Exodus : A downer in more ways then one

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
fenwick
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Exodus : A downer in more ways then one

Post by fenwick » Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:41 pm

Once again, several others and myself all rolled the dice and seems we all lost in the exodus this year - again.

Now I am not expecting that a single way out of any place, where some 50,000 people are all trying to leave together will ever be efficient.

I waited till three in the morning after the Temple Burn to head for the exit. It was almost as if I had repeated the same process, 3PM in the afternoon the day after the Man burned.

2 hours to wind thru the merging lanes until St. Rd 34.

4 hours to the Interstate. This was due to several situatioons of bad luck of other caravans like a schoolbus being involved in an accident and other folks whom thought they were rested - only to find out the hardway that the 447 route is not easy to deal with in a groggy state of mind.

Even before I hgeaded to the gate, I listened to the BMIR station, hoping that they would provide reports on travel conditions, and all I heard was music and "adverts" about proper burn ettiquette.

Why is it that their is no use of BMIR for exodus?

It took less then 8 hours from North Bay area to my camp spot.

It was about 13 hours making the same drive back.

I figured a majority of folks leeve Sunday afternoon. Then a steady trickle Sunday evening until the Temple Burn and then maybe a slight jump in volume immediately after the burn with a slow trickle in the wee hours on Sunday.

I know of all the sub-events that make up the Burn week, Exodus is the biggest bitch. Each year it seems to get better - but as attendance jumps, the improvements are nullified to a parking loot for 80 miles.

Next year I might stay until Tuesday......

How was your Exodus? Share the tips and tricks or suggestions.

For those whom escape to line up and rest along the road just outside of Gerlich in either way - one suggestion - if you cannot walk safely between your vehicle and the road, your stuill to dam close. I wonder how many parked cars were clipped?

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phil
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Post by phil » Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:17 pm

Louise and I were flaggers for Exodus this year. We flagged from three to eight Sunday afternoon and eleven AM to four PM on Monday. BMIR knows nothing about Exodus except what they get from the Exodus crew. There were insufficient volunteers to staff Exodus after the Temple Burn and before the Monday morning shift. This means no one was around to give BMIR status reports and no one was directing merges and traffic.

I hate to say it, but if you want Exodus to go better, volunteer next year and get friends to volunteer so that it goes smoother for those leaving Sunday and Monday.

I agree that Exodus sucks. That's why we volunteered to help out. If you're going to stay till Tuesday, do a couple of shifts and help a Burner out.

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Post by Toolmaker » Sun Sep 09, 2007 7:33 am

Alot of folks were leaving on Friday morning with little to no traffic. I even saw a big line of folks leaving as the man burned Friday evening. Your best bet to avoid traffic would be to leave on Wednesday before the man burns.. then you'll really beat all that pesky traffic.

Myself and the wonderful gal that saved me from abandonment left on Monday and had only 2 hours in exodus lineup. A couple retards tried passing others even though there is no shoulder to speak of but we kept our cool and made it to Fernley where we were price gouged 100 bucks for a room for 7 hours to crash.
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Post by bigbluedoggy » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:33 am

A big hug of gratitude to those folks doing the flagging for exodus! A very thankless but necessary job! If that was you and Louise at the main gate Monday afternoon, Phil, you may have seen us. We were in a silver Pathfinder and ended up waiting right by the gate for about 2 hours for the rest of our group to catch up with us in line. Odd thing is, we all got in line at the same time. We pulled out of our camp about 10:45am. It took us about 2 hours to get from Landfill and 5:30 to the gate, but it was over 2 more hours before our Penske truck and the other two cars caught up with us. Apparently I chose a better lane. I only changed lanes once or twice the whole way out, so I really don't get it. Right as we got to the gate, traffic on the highway backed up all the way to the gate from the direction of Gerlach. I heard that a couple of trucks had gotten into it. I think outgoing traffic was shutdown for well over 45 minutes waiting for the highway to clear. Even after it started moving again, it was almost an hour and a half before our friends caught up. I had expected anywhere from 2 - 4 hours for Exodus, so I wasn't surprised and actually used the parked time to take a brief nap. I was curious about the few vehicles that passed us going west on the highway that had obviously come out of BRC by a different path. Did they breach the trash fence and use another of the playa exits? Anyway, major kudos to all of the flaggers who helped make exodus as smooth as it can be, given the need to thread an elephant thru a garden hose. Thanks!

