Stagecoachella, Country Music Festival Volunteering

It was 5:30pm when Molly and I woke up in Phoenix, we'd slept for 20 hours after the wild weekend at the Coachella music festival. We thought about food, but ate nothing. Instead we relaxed and somewhat got our heads straight.

Her mom picked us up later that night, "Your sister told me about 4/20, I figured that's why I couldn't get in touch with you all day", she smiled somewhat suspicious and playfully.

Molly's response was a bit telling, "We actually haven't touched any drugs all day", oh well. We hadn't though, no smoke, no drink, nothing, and it was April the 20th.

We stopped for big sandwiches on the way to their house in the town of Surprise, every meal was precious and awesome. We got home and were soon slumbering again.

The next day was relaxing and uneventful, only some trips to stores for food and supplies for our next trip, we'd be heading to the Stagecoach music festival by the weekend where we'd be volunteering, this was being done in exchange for our free tickets to Coachella.

Molly made a great meal, jalapeno cream cheese bacon bites particularly made me happy. That night we blew up the air mattress, floating it in the pool and falling asleep beneath the stars.

In the morning we did a last bit of packing, her dad made a big breakfast, a good last meal before hitting the road again. We were to use their car this time to get back to Indio, we used car paint and wrote things like "Stagecoach", "Coachella" and drew pictures of hitchhiking thumbs and other decorations.

After a few hours on the road we were back in Indio, back at the Best Western where the volunteer tent was. There was no line this time like there was for Coachella, we walked right up and got our wrist bands.

We made our way back to the campgrounds, this time we were in the volunteer section, a lot I hadn't even been aware of during Coachella. Right away we made friends with a couple guys and set up camp next to them, they hoisted up a large canopy between our two cars.

Molly and I headed to the volunteer tent to check in, they got us going right away, golf carting us to a far lot to check in RVs with some other volunteers who'd already arrived. There weren't many RVs coming to the festival this early, so it was mostly standing around talking with the other people there.

I admired the hour just around sunset, the sky a nice hue, mountains in the distance, birds in the sky flying about. Molly stood by a large generator blowing out heat, there was a mild chill in the air. We got fed too, they brought out a tray of sandwiches and whatnot. Soon our shift was over and we headed to pass out, our neighbors were gone, probably working the overnight shift.

It was a windy night, but we got our sleep and were up before 7 in time for the day's shift. We went to a different lot, same thing though, checking in RVs. It was a long day of mostly hanging out again, we'd escape every so often to go back to the campsite for a quick beer with our two neighbors.

At sunset our shift ended, we checked out and joined our neighbors for some quesadillas at the campsite. It became the place to be, people wandered by and settled down with us for smoke and drink. Even some security guards stopped in once off-duty, they were Marines from twenty nine palms. Some of the people passed around gloves which had a colored light on each finger tip, moving them around in a trippy fashion, other gave and received massages.

Everyone in this campsite had gone to Coachella, they were here volunteering for the same reason as us, the free ticket. Most were uninterested in the country music festival going on around us, in fact our campsite was secluded from the ocean of RVs and country music lovers just beyond the trees. I had to go see the action, I slipped away from the campsite and into the ocean.

RVs were piled thick, I followed the biggest concentration of music and lights until I found what seemed to be the main strip of action. Beer pong tables were every where, people were hooting and hollering, most of the guys were shirtless with cowboy hats, platinum blondes in cowboy boots could be found in all directions. Makeshift whiskey bars had been setup on the side of some RVs nearby to dance parties that had broke out due to large stereo systems blasting music that would surely being played live in the coming days at the festival.

I walked through all of this watching thousands of people getting their kicks, eventually returning to our quiet campsite where things had died down. Molly was in her sleeping bag, I quickly did the same. The marines came back with talk of liquor, I didn't see any action though. Another guy, later I found his name war Earl, accidentally grabbed my face like a bowling ball, he hadn't seen me in my sleeping bag and was reaching for something on the ground. He apologized profusely, but it was no bother.

