJam hosted by ?uestlove. Amy and I pretty much deposited George and Joel there so we could wander off to get some food and caffeinated beverages. Because of that, I am very sad to say that I missed D’Angelo’s triumphant return to the stage after a 12-year absence. He was the surprise mystery guest and had I known ahead of time, I would’ve been glued to the spot. By the time we made it back with food, it was time to trek next door to Which Stage to catch Skrillex at 1:30am.

The field surrounding Which Stage was completely packed. There were glow sticks flying and people were wrapped in glow necklaces and bracelets. There were spinny glow toys and flashy LED strobe toys. For all intents and purposes, it was essentially a rave.

Lights on stage and all through the crowd

Over the last few years, I have become a huge fan of dubstep (much to Roland’s chagrin). It all started for me at Bonnaroo two years ago when I first heard, then saw, and subsequently fell in love¬†with¬†Bassnectar. I’d heard of Skrillex and some of his songs, but I wasn’t hugely familiar with his sound. We were really excited to see his set. The energy in the crowd was off the charts. Everyone was having a great time. Especially him. There was no denying how much fun he was having up there. All told, this was probably the best show of the whole festival.

Skrillex’s DJ platform was some sort of spaceship.

Occasionally the light show would switch to video footage of Skrillex.

He also had video footage from his POV of the crowd.

At some point about halfway through the set, the platform raised.

He was really jamming out and having a great time up there.

Supergirl and Hot Dog were in attendance.
These guys were right next to us in the crowd.
Those are Joel’s hands.

It was almost 4am when Skrillex left the stage and it had started drizzling rain about an hour before it was over. We were damp and exhausted on the trek back to camp. We all quickly changed into some dry clothes and fell asleep as soon as we hit our beds.

The light rain continued through the rest of the late night/early morning hours. However, it didn’t rain long or hard enough to really create an issue with mud. Instead it served to really damp down the dust that had started to get bad the day before. The weather remained cool and breezy, although mostly cloudy for our final full day.

Despite our having gone to bed so late, on Sunday we went out to Centeroo earlier than we did on the previous two days. The Beach Boys were on What Stage at 3pm and my girl, Amy, had particular “guilty pleasure” love for those guys. Due to some apparent changes in the enforcement of rules, Joel and I were not allowed to bring in our camping chairs at the archway entrance. Rather than leave the chairs behind, we encouraged Amy and George to continue on while we tried a different entrance, as they had shorter chairs and were allowed to enter with no problems.

Our original backup plan failed because we chose an entrance where the same person who stopped us the first time saw us attempt to get through again with someone else. As a result, we had to walk all the way around to a completely different entrance. Not only did it take us a little bit to get to that entrance, trying to get back over to What Stage would’ve arrive in time for the Beach Boys to finish their set. While I have a nostalgic fondness for them, neither Joel or I cared a great deal about seeing them. So we wandered around and got some food instead.

One of the places we wandered was the Adult Swim Ragbag of Jollyfication area. Adult Swim has had a presence at ‘roo since 2010. That first year, they had a giant Meatwad inflatable cave with video games in it like Robot Unicorn Attack. This year, it was set up like a mini-carnival with games.

The Adult Swim Ragbag Of Jollyfication!

Smack Up My Uvula
You have to climb that rope ladder and then smack the “uvula” punching bag.

Balloonicorn BlowOut
There was a net of balloons hanging over your head.
You put on the unicorn head (with a pin on the tip of the horn) and jump up repeatedly to pop the balloons.

Free T-shirts
Pick a design and they screen-print it while you wait.

Joel with his free t-shirt.

Toilet Bowel
It’s just a bean bag toss game.

Babies vs Old Men On Segways
It was a shooting gallery game.

Flunko
It’s just like Plinko from The Price is Right.

At any rate, the Beach Boys ended at 4:30pm, the same time that Kenny Rogers was scheduled to begin all the way on the opposite side of Centeroo at The Other Tent. And that was my guilty pleasure. There was no way I was going to miss seeing him. When I was a little girl, I was totally in love with Kenny. And you know a part of that never dies. How can I not love a man who sings a song about my middle name?? The timing worked out that Joel and I got to The Other Tent with about 10 minutes to spare.

Prior to the show, I’d kept saying that I didn’t care about actually seeing¬†Kenny, especially since he’s had so much plastic surgery over the years that he is completely unrecognizable now. However, once he started singing, I was overcome by schoolgirlish giddiness and quickly abandoned Joel to get a closer look. Unfortunately, in my excitement I was unable to get a good picture of him. He sounded as awesome as he always has, and was pretty funny to boot. The mayor of Manchester, TN gave him a key to the city. He also brought out Lionel Ritchie to sing “Lady” and “All Night Long” with him. It was everything I always wanted from him and truthfully brought me to tears. Mostly because any pre-1990’s country music makes me think about my childhood and consequently, my mom.

