I woke to silence. The Sun was already up when I opened my tent Monday morning, August 27th . I went to the potties and straightened up the bar a little. There were two backpacks sitting out on the dirt; I put them behind the bar. I cooked up a bowl of tomato soup for my breakfast. Back in the bar, Anniversary Guy showed up with a gorgeous girl named Caroline. She gave me a big hug. It was their backpacks that got left behind, and they were glad to get them back.

After they left, a very drunk girl rolled up on a Yellow Bike. I'm going to call her L, and she was actually camped not far away. She parked the bike and took off for the potties, which were apparently right across from her camp. L had a megaphone when she left for the potties, but not when she returned. She didn’t know where she left it. She volunteered at the Commissary, and that was her only day off. She started off on a rant against children at Burning Man. “I f***ing hate kids. Why do people do that? F***ing crotch maggots.” People who talk like that have no idea how insulting it is to folks who have kids and work hard their whole lives to be good parents. Like me. It makes people who work hard to be good parents not want to be friends with them. She was camped near Kidsville (where some people go to bed when they should). She kept getting sleepier; I suggested she go back to her camp for a nap, or just relax in one of the comfortable folding chairs, but she just wanted to keep drinking.

Just then, Sunburn Sarah needed help putting up a carport. As we finished, Sarah cried out-- It was Jenn! She gave everybody a big hug, and then we talked for a bit. She got in very late Sunday night, and after 12 hours on the road they just crashed. Her dad was very sick, and she was very worried about him. Jenn was serving fruit at her camp for Burners Against Scurvy. It was very good to see her again. In the bar, L was passed out in an uncomfortable chair. “Another satisfied customer.” Down the road, somebody set off a big firecracker. It woke up a bunch of folks in the camp. I brought a bunch of stuff for the bar, including cups, shot glasses and bloody Mary mix. A blonde girl named Jackie walked thrugh with her boyfriend. They said they’d come back “at a more reasonable hour.”

My first Ranger shift started at noon. I cleaned my feet and put on moisturizer and got ready… but just as I was about to leave, that’s when the big MASH tent went up. It took about a dozen of us to push it up in the wind and get it ratcheted down. In the bar, L was still passed out, but in a different part of the ground. It was like she was moving along by continental drift. By the time the MASH tent was up, it was 11:45 and I rushed over to HQ. Ranger Stonebeard said I was “early for being late.” Coco gave me a hug, and Shutterbug said hi. I brought pocket journals to give away as gifts, and the Rangers that took them were very appreciative. I checked in and got my radio.

I got teamed up with Ranger Limoncello (“lemon jello”) from Portland. We got assigned 2 to 3 o’clock, from Esplanade to L Street. It was bright out, but not that hot. Yet. We helped direct a guy to the DPW. Limoncello had an application on his smartphone that mapped every camp in Black Rock City, and even showed our current location. We stopped to talk to a guy with a huge VW bus and Beetle. They were much larger than normal, but proportionate. He said it was like driving a truck. 
Heading back towards the outer ring of the city, we stopped at the Orgasmic Veggie bar. They were offering fresh vegetables. I snuck a cherry tomato. That’s where we met Matt, Mark and a pretty girlfriend named Eunice. 

On the outer road, we met up with a nice couple offering cold water.  Her name was Sparkle, but he didn’t have a “playa name” yet. I said his name was to be determined, and he decided that would be his name from now on: To Be Determined, TBD. Camps on the outer ring were very sparse. Way out on L, we ran into somebody who was looking for a camp at 2:15 and Rod’s Road. Rod’s Road was the outer ring road around Center Camp, so he was way off… but that’s where somebody at Playa Info, which was next to Center Camp, told him to go. “You mean it was right near Playa Info?!?” he said. After the guy took off, Limoncello wondered if anybody could sit down at Playa Info and just “make stuff up.”

We rounded the corner at L and 2 and started up the 2 O’Clock road. I got a call to assist Ranger Twinkletoes at 2:30 and C, so we took off, cutting across at the D road. We met up with Twinkletoes halfway, and found out a participant in trouble was already being transported by Emergency Services. I called it in.
On the Esplanade, we stopped to look at some faux Babylonian statues, made of paper mache, or maybe plaster. That’s where we talked to a guy called Go, from Boston. It was his first year. 

Limoncello and I went down a side street and stopped at the Voodoo Camp, where they had a blowgun shooting gallery. I talked to a pretty redhead (Tina?) from Portland. We kept running into people from Portland. 

At the Friendly Fire camp, the wind was picking up. They were a great bunch. I met a very nice girl named Amy. The radio warned of a Silverado driving across the playa towards the Man. When we stopped at Outpost Berlin to refill our water bottles, we got invited to a cookies and milk party. At the Got Sparkle? Camp, a girl came out and dusted us off with a feather duster. Her friend Kodachrome took pictures. We saw Alpha Rangers doing their mentor shifts. The dispatcher said Ranger “Beached Whale” needed a different handle. 
There was a big, empty section of land marked off with oversized toadstools. 

We got assigned out to the Man (‘the Stick”) so we walked on out. We met up with the main Man Watchers, Ms. Bunny and Electra. It was much cooler once we were in the shade of the Man. The whole thing was an amazing construction. A lady was walking around playing with a life-sized marionette of a Victorian lady, having a fun time talking with people. I met a glittery girl from New York. Scoutmaster stopped by to check out the Man. 

About 4:30, we got reassigned to the “pie wedge” of 9 to 10 O’Clock, Esplanade to F. We were relieved by Rangers Crawdad and LK. They kidded the neighborhood was a “ghost town.” It was anything but. That whole area was packed with big sound camps. I had to stop a car from running down Limoncello as he stopped to pick up some moop. We stopped by Outpost Tokyo to rehydrate. There was a big “all hands on deck” meeting at HQ that evening, but by the time we got called back after our shift it was mostly over. Some leadership positions had apparently changed. J.C. was at the window when I checked out. He got me a breakfast meal ticket.
Back at camp, supper was Chinese chicken and noodles. I talked to Emory, who liked my posts on Facebook, even when they were just posts about what I ate that day. He said they were “original content.” I found Silicon Village, where I got a drink at their bar, the Thirsty Camel. I found Jenn's camp and met her campmate Biff, who dismissed my idea of making 1-gallon batches of homebrewed beer. His position was that, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, go ahead and make a full 5-gallon batch. Back at HOTD, Lisa D. arrived, so I helped her unload. When I finally went to bed, I crashed hard …Until 3 AM, when the loud music suddenly stopped. It was funny how silence could wake you up. I remember dozing off and on, hearing snatches of passing conversations… 
Prologue  Aug. 22  Aug. 23  Aug. 24  Aug. 25 
Sunday  Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday  Monday 
Sept. 4  Sept. 5  Sept. 6  Sept. 7 & Epilogue
Original material (c)opyright 2012 by Tim Frayser
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LINKS: Silicon Village 
Last updated: September, 2012