Heading up to a show with overnight camping is nothing new to me–I’ve done it all over the country–but with multi-day festivals, the situation can change slightly. There are things to consider, such as what type of environment you will be in and how close to outside amenities you will be. The Coachella camping lot even has restaurants within relatively close proximity, because it’s basically located in the middle of a town. The Gorge Amphitheatre–located in the Eastern part of Washington State–on the other hand, is much more of a pain in the ass. Both George, Wa (where the Gorge is located) and Indio, Ca (where Coachella is held) are hot as fuck, so water is important, but the Gorge campground is even quite the trek just to get to the venue itself. Leaving the Gorge campground for anything is hell, with the cars wedged in with very little discernible reasoning. Until this year, the Sasquatch! Music Festival, held there annually, never allowed re-entry into the venue. This means that patrons were either forced to dump endless amounts of cash on overpriced food and beverages or be required to remain at their campsites -hopefully, with enough of the right supplies.
I recently returned from this year’s Sasquatch! Festival, which, as of last year, has become a 4-day event. Going it alone this time, I decided to make sure that I was fully prepared. I had my own car and my own space, so I could bring whatever the fuck I wanted/needed without being concerned about room. I tried to think about everything that I’m always missing or in need of when I’m out at these things and cover my bases. Of course, I still forgot obvious things like my belt and there was a lot of shit that I didn’t even end up using, but there were a few things that I was really surprised by and will definitely consider bringing again next year. The obvious things like water, a tent, a sleeping bag, flashlight, sunscreen, various layers of clothing, maybe a cooler, etc., I won’t address in here. Those items should be obvious. I will say that, with the ridiculously long back up, you might want to make sure that you have plenty of gas in your car for the multiple hour wait in traffic to get in. I even brought my own toilet paper and baby wipes, but the porta-potties were actually serviced quite often, this year (still bring the wipes, though). I thought to do the whole PB&J thing and, while that is a great fall back, I didn’t actually eat any of that either.
Below is a list of 10 items that helped me out this year and, many of them, surprisingly so. Most sites would generally make a list like this before hand to help you prepare for the festival, but not us. This is the result of how shit actually went down, not how I anticipated it to unfold.
Here it is: 10 items that worked great at a hot-as-fuck 4-day music festival in the middle of nowhere…
3 lb Salami “Chub”
Being involved with a woman who’s the member of an exclusive Skull and Bones-style club helps. My lady is a card carrying member of an elite little organization known as “Costco.” If you’re “in the know,” it’s possible that you may have even heard of it.
This is an obvious stop when you’ve completely slacked and you know that you have to grab a bunch of shit for a trip within the next day or two, so we did the Costco run last minute. A few of the items on this list will be from there, but it’s not so much about where I got the items, as it is about what I got.
This Gallo “Old World Dry Salame” may not look like much from the picture, but that’s because I housed most of this son of a bitch over a few day period. It used to be a beast. Three pounds in girth– roughly the size of a small human arm. Referred to as a “chub” on the official Gallo website, these hard salty meat logs keep forever and are delicious as all get out. This was my go to food when I needed to eat something of substance. I didn’t deal with the whole cooking scene and I was camped pretty deep in the grounds; when I needed to eat, I usually didn’t have a lot of time to fuck around. This is the type of salami that is dried slow and develops that greyish-white outer layer, that you peel off and makes it feel like it’s keeping it fresh.
It’s incredibly satisfying to eat something this flavorful and solid while you’re worn out in a campground and the one that I bought from Costco only set me back around 11 or 12 bucks. For something that you’ll have for the entire trip, it’s not a bad investment. There’s a bunch of fools trying to sell these on ebay at ridiculous prices, though. 2 of them for $50… 30 bucks for one, in some cases. Obviously, one major point in getting it is that it’s a great deal, so, when it costs $30 bucks a pop… not so much of a deal. Unless money isn’t an issue, you might want to figure something else out.
Dairy seems like one of the first things that’s going to go bad without refrigeration, but with the salami, it’s nice to have some cheese to accompany it. That’s why you need to shoot for the hard cheeses which will hold up substantially longer. For a reasonable price and selection, I hit up a nearby Trader Joes and picked up a Toscano with black pepper and a Rosemary Asiago. I’d never tried either before, but they were both pretty good. The Toscano is a much sharper, bolder cheese, while the Asiago was a lot smoother and less overwhelming with its nice Rosemary flavor. The little bricks that I picked up may not look too large, but I didn’t even get a chance to tear into the Asiago until I had already returned home (yep, it was still good).
I got some crackers there too and, while it was completely worth it when I made the effort to stack them with the salami and cheese, that rarely happened. Typically, I would just eat the salami and cheese side by side or eat them alone. Mostly, I’d just go for a quick chunk off the “chub,” but when I did eat the cheese, I was glad that I made sure to bring some with me. It created a little gourmet moment, which is incredibly refreshing for someone sleeping and waking every day in their own filth.
