Jenna Shenna Roberts wrote this scary cautionary tale about what can happen if you drive to or from Black Rock City when you’re overtired. Please take it to heart, and make sure your campmates do too … we want to see you again next year!
It has been over 10 months since my rollover accident on the return drive from the last Burn, and I am still working my way out of physical pain. I am not saying this to pander sympathy (although back rubs and hugs are always welcome, why thank you), I say this because the tickets were just mailed out for this years’ Burn, and I want everyone to go to and from the event more gracefully than I did last year.
I know many of you will soon pack hard, party hard, and drive tired. Recently, returning from Symbiosis, my friend Gray said that he thought of me and got a hotel in Reno rather than pushing it. He got nicely cleaned up and then ran into friends and ate and slept well for cheap. I am hoping that writing this will influence more of you to do the same.
I assure you that it’s an ideal alternative to being jolted awake from the gasp of your friend as a sudden jerk to the left becomes the ceiling smashing on the asphalt followed by every side of the metal box you’re in thundering after it as all of your oh so very well organized festival gear spews haplessly across the dusty desert highway while your freshly poignant ‘Now Is All You Have’ dashboard sticker gets splattered with your dear friends’ head wound blood. This run on sentence is brought to you by 5 seconds of nodding off.
We were so very lucky. I am even an example of the adjective “unscathed” in a fatigue-related accident and I have had over $15,000 in healing treatments. I also just enjoyed turning 35 years old and I am more deeply grateful for that this year than usual. The driver and I are a part of the mere 13% of non-fatal sleeping-at-the-wheel accidents (yup, an 87% fatality rate). One good friend who showed up to help me heal afterward had lost a lover when she fell asleep at the wheel many years ago. Others have shown me their permanent physical damage. This all makes my minor but consistent backaches and my cravings to dance freely again into petty whines in comparison, but I sure do miss bumping to beats a few times a week. I can count on both hands the number of times I have shaken my booty since tumbling.
I can’t even legitimately milk the sweet teat of guilt on the driver without being a hypocrite. I was slapping myself awake on the drive South in a caravan a few weeks before our crash. I don’t really get how caravanning makes it any better other than having witnesses to your spill anyhow. The driver and I had swapped out only an hour or so before. Granted, we had eaten a big meal and it was a warm day, but we were only an hour from Summer Lake Hot Springs where we would rest for a night or two. So just pull through it, right? I would likely have done the same as him and pushed on. We all do this, but we don’t actually need to. It’s better to catnap and be delayed.
It’s not like my friend and I are the first in our Portland community to have had this happen. Our friend Tito had a similar narcoleptic crunch on the Burn drive a few years ago. As he says, “I had two red bulls and a yellow jacket and still went down.” Does your community really need a tragedy to wake you all up? I don’t think so. We’re smarter than that.
It’s easier to be smart than lucky, and I am so grateful for all the details that made this event less painful. Thank God my Subaru Outback was a solid machine that took a beating to spare us. Thank Goddess I had full insurance that included medical for all passengers. Thank our parents for making us always wear our seatbelt. Thank the Universe we were only 4 miles North of a desert town with a new hospital and a good staff. Thank goodness for the friends who showed up to help afterward. Thank us that we were totally sober, because going to court or jail in serious pain must be really, really hard.
Most gratefully, thank the incredible healers of Portland for helping us feel as good as we do. If anyone needs a good chiropractor, energy healer, physical therapist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, naturopath or herbalist, I know quite a few now. I also highly recommend the anti-inflammatory diet, which isn’t easy to do, but I may delve into it again to try and kick out this last bit of back pain. Because I am ready to be done with it. I am grateful for all it has taught me, but I want to dance it up again. And if this message saves just one of you, then every wince was worth it.
Please drive safely. Have fun. Sleep. Then drive safely home. Thank you for being alive and vibrant.