This is the first installment of my recollection of a rather epic Oh -‘13 version of the Wakarusa Music Festival. Or should I say, our collective melo–saga of togetherness and multi-faceted one-nificence. I want to share this accentuated account of how my close friends and I came to appreciate deep down what truly goes into this thing we call a pilgrimage. One that was experienced on an array of levels: most notably in the physical and spiritual department. And how easily we came to the realization that not one of us could have accomplished it alone. Getting there. Being there. All of there.
Personally, Wakarusa is always a rite of passage, if you will, into the days of summer adventure for my extended family and I. You know who you are. And if you don’t, then soon enough you will. For it is one that just keeps extending further and farther out on each safari of weirdness run about.
For the record (if there even is one), this is my uncensored, unapologetic perspective on a journey that left me (among others) a hobbled filthy mess, pretty damn frustrated at times and on the verge of being all-out sick – yet somehow feeling full of life and not just wanting, but needing more. This is how it all began…
This article contains mild adult language, questionable behavior, smelly hippies, lasers, Juan Blanco, some brief semi-nudity, a Flabongo, adult super-themes and the pursuit of happiness.
Wakarusa: The Arrival – Part One (The odyssey begins…)
Yes, Wakarusa is indeed directly upon us. The last week leading up to festival time, each day you get more antsy in your pant-sy and you sleep just a weeeeee little less every night as the excitement continues to build. You can’t stop thinking about what kind of super-terrific festival-related Facebook check-ins you will post every quarter hour of the trip. Or what kind of cleverly worded “Waka Waka” catch phrases you are going to incorporate into your vernacular of stupidity while there. My good friends Jessica, Carl and Juan Blanco are who I will be making the trek with over into the State of Naturale. Each of them arrives to my house in the late evening at varying times while in differing states of mind. One way or another though, we are all focused on the adventure lying ahead of us. It will be my 4th Waka, Carl’s 4th, Juan’s 4th or 5th and Jessica’s very, very first. We talked about executing a power combo surprise with a hose spray-down along with a super wedgie as a method of hazing. However, we decide against this since she has the only vehicle possible of fitting all four of us along with all of our shit. Although Jess has attended Harvest before, we inform her that Waka is on a completely different level of nonsense. You can’t even begin to describe these kinds of things. Anyways, we pull off a group high-five into the sky before somehow managing to pack Jessica’s Dodge whatever-the-fuck-it’s-called in the middle of a fairly heavy rainfall. Like most pack jobs, it is some form of three-dimensional, real-life, action-packed Tetris that comes together on more or less the first try. The elements at-hand give us that extra kick in the ass to make this happen on the first go around. One obstacle in our way is that Jessica is bound and determined to bring her mini-laser kit and fog machine to have at the campsite. But my rule of thumb in these situations is: if you can’t eat it, wear it, drink it or smoke it, then it probably falls a few notches back on the list of muy importante. We conclude that, although lasers are indeed lasers, it just ain’t gonna happen this time.
