Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and getting to/from the event - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues.
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Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by trilobyte » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:03 am

This post is intended as a resource guide for new burners, camp leaders, and campmates alike - basically anybody who's arriving after the Burning Man gates open and/or arriving in multiple vehicles. It doesn't matter whether you're a camp that completed a questionnaire who was not able to be placed, you missed a registration deadline, had a big camp shakeup and are starting over, or don't even have any kind of theme. You're coming to Burning Man and it's going to be awesome!

Let's start off by talking about camps who wanted, but did not get placement (if that isn't you, skip this part and go to Gate Day). If you were not placed, it is not the end of the world! Let's not get into the blame game, don't go lynching your camp leader or coordinator, and don't go blasting the placement team. They go through more and more questionnaires each year than in the year before, and because every year almost every camp steps up their game what qualifies for placement is a moving target. It is what it is, so let's work with that. For many of you in this position, travel arrangements may already have been booked. My suggestion - unless you can change them at no cost, don't change them. In many cases, it's cheaper and easier to stick to the plan and just stay in Reno for a couple days. You can find some great hotel deals out there, and the awesome folks at Barbie Death Village have worked out a pretty sweet hotel deal (you can read more about that here). There are plenty of other options out there, with a little web searching you can find something that's right for you and your campmates. Use that extra day or two in Reno to your advantage - explore the Burners Guide To Reno (put together by Reno burners) and see if you can find better places to do your last minute shopping. If your camp has complex logistics, you might even want to consider checking out local storage for after the burn (no links for that, but you can investigate and find something that might work for you). Beyond that, relax for a bit and have fun. Take advantage of the pool or other amenities, spend time catching up with campmates, or go over those setup plans one more time. Soon enough, it'll be gate day.

Gate Day
Everyone should be reading this. The BLM has given Burning Man permission to open the gates at 10AM on Sunday August 30th. Holy crap, that's awesome! The idea is that this will move even more of the heaviest traffic periods to daylight hours. That makes the highway a little safer, and has the added side effect of giving people a few more hours on the playa to get their camps set up. This means you!

If your group is traveling in several different vehicles, you will want to have a plan. Agree on a target neighborhood, and agree on a specific intersection (for example, 4:05 and E) to meet back up at. Click here to check out the 2015 BRC city map, print a copy for each vehicle with your target area clearly marked. Even if you rock the convoy on the way from Reno to BRC, by the time you get through the gate and greeters, your vehicles will probably get separated. Having a plan means less stress. There is a Burning Man Traffic newsfeed on Twitter, if you've got a smartphone you should follow it and check it while you're still in an area that has service.

Do NOT plan to arrive before 10AM. What will happen is that the early arriving cars will wind up being parked in a staging area, and won't get into the city until the people who turned up at 10AM get in ahead of you. Ouch. Don't be that guy or girl, who goes through all that effort and puts in all that time, only to wind up in traffic limbo for several hours because you couldn't wait to get there. Figure that it takes around 2 hours from Reno to Gerlach with no traffic and will probably take around 3 hours once the gates have opened, so plan to leave Reno between 7-8AM (after making sure you've topped off the tanks and iced up all the coolers). Check the Burning Man Traffic feed on Twitter on the day (it might be nice in Reno but raging dust storms...or raining in BRC)! Veterans already know this, but for the benefit of the new folks, WATCH YOUR SPEED LIMIT! Basically, it goes like this: in between the little towns, the speed limit goes up and you can make great time, but when you approach one of those little towns the speed limit will quickly drop from 65+ down to 35 or even 25mph. And of course, there will be police officers on the lookout for people who don't slow down as they approach the tiny little town. Pay attention! It's not that they're jerks trying to get you, it's that they're sleepy little towns with tiny populations that include families with little kids, and the idea of thousands of fully loaded vehicles blasting down their main street at 75mph freaks them out.