I woke in the morning to my neighbor relaxing, a couple marines filtered into our site too trying to recall the drunken events from the night before. One wouldn't say where he slept, the other woke up in the polo field, the third woke up in a tent with a couple girls and wouldn't say much, just smile, trying to insinuate that he'd gotten lucky, he hadn't.

One of them found a bottle of Captain from the night before, we got to passing that around and sipping some of the loose beers from our cooler. The irish marine found his bottle of schnapps from the night before. He told a story of grandpa, he'd passed away a few years back in his rocking chair watching TV gripping a bottle of his favorite schnapps. The story was worth a cheers and a shot all around.

Joshua Tree Will passed by, a guy Molly and I had met briefly on our way out of Coachella, we had been on his way to Joshua Tree to camp between then and now. Molly had got his number, but lost her phone in a car while hitchhiking. The phone was being mailed back to her parents house, the driver found it, but she didn't have it back yet.

After some more drinking, Molly emerged from a big blue tent across the way. I later followed her back to the tent and relaxed in there for a while, that's when I met Kirby, a guy from San Diego. He was volunteering with his friend Earl, the one who'd grabbed my face the night before.

We relaxed in the igblue (the blue tent's nickname) for a while, meeting various people. I headed out to the venue later with some people, including Sindey and Elen, two girls who'd be involved in the coming weeks travels at various points. There was a big BBQ cookoff going on, along with the music. We went from stand to stand getting free samples - they were asking $2 a piece, but in our case an inquisitive smile was enough.

Elen and I then went to the tent where a band called Trampled by Turtles were playing. I'd never heard of them, but their band name lured us in, their stomping bluegrass kept us there and dancing for the whole set. Joshua Tree Will showed up in the middle of the set too and joined us in the jumping.

Afterwards Elen had to go check in for her volunteer shift, I'd already fulfilled all my hours, which wasn't very many. I headed back to the campsite where I found Molly on her own. We grabbed a couple drinks, then decided to head back to the venue to catch some music.

We didn't make it to the venue though, halfway there we were stopped by security. This wasn't a security stop really, it was just a security guard with an eye for Molly, she didn't share the feeling, but we played along for a bit.

The few security guards and us stumbled upon a small group of people drinking and joined them. We had a few drinks and the security guards moved on, but not after an odd marriage proposal and a sneaky tongue that made it's way into Molly's mouth, this only left her with fitting words like "douche bag".

We stayed with the group we'd been drinking with for a bit, a drunk old man stumbled over from an RV across the way, the girls knew him as Uncle Knuckle. We eyeballed Molly's volunteer shirt, she let him wear it for a second and he stumbled back over to his RV saying he was keeping it. One of the girls we were with made a trip over for a few minutes, returning with the shirt.

We moved on from there without particular direction, we cut through some RVs and came across a karaoke session set up. Molly was easily coaxed into this, I stood by at a beer pong table slipping down a few. We were there for a decent amount of time actually, but then decided to head back to the camp site.

We came in to find people raging in the back of a pickup truck, I stood for a minute, then headed back to the campsite to get a fill up on the box wine. My name started getting chanted from the truck and I headed back quickly and hopped in. The music blasted and we shared stories, drinks and smoke for a while.

I got the itch to roam the RV action again, a girl Danielle joined me, she'd met Molly the past weekend at sunrise hill. We cruised around sniffing out the action, there was a lot. We walked by one site and a big group caught our attention, "You guys want a beer?", we took a seat and cracked one open. We sat for a while, then got up to wander, before we left they pointed us to the grill where there were some burgers waiting for us, a welcomed meal.

We headed back to the volunteer campsite where the pickup truck party was still in full force. After a bit more of that I was ready to go RVing again, this time Elen and a couple others came along with me, they too was eager to see what kind of action we could get into.

We went straight for the main strip I'd seen the first night with the whiskey bars and dancing, it was even more alive on this night. A big house on wheels was being rolled around with a bar on it, we hopped on that for a while, then continued down the strip.

Elen and I got split away from the rest, we spotted a giant hookah style beer bong in front of some one's RV. Our admiration of this device was enough them to fill it up and let us join them in using it.

We kept on wandering, soon finding a huge dance party with big speakers taking place in between two RVs. We got some beers and kicks there, the music blared and the crowd sang along in routy fashion, "Oh, I got friends in low places!"