Out of the four of us, I am nominated to drive and accept with somewhat great honor. Besides, there isn’t shit for space in the back seat. Juan takes shotgun and is supposed to be in charge of the tunes while making sure I don’t get lost. That is unless he gets drunk first and passes out. Jess and Carl are practically wearing each other’s clothes as they sit on top of one another in what was once a back seat. To say “space is at a premium” is an egregious understatement. It is now midnight and we decide to get the Dodge out of fucking Dodge while we can. On our way out of Tulsa, it is ominous as all get-out. I can’t recall the last time I saw lightning travel completely sideways and at upside-down 45-degree angles. I’m pretty sure a parallelogram just happened. This is only the beginning though. Like dumbasses, we joke about CK-5/Jeff Waful/Saxton Waller/<insert light guy here> throwing down a super-duper-heady light show for us on the drive over. Smart and dumb-assery aside, little do we know what we are about to be getting into. About thirty minutes into the drive, even before we get onto I-40 to take us into the Ar-KANSAS, the rain came at us with all its farce. Holy shite, I can honestly say I’ve never been pummeled so hard while driving in my life. Like seriously dude. It is cats and dogs along with the entire fucking Ark. For about the next two plus hours my field of vision is reduced to maybe 20 yards straight in front of me. And when I say in front of me I mean straight in front of me. There’s no “field” of vision happening here. The car is so overloaded with all our shit (thank the Lord we didn’t bring the damn lasers) to where I can’t see out the back whatsoever. Not even a little stupid peephole. And you can forget about the blind spots. The whole fucking car is one big-ass moving blind spot! Plus we must’ve been driving on the damn Ho Chi Minh trail portion of the highway at that point. To say we are on uneven terrain is yet another overwhelming understatement. Because whatever stretch we are on feels like tectonic plates shifting beneath the car. And the tread on the tires are just fucked to begin with. At the same time, I am trying so damn hard to stay behind a car, any car, for that matter. The taillights are a game-changer right now as they serve as my only guide to the road itself. I have to roll my window down every time I want to change into the left lane, only to get cold cocked in the face with rainwater. All that tomfoolery aside, I plug in my super fancy I-phone and get some LivePhish app action going. Like yeah brahhh!!! An acoustic version of “The Curtain With” is playing (FYI, I like it With). “Please me have no regrets” is the chorus. I’m thinking, if this is how we go out, then at least the soundtrack is fitting. Not to mention, it’s a pretty good-ass piece of music.
Just about the time we get to Highway 23, or “The Pig Trail,” the rain has subsided generously. Right before we get off of I-40, I realize I have been using some kind of manual-automatic alien hybrid on the shift column. I’ve been driving stick on my truck for 9 years now. With that in mind, I don’t keep up with this slick technology. Regardless, it is a revelation to me. Because I definitely had not been using it all night. Apparently, after we stopped to fill up with gas-o-line, I must’ve accidentally shifted one notch below “D” to some super-secret-heady gear. Maybe it was while Juan Blanco was feeding me baby carrots dipped in cream cheese. Nevertheless, for the last thirty minutes I had been driving right along the highway without any fucking clue. I turn to Jessica: “What’s the deal with this shifter business?” Very nonchalantly she says, “Oh yeah, that’s the slap-stick.” “Slap-stick!?!?” I understand the concept, but the name is completely ridiculous. Deep down, I embrace it. “You cannot be serious (John McEnroe style). That’s what they call this freakin’ thing???” “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what they call it,” she wryly retorts (she don’t give a damn). Still though, apparently she doesn’t understand the magnitude of the situation. Wishing I had the last minute of my life back, I exit the highway. The Pig Trail, in all its glory and wonderment, is upon us. Coming up on the left is the Hog Trough liquor store I always like to stop at on the way up. A liquor sto’ with a drive-thru is a beautiful thing, people. It’s the last place to get alcohol before we make the trip up to Mulberry (if you don’t count the Valero right across the street). Being that it’s about 2:30 in the morning, there’s no damn way it is open. I inspect it as we drive by. It’s not open. Motherfucker. And I had really wanted to pick up some Fat Tires for the weekend! Ya-see, in Oklerhomer, we can’t git none of dem fancy Fit Tour burrz. Thurr jist too dang fancy! God Bless Oklerhomer. We continue forth though. Four 30 packs of PBR, three bottles of cheap whiskey, a bottle of vodka and Carl’s carton of smokes are in tow. We leave our dignity and sense of common decency at the bottom of Highway 23. The climb upward and onward into the misty stars has begun. The transitive nightfall of diamonds indeed. Nothing can stop us now.
