Delaware to Michigan With a Brief Layover in Erie

One the most memorable trips I ever had the pleasure of taking was a two-week trip from Woodbridge, VA to Dover, DE and onto Rothbury, MI. The first stop was to Firefly Music Festival, a four-day multi-genre music festival that takes place every year in the Woodlands of Dover, DE.  After months of anticipation and excitement, the day had finally arrived, I was on my way to Firefly. Upon arriving in Dover my excitement was transferred to rage, as it took me about 45 mins to go my last mile into the festival parking lot. Alright, nothing too bad that I can’t brush off, and get back to the excitement. First day is a partial day at the festival that is mostly spent at The Hub; a place where they have a small stage, some food vendors and shops (kinda like a club, outside the club). I was rather confused as to where the actual festival was so I pulled up to a picnic bench (after almost knocking the whole thing over) and asked a stranger where I had to go to find the tunes. She was friendly and informed me that there was more to the festival than just this stage, thank god, I was concerned I paid $300 for nothing! She then offered for me to hang out with her friend group for the weekend; I was elated that I had made some friends within the first hour of being here. (oh yeah, this is my friend Alicia that I mentioned in my previous blog, were still good friends almost 2 years later) The first day was spent palling around with her and checking out the inside of the festival, so many people and so much to do! But it was getting late and I was tired, time to find some place to sleep.

I usually try to cut costs by finding the cheapest accommodations nearish to my destination (15 miles is the max I’ll go if the price is cheap enough). In this case, the price was right so I opted out of festival camping, for a primitive site at Killens Pond State Park; however, I also opted out of getting a site for my first night there. I did a little research and found that Walmart permits overnight car camping in their lots. So, for the first night I shacked up in my 2004 Pontiac Bonneville; minus sleeping in the front seat, the random cars coming in and the high intensity lighting of the lot, it offered all the comforts of home (but hey, beggars can’t be choosers). The rest of my days at firefly had similar schedules, I woke up around 5 AM and had a filling breakfast of loaded hash browns at Waffle House; then got onto the festival. I showed up well before most were up, so I could get prime parking and get to the beer store before the line developed (this place was open at like 7 AM; is that even legal?). From 8-11 I would set up camp in the trunk of my car where I had coffee on deck and beer in the cooler. As people started to arrive, some would stop by and have a cup of coffee or beer with me while I waited for the festival to open up. Once the festival opened, it was just a full day of music, food, and new friends. The show that sticks out to me the most was M83; there’s something about listening to a large group of instruments mixed with synths that really gets you into the mode to hug and cry with strangers in the crowd. 10/10 beautiful experience, would do again in a heartbeat.

Sunday comes around and I’m ready to be on the road, everyone’s phones are dead and I’m separated from the group. So, around 1 PM, I decided it’s time to get onto the next festival. But, as fate would have it, on my way out I ran into Alicia (out of like 50,000 people, what are the chances) and I was on my way back in to see Blink 182 (in hindsight I wish I would have skipped that show). Halfway through, I was so disappointed with what my all-time favorite band had become and overcome by my anticipation to get to Electric Forest that I bid farewell to my new friends and headed North to Erie. For those of you who haven’t driven diagonally across PA, it’s a boring ride that goes on for a lifetime, the only exciting thing is that I pass about 30 Sheetz on the way (yes, I took advantage of about 10 of them). Finally, got to Erie and caught up with some good friends for a beer and dinner. After a long day of driving and being on the move there’s nothing better than getting to your spirit’s home and relaxing; but, life had different plans about what relaxation is… Bam! My brand new tires had a flat, I ran over a piece of metal somewhere between the restaurant and where I was staying. To make matters worse, I had to have my car to get all the supplies Tuesday and then drive to Michigan on Wednesday; with a little help from friends and Conway & O’Malley Tire Pros I had my tire plugged and ready Wednesday at 7AM.

Finally, on the road to Michigan; about an 8 HR drive to go with my co-pilot/DJ, Drew (top tier road trip partner IMO). After a bathroom break in the ghetto, several near accidents and a rough traffic jam (thanks to the Cavs winning or something) we finally arrived at Electric Forest! I got my wristband from will call and by the grace of a festival worker, both cars got into the early admission line! (what an electric feeling, were finally in!!) After a little stress over the tight camping space (which ultimately resulted in bonding with our amazing neighbors) we were ready to check out what the nightlife had to offer in the campsites. Now, daytime in the forest was unreal to see for the first time; huge pieces of artwork, shows going on everywhere, and food smell in the air. But, it was nothing compared to the forest at night; at night, everything is lit up with life and color in such a spectacular fashion. It was quite literally an electric forest (huh, it’s like the name implies). Day 1-4 of Electric Forest were amazing in every way imaginable (seriously, everyone should go at least once); the art, the people, the music, the food (the spicy lo mein), and the connection you build with the universe is just unforgettable. (I’m getting goosebumps writing about it) Despite, a torrential downpour and huge windstorm on Sunday morning, the weekend was top notch. I’m torn to say what my favorite part was, so a top 5 would be: Porter Robinson, Gryffin, Whilk and Misky, morning coffee at the tent, and the silent disco. It happened all too fast, and before we knew it, we were waking up at 6AM on Monday morning (after 3 hours of sleep) and hitting the road back to Erie.

Words can’t describe how zombie-like I felt; but unclean, hungry, and worn out come to mind (it was definitely a battle not to sleep at the wheel on the way home).  We filled up on coffee and breakfast just South of Rothbury (I’ve never felt so out of place in a diner than I did that morning) and then stopped for some extremely under cooked hot dogs and ice cream somewhere in Ohio. But, nothing compared to the trip to Imperial buffet upon arrival in Erie; so much food, lots of laughing, and much storytelling from our weekend. As I sat there eating with Rach, Lori and Zo, I thought to myself, despite being half dead, I’ve never felt so alive and happy. I stayed a day longer than anticipated in Erie (not out of the ordinary for me) and then headed on my way back home to Woodbridge; all 6 hours in the car spent thinking about what an amazing 2 weeks I had. I learned a lot this trip; I will dispense this knowledge now. A kilt is an amazing garment, why we stopped using them? I don’t know. A sun hat and triple your weight in water are both necessary for survival at festival. Bring extra charger packs (actually, forget your phone, you don’t need it) and always have beer or coffee to offer strangers. Lastly and most importantly. Try not to let the little things (a traffic jam, a flat tire, too big of a tent for our space) put you in a sour mood; the universe has a funny way of getting you exactly where you need to be, just ride that cosmic wave!

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