My Discourse Against The World
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF ONE HEAD'S EXPERIENCE OF COVENTRY-PHISH (Part 1)
Coventry, VT - August 14th and 15th. The site and date of the last Phish show, E-V-E-R. Something I've been looking forward to, and dreading. I don't want to say goodbye to Phish, but I know the last show will be such a blow out that it'll be a must see. Little did I know what kind of blowout we'd have...
Thursday, August 12th. I packed the night before, and boy did I ever. I packed for several days more than I needed, including 2nd pairs of everything in case I get wet or something. However, I did forget an extra pair of sneakers and rain gear. Those turned out to be the only extra things I needed...
And the week preceding was such a washout. More projects and hard assed clients than I've had to deal with in a long time, so I was very stressed out. Which is why I was extremely looking forward to meeting Roey at 1'ish and then taking off immediately for Phish.
Only, at 12:00 PM, my phone rang, and it was Roey, sounding like a week old dried out phish. "Dude", says Roey, "I've been throwing up all morning. I drank sooo much vodka last night."
Well doesn't that just suck! Roey decides to get the only vodka hangover he's ever gotten, the night before we leave for Vermont. So I tell him to get his ass in gear, and get shit done and over to my apartment ASAP.
I leave work, finally, come home, and basically twiddle my thumbs waiting for Roey. Ok, I did go food shopping, and before that my girlfriend helped me to, um, relax. Finally, around 5'ish he shows up. Oh yea, and even though we need to leave for Phish, and he's had the whole week off, we have to take time off to get an IPOD recharger for the car, so we can listen to it on the way up.
Thus ensues the first real trial of the weekend - finding Comp USA on Queens Blvd. Took us almost an hour to find it. We were going up and down Queens, totally lost, me getting more frustrated (if that was possible) by the second, until FINALLY we got lucky, traffic moved, and we ACTUALLY found a parking spot. He begs me to make him a sandwich, so I make us both one, and then he comes out, with a sad look on his face.
I say, "You couldn't find it?" He starts to nod, then smiles and whips it out and says, "Sucka!"
Meanwhile, the whole time there's this asian guy, waiting for our spot, patiently blocking traffic in the right lane, for at least ten minutes. When we pull out he finally gets in there. Even though there was free parking around the corner. Pretty funny.
FINALLY we get on the road. We make it to 278 East-BQE, having a brief moment of panic as we try to figure out which direction we're headed in. It's east, and we're on our way.
We drive for a while, I have the herb ready for when we hit the highway. We hit I-95 N, we spark up, and we're on our way.
The way there was pretty uneventful, for the most part. Early on we saw a truck driving on the other side flash by, and it was pouring smoke out the back. Roey called 911 and reported it, though he didn't have any specific info so it was basically pointless.
Roey drives for an hour or more. Then he turns the wheel over to me, saying he is exhausted and needs to nap.
So I drive the rest of NY, into Massachusetts, and on. Going around 70-75 MPH, while Roey is passed out, listening to music, and just driving. It got REALLY surreal after a while. I was driving on a two lane highway, the only one awake in the car, at night, and for several hours. The roads I was driving on were badly lighted, or not at all. The weirdest thing is that the same several cars kept driving me nuts.
I wanted to go a steady speed of around 70-75. I kept it on cruise control, so I know it was a steady speed. Yet there were cars going slower than me, especially these two who seemed to be caravanning. They would be going a good speed, say 75 MPH, and I'd be using them as a blocker. Then they would slow to below 70, I would pass them on the left, and then 5 minutes later they'd come barreling down the highway at 80, pass me, then slow back down to below 75.
I'd say what the hell, and follow them at 72 or 73. Then they'd slow again, I'd pass them, and then they'd do the same thing. This happened almost a dozen times. It was like they'd deliberately cut me off and slow down, only to speed up later. This happened with several other cars, and it just got to be very frustrating.
Finally, around 11'ish Roey woke up and we decided to get some gas, though we didn't really need it. We were at White River Junction.
At the gas station we met several other phish heads, a pair of which told us that they heard that they weren't letting people in because it was so rainy and muddy. We decided to try and find a motel for the night. I called Hal (VT born), but he wasn't much help, so I called my parents, who went online and booked us a reservation in St. Johnsberry, about 30-40 miles north.
