Stagecoach Festival!! Round 2 (vlog)
As Stagecoach weekend approached only a short week and a half after Coachella insanity, I couldn’t help but feel my heart flicker with anxiousness.
But while I placed my favorite blue jean shorts into my suitcase, I smiled. This was a rebuttal, a rematch of my capabilities persé. Inside I knew the challenge was going to be an easy one, and that my only limiting factor would be the festival cancelling all around. My inner voice was hammering away with inspiration for the western themed weekend, and I was excited to finally have a weekend of balance between work and play. Little did I know there were other limiting factors always teaching me new things about myself that I never knew before, and that would throw some definite unexpected curve balls. But this time, I was prepared.
With one foot up on the bathroom sink and my phone blaring mainstream country music I haven’t listened to for the past 8 months, I slowly pumped 1 Hour Express Self Tanner onto my shin and spread it until it covered to my hip. I switched legs, getting behind the heel, in-between toes and blotting any visible streakiness with the mit that came with the tanner. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, but being a French/American mix I have gotten used to my fill of spray tans and understood the basic routine: don’t forget the neck and behind the ears, avoid palms of the hands at all costs, use sparingly on elbows, knees and armpits, etc..
As I admired my new bronzed look in the mirror, the color seemed to be more of a coal miner that just came home from work versus a time consuming week-long tanning streak and sun kissed glow straight from the Bahamas. I picked up the black Bondi Sands bottle and turned it over. Leave on skin for at least 1 hour. 2-3 hours for deeper tan.
Setting the bottle down I paraded into the living room to my quarter full bag looking like an open faced sandwich. The cats were playing inside the empty spaces, not moved at all that we were about to leave them again for another weekend. Without hesitation I began the process of outfit pairing, bathroom essentials and packing boots for Stagecoach. There was just one thing I was missing, a cowgirl hat!
I woke up at 8am on Friday and rolled over in bed to see a dark brown stain where I was laying. SHIT I ran to the shower and scrubbed off the self tanner avoiding the mirror at all costs. I thought to myself "I knew I should’ve just gone pale and layed out like a normal 21 year old." But seriously, I want my skin to stay 21 forever so SPF 70on face, neck and chest everywhere I go, no excuses. But here I was, 8 hours into my instant self tanner. No going back now! Finally facing my own gaze though, I stared at my naked body in the reflection and almost died laughing. It actually looked pretty damn good!
“Baaaabe lets gooooooo” Garrett is [no surprise] running late blow drying and texturizing his hair in the bathroom. I already know our ETA will be pushed another hour and a half now because of traffic. We rushed out of the door to Downtown LA Fashion District, Santee Alley, to grab discount cowboy hats. $30 later we were on our way with 2 cowboy hats and 2 VIP wristbands to enjoy the weekend at Stagecoach 2018.
Before we could make it to the festival, the defining moment of Coachella’s surprise awaits: Our place to stay.
Lining each side of the car like canopies, tall green palm trees, a flowing water fountain and bright pink flamingos welcome us into the entrance of JW Marriott Desert Springs. Garrett slid the car into park and we headed for the lobby to check in. It is so big, with boats to charter you from inside the lobby, to the shining outdoors underneath floral covered bridges and through cascading fountains to catch a glimpse of their on-site 9 hole golf course with desert mountains painted in the background. The estate feels like a mini wonderland, and 3 large blue daytime pools boomed with Stagecoach goers drinking beer and relaxing in the crowded pool. We found our way through long hallways with a peep every so often of the breathtaking view to our room. Piano music drifted from the door to greet us where we would call home the next couple of days, and I belly flopped onto the bed claiming my side. Before I could relax, Garrett was ooooh-ahhhhing outside on the patio, and I curiously joined him as delighted as he was. The view!! Birds chirped and created a song while the lake directly below us reflected a vibrant blue. Climbing elegantly across was a colorful bridge with green leaves, pink hibiscus and blue lilies reaching for those passing over to the spa or day pool. Golf carts streaked the edge of the green, and palm trees tucked us in so sweetly with just a touch of the desert mountains behind them.
