CrusherEX40… er52

NOTE FROM HIPPY: This is long. It was way longer tho, this is the trimmed down version. Ha! I wanted to also add a section that talked about the preparation I did for this ride but it was all just taking too long and I wanted to get this out before I set out to ride the course a second time this coming weekend. Yep, giving it a second go, just for fun. This time with more friends and a support crew.

Pre-race anxiety

I didn’t think I could do this.  I wasn’t exactly expecting to fail, but I sure was worried that I’d hit the halfway point looking for a bailout option.  More than once in the weeks leading up to this, I said to Nick “I’m worried that I’ll want to quit and you won’t want to and I’ll have no way to get back”.  Not only would this be the longest ride I’ve done in at least 15 years, it would be the most difficult course I’ve probably ever attempted.  Bruce kept talking about how hard it was.  Steve made me more nervous every time he tried to make me feel more at ease about the course.  I certainly didn’t “train” and definitely didn’t think I’d put in enough prep time.  I’d never ridden with such a full pack.  I’m terrible at taking in enough calories to sustain me during longer efforts and really had no nutrition plan. I’d never used the frame bag I bought 2 days before and never pedaled on the new chain that was installed the day before that. I had also never navigated a course with my Garmin 510 and I was pretty sure the battery would not last the whole time. 

Mostly tho, I was worried about how compatible Nick and I would be for this long of a ride.  A few years ago, we rode the short Barry Roubaix together and it was miserable for both of us.  I was too slow for him and he was too fast for me.  I was blowing up on climbs and walking and he was waiting impatiently for me over and over again for 30 cold miles.  That day haunts me.

The Race: 

We left Forestville a little after 8am. The weather was great and we even had a bonus Kristi sendoff (and all of the bonus Kristi snacks she could load us up with). After being so nervous for hours before the start, I was amazingly at ease by the time we were out of the parking lot.

This lady right here. I wish everyone could have a friend as awesome as Kristi. I adore her and I’m so happy she was there to send us off.

I very much enjoyed the Harlow area stuff.  The ride up Jedi is really not bad, but getting the bike up the rocky bits near the top was definitely a challenge.  I’m a sucker for a good view tho, so the second I got to the top, I forgot all about how tough it was to get there.  We met a group of dudes on the top who were doing the EX225 and they were fun to chat with a bit while we recovered from the climb. Had a snack and a selfie and pointed our bikes downward. We quickly hit the first water crossing which was knee deep for me, and flowing pretty fast. I was happy for new shoes with good traction that kept me upright as I carried my bike through. Later we came to the old railroad bed which wasn’t what I’d normally call fun but we were following our new EX225 friends from Top of the Mountain through here and they were kind of hilarious so that made it at least a little fun. 

Top of the World // photo credit: Nick

I’d been looking forward to spinning out and relaxing a bit on the 550 stretch, but the headwind had other plans.  We got passed by a couple kids and their parents while we were snacking at the top of a hill, and then I sort of gunned it to catch back up with them once we started rolling again.  I might have burned an unnecessary match there, but really I just wanted to be off of that road and out of the wind, people drive super fast on 550 and its a little unnerving.

Taking a checkpoint selfie // photo credit: Nick

The Garlic River section follows chunky logging roads which were a lot of deep wet sand and big puddles to maneuver through and around. It was really pretty back in those woods, but I really had to stay focused and on the gas or else it would have been just a never ending slog.  By the end of this section, I could feel myself fading as we were reaching the halfway point. I told Nick I was going to need to stop for a real break soon-ish, and eat some real food but when we got back to 550, I decided I wanted to get to the next truck trail turnoff before stopping for a longer break. I really just wanted to get beyond the halfway point. So I downed a Hammer Gel and we headed back out into the wind.  It was a pretty short ride on 550 before turning off and then we stopped to eat some sandwiches and get off the bike for a little bit shortly thereafter.

Somewhere in the Harlow area

I have always struggled to take in enough nutrition on long rides to keep me well fueled and out of the misery-cave and while I did a little better on Crusher day, it was still not enough.  I’d had 3 gels and a bottle of Infinit to this point and we were 4 or so hours in.  I was able to eat half of a Jimmy John’s “slim1” (plain ham and cheese) and a few potato chips at this stop.  I also tossed back 4 Endurolytes because my legs were starting to feel like they wanted to start cramping when I was getting on or off the bike and I thought I could get ahead of it. (.. too late .. )

Getting ready to head out onto 550 // photo credit: Nick

Within a few minutes of getting back on the bike (mile 28ish), my right inner thigh started cramping up.  I was able to work it out while spinning and hoped that would be the end of it.  I was good for a few miles and then it happened again.  And then again. This would be the rest of my ride.  I could have called it and figured out a bail out option. I could have gotten mad about it and spent the second half angry, frustrated and grumpy. Or I could just keep spinning and accepted that this is where I was, this was the situation and this is how endurance events (especially enhanced ones) sometimes go. Previous versions of myself would have either quit (if possible) or I’d have just gone dark (mentally) and been miserable and a miserable ride partner for the entire second half.  But I was not that person that day. Instead, without even any internal debate, I just kept moving forward and managed as best I could.  I walked when I had to, pedaled when I could and smiled as much as I could muster. I was still having fun and I was not going to quit.