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Post by robbidobbs » Sun Sep 09, 2007 11:56 am

I second the motion: volunteer for Exodus.
This is a DO-ocracy, bay-bee.

BTW: Odwally told me on tuesday it went through like butter.

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phil
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Post by phil » Sun Sep 09, 2007 2:12 pm

> If that was you and Louise at the main gate Monday afternoon, Phil,

We were at the Gerlach Y-intersection both shifts.

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Post by bigbluedoggy » Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:07 pm

We were at the Gerlach Y-intersection both shifts.
Well I waved at you guys then!! Thanks!!
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Post by phil » Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:12 pm

> Well I waved at you guys then!! Thanks!!

Louise and I both enjoyed our shifts, waving at all the remarkably good-natured Burners on their way out.

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Post by fierysage » Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:15 pm

Tuesday was excellent for exodus... smooth sailing... 45 minutes from camp to pavement and 2 hours or so back to Reno... schweet

if i stay again until Tuesday, I'll definitely see about volunteering a shift for Exodus

goodjob, goodjob, goodjob!

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Post by dr.placebo » Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:30 pm

I did 3 Exodus shifts this year -- one setup on Saturday, and two helping direct traffic on Sunday and Monday near the T where the playa stream meets the road. It was VERY interesting to see the operation from the inside. The Exodus folks I worked with were incredibly dedicated and hard working. There was a lot of planning to make this a much better Exodus than 2006, and mostly it paid off.

What would have improved matters? More volunteers, especially during the dark hours! When there are not enough people the cars do not move as efficiently, and hence wait longer.

I'd give a count of the cars I saw, but I can't count that high.

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Post by Badger » Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:28 pm

Thanks for your efforts Doc.

Much appreciation for a task too readily criticized.
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Post by somekind » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:01 pm

I left monday, the exodus took the expected 3hrs.

There were merge lanes that were avoidable, by switching to the lane moving faster. The right lane had the fewest merges, and flowed the fastest. Once I got over to the right, the exit was smooth sailing.

There were no flaggers when I passed by on monday. The exodus was total chaos, auto darwinism. Anyone who knows traffic can see which lane is moving fastest. Always try to be in the lane that is moving.

Good luck next year!!!
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Post by Fat SAM » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:16 pm

Tips?

Get some sleep, if you can, before you decide to leave. Be awake and aware. Be ready to be patient. I always see people passing and I think of all the people nodding off while they're driving next to those passers...Gives me the chills.

Have your shit together early. Be packed hours before it's time to go. Leave relaxed, not rushed. It's a long drive back to anywhere, lots of times an emotional ride, too. Sit back, ponder the week, listen to some NPR or BMIR. Be sober. Have a driving buddy to talk with on the way home. Try to have your mirrors unobstructed. Follow the flaggers. Check your car before you leave...tires, fluids, gas...clean the windows, check the belts. Trailer hitch functional?

I think a huge part of the problem with Exodus is just plain fatigue. When pro ball games end, similar numbers of people leave a single parking lot and they do pretty well. Granted, those people didn't just spend a week in the desert sun, drunk or God knows what else, but they still have to deal with a MASSIVE number of people leaving the same place and with a game, it's usually almost all at once as opposed to the fractured way we do it. If 40000 football fans can do it in one evening, I know we can get it right over a period of three days.

Patience. Rest. Preparedness. Those are my recommendations.
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Post by DoctorIknow » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:48 pm

somekind wrote:Anyone who knows traffic can see which lane is moving fastest. Always try to be in the lane that is moving.
Were you the one in the small black car that darted ahead of any car in line that failed to IMMEDIATELY stay on the bumper of the car ahead of it? I watched this car for the three hours I was in line, always cuttin' in wherever it could, sometimes knocking over cones.

