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 Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year 
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Wanee Mushroom

Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:04 pm
Posts: 50
Post Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
I see lots of posts by Wanee virgins looking for advice. I also plenty of posts from people who get bent out of shape that nobody read the threads before posting questions. I was a first-timer last year and figured I can share my experiences, it might answer some questions you were curious about.

-Bring a friend if you can, but don't let it stop you if you can't. I had never been to a music festival before, mostly go to metal shows or classic-rock concerts. I always wanted to go do something like this, but as we get older most of my good buddies are settling down and can't just leave for four days to go do fun stuff with me. So I decided I was never going to let that stop me from doing things I want to do. Not long after I came to that conclusion I found out about Wanee. I bought myself a ticket and drove up there by myself (I'm from South Florida). I never have problems meeting people, so I figured it would be ok. I did end up camping next to some people who were pretty cool, so we exchanged e-mail addresses and are planning on camping together again this year. It was awesome being by myself. I had no signal on my cell-phone the whole time I was there and it was wonderful. For four days I didn't have to talk to anybody that I didn't want to, didn't even think about work, and didn't have to worry about doing something silly in front of my buddies that will come back to haunt me (we can be pretty vicious with one another). Hands down it was one of the best weekends of my life. However, there were times when it did get kind of boring and it kind of sucked not having a good buddy to experience it all with. Luckily a friend of mine was interested in my re-telling of my experience and he's going with me this year. So although I'm sure it's better with a friend, by all means, make sure you go no matter what. You won't regret it. After one trip I'm hooked and as long as they have it, I'll be there.

-Don't bring too much stuff. It's convenient to have everything you might possibly need, but if you're like me you you'll regret it, because when I go somewhere, the part I hate the most is packing up all my crap before I have to get back on the road for the long drive home. There's a Wal-Mart (among other things) about a 5 minute drive away, and you're able to leave/enter the park as you please. If you need anything you didn't bring, just get it there. It should be obvious, but don't bring ANYTHING you don't want to lose. Somebody at the camp next to mine had a bunch of money stolen from them (which I'll address later). I camped with some pretty cool dudes from Louisiana, but brought EVERYTHING. It was kinda cool having it around, but I know they must have hated loading all that s#%t back up into their truck after a long weekend, and they still had a few more states to drive back through. Before the final Saturday night show, I had everything packed in my truck besides my tent and air mattress. I woke up at the crack of dawn and in 15 minutes I was on the interstate.

-Things you SHOULD bring: A big cooler with LOTS of water; bug spray (they aren't quite as bad as they are here in South FL, but that's like saying AIDS isn't as bad as Cancer); fold-up lawn chairs, which are cool because you can take them inside the gate with you; as little clothing as possible (especially you ladies!) and an extra pair of shoes/flip-flops; bottle of asprin/advil; food that doesn't require any cooking/heating (again, you won't have to load up your grill/appliances/cookware when you leave); car-charger for cell phone (those are easy to forget); battery-powered alarm clock if you're like me and don't want to sleep all day and miss the fun (although with the heat that will be easier said than done); LAST BUT NOT LEAST, it may be gross, but make sure you bring some sort of Wet-Ones (baby-wipes) and gold-bond powder...I found that I didn't take as many showers as planned because there were less option than I expected, and being outdoors in that heat for a few days, the last thing you want to do is start chaffing (some of you bigger folks know what I'm talking about)

-As far as good places to camp goes, I liked the one I had last year and hope to get that area again this year. As you enter into the campground, I think the road veers right (is this River Rd? I'm not sure, but the river wasn't far behind me). Anyway, the road runs directly behind the main stage area. By sheer luck, I ended up camping almost directly across the road from the stage. This was cool because my new friends and I would just sit at the camp, drink beer, and chill. You could hear the bands very clearly, so if we heard one that sounded good, we'd grab our chairs and within five minutes we're sitting on the lawn. Between bands, we'd just walk back to camp and have a few more beers waiting for the next act. The area was pretty chill and there weren't any real late partiers that kept us from sleeping. Plenty of shade too. I can't speak for other camping areas, I don't know anything about them.