Somewhere in the Harlow area

CR510 was the low point for me. We climbed for a long time out of the truck trail and then continued to climb for a long time on the road. Finally the climbing ended and we were left with a soft, wet road full of stuttery brake bumps. It was brutal. In recapping with Nick later, he said that he was worried I was ‘going dark’ on the 510 stretch and he was wasn’t entirely wrong.  But I just kept turning the pedals when I could and walking when I had to and eventually we got to the turnoff for trail 14.

I was so happy to turn onto trail 14. We’d done an out-and-back on this section from Forestville back in July so I knew what was ahead of me. No surprises, no unknowns. I knew that it would take us about 2 hours, and I knew there was a lot of really fun downhills to help get us there. Sure, the climbs up to Chunky Summit would be no fun but whatever, after that it would be pretty smooth sailing. We took a break near the start of the trail for some more food, I managed half a pb&j and a few more chips before heading on.

“OMG I made it!”

After a bunch of fun downhills, including a long rocky one where I passed a couple of dudes who were picking their way down on some skinny tired drop bar bikes. Before too long, we found ourselves climbing up Chunky Summit (and getting passed by the drop bar guys I’d passed earlier). Selfies at the checkpoint and then its just a 6 mile cruise back to the parking lot.  Except for having to tell the poor dude who was a mile or so past the checkpoint that he did, in fact, miss it and had to go back.  WHOMP WHOMP.  Poor guy.  I can’t even imagine.   

“I’m gonna finish this thing”

The Superior Overlook that’s about a mile from the end the view is literally breathtaking.  I popped out of the woods and saw the lake and tears came to my eyes.  The scene was overwhelmingly beautiful, the sun had just peaked out after being cloudy for hours and I knew that there was absolutely nothing between me and the parking lot except for a screaming fast downhill.  We took a selfie, I wiped my tears and curled up the corners of my mouth and smiled all the way down the hill to the finish.  The unexpected surprise were the cheers from people who were hanging out at the campground and trailhead.  

No pictures can do this view justice. It takes my breath away every time.

When we made it all the way back to our Suburban, I cried even more.  I honestly did not think I could do this.  I really expected to either not finish at all or have it take way way too long to be fun.  I did not expect to have so much fun nor did I expect to ride well enough that Nick didn’t get frustrated by waiting for me.  It was an incredible experience and just a really great day.  Even if sometimes it felt like the entire ride was uphill and into the wind.

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digging in


(Note:  See my Flickr page for more pictures)

Its no secret that we don’t put the miles on our bikes like a lot of our friends do.  We got knocked all out of sorts with my ankle surgery followed not long after by Nick’s broken arm.  And in recent years, our hobby count has continually expanded and its hard to make time for biking, running, music festivals, brewing, sailing, kayaking, smoking meat and general geekery .. and also keeping life under some kind of control.  We just don’t ride like we used to.


But we rode a lot on our one-day trip to the Keeweenaw, for us.  We drove home happy and a little cooked.  So, we decided to ‘take a break’ and go for a trail run on Monday after our Keewenaw trip.  My legs were still pretty angry about the 2 mile uphill on the IOHT a couple days earlier, but there’s nothing like the North Trails at dusk.


Our friend Bruce rides with a group of guys every Tuesday night.  Once every fall, they take their ride to Bruno’s Run.  Last year we were invited along and it ended up being our last and one of my most favorite rides of our October trip.  So, I was happy to have been invited back this year.  Being earlier in October, it was much less chilly this year – which was awesome.


The ride was followed up with pizza and beer at a newly opened brewery in Munising.  East Channel Brewing Company is normally closed on Tuesdays, but opened special for us (the owner is a mountain biker and was on the ride with us).  And what a treat that they did!  East Channel is a very cool little place and while I only sampled a couple of their beers, both were very good.  I definitely recommend checking it out.  They don’t have food, but there is a Main Street Pizza just down the street.


A rainy Wednesday allowed for some much needed downtime, but an early morning alert had us out of the house by 6:30am the next day to chase some northern lights.  While we didn’t see any lights, we were treated to a pretty beautiful sunrise at Little Presque Isle.


We went back out to Little Presque later that night to try again, but still no luck.  We did, however, run into my parents at Vango’s when we stopped in for dinner on our way home, so that was also a nice treat.  I love running into them in town like that but it makes me long for the time when this will be our life all the time.


Feeling right at home in our little rental here in Marquette, we had a couple of houseguests for the weekend.  Since Carlos couldn’t make it the following weekend for Nick’s birthday (more on that next time), he convinced Mike (Soupy) to meet him here for the weekend (Soupy (Mike) lives in Chicago, Carlos lives downstate, MI).


We’ve been friends with Carlos and Mike (Soupy) for years and before Mike (Soupy) moved to IL, we rode together and hung out often.  But he’s been out of state for awhile now and it was so nice to have this time to catch up.  Both he and Carlos were lovely houseguests and it was really a great weekend.


Neither of them have spent much time in the UP, and Soupy (Mike) had never ridden in Marquette at all.  So, it was a whirlwind weekend of eating, drinking, biking and sight seeing.  Carlos rode all of our legs off, and we forced him to be a tourist in return.  I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all.



