Last month I took a trip down to Indio, California to meet up with some old friends for the Stagecoach Music Festival – the biggest, most star-packed country music festival of the year.
90,000 country music enthusiasts; cowboys and cowgirls, celebrities, locals and people from all over the world descended on Coachella Valley for the three-day event. Three long, hot days and nights. As the song goes, “they ain’t going down till the sun goes up.”
I was chillin’ with Arizona and California natives who didn’t seem concerned, but I was feeling the heat while I was taking in the sights and kickin’ up the dust. For them, eight hours a day of direct sunshine and the 100-degree weather was normal, but for this pale Alaska girl, it was a challenge.
Remember that saying, “Always be prepared?”
I came prepared with my trusty SPF 70 sunscreen. I was able to avoid an uncomfortable burn AND sun poisoning. I was not about to let being roasted alive keep me from being able to watch and listen to some of the biggest country stars today, not to mention some HUGE names from the past.
I don’t mean to name drop, but I FINALLY got to see Ronnie Milsap (my ever so clever and inappropriate father said he didn’t see me, har har), Dwight Yoakam, whom I have loved for YEARS, and Garth Brooks along with Trisha Yearwood! Seriously, if you ever get the chance to go to this festival, do it! Don’t let the price tag stop you; general admission tickets are just as good as the VIP. You will have an amazing time!
While I was prepared for sun, I couldn’t prepare for everything.
I recently decided to focus on eating clean and healthy again. Do you know how hard it is to eat healthy at a music festival? I mean, it’s bad enough trying to do the right thing while traveling in general. Picture this: Guy Fieri is standing at his barbeque pit slathering juicy barbecue sauce over brown sugar covered ribs and brisket. I mean Guy Fieri is right there, in the flesh cooking for you! Do we care about clean eating right now?
The temptation was strong. The smells, watching others eat, oh, my. Everywhere I went I was overwhelmed with delicious aromas wafting through the air. I’ve always been a sucker for fair and festival food. Corn dogs, tacos, nachos, burgers, fries, ice cream, lemonade, onion rings, pizza, chicken wings, you name it.
I had to figure out a way to survive the festival. The heat, the late nights, the excitement.
I hacked the festival.
I started my days off with a cup of coffee, I mean hey, we can’t give up EVERY vice can we? I followed that with a New Whey protein shot to keep my protein up and my stomach mostly full. Those little shots don’t exactly taste great, but they do pack a wallop at 40 grams of protein in just 3.8 ounces. Put them in a ziplock bag, and you will have no problems with airport security.
I had berries, watermelon, and mangoes for breakfast along with my drinks. I made sure to finish up each morning with at least 1 to 2 bottles of water. The name of the game was hydration.
My friends and I would head to the festival which is held at Empire Polo Club, and the temptation began. I don’t drink, so I was not tempted by alcohol, but there were other things. Amazing things. Candied bacon. Bacon wrapped pork chops. Bacon wrapped onion rings. Are you sensing a theme yet? I love bacon, there, I said it.
I carried my water bottle with me all the time, filling it, again and again, working hard to replenish every drop of sweat my body produced.
Early the first day, I stumbled across something fantastic – ice cold coconuts!
They are not only mouth-wateringly delicious, but they provide a powerhouse of health benefits. Did you know coconuts can provide sun protection, keep your skin and hair healthy, and prevent wrinkles and sagging skin? Coconuts can also support the immune system as they are antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. They can restore and support thyroid function and even promote weight loss. Not to mention, they are tasty and refreshing on a hot summer day. I had a coconut every day of the festival, and I felt hydrated and energetic the entire time.
After long hot days of exploring the festival, going from stage to stage, shopping and other activities, I knew I would have to address my hunger pangs. I was still committed to clean and healthy eating, and with the sun still hot, there was no way that I could eat anything heavy or meaty anyway.
I needed to find some food that wasn’t fried or slathered in sugar and sauce, no small feat at a “country” festival.
I found my saving grace in a vegan food stand. Avocado tacos with green and red cabbage, green onions, tomato and a light aioli sauce. Yum! I spent all of my food money at that tent throughout the weekend. Vegan nachos for Saturday, and more tacos on Sunday. I can’t say I was disappointed at any of it.
I was able to stay on track through my whole trip.
So, don’t forget your sunscreen, your chapstick, or water bottle; if you do, you will spend a small fortune purchasing these things at festival prices. Wear comfy shoes and soft socks. Take your time to find the right meal. Eat light, explore and search for the foods that have the best ingredients. Wear your fitbit; you will not believe how far you walk on a festival day. In three days I logged over 25 miles. I nearly wore the soles off of my boots with all of the boot scootin’, walking, jumping up and down and exploration I did.
My six-day trip could have derailed my healthy lifestyle change. Instead, I actually lost a few pounds and came home feeling energized and refreshed.
Happy festival season everyone! Stay healthy, happy, and hydrated; enjoy life and take photos.
Drusilla Stinson is a Gold Star Wife currently living in Eagle River. She is an avid traveler and loves exploring, having adventures, and collecting stories. She likes gardening, hiking, foraging, cooking, spending time with her dogs, and volunteering in the community. Dru does a lot of writing, reading, and arts and crafts and her downtime. She enjoys theater, art, and learning new things. To reach Dru, email: firstname.lastname@example.org