Becoming A Burner-PART 1

Getting myself to Burning Man has been a dream of mine for well over half a decade. Some might question, why? Why would you want to live and try to survive in the desert, a place that essentially wants to kill you and everything your bring to it, for over a week? Why would you want to solely rely only on yourself and your resources to withstand its terrain? Does that really sound like a DREAM? Let me tell you something, it IS.

Burning Man is a dream that crosses reality. It’s hard to imagine that this is a place that really exists. A 9.5 square mile radius city, that appears for one week, where anything and everything is possible, and then…it disappears. What consists of anything and everything? Perhaps it is a party where you are listening to music, lounging in a camp made up of hundreds of giant plush teddy bears. Maybe you’re cruising on your bike, watching a pirate ship float by on sand in the middle of no where. How about a theme camp where they play The String Cheese Incident live, while serving you gooey grilled cheese with a side of Sriracha sauce. For all one knows, you might enter a “human car wash”, where over 1,000 naked people are dancing around a giant tree of life, getting their naked bodies foamed and doused in water, while Allyson and Alex Grey live paint a brilliant mural painting…

BurningMan Ship

Black Rock City, NV, USA

Maybe– just maybe–that all was a dream… or maybe it’s just a small amount, of the few thousands dreams that others had, made into a reality at Burning Man–and, yes, I 100% experienced all of that and so much more. What seems impossible, is possible there. You take what you think you know about everything and anything and throw it out the window. For that matter, you take what you think you know about everything and anything, and thrown it out of this world. This is a place masked as a dream, and it continues to shock and awe many people, because it actually is REAL–all because of Burners. Burners, are the dreamers and doers, who make this otherworldly city what it is–and now… I am one of them…

For Starters…

I’m aware that many of you reading this, have been eagerly anticipating the write up(s). Know that I have put a lot of thought into how I should approach writing about this trip, this adventure, this “place” called Burning Man. It’s hard to believe that more than three months has gone by since I started my journey to Black Rock City, NV. What I’ve found out is–the amount of time preparing outlines, looking through my notes, or reliving the photos captured, will never be enough–nor do much justice for what it truly is. I’m still not sure if I fully understand it all, but the periods of reality bends coinciding with the accumulating days post Burn, have been just as educational as being there. I suppose I am still trying to grasp everything that happened, before, during and after this challenging experience–and the posts will unfold just in that way–encompassing passionate, honest, and raw thoughts.

So, you want to go to Burning Man, huh? Lets start from the beginning and set a few things straight so you can fully understand my story. First and for most, and to put it most simply, Burning Man is a lot of WORK. If the thought of attending has ever crossed your mind for a second, something you mentally should be preparing yourself for is the amount of effort and work it will take to get yourself there, survive, and return. Anyone that talks about Burning Man saying everything was absolutely flawless, perfect, no worries, the experience was a complete and udder supremacy, and they didn’t cry or almost shit their pants at least once, out of some sort of stressful factor, leading up to, during, or post Burn, is…(drumroll)… completely full of fucking shit. Again, I will say it, if someone is gloating about their Burn being absolute perfection, totally a cinch, didn’t encounter any sort of challenge, they are completely full of fucking shit! That, or they are a one-percenter, a sparkle pony, or an unfavorable combination of a non-participant and spectator. Maybe they’re just a liar trying to glorify their life, but in reality, getting to and through Burning Man is a challenge, and yes, a lot of work.

WTF is a Sparkle Pony? To help you get through this post and understand (some of) it.

Here is some BURNING MAN LINGO | Click [+] to read definition of terms.

The edges of the city, at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock,  dominated by large-scale sound camps. Lots of camp locations are stated this way to provide a location in the city. Example (Number on the clock) & (Letter of Road). See: Black Rock City

AKA a Muntant Vehicle.

A virgin Burner, someone who attends Burning Man for the first time.

AKA BRC. The annual, temporary city created by the community of Burning Man participants. The city is built in a semi-circle grid-like structure. The edges of the city are numbered like a clock, starting at 2 o’clock, to 2:15, 2:30, 2:45, etc. all the way to 10 o’clock. The cross roads start with the Esplanade, closest to the open Playa, and are lettered A through L (or M and so on, if the city keeps expanding). Every year the lettered street names are changed to go along with the theme of that particular years Burn.

