Chapter 3 – Waiting for Godot….Er, uh…CruiseAmerica, I mean.

Originally posted 10/18/2008

When I arrived back at CruiseAmerica, that day, Saturday, the 21st, I checked in at the desk, No, they were not issuing RV’s yet. They were still receiving rentals back that would be turned around and handed back out later. It seems that 40 RVs were scheduled to depart from there that day.

I inquired about parking for my car, since I had asked the reservation person if there was a place to keep my car while I was off with the RV, she had assured me there was, at this location. “We only have those six spaces by the building where you are parked now”, said the man behind the desk. Yikes, best not go anywhere and lose my spot then, I’d have no place to park!  So, I was there for the duration.

My plan was simple, get the RV, get it packed (throw everything in and sort it out later), head down the street and pick up cases of bottled water and other necessities at Costco, and hit the highway to be in Reno by 9pm or so….Right?  Yeah, right.

I went out to the shaded porch to wait.  The day was beginning to warm up and I was determined to get used to being hot for the next ten days. Outside, there were two couples and another man.  As we began talking, I learned they were all going to Burning Man, as were so many of the folks who showed up later that day.  At least one person from each of the couples was an experienced ‘burner’, while the individual guy was a ‘virgin’ burner like me. 

It became apparent, from the conversation, that he had not done as much research as I had, into what was about to happen to him in the coming week.  So, as the morning wore on, he learned a few things from the couples there.  As it turned out, he was the lucky person to have signed in as #1 on the list that morning.  One of the two couples was #5 on the list, just after me.

Just after noon, as the day was really heating up, we were all advised to make sure we viewed the ‘RV users video’ which explained where everything was in the RV and how to use it.  By that time, the covered porch was crowded with folks, both coming and going, and the back lot looked like a taxi stand with all the cabs loading, or waiting to load luggage from campers returning their RVs.  The man at the desk said “It will be awhile.” (Remember, they had said they would be issuing RVs in “mid-morning”)

This was on the weekend before Labor Day weekend, and with 40 RVs coming in and going out, it seemed very disorganized.  That being said, I had originally been told that RVs usually start going out after 1pm, so I had originally planned on that being the case, but I had an estimated eight-hour drive ahead of me once the RV was loaded up. So, even at #4 on the sign in sheet, I was a still a little worried.

1pm came and went.  Still no RVs going out.  The place was getting crowded with returning campers waiting for cabs and incoming campers waiting for their RVs.  It seemed as if the returning campers were all still here.  The cabs did not seem to be leaving, just waiting.

At 2pm, the temperature out back was approaching 100.  By then, I had watched the Renters video at least twice, and I’d had a returning renter from France offer to sell me a practically new coffeemaker (no doubt purchased just for camping and  not something they wanted to fly back home with). There was pretty much no where left to sit inside or out, since a huge line had formed at the counter and all the tables and benches outside were filled with people and luggage. Folks were sprawled about the floor with their luggage. It was beginning to look like an airport with flight delays.

I decided at that point, to begin unburdening my car. I got the bike and ladder off the rack and pulled the rack off the car.  I opened up the luggage carrier on the roof and prepped everything for a quick transfer and getaway.  Right!

2:10pm found Mr. Virgin Burner, #1 on the list, receiving the first RV of the day, at this rate I figured the 40th RV of the day would be issued the following Monday. Two more followed, a group of burners from the UK and another couple.  Then…nothing.  Waiting.  Waiting.

My fellow burners, 5th on the list, began to deliberately agitate the folks behind the desk, much to my delight, in an effort to embarrass the staff to get things moving faster.  The natives were restless and at 2:30pm, after waiting five hours, I was finally escorted to my rental.

To my surprise, it was a practically new RV with less than 13,000 miles on it! The escort ticked off items on the checklist to make sure the vehicle was ready, and told me the water and propane tanks were all full already, no need to fill up.  (They were out of propane there and were telling those who needed it to go up the street to a place that could fill the tanks)  There was just one problem, I could not drive my car back there to the RV and I could not park the RV next to the car.

So, I began moving stuff from the car to the RV, all the way across the lot.  As I worked it seemed to get hotter and hotter with each trip.  I began to slow down and felt the heat and dryness cracking the corners of my mouth.  Would it be like this on the Playa?  I finally decided to move the RV closer to the car, even if that meant incurring the wrath of the staff for parking partway in the driveway.  This solution, at least, seemed to speed up the process. That, and the staff there were too busy by then to notice.

By 3:00pm , everything was packed (thrown) in the RV and my head was pounding from the 100+ heat and the fact I had finished my last bottle of water an hour before.  I fired up the RV, cranked the AC to full, waved to my fellow burners who were just getting their RV, and headed down the street to stock up on water.

A word about the RV: This RV was a 25 foot motor home. It had heat, AC, small refrigerator / freezer, oven, range top , range hood, microwave and kitchen sink.  The bathroom had a toilet and shower unit with a vanity and sink just outside the bathroom door. One bed over the cab, another queen bed in the back end and the table converted to a bed as well.

In short, all the amenities of home with a limited amount of water and propane. I was determined to conserve as much of that water as possible over the week by using the porta-potties instead of the on-board unit, and by taking sponge baths or using the camp shower, instead of the RV shower. This RV drives like a large rental truck but you get used to the handling after a few hundred miles.  Having no rear view mirror and using the wide, side mirrors takes some getting used to also. 

At Costco I found 1/2 liter bottles of spring water and one liter bottles of ‘drinking’ water, so i got several cases of each and a couple of 2.5 liter spring waters in containers with little spigots on them.  I had more water than I would need but, perhaps someone else might need some.  I had volunteered to bring mixer sodas for the bar too, but that could wait until Reno.  I wasn’t sure about the bottled water situation with thousands of people headed through Reno but I knew I could always find soda there.

So, I loaded the water in the RV and headed for the freeway entrance.  It was now 3:30 and I was looking at arrival in Reno at close to 11:30 now.

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