Getting there

Monday, August 30

I drove the whole way, happily. The first hint of indescribable beauty snuck up on us on the drive. We took a slight detour in Reno, rounded a bend and my heart leaped out of my chest when I saw magnificent Pyramid Lake. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I was enthralled. We drove around it one way then the other, a sensual and gorgeous thrill. These pictures are off the internet. I’ve never seen water this blue, these pictures are true.

While driving through Gerlach, the town closest to the desert, it rained. We just started laughing. We had not prepared for rain and we no longer cared what happened while we were there, we just wanted to be there and we had almost done it. It had seemed formidable and almost impossible. We (and everyone on the playa, we later learned) were treated to a magnificent double rainbow and could see the beginning and end.

We turned off the asphalt at about 8:30pm on Monday. I’m still not clear if this next part was 4 or 8 miles, but it was 4 lanes of vehicles waiting to get in. Far off to the right we could see what literally looked like Oz. We could make out the Man.

I’ve always thought that driving west on highway 24 at night, through the Caldecott Tunnel, then bursting through the other side and seeing San Francisco on a clear night was like seeing Oz.  I have to think of another comparison now.

We waited in line for about 3 hours but at the time, we had no idea how long we’d be in line or what to expect at the ‘end.’  Cars, campers, and RV’s stretched as far as the eye could see; people walked around, stretching their legs.  We considered we may sleep there and greet sunrise in the car, which was fine, we had all our food, water and our pee funnels and containers. Every 40 minutes or so, there was a burst of activity and we’d move.  We people watched, made jokes about every car and person and laughed a lot. Every time I called one woman who was walking up and down the lines of cars a Bedouin, P would erupt in giggles, then I would. We were giddy.

I had dressed to feel somewhat festive and free on the drive and it was working, an old gold knit sparkly camisole that had a hole in the hem, so I trimmed it, capri yoga pants and my boots. It was cold. At sunset I put on my sweater.

We finally reached K on our walkie talkie and he gave us the camp address, E and 7:30.  And then we were somehow at  the head of the line!  The car got searched, and we got hugged repeatedly, encouraged, made sand angels and rang a big bell proclaiming the loss of our virginity. Then we drove in.

Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it; dark streets, people and camps everywhere; music thumping from every direction. We found our camp.  K. was exhausted from setting up his huge camp that he was generously sharing with us and others, we told him to sleep and we’d set up our tent. It was about 35 degrees. I was freezing, exhausted, overwhelmed, but got through it. We got the tent up, got the sleeping bags and pillows in, dragged in some needed stuff, put on our sweats, I brushed my teeth, smoked a few bowls and we closed our eyes.

In the morning, we met our other campmates, figured out how to clean up and get out and got on our bikes. The dream I’d had in my head for 10 months was a reality. I was riding my bike on the playa.


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