I’m back and I now present (because I know you all woke up this morning just HOPING someone would bore you to tears): a day-by-day account of the trip.
My flight was at 9-something a.m., leaving from Tulsa — which meant it was wakey-wakey time at 4:50 a.m. I grabbed a quick shower and we basically hauled the kids out of bed right before we were ready to go, slapped some clothes on them and chucked them in the car. I’d put them to bed early so they were in fairly good spirits and I popped in a video for them and all was well. We actually left early, which is so insanely unheard-of I figured it was a portent of impending disaster, i.e. I was heading to my demise in a fiery plane crash or similar. (This did not happen.)
We got to the airport with no problems (and no potty stops — woot!) I got on the plane and proceeded to fly back south, passing almost directly over my house in the process, to catch a second flight in Dallas. This was cheaper than flying directly from Dallas, which basically sums up why the airlines are all bankrupt. Because they are STOOPID. My layover in Dallas was 3.5 hours, yeehaw.
On the plane I sat next to a lady who was also on her way to AROTR, and there was another across the aisle from us, one behind us and one behind that. My seatmate and I exchanged first names and walked together down to baggage claim as we were both scheduled to catch the hotel shuttle. We ran into each other a few times over the course of the weekend and exchanged pleasantries.
I got checked into the hotel and went up to rest a little while. My room, incidentally, was on the same floor as last year. Last year, however, I was at the front of the building. This year I was on the backside, directly overlooking the festival grounds. It was great! I could hear the music as clearly as though I had the radio on in my room, and I could look down at the festivities.
When I got up from my rest and looked outside I discovered that it was raining, which was a bummer because there was supposed to be a preview concert from 6-10. I went downstairs to eat in one of the hotel restaurants, though, and discovered that the powers-that-be had improvised and moved the bands inside to the ballroom, which was already set up for concerts for later in the weekend. I went ahead and ate and got to the ballroom in time to see a group I really wanted to see, the Greek Beats. They are a group of about six guys and two girls, from Athens. They do (of course) all Beatles songs and they are REALLY good. Lots of fun. They went down very well last year; they were rather a sleeper hit. They weren’t top-billed or anything but people enjoyed them so much the festival promoters actually added an extra performance. This year they played a couple times every day.
Friday was kind of a quiet day. I had a hard time waking up, as I’ve been super-tired lately. I got down to the festival and had a brunch of a funnel cake with cherry topping. Then I went inside the building where I discovered NIRVANA. Anyone who has been here and read my journal with any regularity probably remembers that I am obsessed with bags and purses. And anyone who’s been here longer than five seconds knows I’m obsessed with the Beatles. So I only have six words to say to describe the heaven I found:
Bags….with the Beatles on them!!
Yes, I nearly had a thrombo when I walked in and saw them. They were way expensive but I, frankly, didn’t give a flying fruitcake. I bought two purses and a large travel bag (pictures to follow). I’d have liked to have gotten more but I do have to exercise some control (plus I can always order more online later )
After I got my bags I went to the indoor concerts, for which I had a reserved seat. The first band playing was The Fab Four, which was cool. The last time we were in Vegas (almost two years ago!) they were playing at the LV Hilton and I took Madalyn to see them. They weren’t at the festival last year so this was the first time I’d seen them since then. After them was a tribute concert for Paul, which was a bunch of different artists doing Paul songs.
Sometime during the day I walked downtown a bit, to Borders and bought a few books. I also had dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. I turned in to the room pretty early but ended up staying up till 3 a.m. reading.
I’d found an ad in the hotel magazine for Papa John’s saying they had breakfast so I ordered myself a breakfast pizza (egg, cheese, bacon — no sauce!) and another dessert-type “pizza” that had apple pie filling and icing on top. (They were small, individual-sized ones and I didn’t finish them!) I know, gack, gack, and more gack, right? I can’t help it; I’m a sucker for breakfast novelties. It’s a weakness.
At noon I went downstairs to listen to a presentation by an author who I’d really enjoyed listening to last year. After that I went back up to the room to wait for Stacy! (For those who don’t know Stacy is a friend of mine who used to live here but moved to Kentucky last year and I hadn’t seen her since, though we hang out at the same website still.)
