Coachella 2015 – Day 1 – Getting to car camping and setting up

Our Coachella 2015 weekend started on Thursday due to us car camping, so the first step was to meet with the rest of our group and try to get everyone lined up together. The original plan was to just go by ourselves and simply meet up with our friends wherever their camp was. The logic for this was because we knew they would be partying pretty hard and since we’d never been before, we didn’t want to kill ourselves and not be able to enjoy the show.

What actually happened was we ended up smack dab in the middle of the 15-car caravan! Here’s a video of how NOT to park in the camping spots. To be fair, we had intended for our group to be back to back so we can maximize our camping space, but when you don’t follow directions, chaos ensues.

Let’s back up to where we needed to meet up with our group. Christina and I were concerned from the get-go that some of these friends were going to be ill-prepared and things were going to fall apart, but we stayed optimistic. And we knew that when dealing with 28 or so people, it wouldn’t go perfectly, but…

Grocery store meetup

We were instructed to meet the group at the local Ralphs store on the corner of Jefferson and Avenue 52 (less than a mile from the Polo Grounds) around 11:00am. We got there at 10:45am and was told that the rest of our group would be late about 30 minutes. We decided to go in the store and see if there was anything else we needed. It turns out that this store is where EVERYONE meets before driving into Coachella.

At some point, our group started trickling into the store to buy stuff. The first red flag was that nobody else was as prepared as we were! They were only just now picking up food, ice, drinks, etc. While Christina and I were well prepared weeks before, these people were running around desperately trying to stock up on things; things that were now running low because of all the other last minute shoppers. The second red flag popped up in the parking lot. Now that everyone had what they needed, there wasn’t much room to load it all. We spent the next hour or so moving and shifting things (and people) around from one car to the next to get everything to fit.

Just before we were about to leave, one of the girls in the group gave everyone a piece of cardboard with a number so we can mark our cars for the parking attendants. This was actually a really good idea and paid off in the end. Now we just had to get 15 cars out of a full parking lot mixed with Coachella-goers and regular shoppers! COACHELLA TIP #1: Be prepared in advance. Don’t get stuck having to fight the crowds at the grocery store just moments before you’re heading in.

Security Line

Coachella 2015 car camping lineIn order to get into the car camping area, every car was subjected to a full search. Leading up to this weekend, I had been reading one horror story after another regarding this search. Some people claimed they were simply waved through while others talked about door panels being pulled apart and full body searches being performed. Of course, we had nothing illegal to hide, but the thought of having to go through this was maddening only because we barely got everything to fit in Christina’s car and we would have hated to try and put everything back together.

The other concern was simply a matter of waiting…if they were ripping cars apart, we thought the line was going to take 6 hours to get through. Fortunately, the first part of the line went smoothly and our search was more or less over in about 45 seconds. Their major concerns were obvious items you couldn’t bring (weapons, drugs, liquor & glass) and whether or not we had metal tent stakes. The only thing we actually sneaked in was a plastic bottle of Fireball®. COACHELLA TIP #2: If you’re hiding stuff, don’t act like it. Be chill and don’t go in looking (or sounding) like a douchebag and security won’t bother you much. Regardless, be prepared to lose it. And for the record, we saw no cars getting door panels ripped off, but we did see a few cars that had to pull out everything and lay it out on the grass.

After moving through security, we got to another checkpoint where they scanned all of our wristbands and the car camping pass. We told these people that we had a 15 car caravan and they wrote a little ‘W’ on the windshield that was to direct us to a waiting area where we could all line up. While in line for this process, it turned out that someone’s truck ran out of gas right up front where about 4 lanes of cars were merging to 1!! He was blocking off the entire opening and only after about 6 guys got out to help, did he finally get out of the way. This didn’t sit well with anyone as you can imagine. COACHELLA TIP #3: Don’t drive to Coachella with a questionable car and always fill your gas tank!! There are plenty of gas stations in the area that you can use before you get stuck in the long lines to get in.

Once we got in the waiting area, it only took another 45 minutes to get all our cars lined up. AHHHHH!! We got into the area at 10:45am and after all the waiting and whatnot, we finally got to our camping spot around 5pm! After we set up camp, all we could do was drink the night away and go explore the camping areas. Coachella 2015 official kicks off tomorrow morning at 11am!!