Next we wandered more, coming across the same karaoke scene Molly and I had found earlier, it was still jumping and we partied there for a while.

We headed back towards the campsite, the RV scene had slowly started to wind down. We found one more campsite with action on the way back though, a small group playing beer pong, they welcomed us with beers. We were both wearing our volunteer shirts, this seemed to work to our benefit everywhere we went. They were happy to see us partying with them, they were aware of the stigma the coachella scene had with the stagecoach people, generally brushing them off as rednecks and the like. Elen and I had no such stigma, clearly, we'd just partied the night away.

We walked back towards the campsite after this, passing sunrise hill we decided we'd be right back. Things had settled down just a little back at the volunteer lot, Elen and I grabbed our sleeping bags and headed back to the hill. We laid out sipping the last of our beers, we fell asleep though, probably just an hour before sunrise.

We woke up in the full force of the sun, people walking all around us, smiling at the memories of the night before. A woman walked by, "did you guys sleep here last night?", we just laughed.

We walked back to the volunteer lot, I found Molly, Kirby and others in the igblue, I don't think she'd slept at all. I stopped at our camp spot, their was a crew of people next to their hippy van adjacent to us from San Diego, they offered me a beer colder than the one in my hand.

The one girl owned the van, her and her boyfriend were relaxed and looked like models from a surfing magazine. The two other girls looked like they always belonged at a party, they had been having a hell of a good time. I sat with them for a while as they cut up their volunteer shirts in fashionable and somewhat humorous ways, Elen joined them in this.

I made my way back to the igblue and lounged with the crew in there for some time. Later we motivated our way to the venue, again taking advantage of the BBQ cook off, then laying in the grass listening to Jimmy Dickens. We stopped in an air conditioned tent for a spell, then I went out on my own in search for water. I finally found a bottle and then found a spot in the grass to listen to the Avett Brothers.

I headed back to the campsite after and crawled into the backseat of the car to catch a nap in preparation for the night. Elen came in at one point to use the mirror for makeup purposes, saying she was an usher on her shift and wanted to be taken more seriously by people who may think she was young. Molly came in looking for something later and I was awake, I joined her and the others in the igblue once again.

This was the last night of music for the festival, Brooks and Dunn were apparently playing their last show ever, we could hear them in the distance over the electronic music coming from Kirby's speakers. I had no idea who they were, but I headed over the venue on my own to see what the scene was like in there.

I missed there set, Keith Urban was due up next, someone else I knew little about, but he was the headliner and last act of the festival, the place packed with people, barely walkable. There was an auction for their guitars, one went for about $20,000.

I headed back to the igblue and relaxed with everyone else. Elen got back from her shift wearing a big sign hanging across her body, "Need an Answer, ASK ME", she'd swiped it from the volunteer booth. She was giddy, this was contagious, we all became hysterical for the night.

Kirby loaded up the BBQ with everything from his cooler, hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and eventually bologna. A couple security guards stopped and laughed at us, we got to talking with them while they told us stories of some of the more ridiculous things they'd seen go down during the festival - drunk girls falling on their faces, disappearing into porta potties for far too long and even a guy who took a very long time attempting to put his shoes on in a very far-gone state of mind.

Late in the night, more towards the morning really, a group of us wandered to the RVs to find some action. At this point many had left, most of the others had turned in for the night. We encountered one group of guys who asked Elen where the slutty girls were (she still had her 'Need an Answer' sign on). We passed them up quickly, stopped by the lost and found, then ran into another small group of people playing frisbee. I gave me volunteer shirt to a drunk guy who wanted it very badly for whatever reason. One more stop at the internet tent for a game of jenga, then we were back at the campsite where the rest were passed out.

I hopped into the backseat and passed out. I awoke with the light in the car on and thought of Elen. I opened the door and saw her over by the igblue sitting alone, I figured she must have opened the door to the car and walked away for whatever reason, I waived her over. She laid out in the passenger seat and we talked for while, shortly falling asleep mid conversation.

The festival was over, but the next morning would spark ideas, a trip with new friends would be set into motion, good times always ahead.

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