My mind is at ease with the polite staff, million dollar room view and bouquets of flowers everywhere I look. The day has started just right after gobbling down some Bristol Farms mac n cheese, orange chicken and sweet potatoes, and finally we are on our way to see Florida Georgia Line. Garrett is sipping his first beer of the weekend so we know he’s taken care of. I slip on my cowgirl hat and head for the golden hour light waiting for us in front of the ferris wheel.
As the sun began to fall behind the mountains and the palm trees began to glow red and purple, we captured the first nights moments through video, polaroid, Instagram story and photos while country artists jammed in the background. We set on to find Garrett another beer and headed through the fields of lawn chairs, blankets and trash to the VIP section for Florida Georgia Line. Although country music isn’t my go-to, it flashed through me like lightening bolt why I liked Stagecoach all along.
I don’t have to know the words of the songs or the artist. I don’t have to really like country music period, but the energy here is contagious and brilliant. I feel the people around me radiating with positivity. They are kind, relaxed and happy. Couples are holding hands, friends are dancing everywhere you look, families are smiling at each other and waving their arms in the air. Life is simple. There isn’t a care in the world and people are just enjoying themselves. I love that I am one of the few holding a phone up to document it all while they are in that moment, limitless. I don’t know the lyrics or the band, but I can hear the words to their music-speaking about love, unity, simple living and family. I close my eyes and let it move through me like a wave, and I’m so happy I came to Stagecoach.
My eyes crack open and I press my lips together; they feel like the edge of a nail file, rough and gritty. I inhale and my nose feels like a cactus got inside of it, and it’s completely filled with unnamable things. I feel awful. I roll over and check the clock, realizing it’s only 9:30am I stumble with my eyes half shut into the bathroom. As I shower, dirt rolls off of me like water and I still can’t breathe through my nose. The more awake I am, the heavier my chest gets. With a reassuring blow of my nose, I head to give Garrett a good morning kiss and realize my head hurts too. I slept so well, so why do I feel so bad? I didn’t touch a lick of alcohol and I made sure to dance only half as much as I wanted to.
Realizing that the lack of sleep lately is catching up with me, Garrett and I decide to keep the day low key for my health and headed to the pool. I wanted to hit a couple of day parties, but the tickle in the back of my throat was slowly creeping up, so I knew better. Downstairs it looked like Stagecoach moved into JW Marriott Desert Springs as the 3 large pools and over 100 tanning chairs were filled to the brim with beautiful people in bathing suits. 90 degrees and sunny, the blue umbrellas shade us as we join the others, and naturally we make friends with half the pool, finding people from Washington, Newport Beach, Miami and LA. We took shots (I had a water shot don’t worry) and let the hot afternoon slide by with an atmosphere better than any of the day parties we would’ve gone to. The popular pool bar has a line for cold beer, pool floaties of a western bull, yellow rubber ducky, pink flamingo and donuts are drifting from one side of the pool to the other while the DJ is mixing country music for Stagecoach and mainstream music behind a Redbull sponsored booth.
As we rounded up the “See you there’s” to our new friends, G took a grocery run for chicken soup, decongestant and airborne while I got ready. I loaded up with what I could, stocked my pockets with rolled up toilet paper and headed for Keith Urban feeling sick.
Our yellow bandanas were the only thing separating the desert dirt and my burning throat from colliding, and as the wind picked up my eyes were fully exposed to the rough sand flying directly into them. I tiled my hat downward, grabbing it from the top so it doesn’t blow away and clutched my bag close to my side as possible. The "grass" turned hay lifted from the ground and became a large dust storm inside the festival, making it a challenge for me to breathe and definitely turning the tickle into a cough. Garrett braced himself against the wind as he blindly shot my day 2 outfit, and I pushed through sniffles and kleenex after kleenex to get the shot of the weekend.
In this case, the wind was really in my favor. Never mind that my head felt like a balloon.
