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

Per Your Request – What Pegman Saw

This week Pegman is at Rawson Lake in Alberta, Canada. Thanks to some intrepid travelers, you can tour the area yourself via streetview (actually I should say trailview) or chose a photosphere. (Rawson Lake, Karen Rawson?  Coincidence? I think not!)

Your mission is to write up to 150 words inspired by the location. Once your piece is polished, please share it with others using the linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ work is part of the fun!

Okay… so my story has nothing to do with this particular lake… and I confess there is not one bit of fiction either…

Thank you, always, to Karen and Josh for hosting this weekly challenge!

Per Your Request

You told me where you wanted me to spread your ashes: one of the lakes where you went fishing with your buddies and “Bass Alley” on the St. Lawrence River. You told me what you wanted as your urn, too. Remember? You showed me one of your collectible Coke bottles and said, “This one.”

Too soon, that day came. I went down to the basement, collected that bottle and emptied it. Was shocked there was still a “pssshhhht” sound when I opened it. Next day brought it to the funeral home.

Spring came, and our boys went with your best friends on the requisite fishing trip. I gave them half of you in a mason jar. They performed a beautiful ritual and let you go.

It’s been over three years and I still haven’t released the rest of you. I don’t know why, really. Maybe because I’m not ready to.

 

*********

 

Fun Night With The Piano Guys

I have to thank Frank, I think, for introducing me to The Piano Guys on his blog.  If it wasn’t him… no… it was him, I’m fairly certain…  I then caught a video here and there on Facebook, which led me to watching one after another on YouTube.  Well, don’tcha know, way back in February, the 8th, to be precise, tickets went on sale for The Piano Guys.  They were going to be in Montreal for three nights.  Woot!  Without further thought, I bought a pair of tickets.  For Wednesday, August 1st.  Six months away.  Had no idea who would be joining me and it didn’t matter because I knew I would find a willing accomplice.

Only thing is, not many people in my crowd know who they are.  No matter.  I mentioned it to Julie, that kinda friend who is willing to join me for pretty much anything (Cubano Sammy Search? Check!, Ballet tickets sold to me from another friend? Check!) “Who are they,” she asks?  “Google ’em,” I say.  Same day, I get an “I’m in!”  Like I was surprised.  This chick is a lot like me.  We dig good stuff.  We like to explore, we love cultural activities… we were even asked if we were sisters as we walked to the venue!

So, let’s start at the beginning of our evening.  Yes, we went to a favourite restaurant in the Gay Village:  Mozza Pâtes et Passions (where I have brought about 13-14 people so far – I’ve lost count).  It’s good food quality/price-wise, it’s bring-your-own-wine and it’s the best place to people-watch as you sit on the terrasse (terrace for you non-Quebecers) – and lemme tell you, there are some wild ones.  We smiled and nodded at the ones we could not help but admire…. coz seriously, that scrawny guy in the floppy hat, yellow dress, fishnet stockings and platform sandals, not walking but sashaying in a way that said… “This is me, bitch!” deserved a smile.

Plus, where else can you dance in the bathroom?  (Yes, I am sitting on the toilet, looking up!!)

We decided to take a chance (dissing the weatherman’s predictions) and walk to Place des Arts from Mozza – we are talking a good 20 blocks, 1.7 km (a bit over a mile).  Now that is not so bad, a twenty minute walk or so, and part of it in the middle of St.Catherine Street which is closed off to cars during the summer and strung up with balls representing the LGBT flag. Fun stuff.

We made it, with time to spare, and sat in our front-row tickets on the first balcony, right in the centre.

What a show, with each half lasting one hour, a 20-minute intermission separating them.  Time flew.  These guys are hilarious, ridiculously talented and wonderful performers who who interact with their audience as well as each other.

So, why are they called The Piano Guys when there is a pianist and a cellist?  Oh, and two other guys who are officially part of the group, so to speak?  Well, it’s like this, see.  It was all part of a social media strategy… Paul Anderson had a piano store called, you guessed it The Piano Guys.  Jon Schmidt (the pianist of the group) came into the store to practice piano when he was in town.  Paul asked Jon if he could film him and upload it to YouTube to share on Facebook and such to sell his pianos.  Jon agreed.  However, Paul saw a video Jon had uploaded of him and Steven Sharp Nelson (the cellist of the group), doing one of their mash-ups they are so famous for, which had received more than one million hits.  He asked the two guys if they would allow him to make professional videos of them, which would be uploaded to YouTube and the store’s Facebook page, all to promote his store.  Paul then brought in his neighbour, Al van der Beek (singer and music arranger) into the fold.   They chose the craziest locations, places one would never expect to find a piano, to sell his pianos.  Not a single piano was sold.