Oh, and Roey stole garbage bags from the bathroom of the gas station, which later helped us out.
Anyway, we got back on the road, and started seeing heavier phish traffic. We sped up towards St. Johnsberry, took the exit, and found the motel. Roey watched Conan while I got the key, which was to another facility down the road. We ended up following an RV there, though we didn't know the two of us were headed in the same direction.
The parking lot of that motel was quickly fillin up with phish heads. We chatted with a few, but it started to rain, so we went inside our room, and pretty much just hit the hay.
Slept poorly. Wasn't tired, wasn't that comfortable, and it was hot (the AC sucked.) Got up around 8:30, we took showers, packed up, and drove back to the place to drop off the key. They said we had to drop it off at the place we actually stayed at. Great. Drove back, dropped off the key, tried to find a place to have breakfast, and eventually gave up and had a bannana.
THIS IS WHEN ALL THE FUN STARTS.
We get onto I-91 N outside of St. Johnsberry, go about 5 miles, and then hit phish traffic in the right two lanes. The Bunny, the radio station taken over by Phish for the weekend WMOO-FM, was constantly saying to stay in the right two lanes, letting locals and truckers get through. Mostly everyone was doing that. I said to Roey, "should we be nice phish heads or cut off traffic? Honestly, I would've preferred to troll up a few more miles before joining the throng, but Roey was adamant, so we got in line like everyone else.
And stayed in line. We moved very slowly to begin with, several to ten feet every 15 minutes. It only got slower. Every now and then I would get out and walk up and down the line, saying hi to people, trying to check the progress up ahead, and just to have something to do. We kept in touch via our Motorola Walkabout radios. I walked ahead of us in line, impressing heads with my yo-yo skills, drinking captain and coke out of another guys thermos, and just trying to pass the time.
Basically, we got on line around 9:30 AM. At about 7:30 PM we had gone roughly 3 miles. We were getting frustrated and tired, and we were starting to worry: will we make it into the show at all? The radio said they were initially hoping to park 1000 cars an hour into the venue, but they were only parking 100-150 cars an hour, TOPS. The radio said to use the shoulder, but no one was doing it, until a few hours later, when some cars came barreling down the shoulder, and everyone, including me, jumped on it. We later switched from the shoulder to the right lane, ending up in the shoulder for the most part.
The traffic problem: several days of rain in the northeast, and all day rain on Thursday. It turned the whole concert area/airport into a huge mudpit. They were hauling cars, trucks, and RV's by using small tractors in order to park them. Many other vehicles were getting stuck in the mud. It was a disaster, an unforeseen complication. And add that to the more than several bottlenecks miles up the road, traffic was hardly moving.
Belatedly we realized we should have taken some kind of a short cut. By that point, there was little we could do, and not many ideas to try.
But, during our wait we had some fun. We talked to the guy in the car ahead of us who shared some of his Captain and Coke, and who told us that he fell asleep at the wheel of his rental the night before, his foot fell off the break, and he hit the RV in front of him. The guy who fell asleep knocked the license plate off his rental vehicle, and said he was going to try and super glue it back on. Good luck buddie!
Then, out of nowhere, some locals showed up on the highway with bags of ice to sell. One of them was a weird looking guy, but nice enough, liked to curse. Told us that traffic had not moved much in the past day or so.
They went down the line to sell ice, and when they came back, I overheard them discussing a possible short cut they could give, for a moderate fee. They said the more people who wanted to take it, the less it would be. However, the other phish heads weren't buying it. They didn't have the money, or, more importantly, they didn't want this to be a bum rush, and lose their place in line. If we missed Saturday's show, surely we'd get in by Sunday, but if we left the line now, we'd never get in.
That was my feeling. However, I started to feel like this shortcut was our only hope. The sky was darkening, traffic had literally slowed to a standstill, moving not at all, and it was almost 8:00 at night. The show started in less than 24 hours, and we still had to go 16+ miles. At the rate of 1/3 mile every hour, we weren't going to make it.