Burning Man Information Radio. FM 94.5, Before, during, and after the event, it’s the place to get updates on things like wait times at the gate.

Reference to the actual event, or activity of burning the Burning Man statue.

One who pursues a way of life based on the values reflected in the Ten Principles of Burning Man.

At the very center 6, o’clock, of the inside curve of Black Rock City is Center Camp. This is where you will find information, lost and found, and the Center Camp Tent where you can buy coffee and tea.

Anyone who walks or rides on the playa at night without adequate lighting on the front and back of his/her person, bike or vehicle. Extremely dangerous.

In Black Rock City, the area of open playa behind the Man, particularly the outer realms near the perimeter trash fence.

AKA Playa Dust. The dried silt of Lake Lahontan, the prehistoric lakebed that is now the Black Rock Desert. Its high alkaline pH makes it corrosive, and its extremely fine particulate gets it into just about everything.

The main drag, the principal street. It’s the innermost ring road facing the Man – especially important to remember when the burning of the Man goes down.

The process and organization of the mass participant departure from BRC at the end of the event. Typically takes 2 to 6 hours.

Entrance to Burning Man, where you will find Will Call (if you don’t have your ticket prior), where your ticket will be checked, as well as where your vehicle will be searched to make sure you’re not smuggling people in.

The path connecting Black Rock City’s gate to Route 34, the nearest paved road.

The nearest town to the event. It’s a tiny village with a population of a bit over 200 people. Please respect their roads and area in order to keep Burning Man.

The act of giving something (material or otherwise) to another person without any expectation of receiving something in return. A staple within the community and one of the 10 principles.

Volunteers who welcome all arriving participants to Black Rock City.

“Used” water that has been contaminated by soap, toothpaste, playa dust, food residue, or similar pollutants. Though not as nasty as the “black water” of human waste, it needs to be carefully collected and removed from Black Rock City, never left on the playa. Typically disposed of by an Evaporation pool or machine built by Burners.

Self explanatory. Leaving no trace is one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man, and they are extremely serious about it. It means, what it means, leave nothing– no dirty water, cigarettes, not even a sequin, or feather. Anything on the ground at Burning Man that wouldn’t be there if we weren’t there, seriously ANYTHING, that is left on the Playa is referred to as MOOP.

Term used for the Burning Man statue. Located in the center of Open Playa, directly out from the Esplanade at 3, 6 or 9 o’clock.

Refers to “Matter Out Of Place,” including garbage, litter, and debris.

A motorized conveyance that is radically, stunningly, (usually) permanently, and safely modified. Licensed by the DMV (Department of Muntant Vehicles), these vehicles are an important part of the Burning Man experience.

A rich person, who shows up at Burning Man that uses hired staff such as, cooks, fashion designers, builders and security, to drop in for a quick visit. Basically, someone that does nothing to prepare them selves for their Burn, a non-radical, non- self reliant person. The total opposite of a Burner. Typically a millionaire or celebrity.

The portion of the playa that is within our pentagonal event space, but is used exclusively for art installations rather than camping space. In between Esplanade and The Man.

Someone who goes to Burning Man and participates rather than just watches.

Congratulations, you have consumed the proper amount of water to stay healthy and hydrated.

The Spanish word for beach, also used to describe dry lake beds in the American west such as the Black Rock Desert.

When your feet become dry and cracked due to prolonged exposure to the highly alkaline desert floor. Typically treated with a mild acid solution such as vinegar-water or lime juice, followed by moisturizing.

Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources. This also coincides with Gifting.

Cramps felt in the mind and spirit after returning to the “real” world after spending a week in Black Rock City.

This is generally a blissful state, however, there is some sadness in the realization that a human can only witness a tiny fraction of the vast, non-stop, brilliant activities occurring during the week-long event.

A Theme Camp that exists for the purpose of playing loud music. Many are located on the Esplanade all the way around from 10 & 2.