Unfortunately, while hanging out at Little Presque Isle on Sunday evening, our dogs got a little bored and found some mushrooms to eat before we could stop them.  By the time we got home, they were both drooling messes (seriously, it was like faucets pouring out of their mouths).  Some googling of “dogs eating mushrooms” had me worried enough to call an emergency vet.  I’m happy to report that they are both fine and I’m pretty sure we’ve found our new Marquette vet 😉


Carlos and Soupy (Mike) were so great through that ordeal.  They just hung out here at the house while we took the dogs to the vet, drinking beer and waiting for us to get back.  They were both happy to just get take out from the Superior Mobile Koney truck and a growler of beer from Blackrocks to enjoy at home while watching the LCD Soundsystem concert recording from Bonnaroo.  Love those guys.


While I rarely mind hanging out with a bunch of guys, I’m excited that the boys are both working to get their wives to come with them next fall 🙂

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yes, this.

note from me:  I’ve been trying to get this post out for a few days  week or so, but my computer has been glitchy – especially when trying to use the Photos app – and I went down a wrong road trying to fix it, and then a long right road;  but I finally have it resolved.  And then we had visitors, but more on that at another time.

So, below when I say “last week”, I mean from Oct 5 onward.  This post takes us through about Oct 9.  I really hope to catch up quickly.


(Note:  See my Flickr page for more pictures)

Last week ended well, with an incredible weekend to cap it all off.  I finally, for real, got my head in this “Marquette extended stay” game.   I even got oddly excited about putting trash out for pickup on Monday night.


One thing I like to do to help us feel more at home here – in this vacation rental – is to use my own sheets/comforter.  Because, who doesn’t sleep better in their own sheets?  Well, for some reason, I didn’t swap the VRBO bedding right away this time and that was a mistake.  I feel like everything fell right into place when I finally made the swap.



We went out for an easy ‘test our new lights ride’ on the North Trails one night.  Since we forgot our bike lights at home, we decided to buy a couple of NiteRider Lumina 750 (wireless!  usb chargeable!) lights from Amazon and wanted to test them out.  The short review on those is that they are incredible.  Light, bright, and completely cordless.  So. Much. Win.


On Friday, we went for a run on a most beautiful section of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.  I totally forgot to take any pictures.  But trust me, it was incredible.  The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is rail trail, but this section seems incredibly steep compared to other rail trails I’ve been on.  The 2 mile climb had my calves all tight and screamy but the 2 mile descent back to the car was so worth it.


Upon reflection, I think a big source of my funky mood these first couple of weeks was some inner-angst about spending a weekend in Copper Harbor.  I love it there and I really wanted to go, but after being overly-scheduled for the entire summer, I felt like we were overly-scheduling ourselves here now too.  This past weekend was our only chance to go to Copper Harbor, if we were going to go.  And, I guess, I just wasn’t ready to spend a whole weekend away from Marquette.  So when we decided to make it a day trip, it was like a cloud had lifted.


With our newfound freedom, we had dinner on Friday at my favorite – The Vierling – with my folks, their (our) friends and my aunt who happened to be in town.


We were going to kayak on Saturday but it was crazy windy so we took the dogs out to the beach for a bit and then I went grocery shopping.  We were planning on leaving the house around 7 the next morning for Copper Harbor, so it was a pretty mellow day.


Of course, because its cave-like dark here until what feels like noon, we didn’t actually get out of the house until 8:30 the next morning.  But that was fine.  We would have been driving for an hour in the dark if we’d left when we wanted to, and we really would have missed out on some beautiful scenery.


I know some people would think its crazy to drive all the way to Copper Harbor and back in a day.  Especially since we really only rode the Point Trail (and a few miles of dirt road on the phase 2 Point Trail section) but its such a pretty drive.  And Copper Harbor is breathtakingly beautiful any time of year.  In October .. well, there really are no words.


I might have to dedicate a post just to my Spearfish.  Its really pretty great.  I felt like I was flying through the Point Trail singletrack.  And then we drove down to Calumet and rode the Sweedetown Trails.  I’d only ever ridden there on a hard tail bike, and while I appreciated the design of the trail, I just couldn’t love it.  I always left feeling like my teeth were going to fall right out of my head.


Riding Swedetown on a full suspension was like riding an entirely different trail.  It was so much fun!


We capped off our day with some pizza and KBC before heading back to our Marquette home.


Once again, I hardly took any pictures because I was really just too busy taking it all in.

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here, now.


(Note:  See my Flickr page for more pictures)

I realized I was already on my way home.  I was feeling a constant nagging frustration that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and I finally figured it out.  I was having trouble enjoying my time here because I felt like it was already almost over.  I was already packing up to go back home because that’s what inventively has to happen.


That attitude defeats our the whole purpose.  I had to knock it the hell off.


We have found a great place here, this place we rent when we come for these stays.  The owner is so accommodating and for a “vacation rental”, its well equipped for our WFH (work from home) needs.  Its a great location and very comfortable.   We’re very lucky to be able to do this at all.  I just wish it wasn’t always so temporary.

But enough.  We’re here now.   And things are starting to come together.


I’m really starting to enjoy my new bike.  Its taken some time to get the fit right, but I think we’re finally on the right track.  Now that I’m not feeling so much like a bunched up accordion, I’m having a ton of fun on it.




