At 5 AM I put on my Ranger hat and headed out for HQ. I headed up 8 O’Clock road and cut across the playa to Center Camp, then followed the Esplanade around to the Ranger Headquarters. It was my first real shift of the week. At the input window, I gave them the radio check-out form I’d already filled out over breakfast. I still had a while to wait, so I sat over by the burn barrel. Ranger Lazarus was in a chair, trying to stay awake after being on duty all night. As it got closer to 6 AM, Rangers began to converge under the shade structure. They were already making assignments when I joined the crowd. A lady Ranger asked me, “You got a partner? You do now.” Her name was Ms. Rie, from California. Her husband was retired and about to publish a novel.
Ms. Rie and I were assigned to patrol between 4 & 6 O’clock roads,
so we took off on our bikes. The first issue we encountered was a gold-painted
2-person art car parked out in the street. Nobody was around anywhere.
We pushed it over to the side. Over at Etheron Village, the party was still
going strong (and loud). We found a couple of yellow bikes (painted green)
chained together with a bike lock-- plus, the seats had been removed
from both bikes. A lovely girl stopped us to ask hot to get a ride back
to Reno—right away, that morning. She said she’d had enough
of Burning Man and wanted to leave now. I said hitchhiking at the
Gate could be unpredictable; we directed her to Playa Info to find a ride.
|We heard a call for medical assistance, and Ms. Rie responded. It was at a camp at 5:30 & G. We took off on our bikes, and it was all I could do to keep up with her. We got to the intersection, but nobody was there. When the ambulance rolled by, we followed it most of a block to where the problem was. Overnight, a girl had fallen off an art car and hurt her shoulder. She tried to sleep it off, but it wasn’t getting better, so her friends called for help. The REMSA folks stabilized her, then took her to one of the med tents for evaluation.|
While we were on patrol, we stopped for a break at the N*U*D*E 4077 Camp. That’s where we met Bahama Mama, a very nice lady. The camp was full of folks that ran Element Eleven, a regional event near the hot springs of Seabase, Utah. The radio was full of chatter about two different elephant-shaped art cars, and about LE (Law Enforcement) response to a camp on the Esplanade; Ms. Rie had reservations about that particular camp when she went by earlier and spotted a row of bicycles, each with a price tag on it. Vending on the playa was a violation of the Burning Man rules. “Somebody’s going to jail,” she said.
|We stopped at a camp called the Box Top, and got to talking about their
art car, a solar-powered electric car built to look like it had been made
out of Legos. They gave us some awesome patches. That was nice of them.
We stopped at one camp where Kiki, one of Ms. Rie’s friends, was helping serve some whole wheat waffles, so we stopped for one. That was also the first time all week I had bacon. Kiki’s friend, Queen-something, was leaving the playa early, “but it’s a good thing,” she insisted, because she was leaving to help promote the debut of a new beer called Dirty Blonde.
I woke up about midnight to the sound of some really bad music
coming from the stage. There was a girl on stage trying to sing some folk
songs. I like folk songs… when they’re sung well. This girl
was way off-key. I walked to the porta potties. Above, a big, red light
was moving directly over me. There was nobody around for me to point it
out to. I thought maybe it was a satellite, because it wasn’t blinking,
but just as it passed over me, it seemed to change direction—the light
flickered, and I watched it break up into a cloud of red dust. I just watched
some space junk re-enter the atmosphere! A girl walked by just as it disappeared,
and I tried to describe what happened—it was amazing. I went back to bed
just as a loud band got up on stage. I told myself I’d slept through
loud music before. I can put myself to sleep…