Before we started our adventure, we were fortunate to attend an RV-Dreams rally. Now, the purpose of the rally, put on by Howard and Linda Payne, was to teach and inspire those exploring RV lifestyle; it’s a several day rally combined with educational seminars and social activities. But for us, and many who attended that rally, it was more. It was a foundation. Not just an educational foundation, because it was that, but it was a social foundation. This social foundation has been awesome as it’s created a network of friends that we continue to connect with as we travel across the country. As a matter of fact, our last stop when we connected with Lee/Trace and Steve/Debbie, they were folks we met at that rally.
With that being said, one of the things that we hear often as we travel is that some people find this lifestyle a little lonely, to which we always respond with “find your tribe.” There are many ways to find that tribe, such as
Finding a social event like a rally or convergence (there are a lot of different ones out there!!)
Hunkering down at a RV park (or Quartszite) for the winter months where there are a lot of social activities/opportunities, and lots of people staying put in one location for several months;
Snagging a workamping/volunteer gig, where you stay in a location for several months but get to meet lots of people
Networking with social networks--like RVillage.com and RV related facebook groups—Another great way to connect with other RV’ers.
There are a ton of different groups out there and with today’s technology, it’s a lot easier to find various groups, activities….and your tribe.
We belong to a couple of different RV organizations and follow some RV facebook groups and utilize RVillage to “check in“ to parks when we arrive. And throughout our travels, we have expanded our tribe. But, it was a posting on the Xscapers Facebook group about a year ago that set the stage for our next stop. (Xscapers, is an offshoot of the Escapees organization, and is geared for those who are still working while on the road. While there are no age restrictions, the group typically attracts a little bit younger--non-retired--crowd.) The post was about a convergence that the group was planning to do at Coachella in 2017….anyone interested?
Hmmm….that sounded like fun and so we started making plans to attend. Yes, we started planning this about a year ago because, well getting to tickets to Coachella isn’t easy. The day tickets went on sale; I was traveling which left our ticket fate to one computer and Greg. It was a lot of pressure, but he’s not one to disappoint and was able to secure two tickets. Whew!! As a backup, there was another round of tickets in early 2017, but since we typically route plan well in advance, that wouldn’t have been an option. So with tickets on order, part of our route for 2017 was determined!!
Not soon after the announcement of the Coachella Convergence, Xscapers announced a pre-convergence at Joshua Tree, so we signed up for that as well. So, by mid 2016, we had two events on our calendar for 2017, which was nice to have a couple of pins on the map to get our route started.
So, that was a (long explanation of the) history of our next stop.
The Joshua Tree Convergence was boondocking on BLM land, right outside the National Park and it started on a Friday, wrapping up on Wednesday.
This was our boondocking site!! Can't beat the price!! (free)
The convergence structure is laid back with limited planned activities and those things that are planned are usually later in the day or on the weekends. There were a couple of informational sessions on working on the road and boondocking and a variety of social activities including happy hours, a hike, movie night, happy hours and of course, a potluck. Oh, did I mention there were happy hours?
One of the things that I always find fascinating is how those not retired, find a way to fund their dream and we spent one session with everyone talking about that.
The Intro Circle
The Convergence probably had a around 50 people in attendance...some stayed the whole time, some the weekend, and some just hit the last few days!!
While tech related jobs definitely seem to be the most popular jobs for nomads, there were some other dream revenue generation professions including one of the most unique jobs we’ve heard of since we’ve been on the road—a video game music composer! Cool! There was also a professor of architecture in attendance who was on sabbatical from Penn State doing research on the nomadic lifestyle, which was pretty fascinating as well.
We also had some down time to check out and explore Joshua Tree National Park, which is a pretty expansive park encompassing almost 800,000 acres. Our boondocking spot was by the south entrance but a lot of the prettier views and attractions were closer to the north entrance. So, each time we drove to the north side it would take about an hour….but hey, first world problems!