We took it a bit easy with the biking for a few days – Nick was still recovering from a pulled back muscle and I was still getting used to the new bike.  We had a couple of shorter rides on the North trails before hitting the South Trails last night.



Also, there was a birthday dinner, more farmer’s market again this weekend, more taco truck tacos, some kayaking, some 45th wedding anniversary celebrating at a great little bar and grill in Negaunee, hiking up Hogback Mountain with our dogs, including a stop at Wetmore Pond (aka, The Bog) on the way back out and we even watched a couple of movies at the end of the weekend.



We both had a seriously grumpy Monday’s at work yesterday.  But then we went for a ride on the South Trails for the first time since we got here.  It was such a beautiful night to be out.  I had planned on making some chicken tacos for dinner when we got home.  But I changed my mind.  I wanted to go out.  I never want to go out.  But last night I wanted to go out, so we walked down the hill to The Portside.   Breadsticks were in order.


And since we were at the bottom of the hill already, it made sense to cap off the night at the Ore Dock.



Meanwhile .. back at home ..


Grandparents came to take the granddogs for a hike in the afternoon.  They were still a little worn out from Hogback the day before, but always excited to go.  They came home just as we were heading out for our ride.  Brock crawled into our bed.  And basically stayed there until we went to bed ourselves later that night.


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where am i?

I’m having trouble not being lazy.  I think it all finally caught up to me.  I want to give myself time to chill, we’ve only been here 5 days.  But time here is so precious.  I don’t want to waste any of it.  But also, I need to be me, right?  Me here is better than me down there, but still, this place makes me want to be the best me.

But I’m so tired.

img_3756Nick and I ran a half marathon in April.  And another a couple weeks later in May.  Then we did a 15k trail run (5k + 10k) a few weeks after that.  Then we went to Bonnaroo.  July was booked solid with vacation and family reunion and bike clinics and stuff.  More vacation in August, work travel, volunteer travel, and more clinics brought us right to a pretty major plumbing project, transition-directing a bike race with a trail half marathon sandwiched in between race-directing activities, a lovely wedding, a new bike build, new suspension upgrade + wheels + tires on one vehicle, new tires + ball joints + CV joints on the other (all finished the night before we were supposed to drive them both 500 miles north full of stuff for 5 weeks time).  And then we had to pack for 5 weeks away.



Originally we’d planned to leave on Thursday night, driving half-way like we like to do.  Early in the week we’d abandoned that plan, instead thinking we’d get all packed up on Thursday night and head out first thing Friday morning.  The short story is that we left the house around noon on Friday.


Unpacking, pizza delivery, beers and mindless TV had us up til nearly 2.  But we were up and out by 8am on Saturdsay – no coffee or coffee maker yet, the Kureg was better than nothin’ – to catch our friends before the start of their 50 mile Marji Gesick adventure.  Then, a stop at the big lake, cappuccinos, farmers market,more unpacking, a stop at Best Buy on our way to the finish line (because, I forgot 2 keyboards and a trackpad – just .. left them on my desk(s) somehow), BBQ nachos, beers on the street, watching runners and bikers across the line.  Back home, but feel the need to hit Blackrocks for at least one beer before call it a night, and are we hungry?


So no, we didn’t kayak like we’d planned on Sunday.  In fact, I was in my PJs until I decided to go grocery shopping in the afternoon and came out to pouring rain.  And then there was more beer with friends, and then dinner with friends and then we had to work the next day. And it kept raining anyway. Rained more on Tuesday.  Thought about going for a run.  Never happened.

Did I mention I have also been fighting a head cold? I think that’s almost over now tho.

And my job is so exhausting right now.  And its not even technical stuff I’m doing.  Its spreadsheets and emails and meetings.  So many meetings.


And its been one silly technical glitch after another.  We’ve placed 2 Amazon orders and have another queued up (edit:  a 3rd order has been placed, and I’m sure we’re not done yet).  We forgot our bike lights.  We somehow both needed USB hubs.  A monitor stand that we realized now won’t work with one of my monitors. And my computer keeps freaking out when I re-plug in the display after I unplug it from my work computer at the end of the workday.

I am so tired.


I’m going to go cook dinner.  We did walk down to the coffee shop this morning for cappuccinos before work. Maybe we’ll walk up to Blackrocks later for a beer.   Its a start.


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The Tally

In 2015 I:

spent 55 days in the Upper Peninsula

Sunset on the NSBR.  What a great end to a great trip.uploadOur Marquette HouseThe Rice Paddy

Brockfancy schmancyIMG_5996

rode my fatbike nearly 100 miles in the snow

Marquette February 2015Marquette February 2015NSBR!Beautiful day!

spent 4 days in Southern Tennessee at a music festival

Professional #selfie taker. #bonnaroo #bassnector#bonnarooFirst show! #bonnaroo

ran 130 miles, including a half marathon

Ready as I'm gonna be.colorful

spent 7 days in the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes area with family


bought a sailboat with some favorite friends

Lk St Clair - Aug 23, 2015


sailed nearly 30 hours on Lake St Clair, and 20 in Grand Traverse Bay

Lk St Clair - Aug 23, 2015SailingSailingSailingSailingSailingSailing

spent 3 days hiking gorges in southeast Ohio

Barn Cabinbridgealbum cover

slept 4 nights on a sailboat


had a lot of fun with these guys

These guys were so good at the race today!