Sometimes he'd be way ahead of me, then 30 minutes later he'd be behind me again in some other lane.

Funny thing was, that just before Gerlach, he passed me for about the tenth time.

All that "trying to be in the lane that is moving" got him absolutely nowhere. But at least he pissed off maybe hundreds of people by cuttin' in front of them!

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Post by Eric » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:57 pm

We left Saturday evening around 6:30 (hey, we'd already seen the man burn.....), made Reno by about 10- 10:30 and stayed the night (we had booked some rooms already).

We were the only vehicle- no Exodus, just us. One guy at the gate flagging, and off we went.

Granted, you have to be willing to miss the Burn, but since that's the least important part of my week, I don't have a problem with it.
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barnz
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Post by barnz » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:32 am

somekind wrote:The right lane had the fewest merges, and flowed the fastest.
I am not much of a lane jumper in the default world - I absolutely won't do it during Exodus. That said, if there's one (or two or three) lane(s) that have less merging and travel significantly faster than other lanes, it might as well be me in the faster position.

When we left in 2006, the three lanes on the right hand side all merged together before the three lanes on the left hand side merged at all. Those of us in the right lanes therefore moved at 1/3 the pace as those on the other side.

This year, I went to the left. Joke on me. Same exact experience, switched over.

I understand it's not cool to complain about something I haven't staffed...but that just sucked.

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phil
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Post by phil » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:10 am

I understand it's not cool to complain about something I haven't staffed...but that just sucked.
Nah, Exodus sucked whether you staffed it or not. I'm not sure how you get tens of thousands of cars onto a two-lane blacktop in any reasonable amount of time. From my particular view, things would have gone better if there had been more volunteers. The people at the exit end of the lines have a view on how things are going, what lanes have breakdowns and are blocked, etc. They radio this info to Exodus HQ, and HQ can tell the traffic directors in the dirt what lanes they should be directing traffic into. If there were enough volunteers to staff those lanes, this would make lane-hopping unprofitable because the lanes would be equally stuffed with cars all moving equally slowly. :-> But things still would go slow as you feed thousands of cars into that one lane that goes to Reno.

Since we're certified flaggers, they put Louise and me on the blacktop at the Gerlach intersection. Louise counted 12 to 16 cars a minute passing us during our two shifts. I think that's a little over a car every 5 seconds, which allows for the very slow speed and safe spacing between vehicles. (And this is on the blacktop just outisde Gerlach, not in the dirt lanes feeding down into the one lane on paved road.) This slow speed into Gerlach and on into Empire gridlocks the Exodus in BRC, as far as I can figure. It takes miles for the traffic to sort into those guys in '65 VW microbuses going a max 40MPH and the knuckleheads going 75 or 80 between caravans of cars that are slowed behind the VWs and waiting for a safe place to pass.

I don't think the answer to Exodus can be found on the playa, unless they're trying to provide gaps in the traffic so that locals can get in and out (which I understand they did one year at the demand of the highway patrol/local police/whoever) by stopping traffic entirely at the gate.

I think having more volunteers at Exodus would help in getting people to the blacktop more efficiently. If you volunteer for a shift on the Playa, you don't need the state certification as a flagger, and you probably do more good than the flaggers out on the road - but I'm willing to be shown wrong on this. Whichever, volunteering will help get the people out more nearly smoothly, but it'll never be a swift ride from your camp to Reno, given the constraint of putting everyone into one lane into Gerlach. Exodus sucks because of factors overwhich there is no control

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Post by plunkatone » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:15 pm

Exodus was mid-day Monday for me. Took about as long as it ever does (2 hours?) but the flaggers did a great job of sending us forward in shifts. Unlike past years, I spent most of that time with my engine OFF rather than creeping slowly forward.