Once you get past Gerlach and turn off the paved road and onto the gate road... you're almost there. Turn off the aircon or set it to recycled air so it doesn't suck up a bunch of playa dust. Stick to the posted speed limits! They're important for three very important reasons: first, the usual road safety junk; second, because driving faster contributes to tearing up the road and digging deep nasty ruts (veterans, you know how much they can suck); and third, because the dust you kick up will blow through the traffic ahead of you and also into the city.

With a 10AM gate, that means you'll be in that queue during the day, and probably as the day gets hotter. Holy crap, hydrate! It's worth noting that there are porta-potties on the gate road (several banks, I believe 64 in all),/i], but be sure that when *you* need to use one your vehicle won't be close. Make sure you've got a backup driver who can take over and let the driver high-tail it to the porta-potties. It does not matter what lane you are in - as you approach the gate, let them know if someone in your vehicle has a will call ticket - the gate staff will get you where you need to go safely. These people are awesome, and working hard to make sure people can get in quickly and safely - feel free to tell them you appreciate their hard work.

At the next step, they'll check your tickets and inspect your vehicle - YES, they have to inspect your vehicle! Know that someone is going to have to check through it, so leave some space when packing that cargo van or truck - the easier you make it for the gate crew, the easier you make it for yourself... and everybody else in the line. The best pro-tip I can share about this part is make sure your vehicle is easy to inspect. If it takes 20 minutes to dig through a big load, that's everybody in that line waiting 20 more minutes. If you pack like a champ and gate staff can get through it in 5 minutes, you just got everyone into Burning Man 15 minutes sooner :D The veterans already know this, but for the sake of the newbies, know that if a vehicle is found to be carrying a stowaway, tickets for everyone in that vehicle will be confiscated, the vehicle pass canceled (and denied any re-entry to BRC), and the entire vehicle will be turned around and sent back to Reno. Nobody wants that, make sure everyone getting into your vehicle has either a physical ticket or printouts of the info they'll need for will call.

Next will come Greeter's, which is another group of awesome people. If you've got a new person in your group (and I hope that you do), make sure they get the full court treatment (whatever that may entail). Holy crap, now you've gotten through greeters let's get to camp as fast as we can! Well, not quite. 5mph, folks! It's MUCH more important here, you are right on top of the city at this point. Leaving greeters is simple, left to go to the 9 side, right to go to the 3 side. If you're aiming for 6, pick either one and then turn back in as you get to the city streets.

You are now in Black Rock City!
Once you've picked a side, stay on the outermost street and keep it at or under 5mph until you get to the time on the dial you're looking for. Remember, keeping it at/under 5 keeps the dust and the ruts down. Do not dive into the inner streets hoping to save a few precious minutes. Rolling a bunch of fully loaded trucks on the inner streets will help tear up the playa and make for more ruts as we get through the week - nobody wants to pedal through ruts or big dust dunes, so avoid that if you can.

Get to that intersection you and your campmates agreed to meet at. If you've appointed someone as your "Glorious Leader And Decider Of Things" have the vehicle that person is in scout the 'hood and find an open spot. Once they find a suitable spot for the camp, pull in! If there are immediate neighbors, go say hi and check to make sure your camp boundaries are fine. This is important! Being neighborly here sets yourself up for having awesome neighbors all week, instead of some kind of playafied Hatfields/McCoys thing where people are grumbling about being in each other's space.

Once that spot's sorted, HOLY CRAP YOU'RE HERE! Send someone back to that intersection other vehicles will be going to and have them let your campmates know exactly where to find you. Pro tip - in addition to whatever camp signage you were thinking of having out in front of your camp, make a smaller sign with a space for you to write the location specifics in - and then put that sign up at the agreed-upon intersection.

Get 'er Done!
If you have campmates traveling with you who are not heavy lifters, send them to Playa Info (near Center Camp) to enter your camp's info into their computer. That way, anyone who might be looking for your awesome camp will know exactly where you landed. Depending on how the timing works out, and how quickly you get through the line, you may find yourselves at your camp site smack dab in the middle of the day. Be careful here - during peak daytime hours it can be easy to get overheated, dehydrated, and find yourselves with heatstroke. Take it easy during peak hours. If you've got a few people in your group who aren't heavy lifters, assign at least one of them to make sure your team is hydrated and taking in electralytes (whether that's through gatorade, pedialyte, emerg-n-c, or electralyte tablets doesn't matter). Try not to call them fluffers or some other name that makes them feel like a second-class campmate, because what they do will save your ass from heatstroke, exhaustion, and other things that can make for a very tough burn. Everyone in your camp is a rock star.

