Thursday August 22nd - We leave today. It's been an emotional week. Health issues and just general anxiousness about the trip. It's always this way. But once on the road all is good... Drove to truck parking between Rawlins and Rock Springs, WY (X190)for sleeping shortly after sunset.
Arrived extra early to pick up Diana and gave tours of the bus to some co-workers. They appreciated the work and uniqueness of it. That was great to hear.
Friday August 23rd - Up with the sun. . . probably the coolest (climate-wise, some very light rain)and smoothest trip across Wyoming to date; able to drive well into Nevada (Pilot truck stop, Carlin, NV). We took a side trip to get our new favorite meal at Cheesecake Factory (Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos - Asian style) in downtown Salt Lake City. Not the easiest place for a 35ft bus and parking on the street. We paid for two spots.
Saturday August 24th - Into Fernley, NV about 130p and had to wait at Walmart Pharmacy until they opened at 2p after lunch. Then to our usual RV park, Desert Rose, for a restful evening and more playa prep.
Sunday August 25th - As anticipated, it was a long, multifaceted, drawn out day. First, up and breakfast and a three day awaited shower. A long, warm, sudsy shower knowing the next was another three days away and that one with limited water. We spent until noon doing laundry and mixing four flavors of Santa Sno Cone juice (Watermelon, Mango, Tuti-Fruti, and Passion Fruit). This stuff is sweet (literally and figuratively)! One half gallon of water mixed with 5 lbs. of sugar makes a full gallon, add an ounce of flavoring and some Acidic Acid - yum! We worked a huge puzzle in the Rec Room while waiting for washing machines. Check out of the park is noon and we rolled right on the minute.
Final shopping (and time killing) is the next stage. We buy fresh goods - bread, celery, pineapple, watermelon, etc. The parking lot is PACKED with Burner vehicles. This is a small town so the Walmart is huge and it is filled. We had to park our 35ft bus out back. Lunch and visiting with fellow Burners take us until 3p. A last fueling up at Terrible's and off we go. It's now 320p. It's about 100miles to Black Rock City, of very windy and windy, narrow road. Gates open at 6p and early arrivals are penalized for hours in purgatory. We try to time it so we arrive on time and, in fact, pull over in Nixon, NV for about half and hour to adjust our timing. This proved to be unnecessary. Just outside of Empire we caught the caravan going north. This is about 20miles from the gate. Doing the math, with an average speed of about 10mph from here on in, we didn't arrive until 8p. However, by 830p we parked just where we had wanted (Holy and 4:59 o'clock), dined and crashed for the night. Yay!
Monday August 26th - It's camp setup day. All stashed items must be cleared out because many doors are blocked when the chill space and shower are erected. Also the hoist is put into action unloading the roof storage. Planning and execution is not quite aligned but Diana has us under control and it all works in the end. This year's design seems to be a good one. The lower roof and bus orientation makes for a much better, wind resistant setup. We also get the sleigh put together and take a sunset spin around the block or so. This design, too, seems solid. Yay! Linda (a vet-Burner friend) and Audrey (a Burgin) arrive to join us in our small camp about 5p. Glad to see they made is safe and sound. Starved from their long entrance trek, Santa makes them grilled cheese sandwiches.
Tuesday August 27th - Finally a play day! After a complete breakfast (playa-style) we ready the sleigh and the bus's gift board and head off. First stop is a theme camp where several playa friends reside. We find Freddy and Wild Child in camp and have a good visit. We'll probably return to find others . . .
Next is a visit to center camp, with many stops for gift giving, and Artica (for ice). This is a great place to give Mrs Claus' objet d'art. Santa gets six bags of ice and after the line for gifts clear, we head back to our camp to setup for the giving of Santa's Sno to hot (literally and figuratively) Burners. We make sno for about two hours, until the ice is all used up. The sno is warmly (literally and figuratively) received. Great fun for Santa and another great opportunity to give out Mrs. Claus' creations.
After a couple hour nap (love the A/C) we ready the sleigh with lights and restocking of goodies and head to the deep playa just about sunset. The weather is fantastic this evening! We visit regional effigies that ring the Man and Mrs. Claus strikes up a very long and interesting conversation with the lighting guy for the Utah effigy. We cut across the open playa to the Temple of Wholiness. A very nice design with karins all about (to help guide the way to eternity?) and a giant rock structure in the center. Soft gong and singing bowl sounds also permeate the area. We dropped Noel's dad's ashes and some mementoes from his life in a niche that will be burn (again) Sunday night.
We make multiple stops back toward the city with a stop under the man. Mrs. Claus makes the climb through the saucer section under the man and back down. We then make the final trek back to the bus, pop some corn, and crash. Great day!
Wednesday August 28th - Morning is warmer that the past few. This may make for a hotter day too. We've not seen blue skies because of the smoke-haze floating in from the Yosemite fire. The smell is not as bad as in Fernley but very apparent. Today we erect the shower and grey-water evaporative system. A shower this afternoon will be very welcome. We do tune-ups on the sleigh and various aspects of camp and, of course, take an afternoon nap.
Gift giving is Santa and Mrs. Claus's thing, of course, and many of the Burners are thrilled to finally meet the real Santa. We've gifted people from France, Germany, Brazil, Guatemala, Spain, Thailand, Australia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, as well as New York, Arizona, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Georgia, Alaska, Oregon, Kansas and California, (of course) as far as we can remember.
Thursday August 29th - We get busted by the "Man" (not "The Man") for giving out Sno Cones without a permit. No citation, just a stern warning. But they didn't arrive until we were done for the day. We'd planned to give out more tomorrow but guess we won't risk a $500 fine. They'll be a lot of disappointed Burners. It also works as a great attraction to get people gifts. So, instead we take to the streets and center camp. After dark it's out to the playa and the effigy burns; 20+ structures from different states and countries burning simultaneously. Too cool. . .
Friday August 30th - Our camp mates left yesterday, a very emotional time for Linda and she needed to center. Can't blame her. So, adding Noel's mangled thumb and extreme back pain and Diana's UTI and fifth day of straight migraine we, too, pack-up and leave the city. At least the exodus was fast. Many folks stopped by to say we'd be missed. All's good. . . we needed to go.
Saturday August 31st, Sunday September 1st - Travels east. Uneventful.