But.

A phenomenon was born.   They blend classical and contemporary music which they put together as a “Mash-up”, i.e. The Mission’s Gabriel’s Oboe with How Great Thou Art – so beautiful.  They did, thankfully, play this one while the video played in the background.  Gorgeous.

They don’t limit themselves to this mix of genres.  They do straight-up classical or straight-up jazz, as well.  Jon played a beautiful solo piece he wrote when he was 17, called “Waterfalls”.  Hard to believe he was 17 when he wrote it.  Then Steven played his famous “The Cello” piece, as he calls it, by Bach, that he does for 8 cellos.  I was wondering how he would manage to pull this one off as he cannot be on 8 different cellos at the same time in a live performance! He showed us with all his accessories.  I must apologise for my video.  I was trying not to disturb others, so I had my hands covering the screen and was trying to place the phone between the bars.  Not quite so successful but voilà.

They played, they teased each other, they told their story.  Then they brought out the two others.  Al has quite a nice voice and he sang, “Okay”, getting the audience to sing along.

This is the type of concert where you half expect a rather sober experience.  Or a slightly “stiff” one.  So not the case!  Julie said she thinks she laughed more with these two guys then at the “Just For Laughs” shows she went to!

You do not expect four grown men to run around a piano, plucking the strings, banging the cover against the back, three sets of hands on the keys, slapping the sides like a percussion instrument and such.  I kinda wish I had taped it for you to see..

They brought in four local bagpipers to play “Fight Song”

Did one last “run around the piano piece” and took a final bow.

We were just so happy to have had the chance to see these wonderful performers and I highly recommend that you go if they come to your neck of the woods.  It was an unforgettable experience.

Still talking about the show, we stepped outside of  PdA, into the rain.  Remember, we have twenty blocks or so to walk.  Like two kids, instead of fifty-something broads, we gleefully just started walking, chatting away, laughing at those running – dudes! don’t bother!  We got totally soaked.  It was such a warm rain we didn’t care.  A red light, a bus hut, a quick selfie and we laughed the rest of our way to our cars.  A perfect night with a wonderful friend.  Thanks, Jules!  So glad you are my partner in culture and that Michael doesn’t mind me taking you away from him now and again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstock – Woods and other Stock

I did promise there would be more to come and I do like to keep my promises.

Tuesday’s forecast called for rain but we sure were not going to let that determine what we could or couldn’t do.  We had promised ourselves a hike on one of the many trails in the vicinity and hike we would.  After a hearty frittata breakfast, to The Comeau Property, we went.  A mere hop, step and a jump away from our Airbnb and right in the middle of Woodstock.  Not what one would call a challenging hike but it was a very pleasant walk along the Sawkill Stream.

Arriving at the parking lot, we found a map of the trail, (Did I take a picture?  Of course not!)  So this one was snagged from the website.

©BarkerHudson.com

See that map on the right panel?  Yeah well… I dunno who was behind the design of the thing but it was confusing as all get-out!  And bass-ackwards.  We found the short trail – coz it was right there behind said “Info Centre”.  The trail brought is immediately to the stream which seemed quite low.  Hopping from one rock to another, we found ourselves right in the middle.

As we continued walking along the trail, the rain started, but the canopy of trees protected us.  Besides, it didn’t last long.  Before long, we realised we had gotten off the trail and found ourselves in the middle of a wide empty field.  Or was it?

How cool to see this family of deer racing past.  Thank goodness I had time to switch my zoom lens and capture them!  I know for some it is no big whup to come across deer in mid-day but for us, it was magical.

It’s funny, we kinda forgot we were in the middle of the Catskill Mountains until we turned around.

We returned to the woods and continued our walk, enjoying the quiet.  It is summer season and we were amazed at how few people we encountered.  One was some weirdo chatting away on his cell… You are surrounded by nature and instead of listening to the sounds provided by said nature, you gotta jibber-jabber on the phone?  To each his own.  We were glad when he was no longer in our vicinity.

We ended up back in the parking lot, looked at the map again, tried to figure out just where the second trail started… I did mention it was not exactly clear.  We crossed the street and lo and behold!  There it was!

We walked along the trail, a lovely carpet of dried leaves cushioning our feet, the daylight shining through gaps in the canopy.  We could hear the water nearby and the trail led us to it from this side.  Did I mention how calming and soul-filling these walks can be?

