For the flower children of the ’60s, there was Woodstock.
For the techno two-steppers of the ’90s, there were warehouse raves.
For today’s young bohemians, there is The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, an annual two-weekend three-day spectacle in the California desert a few kilometres outside of Palm Springs.
Making it to Coachella is a goal my friends and I have shared since graduating university two years ago. Getting our hands on five tickets to this year’s sold-out event was hard, to say the least. But getting there? That was a trip all on its own.
Our home-on-the-road was courtesy of Wicked Campers, an Australia-based rental company that also caters to adventurous millennials in North America. Our ride was a 1999 Chevrolet Astro van with spray-painted Adventure Time characters scribbled all over it, and a pop-up roof-top tent, which slept all five of us. The combination definitely made us the talk of most campsites.
It took us seven days, 2,259 km, and a handful of memorable pit stops to arrive in Indio, Calif., for the festival. Here are few of our most memorable mile markers:
When one thinks of coastal Oregon, an Arabian-like desert isn’t typically what comes to mind. But strapped to the back of a dune buggy with a bandana tied tight around my face, the surroundings reminded me more of Egypt than America.
The central Oregon coast is home to some of the world’s largest and most beautiful sand dunes. Glistening hills and valleys of sand stretched out for kilometres in front us. The best way to see these natural wonders is on the back of a dune buggy. There are dozens of tour operators off of Hwy. 101 near Florence. We opted for Sandland Tours and definitely left impressed.
California may be famous for its golden coast, but it’s the towering redwoods that really cause jaws to drop. We took the “Avenue of the Giants” scenic detour — the old Hwy. 101 — for a chance to see the enormous timber trunks up close. For an hour-and-a-half the narrow two-lane passageway weaves through the colossal redwoods. To get a sense just how big these trees are, pull over and try to wrap your arms around one. Don’t forget to take a photo.
The heart of hippie culture, this is a city that marches to the beat of its own drum. Like many girls, we opted to spend our day shopping.
We took the streetcar to historic Chinatown, where red paper-lanterns line the road, to explore shops filled with gold-plated china, strange herbs and dainty jewelry. We spent the afternoon hanging out at the corner of Haight and Ashbury — California’s psychedelic hub. Bouncing from boutique to boutique we all picked up a few cool festival outfits.
After sunset it was time to hit the town. The best way to celebrate one night in sweet San Fran? Dancing until the wee hours in The Castro, San Francisco’s famous gay district.
Cruising down the California coast, the five us had only one goal: Spend at least one night camping under the stars on the beach. And boy did we hit the jackpot when we took the last available site at the Kirk Creek campground.
Located right off Hwy. 1 between Big Sur and Lucia, the campground sits on top of a 30-metre cliff looking out over the Pacific Ocean. We rolled up around 4 p.m. and spent the late afternoon hanging out below the bluff on a rock beach before hiking back up to our camp-site to catch the sunset and later moonrise.
Alex Weber, left, Amanda Laboni, Loren Romei, Emily Milne and Kate Tittel strike a pose on California's scenic Mendocino coast. ALEX WEBER PHOTO
There’s no cell phone signal there and the closest town is a 15-minute drive away, making it feel like you’re truly in the middle of nowhere. But the raw natural beauty is breathtaking and there’s nothing like falling asleep to the sound of the ocean tide.
The last stop before Coachella was Venice Beach. Wandering the boardwalk in this groovy seaside town is a must. The shops are packed with cheap, cool accessories and souvenirs. We all bought flower crowns for the festival.
There are also plenty of fun activities to keep you occupied as you make your way down the strip. Not bold enough to get real tattoos, we decided to have some fun with henna.
If you have the time, walk the boardwalk north until you hit the Santa Monica pier. The two towns are right beside each other and both make for excellent people watching.
NEED TO KNOW
— Next year’s Coachella takes place April 10-12 and 17-19. See coachella.com.
— For more on this California Girls’ trip, see theviberantlife.com.