Derogatory term for a participant who fails to embrace the principle of radical self-reliance, and is overly reliant on the resources of friends, campmates, and the community at large to enable their Burning Man experience. Often fashionably attired, since they packed nothing but costumes.

Someone who comes to the playa to gawk and not participate. Someone you don’t want to be.

One of the many large scaled art installations at Burning Man, located in a direct line from 6 o’clock on the Esplanade, to the Man, and onwards out to the trash fence. During the week of the event, people write thousands of memorial messages to people or animals they’ve lost, or leave burnable reminders of them. On the final Sunday of the event, the Temple is burned.

The ten core guiding concepts of the Burning Man project. CLICK HERE to read about the 10 Principles, or find out about them later in this post.

A campsite which artistically presents an idea or concept and is designed to create an interactive experience for participants.

A fence set up along the perimeter of Burning Man to prevent inevitable garbage waste from traveling into the nearby mountain range and surrounding nature.

When the wind picks up and causes a violent dust storm, producing zero visibility.

Believe it or not, this is a short list of some key lingo. To find a full list of Burning Man Lingo, check out these amazing recourses (where I pulled this info from). Official Glossary | BurningMan.org, Burning Man Lingo for Virgins | Fest300.com, Glossary of Unfamiliar Terms | BurnLife

The good news is, most things that are challenges, require you to learn, and learning is always a very good thing. I think it is one of my favorite things about growing older– learning something new every day.  This, for sure, was one of the BIGGEST learning experiences of my life. I think a lot of people envision what their first experience will be like at an event like this. I for sure, since I have been researching, following, and waiting years to get there, had many preconceived thoughts of how perfect and amazing this place would be. I went into Burning Man, approaching it as another festival experience, one of my biggest bucket list festivals to attend, if you will. That was the first of many things I did wrong. If you think that this place is just another party to attend, think again. Burning Man is not a festival, it is a city. And just like any other city in the world, what we take away from these places are the many great things they share with us when we travel there– the people, the culture, the fashion, the food, the music, the art, the beautiful views. Let me tell you that Black Rock City is absolutely beyond transcendent to anything and anywhere else I have ever been.

Burning Man Sunset

Deep Playa Sunset

But even with all of the fantastic things it brings, just like all wonderful, large scaled cities, there are a lot of things that are not so great about them– theft, vandalism, physical injuries, salty-judgmental people, missing persons, and sometimes deaths. The week you spend in Black Rock City is not perfect, at least mine wasn’t, and I have finally excepted that. When you are there, it is just like any other day in life. There are good days– days with moments filled with so much love, creating memories with new friends and old, infinite smiles and laughs, and many occasions where your heart is so full, you’re astonished of how truly lucky you are to be alive and open your eyes.

img_3799

One of the best days of our lives.

But make no mistake, there are also bad days– days with challenges, hardships, and many times you want to scream and cry out of so much anger, sadness or disappointment. Some of what I write concerning the truth behind what actually happens at Burning Man, in Black Rock City, many optimistic Burners, or future attendees might venture to impugn. That’s OK. Everyone has their story of their first burn, this one is mine… And, yes, next year will be better.

Preparing For The Playa…

As mentioned, I had come up with some preconceived concoction for years in my head, that for my first Burn I’d roll up to Black Rock City in an RV full of friends, lavish with food, water and endless party favors. There would be plenty of space and shelter to hide in (if need be) from the white-outs, have somewhere to sleep, shower, get ready, cook meals, and basically handle and conquer every scenario with an open mind. Simply put, I/we would be very well prepared and it would be the best time of our lives. Well, that didn’t happen (at least the RV and a ton of friends part). In fact, getting there was such a last minute surprise, I actually debated about going. I didn’t find out until mid May that I was awarded a low-income ticket, which I had applied for in March. At that point, I had already had tickets and hotels, purchased for Movement Detroit, Electric Forest, and round two of Ibiza for Carl Cox’s final summer residency at Club Space. Well, fuck… that’s a shit-load of pre-planned debauchery, and a good chunk of mula already lined up. We all know when it comes to these destination events, all of it costs us more than a pretty penny, even when you strategically budget as best as possible.  I thought to myself about how I worked my ass off on that application and now I can finally attend my dream event for such a low price. I contemplated  about going with everything else I had going on, and I truly didn’t think I could afford it. My mother and grandfather, along with many other supporters, insisted I go. This was a once in a lifetime chance, what if I wasn’t awarded a low income ticket again the following year? Nothing is ever promised in life, so even though I couldn’t really afford it, I decided to go for it (obviously).

