(not updated yet)
"Never put the hose down, never get old"
Introduction. Donít be Denied
If you are a newbie considering a jaunt to this yearís epicenter of Rustdom, the 2001 edition of the International Rust Fest (IRF) and the Bridge School Benefit Concerts (BSB), consider no more and take the plunge. This will be my third trip to not so sunny Northern California from my home in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (near Buffalo). In some respects I may be seen as a seasoned Rustie (although I would preserve that term for those who partake in the honeyslide part of life) but I still remember what its like to travel to a far off place for the first time to meet folks that I barely know off the internet. So, For What Its Worth, I offer the following advice:
Chapter 1. Ordinary People and Lotta Love
Rusties and Zumans
Rusted Internet folks are no scarier than the next door neighbor. This is a loaded statement to be sure, because it takes all types. But we do all have one thing in common, love (and sometimes obsession) for the music of Mr. N.P. Young and his associates. Just folks just getting together for the fun of it. If you are still skeptical, take a look at the photos from previous Rustfests, there is much rejoicing. Its a no lose proposition. You canít go wrong. There is much love to be found.
Chapter 2. Expecting to Fly
If you need to fly, you can choose to arrive and depart from San Francisco International (SFO), San Jose (SJC) or Oakland (OAK). Each is within an relatively short driving distance to the Saratoga Springs Resort campground. About an hour or less. So shop all the airlines for prices to each of these airports. For example, in 1998, I flew from in from Toronto to SFO for less than $200 U.S. (Air Canada had a fare sale and T.O. is about 85 miles from my home). In 2000, the Delta flight out of Buffalo to SFO cost $218 through Priceline.com. And this year, I used travelocity.com for a $204 ticket on American Airlines from Buffalo to SJC. (I saved $122 by flying to SJC instead of SFO). So check out the availability from your town. You may experience similar luck to mine.
**Note about priceline and travelocity tickets: You will not be able to change your itinerary once youíve booked your flight. But if you miss your return flight like I did last year because of traffic, they will put you on stand-by for the next available flight.
Chapter 3. Sedan Delivery
Bay Area Transportation
In 1998 I rented a car (a great deal through Priceline.com with the purchase of the airline ticket), in 2000 I rented an RV and in 2001 Iíve rented an RV. If you canít or donít want to afford to rent a vehicle, just get yourself to the Bay Area, someone will retrieve you to the IRF and affiliated festivities. Plenty of folks are sans personal transportation and no one gets left behind. (In 1998 the IRF Committee rented a bus to get everyone to and from Shoreline for the concerts.) Thereís a spot on the IRF pages linked through HypeRrust where you can post your shuttle needs in advance. Bay Area transportation should really be among the least of your concerns.
Chapter 4. Like A Hurricane
In ‘98 I lugged my personal camping gear in my backpack. This is a viable option for those who like that sort of thing. But you should know, the October NoCal nights can get mighty chilly. If youíre an experienced camper in 40 degree weather, then go for it. If not, be prepared to bundle up and youíll be OK. But beware, last year it rained like cats and dogs on Sat (although it held off for the Fri. night jam). If youíre a tenderfoot, or like me, a bit older than when you used to do the camping out thing just for the fun of it and can afford it, you might want to consider the RV option or perhaps a hotel.
Chapter 5. If [Sleep]ing on the Ground is Wrong.
Recreational Vehicles (RV)
Its the best of no worlds but a vast improvement over sleeping on the ground and overpaying for a cozy hotel room. This is the RV option. The IRF page links to three RV rental agencies, Cruise America, El Monte and California Campers, Last year Andy Cutlass Supreme and I shared a 28 footer. It was a bit more compact than I would have thought, but it worked fine for two grown men. Three would have been pushing it but still doable. Four adults would have pretty much defeated much of the convenience and privacy factor that an RV offers. (But then again, thatís IMHO. Crowd ten folks in there if you like).
This year weíre doing much better in both size and price. Weíve booked a 31 foot slideout RV through El Monte RV that is costing us, including the Saratoga Springs Resort fees, about $113 per night (weekly rates). Last year it cost us about $150 per night including the $30 per night camping fee at Saratoga Springs Resort. Andy also rented a car so we could take side trips without having to cruise the mountainous California coast in the RV.
One huge advantage with the RV is the tailgating before the shows. For some reason both Cutlass Supreme and I didnít think of this for Saturdayís show, but we had a real mini-Rustfest blast before Sundayís show. Perhaps this year we can caravan a couple of these land yachts and make a real party of it!
