I am finally making this post! People (coughTravisKileycough) have been harassing me to post my photos from Strawberry. Of which there are 92.
I’m sure there are some people reading this who are all “Strawberry? Like.. the fruit? What?”
But no, Strawberry is a music festival held twice a year (Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend) high in the Sierra-Nevada mountains near Yosemite. And no, we were not in cabins coated in hantavirus so please halt your “OMG UR GONNA DIEEE” comments. We were in our own poop-free tents, 40+ miles away from the “outbreak” and I didn’t see one mouse (or bear, for that matter) the entire time.
So anyway! Strawberry. Strawberry is a fanstically magical place. It’s overwhelming in a myriad of ways. People. Music. Activities. All of it overwhelming. The first year I went I was pretty much o_O the entire time. Since then, I’ve gotten used to the chaos of it all and am more acclimated to it and I know what to expect. So I’m not a big ball of tension anymore! Aven, on the other hand, had a hard time the first couple of days with the overstimulation. Her fuse was sooooo super short. A torn paper towel sent her into a meltdown tantrum that lasted 30 minutes. The tiniest thing would set her off to the point where it just got ridiculous. After the umpteenth tantrum we just started to ignore her because doing otherwise would end in me leaving her with a band of gypsies. By the third day (Saturday) she was more herself, which I was soo thankful for. Because seriously, I was about to lose it.
We are campers, but we are the type to camp miles away from civilization and other people. At Strawberry you have to abandon those comforts because you are literally three feet from your neighbors. Or closer, even. There are no hard lines and people camp and park wherever there is space to do so. A five by five blank spot in the woods? Throw down your tent! It’s wonderfully overwhelming and chaotic, as I said. And it’s comfortable in a different way. People are so friendly there. You can leave instruments and stereos and etc. out in the open and walk away for six hours and know your stuff will still be there when you get back. (Even so, I decided not to take my DSLR because I didn’t want to lug it around – heavy! – or risk it getting lost, stolen or damaged. Instead we just used Kyle’s point and shoot Canon).
If your child decides to take off and gets lost in the midst of the 6,000 people that are there, you can rest easy that they will be found and cared for. All of the littles wear yellow wristbands with their names on them in case they’re not old enough (or too shy) to tell someone who they are if they are found without a parent. It’s a great feeling of community! I mean of course there are the few that look irritated and snotty among all the nice people, but they really are few and far between. On our way up to the meadow each day we’d (and by that I mean Kyle) would pull 70+ pounds of Kid in the wagon. The entire way the girls would wave at people and say “Happy Strawberry!” and most would reply with an in-kind remark or wave and smile back. There were a few that would totally ignore them (WHAT? I know right?) and Jovi would go “Oh well, maybe next time!” haha
The days were filled with activities at Birch Lake and the surrounding park area, hanging out a camp and jamming, music on the meadow and making new friends with our neighbors. My grandma Millie (ga ga Millie to the girls) was able to come with us and she had a lot of fun. Dressed up with us, entertained the girls, enjoyed the music, stayed out too late and was so much fun to have there. I hope to have her energy level when I’m her age. (ha, who am I kidding? I don’t even have her energy level at MY age!)
The other day Jovi and were driving home and she started talking about Strawberry and said it was her favorite and she wants to go back. I asked her what her favorite part of Strawberry was and she said, “Grandma Millie!” Aww.
Every season it’s a scramble to get into Camp Mather and find a spot to camp. Hundreds of vehicles are driving around doing the exact same thing, so you have to be quick and decisive. Don’t you dare pass up a spot! On our way in Kyle and I went right on one road and my parents went straight. We found a spot and they found a spot! Ultimately we opted to go to the one they picked (and right when Kyle pulled out of the one we’d picked, someone claimed it within seconds). Their choice turned out to be the ultimate! We were on the end of Coyote Road — camps in front and a blank meadow and forest in back. Absolutely perfect. So we had the feeling of community and neighbors but we also had this beautiful meadow right there to give us a little more of that genuine “camping” feel. And the dirt road through the meadow was a short cut to the lake — bonus! We’d sit in the grassy meadow and play music during the day and a couple times at night. There was a full moon (they said a blue moon) and the moonlight on the tall wheat made it seem like it was glowing – it was amazing! I’m painting quite a picture, right? How about I stop talking and let the actual pictures speak for me?
We were talking about a recent trip they took to Virginia City. I asked if they took any old-timey photos and they said no, that the ones taken at Strawberry were just as good. I agreed. I mean.. all you have to do is wear the right clothes and then change it to sepia and add vignette, right?
OK so my grandma was ready to take a shower and wash her hair. We were getting water heated for her to use in the solar bag but she got all impatient and headed in there fully clothed with the idea of just washing her hair. Which, ok fine, but then she used a handful of Travis’ Axe bodywash and this happened:
SOOOOOO MANY BUBBLES! Hilarious. Travis kept filling up a kettle with water trying to help her rinse it out but the kettle only held like 20 ounces. We were laughing so hard. I love my grandma.
The last day we were there we went to the revival at Birch Lake and then went back to camp to relax a bit. The girls showed us their fairy gardens they’d found in the woods!
Some explanation: My mom started a fairy garden at her house a couple months ago. She built it out in the flower bed in their backyard and made it really cute. Used shells and wood and other natural things to make a little “house” for fairies. She told the girls about it and every day they go check it to see what the fairies have left for them. My mom will take things they’ve left around the house (play keys, hot wheels cars, hair bows, etc) and put them in the fairy garden so when the girls see it, it’s as if the fairies collected their things and built them into their house. It’s funny because they get a little indignant at the fairies for taking their stuff, but they also tend to leave it there in case the fairies need it. Anyway, so at Strawberry my mom took the girls for a walk one day and Aven found three fairy gardens all by herself. Over the next couple of days my parents would take stuff out of our camp and put them in the gardens. The last day we were there we all went out with the girls so they could show us the gardens, and they found their stuff hidden away. Super cute :)
On the way home we went over Tioga Pass through Yosemite. We stopped at a lookout toward Half Dome.
We stopped in Carson City on the way home and shopped a bit at Trader Joe’s, then headed home. Next year we will take the day after off as well — we were soooo exhausted from the long weekend and it was torture going back to work so quickly. It’s such a fun festival though. Very family-friendly and organized well. We’ll be back next year!