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Sasquatch! Festival 2014: Arrival

A white-knuckled high speed burn through the careening mountain trails was certainly bound to get the blood to boiling point. While the sun set and the darkness enveloped the area, the danger became more and more apparent as sightlines decreased dramatically. A lukewarm sweat seeped through my palms and onto the steering wheel of the behemoth 30-foot RV; my mouth hung open on high alert, ready to yell and holler at my raucous passengers at the sight of any sharp turns or worse, wildlife. I heard very little noise other than a low-pitched hum from the back of my skull, it was some sort of instinctual defense mechanism designed to block out the pure vibrating chaos taking place behind the short curtain of the drivers cockpit. Five youths, my festival compatriots and dear friends had taken to the bottle for the past few hours, and their drunken disorderly RV party had reached its peak. For a moment I pondered the strange phenomenon of drinking heavily in a moving vehicle as the forest and mountains flew past in a midnight blur. I imagined it was akin to Dorothy’s house spinning around in the tornado, except the occupants were significantly intoxicated, and although the experience seemed like a dream, we were wide awake. We certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore; the never-ending canola and wheat plains of mid-western Alberta were supplanted by the treacherous winding highways of the Rocky Mountains. The destination was Cranbrook BC, but there were several hours of road to burn and my intense concentration could break at any moment.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hozier-Take-Me-To-Church.mp3|titles=Hozier – Take Me To Church]
Hozier – Take me to Church

A large, dark mass began to take shape in the oncoming lane as I eased off the gas and held my breath. Hazard lights blinked in the distance, and the mysterious mass grew closer. For a split second, a gruesome scene materialized as the RV headlights finally caught up to sight. It was a deer, buckled over onto itself, front legs bent backwards and head hunched to the side. In that fraction of a moment I saw the blood that had showered the road, and the piercing cold glare of the fatally wounded quadruped as it stood mangled on the verge of a crippling, painful death. It was a haunting vision, a snapshot of disfigured horror and a mortifying omen. As quickly as it appeared, it was gone, and the low-pitch buzz that shielded me from the noise of the cabin evaporated. Pure adrenaline coursed through my veins as I recounted the terrifying vision to my co-pilot who couldn’t quite make out the gory details of the scene.

The highway shifted northwest, and I knew we were only a short drive from Cranbrook. The looming rocky leviathans, with all their dangers, were mostly behind us. Falling rocks, winding roads and herds of mountain goats were no longer the threat, rather a straight-shot (more or less) to our final checkpoint lie ahead, as a welcome relief. Minutes flew by, and we suddenly found ourselves in the small East Kootenay city of Cranbrook. The warm sweat had subsided, and I breathed several weighty sighs as we pulled into the parking lot of a national supermarket and shut the engine off for the evening. There were a few cold beers with our names on them, and my co-pilot and I took off our Captains hats and emerged from the cockpit into the chaos.

———————–

We wasted little time in the morning, ripping past Moyie Lake and on through to the CAN-US border. We weren’t worried about crossing; all our drugs were safely buried under a rock in Cranbrook and there wasn’t a crumb of incrimination amongst us. It was only a momentary delay before we were off like a rocket once again, making brief stops in Bonner’s Ferry and tearing through Sandpoint long enough to admire the bridge and Lake Pend Oreille.

We refueled in the beautiful and charming Coeur d’Alene, loaded up on liquor (booze taxes in Idaho are significantly lower than Washington) and ripped through Spokane on the I-90 for the final stretch to Moses Lake, just outside the Gorge. The sun was high in the sky as my co-pilot brought the ship safely up to warp speed. After a solid six hours of driving south of the border, we made the all-important pitstop at the Moses Lake Wal-mart to load up on any last minute supplies and drain our dollars into the food fund. After the 2013 debacle of being cold, wet and hungry, the seven of us spared no expense and dished out $500 American collectively to make sure we never ran out of resources. It was tedious experience, co-ordinating our efforts and braving the lengthy lines caused by our fellow festival go-ers, but it was a necessary evil, and to take out some much needed frustration we elected to mangle a watermelon in the parking lot and the men held a brief contest over who could throw a chunk of melon the furthest.

[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/KiD-CuDi-Pursuit-of-Happiness-ft.-mgmt-ratatat.mp3|titles=KiD CuDi – Pursuit of Happiness (ft. mgmt & ratatat)]
KiD CuDi – Pursuit of Happiness (Ft. MGMT & Ratatat)

And suddenly, we were off. The scene was almost identical to last year; massive clouds loomed over the Gorge while the sun shot glorious beacons of light onto the ravine. The sun then began to set behind the Columbia river as we pulled the bus into the lengthy line of vehicles eager to gain entrance to the Gorge. Windows down, we blasted music that would soon envelop the main stage, singing to passing cars while droves of envious attendees marveled at our glorious behemoth RV in all its majestic beauty. We captained the ship nearly 600 miles, and it was a very surreal moment as we arrived at the main gate to our campsite.

Hyper-reality soon turned to concentrated panic, as the premier camping wristband lady rather sternly informed us that we were limited to six people per campsite. “One of you will have to go to regular camping. Sorry.” she flat-out backhanded all of our requests, rudely dismissing our pleas for a supplemental wristband and relentlessly ignoring reason and logic. “We’re at capacity, we can’t allow anymore campers..”

“You mean to tell me that every single campsite currently has the maximum of six campers?” I argued.
“It’s not like we’re taking up more space, we’re still all sleeping in the RV” my co-pilot Cody piped up.

But she couldn’t be reasoned with. It was ridiculous to ask one of our fellow campers to ditch their home and pitch a tent somewhere with strangers back in District 9. We had all paid equal parts for the RV, and our investment was too complicated to comply with her outrageous demands. We asked if we could park in our spot in order to figure out a solution, all the while knowing we would need to come up with a quick scheme in order to circumvent the rules. We cracked a nervous beer and set up our chairs and gazebo while my co-captain Cody and our free-spirited Québécois compatriot Joelle ventured off to the gates to find our solution. The plan was simple yet daunting, they would run past every oncoming vehicle until they found a small group headed to premier camping, at this point they would hold up traffic to quickly explain our story and pray that someone would be kind enough to allow Joelle to pile into a foreign convoy and snag the final wristband for the group. The rest of us would simply have to wait, nervously unpacking and constructing the campsite.

Fortunately, as with most unnecessary conflicts caused by festival organizers, with a little ingenuity and a fistful of balls, anything can be accomplished. And within twenty minutes our brave duo returned with our final wristband and was met with a rousing roar of approval. We had made it. And it was time to get straight dicked.

The Gorge would never be the same..

Stay tuned for our full festival coverage, including music reviews/photos, pink gorilla suits, copious amounts of liquor and drugs and of course, The Naked Man.