If you planned things right, you've got a map showing the layout of your camp's key structures. Everybody work together to get the first structure put together and secured, and from there you have a base of operations on the playa. Depending on how the size of your crew and what your plans are, you can either all move to the next thing, or split into smaller groups working on various parts of unpacking and unloading.

Weather and energy permitting, late afternoon and into the evening is a great time to set up your camp. If your budget allows for it and your camp has a generator, consider getting something like this:
Image

If it's windy/dusty, don't attempt building at night - dropped bolts/screws/bits/whatever will be lost, and you'll fight a losing battle. If the weather's agreeable, evening and night setups are pretty great - the temps are much less oppressive. If you've got to hold off on setup (because of weather, night, etc), use the time wisely. Rest, hydrate, eat, explore the immediate area and meet the neighbors.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by some seeing eye » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:13 pm

Twitter last year covered inbound and outbound Wadsworth to gate times and temporary closings. https://twitter.com/bmantraffic.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by maladroit » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:37 pm

I'd add a little precautionary info for the Gate Road line. Last year, we were stuck on Gate Road for about 24 hours, due to normal Gate Road slowness plus the closure due to the rain storm.
  • Have a plan for surviving in your vehicle for at least 24 hours
  • Pack your gear in such a way that you have ready access to water, sunscreen, and nutritious meals (access to your camp stove is heavenly)
  • Make sure you have a place to sleep
  • If you're able to break out some camp chairs and shade, that makes 12 hours in the sun waiting for mud to dry a lot more bearable
  • Have a way to entertain yourself; a pack of cards if you want to sit around and shoot the shit with your neighbors, or your sound system if you want to start a Gate Road dance party
You don't have to bring anything extra, this is just the stuff you needed anyway...but if your food is buried under a couch and pile of bikes, getting stuck on Gate Road is a lot more uncomfortable.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by trilobyte » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:01 pm

Yes to both those things. My original post already had the link to Burning Man traffic, and while I intended to have a bit about supplies for in-line I spaced and didn't include it.

Do make sure you have plenty of water. Even without rain or big dust storms (both of which will shut down the gate), traffic can be heavy and you'll be there for hours. Water, soft drinks, snacks, electralytes, etc... plus as maladroit pointed out it's a good idea to try and pack in a way that the 'in case of emergency' stuff is easier to get to. It's one of those things where you really hope you won't need to break out, but if it becomes necessary it'd be nice if you didn't have to unload half your vehicle to get to it.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Jackass » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:12 pm

maladroit wrote: [*]Pack your gear in such a way that you have ready access to water, sunscreen, and nutritious meals (access to your camp stove is heavenly)

You don't have to bring anything extra, this is just the stuff you needed anyway...but if your food is buried under a couch and pile of bikes, getting stuck on Gate Road is a lot more uncomfortable.

In exodus 2013, (8hrs) after many failed attempts I was finally able to liberate the camping stove and a bottle of propane. Those hot dog buns on the other hand took a coat hanger, a plan, surgical precision, and some patience...

My tent trailer packs down like one of those small cars in the circus that the clowns just keep coming out of, with no end in sight....
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Wigwam » Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:36 am

I discovered the hard way as well. That was a brutal exodus for me. Hot, no food and a lesson learned. Last year, I packed food and drinks to share, shade and a much easier exodus.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by butternut » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:50 pm

So, the opening post suggests it'll take 2 hours from Reno to BRC.

The burning man twitter feed says it took 2h 45 min from Wadsworth to 8 mile on opening day at 10am last year. Google maps suggests Wadsworth is 30 minutes away from Reno. Would 3hrs-ish be a better estimate of how long the drive would take on opening day, or would that risk me arriving too early?