Are you sick of me posting pics of my dogs yet?  ...too bad...Walter


and this guy

Marquette February 2015

2016 looks to be just as exciting!

more pics on Flickr:

and Instagram:

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First Roo – Part 3

Note from the hippy:  This turned into a very long post that will be broken up into 3 parts.  This is part 2.  Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

TL;DR:  Was a completely intimidated and worried about logistics.  Turns out, Bonnaroo was amazing.  

You’ve read how we got to Bonnaroo and what we did there.  Here are some of my overall thoughts on the weekend adventure.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Wall graffiti Bonnaroo 2013 - Wall graffiti

I’m also creating a page on this site called Bonnaroo VIP where I’m documenting things like what we brought, what we should have brought, what VIP offers, things that worked for us, things that didn’t, etc..  If you’d like to know what we’d do differently next year, that’ll be the place to find out.

I discovered that most of the research I’d done is from a General Admission perspective, and that is just not the same for planning for Bonnaroo VIP, and I’m hoping to do my part in helping new Bonnaroovian who’s sprung for VIP.

Bonnaroo 2013 - A/C included

Some of my favorite moments and memories (in no particular order):

  • Saturday morning’s What Stage sound check – My Name is Mud (Primus) blasted loudly through the farm at 7:30 in the morning.
  • Following Jason and Nichole’s Ford Flex down the long road into VIP on Thursday morning.   My heart was pumping with anticipation and excitement (rather than anxiety and stress).
  • Sunday morning’s What Stage Tom Petty sound check was like our own little concert.
  • Hanging out at camp, I noticed Molly’s awesome Dr. Who t-shirt.  We started a little Dr. Who conversation which caused everyone else who was around to stop their conversations to talk about David Tennent versus Matt Smith.
  • Cajun Cheese Fries and Wonder Waffle on Friday night after escaping the Paul McCartney chaos.
  • Meeting 12 perfect strangers in a funeral home parking lot and it not feeling weird at all.
  • The guy wearing nothing but a Speedo; and with absence of pockets, used the top of his Speedo to “store” things.  So, his cell phone, guide book and map were all sticking out the top of his Speedo.
  • Walking back to our tent from the bathrooms after Jack Johnson had finished playing.  There were fireworks in the sky and anyone who was hanging out in their tents were standing out in the aisle-way  looking up at the sky watching.  It felt like all of Bonnaroo was stopped, watching those fireworks.  And we were all sharing that moment.
  • When Tom Petty introduced each Heartbreaker, slowly and with such respect.
  • Every evening, as the sun started going down, the air became sweet and cool and made me want to go out and see more things.
  • That last bit of time after the Tom Petty concert was over, sitting with my new wonderful friends, enjoying the last of the weekend.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Another panoramic from campsite (These are our tents in middle/left foreground)


Regret seems like a strong word, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

  • I’m really sad over missing the Trombone Shorty encore on the Sonic stage.  By the time I found it on the schedule (thinking it was at 2:15am), the encore was already well-passed over, so I’d have missed it anyway, but I spent most of the day looking forward to that show.
  • Django Django and Alt-J.  I wish we would have moved in closer – I feel like there was something in my brain that was keeping me from getting to immersed in the crowds; as if I was afraid to push my way into a good spot.  I think there were 2 things holding me back:
      • Afraid of getting separated from Nick and not being able to find him again.
      • In big crowds at concerts I often find myself sandwiched between large dudes and staring at their shoulder blades while being knocked around.
  • Paul McCartney.  We should have made a better attempt to get to the VIP section to watch that show, and not left early to see The XX who was just terrible.
  • Not researching more bands beforehand.  There were so many bands that didn’t even register on our radar because we’d never heard of them.  I’m sure we missed out on a bunch of great stuff.
  • Reading Bonnaroo threads after we got home, we found out that there were VIP viewing areas at This Tent and The Other Tent.
  • At the last minute before leaving home, I grabbed my small Canon point-and-shoot camera.  But not the battery charger.  I took a few pictures before the battery died.  I took a few more with my iPhone, but its slow and not great.  Wish I would have taken more pictures.   Specifically, more pictures of people – the Reddaroo VIP group, Nick, me, Nick&Me and just random people.  Its the people that make Bonnaroo what it is, and I don’t feel like I documented that well enough.
  • Not walking under the Bonnaroo Arch.  Not once.  I really wish I’d gone under at night.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Bobble heads Bonnaroo 2013 - People waiting for next show @ What Stage

Summary and thoughts:

We make ourselves busy people.  We work hard, we play hard.  Our summers are packed with trips, bike races and events.  Because we try to do so much, I have a hard time wanting to take vacations that require a lot of pre-work and pre-planning.  Even though I knew Bonnaroo would be worth the effort it took to get there, there were parts of me that were absolutely dreading this trip.  There were far too many things to think about – and I didn’t even feel like I knew what those things were.  There were parts of me, though, that were very excited about this trip.  I was going to see Tom fucking Petty – LIVE.

When Nick found the Camp Reddaroo VIP Facebook group and I read Jason’s plan – it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  This group would help us navigate into the camp ground, find is a great spot, show us where the bathrooms and showers were, and just generally point us in the right direction as needed.  We spent the weekend with some really great, like-minded folks who were all very different in real life, but so much the same this weekend.   I’m sure I would have had a really great time had we not met up with Reddaroo VIP, but I just don’t think it would have compared to the experience we did have.

