Posts Tagged ‘white out dust storm’

Hello Again

September 4, 2017

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

I have missed my little blog, I have.

I got back from Burning Man last night.

I am back a day early and I cannot be more grateful for it.

I needed to get back, I was missing my world.

I also wasn’t wanting to sit in any kind of exodus line, the last time I had tried to leave on Sunday morning I ended up being in line for almost four hours.

Four hours on playa.

Four hours to go three miles.

No fucking thank you.

And I had to be back by today to give myself enough time to recuperate and unpack and unwind.

And.

Um.

Shower.

Holy Mary, mother of God.

Fuck me.

That shower was something else.

A spiritual experience for sure.

I knew when I heard that the temperature was going to rise and peak out on Sunday that I wanted to come back Saturday.

I didn’t need to see the Man burn.

I have seen it burn ten times.

I wanted to get home without a shit ton of traffic.

I asked the woman who I had traveled with to the event if she would be amenable to leaving a day early and she was quite down for it.

And in given that there was a death last night at the burn I am extraordinarily grateful that one, I did not witness it.  And two, that I had left before the event turned morbid.

Death happens.

But I am relieved that I did not witness it.

I had a very different burn than I have in the past.

First, of course, because I was not working it.

I had to laugh, even when I tried to pick up a volunteer shift at Artica slinging ice, I got turned down, they had more volunteers than they needed.

Every time that I thought I might have worked, it was pushed down and away.

I spent a lot of time sitting in Center Camp Cafe writing.

I sent lots of cards and post cards off and I did a lot of journaling.

I hung out at my camp with the ladies of the Nest, a sweet group of women that I have known for years and witnessed their growth into extraordinary beings.

It was super sweet to have such a girl centric time.

I wasn’t on the prowl for the playa boyfriend.

I didn’t need to look for anything.

I have everything I want.

I went dancing twice.

Once in camp, an amazing dj came and played at our potluck dinner for the camp.

The music was the best I had experienced in years at the event.

I danced hard for two hours.

Happy in my body and light on my feet.

Although, the knees felt a little rough the next day.

I got to know a few folks in my San Francisco fellowship whom I have known for years but not really connected with.

I went on bike rides with the posse.

I got caught in dust storms unlike anything I have experienced before.

Prior years I was always working very close to my accommodations and they included access to trailers.

A dust storm would spring up and I would be hiding out in a trailer.

A huge dust storm came up and I was obliterated in it.fullsizeoutput_ed1

The “clean” spot on my face was where my dust mask was.

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I mean, you can’t even tell I have tattoos for god’s sake.

I had been caught off guard and though I saw the storm coming, it came up too fast for me to get the fuck out of Dodge.

I spent about an hour of it laying on a bench outside of the Temple.

Completely exposed.

I rested my head on the bench, curled up next to the fencing it was by and held on for what literally felt like dear life.

I kept my eyes closed.

I wasn’t wearing goggles.

My bad.

Stupid too, since I have a pair.

I was, thank god, wearing something, my big aviator sunglasses, but my eyes still got totally coated with dust.

It was an extraordinary experience.

Not exactly pleasant.

But I surrendered to it and rode it out saying prayers inside my head and breathing slow and steady.

There was a break in it and I thought go!

I got my bike, made it five feet and it whipped up again.

I was told later the wind was roaring along at 45 mph.

The dust battered me and I held still straddling my bike for about another hour.

There was a man standing next to me on a trike.

He might have been three feet away, probably less and he was invisible to me.

I could have reached out to him and touched his arm.

I didn’t.

But.

Knowing there was someone else there made it palatable.

The experience was mind-blowing.

No pun intended.

It also lead to an experience that I had never had before.

I got topless at Burning Man.

That has never, ever happened.

I stumbled into camp, with another of my campmates who had gotten blasted by the dust too and we let the women in camp strip us down and clean us up.

She got completely naked.

I couldn’t quite do it and in fact was walking away to wipe myself down solo when I realized what a monumental task it was going to be and I started crying.

I went back and said, “help me.”

And they did.

I dropped all my pretenses, and my clothes, well, I couldn’t step out of my under wear, there really is a limit for me, and just surrendered.

I got sprayed with a vinegar and water mixture and then a baby wipe down.

I got all the dust off my eyes and eyelashes.

I actually left my hair up in the puffs and antlers and let it be the way it was.

I was told it looked pretty spectacular and just let it be.