So here I was, riding solo, with a (practically free) ticket to Burning Man. Although I have attended many major festivals completely alone–Ultra, The Groove Cruise, Tomorrowland, SXMusic, to name a few, going to Burning Man alone was something that didn’t sit with me well. Yup, it actually scared the shit out of me–only because I had been researching it for so long, and knew the amount of preparation needed to get there. People prepare year round for it, and now I had three months, and within those three months, I had other major plans, not to mention I travel for work! How could I possibly get ready for this while barely being home?

burningmanlowincome

INSTAGRAM: @jess_aka_poots

My first plan of action was to find a theme camp to camp with. This would provide me with a lot of things I wouldn’t have, not being able to get an RV alone or on such short notice–showers, kitchen, shaded shelter, generators, a community of people etc. The second thing I did was figure out how to prepare all my supplies and actually get there. Luckily for me, my good friend Doug AKA Baby Doug, last minute decided he also was going to attend and said I could drive with him in his car from Los Angeles. The closest airport and city nearest to the Black Rock Desert is Reno, NV (about a 3 hour drive). So although the long drive from LA (14 hour drive) was way more than I had anticipated or wanted to do prior to such a massive event, I knew it would be a fun adventure, and I was grateful I had someone to share it with. Not to mention somewhere to sleep, prep meals, get everything situated for free, and a vehicle to get us there (thanks Baby Doug). I think the best part was actually having a true friend to go with and have my back for the full experience. Things started to fall together, and I was slowly feeling a little more at ease.

A few weeks prior to the Burn, I spent a lot of time reading, researching, packing and mentally preparing for what was to come. I also last minute designed some outfits and goggles to wear! I packed a large box of supplies and shipped it out to Baby Doug, and before you knew it, it was time to fly out West. Man, I am telling you, I could taste the dust already. I was so excited to finally be doing this, yet, I can honestly say I was so stressed trying to prepare, it made me sick.

BEFORE…

Anyone that follows me on snapchat, saw from start to finish how I transformed and designed from scratch, my goggles, hat, full outfit and, custom sunnies to wear!

FOLLOW ME!

SNAPCHAT:

@jessAKApoots

AFTER…

Left Coast…

I arrived on Thursday, three days prior to when the week long event started. We still needed to buy all of our supplies, water, food, prep it, cook it, freeze it, pack it, pack everything we had with the least amount of MOOP creating materials, find bikes to bring, pick up the bikes, decorate our bikes, finish crafting (if we had time), pack everything to survive for a week in the desert, in a four door Cadillac. And yes, you really do need to bring everything you need with you in order to live there. Shelter, food, water, clothes, party essentials, transportation (your bike), I mean everything! The only thing you can purchase at Burning Man is coffee and ice. You bring everything else with you. Pack it in, pack it out–hence “Leave No Trace”…a city that appears, then disappears…

It seems like a lot of work. It really is, and I wish I could say I was joking. From the moment I got to LA on Thursday around 11pm, up until 4am Sunday morning, we did not stop. Everything took so much time to prepare, we got only one full night of sleep (from Thursday to Friday) and a few hours sleep from Friday to Saturday, because time started to slip away. Oh yeah, and we still had to drive the 14 hours to Black Rock City…

So if you could imagine, a hectic day running around getting our final necessities, filling up five, five gallon jugs of water (which I highly recommend you never do this, but I’ll get to that later), stocking up on a plethora of alcohol (personal and donation for our camp), and a full day of cooking food, we had completely pulled an all-nighter into Sunday morning.

