Never Get Off The Boat

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.
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Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Drawingablank » Thu May 10, 2012 7:51 am

Fernley Nevada, Sunday at 10:30 P.M. My hands are shaking as I top off the RV and fill some spare gas cans. Fear, excitement, anticipation, I am a bundle of nerves stretched to the limit. A decade of desire and a year of planning are about to come to fruition as we prepare to depart for the unknown. Rather than drive this boat through town, we hop on the interstate for one exit only to find our exit closed for construction.

We jump off at the second exit and head back towards Wadsworth on 427 careful not to exceed any speed limits. We pass a last outpost of civilization - a small gas station jammed with vehicles and signs for people selling tickets. The activity seems almost feverish. We pass it and press on into the darkness. Shortly we swing a left turn onto 447 and immediately see a sigh that says something about Burning Man being sold out.

Few lights are visible anywhere and the darkened landscape takes on a surrealistic aspect. I have a growing unease as it seems to be going too smoothly. As we get north of Wadsworth, we see hundreds of red lights and are baffled as to their source. It is too soon to see the playa so what could they be? Another 10 minutes and we find out - we have reached the line of vehicles heading to the burn and take our place at the back of the convoy. At least traveling this way we won't have as much concern about hitting a cow.

The sense of surrealism keeps growing in me and I find myself thinking how much this reminds me of the movie Apocalypse Now and traveling up the river. I even imagine I am hearing some of the noises from that soundtrack. Things slow to a crawl. There are flashing lights ahead with about 10 vehicles on the side of the road. A LEO directs us around a camper whose wheel appears to have fallen off. Breaking down out here is a sobering thought.

We press on and the tension mounts. What little we can see of the landscape seems totally alien. Eventually we see a sign for Empire and I have another river flashback as we pass through the abandoned town. Soon we are approaching Gerlach and the convoy slows to a crawl. This tiny town is truly the edge of the frontier, but for now is all lit up and a hotbed of activity with people selling things a burner might want or need. I think how much I would like to visit it when the circus isn't in town.

We press on and follow the line of tail lights. Up ahead we see the occasional vehicle light up with some EL wire. We tune in BMIR and eventually reach the turn off. As we turn off the pavement it seems like the point of no return. Although we have been driving through a rather alien surrealistic environment, I begin to realize just how alien a landscape the playa is. No amount of photos or video can prepare you for it. It is like driving to another planet. My one regret is that I couldn't see most of the signs along the entrance road in the dark. But that is tempered by having experienced one of the most interesting drives of my life. I'm sure it would have been far more mundane in daylight.

Shortly we are at a stop at the end of the largest line of traffic I have ever seen, and after many hours in line arrive at the greeters as the sun comes up.

It is time to get off the boat.
Savannah: I don't know what it is, but no thread here escapes alive. You'll get 1 or 2 real answers at minimum, occasionally 10 or 12, and then we flog it until it's unrecognizable and you can't get your deposit back.

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Jackass » Thu May 10, 2012 8:20 am

Great story, way to kick off the a.m.
That's the bee's knees right there! Getting out to the desert is ALWAYS epic.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by burner von braun » Thu May 10, 2012 8:58 am

I love the smell of playa dust in the morning...

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by BoyScoutGirl » Thu May 10, 2012 1:05 pm

Reading this just made me excited all over again!

Someone get this man a ticket, stat!
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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Mojojita » Thu May 10, 2012 3:18 pm

Really, the drive during daytime is equally as good - it includes Pyramid Lake, Indian Tacos, the Snoopy rock, Bruno's etc....those that usually go from Reno to Fernley before getting off I-80 should take Pyramid Highway out of Sparks some time. I never knew how huge and unusual the lake is until we did that drive.
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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Turtleburp » Thu May 10, 2012 3:32 pm

No longer thinking about work and am starting the day extremely excited.
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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by SnowBlind » Fri May 11, 2012 3:13 am

Awesome post.

I often think back to my first year, how I perceived things for the first time. Since you can't turn back time, it's awesome to read someone else first time impressions.

The second year is different, it's Welcome Home.

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Drawingablank » Fri May 11, 2012 7:14 am

Thanks for all the positive feedback on this. In the overall excitement and post burn afterglow I had forgotten about how exciting, emotional, and surreal that drive was at the time.

While kicking back some brews the other night I heard The End by the Doors, and the memory just came flooding back. Although I doubt the drive will ever feel that way for me again, it truly was the most interesting time I have ever spent in a motor vehicle and was a fitting end to a 5 day drive.
Savannah: I don't know what it is, but no thread here escapes alive. You'll get 1 or 2 real answers at minimum, occasionally 10 or 12, and then we flog it until it's unrecognizable and you can't get your deposit back.

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by AntiM » Fri May 11, 2012 7:24 am

The Drive. Nothing else like it.

Our fourth year, we were on 447 just at dawn. No long line of cars, that had already happened. We stopped at a historical marker overlooking the Truckee River, telling of the long running war between the Paiutes and the US. You could feel how heavy the air was that morning, pressing down on our skin as we stood on the bluff in the chill breeze.

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by particle » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:30 pm

Wow, this topic brings back memories from last year. I was a virgin burner too. I hope you don't mind if I write down some of my memories from the Sunday before the Burn.

