Moments in Transition


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North America » United States » Nevada » Reno
September 6th 2011
Published: June 29th 2012
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Today for me is a very important day.

With Burning Man over, I now have space to process that I have just passed an important milestone.

My age once again has a zero at the end.

Within the Burner community, oddly enough, most people prescribe little meaning to this.

The rest of the world cares quite a bit.


Reno Hotels Post Burn



Burning Man also marks the symbolic halfway point of this journey.

I planned on it being the biggest high point (which it is, so far).

Until now, the trip has been an ever expanding journey into points unknown.

From now on, it will feel like a slow approach to the end as the amount of the United States that I’ve never seen steadily shrinks.





All veteran Burners I talked to warned about the need to rest in Reno after the event.

Black Rock City is incredibly draining due to the extreme environment, stimulation overload, strange food, and lack of sleep.

People split into two camps about where to stay.

Half advocate staying a cheap hotel whose management allows people to pack rooms and party at night.

Many people in this group get rooms at the Sands Regency (often called the “Terrible Sands” due to its old condition).

The other half advocates dropping the cash needed for the most luxurious hotels available, to maximize relaxation and rest.

After all in downtown Reno, one can always walk over to the cheap hotels to meet up with people.





Since I have a lot of driving to do after today, I went with the luxurious option.

Here I got a pleasant surprise.

Reno casinos present themselves as incredibly glamorous, but it’s an odd faux glamour.

Truly big gamblers head to Las Vegas, making Reno a mid-market town.

Luxurious hotels here feature special rooms and suites that they use to lure the biggest gamblers they can.

The dirty secret is that when casinos can’t fill these rooms, they quietly rent them to the general public at remarkably low rates.

Research on hotel websites showed that the week after Labor Day is slow enough to get one.

Using my AAA card, I got one of these luxurious rooms at the El Dorado for less than what I paid for some motels in the Midwest!


Cleaning my Car



Walking through the parking garage this morning, cars that had been to the Burn are rather obvious.

They’re all grey, coated in playa dust.

On the playa, dust seeps in every crevice that isn’t covered, inside and outside.

Veterans have a long list of techniques they use to keep their cars tolerable.

For Northeastern Burners, these techniques are especially important because many have to rent vehicles to get to the playa.

The rental companies demand damage deposits.





Unfortunately, this is the one part of Burning Man I did not research thoroughly beforehand.

My car cover kept out the worst of it, but I had dust from the entrance wait alone! (see The Lonely Road to Paradise)

My poor convertible now has little bits of playa literally everywhere.

Cleaning it all out is going to take hours, if not days.

I need to do so, to ensure my car will be functional for the rest of the trip.





Some Burners will disparage me for this, but I ultimately went with the cheat option.

I did internet research and found a Reno detailing service with a reputation for a thorough job, High Desert Mobile Detailing.

When I called for an appointment, they told me about their post-Burning Man special.

They guarantee a car clean enough to get a rental deposit back.

The service is not cheap, but at this point I’m too burned out (no pun intended) to care.





After dropping the car off, I did the thing that most Burners do this morning, passed out.

A few hours later I got it back.

I’m stunned by the results; my car looks like new.

The detailers went over literally every piece of it, including areas many people miss such as the undercarriage.

The price, though, was over seven times what I normally pay for a cleaning, in cash.

Another reason to have contingency funds.





Today, I have an odd form of adjustment to make.

In Black Rock City, the green pieces of paper in my wallet were, well, just odd green pieces of paper.

Since Burning Man is completely non-commercial (except for ice and coffee sales), those green pieces of paper have no useful purpose.

In Reno, those same pieces of paper are the subject of a form of worship.

The change is rather jarring.

Since the rest of the country is closer to Reno than Black Rock City on this subject, I have to go through it sooner or later, and it might as well be here.


Cleaning Me and my Stuff



Back at the hotel, I had the thing that veterans describe as the second most important post-Burn ritual after sleep.

I took a long hot shower.

On the playa, washing is very much a luxury for many people.

To control waste water, people reserve it for the most important areas, such as faces and feet.

Burners quickly get used to being dusty.

As a long time camper, it soon felt normal.

The first time being fully clean afterward feels like a form of renewal.





I have to deal with my stuff today too.

First, I have to clean it, which I did in the room tub.

After that, I need to decide what to do with it.

Some I had bought specifically for the Burn and it’s too valuable or useful to just throw out.

I ultimately sent it home.

This must be a popular option, because the local UPS outlet gave a nice discount when I mentioned my Burning Man ticket.





Finally, I did laundry tonight.

The hotel charges obnoxious rates for it, so I drove to a local Laundromat.

Six other people were there, and all were Burners.

I should have anticipated this one!

I had fun chatting while waiting.

People came to the Burn from all over, with Mexico the furthest for this group.

I didn’t ask about their experience in Black Rock City, since I haven’t had time to process it all myself yet.

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