Thursday, 26 September 2013

From Sunday On

Sunday morning, Jay and I headed out on our bikes.  We biked around and ended up at center camp.

Things were being taken down.  Lots were already empty.  People had already left.  It felt... sad.

We relaxed at center camp, reading the Burning Man newspaper (which I found utterly hilarious!) and people watched.

After a while we headed out to find Jay's travel partner.  She told us there was a rumour going around of a storm coming Monday morning and that people were really worried.  (You can't move when it rains, everything is shut down due to the mud)  There was also a rumour that the Temple had been built with flame-retardant plywood and so it wouldn't burn.

It was hard to know what was real, but the storm seemed to be legit so I said goodbye to Jay and headed back to my camp.

Saying goodbye was hard.  I didn't know when I'd see him again, or even if I really would.  I'd forgotten, somehow, that he wasn't coming back to Victoria, that he lived in Vancouver and worked there, and that I had no idea if or when we'd connect again.  But I waved him goodbye, wiped away the tears and headed back to camp.  No time for sad, this was Burning Man after all!

My camp mates were in a packing frenzy.  They'd heard about the storm too and wanted to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

I felt bad that I'd been off relaxing while they were packing, but I'd also tidied my stuff the night before so between the four of us it didn't take long to take down our tents and pack everything into the RV.

We headed out after "dinner" (which again, I don't know if or what we ate... more jerky and almonds perhaps?) and went to the Temple burn.

It was amazing to me the difference in the two crowds.

On the night of the Man burn the crowd had been lively, noisy.  Well behaved and non-threatening, but alive!

The crowd at the Temple burn was quiet, calm, introspective, and respectful.  The burn started in silence.

I know I didn't have the attachment to the Temple that many did, although I think it was stunningly beautiful.  And I think I was perhaps also starting to worry about getting home in time and not getting stuck in the storm.

We checked the radio (yes, Black Rock City has a radio station for the duration of Burning Man, and I think perhaps after as well on the internet) and there was a six hour wait to leave.  (To get from the exit to the highway.)  So we decided to wait.

Connor went into the RV to make some space to rest while the girls and I got out our camp chairs and watched the hunky guys disassemble their art car.  (Delicious!)

I let them sleep while I monitored the radio station, which was announcing how long the Exodus wait times were.

It was somewhere near 2am when I realized that the wait time (which was up at 8 or 9 hours) and the amount of time when the storm was going to hit (it had been confirmed, not just a rumour) meant that if we didn't leave right then, we might get stuck in the storm and not be able to leave for... who knows how long.

So we left.

I did my best to stay awake in the back because it didn't feel fair that Connor should have to be the only one awake just because he was driving.  But it took a toll on me.

By the time we got to the highway at 7:45 I was in the roughest shape of the entire trip.

I popped a gravol and did my best to sleep.  Waking up a few hours later, I was glad I'd rested a bit.

Exodus itself is part of the Burning Man adventure, and if you leave on the days when most people leave, you know you're in for a number of hours in line.

They "pulse" the traffic, which means you're stopped for a while (half hour or so) and then you go for a bit, and then stop for a bit, etc.

I was pretty out of it, but did, at some point after dawn, head out to go to pee in the portapotty they place along the entrance/exit lane/road.

I jumped up and down and screamed when I opened the door of one to find a random guy going poop.  "Sorry, no lock" he said as I danced around.

There was a cute hippy sort of guy behind me also dancing around, but he told me he was doing the pee dance.

Later, he brought Connor some chocolate covered coffee beans, and Connor, later still, went to pee himself and somehow managed to keep peeing, even when the entire portapotty wall fell forward, exposing him to the line of cars, parked, waiting.

As we turned out onto the highway, Connor popped in a Floyd album he'd been saving for the trip home and...we lost power.

No radio, no dash lights, and, we'd discover later, no headlights.

We drove (or, I should say, Connor drove, thank you Connor!) for hours and made it somewhere or other before we stopped.

Which is when we discovered that the RV was, yet again, in need of repair.

We got a jump the next morning, determined to make it back to the awesome repair shop we'd been to on the way down.

It must have been Tuesday that they fixed our alternator (but not the mystery radio/dash/light situation) and on the way towards Washington state we got a new battery too (Connor wonders if the starting and stopping of Exodus did in the alternator which then did in the battery... or something.

I felt the worry of being back in time for work, and so we pushed hard, waking early because we had to drive while it was light out, and caught the five pm ferry back to Victoria on Wednesday.

As we sat in a restaurant in Port Angeles waiting for the ferry time, we were all exhausted.  There was not a lot of conversation and it was nice to have a meal, and be clean.

When we'd arrived at the camp site that first afternoon, I was thrilled that it had a pool.  And yes, I jumped in.  It was glorious.

As was the shower I took, even though my hands pruned up in minutes, unused to the moisture.

My hair had nearly started to make dreads the next day as I'd brought shampoo but forgotten conditioner and so I sat in the RV and slowly combed it out for a half an hour... pulling chunks of matted hair out.

Coming home I was tired, but wanted to deal with my stuff.  I threw some of it out right away, and put some in a giant pile to wash (with some vinegar added to the soap) and I tried to clean my bike.

Some other things I just left in the bin, or put in the trunk of my car to deal with later.

I felt pretty rough Wednesday night so called in sick for Thursday and Friday, and I'm really glad I did as I ended up with what felt like strep throat but what was maybe just "change of atmosphere" and "stress over wanting to get home safely, but on time" throat.)  Anyway, I spent Thursday doing laundry and cleaning things and resting and feeling dazed, and I don't remember anymore what I did Friday or that weekend except that I rested and slept and tried to take care of myself so I'd start feeling better.

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