I had to have help getting dressed and it felt as though I was a priestess being made ready for a ceremony.

We all went out that night in a mutual friend’s, who is staff at the event, car.

I wore a long white dress and fresh makeup.

I had my hair up and added some goggles to the mix, I wasn’t without them the rest of the event.

We rode around the playa, the six of us, sitting regal in the back of the Jaguar convertible, the “Shaguar” which was painted hot pink with black spots on it.

I felt like some sort of playa princess.

And I was happy to be with the women around me.

All of whom I wouldn’t have met outside of recovery.

I am lucky and grateful to have them in my life.

I felt seen and loved.

Really loved and really included.

What more could I ask from Burning Man?

I’m so glad I’m home though.

I missed it more than I had expected.

And my heart is glad to be here.

Despite having a bad tummy today, which happens sometimes after coming back from the event, especially after being smacked so hard by the dust, I am happy to be home.

Happy.

Joyous.

Free.

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So very free.

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Better Late to Blog

September 1, 2014

Then never.

Monday, September 1st, approximate time 1:20p.m.

I hear it’s a holiday out there, but I am still here.

Here in the dusty remnants of Burning Man, which is no longer Burning Man, fyi, mister high as a kite spinning poi on the Esplanade.

The event is over.

Go home.

Meh.

Here at camp, the breaking down continues, without me being broke down.

I am so far, so proud, so good, so on point with the self-care I have never actually felt this ok at this juncture in my previous journeys on playa.

Typically I have been pretty beat up and burnt out and done, done, done.

Not to say that I’m not done.

I am.

I am packed.

I am ready to go.

I have my bins sorted and stacked outside the door to the trailer and my exodus outfit ready to be put on, speaking of, exodus has been really mellow, longest wait I’ve heard of today was about an hour.

Most folks seem to be getting out within thirty minutes.

Peak population happened early a.m. Friday morning, hitting around 65,000.

Then the people, well, they started to leave.

The fear of the great wait in line is intense and I see many folks packing it up and hauling out before Man Burn or Temple Burn.

I understand completely, sometimes you just got to get out.

For right now, for me, it’s just the sit tight and wait.

The bug is asleep, mama and papa are wrapping up what they need to do for their jobs and I am in a holding pattern.

It’s a little like waiting in the gate to the airport for the plane to be cleaned off from the previous flight.

I can see the copilot and pilot cross checking their perspective duties, I can see the land crew doing their job, my job is to wait.

I am ok at that.

It does make me a tiny bit anxious.

I have places to go.

Things to see.

New York, New York.

But there is not much to be done except quietly take in each moment as it comes and accept that I am here for another twenty-four hours.

The plan is to drive two vehicles to Reno, one I will drive and the other mom will drive.

The vehicles are both rentals.

One will be returned to Reno and then the other will take us back to San Francisco.

The mom has one more meeting she has to attend at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.

I will be ready at the time she needs to go to her meeting.

All my bins, four total–three medium, one small–will be in the mini van that will drive us back to SF. Then I will hop in the other mini-van and drive to her meeting with her.

My charge and I shall hang out while she wraps it up and then once the meeting adjourns, we’ll hit the road for Reno.  The first rental will get dropped off and then I’ll climb aboard the second and hit it to SF.

We should land sometime late in the evening.

I am hoping for a quick pit stop at Whole Foods to grab road food–all things fresh, my god, I am grateful to the Commissary, but the food is getting me down–apples, fresh water, an iced coffee, a big salad for the road, and then on to the City by the Bay.

I am missing her.

I see that the majority of my friends have made it out and back to SF and I am a teeny tiny bit jealous.

However, I am grateful that I won’t be staying as long as I did last year.

Tomorrow will mark 19 days.

Last year it was 22 days.

I was not exactly broken last year, but the ten-hour dust storm white out the day we were supposed to leave did not help, I definitely felt cracked by the time we got off playa.

Fingers crossed all will go smoothly and we shall enjoy a pleasant and non-eventful trip back.

Not everyone is so lucky.

One of the team members came by today with a broken thumb.

There was a camp mate who broke his heel early last week and had to leave.

Then there’s all the folks who get dehydrated or sick or lost or broken in other odd and uncomfortable ways–today a gentleman confused a bottle of kerosene with a bottle of water.

Last night someone drank a bottle of water that was not water but GHB.

Ack.

I am pretty damn lucky, dusty, yes, dirty yes, I can’t wait for my shower, but my health has held.

