Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vacation - Part 1: Embarkation

I went on a vacation!! Shane and I got home over two weeks ago, but I've been too busy to write. I'll tell you why later. First: Let me tell you about our fantastic trip!

On the last Thursday in August, we left work and went straight to the rental company to pick up our vacation car. Then we headed to the First Niagara Pavilion west of town for a Mumford & Sons concert. This was an awesome opportunity for our whole house. Our unofficial house theme song is "Little Lion Man". (Warning: Contains mild swearing.)

I had read online that we could expect heavy traffic, but I had no idea it could be so very bad. Shane and I parked a good distance (maybe half a mile?) from the stage. The "parking lot" was the grassy area surrounding the remote facility. We saw tons of people tailgating. I wondered if they all had tickets, or if some planned to listen from their cars. On our walk to the entrance, we stopped to use port-a-potties in the parking lot. At first, I thought it was odd to need bathroom facilities in a parking lot. Having used one, I now think they need to acquire more.

"Hi. I'd like to report your bathrooms..."

When we got to the entrance we had to pass a security check. We were not carrying bags, so the process only took five or ten minutes. Inside, it was like an amusement park with no rides; only food stands. I must say, I have never seen so many people in one place in my life. I mean that absolutely literally. I have never been surrounded by such a dense throng. There were lots of different sorts of people there too. I expected mostly millennials/hipsters, but I believe I saw folks of every age and walk of life in the crowd.

We were worried about being late, having arrived a full hour after the start time printed on our tickets. Thankfully, there was still an opening act on stage when we sat down. They played for nearly another hour which gave our housemates plenty of time to join us too.

For 2/3 the price, you can purchase a ticket for lawn seating: a fend-for-yourself situation on the grassy patch of hill behind the covered seats. We sprang for assigned seats. It was the right choice. Our view was spectacular! (Though not good enough for share-worthy photos of the band.) A friend warned me that we'd be standing for the whole concert if we wanted to see. She was right, but that was OK with me. I wanted to jump and dance most of the time anyway!

Mumford & Sons themselves seemed intimidated by the size of the crowd. One of them even told us this was the biggest audience they had ever played for! The concert was fun and polished, but I was not blown away. That's pretty much what I expected. I guess I've been spoiled by all the intimate concerts I've been to. The best part of the performance was the encore. They were joined by the two opening bands to cover The Beatles' "Come Together".

We all took the next day off work; which is good because traffic was awful leaving too. Thankfully, we'd planned ahead and brought sandwiches. Regretfully, we sent Shane from Kate's car to the rental car to bring back beverages he'd picked up. The girls couldn't even find room in the official parking when they arrived, and were instead directed to an overflow area outside a closed restaurant on the opposite end of the lot. I think it took Shane an hour to walk there and back again. He might have been faster, but he stopped on the way back to direct traffic at a jammed intersection. What a guy!

Shane and I were one of the last cars to leave at around midnight. Most of the traffic had dissipated, but we still ran into clusters of unusually thick cars on the way back to the city. I was grateful Shane was driving because I found it hard to keep my eyes open. He had to make an emergency Red Bull stop himself. I guess we're getting too old to stay out so late.

If I were to have a do-over, I would take two days off work. That way I could arrive super early and park near the lot exit. In the future, I plan to do one better and avoid that venue entirely. Still, it was worth it just this once.