This trail was so much more.  The water flowed stronger and the vista was enchanting.

Of course, I’m a bit of a rebel, so I totally trespassed (with proof I was the only one…)

We drove back “home” in the rain and M decided it would be grand to go for a run.  By the way, there may have been some rumblings of thunder.  Just sayin’.  I, totally NOT a runner, especially not one in a storm, wished him well and stayed back to get ready for the movies.  We had checked the local listing and decided to go for a short drive to see the afternoon viewing of “Oceans 8”, which we both enjoyed, along with a mega bucket of popcorn.

I had seen a video of a certain sandwich on the Facebooks and we decided to try it.  I mean come ON… we already had my fab vodka mix; all we needed was to pick up a few more ingredients so I could make us “Bloody Mary Grilled Cheese”.  We did not have the perfect bread (or a quick dip would have been better) but taste-wise?  Yeah, baby!  I am so doing these again.

The rain had stopped again and we decided to sit outside under the balcony for an early nightcap.  We were blessed once again with a couple of visitors.  Luckily I was able to capture this little guy.

And then this beauty.

This was turning into a fabulous getaway in the presence of most pleasant company, both the four-legged and two-legged kind.

Next up, THE site!

Part one is here, for anyone interested…

 

 

 

 

 

Why Not Woodstock?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, Live the life you’ve always imagined.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Without going into any woe-is-me sob story (which is not my style, anyway), many of you know there have been challenges sent my way over the years.  I don’t think these events changed the way I already thought and acted or reacted, but maybe they just magnified the who that I am.  I can tell you that they gave me the power to not be afraid of:

  1. being alone (not that I want to remain so forever, but if I do, I will survive)
  2. doing things by myself for myself
  3. putting myself out there, either by writing or travelling or whatever opportunity presents itself.

Why have I gone on with this preamble of sorts?  Because I must explain how the hell I ended up in Woodstock, baby!  I cannot honestly say it was ever a destination on my “bucket list” (if I were to have one, that is).  Yes, I adore the music of that time and love the idea that 400,000+ people could gather in the conditions that they were and not turn to violence… you know like rioters do now when their team friggen WINS

Anyway.

Last February, I “met” a blogger on another blogger’s blog (say that ten times quickly 😉 ).  We exchanged miles of comments until it was suggested by moi to chat elsewhere.  Good thing because I am quasi-positive there is some sort of blog etiquette on hogging another’s comments section.

Our exchanges – via text, voice, video chat – occurred almost daily.  We discovered that we had so many things in common and felt we could share pretty much any and everything.  A true friendship was born.  We started joking that it would be great to meet in person.  Little snag was we lived about eight hours apart by car.  Still.  What about meeting half-way?  Great.  We did talk about New York City which would have had a coolness all its own though is not quite an even half-way point but I was willing to do the extra.  Problem was, who in the name of all that is holy wants to go sweat in NYC in July?  Besides, there was nothing available hotel-wise.  So that was that.

Looking at maps, one place than another was suggested until he said:  Why not Woodstock?  A true half-way point for both of us, easy access, lots of places to stay plus the potential of visiting THE musical site of musical sites of all times…

It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.
~ Carl Jung

And so, in May, Woodstock was booked.  Now we had to wait until July 16th.

So. Far. Away.

Till it was here.

We had discussed the official meet-up, who would bring what – I was gonna introduce this Yank to Clamato… welcome him to the Canadian Bloody Caesar (rare are the Canucks who do Bloody Marys).  Not only that, I was making my special “Garden mix” vodka. I warned him I would probably ruin him for future Bloody Marys… He was bringing beer and stuff that comes to mind when one thinks of Woodstock – and what we would do.  We had checked out the surrounding areas and found there were various places to hike so that was definitely on our agenda.  Plus, of course, visiting the venue.

We aimed to meet at the Airbnb for 1 pm on Monday.  Excellent.  We would then go for lunch to break the ice and then do some grocery shopping for some of our meals, eat in on Monday night and then go with the flow and the weather.

Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.
~ Bob Dylan

The morning was perfect.  My bags had all been packed, the booze, the crepe mix, my clothes.  According to Google Maps, if i Ieft by 8:15, I would arrive at my destination for 1.  I left at 7:55.  Got to the border at 8:50 – record time as there was zero traffic, stopped off at Duty Free for a coffee, some water bottles and made my way to the border itself.  One car ahead of me.  The border guy asked where I was going, of course, and wished me a fun time.