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:54 pm

2 hours without traffic.

Last year it took 3 hours from Fernley to Gerlach.

But that just gets you to the end of the line for gate.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by trilobyte » Wed Jul 01, 2015 9:33 am

With no or minimal traffic, it's a two hour journey. Stay tuned to the Burning Man traffic twitter feed for updates 'on the day.'

The tiny towns along the way don't have shopping malls, diners, coffee shops, movie theaters, or other places where you could wait things out any closer, so Reno makes for the best place to get yourself ready for the final stretch.

Gate day itself can vary widely. If all is running smoothly at the box office, then when the gates initially open things can actually flow pretty smoothly. I've had campmates who were able to get through in under an hour in years past. It's a matter of timing, as more cars flood in the gate times will quickly escalate, and 6-8 hours in gate line (on top of the 2 or so hours it took to get from Reno to the gate line) is typical if you're either not there early, or if you arrive too early and get moved to what I call the "I showed up too early dammit" staging area.

I'll update my original post on travel times.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Token » Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:47 pm

The Indian tacos can add a half hour to your dive easy.

Highly recommended as the "last supper" before the dust.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Warbaby Fox » Fri Jul 03, 2015 6:29 am

If you're burning solo, what's the best way to find a suitable campsite? Just stay back from the flagged off theme camp zones, and look for an open space?

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by DrYes » Fri Jul 03, 2015 6:52 am

Warbaby Fox wrote:If you're burning solo, what's the best way to find a suitable campsite? Just stay back from the flagged off theme camp zones, and look for an open space?
Yep. Maybe intro yourself to your neighbors before setting up just to make sure they hadn't had their eye on that space for something. You're not supposed to 'claim' space out there (aside from what's set aside for placed camps) but still better to ask.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by chuckularone » Fri Jul 03, 2015 7:29 am

Warbaby Fox wrote:If you're burning solo, what's the best way to find a suitable campsite? Just stay back from the flagged off theme camp zones, and look for an open space?
You could also check out this recent thread: viewtopic.php?f=277&t=73982
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by ACfromSAC » Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:27 am

Token wrote:The Indian tacos can add a half hour to your dive easy.

Highly recommended as the "last supper" before the dust.
^THIS. There are some Indian taco stands and usually a bar-b-que truck as you move through Gerlach. Depending on your meal plan for the week, that last bit of hot & messy bar-b-qued meat is a great way to say good by to defaultia for a while.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by pink » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:31 pm

Since I go in early there aren't a lot of NDN taco stands set up yet. But as the first food once off playa they rule too. I always stop at Bunny's stand and drop off leftover food and water for the reservation food bank.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by DerbyDave 18 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:23 pm

I have a question. This is my first time going and I'm having some trouble picturing the whole arrival at the gate. Since there are app. 50,000 people attending there are I assume going to be hundreds if not thousands of cars of people coming in. If you can't arrive until a specific time where are all these cars going to be? Waiting in the closest town for the right time to show up then hitting the road in a mass? Driving around waiting or what?

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by trilobyte » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:29 pm

Cars that arrive before the gates open are directed to a staging area, where they'll sit for hours and hours, until the first wave of people who waited until the gates opened get in before them.

There aren't really any places/nearby towns to lurk around in and wait (beyond Reno), which is why we urge people to plan to stage from Reno.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:30 pm

Wait in Reno or Fernley till 8AM, then hit the road.

There is usually a party going on in the Walmart parking lot in Fernley till it's time to go.

Then there is a pretty solid line of vehicles heading up 447. (2 lanes, no passing)
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by DrCook » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:25 am

Where is the point where BRC volunteers direct cars into the penalty/waiting lot- at turnoff, at the gate, elsewhere? I'm trying (perhaps optimistically) to time my arrival to be as close to 10am Sunday gate opening as possible, and am wondering if for example I turn on to Gate Road at 9:55 will I be OK since it'll take a few minutes to get to Gate? Thanks

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by ygmir » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:53 am

DrCook wrote:Where is the point where BRC volunteers direct cars into the penalty/waiting lot- at turnoff, at the gate, elsewhere? I'm trying (perhaps optimistically) to time my arrival to be as close to 10am Sunday gate opening as possible, and am wondering if for example I turn on to Gate Road at 9:55 will I be OK since it'll take a few minutes to get to Gate? Thanks
consider you will not be the only one trying this.
And, with traffic, timing is sketchy. *best laid plans*.

