Sunday, August 30, 2009

Burning Man 2009 - Arrival

Driving through the desert between Utah and Nevada is actually interesting. You drive right through the salt flats, past Bonneville raceway. During the week I had been averaging 52 miles per gallon in the Prius, here on the Freeway it dropped down to 45. There were a few hills that were big enough that wore the battery down so the electric motor turned off and then the car felt like a little economy car engine but other than that it was great to drive.
They penalize people for arriving early by shuttling them into a standby lot so I planned it to get there after Midnight. I forgot about the time change going into Nevada but I also made more stops and got off later than expected so everything balanced out. I arrived in the small town of Gerlach Nevada at around 1:00 AM. (I left at 4:00 Utah time for a total of 8 hours driving.) For the next 20 miles there was a line of cars. I knew there was going to be a wait but not this long. For the next four hours it was a process of turn on the car, move 20 feet, turn off the car. I am so lucky I was in a Prius since it handles all that stop and go nicely.
On arrival at the front gate they checked my ticket, gave me the schedule of events and map of the city and art. For how long the line was, once you got to the front it was a big party. One of the people asked me if it was my first time. Being that it was, I was deemed a “playa virgin” where I had to get out and make a “playa angel” in the dust turn over and repeat then ring a giant bell. For all the emails I got saying they would check for certain items they looked into my car and said “my car looked full enough for a week full of stuff” and let me through.
Since I would be camping in a tent and I knew there could be strong winds I chose to camp at “8:00” to protect me the most from the wind. I drove up to an empty space at at 5:00 AM and asked around if anyone had marked off the area and started to set up my tent.
This is where everything went wrong. The shade structure I bought, I knew was cheap since I only planned on using it once. It was packed in a bag I knew I would have a hard time repacking so I never took it out until now. Now as I set it up it was like the old style tents where you could never get more than one leg up at a time. After a while I gave up on that and not to be deterred drove 4 stakes into the ground and put the poles over the stakes. As I was stretching the tarp over the poles one of the poles broke. As I was scratching my head on what to do next the people that were setting up a tent next to me decided to leave and an RV pulled into it’s place turned off it’s lights, turned on its generator with the exhaust pointing at my camp and would not answer the door when I knocked.
I was too tired from being up all night. The sun was up and the thermometer already said 90F degrees. I gave up. I asked myself what I was doing there by myself. I thought about packing up and heading back to Utah. I knew I was cranky from being dehydrated and tired but I could at least fix the dehydrated part so I grabbed a drink and started to think of what to do. I moved my car so it was as close as possible to the tent. I took the tarp I was going to use as the wall and closed two ends into the front and back door and staked the other two into the ground. This at least covered my tent with shade so I rolled out the sleeping bag, pillow and fell asleep instantly.
(It might seem like such a little deal but shade is valuable thing, almost everyone had either a geodesic dome, fast popup, PVC and tarp, or some sort of parachute or tarp structure over their tent. Those that didn’t slept in the center camp.)

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