That was my biggest gripe with Exodus, all those idling engines. So at least for Monday afternoon, hats off to the volunteers.

I've often thought all the cars should be herded into two big parking lots, and then allowed to leave in the order they arrive at whatever rate the highway can handle. That way the entire wait would be spent engine off, playing frisbee, etc. But I haven't mocked up a simulation or proposal, so I'm just running at this mouth for now.

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Post by misfit » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:25 pm

we leave mid-week after the burn. just us all the way to reno....
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Post by barnz » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:46 pm

plunkatone wrote:... the flaggers did a great job of sending us forward in shifts. Unlike past years, I spent most of that time with my engine OFF rather than creeping slowly forward.
Here's my cocktail-napkin idea:

* six straight lanes from back to front, no merges.
* a single safety cone with a flag blocking the front of each lane.
* allow passage onto the road for one lane at a time, in batches of say 30 vehicles.

Some benefits:
* all lanes would move at an equal aggregate rate.
* cars not moving could shut down their engines, reducing emissions. (Barring that, manual transmission drivers could at least rest their clutch foot.)
* could be accomplished with a small cadre of flaggers (could be as little as one, depending on the conditions)

Some negatives:
* could result in an increase in line hopping?

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phil
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Post by phil » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:25 pm

> * six straight lanes from back to front, no merges.

I lost track of how many cars I saw either broken down or with shifted loads or stuff that fell off and the people out re-tying everything down. You may have breakdowns in more than one lane. If the car needs to be towed, you have to get a wrecker in from Gerlach. If there's a wrecker in BRC, you need to get it in the front of the car to haul it, which means you have stoppage in two lanes for some short period of time on top of the longer breakdown time.

A second issue is that we also sent ambulances and police in, so a lane had to be closed and cleared for incoming traffic on occasion. This can be handled either the same way as it is now or by having a dedicated incoming lane in addition to the six, but you'll have the problem of someone seeing the unused lane and going for it.

> * a single safety cone with a flag blocking the front of each lane.

Cones have a way of creeping out of place and/or being knocked over. (Did you notice any fallen cones on your way out?) My personal preference is to have a smiling face suggesting no, don't go yet; but that's a personal preference.

Do you have any thoughts on better ways to handle breakdowns and incoming traffic?

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Post by barnz » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:45 pm

phil wrote:
barnz wrote: > * a single safety cone with a flag blocking the front of each lane.
Cones have a way of creeping out of place and/or being knocked over. (Did you notice any fallen cones on your way out?) My personal preference is to have a smiling face suggesting no, don't go yet; but that's a personal preference.
A smiling face is ALWAYS preferable. :D But I've found it's best to keep the faces smiling by providing some form of backup. Cones are really just placeholders for smiling faces, which have the benefit of being mobile. (This is true all the way down the lines.)
phil wrote: Do you have any thoughts on better ways to handle breakdowns and incoming traffic?


Breakdowns and load adjustments are a bummer. I don't really know what might make that "easy."

As for incoming traffic, it seemed to me that there was plenty of room on the left hand side for incoming traffic with six lanes of outgoing. I was in the far left lane this year, and for the 2 hours I was waiting (I left at a pretty good time!) there were a series of incoming vehicles. The space they were occupying didn't at all feel like an "open lane" for traffic to jump into. I can't remember exactly how that margin was defined, maybe it was just a higher density of cones or could have been something else, I wasn't paying attention; but it was clearly "off limits."

(Keep in mind that only one lane really moves into the "DMZ" at a time, basically making a right hand turn towards the road. . .
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Post by ccsallie » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:29 pm

Some random thoughts on Exodus...
phil wrote: A second issue is that we also sent ambulances and police in, so a lane had to be closed and cleared for incoming traffic on occasion. This can be handled either the same way as it is now or by having a dedicated incoming lane in addition to the six, but you'll have the problem of someone seeing the unused lane and going for it.


I've never understood why the LE and ambulances don't use the other entrance? They can easily get cleared by perimeter and it would be much faster for both them and Exodus.

