Yes, It Is a Long Strange Trip, But It Is Worth It!

TIB Rainbow seWe all have a story.  Sometimes getting to Burning Man is difficult, connections missed, you see all those broken down trucks on the way that look like they have an entire theme camp wired on precariously and then the tiny Prius that looks like it could not hold enough clothes and water for the two people in the car, sitting at the I80 Smoke Shop in Wadsworth with their hood up. BUT…there is the amazing international crowd that you see at Savmart in Reno buying everything they need. They have come from Russia, and South Africa, and Saudi Arabia, and China and everywhere else. The 2012 Black Rock City Census indicates that 24% of us on the Playa last year, did not reside in the U.S.  My husband and I have been the registrars for the Global Leadership Conference for the last  six years so we know a lot of people that come across the world to be a part of the Burning Man community. I said all that to say, that since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I always feel like I should not complain about whatever little hardships happen along the way since I know so many Burners are coming from so far away and sometimes those trips are filled with mishaps.

My husband is out here for a long time, some years 4 weeks, this year about 7 weeks, so like many of you, I get it together to come to the Playa on my own. So when the car is packed and I get on the road I feel like I am on my way, but there have often been issues getting here. In year two, my cohorts and I had not even left the grocery store parking lot before I hit a sign and knocked the side rear view mirror thru the passenger window, with my friend sitting in the seat. And then there was the year my campmates had bought the wrong shade structure to fit with our old one and we met in Vallejo to switch them out, and of course some campmates had left the day before and forgotten their tickets to the Event, could we meet their roommate along the way to pick up the tickets and then meet them in Reno to pass off the tickets, all common on the road to  Burning Man experiences.

But this year my struggles along the way were a little different. I rented a big car and along the way lost air pressure and had some very scary moments driving after being told it could be dangerous. But the AAA tow truck driver came to my rescue and rocked my world.  On the busiest weekend of the year, the tow truck driver put air in my tire and then had me follow him to the Reno Airport to the car rental agency to get a new car (it appears changing a tire is not an option these days), so he could be sure I was safe. At the Rental Agency, they got me a new car and then they proceeded to transfer all my belongings from one car to another.  All is well.

On my final leg of the trip I realize I don’t understand the hybrid they gave me, with no Owners manual in the car and no WIFI to research the problem, and I get stuck on Hwy 447, with my little SUV running at 7,000 RPM, I felt like I might blow up the car. But I stop along the way and some Burner’s from New York spend 1/2 hour of their road time, helping me figure out how to get the car running properly.  I felt like I had had my Burning Man experience before I had even gotten here.  Last week I shared, “It Makes You Want To BELIEVE“. During my travels I missed the follow-up photo, and the reminder of why we all do what we do to get here, because for me, it is an experience I have never found anywhere else.

Truth Is BeautyMarco Cochrane and Crew as part of of The Bliss Project

Photo: Sidney Erthal Photography


About the author: Affinity


Affinity, a Burner since 2000, was legally married on the Playa in 2001, was wedding coordinator and then training coordinator at Burning Man, before becoming the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) Social Media Coordinator and an Advisory Board Member. An attorney, she served on the Board of Directors of the Western Pension and Benefits Conference. She interned with the Human Awareness Institute for 10 years. She writes about how art is envisioned, produced, created, installed and its afterlife.

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