Lots of fluids.

Lots of naps.

I probably took more naps this event then I have done in my prior seven outings.

I also have been meditating.

That does not hurt in the least.

And going to bed early.

I haven’t gone out dancing.

Unless you count the ten minute shake my booty at Distrikt that I did last Thursday for a hot second.

I have, however, ridden my bicycle a lot out here.

And I am happy to say, the ankle is holding up.

A twinge now and again and the ride up was pretty uncomfortable, but I don’t think that will be an issue the way back, but good for the most part.

Stable.

I can tell it’s still not 100% but it’s so much better.

I should be able to ride my regular bike when I get back to the city.

I am certainly going to give it a go.

I slowed down a lot with this event and really kept the focus on the job and the duties that I needed to do.

It means that my event was quite a bit different then the last seven, but it also means that I won’t be returning to my regularly scheduled life needing a week and a half to recuperate.

I suspect that there will still be tiredness and some dusting off of self to do, but so far, so good.

I’ve got about 23 hours left on playa.

Fingers crossed they are uneventful, restful, easy.

See you soon.

The Long Way Home

September 7, 2013

The excruciating wait for the dust storm to end.

It was six plus hours of solid white out yesterday.

The triple time it took to get to Reno.

The family car has been having some issues and for a while it was not moving more than twelve miles an hour.

The long start to get out of Reno tonight.

And last but not least, putting the baby down to bed.

Who is not used to the feel of his real bed, the cats mewling at the door for attention, the hustle and bustle to unload the truck, the car stayed in Reno and a truck pulled the trailer and us back to San Francisco.

I was not going to write my blog tonight.

I am tired.

But I am also wide awake, surged up with adrenalin and what’s next?!

There is another reason too, I am doing a load of laundry.

I have nothing clean left, I wore my last serviceable outfits today in Reno.

I am at the family’s home in Cole Valley and the extra-large, bulky load is going to take an hour to wash.  I want to be awake, even if that means that I am up until 2 a.m. to swap over the load so that I may have clean underpants to put on myself in the morning.

The family kindly is letting me stay tonight and as long as I need tomorrow.

I am accepting the offer with much gratitude.

I cannot do much else.

On one hand I have no home to go home to.

On the other, I have plenty, but the logistics of figuring it all out are so escaping my playafied brain that I cannot put it all together.

The focus, as far as I can see, is to catch up on my e-mails, write this blog, change over the laundry, sleep, and in the morning first thing, go to the phone repair place down the street and have them fix my phone.

If they can’t then I need to get a new one on the ASAP.

I can not not have a phone.

No bueno.

“Oh, are you going to be one of those people,” an old friend from pre-highschool days said to me with some disdain when I asked for her number to put into my new cell phone.

I am absolutely one of those people, I wasn’t at first, but I became so quickly, my schedule has always been jam-packed and I am not a person who is wont to go home and check her messages.

And I have messages.

The Mister left me a message, back on the 20th of August, he’s finally coming up for air.

I liked the sound of that and I would like to see him, if only to finally air out my own feelings.

Something to the extent of, are we actually going to kiss each other again, because I want to, quite bad.  And I know he is a damn busy man, but maybe we can try to make some time to meet up more than once every other month.

I need to get a hold of my friend whose in-law I am moving into, I need to get the keys and oh, you know, move in.

How, when, with what vehicle, fuck if I know, but it will happen.

I just need to place the phone call.

I will most likely leave my playa stuffs here in Cole Valley and go gather my things in East Oakland and then collect them all and bring them out to the Sunset.

I am, fingers crossed, thinking maybe I can do that on Sunday?

Then I can take Monday to get household stuff, of which I don’t have any, but I won’t need much, at least to get me started.

My friend said she had a blow up mattress, so that will suffice until I find a bed.

I also have to contact the family in the East Bay and see what is going on with them.

I am not prepared to do any nannying until I feel like Tuesday, and I don’t want to commute over there.  Then again, Tuesdays I have always worked here, in Cole Valley, maybe that’s what has to happen.

Too much logistics, can’t go that far out.

Just keeping it to the right here right now.

And the gratitude.

That we fucking made it out of the hellish white out storm.

I really thought at one point that there was not going to be a break in the weather and we were going to be trapped for another night on playa.  We would not have died, but I think we were all quite ready to leave.

Really ready.

