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Dear Rachael of the Future,September 6, 2010

I'm writing you a little note here to remind you of some things that you would do well to keep in mind for camping at Strawberry Music Festival next year.

#1 - Three cases and six 6-packs of beer is too much. I know you ran out of beer in 2009, but dude, you won't run out if you bring two cases. Not even close.

#2 - Along the same lines, five boxes of cookies were too much. Three would have been enough. A metric crapload of potato chips, however, especially the Salted Kettle chips, is appropriate. 

#3 - Start the drive at 6am. Not kidding. You almost didn't get a good spot this year because you left at 7am.

#4 - Arlo Guthrie is never, ever to be missed. Remember when you wrote in a blog post about the Strawberry Festival of 2001:

My best memory of a festival (and I have so many) was when Arlo Guthrie sang "City of New Orleans." I remember standing in the kitchen, years ago, and the song came on whatever radio show Mom was listening to. I said, "God, I love this song. I don't know why I love this so much, but I really do. It's weird." Mom just stopped, and stared. She said, "You know, this was our song. I used to dance you to sleep to this every night." When Arlo sang it, I was sitting next to Mom, who had just been diagnosed with colon cancer (in remission now, thank God). We held hands while he sang, and I was so happy, to be there next to her, in the dark, the moon behind us, the family around us. Couldn't be better.

Well, when he sang it this year, your heart broke wide open and you cried like a baby in the dark. You were the only Herron to make it to Strawberry this year, and you missed your family something fierce although you were happy to camp with people who are also, in another way, your family. 

#5 - When you are called upon to perform "Hungry Like the Wolf" in front of hundreds of people at the Chickwagon stage, it's best to do so in full wolf face paint (picture of face to follow in another post -- the camera is buried in a bag somewhere right now). Also, howling helps.The audience has been drinking free margaritas and will help.

#6 - That night, it's best to take off the face paint with a wet wipe before you go to bed. Trust me on this.

#7 - Do not, under any circumstances, buy a goldurned pool toy to use in the lake. You always buy one, you always blow it up, you never use it, and you always throw it out as you leave, because you never remember this rule. 

#8 - Make sure that in your camp you have at least one player for each of these: banjo, guitar, accordion, stand-up bass, and ukulele. If you can get a fiddler also, that's nice, but not necessary. The aforementioned combination ensures your site will RULE, and no one will ever get to sleep before 3am (except on the last day when you're too cumulatively hungover to stay up past 10pm. This is the night the teenagers rule the campground). 

#9 - When you leave, drive 30 minutes away from camp and then make that left turn toward Coulterville and follow 132 to Modesto, then north on 99. What an incredibly gorgeous drive -- exactly what your dream of California looks like -- without that terrifying drop down Old Priest Grade and none of the backup at the 120 turn. You made the right choice taking that one. (Except this: If you ever get the teardrop trailer of your dreams, stick to 120).

#10 - Always hire Josephina if possible to petsit the menagerie. They looked almost disappointed to see you when you got home because you weren't her. 

#11 - When you get home, write yourself a list of everything that's in both the camping box and the camp-kitchen box, and then write yourself a big note to put in there that says READ BLOG POST 09/06/10. Because you'll never remember you posted this if you don't.


Sounds like a fabulous weekend all around. Welcome home!

Good Morning Rachael!! Welcome home! I know your Dad is trying to talk you girls into Hollister......know what?? Stick to your guns, traditions are traditions and nothing else will be the same. You just manage to rip my heart out sometimes girl!!! I'll do my part to work on him all year about you girls and him going to Strawberry next year...he cannot tell me his mind wasn't on it all weekend!! Men are so funny sometimes. Wish me luck and hopefully your family tradition will be back in place in a year!!! He needs to realize that I'm a big girl and I will probably be looking for a quiet weekend alone by then too!! Love you........Lola

Sounds like you had a great time. And you were so close to my neck of the woods--no hwy 120 backup necessary--you guys could've stopped by for dinner until the traffic lightened up.

Oh, and the pool toy? The one time you remember not to bring it is the one time you'll wish you had it. ;)

Maybe you just haven't found the right pool toy. I like the alligator best, good for monorail riding or sitting on or floating high-centered crosswise.
Love Arlo Guthrie.
Love Kettle Chips, Krinkle Cut BBQ are my favorite.
I don't know that song, but if ever called upon to sing anything involving a hungry wolf, will remember to wear wolf make-up and howl, hope audience is loaded on margaritas, and remember to wipe off the make-up before bed.
Just yesterday was discussing with dd the coolness of being able to play either a ukelele or a banjo and wishing I could (thought of you and Lala).

One of these years I will be lucky enough to make it to Strawberry. I used to go every year when it was in its infancy in Sonora Pass at Leland Meadows, not far from my family's cabin. We used to walk to it. I still love bluegrass. There's always Grass Valley and Bower's Mansion here in NV. Sounds like you had a great time. And I'm with Lola.

I am glad you had a good time, we missed you while you were gone! My heart will ache for you every time I hear 'City of New Orleans' , you were much too young to lose your little mama.

Especially remember the note to read your blog post.

Besides, it's a good one to read again, a few times over.

I love you! This is just adorable.

I love this post. Tears, smiles, and laughs in one post. I won't forget this one for a while.

For me, the song is Will the Circle be Unbroken. I cried uncontrollably when my Dirt boys sang it at the Surf in July.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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