With a car stocked full to the brim we set off for BRC around 5am Sunday morning. There was so much in this car for just the two of us, so my thoughts of being completely prepared in an RV full of friends weren’t completely unwarranted, because one thing was for sure, we had nailed it on being as best prepared for this last minute trip as we could ever be for just the two of us. The only thing I wasn’t prepared for, were all the issues that would be thrown at us over the course of the next few days. This was the second thing I did wrong–thinking the hardest part was over.

The worst piece of advice I ever got from the internet. DO NOT, do this!

Meet G-Bear and Raffaello, our bike companions!

Getting to Black Rock City…

So, as if the chaos wasn’t enough, with quite literally, so-much-fucking-shit in this car, I had a portable generator plugged into the car port so I could finish hot gluing these awesome little pom-poms on a wide brimmed hat I scored for $7 at Target, all while Baby Doug was pushing 80MPH through the California desert. That wasn’t the real reason for the crafting. The importance of the glue gun and crafting lied in the thought of us being called Darkwads on the Playa, a big no, no, in BRC! That’s right,  I was hot gluing over 60 LED tiny lights I had bought for us to wear, another task that I had run out of time to complete, while doing everything else, but a necessity conducive for our safety.  We started passing through the Mojave Desert as the sunrise slowly creeped up on us, and shortly there after Red Rock Canyon State Park, which was really something else to see. I would have snagged a better picture if I wasn’t balancing a hot glue gun amongst tons of LED’s and safety pins. That’s OK, I guess there are some things that are better if you saw it with your own eyes anyway.

Red Rock Canyon Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park

So now I’m about to hit going on over 24hours of being awake, something I’m used to doing if I were at a festival or underground party in NYC, but news flash, I wasn’t, and after hours of prepping I was beyond burnt out. Baby Doug had slept in a little later than me the prior morning, so I told him since he had a little more time with the Zzz’s than me, I was going to nap for at least an hour or so, and then I’d take over driving so he could sleep.

It was probably around 9AM now and the first time my head had hit a pillow or that I closed my eyes in what seemed like and eternity. When I woke up, it seemed like only a few minutes had gone by. Well, about twenty minutes, had gone by to be exact. I woke up feeling like we were off-roading in a jeep, the road just seemed to get so bumpy. I didn’t even look over at Doug, all I could do was look straight and try to figure out, while all in a semi-blurred sleep, why the fuck was I staring at thousands of desert bushes and plants?

Not just staring at them, running over them one by one–bump, bump, bump. It was as if we were in a game of Mario Cart, and every bush was a question box, and we were the lucky bitches that got the magic star, able to plow through anything completely indestructible, and going faster and faster. Now it seemed like we were driving through this desert oasis of bushes forever, well it felt like it, to me at least, considering I was the only one that was awake!! And although it was only a few seconds, I still hadn’t looked over at Doug because I was now looking at the other side of this free-way of cars flying by, that we were about to hit… “Doug?….” No response. “DOUG?!”…… Finally….”DOUG!!!!!!!!!!!!” Slams on the breaks and we’re sitting maybe ten feet away from the shoulder of oncoming traffic, in the middle median. That’s when we looked at each other.

Now just so you know, we both said we’d keep this part of story on the DL, but I think it is key factor in our journey to BRC, so sorry Baby Doug, for making this public but I think everyone needs to understand that THIS, was just the BEGINNING, for us. Yes, almost dying, was the first of many factors of getting to and conquering Burning Man. And for once in our lives we could finally use that expression, “But did you die?” and it actually would make sense, because yes, we could have fucking died, but we didn’t! I also think it’s important for people to understand that when you are doing so much to prepare for an event like this, it is extremely draining, and just wait until your body is ready and it’s safe for you to get there. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t prep for Burning Man and drive.

