Just got back from Fiddler’s Green today. Joanna and I made an excellent escape from the Stanford bubble late last Wednesday. We got most of our work for the week done, and ditched the rest of the week prior to finals to go to the Strawberry music festival in Yosemite. You might think that the week before finals is a ridiculous time to take a five day trip; and you might be right. At the same time, I’m not sure that many people know how to drop everything and have fun like I do. So there.
The remainder of my blogging here is half journal entry, half advertisement. We think going to Strawberry in spring of 2006 would be a great trip for a group of 10ish friends, if anyone could be convinced to go. I think the backup plan is to make new friends 😛 . For those not in the know, Strawberry is a four day bluegrass festival at camp Mather, which is technically not part of Yosemite, but it is so close that it should be and only isn’t because the city of San Francisco swindled whatever agency is in charge of creating national parks. Now you might think, “Bluegrass music sucks => Strawberry sucks”. I don’t like Bluegrass. It’s got too many banjos and hick themes going on for my liking. There were one or two bands that were good enough to transcend their genre (“King Wilkie” kicked ass, for example), but there was also a lot of crappy bluegrass. To completely purge myself of the memory of irritating banjo twangs, I came home and put on some Rachmaninoff (which I believe is in all ways the opposite of generic bluegrass music). But the reality is that there are other great things to do at Strawberry that don’t involve listening to bluegrass, so whenever it got bad, we would just wander off and do something else. At the same time, there were some really good bands there too. My favorite was Old Blind Dogs, and really awesome Scottish band. They played for two hours in the blistering sun and were so good that people were dancing for all that time despite the heat. King Wilkie’s rendition of “Damn Yankee Lad” was awesome enough to merit the band a #2 ranking of all the bands we heard, at least in the opinion of this damn yankee lad.
Some of the other things we did while there… Jo went to the “Jamming 101″ class taught in the morning for people who wanted to learn how to improvise in the group playing sessions that occur at Strawberry all night after the last band for the day has finished on the main stage. I mainly sat and watched, because I have no musical talent. Despite that, however, it is my ambition to learn to play the fiddle this summer. We will see where that goes. We spent a good amount of time hanging out at Birch Lake. We lounged in the sun. I read Michio Kaku’s “Einstein’s Cosmos”, which is was a good enough read that I intend to follow it up this summer with a more in depth study of cosmology. If anyone wants to borrow it from me they are welcome. I also read Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman: Dreamhunters”, which is an artful retelling of a Japanese, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano (who probably none of you know, though you might recognize his artwork from the Final Fantasy VI instruction booklet). I might also lend this, but you would have to ask very nicely. Another fun thing that we did was to hike around the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Hetch Hetchy used to be a second Yosemite Valley until President Wilson signed the Raker Act in 1913, authorizing it to be flooded to create a reservoir for San Francisco. We investigated the dam and took a very interesting walk along a trail that winds around the side of the reservoir, up the side of this granite cliff. Along the way we found a very cool waterfall that created a number of pools on the side of this mountain that one could go swimming in. We hiked until we reached a spot were the path became a waterfall since neither of us had the right shoes for that kind of hike and we didn’t want to get Omar wet. Next time I go to Yosemite it is my ambition to hike that part of the trail because I think it would be an incredible experience (hiking up a trail/waterfall – I’ve never seen anything like it).
Sales pitch aside, Strawberry was a really cool experience. Where else can you go that it is socially acceptable to not shower for four days? har har.
Below are a bunch of pictures that I took. If you are on a modem and these choke up your connection, you might need to turn your computer upside down and shake it to reboot.
Jo’s never been so happy to be anywhere
Jo at “Jamming 101″
Old Blind Dogs Rockin’ Out
Jo with the Fairy Dancer and his key fiddle
Hetch Hetchy: Yosemite’s lost jewel
Omar taking in some sun at Hetch Hetchy
Me and my turtle friends
Really cool long exposure photo I took
Jo, working on her rocket engine while everyone else has fun
The finishing act
Here is a link to a larger version of my long exposure shot, which I really like and I think sums up the feel of the Strawberry experience rather well.