Roey didn't want to do it. Didn't want to give up our place, and also thought that the cops would probably make us turn around. I wasn't certain this was the best idea, but I wanted to try it. I knew it was our only shot, make or break, but I had a good feeling about it. Roey acquiesced.
So there we were. We waited for this guys brother, whose name was Derek, and who was apparently running the show. He showed up, and I asked him if he could guarentee this. He said that they had already done this, and the guy they helped was way up ahead, and coldn't believe how much farther the shortcut put him. Derek said he got the guys cell number, but lost it.
A car next to us, a red honda accord, had a girl who wanted the guys to give her the shortcut for free. She went for the sympathy route, saying she had to be there to work at 11 AM the next day. They didn't care, and she wasn't sure she wanted to take the short cut anyway, so it was just Roey and I for the trip.
Anyway, I asked them if they'd do it for $40 for just the two of us. Derek agreed, and he hopped into the backseat. Derek told his bro and friends we'd meet them at the coffee house, and we were off. Just then it started to POUR, really hard. We got the red honda to make room for us, then we broke out into the left lane and sped off. We saw tons of cars not moving at all, and some of them were already camped out on the road and the side of the road.
We pulled an illegal u-turn, no cops, and took the next exit, Barton. What we needed to do was take I-91 to Route 5, to the concert. Derek took us into Barton, where we bought some beer. Then we followed them out to a back/dirt road, and we tried to keep up - the pick up in front of us was going 55-60, and this road had many bumps and pot holes.
We drove along for an unknown distance, around 8-10 miles perhaps, when we got to a dark section with little lighting, and the truck pulled over.
This when I got scared, and thought this was where they mug/kidnap us, steal our car, and leave us in a ditch somewhere.
We pulled up (Roey later said he had his foot on the gas, and was making sure they couldn't block us from leaving), and they said "this is where we leave you. Go to the stop sign, make a left, and you'll be 5 miles out from Coventry." Derek asked for the money, politely, and we gave him the $40. Roey asked if he wanted anything else, and he said he was hungry, so Roey quickly made him a sandwich.
We said our goodbyes, got derek's cell number so we could call him to tell him how it went, and then left them. We crossed our fingers, said this is it, make or break, and....
We got to the stop sign. Saw frozen traffic and a couple of cops and a driveway ahead of us. There was actually a spot almost directly in front of the driveway, in between a jeep and an RV. Roey quickly jumped right into it, and both of us were eating our hearts out, hoping the cop wouldn't say anything. We still didn't know if we were on route 5 or not.
Our hearts were beating fast, we were nervous, but the cop didn't make us move. He did have us go forward a bit so some cars could come and go through that driveway, but that was it. We quickly realized we WERE on Route 5, but how close we didn't know.
Traffic was still bad, moving very slowly to not at all. But we kept moving, with Roey behind the wheel, and I decided to take a walk with the radio. Up ahead I found out we were 6 miles out from Coventry, as opposed to 16 before. We did it! We took the shortcut and it worked!! The people who didn't were ten miles behind us, and would proabably soon wish they had taken the shortcut as well.
Anyway, I found a place on the side of the road selling "Phried phood", and got some sweet potato fries, the first hot food we had eaten since taco bell the night before. (I forgot to mention our quick taco bell run, which Roey thought would cure his hangover. A doubledecker and some cheesy potatoes later, I had to admit it was a good idea.)
I walked back with the sweet potato fries, and we manja'ed them in the car, they were gone before we knew it.
An hour later I walked up again, and I found a 30 car length expanse of road that was empty - people were asleep in their cars and not moving up. Throwing the 'stand in line' mentality to the winds, I radioed Roey and told him to move up. He wouldn't do it, so I ran back to the car, and basically made him pull into the left lane, pass 25 cars, then get to the end of the 30 car lengths. By then other people were doing the same thing, or the cars in front of us had moved. Either way, we cut off around 40 cars.
Across the road from us at that point was another food/item stand manned by locals. I got out, walked over, and bought a cheeseburger that I shared with Roey. They told us we still had 6 miles to go, but we were close, and traffic was moving. We were almost there! I almost bought some apples, but at $1 a piece, I couldn't in good conscience. Hell, in times square they're only $.75 each!
