The last stretch of our month long festival run this past October was going to be something else. Ciarra and I plus Brie who joined us mid October. Our plan was to road trip from Placerville, California after Hangtown Music Festival to Live Oak, Florida for Hulaween Music Festival on Halloween weekend. Oh, and we were doing the road trip in 3 days. #roadwarriors
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, that the decision to make the full cross-country road trip did some damage to our carbon footprints. But The Spirit of Suwanee Music Park (aka the venue in Florida) had been on all of our bucket lists for awhile and typically Ciarra and I both had to work on Halloween so to be able to make it this time seemed like something we had to jump on.
Anyway, at the end of it all, I don’t think I’ll be making that drive in that amount of time ever again. At least not in a 20 year old Ford van.
So, to start, when we went to leave the venue in California, Betsy did not feel like starting. Uh. This was new. She had never done anything like that to us before. Betsy is a goddess. (To clarify, Betsy is our van, if you didn’t grab that fact by context.) Anyway, we eventually, with a little help from our friends, figured out it was because she was parked on a slant and just didn’t have enough gas getting to her tank to get started…oops. Our bad. That was embarrassing.
At last though, we were off! A late start but no problem, we were all road warriors. Betsy was cruising and we were set to make it to the festival by Thursday morning to meet up with our very large crew of beautiful humans from all over the country.
Hours and hours of driving goes by and all of a sudden, we’re in the panhandle of Texas. Oh sweet panhandle of corn fields and literally nothing else. I was driving and at around 2am, Betsy starts to slow down, like waaaaaaaaaaay down. We’re going 35, oh dear, what was that noise? Did something fall off? Uh, let’s pull over…
We pulled over, by a corn field, in the panhandle of Texas. I know how this story goes.
After a minute of applying all over our combined car knowledge, most of which came from Brie, we decide to just curl up in our respective captain chairs, get a little sleep and call AAA in the morning. (By the way, it was cold, so we also our put on our favorite onesies as well, I think there was a cow, koala, and a ram present in the van that night.)
After shopping around for the nearest small town, we picked Pampa, which conveniently enough, I had a cousin living there. (We were only like 4 hours from my hometown.) Betsy gets settled in to the “auto shop” which was her home unfortunately for multiple days and we settled into the only coffee shop in town for the next several hours.
The mechanic told us it was our fuel pump that needed to be replaced. That had been the guess of a friend or two that we had called for car advice when it first happened, so, that seemed agreeable. They said they’d get to work on it right away for around $500.
Of course, it was one of those, ‘we’ll have it done by the end of the day….actually in the morning…oh nope, by the end of today for sure…’, so on and so forth, resulting in two full days of worrying about if we were going to make it to Florida or not.
Luckily, my cousin-in-law managed a hotel and thus he got us a nice room for the night we were stuck there. If nothing else, sleeping in a comfy bed watching movies and drinking whiskey cocktails to pass the time lightened the mood a bit. Oh, and there were fresh baked chocolate chip cookies when we first arrived. So, I mean, it could have been worse.
When we finally left though, and paid our bill that ended up being closer to $700 even though the mechanic didn’t even have the proper brackets to secure the fuel pump and had instead used bay wire to hold it in place and just gave us a casual warning to get it replaced as soon as we could or it might fall off…we were enthused again (although our wallets a bit more empty and our worries not entirely soothed), this road trip was one to conquer. A true test to our road warrior endurance.
Hours into the drive and we are cruising. Everything is fine, night has fallen, let’s do this. Driving through the nights to make it for Friday. All to soon, though, the same thing happens again. Betsy starts to slow down. The lights go out. And once again, we are parked on the side of the road next to a wheat field. Noooooooooooo!
Alright, let’s uh, let’s just wait a minute, let’s give Betsy a little rest. She did just have surgery. She has worked really hard this summer. Give her a minute. Mmmmmm. 15 minutes later, she starts up again!
And we’re off…..with a bit more hesitation this time, I think we all just held our breathes for 45 minutes until Betsy slowed down and stopped again. Oye. We can’t just lose 15 minutes every hour to make it in time. Uhhh. I’m calling my mom. For advice. For inspiration. I don’t know what for.
Oh wait, I called her because she’s a goddess. I explain the situation. And when I tell her how far we are, she told me to just get to El Reno (our hometown) and swap out Betsy for her car, a cute little silver HHR. Whaaaaaaat?! El Reno was about 2 hours away and with the hourly stops it took about 3. An hour loss for a reliable, albeit, much smaller car was totally worth it.
We finally made it around midnight and threw everything we thought we needed in to my mom’s tiny car and headed out…again. So many grand departures on this single road trip. The rest of this drive was an actual cruise. And we couldn’t have been more grateful.
When we were in the final stretch, it was sunset on Friday, we were a day and a half late. But that sunset was absolutely gorgeous. It was the most comforting welcome after such a long venture. We had made phone calls along the way for friends to pick up our last minute necessities for the weekend who we knew were coming in at a reasonable time. My family had thrown together an ice chest of food for us so we were able to just drive in to town and head right to the festival. Shout out to you humans. Real team effort on this one. XO
Our buddy William left the festivities to meet us at the gate with our tickets and to guide us to our festival family, and I believe he was dressed like a squirrel or something like that. Anyway. We threw on our animal onesies and left the car in the parking lot leaving all other details of a three day camping festival to be dealt with at a later time.
This road trip had become more than just a drive. It was a test of our endurance, our sanity, and our commitment to The String Cheese Incident. Things got deep. Things got personal. And that last hour long stretch of the drive and pulling into that parking lot in running distance of our friends and a Cheesy good time could not have been more victorious.