Slipping into the Gorge for Dave Matthews Weekend
I'd just finished hiking some of the Pacific Crest Trail with some friends in Washington, so I was pretty close to the Gorge anyway. I walked up to the freeway where there was standstill traffic, I made eye contact with someone and they offered me a ride. I went a little ways with him, then caught my next ride with someone who lived close to where the Gorge was. He took me right to the campground where Aaron and company were supposed to be staying, dropping me off right in front.
Step one, get into the campground without having to pay. My method of choice, walk past the checkpoint confidently. I did this, but soon a girl in the booth was running out to me with questions. She brought me back to the booth to talk to the main guy in charge who also asked who I was camping with and whatnot. I played it all pretty easy and dumb, as if I barely knew a show was going on and that my friend had just told me to meet him in this strange spot.
I described what Aaron had told me about the campsite, "Big tent and a blue pickup truck". I hopped in a golf cart with the guy in charge and soon we eyeballed the spot, but the whole crew had already headed out to the venue. We looped back to the entry booth and he told me I'd have to find them at the show, a shuttle was about to head that way. He handed me a beer from a cooler for the ride and then slapped a wristband on me, "You'll need this to get back into the campground", he winked. Mission one, get in campground for free, success.
"Will this get into the show also?", I asked, already knowing it wouldn't. The show was three nights, a ticket needed for each night.
"You ever been to a dead show?", he asked me. My answer was no. "Stick your finger in the air like this!", he said sticking his index finger in the air high up, "Waiting on a miracle!", he said. I smiled, cracked my beer, and ran onto the bus joining the excited crowd fueling up on beer and anticipation for night one.
Minutes later we were at the venue, mobs of people pouring in. I got myself right up to where tickets were being checked, considering trying to tailgate a group of people and slip by. I instead decided to take his advice, standing off to the side smiling with my sips of beer in one hand and my other hand in the air with a finger up.
Sure enough, a pretty girl came around, "Looks like you need a ticket, we can't sell it, have it, have fun!", with that, I was in. I stepped in and witnessed one of the most impressive venues I've seen, a huge dip and overlook of the Gorge and the stage below. I tracked Aaron down, jammed out for the show, then we all headed back to the campsite for beers and shots and laughs into the night.
The next day came in similar fashion, a little slower to start, but my ticket came easy from someone in the group who just had an extra. Another great show, another night in the tent. The next day came with people packing up and getting out. I caught a ride with Aaron and company for the long drive back to Sacramento, arriving late and passing out quickly.
The next day would be the beginning of something totally new, a journey to a sailboat in southern California. A captain down there had acquired an eighty foot steel boat and needed help getting it in condition to sail, Panama being the first destination. Onward.
August 31, 2012 to September 3, 2012