Get Caught Up First Part 01: Burning Flipside & The Start Of This Journey
Leaving Texas on our road trip we cut through Oklahoma on our way to Ozark, Arkansas, a sleepy little town with a population of around 3,000 that really only comes alive once a year, for the 3-4 days of Wakarusa Music Festival. Still riding the high from our time at Burning Flipside, only three people of the seven aboard the Future bus actually had tickets to Wakarusa. No worries though, we got there early and parked the bus is an awesomely shaded and nearly hidden section of the primary lot. Over the next couple hours the rest of us were able to sneak on in and before long the party was started!
The prior week at Burning Flipside money was not allowed, but starting with Wakarusa Music Festival we were back with the general public and needed lots of cash. Cash to fuel the bus, to eat, to buy liquor and the last few tickets we had not purchased, cash to make up for all the ludicrous and frivolous items/sights we were doing and visiting along the way… you get the point.
Lucky for us each of the festivals charged an absolute minimum of $5-7, with some drinks at certain places running $12-$16. And they were normal weak drinks or tall beers, nothing fancy. Why was that lucky for us? Because we had that giant bus! No security staff at any festival took more than a cursory glance inside, allowing us to easily smuggle dozens of liters of all sorts of alcohol into each festival. Not only did that save us from paying the exorbitant drink prices, but it allowed us to make and sell our own drinks to raise money.
We found the Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers were the best thing to serve in the morning, $5 each. Starting around 7am (the same time the DJ always switched from dubstep to mellow morning music) we would open for business. A couple hours later we would start making food as well, grilled cheeses and hot dogs and other random things for $2-4, or for those short on cash offered free popcorn from our own on-board popcorn machine.
Wakarusa 2010 featured several notable names, including Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Blues Traveler, John Butler Trio, Slightly Stoopid, The Disco Biscuits, Lotus, Rebelution, The Black Keys, State Radio, Tea Leaf Green, BoomBox, and many others.
I would wander between shows for a couple hours with fellow bus-mates mingling and making friends, but we always made periodic trips back to the Future bus to make sure that we were not missing out on anything exciting.
Ever Heard Of Hippie-Fishing?
It’s when you use a worthless item that would appeal to a hippie to trick them into thinking they have found something valuable. In our case we used a small empty baggie that may at one time have been filled with powder. Attaching that to a twenty foot piece of fishing wire, we have created our hippie lure! Next you place it in a public walkway and then nonchalantly stand back and wait for someone to try and pick it up. When they do, you yank of the fishing wire to pull it out of their grasp. Surprisingly entertaining. 😉
We were there from Wednesday night all the way until Monday morning. The whole thing went by like a blur too. Key moments included one of our new friends from the camp right next to us getting bitten by a brown recluse. I hopped in a truck and drove nearly 30 miles to rush him to the nearest hospital — I even passed an ambulance (also with someone from the fest bound for the hospital) in the oncoming lane and then stole his spot once I arrive at the hospital. For the record, the second part was accidental. And I did also manage to get hassled by the cops for accidentally carrying a beer into a no-beer area. When I started talking back and telling them to enjoy my tourist dollars, they threw me in jail for four hours for PI (public intoxication)! The worst part was it that beer was truly my first of the day — I would have been nicer to the cops if I had a lil buzz lol. Even the two officers managing the local headquarters disagreed with the charge, but said they still had to hold me for a few hours as mandated with a PI charge.
Upon my release a short while later I found someone else who was freed around the same time as me on the walk to the nearby gas station. There we managed to find two guys just getting off work that gave us a ride in the bed of their truck the 30 miles back to the festival. We offered them $50 when we first approached them and luckily since my new-found friend also had cash we were able to split it.
After all the unexpectedness the last couple days of Wakarusa played out perfectly. The drinks kept flowing and the music kept rocking, we hardly slept at all! Usually just a couple of hours in the cool morning breeze between 8am and 10-11am, if at all. And then once it was said and Monday morning rolled around, several of us went ground-scoring while the rest packed up camp. What’s ground-scoring? It’s when you walk around and search for items of value left behind by the weekend warriors (people who come late and leave early, usually only at the festivals for 48 or less and). We found new-in-box items from Wal-Mart, like a grill, folding table, all sorts of food and other random items, as well as barely used folding chairs, tents, grill utensils, … the list goes on and on! You even find lots of party favors that were abandoned by people who didn’t want to drive home with them. I tell you, music festivals that final Monday morning can be a gold mine for travelers on a budget… and hippies.
Once we finally hit the road we were all starved, so we followed the trusty GPS to I believe it was called Annie’s Restaurant, in Ozark, Arkansas. Only we went pull into the parking lot we cannot help but notice there is nothing around but a flat cement pad. Driving on we came across the Ozark Inn & Restaurant and decided to eat there. Turns out that Annie’s apparently used to be THE town hotspot but it had burned down six months prior (apparently that had been the talk of the town for the following several months).
The food was fantastic but we couldn’t stick around for too long… we had to continue east as we needed to be in Nashville, Tennessee by the following evening. So we hopped back on I-40 and headed east, but only made it as far as Little Rock before stopping to get two hotel rooms, so that all eight of us could shower real fast. Yes, our group increased from seven to eight with the addition of an 18 year old girl from Wyoming…
Once cleaned up, Jessie and Rummel and I decided to hit downtown Little Rock… all two blocks of it. The most appealing place open was the Flying Saucer, that bar chain with over 200 different beers to choose from.
After getting a bit tipsy the three of us returned to the hotel to find that the rest of the group had made friends with another guest of the hotel. I cannot remember his name, since we only knew him for one night, but he had a thick Mississippi accent and a shit-ton of stories to tell. Apparently he had been living at the hotel for three weeks as his day job had taken him out of the state. Unfortunately, everyone else on his crew was twice his age and even though they drank beer every night, he didn’t have any 20-somethings to relax with… until we came around!
We knocked back beers with our friend Mississippi until way too late before eventually calling it a night. The next morning he had long since departed for work before we ever awake, never to be heard from again (despite the fact at least half of us had added his number to our phone). It was not until we passed the noon checkout curfew and room service started banging and the front desk started calling that we began to wake. But we rose quickly, and after some quick work to the muffler of the Future bus (hint: remember this, it will come up again) we hit the road again, this time Graceland bound!
Once in Tennessee we made an unexpected stop at Memphis to visit Graceland. The eight of us derelicts looked out of place and subsequently did kind of get a few surprising looks from people. Not only we were all dressed to varying degrees of hippie-ness, but we were the only people there older than 10 and younger than 60. It was pretty funny actually. And I remember commenting something to the effect of “What is Graceland going to do when the current wave of seniors finally pass? They will have no one visiting anymore!” I still believe there is a little bit of truth to that…
Eventually we were back on the road and a couple of hours later had arrived in Nashville… But I’ll get into all that in tomorrow’s post, Chapter Three: Honky-Tonkin’ In Nashville, the 6th Annual CMT Country Music Festival, and Bonnaroo. In the meantime, check out this compilation video from Wakarusa Music Festival.
View 100s of travel articles covering over 55 different countries around the world at theHoliDaze.com