After about 30 minutes of backcountry undulating, we finally roll up to the grand and illustrious “Riverside Processing Checkpoint Fooooor Theeeee Aaaaaaaaaages.” As soon as we pull into the campsite area, we are waved along into some huge albatross that resembles an attempt at the world’s largest valet parking lot. Rows and rows and rows of cars packed in tight, one right behind the other. Some hapless Wakarusa staffer chick approaches the car right before we get into the ruckus. The explanation goes something like this: “Uhhhhhhh, the storm did this and that and basically we have no clue what’s going on and have no idea when anything will be up and running again. So in the meantime I’m going to have you pull into this indefinite holding pattern of a car sandwich circle jerk reach-around. Have a good night!” At this point it’s past 3 a.m. in the morning and quality sleep is nowhere in the foreseeable future. Just fugggeddaboutit! The storm had knocked out their systems and now everything is in complete gridlock. We aren’t even officially in the processing line yet. Not even close. Here we are, year 10 of Tony Waka-la-rusa and they have no plan B, C or D for that matter. No worries though. We’re here and we are alive. Just not looking to pull an all-nighter the first night/morning in. At this point, Juan and Jess go to wait in line for their wristbands. Even that line is at a complete standstill. Both Carl and I will not be able to get ours until much later in the morning. His being an artist bracelet and mine being a media credential. Fancy as fuck we are, the two of us. We accompany them into the line though. Sure enough, in true “festy” style (and not even 5 minutes into our wait) Wookie Masterpiece Theater has already taken over. Some kid has already completely lost his shit. “Don’t trust the guys in the orange shirts! Do NOT trust the guys in the orange shirts! They say they are here to help but they aren’t helping shit! They just want your money! Fuck them!!!” The Waka staffers are pretty much blowing him off though. As he rants, his arms are flailing all about rather disgracefully as a way to heighten the inflated melodrama. Everyone around us doesn’t know exactly how to comprehend the unfolding shit-show. Should we be entertained or should we all feel sorry for this guy? Is he crazy? Am I really all that surprised or should I just throw my beer at him? So many decisions. I opt to keep my Peebs in hand and appreciate it. Supposedly, a Wakarusa staffer confiscated this guy’s bracelet for being too loose around his wrist or something. Don’t ask. I don’t fucking know. It’s difficult to tell what’s going on at this point due to the diatribe of bullshit he continues to spew all over the place. Something about this ranting idiot is shady. We are onto him though. I finish my lukewarm 3.2 % alcohol content Peeber (Oklerhomer) and start to head back to the car for a nap. Sure enough, the whole damn parking lot is already raging. It’s only Wednesday night/Thursday effing morning people! Ya goddamn ragers! What’s wrong with you? Not a damn thing! Because you gotta love this kind of nonsense. Plus I really wish I could partake right about now. But damn it, this is a marathon we are entering here. I’m not about to shoot my proverbial rage-wad on the first night. There’s not even any dang musics!
After Jess and Juan get their wristbands, the four of us re-group. According to the gang, apparently the jackass who was freaking out in line proceeded to come back around, after the fact, and try to sell people wristbands. I knew that freakin’ clown was shady! Forget that clown though. Fortunately, I am able to strategically remove our car from the galaxy’s largest valet parking lot. But still, the grand question is looming over our heads. Where do we go from here? The processing line has not moved one inch. Not even one damn millimeter. Jiminy Cricket could’ve probably made more progress than any single vehicle in the entirety of that fucking field. At one point we walk along the fence line that separates us from them – the dang hippies with parking stickers on their cars. Apparently they got processed before the hurricane and locusts took effect. They have already cozily set up their campsites – tents and everything. I think some of them are even reading bedtime stories to each other. Sons of bitches. At one point I throw out the idea that we pay someone 20 bucks or give them a few Peebers to let us set up our tent next to theirs. You know, so we could get some sleep for a few hours. However, we collectively decide to keep moving along into the ether. As we make our way back over, I approach one of the Wakarusa parking people about the whole predicament. I’m halfway expecting some kind of legit guidance or explanation for all of this chaos. This is just wishful thinking though. Instead, the guy suggests “just getting the hell out of here while we can” because this line isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thanks for the re-assurance pal. He says we should try the North side processing line. Alas, from my experience a couple years back, there is in fact another place to wait in line endlessly to get a small sticker put on your car windshield. None of the rest of the crew has ever heard of this other site though. On that note, we pack back into the Dodge whatever the eff and move it along. It is 11 miles down the road. However, on the Pig Trail at 6:30 or so in the morning it feels like 50 miles since fatigue and delirium are starting to set in. Off and on as I’m driving, the crew doesn’t believe me when I say there is another station. “Are we there yet?” and “Are you sure?” keep coming out of their mouths. I damn near threaten to turn the car right around! We are following an entourage of vehicles along the ever-windy highway as the sun is starting to peek its phat head over the horizon. At this point we are listening to the Dead. Never fails. It is the makings of a beautiful, dewy Ozark sunrise indeed. At least we have this as a consolation prize for our overnight misadventure. Eventually, we do actually roll up to the processing site. See, I told ya so! However, one can’t put the cart in front of the horse on this one just yet. For the line is balls-deep in cars filled with the hippies. It extends well out into the 2-lane highway. But still though, movement is within a grasp we can all feel.