From there we met up with friends, danced in the honky tonk and walked 4 miles across to Mane Stage. I had amazing ANTM fans come up and take photos with me and tried my best to breath the other way. It’s time for Keith Urban! But as I took each step closer, the congestion building up in my head, the cough turning into an embarrassing hack, and the thong between my toes digging a deeper blister, I caved. I needed to rest.
I know, I know. I felt bad that Garrett was super stoked for all the artists he was going to see this weekend. Unfortunately I timed my sleeping wrong with excitement and needed to get rest before this cold turned even worse. He kissed me and gave me a piggy back ride 3 miles to the Uber pick up back to the resort while I shielded my face from the dust. And to polish off day 2, he ordered hot tea, lemon and honey for me while I lied on his chest and fell asleep in bed.
As if last night's dust storm wasn’t enough for my cold, I woke up feeling a little bit worse. Fortunately, I have a pharmacy of options in our room to get myself through one last day and a very comfortable bed that I don’t have to leave if I don’t want to. I slept in until 1pm and woke up to the view outside one last time. Before I could absorb it anymore, the hotel door opens and in walks a man in a suit, pushing a heavy cart in front of him toward my bed. As he gets closer I realize that what he is pushing is an array of breakfast options from a colorful fruit plate to cream cheese, lox and bagels. He greets me good morning, sets the tray in front of me and Garrett appears from the bathroom like a god. I’m ecstatic.
I munched down the salmon, cream cheese and bagel, crisp watermelon, yogurt parfait, fresh squeezed orange juice and hot lemon tea to end up resting with my head on the back of the headboard in exhaustion. There isn’t a better way to end Stagecoach weekend with a delicious breakfast better than in your dreams, and I’m not so sure about leaving this fluffy cloud they call a bed. But Garrett reminds me we have an event to make, and we quickly pack our bags, put on our cowboy hats one last time and climb in the uber to Sugar Bear Hair pop up across from Stagecoach.
White Horse PR greets me with bubbles, cupcakes and a day 3 Stagecoach outfit that I get to pick out. I am sliding through racks of clothes and jewelry to find the best outfit for day 3, and Ryan Fleming takes me outside to capture it in high def.
After G gets a beer and I have a couple cupcakes, sugar cookies, and sugar bear hair gummies (not an ad at all. I know you’ve seen the Kardashians talk about them and they always say they taste amazing. I never tried them and no joke they are really good. Like addicting), we headed to the festival for the last day.
Garth Brooks is the headliner and the festival is more crowded than ever, dustier than ever and more chaotic than ever. But to my advantage Garrett tells me he just wants to go and see our friends, take some photos, dance with me one last time (aw) and drive back to LA.
My cold is progressively getting worse and I know our cats would love if we showed up before tomorrow morning. So that was that! We watched the sun go down, hung out with some friends, G had another beer and we headed on our way back to LA as the ferris wheel became smaller and smaller behind us. I wasn’t mad that we left early, but I was going to miss the feeling of Stagecoach. How grateful everyone was and stoked they were even though I don’t really listen to country music. I think it’s so important to find the little things you can learn to love in situations that aren’t necessarily yours. I went to a country festival for two years barely knowing 2 songs, and I loved every minute. Not to mention I can’t wait to be back to celebrate with such genuine people and maybe get a drink next time!
As we're checking out of JW Mariott Desert Springs, my heart hurts a little that I have to go. It was so easy to get comfortable and enjoy a resort minutes away from the festival, yet you could spend hours inside enjoying their wonderland. I can't believe we never tried it before this, and it is definitely our place to call home while visiting for festival season. Maybe I can even sweet talk Garrett into taking me there for a weekend getaway! Who knows….
Either way, the lesson of this round was to live simply. Be grateful of what is in front of me. And learn to enjoy things that I may necessarily not like to begin with! Thank you Golden Voice and JW Marriott for showing us yet another memorable weekend. This one is for the polaroid wall and a checklist of goals this week:
-Learn to love.
-Dance like nobody is watching.