Originally published 5/5/2009
Tuesday morning dawned crisp, clear, and dust-free. I missed that part. I was still zonked from the day before. I awoke at 7:30AM having just missed the sunrise, (which I had hoped to capture on film). Back home it was 10:30AM – late for me since I usually leave around that time to make it to work by Noon. I rolled out and started the day with two more important rituals for those visiting the desert.
First, sunscreen. I tend to tan, rather than burn most times, but I was taking no chances, especially at a higher altitude where UV exposure is greater. Those who burn more, will want to carry the sunscreen along and apply more often.
Second, filling the hydration pack with a fresh, cold batch of water. I was lucky enough, being in a small RV, to have a working fridge. I got into the habit of placing one-liter bottles in to get cold, and half-liter bottles in the freezer to get solid . Why?
My hydration pack has a two-liter bag. This I filled with two one-liter bottles. Then I packed two half-liter, frozen bottles in with it. One on either side of the bag. This meant that my water stayed colder, longer, and by the time the two liters was gone, the two one-liter bottles were thawed enough to drink. Effectively giving me a three liter hydration pack. Since you should hydrate with about one liter of water per hour spent out on the playa, that gave me more time away from the RV.
Another good habit, in this case, was to immediately replace the chilled bottles with warm ones so they get cold while you’re out – there’s nothing quite so bad as drinking warm water on the playa because you forgot to chill it.
Even without a fridge – there are ways to keep things cold. I tried that with some foods that would not fit in my fridge but were needed for meal donations. I used two coolers one larger than the other. The big one I loaded with dry ice from Reno, and several large 3/4 full plastic jugs of Reno city water. The jugs froze solid in no time and I could then rotate them into the other cooler as ice blocks without the melting ice mess. I kept both coolers off the floor, on the dining table benches to help keep them insulated. This kept my bran muffins and other foodstuffs cold until they were needed for evening meals. The dry ice lasted well through the week, until around Friday when I no longer needed either cooler, and there was no water to be drained out.
Anyway, having completed my ‘going out’ ritual, I left the RV behind and headed toward the lounge to see who was up. The lounge, first thing in the morning, always looked like a scene from ‘The Body Snatchers’ with the cocoon-like ‘pods’ of sleeping bags on every sofa and futon cushion. No one really awake there, so I stopped back at the RV, unlocked my bike and walked it through the rest of the camp. Just past the kitchen area I was stopped by JustDaniel and Mister Mist’r who were looking for volunteers for a morning lantern pickup run. I immediately said yes and rolled the bike back to the RV.
The volunteers gathered in the chapel area waiting for Waterdragon and Mister Mist’r who would be driving the big trucks. When they arrived, we all grabbed lifting poles and mounted the trucks. Unlike lamplighting, morning recovery is without ceremony. Groups are driven to locations around the esplanade and dropped off. Then we walk to each spire with lamps and lifted them down, gathering six or more lamps together at the base of one spire for pick-up later. The actual routes taken are similar to the evening lighting routes, but with fewer volunteers, they usually encompass parts of more than one route.
Our group of three started at the circular area known as the 9 o’clock keyhole just off the esplanade. We pulled down all the lamps there, then moved down the 9 o’clock promenade to the Man. Here I got my first good close look at the man without a dust storm and in the light of day. All the flags were dusted up and looked similar. Maybe the world needs more dust storms to bring us closer together.
When those lamps were finished, we started on some of the three o’clock promenade lamps until we met up with another group, then we headed down the main promenade from the Man toward the center cafe. We met up with another group and just before entering the city again, we all stopped to take a well-deserved breather and wait for ‘Priscilla the Queen of the Playa’ the big double platform truck that would come along behind and pick up the lamps.
Soon Priscilla came lumbering down the promenade and after loading the last of the lamps, we jumped on and headed back to the chapel. Once we got back, we unloaded all the lamps and sorted them by color. The tables were not yet up so we lined them all up in three areas, where the tables would be set up later for lamp preparation.
With no sign of another dust storm coming up, I decided to grab my bike and begin my explorations of the city, My new neighbors, Barry and Meps were busy organizing their belongings, decorating their bicycles and sifting through boxes of costumes for just the right look. Leaving Lamplighters village by the back way, I rode a few short feet to where the 6 o’clock street headed out toward the gate. I rode all the way out to the last street, then counter-clockwise to the 4 o’clock street. The last few streets outward had few campers, if any.
The dust storm had caused the gate to be closed down on Monday for awhile and most theme camps had to delay their setup until Tuesday. Now more people were coming in and theme camps were rising out of the dust. I headed back down the 4 o’clock street and found a man making New Orleans style donuts on a grill and handing them out to passersby. It was a sweet, tasty treat for a morning that was beginning to warm up nicely. Further down the street, I found the ‘Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro’ just the name makes me chuckle. For those who love their Barbie’s? Look away.
Next to the ‘Death Camp’ was a Burning Man sign that looked oddly familiar and whose owner claimed to have the biggest ‘cock’ on the playa. From what I could see, I would say he was right.
Further down the street I found Camp Narc! home of the worlds largest Titty-totter, a large engine-driven see-saw whose only requirement to ride was that you be topless, and (no-doubt) female. I turned then along the Esplanade and came to the Black Rock Roller Disco. Day or night, any time I passed this place there was always at least one person skating around the floor there.
Passing the lounge, on my way back around the center road, I looked in, not much going on so I decided to head over to the Bordello of Dust – I was going over to make sure that the young lady, who purchased my spare ticket on E-Bay, had gotten it on time and was there. Many of the camps that should have been up and running Monday were still working hard to build after the dust storm delays. Bordello of Dust was no exception. I arrived there to find very little in the way of structures and the group there was taking a break. I asked there for Kat and they sent me over to a van where her specific group of people were working. As it turns out, sadly, “Kat’s” employer made a last minute change that required her to work that week. So after rushing to make sure she got her ticket on time, she couldn’t use it after all. I felt so bad that she was missing the event.