Got back in the car, it was around 10:30, and I decided to take a nap. I laid down in the back seat, put my head on a pillow, and closed my eyes for about 4 hours. I think I did manage to actually get around an hour or even two of sleep. Though, the whole time, Roey is opening and closing the door, making the lights go on, and even more annoying, the beep beep beep the car makes when the car is open but the keys are in the ignition. All through that, I still got some sleep.
Around 2:30 in the morning I got up and relieved Roey, who then prompty went to sleep in the back. Then it was just me, the dark, and the traffic. It got even more surreal at this point. By now it was around 3 in the morning, and people who literally dozing at the wheel, until the car ahead of them would turn on and move forward 5 feet, and then they too would wake up, move forward, then nap again. I was doing the same thing.
Around 4-4:30 in the morning, I was getting kinda edgy. Everybody was asleep, for the most part, I was by myself, stuck in traffic/limbo, in the dark, and I've been in traffic for roughly 16 hours. So, even though I had recently quit smoking, and had not had a cigarette in 45 days, I took a parliment light out of Roey's pack and smoked the whole damn thing, enjoying it to the filter. It was then that I realized I was going to relapse for the whole weekend.
Anyway, traffic moved as mentioned above for a few more hours. Go, stop, turn off the car, nap, hear the car in front of you start up, wake up, put into drive, move 5 feet, put into park, turn off car, nap, repeat.
At around 7'ish Roey woke up, and we passed another food stand run by a local. This guy was selling bacon egg and cheese sandwiches for $3, probably one of the best deals that weekend. I got one and it was delicious! By then we were about 3-4 miles out of the concert venue.
Roey took the wheel back, and we basically took turns brushing out teeth, washing our hands and faces, and waking up, as the car stopped and moved. For a little while I just sat in the back, with the van sliding door open, just watching the scenery move by.
At this point, traffic was moving pretty solidly. We were past all the bottlenecks, and only a few miles out, so it was still stop and go, but we were going for further and further distances at a time.
Finally, around 8'ish, we rounded a corner where the farmers market was. I got out, bought a poncho for $5, asked how far we were, and got back in. We made a right at the corner, heading towards the airpot, and we were about 2.5-3 miles out.
Continued on at the same slow pace. By now it was warming up, around 9:00. Then came the radio anoucement.
Mike Gordon, the bassist of Phish, got on the Bunny radio. He said, "Hi everyone, listen, I have some really bad news. Because of the rain, and the mud, and the ensueing traffic, We are not going to be able to park all the cars as we had hoped. We looked at all the options, from using other fields to bussing people in. We talked to farmers in the area, who said they had never seen any rain like this. It's never been this muddy.
So, in the interest of safety, we are forced to ask everyone who is still on I-91 N to turn around, and go home."
(At this point my jaw dropped, and I couldn't believe it. No less, we would have still been on that line, no doubt, if we hadn't taken that shortcut! As it was, we were less than 2 miles from the gate, and we definitely made the cutoff. Man, was THAT a good feeling! But boy did we feel bad for everyone else not already on route 5.)
"People who go home will receive a full refund of their ticket, and we are trying to come up with other alternatives (read: another concert!!!!)."
After that, Roey and I were on cloud 9. We made it in! Our short cut paid off! It was the day of the show! So we continued on our way, and at one point I got out and talked to a staff person sitting on the side of the road, watching the traffic. He told me we weren't that far out, but it would still be a couple of more hours at least.
Back at the car we started passing signs that read, "DON'T TRASH VERMONT", and, "KEEP VERMONT CLEAN." But then came the icing on a spicy cake: we saw a sign that said, "DON'T JERSEY VERMONT"! Can you believe that? Roey and I got so pissed! We were getting laughs from people, when I went up to the picture, gave it both middle fingers, and Roey snapped a digital picture. Now THAT is a keeper!
We kept moving. Finally by around 11'ish, we were in line for the car to be checked. Roey and I started to freak a bit, and we stashed all the goodies in the compartment below the shotgun seat.
We were of course nervous as the guy finally approached our car to search it - no need. The guy was butt ass exhausted, and told us so. We asked how he was doing, and he said, "I need sleep man!" He asked/said to us, "Now, I don't care if you have any for your personal use, but do you have any guns, drugs, other weapons, fireworks, or anything else? We said no to all, of course, he gave us bracelets for our tickets (which we couldn't take off, needed to get into the concert, and would cost $200 to replace), and sent us on our way.
