|The two weeks before I left for the playa saw a lot of activity online.
Lots of tickets came up for sale, but the ones I saw were mostly from Burners
selling to other Burners at more or less face value. I didn't see any of
the outrageous prices you'd expect from scalpers.
People were already in the desert, building roads and setting up infrastructure. People on-playa reported it was super windy. Early pictures from the playa showed evidence of massive wind and dust storms. One picture posted online showed a row of porta potties completely blown over by the wind (door side down, too)! One person was calling it "Windpocalypse 2012."
|Shelter: tent, rebar stakes, tent poles, tent balls, folding
chairs, hammer, bicycle, bike lock, folding table, clock, lights, foam
pad, sheets, sleeping bags, pillows, towels, earplugs, plastic tub
Clothing: shirts, sandals, shorts, Utilikilt, hats, sweatshirt, sweatpants, underwear, long underwear, BDU pants, jacket, socks, t-shirts, bandannas
Essentials: ticket (!), glasses, wallet, notebook, pencils, camera, batteries (AA & AAA), disposable cameras, flashlights, lip balm, goggles, canteens, Camelbak, digital recorder, MP3 player, keys, Swiss Army knife
Hygene: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, baby wipes, toilet paper, moisturizer, sunscreen, razor & gel, comb, shampoo, vinegar, talc, bug spray
... Plus my cooking gear, Ranger gear, first aid kit, two 7-gallon water jugs, and food stocks.
I was up at 5 AM Wednesday, August 22nd. Everything was packed, I was ready, and I headed out at 7:02… and immediately went back, because I forgot the hard-boiled eggs the Missus made for my journey. Right away, I noticed a vibrating sound—it was the sound of the water jugs I’d strapped on top vibrating against the roof. A folded towel underneath helped with the racket. At the gas station around the corner, I topped off the tank using the debit card (and got a Dr. Pepper) and headed out for the Broken Arrow Expressway. Traffic was heavy on the BA and I-44, all the way to the turnpike. It was a bright, hazy day; the air was cool. Along the turnpike, I passed acres of scorched earth were wildfires had recently burned. Cattle ponds were mostly dried up. Trees looked dried out from the brutal summer heat.
At Elk City, I pulled off the highway and decided to visit the National Route 66 Museum. It had informative, interactive exhibits, and outside there was a collection of vintage and reproduced buildings arranged into its own little western town. It was very charming.
I stopped for lunch at a big rest area. The wind felt cold, like it
was raining somewhere. The hot exhaust from an idling truck felt good against
my bare legs as I walked by. I thought about changing into long pants.
As I tossed my trash into a nearby can, I wondered what manner of critters
came out at night to see what passing travelers left for them. Down the
road, green crops came into view. Traffic was very light just after 3 PM
when I went through Amarillo. When I stopped for some gas, I took the folding
recliner off the roof, where I’d stowed it in front of the water jugs.
Back on the road, the sounds from the roof became much quieter, although
I spotted the bathroom rug blowing away in the wind.
The skies seemed to clear a little, though were still hazy. Blue skies appeared shortly before the New Mexico border, which I reached at 4:30. At San Jon, I could see more clouds in the distance. Passing through Tucumcari, I noticed gasoline selling for $3.35 a gallon. Near Blanco Creek, a passing truck spooked me by blowing its horn for no good reason. The sky looked unsettled and ominous. Clouds swirled above.
|It was super quiet. There was nobody else camped within sight. I tried
to read a little. It was getting dark by 8:30. Even the bugs were getting
sleepy. The Moon appeared. I thought a truck was coming through the campsite,
but it turned out to be a pack of three helicopters far off to the north,
A silver SUV rolled through, then disappeared. At the bathrooms, I waved at one of the backpacker girls before she disappeared into the brush. I fell asleep about 9. Rain woke me up at 1 AM. It was stuffy in the van, so I cracked open the windows. I was up a couple of times in the night. It still seemed like I was the only person in the whole park...