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It’s a little known fact that President Dwight Eisenhower hired a “coach” to assist him in handling the fledgling technology known as television. Let’s face it, Ike was more comfortable developing military strategies behind the scenes than being the center of attention to millions of new TV viewers.  The 34th President worked on every last detail with his coach including facial movements, hand maneurisms, and voice inflection. Eisenhower was truly a fish out of water during the early days of his 1951-52 presidential campaign when trying to properly portray his message to the American public. Ike, to say the very least, was extremely awkward in front of the camera.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Eisenhower used television to his advantage. He became a natural in front on the camera. He began to portray the image of America’s lovable grandfather. But not the grandfather who yelled at kids for walking in their tomato garden or even the grandfather who has to wear Depends under his trousers. He was the grandfather who came across as protector, someone who was going to take care of business. And the irony is that he only could have done this with the assistance of television.

In many ways I feel like Ike during the early stages of traveling to Bonnaroo. As I portrayed in earlier writings, I expected to be a fish out of water if sorts, nearly every step of the way. True to prediction, that has been the case.

As I pulled up to pick up my 29-foot RV, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. The rental agency representative asked me if I ever have driven an RV before. I, of course, did not want to make another person nervous besides myself so I looked him straight in the eye and said “Yes, definitely.” A small lie I suppose, but it wasn’t as if he was going to withhold my pre-arranged rental vehicle if i said no. I actually think me giving him an affirmative answer helped trick my own brain into believing I could easily drive this monstrosity.

And let’s not forget about the dry ice. Attempting to handle this dangerous product is a task in itself. But true to my willingness to step outside my comfort zone – or maybe it’s my stubbornness – I jumped right into this task with minimal reservations. Chances are I froze all my traveling party’s food for the entire weekend, most likely leaving it inedible. But my coolers sure looked packed very efficiently.

And as if I was channeling President Eisenhower and taking a time machine back to 1952, a funny thing is happening. I am feeling really comfortable being on the road, driving this RV.  I feel like a real man of the road, a man of the outdoors. Okay, let’s not get carried away.  But I feel good.

And since I am referencing President Eisenhower, so regularly, let’s not forget about one of his greatest presidential accomplishments. The interstate highway system. What a system. New York to Tennessee in a flash. Well, maybe not a flash. But you get the point.

And traveling these highways makes me think about the various artists converging on Bonnaroo this week. I regularly try to envision the story behind each musician’s grind. Their early beginnings on tour and if they are fortunate to find some level of success, the transformation they go through on the road.

I think about some of the European bands such as Phoenix and The xx. I wonder about their impressions of touring in America. Traveling the so-called purple mountains majesty. I think about Jay-Z and his humble beginnings from the Marcy projects of Brooklyn and his rise to fame. In thinking of all the cities he’s seen in the last decade, I wonder if he ever envisioned these experiences as a youth; this is now commonplace in his life.  I think about acts such as the Zac Brown Band that have roots deep in the South and what they must feel traveling so close to home when visiting Bonnaroo.  Do they have a sense of Southern pride?

I think about all these tales of the road and I reflect on my experiences out here. How our stories may intertwine due to our passion for music. Maybe no different from an artist traveling to a perform a show.  The energy, the excitement, the joy of traveling the beautiful highways of America. And many of these tales are partly due to Grandpa Ike. We all like Ike.

–Chris Dino