I'd relax, take you time and be safe. It's worse to get there too early, than a few minutes late. And, don't worry, BRC will not run out of fun before you get there.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Ratty » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:57 am

Drcook, You can't hang-out on the side of the road or in town. You don't know if you'll be stuck behind a long line going 20 MPH. You'll get there when you get there. Enjoy the wait. I love KostumeKult.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Ano » Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:10 am

DrCook wrote:Where is the point where BRC volunteers direct cars into the penalty/waiting lot- at turnoff, at the gate, elsewhere? I'm trying (perhaps optimistically) to time my arrival to be as close to 10am Sunday gate opening as possible, and am wondering if for example I turn on to Gate Road at 9:55 will I be OK since it'll take a few minutes to get to Gate? Thanks
I would leave Reno about 2 hours prior to Gate opening - well rested, well hydrated, and fed. So, around 8 AM. You'll see a line of people doing the same thing. You'll basically be "in line" once you turn off of 80 on to 447. Don't speed, don't rush.

It's not like getting into the city at 10:30am is much different than 11:30am or even 4pm. Don't worry. It'll be great no matter what!

And truthfully, the line is actually pretty fun. You'll be able to feel the excitement bubbling as you get closer to the Apex/Gate itself.

Don't speed! Don't rush! follow the speed limit! and 5mph on playa! :coffee:

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by DrCook » Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:43 am

All good advice, thanks!

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Cos » Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:01 am

With gates opening on Sunday morning/afternoon, what kind of traffic/gate lines can I expect for a Monday morning arrival?

I had thought about driving in to Gerlach and spending Sunday night at a hotel there but am now second guessing this approach. Perhaps I should just drive in from Reno early Monday morning? Leaving around 6/7am, perhaps.

Thoughts?

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by VultureChow » Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:07 am

No one can tell you because no one can know. There could be 8 hours or no wait at all. There could be rain or dust which shuts down the gate. There could be an accident on 447. There could be godzillas.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Cos » Sat Aug 08, 2015 7:12 am

I understand that, I just want to know other people's guesses/opinions. Preferably no one is predicting godzillas.

Don't worry, I won't hunt anyone down if they give me advice that proves to not be 100% correct.

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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by FIGJAM » Sat Aug 08, 2015 7:22 am

There will be NO VACANCY in Gerlach!!!
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by pink » Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:46 pm

^^^^^ this. There is exactly one motel in Gerlach. It's taken over by support/BLM/etc. Fernley is the closest town to the playa unless you are camping, then it's Pyramid Lake.
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by Eric » Sat Aug 08, 2015 3:14 pm

Cos wrote:I understand that, I just want to know other people's guesses/opinions. Preferably no one is predicting godzillas.
From Reno to Gerlach on Monday, plan 4-5 hours. From Gerlach to your campsite plan 2-12 hours. Seriously.
There are way too many variables for anyone to guess - absolutely no one could predict the Gate shutting for 24 hours last year because of rain. It had never happened before, how could any of us know it would happen in the future? White-outs can come up out of nowhere, and can last 10 minutes, 8 hours, or even 3 days or more. Is an amber alert going to be called that shuts the Gate? It's happened before.

Plan to be waiting for a really, really long time - have a pee jug, have snacks within easy reach, definitely have water nearby, maybe even bring a book if you're traveling alone. You may be pleasantly surprised and get through in an hour, but if it ends up taking a really long time at least you'll be mentally prepared for it. It's part of the event, and it's your first sign that (almost) everything is now out of your control. :D
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Re: Planning Arrival After The Gates Open 2015

Post by sweetaylorb » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:00 am

This is helpful! Thank you! I am a new burner and man I feel like a veteran just reading this! :mrgreen:

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