We were 14 complete strangers who fell quickly into great friendship that made for an amazing weekend.  Next to purchasing VIP in the first place, hooking up with this group of people was absolutely the best thing we did for Bonnaroo.

Nick asked me, late Thursday if I’d go again next year and I said “I think, maybe.”, on Friday it was “I think, probably” by mid day Saturday, there was no more asking because the “Next year I want to … ” conversations had started.


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First Roo – Part 2

Note from the hippy:  This turned into a very long post that will be broken up into 3 parts.  This is part 2.  Part 1 is here.

TL;DR:  Was a completely intimidated and worried about logistics.  Turns out, Bonnaroo was amazing.  

When I last left the blog, we’d found our way to VIP camping and set up our Reddaroo VIP Groop site.  Now I’m going to tell you what we did all weekend …  This will be the longest of the 3 posts.  Please stay tuned for part 3 where I wrap it all up in a feel-good kind of way.

So, what did we do there?


After setting up camp, getting our bearings and having a quick lunch at our campsite, we wandered around out in General Admission for awhile to see what that was all about.  It didn’t take long to notice how much more packed in everyone was, and how much hotter it seemed out there.  We made our way out to the group camping area and then decided to head into Centeroo.  It had been very dusty and dirty in GA, and I’d read a lot of posts about irritated eyes and lungs because of the dust.  So, I was surprised how green and grassy it was in Centeroo.

Centeroo itself is fairly small and easy to navigate.  There are 4 main stages in Centeroo (Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent and The Other Tent), and the Main Venue area is considered adjacent to Centeroo and is where the What Stage is – where the headliners play.  Our campsite was right in front of the Main Venue.

Broo13_PrintableMap_SITE Broo13_PrintableMap_SITE

For reference, in the map above – our campsite was in the purple area in the lower right corner, the “row” closest to Centeroo in the second-rightmost purple section.  We’d walked to the green area in GA underneath the Bonnaroo logo where the group camping is.

The two favorite bands that Nick and I discovered after the lineup was announced were both playing on Thursday night – Django Django and Alt-J.  We headed in to Centroo for the 9:00 Django Django show at That Tent.  Being our first Bonnaroo show, we didn’t have any idea what to expect and we kind of stuck to the back of the crowd – which was disappointing since the sound was not great there and I couldn’t see the band at all.  But, there was amazing people watching and I could tell which songs they were playing so it was all good.

Alt-J went on at 11:30 at This Tent.  We got there early enough to take a quick nap on the grass before they started playing, but we were still fairly far back from the stage.  We were in a much better position to hear, though, and their performance was great.  We called it a night after Alt-J, hanging out for a bit in our campsite and then going to bed.

Bonnaroo 2013 - That stage, while waiting for Django Django.


We were up kind of early, not knowing what to expect from “the first real Bonnaroo day” and I wanted to catch a ride to Walmart with Jason since our air mattress held no air the night before and so we needed a new one.   Getting out of VIP for a quick trip to Walmart is really that – a quick trip.  It was easier than I’d expected, and the store was very well stocked with things Bonnaroovians would need.  For example – I had no trouble finding an air mattress as there seemed to be various camping displays all over the store.   There was also a huge display of canned beer in the main grocery area with almost any kind of canned beer you could want (I also saw some canned Woodchuck cider!).

While waiting in the entryway at Walmart for Jason to finish shopping, I was amused with the crazy amount of Bonnaroo traffic coming in and going out.  The majority of the carts going out were mostly full of canned beer and ice.  I also watched guy from the ice company restocking the freezer; when his pallet was empty, he went back and brought out another.  I imagine that’s how his whole day was spent.

I’ve heard that the residents of the area don’t really mind Bonnaroo and seem to embrace it, but I feel for anyone who just needed to grab milk or toilet paper that weekend.

After my shopping excursion, we went into the Main Venue to see Trombone Shorty at 12:30 which was fantastic.  Its not often the trombone is the star of the show, and man does this guy ever have some talent!   It was hot in the sun, with no shade, but not too terrible (Friday was the best weather day by far) and the view was great on the VIP hill.  Trombone Shorty put on a really great show.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Panoramic from What Stage VIP seating.

After Shorty, we stopped in to the VIP tent by the Which stage for some free Ben & Jerrys (served daily in the VIP tent, but ya gotta be there early to get some) caught a bit of Calexico playing at This Tent, had some festival lunch, took another trip through GA to check out Shakedown Street and then settled back in at our campsite for a few hours.  Nick took a nap in the tent, I dozed on and off in my camp chair.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Picture taken looking down Shakedown Street.

Bonnaroo 2013 - View of Shakedown StreetShakedown street is a public road that runs through the campground area.  The vendors who set up on this street are not officially affiliated with Bonnaroo and seem to pay local residents for space on their front lawns.   There was everything here from hippy clothes, to marijuana paraphernalia to $2 grilled cheese sandwiches, to organic meals. 

Before the lineup was announced, I said to a friend “I don’t care who’s playing, but if the Disco Biscuits show up, it’ll make my year”.  Well, there were no Disco Biscuits in the lineup, but we did discover a band called Conspirator which is bass and keyboard players  from Disco Biscuits (the two who make the band what it is) with a different guitar and drummer.  Conspirator was our “band we must see”.