Cutting Board/Knife Set
Soon into gathering my shit together, I realized that I didn’t have a solid knife anymore. In other words, I’m no Paul Hogan. “A real man should have a knife,” I thought. “A Puerto Rican man like myself should definitely have a knife,” I thought, even more ashamedly. I have a Gerber multi-tool stored somewhere, but it was randomly packed up when we moved. I imagined myself carrying something much more hardcore and intense but, considering that I wasn’t going to have to gut a wild boar or anything, what I really needed was something that could just slice up my food.
While searching through a local Grocery Outlet (aka: “The Gross Out”), I came across a little Farberware cutting board w/knife set. The knife had a plastic sheath and was shrink-wrapped to the cutting board with a little glossy paper image of limes being cut on it. I had just purchased a “Beers of Mexico” variety pack at Costco and had already pictured myself sitting in a camping chair and slicing up wedges for it. This must be the item to buy, but I was worried. I knew that the Grocery Outlet and the dollar store are two very different places, but how different? I remember buying a faux Swiss army knife from a dollar store once and it turned out to be nothing but black plastic with chrome straypaint on it to make the parts look metal. The corkscrew broke in a bottle of wine, the minute that I tried to twist it into the cork. I knew of the name Farberware, but this knife was painted a goldenrod color and I wasn’t sure of how sharp it was or if I should trust it or not.
Long story short, the knife is plenty sharp. It’s sliced right through everything, including a chunk of my thumb.
I later saw a green version of the exact same knife at someone else’s campsite, so I know that these things are around and something like this shouldn’t be too difficult to acquire. It was very affective and very convenient.
Dr Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
The versatility of Dr Bronner’s magic 10-in-1 hemp, pure castile soap isn’t a secret. If you’ve ever been to a rainbow gathering, eaten a silo’s worth of quinoa, or attended the Evergreen State College you probably already know about it. Co-ops sell it. PCC sells it. Whole Foods sells it. Apparently, the “Huckelberries” natural foods section/aisle of the Super 1 Foods in Ellensberg, Wa sells it. But, I realized that, just because I come from a background of using this stuff, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tons of people out there who have never heard of it.
The great thing about this stuff is that it works for everything. You can wash dishes, clothes, your hands, your face, your teeth, yourself, and plenty of other things, by using castile soap. The one that I got this time was lavender, but there are number of other scents/flavors, like mint and tea tree. I like the lavender, because it’s subtle. After a couple of days at the festival, my hair started to feel like it was caked with Cool-Whip, so I washed my skull with this stuff and it worked great.
When I lived in Olympia, Wa, I would simply refill the larger bottles by buying it in bulk at the co-op; look for it’s availability that way first. Remember, a little goes a long way with this stuff. You don’t have to buy a ton of it for a trip, unless you’re Ted Bundy.
This lantern was left with me years ago, after a friend came out to visit, bought a bunch of stuff for a camping trip, and didn’t want to bring most of it back on a plane. I’ve held onto it and, after getting a new pack of D batteries, discovered that it still works. This suggestion is not only to bring a battery powered lantern like this, but to sift through the old junk, wherever you store it, and see what you have lying around that could still be of use.
A lantern seems like one of those obvious items, but a lot of the time a flashlight just isn’t going to cut it. A flashlight is great for a lot of stuff, but it’s nice to have something that will actually light up your entire tent at night or provide greater viewing through your trunk than the little light in it will provide. The campgrounds are fairly crazy and, if you’re trying to find someone else’s spot or even heading out to the restroom, it’s nice to have a larger area to illuminate than the more direct beam of a flashlight could manage.
This isn’t just a sweet shot of my male region, it’s also about the little tube of gel that’s hanging from my belt loop.
You probably don’t think too much about sanitizer, but once you have a baby and droves of grimy motherfuckers are trying to lay their vile mitts all over them on the reg, you start thinking about it quite a bit. Clean yourself up for chrissakes! Plus, babies drop things all of the time and then try to shove that bacteria laced junk back in their mouths. The little bottle of sanitizer in the picture is usually clipped to our diaper bag. Not only did I bring that with me (the gel, not the diaper bag), but I also brought a large industrial-size jug of sanitizer with a pump-top to refill it throughout the weekend.
The soap and paper towels run out of the honey bucket washing stations like crazy. The campgrounds are nasty and you’re bound to find yourself wanting to eat something, while knowing that your hands have been mixed up in all sorts of toxic jive like crazy. This was a random item that I saw and brought with me, but I even had other people asking me to use it throughout the festival and was happy that I thought to grab it. Along with a pair of clean socks, it’s one item that you can use and, even though the rest of you is a complete mess, it will make you feel like you’re somewhat clean.
