Monday, May 03, 2010

Coachella: A long night's drive

I land in L.A. and get a call from the Actress almost as soon as I get off the plane.

“Where are you?”

“I’m on my way, where are you?”

“Terminal 4. Meet us here. The Model has arrived.” Having nothing checked, getting out of the airport was fairly simple and from there it was just a matter of asking to make sure I was headed in the direction of the right terminal to meet the girls. I walked up, we exchanged hugs, and tossed bags in the back and took off.

As we drove away they explained how they had almost gotten arrested for parking a bit too long in the standing line. A few of the security people decided to come and examine the trunk of speculation but in the end I walked up just in time to save the day and we made a clean getaway. I’ve not been to L.A. outside of the airport. I found the air surprisingly crisp and warm in the morning. Sunny. California. Every part of me that had just flown from the blustery forty-degree winter weather of Chicago immediately rejected it. The rest of me was very content to be a bit warm.

The girls talk in the front seat, both being rather experienced with L.A. having spent time living or traveling there and knowing it better than I. The Actress lays down the plans for today. We are going to meet some friends for lunch at the Kasbah cafe, then we are going to two friends from Chicago who have picked up the van and then we are going to pick up strangers from Houston.

Enter snafu number two.

Originally we had a little condo we were supposed to stay at for the duration of the music festival. This seemed all cushy and cozy and fun. Then there was an earthquake and apparently whatever digs we were supposed to have found themselves damaged enough that we lost the condo. The Actress (with advance notice) found a solution and a couple of posts to Craigslist had met some nice strangers who offered to let us camp on their lot on the Coachella campgrounds.

“So what do we know about them?”

“They have a camping spot.”


So we were hitching a place to stay and I still had a hitchhike to look forward to on Sunday night or Monday morning. Good times.

Lunch was at a café that was everything I like a café to be. Hung with tapestries and curtains and, being that it is L.A., filled with actors and directors, and models. We sat with the Actress's friend and handsome leading-man type to have lunch. We made plans. We talked.

In the evening cooling we started to coordinate phone calls for the meet up and after just a little hitting or missing we managed to connect with the ride from Chicago and headed back to the airport to pick up the Houston set with the campground pass. We were feeling very clever with ourselves as we headed out to Indio at eleven at night. We’d be there so early. Before anyone else thought to get to the campground, we’d get a good spot, and we’d have a good night sleep before people started showing up.

The two-hour drive passed easily enough. The Houston set turned out not to be serial killers and we all got along pretty well. I was feeling tired and strung out from all the traveling and traveling and traveling. It seems like over the last five months I’ve barely put my head down on a bed once. After moving out of my place in December I have been couch to couch for a while. I’d managed to get to Chicago and had about five nights in my own bed before I was back on the road again. Part of me thinks the traveling is wearing me thin, but the rest…gets antsy if I’m in one place more than a night or a day. Something I suspect will have to be dealt with eventually.

As it was, at this moment, the traveling took us close to the concert, and eventually ended in a line. We figured at first, as we could see the end of the line, that this must not be that bad. We hit the line at two thirty in the morning.

At three we entered line number two.

At four we were nearing what we presumed to be the end of the line as we could see the parking lot. Excitement stirred us and helped keep us awake. But as we pulled, at last, into the parking lot the barker yelled at us that this was, in fact, not the end, but the next line. The line to get into the campground. At this point we were ready to give up in despair.

Another hour and a half passed before finally we managed to get through the checkpoints. As the handed us our tickets one of the overstressed volunteers talked to us as we mused mildly on the line. “Yeah, it’s just, they are just trying to steal everyone’s pot and shrooms man. But be excited, cause you are in for a great show. “ We told him we were mostly excited about getting to sleep.

At six a.m. we set camp, and I passed out in the sleeping bag I’d borrowed under the canopy that had been set up. The desert wind was chilly now, but the sun was rising. I was too tired to care about the light, and in minutes I was gone.

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