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Woodstock For Real – Wait, What?

This is the way to hear music, I think, surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, under a big sky.

– Michael Lang (Co-creator of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival)

As promised… here’s the next installment of our Woodstock Wander in Mid-July.  How can it be almost mid-August already?

Wednesday morning was THE day.  We were finally going to visit the site of THE Rock Concert of all time!  To say we were excited, is to put mildly.  Two Fifty-somethings all a-giggle, I tell ya…  By now we have watched countless videos about Woodstock, totally immersed ourselves into the whole experience as much as two born-too late-to-have-been-there peeps could be. (And if we had been there, would have been too young to remember and would have had beyond-cool (or crazy) parents… Just sayin’).  One hour, some 60-ish miles away.  I swear, we are still trying to wrap our heads around a Woodstock that never took place in Woodstock.  I think B’s wonderful intro post to our adventure says it best here.

But first, we needed sustenance.  I had brought my crêpe mix so of course I had to make those.  But then, I pimped ’em up.  We needed to fuel up, after all!  A little bacon, some Swiss cheese and a fried egg on top was sure to do the trick – add to that some Québec maple syrup and we had ourselves a breakfast of champions…

No matter how many videos we had watched – and we watched many there (not to mention tons more since our return), we were still amazed to drive through the winding country roads towards Bethel.  We tried to imagine all those thousands of cars simply left willy-nilly to block the road for three, almost four, days.  Insane.  Did you know that 37 rental cars were lost?  Thirty-seven!!  Just one of those little snippets of information discovered…

We finally get to our destination…

… and there are huge, I mean HUGE parking lots… now 😉  We chose a shady area to park the car and made our way to the main building.  How did I manage to NOT take a picture of the outside?  I dunno… So I have nabbed the one on the site…

I don’t know how to explain the myriad emotions this place evoked.  Maybe it was just us.  But I don’t think so.  Maybe we had created an expectation by reading about it, seeing movies, documentaries, listening to the music.  While neither one of us had this destination at the top of our bucket lists, we were still thrilled and awed that our desire to meet had directed us to this place.  Just how did the Universe sneakily direct us here?  Our love of music, culture and history might have had something to do with it.  Whatever it was that did bring us here, we felt we were on hallowed ground.  Or we gave it that descriptive.

Or maybe, just maybe, we each have a little Hippie in our Hearts.

We purchased our tickets and entered, looking forward to – we had no idea what!

“We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.

And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, John. We’re with you.’ I played the rest of the show for that guy.

—John Fogerty recalling Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 3:30 am start time at Woodstock”

There were so many things to see, notes to read, we could have stayed in there for hours on end.

It’s funny… I didn’t take the picture of the sign explaining the fence but felt this other sign said it all.  This concert was going to be way bigger than anyone could have anticipated (Imagine how parties have gotten out of hand with the advent of Facebook?  Could you even imagine?)  People were not going to let some fence stop them from getting in…  Might as well give in.  And they did!  In the name of peace.  And debt.

So many details, so many stories, so many things to see!

There is a small theatre within the museum that shows a 20-minute movie about the event.  So, of course, we watched it!

So many acts played in those three days, that spilled into part of the fourth.  Sha Na Na?  Really?  John B. Sebastian wasn’t even scheduled to play.  He was a “filler” and, according to Ira Brooker from “A Talent for Idleness” Sebastian was the ultimate hippie.  I dig, I dig.  And, I didn’t know him.  And now I do.

Time to go outside and see just where this party took place.

The grounds around the museum are beautiful and a stroll was in order.

Though he never made a sound, I could sense B was itching to get to the site itself and I quickly snapped a couple more pics before joining him.

I don’t know why I never realised how much of a hill it was!  You see the pictures and there are masses of people but somehow, I just never focused on the terrain itself.  This sign gives you such a perspective of the size when you are in front of the field.  I purposefully left just a smidge of said sign in the second pic showing the road (we felt it would be disrespectful to walk on the grass itself – at that time, anyway!) we took to get down to the bottom to show you a portion of it.

As we made our way down, we could see, right in the middle of the field, a huge Peace sign cut into the grass (like a crop circle 😉 )  Too bad they have been suffering from lack of rain because it is a tad difficult to see, no matter how much I enhanced it.

We, of course, went to the official memorial monument (which bizarrely is NOT where the stage was…)

The stage is left of and further down from the marker when looking up the hill.  It was confusing to us at first but then I could see the demarcation of the sort of square where the stage was.

