Monday, May 30, 2011

Bonnaroo Blog-a-roo: Campin' Out

If this is your first time going to roo, and especially if its your first time at any rock festival, get ready for the part of the show you didn’t expect to enjoy the most – the campout! Welcome to your village of 80,000 people all looking to have a good time. It’s like the largest, most chill party ever. And it’s very easy to meet people and make friends.

When you get to the camp site, try to grab as much room as you can. Every inch will count. You want to make sure you can fully open your car doors, and that a tent and a few chairs can fit in front/behind you.

So quickly set up your tent… you’ll notice that everyone around you will be so pumped up that it’s almost like a race. Very likely you will notice a neighbor who needs help setting up. This is method numero uno to make an introduction.

When the tents are all up, grab a beer and pass some around. Chances are they will reciprocate. It’s easy to get into random conversations at ‘Roo… “where are you from” “who are you here to see” “have you been to Bonnaroo before,” etc. are all common topics. Always good to have some buddies around. They can point you out things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of checking out, and it’s just cool to have some people to chill with during the shows.

So that said, let’s get to the roughing it part. The first thing to realize is that it is either going to be extremely hot, or extremely rainy. Trust me, the latter is better. Make sure your tent can handle both conditions. If you have a canopy tent, place it over your sleeping tent. This will keep it both dry and shady. If you want to put in the effort, place a tarp under the tent too… this can help keep additional dirt or bugs out. Put a sheet down and then your sleeping bag and you’re good to go.

But what if you can’t stand the idea of sleeping in a tent? Well, here’s a trick I used last year. Note that this might not work (and could be dangerous) if you’re parked in direct sunlight, or it is extremely hot out, so try at your own risk… Yup sucks you gotta disclaimer this stuff if ya don’t wanna get sued…

Take two solar reflectors and put one in the front and back windows. Make sure no light is getting in. Then drape a thin, dark sheet over the roof so that it covers your side windows. Tie the corners to part of the car, or close it in the door. Roll your windows all the way down, and there you have it. I found this to be much more comfortable than sleeping in the tent. You can even turn the AC on in short bursts if you’re confident about your gas and batteries. (keep both in mind before leaving the AC on)

Two things you’ll need while sleeping: something to cover your ears, and something to cover your eyes. When you go to sleep, no matter what time, there will be someone just waking up to party, blasting music or walking right next to your tent. So don’t expect a quiet night’s rest. Bring some earplugs to minimize the effect. And as for a blindfold, well, the sun will be beating down from 5:30am on… it’s gonna get bright!

One of the best things about Bonnaroo is that you can bring food and booze into the campsite. I’ll cover food in a later section of the blog. But for now, let me suggest you keep your cooler in your trunk. That will keep it as cold as possible through the weekend. You can also bring in some barbecue food and set up a small grill if you feel so inclined. Most just bring sandwiches or stick to fair food, but some grounds come armed with gas grills and coleman stoves. Depends on you.

Another pointer: Keep your valuables locked in your car. Bonnaroo is fairly safe, but that doesn’t mean you can just leave stuff lying around. Every year I’ve had some neighbor have cash, ipods, beer, etc stolen from their site. Leaving it in a zipped-up tent isn’t enough. But there’s nothing to fear if you just use some basic common sense

Now how do you keep clean? There are indeed showers at the campgrounds. But they might not be near your tent, cost like $10 and you should expect at least an hour wait. But I hear they do have plenty of hot water and they’re not bad for getting clean. But I’d say most people rough it. Now hygiene will be a joke to a lot of people this weekend, but if you’d like to have some semblance of cleanliness, here are some two pointers:

Baby Wipes – Kind of like a portable shower. Keep them in a cool place and use them constantly. Great to get the sweat off and clean those hard-to-reach areas. You’ll go through a lot of them, and it will be worth it

The soda bottles filled with water - Ok here’s what those are for… When you get to Bonnaroo, place them on the back shelf of your car (or otherwise sunny area). It’s basically a solar hot water heater. Take a bottle, test the temperature, and pour it on your head, stopping every few seconds to soap up. If you pour it right, one bottle should be enough to clean one person. So there’s your shower. If you want to get fancy, they do sell portable ‘shower stalls’ at Walmart and sporting good stores, but this method is quicker.

There are also sink houses spread throughout the grounds. They’re good to freshen up, and typically will have soap. The water kinda smells bad (sulfur filtering) but it can help get mud and other dirtiness off you. You typically won’t seen people bathing here, but go later at night if you want to give yourself a thorough rubdown.

FYI the Mushroom Fountain and water stations are off-limits for bathing.

And what about bathrooms? Bathrooms shouldn’t be terribly far from your campsite, but will likely not be a convenient stroll in the middle of the night. But it’s a wooded area, so you shouldn’t have trouble making your own. Probably cleaner than the porto-potties too. Did I mention that the ladies should really practice their squatting before this weekend? Luckily, the bathroom situation is better (but not necessarily cleaner) once you get inside Centeroo.

So lets start heading that way… a few stops before we get to the inner sanctum of the festival

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