We build Black Rock City from scratch, the myth goes. But strictly speaking, we build it largely out of cars.
Even before we get there, the playa isn’t quite empty. Trailblazers have lit the way for us, mapping out a ring of roads and staking them out with signs.
When the time comes, we saddle up our gas-powered vehicles and point them toward the desert. As the sun sets, our first wave hits Route 447, headed for Gerlach and points beyond.
We float out there in the dark, an incredible snake of red lights unfurled ahead of us, a starry, white trail behind. The flow slows down as we get closer, and then we turn off the pavement and onto the dust.
The line at the gate sometimes takes all night, maybe even all morning.
The gate watchers approach us, we roll down our windows, pass them our tickets, and we’re in. There’s a big moment after that: the traffic splits off left and right. Depending on which side of the clock our camp occupies, we make our choice and start driving around the ring.
We’re so tired, 5 MPH is about all we can muster.
But we made it. We pull up to camp, pick a parking spot that won’t be in anybody’s way, shut off the engine, and we’re there. We’re home. This is the feeling we rode all the way to Black Rock City from whatever default place we left.
The drive is vastly different when we leave.
Exodus is hard. Part of us wants to leave more than anything. Part of us wants to stay forever. Either way, we’ve got a long time to argue with ourselves.
It’s easy to be loving and let people pass you when you’re all going to the same, loving place. But during Exodus, we’re going back to the traffic of the Bay Area or L.A. Maybe even… *shudder* … the airport.
We can’t help but revert back to default minds before we even leave the playa. We get competitive. We switch lanes. We curse and moan and lose our temper. For the first time in days, we might even wonder what time it is.
It takes time to leave Burning Man. It takes a long time. And it takes lots of gas and water and energy. We have to be prepared for that.
We’re a resourceful bunch. Burners have made great suggestions to the Organization about how to improve Exodus. The Org is listening. It has announced a long and awesome list of improvements to this year’s departure.
But it’s on us, too. Exodus is the perfect time to practice all these principles we learned (or re-learned) in the preceding week.
Exodus moves in hour-long pulses, giving everyone in the blood stream regular chances to get out and move about. This is an opportunity. Look at the "one-hour neighborhoods" burner Christine documented last year. People were cooking for one another, meeting, greeting, walking and talking.
We just went to Burning Man! Why stop the party just because we have to… you know, leave?