As we inch along, progress nonetheless; the party starts to pour out into the field amongst the 5 lines or so. There is no containing these crazy mofo’s. Sleep for them is a foregone afterthought right now. The sun is rising fast and it is time to start breaking out the ill-conceived booze concoctions. Processing or not, they did not come here to pussy-foot around. I hand the driving reins over to Carl so I can somehow eject myself from the vehicle to stretch my legs and capture some pictures of the unfolding scene. Jessica decides to break out a lawn chair and a bottle of whiskey. She plants herself somewhere between two of the “moving” lanes. One lane over and back to the right of us is a white Volvo coupe with an SMU plate on the front. A chick with a cruise ship get-up is sitting in the open passenger seat window with a 2-liter mixer. It looks as though she is both the Captain and Tennille all rolled into one super idiot costume. I would not put it past her if she has her own theme song. There is some sort of EDM mumbo-jumbo blaring out of the car stereo. Although probably only one and a half sheets (out of three) to the wind at this point, she is already having the time of her life. I carefully approach the vehicle to get a closer look and am immediately embraced as she offers me her cheap booze bad idea. However, I openly waver on my decision. It just looks too damn fruity (and I am by no means a fruity drink bastard). She makes the decision for me and starts pouring it down my throat. I oblige and just go with it. The beverage is some kind of vodka and cranberry mixer that is about as refreshing as vinegar on top of Fresca at this time in the morning. A rather regular looking dude wearing a white polo is operating the car and may or may not be engaging in fist pumping. We all have a brief, yet jovial conversation. They are both from the state of Texas – and damn it, you were gonna know about it! Apparently this is supposed to be funny. I mean, she just can’t stop laughing. And I can’t stop laughing at her laughing. And he can’t stop fist pumping! Damn it people, what the hell is going on here?! That’s what I love about festivals though. You always end up connecting with the most random fucking people. And I mean fucking in the most sincere way. For both, it is their very first Wakarusa and their unbridled exuberance is just what I need right about now. To commemorate the occasion, I start doing an impromptu photo shoot of Tennille in the midst of her vodka-induced drunken bliss. I go ahead and take the stupidity factor up a notch for the sake of stupidity. “Come on, work it, woooooork it,” I shout to her. “Feel it now. Feeeeeeeeel it! You are a tiger. Raaaaawr!” She makes an attempt at a roar, but fruity mixer just gushes out all over the place. “You’re a big sassy tiger aren’t you!?!” She is trying so, so hard to maintain herself right about now. Her laughter is consuming just about every last shred of whatever limited motor skills she has left. Right then and there she damn near falls out of the car window. Her arms are swimming all around like some kind of half-ass ballerina. Luckily, she somehow regains her balance and slides right into the passenger seat inside (Fruity-ass beverage intact). “Wooooo-hoooooo!!!” she exclaims in celebration. She is still laughing like there is no end in sight. Her polo-wearing friend joins in on the laughter and merriment. Playing the whole thing off, I bid them adieu and start to ever so slowly walk away backwards into the sunrise. Just walk…away. As I’m doing so, the club music from the car increases mightily in volume as the dude in the polo shirt starts fist pumping right out the open sunroof. Not even a sunroof can stop this crazy bastard! I’m pretty sure it is his way of showing solidarity with me though. I give him a double thumbs up and flash a big smile. God bless those merry idiots. They are just a couple of sassy tigers.
