Has the long, strange trip really come to an end?

Back in May, one of our contributors, Rachel, posted here about her journey to Hangout Festival. She's back from the beach and has recently returned from Chicago to "Fare Thee Well" to the Grateful Dead at their third and final stop at Soldier Field. Check out the photos and get the details from her trip below:

It's a good thing I had enough time to curl my hair, do my makeup, and change into my party dress during my layover in Atlanta because as soon as my plane landed in Chicago last Friday I hit the ground running. I timed it out perfectly so that by the time I got to the venue, got my ticket, bought a beer and found my seat the band was just walking on stage. 

They started by bringing things full circle with "Box of Rain" which was their closer at the famous last show with Jerry at Soldier Field back in '95.  Phil was sounding great on vocals.  "Jack Straw" had us arm in arm singing "fourth day of July" and "Bertha" made my night because I had been singing that song in my head the whole plane ride there.

Since I always wait until the first song of second set when there are no lines to take a bathroom break and refill my drink, "Scarlet Begonias" was the second set opener for me, and Trey really got to shine on vocals.  We danced our way through many more old favorites, closed with "Franklin's Tower" and encored "Ripple".  

Saturday I met up with fellow Savannians Jordan and Brandon and took our time walking to the venue taking in all the sights and sounds.  Chicago is such a beautiful city between the amazing architecture, beautiful parks, and lake front real estate.  It was even more beautiful than usual crawling with tie dye and Jerry Bears. 

The walk to the venue was a spectacle all its own with people singing, dancing, wearing crazy costumes, and pulling out all the stops in the hopes it will earn them a ticket to the show.  

That night the set list was a little slower which was cool with me because I was in a sky box suite where despite the amazing view, quality catering, free booze, and baller treatment, the sound wasn't quite as good as it was in my upper level middle view seat the night before.


  There were still some great highlights which for me included "Shakedown Street", "Tennessee Jed", "Friend of the Devil", "Stella Blue", "One More Saturday Night", the closer, and encore , "US Blues".  

Somehow getting out of the stadium was much better the second night.  There were only a few bottlenecks that were uncomfortable for a few minutes as opposed to on Friday night where we spent over an hour shoulder to shoulder inching along across the grounds of the stadium.  

I tell you what, I have never seen so many people all together in one place in my life -  some estimate as many as 100,000!! - but we were all together one giant family inching along so it made it ok. I saw people from 6 months to 80 something years old, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, brothers from another mother, and complete strangers, all together in one giant melting pot and I think that was the best part about it all.  That's why The Grateful Dead are so special and important and amazing to so many people and it's more than just a band or a bunch of killer tunes.  It's a way of life and while we may have said "Fare Thee Well" to one manifestation of the thing, I know that the spirit will live on as long as we keep it alive within ourselves and pass it on like all the old Deadheads before us.

My only regret of the weekend? Not stopping by Mamie Ruth beforehand and picking up one of the sweet Gradeful Dead shirts they just added to the ground scores box. But, hey, better late than never! 

xoxo, Rachel for Mamie Ruth

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