I was going to steal a better picture from the ‘net, but I actually took this one

Sometime during Kenny’s performance, I got a text from Amy saying that they were watching Ben Folds Five over at Which Stage. After our respective performances ended, we met up somewhere in between and then took off in the direction of That Tent to catch a bit of fun.’s set. We didn’t stick around for long, but instead moved on to What Stage to get a good spot for Phish, who went on at 8pm to close out the festival with a more than 4 hour set.

A formidable-looking sky over What Stage.

We only stayed at Phish for maybe an hour, although we were there long enough for them to bring out Kenny Rogers for an (at least) 50k-person-strong rendition of “The Gambler,” which of course made my night. It’s great jam music, which none of us were specifically opposed to by any means, but we were feeling¬†simultaneously¬†restless and tired. Besides, they were playing loud enough (and completely unopposed by any act on any stage after 9pm) that they could be heard just about anywhere on the festival premises.

We took our last trip from Centeroo back to camp and Joel was wiped out from a long weekend. He went to bed right away. It was still relatively early (for Bonnaroo time, mind you), so Amy, George, and I were not yet ready to call it a night. Just for kicks (and because all 3 of us were more than a little bit high and drunk), we decided to venture out to show George just how far away our 2010 campsite was. This is because it was a 2-mile walk from our 2010 campsite in Camp Clark Griswald to the archway entrance into Centeroo.

That red X was our 2010 campsite,
and shall forevermore be known as HELL.
The closest port-a-potties were up at the top.

The thing is, he didn’t believe us when we said how far it was, how grueling the walk was. He really had good reason to disbelieve. See, everything we’d said about the downside of Bonnaroo was proven false this year. There was no miles-long, hours-long wait to get into the festival. Getting in and setting up camp was a piece of cake, with plenty of room to make ourselves comfortable. We were a 5 or 10 minute walk from Centeroo. The weather was perfect: not too hot and not too dry. Based on this year alone, it would not be a problem to convince anyone how awesome Bonnaroo is.

But 2010 was a whole ‘nother animal. I’ve never in my life been as hot and miserable as I was that year. Temperatures reached 100F. As if that wasn’t bad enough, because it had rained heavily the in the week prior to the festival, the air was hot and muggy. There was¬†no¬†significant breeze, so the air just hung there with humidity so thick you could almost swim in it. Now factor in that the port-a-potties were farther away that year than Centeroo was this year. Quite possibly twice¬†as far. That was just to go to the bathroom. On top of all that, we had a 2-mile trek to get to experience the music for which we paid lots of money and drove 10 hours to hear.

So we showed him just how far it was and finally he believed us. By the time we got back to camp, we could barely hold our eyes open. Almost as soon as we got to our tents, the light rain became real rain and we slept to the sound of raindrops on the roof of the tent.

The Bonnaroo grounds close at 3pm on Monday and Centeroo closes the night before, after the last band finishes up. Thus, there is nothing to do on Monday morning but wake up, pack up, take down camp, and head home.

We woke up Monday morning to a downpour. We did as much as we could to pack up inside the tents, in hopes that the rain would slack. There was no such luck. The men took one for the team in this case as they handled everything outside the tent, packing up the truck, until there was nothing left but the tents themselves. There was no way to keep the insides dry at this point, so George just resigned himself to the fact that he would have to set them up to dry out once they got home. And wouldn’t you know it that the rain finally did let up once we had everything ready to go.

We put a cap on our Bonnaroo adventure in the same way we’ve done since the first time around: with a nice, hot breakfast at the first Cracker Barrel on the way home. The first thing everyone does is use the restroom and take a moment to once again appreciate a toilet that flushes and hot water with which to wash our hands.

Once our breakfast was eaten and final pit stops made, we hopped on the highway to return home. We’d barely left the ‘roo when we were already making plans for next year. Although I don’t know the exact dates for next year’s festival just yet (my money is on June 13-16), or any artists on the lineup. I am already counting down to do it all again.

If you want to count along, it’s 308 days until June 13, 2013.

For many more pictures, please see my Facebook galleries (none for 2009, unfortunately): 2010, 2011, 2012. They’re all public, so you don’t need a FB account to see them. If you have one, however, feel free to send me a friend request. There’s not much there besides those pics and a video from ‘roo, but it’s a work in progress. ūüôā

Thanks for taking this journey with me and I hope I made you feel at least a little bit like you were part of it and there with me!

My 4 Bonnaroo Guides and 4 wristbands, in order by year.
These are kept on a shelf on our dresser.
Also, Tully the turtle aka the Keeper of the Sacred Wristbands.

1 Comment

  1. Jack and Jill

    Wow! This is such an awesome, in-depth post. It just goes to show that you CAN successfully transition from sex blogger to all-around general purpose blogger. Well done. Glad to hear all the details on the show, as I’m certain I’ll go to my grave without attending such an event. While I did recently spend ten hours at a time driving, my destination was nowhere near as fun as yours. Bonus points for the kick-ass Mortal Kombat reference, which was not lost on yours truly.

    -Jack

    Reply

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