We are finally starting to make progress in line. Since Carl and I are still without wristbands, we decide to circumvent the whole cluster and meet Jess and Juan Blanco on the other side of the processing. The last thing we need is to get turned away because not everyone in our party has one. We have come too far now to get cock-blocked over something we don’t even have access to yet. Carl puts on these outrageous women’s sunglasses he picked up recently at a gas station even though they look like damn bug eyes. He claims with great pride that they are his “festy” glasses. I nod my head and just accept the situation. As we casually stroll past the long procession of vehicles, every single car happily greets us. “Waka Waka” this and “Waka Waka” that they say (it is its own language indeed). All kinds of interesting aromas are wafting through the air in reverence of the occasion. I’m sure it’s just incense of course though. It is like one long cartoon strip unfolding along the way, as each car is full of its own breed of characters. We eventually make it over to these three porta-potties off to the side so Carl can use the facilities. Sure enough, the one on the right has a handle that is zip-tied to the stall. This pretty much is par for the course. People keep coming up and attempt to break it open to no avail. I keep wondering to myself, “Is there something going on in there or is something very weird about to happen? Did someone just completely defile the inside of it to where it has to be sealed off from the public?” I mean, the festival hasn’t even officially started. It’s only Thursday morning at sunrise for god’s sake! But when it comes to a festival – I put nothing past no one. Carl finishes up and, being the nice guy that he is, offers to go get a pocketknife in order to pop the son of a bitch open. I don’t even have to use the bathroom, but I stand by anyways for shits and giggles. While I wait, both of the remaining two porta-johns are continually occupied. Each person that comes up has clearly already been boozing the morning away. This is obvious by the “gotta piss right now” dance they wiggle about in anticipation. The kind of thing we all used to do as a kid. It’s interesting how alcohol goes hand-in-hand with reverting back to our childhood. Carl comes back and the moment we have been waiting for is upon us. What could it be? Is there someone passed out in a bear suit? Perhaps instead, is there a bear inside waiting to get out and mate with a wookie? Or maybe someone dropped a deuce the size of a small bear all over the place? I sense a bear theme. Carl flips the knife out and goes over to the enigmatic stall. He grabs the black zip-tie with his hand while wearing his bug-eyed festy glasses, a freshly lit smoke hanging from his mouth. He manages to wedge the knife up in between the pieces of zip-tie and breaks it right off. He cautiously opens the door and we both peek around the side along with whatever rando happens to be standing there with us. The door slowly creaks open inch by slow inch tooooooooo reveeeeeeaaaaaaaal – absolutely nothing. No bear suit. Nothing. You gotta be fucking kidding me! All this build up and not even a dead body? I gotta say that we felt a little robbed. Maybe some jokester had only done this to mess with our heads. Maybe it is meant to be a super heady metaphor of some kind. I have no clue at this point because I haven’t freaking slept in almost 24 hours! Waka Waka! We say “eff it” and walk over to the exit area to wait on our pals. Our entertainment comes in the form of watching each processed car meander up the mud-and-gravel incline to the two-lane highway. The edge of the road juts out like a pirate ship plank and acts as a threshold for cars to bottom out on as they plunge onto the small highway. We try to help by offering advice and encouragement to each passerby – but they do not listen. “Hey, you should totally go up the left side and then ease your way onto the road.” “Wait, whaaaat,” they say and floor the hell out of it instead. The scraping of the bottom makes us wince in pain every time. At this point they are all so damn happy to finally be out of line that they could give two shits about anything. Underbelly of the car (that still needs to get them up the Mountain to the actual festival) included. We smile and wave good-bye. Our Dodge whatever finally, finally cruises on over to us. It’s like we have been re-born into the world. Praise Jebus, our car officially has a small (that in a few days will be completely useless) sticker on it that will lead us along the path to the Promised Land! If only we had a bottle of champagne we could break over the side of the car. A legit, non-plastic bottle of anything for that matter! If only. Jess gets out of the front seat for me to take over the reins once again. Following our own instructions, I strategically drive the Dodge up the left to where the mud begins to shake hands with the road. I take my sweet time and ease her up nice and slowly. Ohhhh so slowly. Yeahhhh, there we go baby. The car, feeling like a damn pack mule with the entirety of all our shit, gracefully strides onto the pavement front and then back. Not even one tiny scrape from down below. It is like a symphony of vehicular maneuvering bliss that just happened here. The underbelly is completely intact. Holy shit, I successfully have our semi-sweet ride back on the somewhat open and winding road! Yes indeed, we’re off to finally see the fuckin’ wizard!