She arrived and we had a short but lovely visit. We sat in the room and gabbed a while and then took off walking downtown. She humored me while I ducked into Payless to see if they had a particular color of mock-Crocs Madalyn wants (they didn’t) and then I was hungry so we stopped at Wendy’s. We headed back, got someone to take our picture and then Stacy left. It was so, SO excellent to see her! I have missed our dinners and conversations since she moved away!
Next I went to the outdoor concerts for which I had preferred seating. First was a group of three guys who did the entire Revolver album and then after that was a recreation of the Rooftop Concert. After I went back up to my room and ordered pizza. Later on I went down to the midnight concert in the ballroom. It was a really fun group called Instant Karma. They do some of John’s Beatles songs but mostly his solo stuff. They are a riot. The lead singer is a nut. I definitely want to see them again next year. The concert wasn’t over till after 2 so, again, it was quite late when I went to bed.
Ooh, yes, Saturday I also bought my Beatle boots. I had wanted some SO badly last year but the money just wasn’t there. Robert was given plenty of notice that I was going to get them this year, come hell or high water, and I did. I lurrrrve them.
Went to two indoor concerts this day. In between I popped back downtown for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory (again). I was really excited because today was the day 1964: the Tribute (my favorite) was to play. However, when I came out of the inside concert, it was pouring rain! I about died. It stopped and then rained a bit more then stopped. By now I was sitting in the preferred seating area waiting. Then they made an announcement that some lightning was coming and to take cover. It never really came around, though. There was some to the south but it never came too close to the park. FINALLY they were able to get things going about two hours late.
1964 came on and was brilliant, as usual. They played an abbreviated set, though, as they were trying to get back on schedule. Bummer, but I’m just glad I got to see them at all! The Fab Four came on after them and I watched a song or two but then took off to buy some things. I got the kids sunglasses that light up and light-up wand thingies. I also was able to get myself a t-shirt I wanted last year but they hadn’t had the correct size then. I grabbed another funnel cake and headed to the room. I listened to the music while packing my stuff and then put a blanket and pillow on the window ledge and lay down to watch the finale from my 20th floor vantage point.
The festival food this year was a bit better than last year — more variety — but still not as good as, say, fair food. I was pretty “meh” about it all except the funnel cakes. I just couldn’t get in the mood for the stuff they had which is why I got so much food from outside sources. The problem, though, is there’s not much I’m interested in within walking distance of the hotel. I’m thinking about, next year, renting a compact car for the weekend so I can perhaps go to some different restaurants and maybe do some shopping.
I am not having the feeling of returning from another dimension like I did last year (I wrote about it here when I got back). For one thing, I don’t think my saturation was as complete this year. Last year when I wasn’t at the festival I was lying down in my room listening to the Beatles on my headphones. Really — I didn’t read or watch t.v. at all. This year I was reading non-Beatle stuff, watched some t.v. and visited with Stacy. Also I think last year that things were so crappy at home (stress-wise) that I threw myself headlong into the experience and pretty much tried to forget anything else existed. I didn’t really need to do that this year since things have improved so much. I was happy to be there but wasn’t trying to use it to escape my real life. Which is good, I guess. It was definitely nice not to have to detox when I got back. It was kind of a bumpy transition last year because I really didn’t want to be back. This time I was glad to be back home because I missed everyone and I wasn’t dreading what I had to come back to.
I also feel like I didn’t do as much, though I think I actually spent more time at the festival per day than I did last year. In ’05 I’m fairly certain I didn’t stay down there for more than a few hours at a time, then I’d go upstairs to relax for a while, whereas Sunday, for example, I left the hotel room at noon and didn’t get back till 10:45 p.m. So I’m not sure why I feel like I missed so much more this year than last. I guess maybe because there were more stages and more bands this year. There were 9 stages but I only went to two of them! And yet I was busy all day long so I don’t feel I wasted my ticket or anything. At a festival this size there’s just no way to do/see every single thing.
So there is my field report. Nothing much to mention about Monday. I got up, made it to the aiport in plenty of time, had two uneventful flights and was met at the airport by Robert and the kids, who were happy to see me (though I suspect Madalyn would’ve been slightly less enthusiastic had I not promised her souvenirs).
And now….the pictures.
Festival grounds as viewed from my hotel room window. There were more stages off to the right of the foreground.
Ohio River seen from my window (looking to the right)
My room from the festival grounds. (Yellow circle indicates my window)
Beatle purse #1
Beatle purse #2