I had been in the States for about two weeks by then, my first time outside Europe and first time travelling alone. My ride from San Diego was gone, leaving me alone in Reno without a hotel room for about 9 hours with no real way to find my way around the city and a bunch of BM equipment I needed to stash somewhere. Nervously I tipped the reception at the hotel I was supposed to meet my ride to keep my stuff until the night - strange custom to me, tipping. Too intimate for my socially reclusive culture, and I never knew how much to tip. After wandering around Reno aimlessly and sleeping under a tree in the park, I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my ride with all my stuff. Now I couldn't leave all my equipment before my ride showed up, and I didn't even know what she looked like. An hour passed and I was getting nervous - wait, didn't this hotel kind of have two lobbies? Again I nervously tipped a cleaning lady to watch my stuff while I ran across the hotel to the other lobby to see if my ride was there - she wasn't, and I kept waiting in the quiet and almost empty hotel lobby.

Suddenly an excited voice yelled my name, and my ride was there. Relief! Brief introductions to her and her three young daughters, and now we could go for some last minute shopping and drive to the Burn. The adventure I had been preparing for almost a year would finally begin.

I enjoyed seeing all the obviously Burners in the shopping mall parking spaces, gas stations, highways. Everyone seemed to be cheerful with excitement, me and my company included. Cars passing us on the highway had ")'( fuck yeah" painted on them. We discussed Burning Man and what we expected to see and do - it was their second year. The mother giddily asked me "Are you a nudist?", not judging, not as a joke, just from simple curiosity.

We soon realized we didn't even have to think where we were going - just follow the trail of cars. It was around 11pm Sunday night, the desert completely dark around us save for the stream of lights ahead - it took me a long time to realize they were cars. I started to feel increasingly surreal, like I was stepping into a fantasy. Finally we reached Gerlach and wondered at the people begging for tickets, wishing we could donate them one. Reaching the turn for the road to BRC my ride comments "Here's the dusty part". Ahead there is a stream of lights, and behind it a city pulled from science fiction, dreams, or childhood imagination. We start to hear the music from the cars waiting in the line, see the people yelling, singing, sleeping, honking their horns, cursing the line. People getting out of their cars to talk to each other, to smoke, to have a drink. My ride is very tired but I get out, eager to talk to Burners. I make a temporary friend from a bearded man smoking, I describe to him how I feel like I'm dreaming. Around us is a line of cars 5 lanes wide and stretching out to infinity in both directions. Bright headlights and dust makes seeing very far ahead difficult except for general outlines, and as I walk ahead of our car I'm exploring an infinite amount of cars with people filled with anticipation and joy.

My ride and I aren't sure which lane is the Will Call lane, so I offer to walk ahead and ask people. I join a girl who is determined to walk to Will Call with her backpack. She tells me her name and her probable campsite on the Playa, but I forget it quite quickly - too much excitement and new experiences, and this isn't even Black Rock City yet. We're turned back at the Gate and I walk back to our car. We're still not completely sure how Will Call works, but finally we make it to the Will Call lot and I tell my ride to get some sleep while I go get my ticket, feeling a little bad since I'm the only reason we had to go to Will Call. People are getting their tickets and dancing and yelling from joy, and I would do the same if I wasn't so tired. The ticket booth gets closed two times just as I get to the window, but I only feel amusement. Why would a little more waiting matter when I'll be at Burning Man in a little while?

I get my ticket and find my ride, quite difficult in the Will Call parking lot. We drive to the Greeters station past the poem signs just as the sun is coming up, and I'm speechless at my first true sight of the playa. The greeter is naked and hugs me and welcomes me home, and I roll around in the dust and smile. Everyone in the car is incredibly exhausted but finally we drive up to our camp near 4:30 and Funeral. My ride wakes the camp up by yelling, and the first person I see from my theme camp comes up to me and says he loves me - I only respond "You do?". The camp leader greets me and tells me to go sleep in the big tent, and worry about all my equipment later. There's a comfortable couch in the tent, and he tells me to sleep as long as I need to. After I wake up we'll set up everything. I doze off feeling better than in years.

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:09 pm

"Don't buy ur Burn...........Build ur Burn!"

"If I can't find an answer, I'll create one!!!"

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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Just_Joe » Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:32 pm

All the excitement. It's like these people are talking about losing their virginity.


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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:19 pm

You don't have to get off the boat when you get there :)
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Re: Never Get Off The Boat

Post by TT120 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:49 pm

Kinda making me excited for the line.....The sea of cars all lined up neatly for miles in both directions, The people out milling about in the middle of the road, laughing, dancing, telling stories of how it was last year or the year before or 1999. Tuning in to BMIR but not quite being in range so it's spotty reception and mostly static and that moment of joy when you finally roll the 3 feet needed and the reception suddenly is clear as a bell. Hearing that damn song "Home" by whoever the fuck sings it and wondering why you hate it so much. Having to ride the brake all the way to camp because your truck idles faster than 5 Mph and just knowing your brakes are red hot like a Nascar at Bristol.

Aw man.....I'm ready to go!!! Lets do this!
Life's a bitch, then you go to Burning Man - Unjonharley
We welcome the stranger, but that doesn't mean we have to like them, nor they us, and that's alright. - AntiM


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