Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.
With all the people at the camp, we had split up into two waves. Wave 0 had all the RVs and a large art piece that needed to be installed. They had skipped sleeping in Reno and were getting out there to set up the camp shade structure and basics. I am a big believer in sleep so I was in Wave 1, which partially left Reno at 7am - some of the others left at 9am.
The drive to BRC is beautiful and it gave me a chance to talk to the person i was in the car with. If you ever read this, thank you again for a great introduction to burning man and for the discussion. We made excellent time from Reno all the way to Gate Road, which is the single entry and exit from BRC. and this is where things started...
I don't know what was going on with traffic management, but there were about eight lanes on Gate Road. If you took the lanes on the left side, you were able to get in at least two hours before the lanes on the right. Gate Road has got to be about 2 miles, and it took us about 6 hours to get through it - we were on the right.
But this was my first time, so I actually thought the whole thing was pretty neat. We were parked on the road. People kept wandering around, taking their clothes off due to the heat. And it was a good chance to talk to your neighboring drivers. Our car was pulled up next to another car in Wave 1, so four of us hung out in the shade of an RV, occasionally spraying ourselves with sunblock, snacking, and chatting. We started talking to a guy named Brody, who came over when i remarked how nice his Dodge Challenger was.
Brody was on his second burn, and he was coming into this one alone because he was just coming off his divorce. "oh", i say, startled. "me too". He starts talking about how this is his second divorce, and I pull back for a moment. Is this me? Coming to Burning Man on a reactionary escapist whim? I didn't think so at the time but maybe? I shelve it for later.
Eventually we make it to the camp. Wave 0 has set up like a champ. We have a huge shade structure, an air conditioned hexa-yurt (the Hug Dungeon), and the RV's are arranged to frame our site. I set up my tent and change into my Playa clothes, which consist of a pair of harem pants from india, a beach cover up top, and my boots.
I don't recall what the rest of the camp did that night - they might have been tired from lack of sleep. I do remember that I grabbed my bike and rode out into open playa, the section in the middle of BRC. It was freeing to ride out after being in the car and I felt like i could go anywhere. I had wrapped my bike and backpack in lights so I was visible, and as I left the city, i made sure to spot some landmarks so i could find my way back.
That night, the street to my camp was flanked by a lighthouse pyramid and tall mustached eyeball. I don't remember what else i saw but it felt great to ride out at night into the desert.