As far as driving the thing goes, if you have any experience driving fire trucks, it will be no problem. But even if you donít have any equivalent experience, donít fret. Any competent driver will be able to master the beast in a short while. Take it from one who has trained dozens of novice fire fighters to handle much heavier and larger fire vehicles, YOU can do it if you just give yourself a chance (Disclaimer: I make no warranties, express or implied, that YOU will do it only that you can do it) If youíve ever driven a rented moving van, you have all the ability you need.
Another thing about driving, traffic in the Bay Area can be brutal. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going as you contend with the freeway traffic.
The other big thing about the RV is that it ran out of hot water fast and had a slow recovery. Andy and I both ended up showering in the campground shower. (Not together, get your mind out of the gutter.)
Chapter 6. Bad Fog of Loneliness
Alice's Restaurant (New This Year)
GET THERE EARLY BEFORE THE FOG SETS IN! Its a bear of a drive at night on those winding Skyline roads once the fog rolls in off the ocean. One wrong move on one of the hairpins, and you might find yourself at the bottom of a gully or gulch. And to be safe, those of you folks who may be experiencing your mid-life crisis (personally, I never considered it a crisis ) quit the denial and get your eyes checked. Night vision is the first to go!!! (Drew, are you listening?)
Chapter 7. Touch the Night
Old Princeton Landing
Iím not going to spoil the surprise for this one. Its a trip (as in groovy experience ) to get your first exposure to this Rustie mecca. Sort of like avoiding the setlists before you see a tour, donít seek out too much info on OPL...youíll know what I mean once you get there.
Chapter 8. Rockiní in the Free World
International Rust Fest
What can I say. Peace. Love. Rock-n-Roll. Neil. The cypress woods. Campfires. Honeyslides. Your favorite libations (BYB btw). Many fine Rusted musicians play an early acoustic sets on a superb stage by , followed by a screaming electric jam and followed again by around the campfire singalongs into the wee hours of the morning. Pure heaven on earth. Again, check out the IRF photo pages.
Chapter 9. Dance, Dance, Dance
Bridge School Benefit Concert
The concerts themselves are special. The Bridge School students and their families are invited onstage for all of the performances. Their palpable joy is contagious and spreads to the performers and the audience. All (most of) the acts play their music more or less acoustic. Last year acoustic Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters knocked their die hard fans in attendance over for a loop. And of course thereís Neil. In 1998 we heard the debuts of Looking Forward and Distant Camera as well as the dusting off of Expecting to Fly and Ambulance Blues. In 2000 a triple bill of Neil (solo to open the show, with Friends and Relatives and of course CS&N) more than made up for the absence of new material. Who knows whatís in store for this year, but with Pearl Jam, REM and Ben Harper already booked, there canít be too many Rusties who will be disappointed in the musical offerings.
Chapter 10. For the Turnstiles
If you get to Shoreline youíll get into the show! How? What if its sold out? you say? Read on. Your best bet may be the Rustrow lottery (again, check the IRF pages). Scoring them via the net last year didnít work out for me when I turned down 200 level seats and I didnít get in on the lottery because my 1998 experience getting 100 level seats left me a bit cocky. In ‘98 I was able to upgrade to 100 level seats thanks to the kindness of a Rustie couple on Saturday and on Sun I was able to get 100ís at the box office (they were either late releases or turn backs). Last year, I was extremely lucky to get 200 level seats at the box office but that's only because I wanted a single and I happened to be there at the right time. The box office is unlikely to have many, if any, seats available on the day of the show. It appears that the BSB has gone corporate and most of the best seats are gone before the public sale. So lower your expectations for seat quality and you wonít be disappointed.
One thing is for sure though, you can ALWAYS get a lawn seat. If not from the box office then from folks who have extras out front, and often at a substantial discount. I saw at least a half a dozen or so being given away for free as show time approached.
(Word to the wise: If its raining opt for a seat on the extreme left or right of the ampi-theatre. Those are the only portions of the 200s that are covered with a roof)
Chapter 11. After the Gold Rush or Mellow My Mind
The After Show Special
Following each nightsí BSB show, the camping Rusties usually huddle around the warmth and hospitality of Kurt and Lisaís encampment. Those who are musically inclined, and even some of us who wish we were, partake in some of the sweeter things in life and sing, hum and strum until the last eyelid bites the dust.
Well. I hope this helps someone to make a positive decision to join us this year. Good luck and Iíll see you in California!