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.