-"Party-favors"...you know what I'm talking about. Whether you choose to partake or not (which I neither condone nor condemn), you have got to be careful and plan ahead. Around these boards and others, it seems to be split 50/50 between people who think the places is swarming with cops and you can't do anything and people who think that's a load of crap and if you go to jail then you were probably being an idiot. From what I saw, I agree with the second group. The group I was chilling with, myself included, "partook" the entire time we were there. We weren't being obvious, we weren't being loud, we weren't being stupid, we never got in any trouble. I only saw the cops come through our camp ONE time, and that's because the guys next to me had money stolen from them, which brings me to my next point...if you're going to do anything besides drinking, make sure you bring your own. If you buy from somebody else, it can go one of three ways: he's a cop, he's a Shady McGrady and will rip you off, or it's the real deal and you pay top price. The dudes I was hanging with bought from several people. A Shady McGrady (you know, those losers who make their living going from festival to festival ripping people off) who ended up selling them fake stuff; some guys out on the lawn during the Gov't Mule set who sold fake stuff to them (it was dark, they were already hammered), and a guy who was camping behind us who had the real deal but sold a little bit for a lotta money. I brought everything I had from home, never paid a penny for anything at the festival, and never ran out. It's called planning ahead. The young guys camped next to me (who looked like they were in high school) apparently brought a bunch of extra cash to buy some "stamps" to take back to their stamp-collecting friends. It seems the guy they were dealing with (who looked like Charles Manson but twice as crazy) saw where they kept their money and came back later and stole it. If memory serves, I think it was over a grand. Which leads me to my final point:

-Don't be too careful with people. Yes, there are mostly awesome people there and I don't know if I've ever been around that many laid-back, polite people. I also don't know if I've ever been around so many scumbags in my life either. Honestly, I've never seen so many suspcious-looking, strung-out people in one place before. The Charles Manson guy that stole those kids' money (I think his friend is the one that stole it, but Manson went to jail too) has got to be the most disgusting person I've ever seen. Surely his brain was fried, but he had this hollowed-out look in his eyes and he looked like a shell of a man. He stank like hell and you couldn't understand anything he was saying. He was one of those guys who, if I had children, I wouldn't let him within ten feet of them. Unfortunately, this guy wasn't a one-of-a-kind. I saw a lot like him while I was there. I don't mean this to talk bad about the Wanee crowd (like I said, I love them), I'm just letting you know that there is an element of trashy people there, which is why I say don't bring anything you don't want stolen, and don't trust anybody who wants to offer you some kind of deal for anything. Also, from what I saw, the guys there outnumber the girls by at LEAST 2:1, and that's being conservative. So ladies, just be safe and don't walk around in the woods by yourself at night. I hate to believe that something bad like that can happen at such a chill place with such cool people, but you never can be too safe in this world we live in these days. I'm sure nothing like that has happened there, but you know what they say, nothing ever happens until it happens.

So that's it. Sorry it was a little long, but if you don't like it you didn't have to read this far. Hopefully it might shed a little light on things for you first-timers. I know when I was getting ready to go for the first time, I had a billion questions and had no idea at all what to expect once I got there. Hopefully this will help you be prepared.

Any veterans out there, feel free to add advice or comment on mine. See you all in June, don't miss it!


Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:00 pm Profile
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:25 pm
Posts: 721
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
GreenGrassHighTides wrote:
I see lots of posts by Wanee virgins looking for advice. I also plenty of posts from people who get bent out of shape that nobody read the threads before posting questions.


Good advice all around! And since I started the thread about reading the forum before asking questions, I want to say I wasn't getting bent out of shape ... then or now :D I guess I should use more smilies so people know that I was just trying to be helpful. :D :) 8-) :mrgreen: :D :P I certainly don't want top be responsible for bad vibes! Its just that repeated questions get less and less responses when the answers may only be a few clicks away. I wish we had stickies so we could keep the most common answers at the top of the list.

I'm also understand the whole deal about friends getting too tied down to do things (AKA "No One To Run With Anymore") and needing to venture out on your own. I'm in the same boat most of the time. It is a little odd feeling at first but I have made friends with people I otherwise would not have met if I had been with a group. Not at Wanee though, but at other events. I'm with a large group at Wanee but still adventure off on my own a lot. Best of both worlds!

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:34 pm Profile
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Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:26 am
Posts: 321
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
Excellent info! I'm a first timer and you answered a lot of questions. Thanks again.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:42 pm Profile
Wanee Mushroom

Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:04 pm
Posts: 50
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
kujobie-Hey, I'm glad I was able to help at least one person. If you have any other questions, I might be able answer them from a first-timer's perspective, but I'm sure the vets won't mind answering any questions.

galoot-I'm sorry, I was kind of speaking in generalities there. Typically with any forum/message board based on some event, there's always the board vets who act like forum-nazis when the newbs ask repeat questions, as if it's some huge burden. I don't come here often and just now signed up, so in rare passings I've seen people "correcting" the rookies around here once or twice (didn't even notice who it was) and just kinda speaking about any forum in general. My bad.