The dad braved the winds and the dust, after being stranded on the way to the depot and not being able to find his way for over an hour, on a Cushman while he was making a trash run.  Then the storm got worse and we stayed sequestered in the trailer for lunch.

I had fortunately gotten up early and taken photographs of the last sunrise I am going to see in Black Rock City for some time.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Last Sunrise

Last Sunrise

Sunrise, Black Rock High Desert

Black Rock High Desert

Fortunate as I made my coffee, drank two big mugs, wrote my morning pages, and finished my packing up of the Airstream Bambi.  I was done and ready to leave by 8:30 a.m.

But first there was a trip to make to the Commissary for one more breakfast and to sit with the family and discuss how camp was going to get broke down and how to manage the baby’s nap and sleep schedule while this was happening.

A plan was laid, but like all best laid plans, it was for naught.

An act of God intervened.

Here is camp before the storm hit, lit in the soft glow of the sunrise.

Camp

Camp

On the left the family vehicle that was to provide such trouble getting us to Reno.

On the right, the Soccer Mom, which had to be dropped off to the mom’s assistant who was going to drive it to San Francisco.

Behind the family vehicle, their container, which was packed full and scheduled for pick up.

Then the Cushman which would be dropped off to Ranger HQ.

There was the Frontier Trailer to empty, clean, and transference of all family stuffs to the Bambi, which fingers crossed would be hitched to the BMW and then just in case, there was the Ford F-150, not pictured, that was on playa being used over at Heavy Machinery, but cleared for the family use if needed.

Boy was it needed.

That’s a lot of stuff to take care of, without a dust storm.

Home Base

Home Base

It was however, quite doable.

Everything was pretty much packed, sorted, and organized.

It was just a matter of logistics.

Imagine the entire family’s dismay, then, when the white out hit.

The baby was just getting up from his morning nap and the papa had been outside sorting and breaking down the camp.

Mama was having a last-minute sit down with her assistant to clarify some last issues and needs.

I was inside the Frontier organizing baby gear.

Then we got walloped.

Mom got back to camp, dad got stuck in the Cushman less than a 1/4 mile away, but as there was no visibility, it took him an hour to make it back to camp.

The awning on the trailer was ripped to shreds and spent the next six hours flapping and banging into the trailer which shook and was soon stuffed with the dust that was screaming through the air.

We holed up inside, ate a lunch, held our breaths, each thinking, this will pass soon, but as the hours dragged on and the conditions stayed the same, morale quickly sunk.

A nap was taken by the family, I plugged in my head phones to my lap top and watched a video, with an eye constantly pulled to the front, white and occasionally to the back, white out, window.

Around four hours in, the papa decided to get out there.

I have never seen a more determined person.

He sliced down the awning, rolled up the canvas and stashed it in the container, when the metal frame fell on him, I hopped up and braved the weather to help him secure it to the trailer.

Look at the two white poles supporting the awning in the above picture.

Now imagine that you cannot see a person standing across from you.

Complete white out.

The dust stung and slapped and within seconds I was coated.

I felt like I was hanging on for dear life.

Papa secured the metal frame on one side, we slowly swapped places, then he got the other side.

He shooed me back indoors, where I got one look at myself and saw what I will look like with gray hair.

I don’t know how it all got done, but it did, and the stuff was all transferred, the trailers packed, it was frantic and scary and frustrating and for a good part of it I just stood to the side holding the baby.

Then, the three vehicle caravan, the Bambi connected to the BMW, the Soccer Mom mini van leading the way, and me just behind, in the Ford truck, slowly making our way through the white out.

Took over an hour to get off playa.

Complete white out.

We all stayed connected via radio, in fact, because the BMW was acting up, we kept in radio contact the entire way to Reno.  I followed behind the Bambi, which at times was able to go the speed limit, but then for no particular reason, other than the dust having fucked up the electrical system of the car, it would slow to 20 mph, then 15, then 12.

Then the dad would pull over, let the system rest, and re-start the car.

A trip that typically takes under two hours, took more than four and a half.

You can surmise how tired we were pulling into the Pepper Mill after midnight.

It was a long day.

And I forgot my laptop in the truck after we had checked in.

I could barely get myself in and out of the shower, let alone write this blog.

In fact, I am going to wrap it up now.

It is late, the laundry, while not nearly done, there are three weeks worth of clothes to do, this load is almost ready for the dryer.

And this lady is ready for the bed.

It is way past my bedtime.

And there is much to do on the morrow.

So much.

 

 

 

 

 


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