Burners know that there’s a lot of preparation going into that one week in the desert. Those with theme camps and art cars are quite familiar with weekends spent at storage or in a truck, moving dusty and unwieldy things, just to PREPARE for Burning Man. But it’s safe to say that the majority of people don’t know anything about THAT aspect of the burn. Many don’t realize that running a theme camp, attending regional events, and getting ready for TTID, is like a full time job. It’s akin to running a business, with none of the monetary profit! But we do this job because we love it…. And I’m still trying to decide if we do it IN SPITE of the hard work, or BECAUSE it’s hard work.
In May, Trevor and I made the first trip to our new Reno storage. Our friend Wendy had some items she was storing in Reno so they’d be there for the burn every year. (She was coming from NYC and didn’t want to transport bikes, tents and other supplies back and forth each year) Back in December, she decided she didn’t want the burden of a storage unit, or the commitment to attend Burning Man every year. She was looking for someone to purchase the contents of her unit and the storage agreement. Since we were building up our theme camp, I decided to purchase the items and storage unit from her. Although this all happened in December/Jan, last weekend was the first time Trevor and I could go check out the storage unit in Reno.
The plan was to get a bigger unit in Reno and move the items from our Oakland storage to Reno, closer to the burn. We’ll be doing this in several trips throughout the summer, until eventually we can get rid of the Oakland storage unit and keep all our supplies in Reno.
The project started on Friday in Oakland. We packed the car up and slept in our apartment Friday night, then woke up early Saturday morning to drive to Reno. It was slightly panic-inducing since the storage offices in Reno close around 5 pm, and we would need to find a new, bigger storage unit and move in as soon as we landed in Reno. While Trevor drove, I called different companies to see what was available and get quotes.
When we arrived at Reno, there was a clear winner - a 10x12 unit (about 3 times the size of our Oakland unit) costing 95/month. First, we went to Wendy’s unit to see what was inside. Then, we went to the location of our new unit to rent our space. (Like most storage companies in the area, this one only had one unit available) With a 10x12 room, we’d have square footage to spare, which is definitely a plus when it comes to storage.
While we were waiting for someone to show us to the new unit, I idly opened Facebook and saw a post in the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers group. Someone posted that their theme camp was at THEIR storage unit moving things in and out, and getting rid of a bunch of items. Their storage was in Gerlach, the tiny town right outside of BRC and two hours from Reno. They posted a photo of what they were giving away, and my eye caught the one thing our theme camp needs - Carpet! Trevor and I decided we had to make the trip out to Gerlach to get on this free carpet that another theme camp no longer needed.
So after loading up our brand new storage unit, we hit the road again. This time we were heading into the deep desert, far from Reno. The drive was absolutely beautiful. It was the first time we had made the drive when NO ONE was around. Usually, we’d be going for Burning Man or Juplaya, when there are plenty of other cars on the road and a sense that you could be rescued in an emergency. But for THIS trip, we we didn’t pass a single vehicle on the road. We did see a pack of dogs hanging out on in the street in Pyramid Lake, and that was super cute. They smiled at us and we went on our way. Other than that there were very few signs of life on the entire drive.
When we arrived in Gerlach, there were about 20 campmates unloading a shipping container, and piles of the familiar camp infrastructure sprawled on the ground. The stack of carpet I saw in their photo was as big and wonderful as expected. We took a lot, but not all of it. In half an hour we loaded our van with about 15-20 rolls carpet, which would be all we need for this burn and all we could transport. Thanks to Camp Orange, we now can have carpet in our public and private camping areas, and we will save some $$ from buying new!
After this random side-adventure, we drove back to Reno and found a place to eat dinner. It was about 9 pm, so we went to Jonny Rockets in the Grand Sierra. This hotel turns into burner central after Burning Man ends and people slowly trickle back into civilization. We’ve only seen the hotel full of dusty burners trying to get showers and keep the playa magic alive at the pool. But tonight, it was full of families walking around and enjoying casino nightlife. There were groups of kids exploring and playing games, and parents walking around with beers. It was very surreal to see people hanging out in a casino like that, but it was the first time I’d been in a Reno casino. The meal at Jonny Rockets was amazing - since we were working pretty hard and hadn’t eaten a meal since 10 am back in CA. I can’t be sure since I was so hungry, but I think the burgers were better at the Reno Jonny Rockets than the one near our apartment in San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf.
After dinner, we found a truck stop and were sleeping by 10:30 pm. I was too tired to brush my teeth OR change into pajamas, so it wasn’t surprising that we both fell asleep immediately. The next day we returned to the storage unit and loaded it full of our free carpet, which we were sleeping on top of the night before.
Somehow, this weekend full of driving and loading and unloading was FUN to us. It felt like we got a lot of work done, and we also had some great adventures along the way. Hopefully by doing slow and steady work over the summer, we’ll prevent burnout from cramming all that work into August. We are already planning our next Reno trip, since there’s plenty more things to move and many more adventures to have.