Arrival & Burn Out
Trip Start Jul 04, 2009
28Trip End Sep 06, 2009
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Soon, we head off to Home Depot where we decide to buy a generator. The boys do that while I pick up more tissues at the drug store.
A mere almost $500 later we're mvoing stuff around the back end of the Burning Beast to fit in the generator. I resist saying 'I told you so' over the decision not to put one of the bikes on the roof
We head down 80 to the cut-off to Gerlach in a caravan of overloaded vehicles. Seriously, playing Burner vehicle is pretty easy....they're all pretty heavily packed.
It's about 1.5 hours drive down a small road through small Indian towns. The road is dotted with Indian Taco stands set up specifically to cater to the Burner crowd. We also pass 2 schools with solar arrays that have been financed and installed by BlackRock Solar (a company started & spun off by BRC LLC--the org that runs Burning Man). Oh, and a few signs held by people looking for tickets.
We plan to pick up gas in Empire (the town before Gerlach), but the gas pump (one) is closed. We get a little nervous as we have no gas for the generator. Fortunately, the Gerlach gas station is closed and only has a half hour line of cars. It's like 1980 again: waiting in a gas line.
We pass the time chatting up other Burners...the only people in this teeny tiny town, of course. The bathrooms are closed, so the boys go for a desert pee (since the motorhome toilet is packed & inaccessible)
We head out of Gerlach (and pass the BRC Saloon and BRC Gerlach Office). And a couple miles later, Vinny asks "What's that over there?" It's the edge of Burning Man. A dry, glittery oasis in the middle of nowhere. The glittery part is the not yet completely dusty vehicles.
We pull off the road onto a dirt road lined with orange cones and drifiting with dust....which we discover is exactly like talcum powder, as described. We're soon crawling in traffic with no a/c and a lot of drifting dust. It's hot....it's slow...it's wearing. Over an hour and a half later we reach the Gate, after watching people walking the lines of cars trolling for extra tickets.
At the Gate we are boarded by one very hot looking woman. We almost kidnap her. She checks our vehicle inside & out...they're screening for weapons, primarily. She takes our ticket stubs and waives us through to "Greeters".
At Greeters we meet an extremely cheerful woman standing in an almost white-out dust storm who gives us the "Who What When" Guide and some other stuff and wants us to get out and dance. We're not up for the dust exposure so we thank her and move slowly down an access road lined with "Burma Shave" style signs that talk about various evolutionary issues (the theme of the Burn). It keeps us entertained during the slow crawl.
We have a pre-assigned camp spot at 5:30 & DNA near the company commissary (that serves food only to staff and some volunteers)
We find the spot and Fathom & Frolic (my BRC co-workers) are there. I pull in, we hook up to electricity and we find that the refrigerator isn't working and we can only run the a/c when Fathom doesn't have his on. Argh...good thing we brought the generator.
Frolic advises we ride the bikes out to The Man while the weather is good (ominous, but I didn't realize it at the time). I hop on mine, but the handlebars aren't stable, so I have problems. It's hot, we're tired. We didn't eat lunch. The hot bike ride across the desert does me in. It's not that far, but the heat, dust, the altitude and everything hits me and I get a little sick.
I lay down on a bench under the Man base. It looks like a
Gaudi-designed nest made of 2x4s. It's cooler in the shade. I drink
some water. Vinny brings back some crackers. After a bit I feel
better and we head back to camp
After a little recovery, Frolic puts us in a van and gives us a tour. The boys sit on folding chairs in the back and open the side door to see out periodically. We check out a variety of camps, cruise the outer perimeter, and get a good orientation.
We can see the Man from almost everywhere in the city...and behind it (from 6pm) the Temple is still under construction. The Temple always finishes a little late. The Man burns on Saturday...the Temple on Sunday. Unfortunately, we leave on Sunday morning and will miss the Temple burn....Vinny's flight in at 1pm on Monday and there's no way to stay for Sunday night's burn and make the flight.
We unload a few things and have some dinner. As night falls we head toward the Esplanade (innermost circle) and check out the vehicles waiting for licensing at DMV. These are art cars that are decorated elaborately and need a BRC DMV license to cruise the open Playa and Esplande. You're not supposed to drive any vehicle that doesn't have a DMV license other than to put your vehicle in its camp spot and leave again at the end of your stay. This is a GREAT way to see the new vehicles each evening
We hop in a photo booth art car and get our picture taken. Very cool. Then head counter-clockwise around the Esplande...then off into the mid-Playa attracted by anything burning or shiny.
We make it an early night as its been a long hot day. The dance places aren't even heating up yet.
Vinny decides to cruise the discos with Tom (one of the other guys in our camp who has a golf cart) while I hit the pillow hard.