Next week we will hit the road for six days in the Love Shack—off to the Mountain Jam Festival (www.mountainjam.com) in upstate New York. This will be our third year attending the festival in the Love Shack, choosing Mountain Top Car Camping as our accommodations for the long weekend. The first year, of course, we weren’t quite sure what to expect but now we feel like old pros. In fact, we hope to get in line early enough before the gates open so we can secure the best spot on the side of the mountain.
Each car camper gets a 10×30 spot that accommodates one vehicle and one tent. We are able to park the van, and set up our portable screen house in the space that they allow. The festival folks are pretty particular about how exactly you park your vehicle—and there’s usually a few guys around arguing about which way the wheels need to be turned and how close you need to be to your neighbor, etc. This is all part of what goes into organizing a large festival and having to hire folks who do this just a few times a season. There are no bad spots on the side of the mountain, because wherever you are you can hear the music as if you are on the concert field. The stages are just below where we camp, so we can be in the van or in the screen house and hear all of the entertainment—all day and all night long. We hope by getting in line early enough, we can grab a closer spot to the concert field.
Part of the fun of the whole experience is checking out your neighbors—seeing how they set up their own home away from home for the weekend, and of course getting to know new people who share the same love for music and passion (maybe) for camping out at a festival. Coincidentally, for the first two years, we’ve ended up right next to the same couple who travel in from New Jersey. We’ve compared notes of the last couple of years and we seem to like a lot of the same music. Last year we met a great group of twentysomethings from New Hampshire who were parked just in front of us, and another “boomer” couple from Vermont who had the spot directly next to us. It’s fun to make festival friends and share stories and life for a few days.
I’ve just started planning what to bring for food. Last year I did an amazing job of pre-planning and packing the food—we had more than enough of what we needed. We have a large food cooler, a beer cooler and an “ice box” in the van. We have to replenish ice almost daily, but we’ve learned to pack frozen food and frozen water bottles. Last year I made a big batch of beef jerky for Brian and I will again this year. I had frozen meat sauce; burgers and chicken; tons of cheeses and snacky stuff; along with fresh fruits and veggies. It takes several hours of prep on this food stuff, but it’s worth it to not eat the yucky festival food. We also have to transfer any liquor to plastic bottles and be sure that the festival folk do not find any glass bottles in the van when we check in. Last year I had to transfer my homegrown maple syrup from a small Mason jar to a plastic water bottle.
Mountain Jam is an easy festival to be at. There are plenty of port-o-potties around and they are really clean and well maintained. There are also lots of indoor bathrooms at the lodge, but of course from where we are that means a hike down the mountain and then back up again. Mountain Jam also sets up a couple of shower trailers and for $5 you can get a great, hot shower—as long as you don’t mind waiting in line for it.
And then, there’s the music. It’s not all about the music, but of course this is the primary draw for the weekend. There are two primary stages where bands alternate playing, beginning at about noon each day and playing until 3 or 4 a.m. Inside the lodge are other spots where you can find music. There are a variety of other activities and things to do and see while there – and it never seems very crowded. We’ve seen some really awesome shows at Mountain Jam — some we expected, and others that introduced us to artists that were brand new to us. This year we are looking forward to seeing Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., the Head & the Heart, Steve Miller, Amy Helm, The Revivalists—and many, many, more.
The whole weekend is a very freeing time—not too much of a schedule, nowhere to drive to and nothing urgent that needs to happen, just a lot of kicking back and relaxing. If you haven’t yet, you should try it some time!