The Arrival – Part Deux (Yes, we’re still not in yet.)
As soon as we are back on the Pig Trail, we feel revitalized, although ultimately pretty damn exhausted. We head all the way back to Riverside camping in order to get a couple hours of sleep in. A glorified nap if you will. Carl will be performing with Captain Comfy at 1:30 on the Backwoods Stage. They are one of the Waka Winter Classic winners and it would be their last show together, possibly ever. So it is kind of important, to say the least, that Carl makes the show. We still have to find his artist bracelet though. When we arrive yet again at Riverside, it is sometime between 9 and 10 in the morning. At this point, time just blends all in together like Fruity Pebbles in yogurt. Sure enough after we left, the line finally started to move. At least there are people moving out of the ranks of “poor bastards” to “get me the fuck out of here.” Apparently the Waka staffer during our processing just peeked into our packed car shit-show and was like, “You got any fireworks or bottles?” “No, of course not sir.” And that was that. It was the honor system in all its greatness. I mean, we didn’t actually have any illegal or banned items on us. What do you take us for? I can’t blame the guy though. I wouldn’t want to sift through that madness either. Although I kind of wish we would have brought some Roman candles and a crate of Moonshine just for the sake of our whole ordeal. Fuck it, and the lasers too.
We gracefully drive into the camping section and show off our shiny new Bigfoot sticker. As we drive past the staffer standing his post I’m like, “Hey guy, check this shit out.” C’mon, I won’t deny it. It feels pretty damn good to finally roll into our campsite, even if just for a few hours. However, Riverside camping is the only camping pass Jess could get. Full disclosure here, this is my third experience with the God forsaken lot. It obviously serves whatever purpose it does, but the place is still completely removed from the action. It almost feels like a damn island in a way. When you get down to it, there really just isn’t shit happening. Except for a creek where you can go stack rocks on top of one another. But hey, but at least they have a general store! I keep telling myself, “Never again would I have anything to do with freakin’ place.” Of course, I told myself that last year. What the fuck happened? It doesn’t matter at this point. I still love Wakarusa, I love my friends and we’re all in this together. But I must sleep now or it will never happen. Because once I get on the Mountain, I won’t know what to do with myself.
We pull up to our spot and immediately get our makeshift bedding situated. No tent or anything. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I get my cot out and Jess and Carl just put a blanket down on the ground with their sleeping bags. Juan Blanco commandeers the passenger seat in the car. Within a few minutes of laying on my cot, some rather, let’s just say unique looking chick comes and stands right over me as I’m laying down. I will not put it past her if she is offering “services” of some kind. Although I highly, highly doubt this is the actual case, it is still there in the back of my mind somehow. Again, at festivals – I put nothing past no one. It just comes with the territory I suppose. The back story here goes as so: at Phish Festival 8 my friends were camping next to some kids who were literally pimping out a chick in their group in order to corral enough money to get back home. They even did it out of a van. A van! No shit. It goes to show that these kind of situations can happen when you least expect it. Then again, I could just be hallucinating from serious sleep deprivation. So anyways, this chick is just standing there eye-balling me. “Where did you get a fancy thing like that from?” she asks. “Um, you mean this here cot?” I reply. I am a little befuddled by the fact that this might be her first experience with seeing a cot in person. I proceed to tell her that I bought it at Academy. She is still taken aback by the whole situation. I then explain what Academy is but am still not getting through. Yep, she is in another world alright. And that’s fine and dandy. But I’m trying to squeeze in 2 hours of sleep here! I abort the botched conversation as quickly as possible with an “Ok, I go sleep now” and a blow of the kiss. I swear I have good intentions and am pretty sure she means well, but right now is not the time for this exchange. I put my earplugs in, pull my Hawaii trucker hat over my eyes and away I go into super abbreviated dreamland.
