Cornerstone 1998: Jason’s Diary, June 29

Our journey to the wondrous land of Bushnell, Illinois was beset with problems from the very beginning. However, looking back, it seems to me that there was some sort of (Divine) order to the whole thing. First off, it took us nearly half an hour to get our rental car. Then, when we get back to our house to load up our gear, we discover a stranger parked in the driveway. As it turns out, this stranger (Joe) is actually a part of another Cornerstone-attending group, but they can’t take him. So we ended up with another passenger.

We’re finally on our way out of Lincoln when the rental car starts smoking under the hood. Needless to say, we were less than overjoyed. We get another rental car (a convertible, which turned out quite useful) and finally get out on the road.

Now I don’t mean to offend anyone from Iowa, but your state is one of the most boring spots on earth to drive through. The topography never changes: just rolling hills that never seem to change in appearance. We’re about halfway through Iowa when it begins to rain. This brought back memories from my first year at Cornerstone, when we drove through heavy rain in the middle of the night all the way through Iowa.

Suddenly, they announced on the radio that there were tornado warnings all over that region of Iowa. By this time, the rain was so thick and heavy that we could barely see. All this time, we had our ears glued to the radio, one eye glued to the sky trying to find some evidence of the tornado, and the other eye looking out from some ditch we could jump into at the first sign of a twister.

We pulled off of the highway and waited under an overpass for about 15 or 20 minutes, along with several other vehicles. We couldn’t really see anything because there was this camper in front of us. All we could see was them rocking back and forth from the wind and rain. Finally, they started saying the storm was lifting up. We drove another mile and waited out the storm a little more in a rest area, along with about 25 others.

After another 15 minutes or so, we started back out on the road. We passed about 5 or 6 semi-trucks on their sides, trees and signs bent over backwards, and flattened fields where the tornado had set down. We were in the tail-end of the storm the rest of the way to Bushnell, with the sky bright behind us and dark in front of us.

We finally pulled into the Cornerstone festival around 7:30 or so that night, just when it started raining again. I’ll admit that the whole time I was terrified that the storm may have hit Cornerstone head-on, but it looked like they had only been hit by the edge. When we were listening to the radio, it said it was heading southeast, right toward Bushnell.

When we got there, Daniel and Lisa (2 others in our group) were waiting for us. Their tent had been blown over and all of their stuff had gotten soaked. With all of the delays, we had managed to escape all of the worst stuff. If we hadn’t been delayed, we might have ended up right in the middle of the storm, and that little convertible would have been nothing more than a Matchbox car being thrown around by a little kid.

We got our tents set up and wait in the car for a little while, reading the magazines that we got when we entered the gates.

After the rain subsided and all of my gear was in the tent, I started my search for the Asylum, the tent being set up by Joe Kopnick for all of the Velvet Empire, Flaming Fish, and goth hipsters at Cornerstone. It actually was quite close to my campsite, which was very nice. I hung out there for a little while, swapping war stories of the storm that we had all experienced, in one way or another.

After hanging out for awhile, I went back to try catch a little sleep. Actually, this was probably the most sleep I got the entire week. The rain had turned the ground just past our campsite into a swamp, which plagued many vehicles trying to make it through. I went to sleep that night to the sounds of a tractor pull.

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