Now, getting back to the story, after we looked at each other, we both asked if the other was OK, we drove off to the (proper) side of the high way to check the car for damages. The car was so loaded, it was so close to the ground, we had our bikes on the rack on the trunk, and we were far enough from LA but in reality, we were so much farther from Black Rock City. So all of that, not to mention this car is Doug’s “baby” if you will, he loves this thing, and we weren’t sure what sort of damage to expect. We got out. We circled the car. I got down and looked under it. I mean, the car looked like a raver chick on her way to EDC, with a plethora of flowers plastered all over it, but other then that…NOTHING. So wait a second? Not a scratch on this car, not a bruise or anything on us? Doug couldn’t stop saying sorry, but I wasn’t even mad, I wasn’t even phased in the slightest. To think of all the possibilities, of what could have happened? How we miraculously didn’t hit a single pole, or another car, AND the car and us had nothing wrong with it. Pure gold! I didn’t come this far to die, and if I was going to die, it would be in the desert at Burning Man. Happily, and for pretty obvious reasons, I offered to drive, and only with my 20 minute power nap under my belt, we made a pact that we were in this thing for real, together now, no one was sleeping, and we were fucking getting to the Burn.

Our route from Los Angeles, CA to Black Rock City, NV

We continued on approaching the Inyo National Forest, where the freeway cuts through this massive 2-million acre woodland, made up of massive pines. I think for both of us at this point, we just kept thinking how at any other point of this trip, had that happened anywhere else, we would have be dead. The east coast drive up through California to Nevada is nothing but National Parks, with huge trees, falling rocks, sharp turns, deserts, things that just want to slay you. We just so happened to be on a straight away and were extremely lucky. I suggested we stop for coffee to take a breather and perk up a bit. So as I shut the car off for us to go inside and snag some caffeine, I go to put Baby Doug’s keys away, and immediately had this rush go through my body. A rush so intense, I thought I was going to cry. No, no, not because we almost died, but because when I looked at the keys I noticed something was missing.

Whooooshhhh, flash back to the day before when we were prepping everything for our journey. Our bikes were on the back of the car, on a bike rack that I had shipped out to Baby Doug in that big box of supplies I had conjured up. It was my parents bike rack from the 80’s and the U-lock that came with it had the tiniest key, yes singular, only one key, known to mankind to lock and unlock it. I had the key attached to a rubber band on my wrist, but going back to the early morning when we loaded up the car and went back inside to go over my massive check-list of things to bring, the rubber band had snapped. I said, “Shit we need to put this somewhere…” and Baby Doug, said, “Yeah, no worries, we’ll put it on my keys.” Then (like an idiot) I put it down on the kitchen counter. I went to the bathroom, Doug finished grabbing the last minute stuff we had inside and guess where that key never went? Onto his keys.

So whoooooooooosh, now we’re back to sitting in the car in the middle of fucking no where, so far from LA, so far from BRC, we almost just died, but that didn’t matter to me because NOW, our bikes are locked onto the back of the car, that is full of all of our supplies, and there is virtually no way to get them off, or get into our trunk. GREAT.

Not only are we sleep deprived, and so far from a real city of civilization, we now have yet another major issue to deal with. The closest city on our way was Reno, NV, probably a good three or four hours out of our way from the route we were on. The only thing we could do now was find a shop that would be able to cut this U-lock off and purchase another one somewhere, but we didn’t know where we would even come across one. Our hopes of getting to Black Rock City in the middle of the day, instead of before dark, we’re slowing diminishing, but what could we do, besides move on right?

Our updated route to Black Rock City, NV

Luckily for me, Baby Doug is a positive thinker. You need to put out good energy to receive it, and I guess he just couldn’t get over the fact that I was more mad that I had left the U-lock key in LA, over him almost killing us both. At this point, he probably realized what a psycho I am, but anyone that truly knows me, knows that I am entirely too hard on myself sometimes, and this was such a miserable set back (in my opinion). But to go with the route of optimisim, I’d say there were four good things that came out of this scenario. One, was the fact that I realized this before we got to BRC. Praise the Playa-Dust-Gods, for that, because that could have been a complete shit show if we got there and all our shit was locked onto our car. The second was we now had to drive through Yosemite National Park, and the sights we’re breathtaking! The third was scoring a real fur jacket for $40 at a flea market on our way to Reno–Nothing like some retail therapy to make a woman feel better! And the fourth was that I learned something–“add the U-lock key onto the checklist!” Remember I said this was the biggest learning experience I’ve ever had? And believe me, this was just the start.