And it's funny, when I typed the part about friends settling down, "No One To Run With" never crossed my mind, but I've actually been listening to it a lot lately because I'm starting to feel that way more and more. So, good call!


Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:12 pm Profile
Wanee Pro

Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:26 am
Posts: 321
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
The thing I'm most concerned about is theft. I'm a serious camper, have a lot of nice gear. I'd hate to have to secure everything every time I leave camp, but I'm guessing there'll be more of a dirtball element than there would be if we were just camping somewhere. Maybe I'm just paranoid.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:30 pm Profile
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:25 pm
Posts: 721
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
GreenGrassHighTides wrote:
galoot-I'm sorry, I was kind of speaking in generalities there. Typically with any forum/message board based on some event, there's always the board vets who act like forum-nazis when the newbs ask repeat questions, as if it's some huge burden. I don't come here often and just now signed up, so in rare passings I've seen people "correcting" the rookies around here once or twice (didn't even notice who it was) and just kinda speaking about any forum in general. My bad.


Oh no problem. Its a reminder to me that written words don't show the facial expressions or body language to communicate attitude. I should have expressed myself more carefully to not come off as a heavy.

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:40 pm Profile
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Location: Tallahassee, FL
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
GreenGrass is right when he says don't bring too much. I'll add, don't display too much either. For example, don't leave that fifth of whiskey on the picnic table and wander off. That's just a lure that even honest people may not resist when they are partying. Keep your valuables stored away or even lock them up out of sight in your vehicle when you are gone. As for money, carry only as much cash as you are comfortable toting around. There is an ATM in the campground and others not far away in town so you really don't need to bring large sums. Lock guitars and other musical instruments in the car when you aren't using them, those are very tempting. Don't brag to strangers about ANYTHING you brought, no matter how sweet it is or how secure you think it is.

Most thieves in this situation aren't going to try to steal anything they can't hide on them unless it is just too tempting. But a drunk wookie might take a bicycle for a ride and forget where they got it from so bring locks for that sort of stuff. In general though, its safe if you use common sense.

Oh, and get a lantern and leave it on at night so others can see if somebody is acting suspicious around your campsite.

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:56 pm Profile
Wanee Mushroom

Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:04 pm
Posts: 50
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
cybergaloot, maybe you can help me with a question I have. In my original post I mentioned where I camped last year. I assume you pretty much understand where I'm talking about (it was in the same area where the band played in the campground Thursday night). Well, I'd like to try to camp there again and if I get there at least as early as I did last year (approx 3:00 pm Thursday), i should be able to get the same location again. But this year I'm going with a friend who isn't NEARLY as punctual as I am when it comes to this sort of thing. In the event I get there later than planned, where do you recommend I try to set up camp? I know these things end up being naturally segregated by the different types of people there and I'd like to camp with people who are a little more mature and laid-back, yet still socialize and are friendly. I know most people say to avoid the drum circle like the plague if you want to get any sleep at all. I'll try to steer clear of there but I don't mind being around a late-night crowd. I'm usually a late-night guy myself and if for some reason I turn in early, I'll be able to tune them out. I just want to be around folks I can somewhat trust to leave me and my stuff alone while they party nextdoor. Any suggestions? What have you found in your experiences?


Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:19 pm Profile
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:25 pm
Posts: 721
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
The Electric Campground Jam was right on River Rd right across from the main stage. The plan, I gather, is to move it to the Horse Stable area this year. To get there you go up River Rd and take a left just past the main stage. You'll pass a bathhouse on the right and the stables are just a bit down on the left. That's also roughly the area of the "Helen's Hilton" camping group that I'm in. The jam is on the side of the stables closer to the main stage, the Hilton is on the other side of the stables. I don't know how late the jam runs but certainly not all night like the drum circle.

The River Road has good camp sites but there are a lot of people walking back and forth if you are near the main stage. Further out is nice but ... well, further out!. There are less people walking around in the horse stable area but it is getting popular. Still its a great place to camp. "The Loop" isn't bad and isn't too far from the stages. I wish they'd run a shuttle around the campgrounds to haul people back and forth, then the more remote sites would be more interesting to me. Personally I'd avoid camping around the lake or in the bird sanctuary (drum circle!).

There is a good map in one of the other threads here and a somewhat weird map on the campground's web site.

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:18 pm Profile
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Post Re: Advice for rookies from a guy who was a rookie last year
GreenGrassHIghTides! I hope to meet you there! Thank you for all the sound advice. Common sense and smart thinking sounds like the way to go.
Outlaws rule!


Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:05 am Profile
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