Home > Vagaries > Manchester (Day 2): Chestnut Tree

Manchester (Day 2): Chestnut Tree

In Nashville, I made my way across town from the Megabus stop to the Greyhound station. The ride to Manchester was about an hour.


Tennessee, from the Greyhound.

The plan had been to arrive in Manchester the day before the festival, and take a hike to the festival grounds. I’d printed out the map, and it looked like it would be a two-hour march (5 miles = 8 km = 2 x 4 km, with equipment).


I’d verified that the festival grounds would be open, and I hoped to arrived by evening to find a good spot to pitch my tent. I knew that most of the arrivals would be on the morning of the following day (the first official day of the festival), and that most people would be driving in to the festival.

Regarding the tent, I’d obtained it for the grand sum of $10 at the thrift store in Northfield, which amounted to accommodation costs of about $2 per night – plus a couple of dollars for things like the inflatable pool mattress (a handy hack I read about on Reddit) and the butane stove.

The thing about old tents is the smell – fortunately I’d found this out before the trip. I’d laid out the components for my own inspection after purchasing it and been knocked almost bodily back by the odor; the smell was somewhat improved after I aired and sunned the canvas and groundsheet.

I also had to figure out, by trial-and-error, how to pitch this particular tent. In keeping with my sergeant-ly approach thus far, I did a tent-pitching dry-run on a sunny afternoon, on the grass outside Watson Hall. I was slowly fumbling through the possible configurations of parts, and finding that the set likely had elements from more than one source, etc., when I was greeted by two people curious about what I was doing, and who very helpfully stuck around to help me figure out how to set it up; I promised T. and T. that I’d write back about how the festival went, and this series could be read as my long overdue response.



I would have checked in directly at the festival, that is, if I had not met S. and J. (see previous entry) in Chicago.

In Chicago the Megabus coaches stop along South Canal St. People filter down the length of the sidewalk, trying to figure out which knot of passengers is the right one to join. I met S. and J. while looking for the south-bound bus – like me, S. and J. were transferring from the bus arriving from the north (me from Minnesota, them from somewhere in Wisconsin). We matched up because I heard them asking for which bus was headed to Bonnaroo. When they found out that I’d also decided to take the long bus journey from up north (me from Minnesota, them from Wisconsin), that I was headed to Bonnaroo for the first time, and that I was otherwise on my own, these veteran Bonnaroovians effectively took me under their wing.

I’m going back in time, here – this was technically just after midnight, right at the beginning of Day 2. I arrived with my new friends in Nashville after about 11 hours on the bus, and we ended up having tickets for the same Greyhound to Manchester as well. We arrived in Manchester some time in the early afternoon.

Whereas my initial plan had been to hike from the bus station in Manchester to the festival grounds, S. and J. knew that there would be golf buggies for hire at the bus station to take people to the festival grounds. We ended up catching one of these instead, after a stop for groceries (bread, beef, beer). The golf buggies were my first glimpse of the unofficial economy that annually springs up in Manchester around each iteration of Bonnaroo.


I also mentioned that I’d initially planned to check in at the festival grounds (‘the Farm’), but here, as well, my new friends’ veteran status opened up other possibilities. Our golf buggy drove towards the farm, but we got off a short ways before the main gate – rather than pitch our tents on the open un-shaded grounds of the farm, instead we pitched up in the backyard of a house on a plot adjoining the festival grounds.

S. and J. were known to the house-owners, presumably from having stayed there during past festivals. After a short chat with the domestic authority, we were cleared to stay. We picked out a spot under the chestnut tree (good shade), and commenced clearing the ground of half-buried chestnuts, which would dig into your back if you were unfortunate enough to have pitched on top of some. (In fact, the tree-trunk you might have seen in the picture of the tent is this tree’s.)

I don’t remember doing very much after pitching up – I’m pretty sure I had a beer, and I may have eaten – but I quickly inflated the pool mattress, put my sleeping bag on top of it, and went to sleep. I do know I was probably exhausted from being on the road for about 30 solid hours, because I slept solidly from that afternoon until about 2 p.m. the next day.

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