Joshua Tree has a really unique landscape and includes parts of two deserts, each has an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation--the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert, which is closer to the south entrance. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park. There are nine campgrounds throughout the expansive park.
The south entrance to Joshua Tree
The Cholla Cactus Garden
Think this is the California Fan Palm...
And what's Joshua Tree National Park without some Joshua Trees!
And a Joshua Tree doing a backbend!
Some cool mini palms!!
We were lucky to catch some of the wildflowers in bloom!!
Keys View....you could see for miles and miles and miles!!
On clear days, you can see all the way to the Salton Sea!!
Some of the unique rock formations in the park.
Overall, the park was really interesting and the convergence was a lot of fun and another great way to meet some like-minded people. There was such an eclectic group of people in attendance, varying in ages and interests, but all had at least one thing in common and no doubt, we will meet up with some of those we met at the convergence again….down the road!!
Immediately after the Joshua Tree convergence ended, the Coachella Convergence started!! We moved to the Emerald Desert RV Park, around 30 miles down the road, which would be our home base for our Coachella experience. The group dwindled significantly as there were only seven of us that made the move—but regardless of size, a fun group. The RV park had a shuttle service (for an extra fee, of course) available for the festival attendees so we didn’t have to worry about getting to and from the event. Well worth it.
The Coachella Xscapers!
Dave, Harold, Tracy, us and Melanie and Travis!!
So the event. Well, it was a three day festival with over 150 bands playing on seven stages. It’s obvious that they’ve been at this for awhile, because overall they put on a really fantastic event.
One of the seven stages! And with all that music going on,
you could really only hear what was on the stage you were at!!
Because we were being bussed in, we had to go through two rounds of security and for the most part the security process was pretty painless. Of course, we were about twice the age of the average attendee, so that could have had something to do with why they did a casual look at our bags versus an in depth search.
Waiting in line....people looking for creative hiding spots!!
And in case you made it through security with your gun, knife, drugs, etc.
and had second thoughts, you could always just leave it in the Amnesty Box.
On day one, we made a rookie mistake and took the first shuttle—the 11:00 am—to the festival. What that meant is that it was a long day.
First thing we see as we enter the grounds--a pie eating contest of course!!
It also meant we called it an early night, catching the 10:00 bus back, missing Radio Head, who didn’t come on until 11:00. It was a marathon, not a sprint, so we played it smart (and we're old!). Overall, Friday we really got the lay of the land, ate some really expensive, but good, pizza (and other food), hung out at the beer garden and listened to a few bands. Oh, and have to say the people watching was pretty phenomenal.
So there were a lot of fashion statements at Coachella.
A crocheted romper was not one of them...at least I hope not!!
The beer garden!
And while the crowds varied in sizes depending where you were,
there was never much of a wait for anything--including the bathrooms!!
Some of the cool art on the festival grounds!
Some more of the cool art...
And some more...?
Of course every festival has to have a unicorn!
Day two, we were a little smarter, catching the 3:00 shuttle in. Lady Gaga was the headliner, and we weren’t going to miss that!! So, same routine coming in, two rounds of security and then we were in.
Yea, we're happy because we know our stuff isn't going to get rifled through too much!!
First stop ID tent, which meant getting our wristbands so we could hit the beer tent. And, then, somewhere between the ID tent and the beer tent, it happened. Greg lost his cell phone. Not sure how it happened (he has since labeled the pants he was wearing as “cursed”) but after unsuccessfully retracing his steps, we hit the beer and food area before catching a few bands, realizing the phone was probably lost forever.
After some music and exploring, we made our way to Lost and Found to see, if by chance, someone turned in Greg’s phone. We stood in line for about a half an hour, finally making our way to the front of the line. It appeared that the Lost and Found had more phones than a Verizon store (but the wait was just as long as line as a Verizon store), but unfortunately none of them were Greg’s. Seems on Friday night, someone hit a couple of the music tents and stole around 100 phones and with the beauty of the “find my phone” app, a couple of people whose phones were stolen not only located their phones, but located the thief who took their phone!! So, Lost and Found was extra busy because of that.
