this post got pretty long, so i’m putting the audio file at the beggining of the post, so you can have some reading music if you choose
a bit over a week ago Edgar and Scolnic told me about a Sufjan Stevens concert they’d heard about. The awesome thing about this concert is that it’s free, you just have to show up in person to pick up tickets. The catch is that the concert….and the ticket giveaway are in Washington, D.C. Luckily enough for us, we’ve got January off from classes, and are totally ready for road trip adventure. So with this knowledge, we planned to head off to D.C.
Pretty much nothing. We knew we’d drive down to D.C., we knew we’d do it on Friday, and we knew it would be in Scolly’s van. Aside from that I don’t think, Edgar, Scolly, or I thought to prepare in any way. Scolly though I think deserves some credit. He mentioned the trip to his mom, and a couple days later a huge L.L. Bean package arrived for him with plenty of thermal clothing. Also his sister happens to live in D.C.
the drive down
my cell phone, freshly charged
my iPod nano, freshly charged
my camera, freshley charged
We decided to leave for D.C. around 2:30pm or whenever Edgar got back from class on Friday. Scolly had his thermal gear ready to go by then, and after finishing my viewing of Battle Royale, I quickly gathered the following:
as they were yelling at me that we were leaving i quickly shoved my columbia parka, a sweater, a beanie, my choppers, and two extra pairs of socks into my backpack.
I ran down the stairs to meet up with Scolly and Edgar in the parking lot.
problem #1 – 3:00pm
The van won’t start. None of us had thought to try starting the car in the past five days. After a short while the best guess is that the battery is dead. Scolly calls tripleA and the car gets jumped. While the car is being jumped we decide it might be good to have some blankets, I grab one and Pope’s sleeping back and my pillow. We are now set for takeoff.
We get about two blocks away and there’s something’s wrong. Edgar’s wallet is missing. This problem sucks in general, but is worsened by the fact that he has to fly out to a job interview on Sunday. Airport security doesn’t like this, the company also wants to see his license. The three of us rifle through the cars we moved in the parking lot, and then progress to searching the house, no luck. The search expands as we drive over to campus and check everywhere it might be, classroom, student center, LaVerde’s, MIT police, no luck. We head back to the house, Edgar makes a phone call and we eventually decide to head out.
So we managed to hit the road. A bit late, but timing isn’t totally crucial, we’ll just end up in D.C. in the middle of the night, that works for us. The first leg of the trip gets us to Scolly’s house in Connnecticut, where we stop off for a short while. His mom is kind enough to feed us dinner, and stock us up with some food for the rest of the trip, as well as helping out with directions. Scolly’s sister provides us with directions to her apartment and to the Kennedy Center, where the concert is. Combined with Scolly’s GPS unit, we’ve got the rest of this trip on lock.
We left Scolly’s house without his jacket. His jacket containing, his wallet, and cell phone. Luckily we were only ten or so miles away. A quick trip back to retrieve said jacket and we’re off again.
The rest of the trip isn’t too eventful. We all take our turns driving, but for the most part I’ve got the back seat, and I end up falling asleep for the last couple hours of the drive. Edgar yells at me as we pull into D.C. around 3am and I wake up to the Washington monument. Not a bad first sight for your first trip to the Capitol. My first impression of the city was surprise, at how clean it was, and how spread out everything was. I wouldn’t really have expected this from a larger city. We get to the apartment without to much trouble and we’re actually shocked at how “in the middle” of everything it is. We even happened to drive by the Kennedy Center while looking for parking. We park the car and go drop our stuff off at the apartment before moving on to stake out the line.
the camp out
We took the short walk over to the Kennedy Center (the walk really was only like 2 blocks). We were expecting to be some of the first to arrive in line and we were still kind of in awe of the landmarks surrounding us, so we took the time to get some pictures of the Watergate hotel, which happened to be across the street from the Kennedy Center. While we were taking pictures we saw some fellow Sufjan fans walking and decided to tag along with them to the line since we weren’t quite sure where it was. We reached the Hall of Nations and were really pretty surprised to find a couple hundred people already in line, tents and all.
It tooks us a few minutes to walk to the end of the and I took my seat. It wasn’t too cold to begin with, but Scolly and Edgar took the initiative to go fetch the blankets and sleeping bags right away, while I held our spot.
Entry into the line – 3:30am
Edgar and Scolly got back to the line around 4:15-4:30ish carrying with them blankets, a sleeping bag, some food, and the cushion from a papasan chair. We sat around for a while, watching a few people every now and then, before falling asleep. When I fell asleep around 5am, the best estimate was that we were about the 400th people in line and there probably weren’t more than fifty people behind me for the 1100 or so pairs of tickets. For some reason I woke up around 7am. After adapting to the horribly cold feeling that comes from sleeping outside on concrete, I realized more people had showed up behind us in line, a lot more people. I’m not sure what the actual count was, but by the time tickets were handed out there were probably a good 1500 people behind us.
I sat around wrapped in my sleeping bag for the last couple hours of the wait because I didn’t really have much else to do. A few things I overheard during the wait include, but aren’t limited to:
the girl next to me’s entire dating history
the girl next to her’s entire dating history, as well as her plans for the next 3 years and that she does think her boyfriend is going to propose to her
a marathon of the complete discography of They Might Be Giants
endless estimates of the number of people in line ahead of us, and…
a group sing-along of the Beatles’ “Back In the USSR”
8:20am- the Kennedy center staff told everybody to get their stuff packed up. Within minutes the tents went down, the sleeping bags were rolled up and the line started to compact. This is when everyone started to get pretty excited, and maybe the people towards the end started to get a bit worried, and maybe give up. I must comment though, that the Kennedy Center staff was very well organized, and did a very good job of keeping everybody organized, as well as informing everybody of the flow of their line and their position in the line. That definitely helped to avoid any serious conflict over places in the line. People start bustin’ out the hacky sacks again to pass the last bit of time.
8:45am- some fool high school kids try to cut the line maybe a hundred people in front of us. At this point the crowd really wasn’t having this, and these foolish boys got booed all the way back to the line. Try again next time.
9:08am- we finally turn the corner to the front of the Hall of Nations, we can almost see the door.
9:20ish- Mission Accomplished, we’re handed our tickets, and our trip is, as well as our night out in the cold, are validated.
Once we got the tickets, all the energy we thought we had quickly disappeared, the feelings of hunger and tiredness were quick to emerge. Our idea of staying for a while and seeing some of the monuments and whatnot quickly went out the window, and we grabbed food at the first place we could see. I didn’t realize until we got food that we were right in the middle of GW’s campus as well, and I thought it was pretty nice. After food we were quick to back up our stuff and get started on the long drive to boston, alternating turns driving, sleeping, and navigating.
The return trip was a much more tired and quiet experience, though i did learn a bit about new jersey on the way through. In New Jersey every rest stop is named after some famous historical figure of some significance to the state, which was interesting to learn at each rest stop. Each rest stop also has a burger king with the most expensive burgers i’ve recall ever seeing at a BK, and in new jersey by law you have to get your gasoline full service. Why New Jersey decided that is was necessary in their state and not the other 49, I’m really not sure. Anyways, the trip worked out fairly well. It was definitely a worthwhile adventure, that should tide us over for a while to come, or at least until the return trip for the concert on feb. 5th.
Thanks to Edgar for not reading.
tickets hit ebay pretty quickly and currently are ranging from a low of $75 to a high of about $104 for a single ticket with about 4 days left on the auctions. craigslist has tickets going for $300/pair.