Two hours could not have come quick enough. Jess wakes me up from what feels like the shortest nap I’ve ever taken. I would’ve probably been better off just nuttin’ it up and going without sleep. I mean shit, I’ve done it before. But it’s ok though because after I change my clothes I feel like a partially new man. The “everything” bagel I eat helps too. Although I’m not sure why they even call it that because there are only poppy and sesame seeds on it. An “everything” bagel would be like having the sandwich on the outside of the bagel. So anyways, I decide to go with my Magic Johnson Lakers t-shirt for a change of clothing scenery. Why? Because I want to feel some fucking magic, that’s why. It’s one of my go-to festy shirts anyways and “Showtime” never goes out of style. So getting down to business, our task at hand is to find Carl’s artist bracelet so he can go play music in about an hour and a half. Time is of the essence, cliché and all. When it comes to Waka Winter Classic winners, the festival gives all the wristbands to one person in or with the band to distribute to everyone. This happens whether all members of the band are actually there in person at the time or not. Why it has to be done like this, I have no clue. Of course, we were not with the band when this transaction occurred. And to put the cherry on top, cell phone reception couldn’t be any spottier where we are. Carl has been playing text tag with some dude named Slappy off and on since we woke up. I have never met this Slappy character, but apparently he is somehow associated with the band. Supposedly, this Slappy is down in Riverside somewhere with some guys from Comfy. However, we are making absolutely no progress with the texting. We are getting frustrated with this Slappy fellow. We cannot locate the son of a bitch and things are starting to get a little tense. Finally, I just throw out the suggestion of actually running through the campsite yelling his name. Ridiculous as it seems, we are very quickly running out of time and have no other viable options. Carl agrees and we get to it. I start running down one row, Carl in the one right next to me. “Looking for a dude named Slappy with Captain Comfy!” I yell with all my might. “Slappy Comfy!!!” This feels much more awkward than it actually it sounds. I can feel Carl’s frustration just a row over. All I am getting is indifferent, and at times rather strange looks. “Flappy Schmaptain Schmumfy? WTF?” as people glare over at me. Sure enough, we are only shouting in vain. Carl and I both make it all the way down to the end of our respective rows and look at each other like we are total idiots. And we very well may be. But that is not the point. Right then, sure enough, the drops start to fall. One here and one there and then one fucking everywhere. Oh yes, the rain is once again right upon us. In fact, within about 10 seconds Mother Nature starts taking a colossal piss on everyone outside. Some R. Kelly kind of shit if you will. And we are an entire football field away from the car! We make eye contact with a mutual expression on our face of, “You got to be fucking kidding me!” It is indeed shouted numerous times as we both start hauling ass full speed back to the Dodge. We do not have time to wait underneath someone else’s shelter right now. As I’m running full throttle through the grass I pray that one of those freaking tent ropes attached to the ground doesn’t upend me completely. You never see those fuckers until your legs get all tangled up in one. I’ve damn near had it happen to me while simply strolling along through a campsite in perfectly normal weather. So being that I can barely see shit in front of me as it is, the level of anxiety right now is just a tad very high. Fortunately, Tony Waka-la-rusa is smiling down upon me as we both make it back to the car. When we get back inside of it, we are both completely drenched. There’s no denying it – that was one big-ass exercise in futility. Also known as an epic FAIL. Damn it Slappy! Who the fuck goes by Slappy anyways? We all agree that once we find this Slappy, we are going to slap the shit out of him. We are just not sure with what though. If only we still had those damn lasers. That would be a really cool way to get bitch-slapped. Lasers.