Set my cruise control to 118 kph (73 mph) because I am a lead-foot and need to be restrained and off I went.  My first pleasant surprise was when I filled my gas tank.  Down to 1/4 tank, I don’t mess around and stopped as soon as I could.  I forgot that trick of using the three digits in my postal code and adding two zeros because the stupid gas tanks ask for a zip code… so I had to pay inside.  The cashier asks me how much, so I say “fifty bucks”.  She says not to worry, whatever amount I use is all I’ll be charged for…  Cool. Press the lever and it pops at $23.38.  What?  Press again and a few cents’ worth is added.  Holy moly!  Or rather… FUCK!  We pay way too much for gas in Quebec!!  3/4 of a tank would have cost me at least $45…

Continue on and arrive in Woodstock.  GPS tells me to turn into the driveway and I can’t see the address but trust it. It is 12:55 and no one is there.  Not even the owners.  Hmmm…  So I sit on the porch.  It feels like it’s 100 degrees.   I walk around and feel that maybe this isn’t right.  Hmmm… I can’t remember there being a pool in the pics.  I do remember 3 doors on the carriage house but don’t remember the colour.  That should have been my first “Hello? may be at the wrong place?”  Just as I am about to jump into my car and drive a bit further, I get a text.  “I’m here.”  I respond, “Me, too”.  “Huh?”

Dumbass.  I was at the house next door.  Way to make a great first impression, Rogerson.

Drive into the nice and narrow drive where I was supposed to be…

A smile and a nice long hug and a glad we made it, we left my stuff in my car because the house wasn’t ready for us.  Using his car we made our way into town for lunch. Our chatter picked up exactly where it had left off the night before.  We knew it.  The comfort level was exactly what we had expected/hoped it would be.

We chose the Oriole 9 which had a fabulous selection of salads and sandwiches and beers… we were good!  Enjoyed our lunch (I was starving), found a grocery store, picked up some items and back to the carriage house.

The sweet owners, Emy and James, were the perfect hosts, made sure we were well-connected to their smart TV and that we lacked for nothing – then we never saw them again!   We connected to YouTube and focused on everything Woodstock.  How neither one of us thought to do any research before hand is beyond us both.  This turned out to be a good thing.  We were able to absorb everything together.  Cooking supper, enjoying each other’s company, watching videos.  We were good.

And seriously, how ironic was it that we were there from July 16-19 and 49 years earlier, the famous concert of concerts was held August 15-18?

The spell had just begun….

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #63 – Crumble

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.  Thank you Sammi!

Word Prompt

Crumble

Challenge

Life has challenged me
Maybe more than others
I would not know
I have not crumbled
And stand up tall
Square my shoulders
And move forward
I found love once and can again
I am enthusiastic
For what lies ahead
Life must be embraced
No matter how scary
I’d still rather go out there
And take a chance
Than look back and think
Why didn’t I?
How could I know if I don’t go?
So, to Woodstock I drive
And see what the Universe has planned for me

Seeing Things Clearly – What Pegman Saw

Good Monday, my peeps!  Was “oot and aboot” on Friday and Saturday (as you may know if you read my post…) and yesterday was working the crazy Father’s Day supper at the club.  I hurt. Everywhere.  This schlepping of tables and chairs and stuff… As a result, I’m a tad late in participating in this week’s Pegman (having missed the last two!)

Kept things light this week…  Thanks to both Josh and Karen for hosting this weekly special.

This week Pegman takes us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. You’re welcome to Karen’s street view and photo spheres anywhere within its borders to write your story. The Pegman challenge is to write 150 words or less inspired by the prompt.

Once your piece is polished, share it with others using the Linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ work is part of the fun!

©Vera Haber

Seeing Things Clearly

Scuba diving was their thing, their passion.  It was the reason their relationship still held after all these years.  Whenever they had differences, they would suit up and dive in, letting the water wash away any possible resentments, the bubbles from their tanks capturing all negativity and bringing them up to the surface where they would pop and disperse.

Twenty years into their relationship, they had visited countless masses of water, seen unimaginable species of fauna and flora.

“Hey, wanna try Balik Lake in Turkey?  I know we usually go for salt water, but this one is super clear, 70 metres at its deepest and 2250 metres above sea level.  Would definitely be something new.”

“We’re gonna freeze our buns off!”

“Nah, we’ll go in summer – though the option does exist to dive under the ice.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

“Cool, eh?  Funny girl.” He gave her a big kiss. “Let’s go!”