Standing on the “stage”, looking up I could not imagine 500,000 people.  I’m sure the 600 acres Max Yasgur rented out spilled out beyond… Plus, I do not have a wide lens… but still.  It takes your breath away.

I’m a farmer. I don’t know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this. But I think you people have proven something to the world–not only to the Town of Bethel, or Sullivan County, or New York State; you’ve proven something to the world. This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place. We have had no idea that there would be this size group, and because of that, you’ve had quite a few inconveniences as far as water, food, and so forth. Your producers have done a mammoth job to see that you’re taken care of… they’d enjoy a vote of thanks. But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids–and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you–a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!

— addressing the crowd at Woodstock on August 17, 1969
Peace and Love…

We made our way back to the car, our souvenirs in hand (of course I got a Tye-died shirt) with new memories created and oh-so happy we had made the trek.  We may have missed out on actually being part of the whole Woodstock experience 49 years earlier, but walking those grounds sure brought us closer to the feeling that we would have fit right in.

Joni Mitchell didn’t make it either, but all say she captured the feeling exactly.  I was torn between the video where Joni explains why she wasn’t there – with a little catch in her voice – or the one she did right after the concert… So I put both!

Part 1

Part 2

42 thoughts on “Woodstock For Real – Wait, What?

  1. Q,

    You have perfectly encapsulated the vibe of the day. Perfectly. From the winding road . . which is STILL crazy to think was traveled by all those people! To the quotes, which are home runs. To your flower child thoughts on that walk into history. If this is what being a hippy is all about? Who wouldn’t ‘dig’?
    There were several parts of this post that shivered me timbers, I gotta say. The Rosetta Stone-like fence that I am still talking about to anyone who will listen! And that bus, that movie, those stories, that music, the peace signs and a field whose energy was abundant.
    Thank Gawd we had a breakfast o’ champions to sustain us, eh?

    Peace, and being right on time

    Liked by 1 person

    • B,

      So very glad you think so! That road… I can’t even imagine. I went through so many quotes (like with everything to do with this getaway… did we ever research during and AFTER! I am so digging the hippie vibe. The whole shebang. I actually feel like I could return and still get more stuff out of it.
      Yes indeed… good thing we didn’t have just plain ole straight-up crepes… we would not have lasted!

      Peace and love and good vibes, hippie-man!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The plain ole straight up crepes were pretty dang perfect, yanno?
        And yes/no! I cannot imagine the simple physics of those small towns and roads being inundated with all those peeps! Carazy!
        It’s the WHOLE vibe. Immersion was a big word for this trip . . .

        Peace, love and no brown acid . . .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ในวันที่ อ. 7 ส.ค. 2018 12:37 A Dalectable Life เขียนว่า:

    > Dale posted: ” This is the way to hear music, I think, surrounded by > rolling hills and farmlands, under a big sky. – Michael Lang (Co-creator of > the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival) As promised… here’s the next > installment of our Woodstock Wander i” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Dale,

    Being in Missouri at the time and going on 16, it wasn’t an option for me to go. Nonetheless, it’s an integral part of my Hippie past. 😉 Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we’ve made such a connection with each other. I’m so enjoying your joint accounts of the trip and your impressions. You both make me feel a part of your adventures. ❤ John Sebastian? Love him…still.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle,

      Yes, you were a “tad” far… Did you watch any of it on TV? When Joni Mitchell said she watched it from home, I was surprised! I didn’t realise they broadcast it. Our hippie souls must have recognised each other indeed.
      It is great that you’re enjoying our massively different takes on the trip (I know I’m loving reading his!)
      Dunno why he escaped my radar… John Sebastian, that is…)

      Lotsa love,

      Dale

      Like

  4. Thanks for virtually taking me on such an interesting tour! I lived in upstate New York a while and yet somehow was never inspired to venture over to Woodstock, and now I regret it. What an interesting museum, and how cool to stand there in that same space and imagine!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So cool, Dale. I listened to the albums so many times in high school and college. I’ve never really thought of visiting. It seems now like it was a time of such hope and idealism.
    I could see the peace sign in your photo. If only. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No offense, but after seeing that breakfast, I was more interested in food than this place! Love the look from below looking up … wow … I get the feeling of the masses. Yet, hard to imagine all the cars on those roads! Good report!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: I Was Born 15 Years Too Late | Mitigating Chaos

  8. Pingback: Woodstock – Fare Thee Well – You Rocked Us | A Dalectable Life

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