Whenever we plan a vacation, it has always been my practice to make all the arrangements well in advance. Since my wife and I like to travel by car, I always plan our route, list the sights we will be visiting, calculate where we will be stopping each night and, of course, make hotel reservations. We are both excited about the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival only one scant year away, so with twelve full months to prepare, I decided to look into hotel accommodations in the area.
With most hotel chains allowing rooms to be booked one year in advance, I thought I had a pretty good chance of scoring a room relatively close to Bethel, New York. I was wrong. It appears that many of the original 400,000 attendees are still around, and that they were all ahead of me in line to book a room. The closest place I could find was eighty miles away, with the hotel site calculating the drive time to Bethel as one and a half hours. TRAVEL ADVISORY: If Route 17B looks anything like it did in 1969, it would be smart to plan for an additional ten hours of drive time each way.
The apparent level of interest in making the trek back to Yazgur’s Farm is amazing, especially since plans for the anniversary celebration have not yet been formalized. I had the good fortune to have worked at Woodstock as a police officer, and my wife and I have been back to visit that place on two occasions. This time around, though, we are looking forward to being in the company of so many others who were there in August, 1969, as well … or, at least, who claim they were there.
With hotel rooms in such short supply, one can only guess at the arrangements people will be making. VW buses have been replaced by Winnebago RVs, of course, and those who relished the charm of sleeping in a pup tent with a dirt floor now prefer “glamping” with king sized beds and gourmet meals. The living and sleeping accommodations in 1969 were grim, a fact illustrated perfectly by one “Woodstock Veteran” who posted this memory in an online discussion: “I went to Woodstock with $350 in new camping equipment, and came home wearing somebody else’s shoes.”
We will be trekking back to Woodstock next year, and making the best of the hotel arrangement. Note to self: make sure the room has a suitable TV, and a refrigerator for refreshments. That way, if the weather, the crowding and the traffic turn out to be anything close to the original, we can simply stay in air-conditioned surroundings, a “cold one” in hand, watching the festivities on every channel. And even though we will be sitting eighty miles from the stage, we can comfort ourselves that we made it closer than many of the folks who tried to get there in 1969 and couldn’t get past Poughkeepsie.
And we will be going home with our own shoes.