At that point I saw Vanessa, a sister of my co-ed fraternity, which was weird. We said hi, I met her boyfriend who was driving, and then I didn't see her again the whole weekend. There were other gamma's there too, but I didn't see any of them.
We got to the parking area, and we could go one of 2 ways. Roey asked which way was the hook up, and a guy pointed straight ahead, saying "when you get onto the grass, DON'T STOP, or you will get stuck in the mud."
Roey, for some reason, just cannot accept some simple commands. We made it in ok, but for some reason he felt the need to go really slow, almost stop several times, and almost get stuck several times. I would have simply sped into the spot they were pointing me towards, but for some reason he needed to stop every time he saw a traffic person clearly pointing in a direction. Very frustrating.
Anyway, we end up parking all way back, one removed from the fence. Our neighbors also quickly parked, and we met some nice people.
Ok, this is about 6-7 months after I wrote the first part. Lets see what I can remember.
After we parked, the first thing we did was set up our crappy, CRAPPY tent. It was a loan from Tim, I believe, and was way past its prime. It took us a long time to figure it out, but we eventually got it set up. After we threw our sleeping bags and other stuff into the tent, we decided to go for a walk.
We followed the crowd, but I really had no idea which direction we were moving in, or where we were going. That whole time I barely had a grip on the layout of the concert grounds, I just could not read the map, it had little base in reality. We ended up doing some walking, and getting tired quickly from the heat and sun, with no shade.
We went back to our car eventually, and grabbed some water, some doobage, and our garbage bags. Walked to the venue.
We got there a couple of hours early, probbly around 4'ish. We crested the hill, and I saw one more the more amazing sights that I've seen in my life.
Literally pouring through a hole in the fence, thousands of people were walking with everything they owned on their backs, tents, sleeping bags, coolers, you name it. These were the people who were told to go home. They musta said, "Fuck That!", and what we later heard was that most people, instead of turning around, parked their cars on the freeway and walked up 10-15 miles to the venue with all their belongings. The sheer mass of them broke down the fence, and they streamed through. NO refunds for them!
So, what I saw was a line of thousands of people, almost biblical in fashion, walking towards the concert. When we saw them the crowd put a cheer, and at almost the same exact time they opened the gates.
Roey and I ran/walked in, and managed to get about 40-50 feet from the stage, on the right of the tapers and recording equipment. It was muddy as hell, so we put down our garbage bags and sat down on them. We waited for a couple of hours. The place got really packed. I'm sure we got something to eat, I'm sure we smoked, I'm sure I got sunburned. Then, finally, as the sun began to set, Phish took the stage.
I don't remember much about the first concert night. I do remember sitting on the garbage bag, exhausted from our travels, sun burnt, dehydrated, hungry, and above all else MISERABLE because people were stepping all over us and getting us muddy. But my sneakers, my only pair, will still most dry. As of yet.
We left during the third set, probably because I wanted to. At a certain point of a show you start feeling your misery more than how much you enjoy the music and everything else, so we left. But while at the show, we noticed that people brought anything in that they wanted: chairs, coolers, beer, you name it. My thought was to do the same the next day.
So after the show we walked back to our car/tent, and just chilled out. We eventually crashed out.
I slept in the tent, and it was ok, but by no means good. Woke up with my sleeping bag slightly wet, and the whole time I could only imagine all the bugs and flies getting in there. Damn mosquitos! the couple next to us, from Ohio, could be on that 70's show, cooked us breakfast, well the check did. She was soooo nice, they basically insisted on making us breakfast. Later in the day the people on the other side of us made us a hamburger too. Great neighbors.
After brunch we went into town. I had brought a folding beach chair with me, we were on the hunt for another chair for Roey. Got to the general store, and we bought a chair for around $20, a folding one that fits into a horizontal bag, not too heavy.
Went back to our car and we suited up. Packed my backpack full of food and stuff. Packed the coolers full of food, beer, water, soda. Picked up our chairs, and got moving. Got to the concert a little later this time, and this time we sat on the left side of the recording equipment, a little further back, but not much, still a great spot.
