I was 17 years old - bound and determined to make it to this giant festival planned for upstate New York - having been too young to make it to Woodstock and feeling that -this- might turn out to be something similar. The billing was the Allman Brothers, The Band and The Dead - the Allman Brothers were who I wanted to see most but I also had the feeling that Dylan would show up with The Band, being in upstate New York and all. This would be my 2nd Dead show (I think) and I hadn't as yet become as obsessed with them as I am today ;-)

I pleaded with my parents to let me go convincing them that I would be staying with my boyfriend's brother's girlfriend at Cornell. Hah!

I lived near Hartford at the time - the anticipation leading up to actually taking off for NY built up till I was about to explode from excitement. I guess it was a Friday afternoon we headed out, and as -soon- as we were on the highway, we saw people hitching to get there! Hit a major backup going across the Hudson, cars came to a standstill. It was obvious that most (if not all) of the cars sitting there with their engines turned off were headed to Watkins Glen. We got out and strolled around (this is on I-84!), stretched out on the side of the highway for a bit, walked up and down amongst the cars where there was already a great feeling of comaraderie and excitement, and sharing of, well, everything...

We reached Ithaca in the early evening and hung out for a while. My boyfriend's brother was working third shift so we were going to wait for him to get out of work and go together. After sitting around for a few hours, the adrenaline just pushed us out the door and we continued on without him.

I remember how beautiful it is in the FingerLakes region - beautiful countryside.

We drove all these back windy hilly roads into the small town of Watkins Glen. In the middle of the night, we arrived, to find that the town was ALIVE with cars everywhere and hippies with sleeping bags under their arms walking towards the same general direction. We parked along a side street, got our gear into backpacks and started the long trek up the big hill to the raceway. The road going up the hill was filled side-to-side and stretching out as far as you could see with a sea of people walking. It seemed like it was right around the first bend was a guy in a Bozo mask giving out watermelon ;-) 8-} %-*
...and the rest of the weekend is a blur!!!

(not really)...I remember bits and pieces here and there! I remember sitting on the side of the road at one point for what seemed like a few hours watching the crowds passing, hoping, I guess, to see Guntis' brother. I sat there a watched a continuous flood of people walk by me for -hours- without seeing one person I knew. It was incredible.

At dawn we walked towards the concert site. By the time we got there, the fences had already been torn down and it was a free concert. One of the first sights that I saw upon entering were the port-o-sans topped by naked men dancing. We inched our way closer to the stage and sat down with our knees pulled up to our chests. We listened to The Dead from there.

At one point (I guess it must have been during a little shower), I went to a water spigot to get some water while the lines were shorter. Standing there (with a BIG smile on my face), I heard someone call my name! It was Guntis' brother. UnBeLievable! There were 500,000 people there - I never saw another person I knew all weekend long - and we found eachother! His friends had a nice comfy area set up, so we gathered our stuff and joined them. The Dead were playing, the sun was hot, people all around us rose off their blankets or out of their tents and danced, the partying was intense, laughter filled the air...

The sun was beating down as the Band played. Tents and tarps were set up for sun protection but bleary-eyed or wide-eyed people appeared out of their darkness to gyrate to the music. I was aware of a swirl of color and skin around me.

Later in the afternoon the sky opened up and it poured. People started leaving and we had room to set up our big tent. We crawled inside and had a nice warm meal. At that point I crashed. It was cool when I awoke to the sound of "Rambling Man" coming through the canvas. I walked out of the tent to a beautiful starfilled night and walked right down to the stage. We danced to the Allman Bros. until the end of their set and then they were joined on stage by members of the Dead and the Band and jammed a bit more.

It seemed after the music stopped, that we were in some sort of vagabond village. No longer the throngs of people filling up every available space, but now tents set up here and there and campfires with huddled masses around them.

The next morning we awoke to the mudcaked garbage-strewn devastation but had a blast walking around scavaging. We found a grocery cart which we filled with camping equipment, clothing and our stuff. As we walked back down the road to town, we were stopped by a cop for stealing the grocery cart. We talked our way out of being arrested, unloaded the cart and started throwing some of our bootie onto passing trucks asking them to leave the stuff at the bottom of the hill. I'll never forget the looks from some of the locals who ended up in the line of cars going down the hill. They had their windows rolled up and the faces straight ahead. But some were out in their yards with their garden hoses going to offer water. Some sat in lawn chairs to watch the circus go by. At the bottom of the hill we found our gear. Then we found our car on a beautiful tree-lined street in the sleepy town of Watkins Glen and talked a bit with the friendly people who lived there.

So many years ago! What a great memory for me...

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