Now that your hands are clean, peel your ass some fruit.
This is a 5 lb bag of Satsuma oranges and they taste like little citrus orbs of sunshine and wonderment in the morning. They’re super easy to peel, they don’t have seeds, and they are incredibly refreshing. I wound up handing these out to the people camped around me. They were pleased.
I picked up a case of these Kern’s nectars at Costco. They were on sale, so they only cost somewhere around $8.99 for 30 of them. The flavors included are Apricot, Peach, Guava and Mango: 12 Mango and 6 each of the other flavors. They’re all good, but the Apricot and the Peach are my favorite. Made with “whole fruit,” these things actually taste like you’re drinking a Peach (or apricot or… whichever) straight out of a can. After hanging out at the shows all day and making the long trek back to my car, I assumed that I would want to grab a Dos Equis Amber, slice a lime into that bitch and relax. Instead, I found myself going for one of these Kern’s nectars time and time again. It’s hard to describe how refreshing and rejuvenating something like that is in that sort of environment and context, but it’s amazing. They were like a secret treasure that I had stashed in my cooler. It was like sucking the life force from an infant bunny or guzzling a cherub’s blood.
Now is also probably a good time to point out one crazy phenomenon. I stopped and bought ice in the town of Ellensberg on my drive up to the festival. With a my 24 pack of “Beers of Mexico”, 3 homebrews from my lady’s dad, and the Kern’s, 2 bags of ice filled out the rest of the cooler. I should have re-upped on the ice at some point, but I never did. I usually only thought of it when I was already too tired to deal with walking over to find some and/or didn’t want to mess with dumping out my cooler in the dark next to my tent. At one point, I walked by the general store, but they wanted me to leave my camera bag full of equipment at the front, so I told them to eat a dick. It’s hot in Eastern Washington this time of year and most of the ice was melted by the second day. All of it was melted by the 3rd. Still, as long as my trunk was closed, all of the beer and juice stayed cold until I got home. I’m not suggesting that you take the same route, but I am saying that, while keeping things cool with ice was a major concern before I left, it didn’t wind up becoming an actual concern while I was there. Even the cheese and meat was simply stored in an insulated bag without any ice at all, and they were completely fine.
Sweet & Salty Nut
While you’re out acquiring a hard girthy salami “chub” at Costco, it’s not a bad idea to get your hands on some Sweet & Salty Nuts. I eat a lot of these bars in my everyday life, because I have a baby who doesn’t like to provide me time to eat anything else. I definitely didn’t need 48 of these bars, but they taste good and a large box like this would work really well if you traveled with a group. They aren’t super dry and I don’t find that I become burned out on the flavor especially quick. It’s easy to throw a couple of these in your pockets and, whether you walk into the venue with them or simply have them on you when you’re stomping around the campground, it’s good to discover that you have something quick to eat when your stomach starts bugging out.
I did some research before buying this Bestek 300 watt power inverter. I recently upgraded to a smart phone and the battery dies much quicker than I’m used to. I was also shooting the festival, so I needed to make sure that I was able to charge and re-charge my camera batteries at some point over the 4-day weekend. There turned out to be a charging station in the venue, as well as plenty of outlets in the media area, but these devices can take quite a while to charge and need to be ready when it’s time to use them. This power inverter plugs directly into the cigarette lighter socket (aka: the ACC Socket) and I used it to charge my phone on the whole ride up there.
There are plenty of these inverters available out there, but there were a few reasons that I chose this one in particular. First off, the combination of inputs worked with what I would be using it for. This one comes with 2 USB jacks and one 3-prong wall-style outlet. My camera battery chargers either work with the wall outlet or with the ACC socket directly, while my cell phone and MP3 player have USB input options. The weather was shockingly comfortable for the Gorge at this time of year, but I had also brought a box fan with me for the trip. I never wound up using it, but my plan was to be a proud asshole by filling my tent with cold air while everyone else was scorched mercilessly. For that, I would have also needed to have utilized that wall outlet. Another “cool” thing about this inverter is that it’s equipped with an internal fan to prevent overheating. The reviews that I found for it were also generally favorable.
Other reasons that I went with this one were the price and the wattage. It’s important to have an inverter with enough wattage for the devices that you’ll be using it for, so that it doesn’t blow itself out, but many of the larger ones can be really expensive. I got this one through Amazon for something like $23.99 and purchased it through a company that doesn’t charge tax and had free shipping. They are even available on ebay for a Buy It Now price of $14.99, but the shipping is another 8 bucks on top of that, anyway, and most likely less reliable.
So, that’s it… some basic ideas that worked for me. Other great items are things like Pepto-Bismol and Gold Bond powder. I didn’t need them this time, but it’s better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it. Actually, by that logic, maybe you should just bring everything that you own, or maybe you shouldn’t even bother to leave your house at all… ever.