After twelve hours of driving yesterday, we arrived in Hawthorne and checked in to the loveliest little place called America’s Best Inn. My parents slept in the room and I was alone in the RV, rocking in the wind, listening to the sound of people coming and going. I woke with excitement and peace. All the work is done, all the hard driving is over, it’s time to go play in the desert. I’m proud of my mom for being here – this is not her idea of a great way to spend a week. But here she is, goggles and dust mask in hand, ready for adventure. And even smiling.
I have traveled all kinds of crazy places with my parents. I was in a boat on Apache Lake when I was 12 days old. We camped on the beach in Rocky Point when I was 6. We canoed the Panama Canal the summer before 8th grade. When I was 15, we all went to Ecuador so my dad and brother could climb Cotapoxi(sp? too tired to look it up). It has been many years since our last adventure together….and today I feel like this is the biggest adventure ever and it hasn’t really started.
This morning we got up and ready, thinking we would have some breakfast and head to the gate. The drive should take 3 hours or so, and then the line about 5. As I type this, we have been driving for nearly 12 hours and haven’t yet hit the dirt road that marks the entrance. Part of this is our fault, as we got out of town and realized we forgot to fill up the RV with gas.
What? My parents are the most prepared and conscientious travelers I know. They don’t forget the important things. My mom did forget her dry shampoo and dish soap, and she’s pretty mad about it, but that is a minor discomfort compared with the possibility of being stranded in a 30 foot RV somewhere in the middle of Nevada.
We consulted Google Maps, trying to determine if we had enough gas to go forward, or if we needed to turn around. The dashboard alert said we could go 50 more miles. We were about 18 miles outside of Hawthorne, from whence we came, and 51 to the next town with a guaranteed gas station. We opted to turn back.
After filling up, getting coffee and tea, and making our way once again, we found there was an open gas station about ten miles from where we were stopped. Thanks Google Maps for not showing that important station on your list. Super helpful.
We motored along quite happily for quite some time, stopping at the Loves in Fernly for some last minute snacks and ice. In the ladies room, a gaggle of young ladies were busily dying their hair in the sink. The parking lot was packed with every type of vehicle imaginable, all clearly headed for Black Rock City.
Right outside of town traffic stopped completely. No one knew why, we just all sat, in park, engines off. An ambulance went by, headed the other direction. Police cars sped down the access road below. People got out of their cars, and we met several of our neighbors. Eric from San Francisco was ahead of us with a stack of wood on his truck that was intended to build a yurt with a 30 foot diameter on the ground floor and a second floor for dancing. He is camping in Yurtopia. At our second long stop, he busted out the generator and speaker, for everyone’s enjoyment.
Then we met Pamela and Tony, in the car behind us. They met at Burning Man 7 years ago when Tony created a small but important theme camp called Bacon and Beethoven. Three years ago they built their own temple on the playa and were married here. And so they return every year to celebrate their anniversary. They could not be more adorable and fun, and we spent a great deal of time chatting with them.
On our final stop, while sitting in the shade of our giant RV, we met Jerod, who arrived from St. Thomas. This is is second burn, and he was searching for a better playa name. I was explaining to him where we are camping and how we have camp duties that I am anxious about my ability to fulfill. The most difficult being a requirement that I guard our temple from 1:30 am to 4:30 am Tuesday and Wednesday, and I must wear all white. My white outfits look sad and uninteresting in this backdrop of sensory overload.
The solution? Jerod has a white priest robe I can borrow. I must arrive at his camp on Monday to procure the robe, and offer my unending worship of him, but only when he is present. Perfect. The Playa Will Provide….
Sweet Caroline. It’s nearly one a.m. I’m so tired I cannot see straight, nor type. We made it through the long process of getting here. We arrived at our camp quite late, got parked and signed in, we met Curtis our Grove Leader who is also a Ranger. I took off on my bike just to get my bearings and be away from this tiny box we will call home for the next week, and I lasted all of twenty minutes out there.
I know it is my job to write about what I see and experience, and make more sense of the world. Maybe someday I will be successful at my job. Right now, I can just tell you this. If you have not been to Burning Man, I may never be able to describe it to you, and I’ve only just arrived. Here he is, the man we will burn on Saturday.
I have now met him in person. I have made dust angels with many other Burning Man Virgins. I have arrived at the place where everyone greets you with a hug, the music plays all night, there is love and peace and dancing. I will never in a million years be able to convey what is happening here – I have already left out enough to fill ten novels. Trust me when I tell you, you wish you were here.