Then we did the best thing we did that WHOLE weekend. We put down our chairs and sat in them. It was awesome! Nobody stopped us from bringing anything in, so we had everything we needed. We put down our chairs, and the coolers, and just sat down. As the afternoon wore on, I read my book, talked to people around us, and we smoked. People complimented us on our idea w/the chairs...we were literally like kings, with everyone else sitting directly in the mud, or on blankets, below us. Some people used our chairs as spot markers, and so people wouldn't step on them.
All I could think was, "Weren't you here last night? Didn't you see other people with chairs? Or at least with garbage bags?" But whatever, not my problem.
So, the whole time, Roey wanted to eat a shroom chocolate. He bought two, and brought them to the 2nd night of the show. I was adamant, "I am NOT tripping. Don't want to!!" Roey tries to persuade me, and finally says, "Are you going to make me trip by myself?" That cheap ass line got me.
So, I agreed to eat half a chocolate. Roey ate a whole one. What this meant: I got the bad half of a trip. The paranoia, the feeling of unrightness, the sheery misery of being in the middle of a hundred thousand people and no firm grip on yourself. Meanwhile, ALL Roey could say, the WHOLE TIME, was "Dude, look at the clouds man, the CLOUDS!"
The whole first set I bugged the fuck out. I could barely enjoy the music because of the thoughts whirring through my head. finally I decied to smoke myself into oblivion, and proceeded to do just that. I smoke a couple of bowls, and once that was done, I felt MUCH better and in control of myself, and I settled down to enjoy the concert (though, I have to be honest, what I enjoyed the MOST was simply being able to sit there, above and beyond the mud, in an actual seat. That like MADE the whole weekend, without that it would have been pure misery. With it, I could claim my space like a civilized human being (not a dirty muddy hippie), and enjoy it like I wanted to.
So, for the record, the music sucked. They didn't play most of what I wanted to hear, and what they did play was 2nd rate, because basically they were all crying on stage. Trey actually broke down at a certain point and couldn't even sing the rest of the song, and they were just not in sync. So, that was poor, but the experience was awesome.
On the way back I lost my shit. The WHOLE weekend I had managed to keep my sneakers dry. I just wanted to get back to my tent/car, and chill out, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Roey was still tripping and had no idea where he was going. In short, before I knew it, he led us directly into a mud field, and my shoes promptly got soaked, SOAKED! I was sooo f'ing mad, I yelled at Roey, probably called him some names. We eventually found our way back, after really really getting lost (and a little scared that we were too lost and would never find our car, it was basically pitch black). So after a few more mudfields, we got back to our car.
And our neighbors, one of whom packed an unending bowl of opium that I smoked until I couldn't see the reason for it anymore. We ate some more food from our packs and people around us, and got ready to settle in for the night.
But I was done. I was done! I wanted out of that place. Roey, again, said no, lets sleep. Fine. I'm not getting in that tent again, did I mention I was done? So I sat shotgun in the Spaceship (Roey's van) and managed to get a bit of sleep. When the sun came up I started putting shit together, I roused Roey, packed up.
Then the 2nd adventure of the weekend started. Did I mention that Roey has trouble following simple directions?
The WHOLE TIME, all we heard, again and again, was, "when driving, DON'T STOP. Go medium speed, maybe a little fast, but don't slow down or stop, 'cause you will get stuck."
So Roey insists on getting behind the wheel. I start to direct him, motioning any of 8 ways that he can go, the whole time I'm shouting, just don't stop! Just don't stop!
So what does Roey do? He moves forward a bit, stops. Changes his mind. Moves back a bit. Stops. Moves forward a bit. Stops, Annnnnnd, WEEEE'''RRREEE STUCK!
I couldn't belive it. I just could NOT believe it! It was like Roey gave himself a lobototmy in the night. Why he pulled that I still don't know. What I do know is that we were up mud's creek without a paddle. The van was stuck, people were leaving, and we had no way of getting unstuck.
We tried everything. Throwing wood chips under the wheels. No good. Threw a huge wooden board under them...no good. Searched for any kind of shovel...no good.
