My Six-Month Hippie Road Trip

Have you ever left on what you thought would be a one-week vacation, only to not return home until six months later? Yeah, that is what happened to me during the summer of 2010. Turned into quite the epic hippie road trip too. (Now that I’ve decided to pursue travel blogging, might as well share some of my past adventures that have turned me into the traveler I am today.)

Burning Flipside 2010

It all began, as most wild stories do, with a group of friends. We were rolling out to Burning Flipside 2KX, a week-long event that takes place in central Texas every year during Memorial Day week / weekend. It is pretty much like a miniature Burning Man, for those of you who have been there. But, there are several key differences:

  • Most notably, our effigy changes every year rather than always being a man. One year a rocket, another a crazy monkey, etc…
  • Burning Flipside is capped at 2,499 people every year.
  • To ensure only the most worthy make it, the event is not openly publicized, promoted, or talked about.
  • Every year in January there is a one-week window in which your envelope (and enclosed payment and request form) must be postmarked to even be eligible for a ticket. It can be up to two months before you find out if your request will be filled.
  • To keep out paparazzi and any looky-loos, the venue location changes every 2-3 years.

There are others minor differences, but those are the key ones. And I guarantee that the week is one of the funnest and most unique gatherings you will ever partake in. I find it to be better than Burning Man, for a multitude of reasons. It is not so f’ing hot, the group is smaller so you can actually make friends and then see them eight more times throughout the week before you leave, and even once it is over, you have made friends for life.

Burning Flipside 2010 and the start of our 6-month hippie road trip

Much like Burning Man, Burning Flipside is definitely not for everyone though. Anyone who knows about the burner culture will immediately know that. I don’t want to go into it too much, but if there is ever a time to wander around naked on 12 different substances at once, well then my friend it is definitely a burner event!

Anyway, I have yet to actually get to the main story, so I had better quit rambling. You see, it was during this week that I happened to come across four cats from northern California and this bus:

The Future Bus. This beast was at the heart of our 6-month long hippie road trip
The Future Bus. Taking it one step further than Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters 😉

I’ll post more pictures at the end. The artwork on the bus was absolutely incredible. It was done with spray paint by a couple different people, but most notably their friend and resident bad-ass tattoo artist Dustin (whom I ended up meeting when we returned to Cali).

Burning Flipside 2010

Inside the bus, the first four rows of seats were left in tack but the rest of the bus was gutted. In their place were two tables, a mini fridge, couch, bunk bends, hammock, popcorn machine, TV and DVD player, and a DJ table. The entire bus was rigged with sound (a la the Merry Pranksters) and it was even controllable via the old school bus PA system controls. Oh, and there was a stage built on top and a ladder we kept underneath, for easy access. Let me tell you, this bus was pimping.

It did definitely get us pulled over a lot though. With a paint job like that and California plates, you can bet the cops in west Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee had absolutely nothing better to do than fuck with us. However, once they saw the inside and heard our story, we’d usually win them over. Still, we made sure to always ride clean and — because we would pick up hippies and other vagabonds in nearly every town we stopped — we also made sure no one on-board had any outstanding warrants. Although it was four friends from Cali that started the adventure, our core group hovered around 7-8 with a maximum number of 14 derelicts on the bus at one point. I believe that was after Bonnaroo, on the way to DexFest.

Anyway, there I was: last day of May 2010; Monday, Memorial Day. The Future Bus is headed back to Austin for one night and then hitting the road again. The tell us that their loose plans are to:

  • Hit one music festival every week or two all thru June, July, and August (the list included all the big ones: Wakarusa, Bonnaroo, All Good… pretty much everything except Camp Bisco)
  • Make sure to be in Washington, DC for the 4th of July
  • Check out the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee / North Carolina
  • Make new friends and follow them to random towns
  • Catch a grand finale performance by Furthur featuring Phil & Bob (last living members of the Grateful Dead)
  • Finish it all up getting a job trimming weed in the California cannabis fields 😀

Talk about a recipe for an awesome hippie summer. Before this I had never done the hippie thing, never even done such an extended road trip across the United States. I was always into foreign travel, and as such even for state-to-state travel I became a plane guy. So when they invited me and Jessi, this chick (also from Cali) whom I had hooked up with during Burning Flipside, we immediately said “Hell Yeah!” And after all, you don’t turn down an offer like that! Carpe diem.

And so it all began. It was six months and 32 states later before I returned home, plus I managed to knock several incredible things off of my [at that time] bucket list. But I will continue the adventures tomorrow with Chapter Two: Wakarusa Music Festival, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Graceland. Additionally, several videos from the road trip have been posted to the Video Gallery, make sure to check them out. And in closing, I leave you with some pictures from Burning Flipside. Ooohhhh, today was the last day to mail in 2012 requests — did you remember?

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010


Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010
Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

Burning Flipside 2010

On To Part 02: Wakarusa / Little Rock / Graceland  

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

10 thoughts on “My Six-Month Hippie Road Trip”

  1. you need to take that bus to michigan for the Rothbury and then have beach time on some of the best beaches anywhere, seriously, anywhere all the way up to the Blissfest up where Hemingway healed himself after WW1 and then over THE Bridge and go to Marquette for the Hiawatha fest, in that week you stop and hang on the Northern beach of Lake Michigan go to Brimley, stop at Dancing Crane Coffee shop owned by Odawa woman serving free trade, organic coffee then down the road to eat whitfish caught that day then to the whitefish point to see the ghost of the Edmund Fitzgerald…..what you get awesome music and lots of beach and sand and waves and no salt, no jellyfish and no sharks!!! and if you want I will try to hook you up with places to rent boards, surf, paddle, skim, wind surf etc,

    maybe you can sell seats for a week road trip through to tourists like Green Tortoise

    Reply
  2. Hello!

    I’m in the process of designing a travel app which hopes to be a database of awesome places. In addition I’m also searching for folk who are interested in promoting some products I’m selling (for 30% commission). Let me if you’re interested in being involved in either. 🙂 I know this is kind of out of the blue, but maybe it could be an interesting collaboration!

    Many thanks,
    Sarah

    Reply

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