Conspirator played at 7:30 at The Other Tent – and because Paul McCartney was playing at 9 on the What Stage, Conspirator was not very crowded, but full of die-hard fans.  This show was incredible.  We were up fairly close to the stage, but after an hour (they played for an hour and a half!), I wanted to sit for awhile to rest the ankle.  I found a spot on the side of the stage in the grass where I could still see the band and watch the crowd.  Nick got up real close after I stepped out and he had a blast.

Bonaroo 2013 - Conspirator

Our plan was to meet our Groop at the What Stage for Paul McCartney, but the crowds were too huge to get there.  At one point, we were stuck in the thick of the crowd and I wasn’t even sure if we’d make it out.  We decided to just go back to our campsite where we could hear him as well as we could have from the venue.  In hindsight, we could have slipped in through the What Stage entrance and watched from VIP hill, but it didn’t occur to us until, well, Sunday, which was no help.  We still enjoyed what we heard.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Sun setting Friday night @ That Stage.
Bonnaroo 2013 - People hanging out.

When the helicopters started flying over (presumably taking video or pictures or both), we couldn’t really hear much anymore, so we decided to go back in to the Which Stage to check out The XX.   They were super boring.   It was like they decided to sing their slowest songs, and then slow them down for further dramatic effect.  We left partway through the third song for fear of falling asleep.   ZZ Top was playing at This Tent so we listened to a bit of that and then walked around a bit, landing in the mini-donut tent.  We were hoping to catch a Trombone Shorty encore at 2:15 on a small stage next to the mini-donut tent, but while we were eating donuts, I realized there should have been someone playing on the stage that was dark and empty.  This is when I looked closer at my schedule to see that his encore was at 2:15 PM .. and here it was at 1:45 AM.  Reading Fail.

The donuts were delicious though.  And the coffee was fresh roasted and fabulous too.

Middle if the night fresh mini donuts. #bonnaroo #eatthedounuts


By Saturday, we were starting to understand how it all worked.  Our plan was for an easy day followed by a long, fun night.  We mostly hung out at our campsite listening to the What Stage acts (Gov’t Mule, NAS).  I’m pretty sure I chair-napped through NAS.

Josh & Jess

Bonnaroo 2013 - Dirty feet

Just before the sun started setting, I went for a shower (awesome idea) and we headed in to the What Stage to catch a bit of Bjork, then over to Which Stage for Lumineers, then back to What for Jack Johnson – although we left after a few songs to listen back at camp.   (Full disclosure, neither of us had ever even heard of Jack Johnson before, and while he did put on a great show, we still don’t really know who he is.)

When Jack was done, I was inspired by the fireworks and the cool, fresh air, so I pulled Nick back out to The Other Tent for Weird Al Yankovic.  We were surprised at how many people were there for Weird Al, and we were so far back we couldn’t hear anything, so we walked over to catch the Super Jam (we were actually going for Billy Idol, but went to the wrong stage and stayed because it was awesome).  We danced to Super Jam until it ended sometime after 2am, then went to see what was going on behind us on the  “boom box stage”.  There was some electronic/techno sounding music blasting and I really wanted to know what it was.  This is where we found Katey Red.  I’d never seen or heard of Bounce Music before (or more specifically, Sissy Bounce Music), but it was pretty amazing to see and hear.  We didn’t stay too long because I couldn’t really see much unless my head was in the speaker and it was loud and I was hungry and tired, so we grabbed a snack on our way out (Cheeseburger for me and Pizza for Nick) and crashed for the night.

Bonnaroo 2013 - One of the hangout tents in Centeroo

Bonnaroo 2013 - This Tent


Sunday was another mellow day – we figured out on Saturday that after-dark is where the best fun happens, and the later you can go, the more fun you’ll have.  And since we could hear all of the main acts so well from our campsite, we mostly just stayed there.

We headed in around 5 to check out Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the Which Stage.

Bonnaroo 2013 - Wall graffiti

Unfortunately, partway through the second song, the VIP section was evacuated due to an impending hail storm (that never happened).  Not sure why they kicked us out, but didn’t stop the concert to evacuate the GA folks, but whatevs.  We hung around and listened from the VIP tent for awhile, but decided to just wander around instead and see what else was going on.  I was bummed, because they seemed to be putting on a good show, but its how it goes sometimes, I guess.  And Sunday was really all about Tom Petty anyway.

Bonnaroo 2013 - VIP area by Which Stage.

There was some racket coming from This Tent, so we went to check out Swans.  It was some seriously awful experimental rock noise (although I’ve read a couple articles since then that suggest it was awesome – I guess you have to like that kind of thing.  I just don’t get it).  We switched gears completely when the Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation Super Jam came on at That Tent, but we could only listen to that for a few songs before it was time to go secure our seats for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Bonnaroo 2013 - VIP area waiting for Tom Petty

Jason and Nichole had gathered enough chairs for our most of our Groop.  It did rain pretty good for a bit at the beginning, but cleared up nicely after that.  Tom Petty put on a great show.  I was so excited for that show and was a little worried, because so many people told me Tom Petty was bad in concert.  I loved him.  It was a great cap to an amazing weekend.