Finally, we were at the brink of desperation. There was a couple next to us, in a red truck from TX. The black man said, "Well, in a situation like this, what I would do in TX is dig right in front of the wheel to decrease the lip of the depression."
that makes sense! Only, we had no fucking shovel buddie!!!
So then he reaches into his car, pulls something out, twists it together, and says "Oh, and here's a shovel"...
God send!!! Thank you!!! He gives the mini shovel to Roey, who fucking GOES TO TOWN on the mud! Like I've never seen Roey work this physically hard before (not even when we were hiking in Maine the previous summer.) He dug like a madmen, not stopping, barely breathing, just attacking the ground.
After he clears out the wheels, he gets behind the wheel, and this time, Thank God, he does it right. He spins the wheels, and doesn't stop...we inch forward, inch forward...then bam! We're moving. I throw up my hands, jump up and down, and shout hooray! I direct him to the line of traffic on the pavement, jump into the car, and....
Wait for 5 more hours. The story will continue...
THE TRIP HOME
Ok, so let me start this part of the story off that my memories are a little more hazy on the way back than the way there. This was due to a multitude of factors, including lack of sleep, sun exposure, the consequential dehydration, and doing various drugs that are known to affect the memory.
To continue, after Roey had miracuously redeemed himself by pulling the van out of the muck that was determined to capture our souls, we pulled onto the pavement with all the other cars. And then we did not move. For a while. The euphoria of getting unstuck wore off after the first hour or so. I don't remember when we started moving, but the line did move, after a time. Very, very slowly. We could see the movement starting hundreds of feet in front of us with the cars at the top of the hill. It would be a bit at at time, and then people would turn off their cars and get out the beer again.
So we passed the time as we could, Roey napped, I walked up and down the line of cars, meeting people. One guy clambered blearily out of his RV with some meat in a ripped supermarket plastic container. He was like, "can you smell this for me? I can't smell anything." Now, I personally did not smell that meat, I think one of his friends did, but it did NOT look good. I talked to him and his buddies for a while, just listening to them shoot the shit, while I played with my yo yo and conversed a bit. Mostly I was just tired, and wanted to get home. After sleeping badly for two days, having miserable experiences with porta pottys, and mud, and missing civilization as I knew it, I just wanted to feel some clean clothes one me after a shower and have a hot meal with a cold drink in some air conditioning.
Eventually, the line started to move perceptibly faster. I got in shotgun, my energy suddenly coming back as the prospect of leaving this airfield became more of a reality. After around 4 and a half hours of hardly moving at all, traffic started to move.
As we passed each turn and bottleneck, we could see how hard the organizers of this evacuation had worked to make it as orderly as possible. On the way up, thousands of cars blocked the highways for days, making the state news and creating hell for commuters. And then, after those thousands of cars actually parked themselves on the highway, I heard that they had to get tractors to literally plow them off of the road. More on that later
So, there was a lot of pressure not to create the same kind of problem we had on the way up. The organizers had a lot more factors on their side, including the fact that while mud was proving to be very difficult for some larger vehicles to get moving, the majority had no problem (or some slight minor problems, like us) getting started.
As we neared the exit we could see what they had done: they were releasing cars one by one. This had the effect of allowing traffic to disperse over several hours, greatly lightening the possible traffic as thousands of cars prepared to travel south on the same series of roads. THAT was why we had stood almost stock still for 5 hours...we had to wait our turn.
Well, as we neared the end of the traffic, we saw that we still had 40-50 cars ahead of us, another half hour wait, at best. Then we noticed a parking guy in an flourescent orange vest move a cone to the side so a car could get through, at which point he put the cone back. The car went immediately to the highway, cutting off everyone waiting in front of him When we got to him, I rolled down my window and asked how we could get him to move the cone for us like that.
At which he said, "Got any herb?" I looked at Roey, and Roey looked at me...this lasted about half to three quarters of a second. Then Roey said, with a smile and half a laugh, "Well, what are you waiting for...give the man some herb!" I smiled back broadly, phished out a small to medium sized bud, about the size of a bowl, and gave it to the guy.
He palmed it, said thanks, and promptly moved the cone for us. Roey gunned it through and like that, we were on our way home.