Someone isn't too happy in this pic!!
With no luck at the Lost and Found tent, it was about time to get ready to position ourselves for Gaga, so we met back up with our Xscapers crew and worked our way to a good location by the main stage, just behind the VIP section. Luckily our crew was pretty seasoned at navigating a large crowd and we got a great spot for the show. Also, throughout the night, I kept dialing Greg’s number and while we were waiting for the Gaga show to start, I dialed it again (for the 14th time), but 14 must have been the magic number, because someone turned it in and Lost and Found answered it. Yay!!
Gaga was awesome and thinking it was a fairly tame show for her. There were no meat outfits and she didn’t fly through the sky; just overall great music. Our friend Dave (who is extra tall was able to capture a cool video from the Gaga show.
Hard to tell, but that really is Lady Gaga on stage!!
Yes, that is Katy Perry...she was in the VIP section in front of us at Gaga;
our friend Harold captured this shot
After the show, we swung by Lost and Found, picked up the phone, and hopped on our bus back to the campground. Made it back by around 2:30'ish.
Sunday, which was Easter, was pretty much a repeat of the previous two days. Bus over to the venue, get searched a couple of times, get our drinking wristbands, hit the beer garden, eat some pizza, have a beer or two and hit some shows and then grab the bus back.
Nothing says Easter dinner like Spicy Pie....or Pizza as us north easterners call it!!
Pizza was seven bucks a slice, but at least for that price, it was really good pizza!!
We also did a little more exploring on Sunday, bought a couple of t-shirts and rode the Coachella Ferris Wheel, which was cool to see the venue from a different perspective. We wrapped it up a little earlier, catching the 11:00 shuttle back back as we didn’t have an interest in seeing Sunday’s headliner—Kendrick Lamar.
The famous Ferris Wheel....which is the largest transportable ferris wheel in the US!
Getting our ferris wheel on!!
The wheel at dusk!!
And the wheel and grounds in the dark!
So, is Coachella worth all the hype? Well, we’re glad we went and it was definitely an experience. Our favorite artists/shows were Gaga (obviously), Lorde, and Bastille. We got to see some bands that we normally wouldn’t have gone to see, hang with a fun group of people and eat some expensively good pizza.
Logistically, the festival is one well-oiled machine. The attendance was over 100,000 people for each weekend and they manage to keep thing flowing very effectively. From the shuttle drop offs, to tent parking area, to security, to the food options, to the various well spaced out stages, everything was well executed (which after seeing the nightmares of the Fyre Festival, the Coachella folks definitely have figured out how to do it right).
And you think you're close to your neighbors at the typical private RV park!!
This was the "camping" section, which was part of the grounds, but outside the festival.
Brings new meaning to parking lot camping!!
One of the things that was a little odd for us is that living life in a little more non traditional way, is that we sort of feel like we plugged ourselves back into things. We don’t pay much attention to fashion and there were some very unique fashion statements overall (the crocheted rompers are just the tip of the iceberg!!), which was part of the experience. We didn’t realize that bras were actually something that are now considered a shirt or top. It was nice, however, to see (in most cases) that it was perfectly acceptable for men to walk around shirtless. Selfies and people making movies of themselves or their friends was constant and people were obsessed with it; you couldn't escape it. And it seems that when people take lots of selfies and videos, they become oblivious to their surroundings. I’m sure if we had kids that we may be more tuned into these things, but overall it was just a little surreal being part of something so big.
Would we go again? Well, it would definitely depend on who was headlining and honestly, there’s a lot of other places and events that we want to see, so chances are, it was probably a one time event for us. But hey, it was an incredible experience and on top of that, both events were a great opportunity to expand our tribe!!