It is great to see the improvements made to the system each year. Unfortunately, you can only get so many people out of a city so fast on a two-lane road. So, averaging 14 cars a minute, how many cars an hour vs. the total number of vehicles heading south & east from BM?

I worked Exodus it's first three years and was amazed at how quickly most people fell back into road-rage-asshat mode. Of course there are some people who get it and are uber cool on their way out but they are probably the minority. My hat's off to the volunteers who happily volunteer to be dusted, sworn & cursed at, at risk being hit by dolts who only want to get home and forget about the rest of the people around them. It's one of the two worst jobs on the playa (the other being the porto-potty saints from DPW who restock the tp and other tasks to help ensure we don't loose the contract) and always in need of more volunteers.
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Post by phil » Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:17 pm

I've never understood why the LE and ambulances don't use the other entrance? They can easily get cleared by perimeter and it would be much faster for both them and Exodus.
Me neither. We were taken out both times using the 3-mile entrance instead of the playa road exit, and we were brought back once on that entrance and once by having a lane cleared in the exodus traffic.

One issue is at night; if you're not familiar with the area, driving across the playa at night could lead to being lost, running over things, etc. But during the day, I don't see the problem, assuming the 3-mile entrance will support the weight of an ambulance safely.
So, averaging 14 cars a minute, how many cars an hour vs. the total number of vehicles heading south & east from BM?
I have no idea how many vehicles were at Burning Man this year. The rumor I'm seeing is 47,000 persons in attendance, but I've never seen a count of vehicles.

The other issue, of course, is that we don't have a steady stream of exiting vehicles. Big surges after major events, then a horrible dust storm, and people stop leaving, etc.

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Post by Lassen Forge » Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:00 am

3 mile has - and does - remain an emergency route for emergency vehicles. It's faster and cuts a lot of time from going via 8 mile. In a bad situation it's not unusual for an ambulance to head for 3 rather than 8 and down 34. They are (ans always have been) authorized to do that.

And trust me - perimeter knows whats going on well enough to know when an ambulance is punching to 3 mile. Can't elaborate more than that, but yeah. They ARE that good.

bb

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Post by HughMungus » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:35 pm

Exodus is just something you have to accept like the heat or dust storms.
It's what you make it.

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Post by phil » Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:49 pm

> Exodus is just something you have to accept like the heat or dust storms.

No, I don't. I don't accept it.

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Post by barnz » Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:04 pm

HughMungus wrote:Exodus is just something you have to accept like the heat or dust storms.
Hugh -
isn't your post at odds with your sig?

I certainly accept that getting quantity X cars onto a capacity Y road can't be done any faster than X divided by Y. (substitute correct algebra if desired... :roll: )

But if it takes twice as long as it should, let's look at how to work on that.

To be honest, I don't care if if does take twice as long as it might at maximum efficiency, (I really don't) but it does irk me when the process takes twice as long for cars on one side as it does for cars on the other. If we can all go slowly and safely together, then I'll be happy.
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Post by sattelite5812 » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:46 pm

One way to cut down on your exodus time is to leave in the middle of a dust storm.

Not recommended, of course, but in this case we didn't have a choice-- we absolutely had to leave Monday, and were still out collecting MOOP when the storm kicked up. We tried to wait it out, since the other storms hadn't lasted more than an hour or two, but then the sun went down...

Believe me, I don't intend to repeat the method of breaking down camp in the dark during a dust storm (never planned to in the first place!) and trying to find the exit in said conditions was also a challenge, but as a payoff once we got there there was no wait :wink:

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Post by unjonharley » Sat Sep 22, 2007 6:05 pm

we pulled out just before the SAt dust storm.. we have seen the man burn a few times.. we had a lot of fun so it was time to go.. about 30 miles down the road we stoped and showered.. half way home we pulled into a state gravel pit and spent the night.. got up early, fixed breakfast and was home by mid afternoon Sunday..

now it s time to work on next years theme.. get your kicks on route 66.. the Am DRM

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