On the road!
After the early morning panic of Sarah having a fever and possibly being concussed from her drunken adventure, and my coach being cancelled, we actually managed to pick up the behemoth of a car (seriously guys, cars in the UK are not that big) and back into town to pick up Katie and Zanna from their hotel… and onto the Bay Bridge and beyond! America continued to amaze me with it’s constantly changing landscape while we travelled on I80. We went to my first Walmart, which was fascinating, if not evil, and finally made it to Savemart in Reno in the early evening. this was our last supply stop, picking up all the water the five of us would need, our food and remaining medical supplies, and rebar from Home Depot (I swear B&Q must be owned by Home Depot. they are exactly the same apart from Home Depot has heavy duty building materials).
Savemart was a really cool place, it’s obvious that they must generate a lot of income from being the last stop to Burning Man, and even had a little map on the wall where Burners could mark where they had travelled from. They even sold El-Wire! Genius. I bought possibly the biggest sunglasses I’ve ever seen and we went in search of food. We’d been on the road all day so we were all hungry, tired and in much need of caffination. Gerlach and Empire were still hours away. We ended up at an IHOP (ermagherd, I Am Sam sprang to mind) and set off through mini-Vegas/Reno.
Mmmm, midnight Ihop
The drive to Gerlach and Empire was very long. Windy roads, miles and miles of open scrubland, and by this point, plenty of police patrolling for speeding Burners. We whacked on some Jungle and raved our way to Gerlach, where Sarah and I had our first gifts of goggles from a local vendor. I was still so nervous. There was no turning back now, but my heart was pounding in my chest. What was I doing? Why am I going to the desert, I can’t leave if I hate it…
We made it to Will Call at 2:30 a.m. with absolutely no queue. The playa dust had been building up in the last hour, we even put on our goggles and dust masks in the car. We got greeted and gifted and rang the bell. Home. We had made it.
Ringing the bell – photo courtesy of Danger Grainger
We made in to SpinCycle for 3 a.m., with no one at camp awake. We cracked open the champagne and started building Sarah and Danger’s hexayurt so we could at least get our heads down for a while. I have to admit, my first impressions of the playa weren’t the most positive – cold, you could feel the moisture steadily being sucked out of your skin, lips and eyes. But when the sun came up, boy, what a view! Sarah dropped me off at Orphans in the morning to set up camp. I was such a zombie by this point that Danger even built my tent for me! But the Orphans all had open arms and had been worried that I hadn’t made it.
Waving from an art car in a dust storm…
Later that day Danger, Sarah and I went for an explore. I was still pretty bewildered at this point (I think that’s how you’re supposed to feel at Burning Man), still really tired. We wandered all the way up to 3 o’clock, but the dust storms were pretty bad, making it so hard to move any distance. However, we did manage to find a slide and a trampoline!
Another art car braving the dust storms
Sarah in her pod