After the show, we all hung out at the campsite for as long as we could stand it before we had to go to sleep.  None of us wanted it to end, but we were all cooked and had a long day of driving ahead of us.  It was probably near 1am by the time we went to bed.


We were woken up at 5am by thunderstorms.  After laying there for a bit, Nick got up to head to the bathroom and was making coffee when I got up a little bit later.  The rain came down hard for a couple of hours, but by 7 it had mostly stopped raining and we started packing up.  Packing was remarkably uneventful and we were on the road by 8am.  Nick drove for the first few hours and I took over for the rest of the trip.  It was a long, but very easy drive and we were happy to make it home by 8.  But sad to find out a big storm came through and took out the power in our neighborhood.

After pulling the wet stuff out of the Jeep, we went for dinner and a beer.  By the time we got back home, the power was on so we settled in to watch a bit of TV.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even make it 10 minutes into that episode of Star Trek Voyager before I was asleep on the couch.

Part 3 coming soon …… 


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My first Bonnaroo (2013) – Part 1

Note from the hippy:  This turned into a very long post that will be broken up into 3 parts.  This is part 1.

TL;DR:  Bonnaroo was amazing.  


For years, Nick has been wanting to go to Bonnaroo.  I always thought it “might be fun”, but was secretly glad that it always conflicted with the Lumberjack 100 and scheduling just wouldn’t work out.  That seems so ridiculous now.

Things that make me edgy:

  • Things that involve a lot of lotistics and planning
  • Crowds
  • Hot Sun Heat with no escape

You see, I don’t really like “new things”.  I especially don’t like “new things that are huge”.

Bonnaroo is nothing short of huge.

Bonnaroo 2013

How did I end up there?

I put Nick was on Lumberjack restriction this year, we’d been there enough times, he’d done what he set out to do, it was time for a LJ break.  This meant, there was no conflict, and therefore, no excuse.  So, we pulled the trigger on pre-announcement VIP tickets and I spent the next 6 months silently freaking out.

I did some research, but the more research I did, the less prepared I felt.   I did, however, discovered the following:

  • It was going to be so hot I would pass out and die of dehydration.  Or, it would be hot, but there was some shade and places to cool off.
  • It will be far too hot to sleep and I needed to bring space blankets for reflecting the sun and huge battery powered fans.  Or, sleeping is fine as long as you don’t want to sleep too late.
  • You needed to bring a ton of water because otherwise you will pass out and die of dehydration.  Or, you didn’t need that much because there were tons of places to fill up.
  • You would be eating grilled cheese made on someone’s car engine all weekend because the food inside the festival was so expensive and not that great. Or, the food inside was somewhat reasonable and tasty.
  • The farm is so dusty you won’t be able to breath.  Maybe.

I had to stop reading after awhile because I really didn’t know what any of it meant, having no perspective.  In the end, I just used some common sense and packed as if we were going to be camping.  And it was totally fine.

About a week before leaving, we connected with a group of VIP people who’d been following along in and were interested in camping together.  The guy who was pulling it all together is a Bonnaroo vet who seemed to really have it together.  The plan was to meet in Manchester early on Thursday morning, go in to VIP as a group and Jason would lead us to a great spot.  He delivered.

Getting to Camp Reddaroo VIP

After a few hours sleep in Murphfreesboro, we arrived in Manchester around 6am on Thursday and found the group at a funeral home across the street from the VIP entrance.

Reddaroo VIP Meet UP

Jason led and 6 cars followed into Bonnaroo VIP.  We all went through the “tollbooth” where they did a quick search of our car for stuff we weren’t supposed to have and then followed Jason to our campsites.

Following Jason into VIP

Bonnaroo 2013- Our VIP camping area

Bonnaroo 2013 - Another view of our camping area.  14 people, 7 tents, 6 popups.

The purple tent and Jolly Roger flag were our beacon to find our way home through the sea of tents.

We spent a few hours just getting set up and situated.  Of the 7 couples, 4 had been to Bonnaroo before and the other 3 of us couples were newbies, but you couldn’t really tell by looking since we all seemed to be fairly well prepared.  Our camping and EZ-Up tents went up quickly and easily, and before we knew it, we had our own little community built.

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365 Project: Days 32 – 37 (aka: last week of my life)

Another 5 photo week. I’ve been having trouble with motivation lately. The cold, gray weather and lack of exercise seems to be the most likely culprit. I’m trying to change the exercise part, since there’s nothing I can do about the weather part.


As I mentioned in my last post, the hard drive on my Mac mini was failing, so we got an SSD to replace it. Swapping out hardware in a Mac mini is a bit complicated, but Nick is getting good at it now.


For some reason, Nick decided to wrap Walter up in this blanket. He stayed like that for awhile, perfectly content. Chilli loves that blanket, which is probably why he’s so close to Walter.


Great light on the way out to Hastings for Barry Roubaix. Sad about Michigan Brewing Company. I liked their beer.


Signs of life!


French bread pizza under watchful eyes.

**this post was completely composed and published from my iPad using the WordPress app. It took a bit to figure out the logistics of adding the flicker photos, and I really don’t like this keyboard, but I think with more practice it could get easier.

Why the iPad? Because I haven’t posted yet this week and had some time while passengering to Ray’s indoor mountain bike park 🙂

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