View of Yosemite Valley, CA

So as we’re sitting at a light going through Carson City, I noticed a Target and a Home Depot next to each other. BOOM!– Grab a new U-lock at Target, and hopefully have someone at the Home Depot hack saw our U-lock off, for free. We had to wait for the guy from the rental tool department to go on break, so we grabbed some sandwiches and waited. Taking a break was good, but the wait only caused more anxiety for me because what if they couldn’t get it off after waiting so long? Once again Baby Doug to the rescue, keeping the faith, this was the last bad thing we would have to deal with, so not so bad right? Right… So after we finally hack sawed this U-lock off, slipped this guy a $20 for being so helpful and nice, we hit the road again, we got gas, stocked up on every last thing we possibly could need in Reno and swore we wouldn’t have any more setbacks or stops, before finishing the final few hours of our trip.

Nevada, USA

We were getting so close and we knew it when we were on the single lane highway approaching Gerlach, NV, and all you could see were RV’s, campers, and burners en route to BRC. Now, Gerlach has a population of under 200 souls, with only two gas stations on the major highways before BRC. We had gotten gas, (as suggested) in Reno, but we’re at a half a tank by now, and still two hours to go to BRC (according to our GPS). So now we debated with, do we sit in the line for gas, or just go? What if we don’t make it, or worse, make it back out? That was the last thing we wanted to deal with!

So, we back tracked to this other gas station we had seen earlier, because the line at the one closet to BRC, was so absurd. Of course where we backtracked to didn’t have any gas, and didn’t have a time on when it would arrive. Back we go to where we were to begin with and we start to wait in line. There were about five lines and they all wrapped around, there we’re at least fifteen RV’s we could see in front of us, at least.

Part of the line(s) at one of the only gas stations in Gerlach, NV.

Gerlach, NV. Population: WANTED.

Three hours later we get to the pump. Three hours–yup–I’m not exaggerating. I mean I would really be nuts if I were trying to purposely denigrate this experience, but this is quite literally what happened, and by this time night time had fallen upon us, and the one thing we really didn’t want to happen was going to happen, arriving to this new, highly unpredictable city, in the Black Rock Desert, trying to find our camp, in complete darkness.

The thought of having two more hours to drive, made me cringe. It was now after 10pm and we’re pushing thirty hours of no sleep. We get back on the road and to my surprise about fifteen minutes later we turn onto Gate Road. Hold up, just a fucking second? Did we just wait in line for three fucking hours for gas, when the entrance to the event was right around the corner? HA! This is a sick joke right? Was this another thing we did wrong?

No. In fact getting gas was the best thing would could have done (in the long run, and you’ll see why later), but at the time the thing we had done wrong was look at how far we we’re time-wise and not milage-wise from BRC. We were there. I mean really, we we’re practically THERE but the time on the GPS was accounting for the traffic entering the city from Gate Road to the Gate. I couldn’t believe it. I was so delirious and not only that, we hit Gate Road right when a massive storm was rolling in. I told Doug to take over, I couldn’t handle it any more, I was passing out, while they shut down the whole line as this storm rolled through. I mean… you couldn’t see the cars that we’re two feet in front of you or next to you. It was essentially the most pertinent “welcome home” gift we could have received after all we had been through. Here we go… right into a massive white out…WE MADE IT.

“Becoming A Burner” is a three part story of my first Burning Man experience. This post is PART 1 of 3.

These posts are solely about what actually happened while getting there, being there, and coming back from Black Rock City.  

“Becoming A Burner”

PART 1- Dreams vs. Reality

Part 1 of the story covers the beginning and the struggles of getting to Black Rock City.

PART 2- In Dust We Trust

Part 2 covers the experience of being there, surviving and living in Black Rock City.

PART 3- To Exodus And Beyond

Part 3 covers getting home and the aftermath of Black Rock City.

 

Keep reading and stay up to date with #F3P2 short code for, “Fucking Finally Fridays with Planet Poots!” where I’ll be releasing new content which will include the other two parts of this story as well as advice to attend and prepare for Burning Man!

2 Comments

  1. Priz December 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Makes me want to go to bm next year! Thanks Planet Poots!!

  2. Tricia December 24, 2016 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Amazing!!!

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