Not only is there a serious thunderstorm rolling through, but lightning is also starting to hit all around the field. Before you know it, “Flight of the Valkyries” will be roaring as people’s tents start to make their best kite impersonations. On that note, we decide to leave the Riverside camping getaway for good. I start up the car and sure enough can’t see a damn thing around me. Why is it that I can never see anything around me? The windshield is all fogged up and everything. I work the knobs to get the heat going. I try to open the door to look behind me, but it feels like ten buckets of water just got dropped on my head. The crew claims there is enough room to back out even though a tent is almost right behind us somewhere with people surely inside it. As ambitious as my driving can be, I’m not even going to attempt that one. We are almost at the very end of our row, but we are parked awkwardly and can’t turn right at all. This would be the easy way out by far if I could somehow maneuver it. Looking down the opposite direction (as in the one we just ran from), there is just enough room (although pretty damn narrow) to drive between the two rows of tents/parked cars. Fuck it! I throw the Dodge into gear and turn left down the confined-to-shit tent alley. We are coming along just fine and it looks like we are going to eventually break free from this stupid mess. That is, until right before the very end of the row. Following our Murphy’s Law theme, some wise guy asshole has parked his truck way too far back and is completely blocking our path. We are sooooooo close that it’s excruciating. I’m talking like two cars away. Yes, that damn close! We try to get out and look for the guy, but get tea-bagged with rain again in the process. This is not happening. Yes it is though. I throw it into reverse (because sometimes going backwards is the only way to salvation). Carl shouts, “Fuck it” in his trademark fashion and throws his arms up in the air. He is already thoroughly soaked and is only wearing his bug eye women’s sunglasses, jorts and low-top Chucks. If nothing else, I find amusement in this because Carl very rarely wears shorts. The one time he does, Mother Nature sticks it to him. But right about now, he has no fucks to give. Then again, neither do I. He tosses his door wide open and jumps out of the car. I roll down my window and start to feel the slippery wet wrath again. “Heyyyy dude, make sure I don’t back over any hippies!” I can barely see, but it’s still just enough to make out the women’s sunglasses waving me down the super tight passageway. I had no idea that getting into Wakarusa would be this much damn work! One day I will tell my grand kids about how grand pappy drove backwards the length of 50 football fields in a hippie blizzard just to get a bottle of Coca-cola. Nevertheless, very slowly but surely, we squirm our way back down to where we started. This time though, we are in a much better position to make it out of the row. And sure enough, we finally do so. Holy shit! Carl slides his way back in and we start to hightail it out of Riverside once and for all like the wet bandits we are. Juan Blanco is on the look out as I zigzag all over the freakin’ place through the campgrounds. I keep saying to him, “Just make sure I don’t run over any hippies!” I mean, you never know when they might come out of the woodwork. As we get close to the exit I drive right past a staffer who is shaking his head in dismay as I steer all over the place like an idiot. Like I give a shit! Finally, I pull the Dodge right up to the base of the hill that leads to the main road. Like a fool, I roll down the window and prematurely proclaim, “Later bitches!” At this point I must be running on pure adrenaline. There’s no getting around it though. We are sitting here face-to-face with a hill that looks like a giant muddy river monster. We are looking into the eyes of madness. This is what stands between us and the free, somewhat open road. Even though it’s just a straight shot up, it sure as hell is no walk in the park. This thing has a network of gushing streams coming right at us down its monstrous slope. Worn to shit tread and no 4 wheel drive, I slap the Dodge into 1st gear by way of the trusty slap-stick. I gun it and we start to wiggle all over the mofo like a retarded fish swimming upstream. If only this were the Indy 500 and some Wooks in Polish Ambassador jumpsuits could run in and swap our tires out with freshies. It’s ok though, because we are actually beginning to ascend through this slippery debacle. We are rising above it all one sloppy push at a time. I go into 2nd gear on the slap-stick as we begin to gain some more traction. We can feel momentum truly wanting to be on our side. The Dodge is bound and determined to make it up this damned muddy sloshed out asshole one way or another. Juan Blanco starts blasting the stereo as one last gasp to propel us right over the hump. I think it’s some Duran Duran as a matter of fact. Perhaps even “Hungry like a Wolf?” Just about then, we somehow manage to make it up to the peak of that river monster bastard. Its fury could not hold us back any longer. The front two tires are indeed on the precipice of the highway. The feeling is palpable. One final push and we are there. I throw the slap-stick back into 1st for that last kick in the ass. The Dodge feels the rush in its loins and thrusts itself completely onto the road like the stallion that it is. Glory, glory, hallelujah, we fucking made it! Out of the blue and into the black, once we’re gone we sure as shit ain’t comin’ back! Damn you Riverside, never again! Never again…never…fucking…again.
Tune in next week as I will be publishing Part 3 of our collective journey into Wakarusa. There are all sorts of crazy plot twists, turns and revelations abound. Do they get in? Do they not get in? Does Carl finally get arrested? Or does Juan Blanco take his pants off? Or just maybe does someone get abducted by alien bacon? No matter what, this adventure/mis-adventure just keeps on getting more and more riveting along the way!
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– Matthew Cremer