It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Here we are on hump day, halfway through the week already. At least it is as gorgeous as you can imagine.
Yes, we’ve had our share of blowing dust, but nothing, NOTHING like two years ago. There was no way it was going to be one beautiful calm day after another like last year, but to these eyes it seems that balance has been restored. Sometimes you get caught in some nasty stuff, and you have to hunker down in your tent or in Center Cafe or whatever you have, and wait it out. But the waits have not been very long.
Folks continue to stream into the city, although anecdotal reports say the lines at both the Gate and the Greeters have been … dare we say it? … not that bad. Melissa and James, our guardian angels from S.F. who brought our backup camera to the playa, left Reno on Monday morning and were in their camp three hours later. Three hours! On Monday! … Another group of friends came in last night and pulled in to Gate road around midnight, and there were three cars ahead of them in line. Three.
Maybe the longest delays have been caused by the very noticeable police presence here. We are told by reliable people with direct knowledge of the situation that there are more law enforcement personnel here than in previous years, and they are keeping a higher profile. More cars than ever before are being pulled over and searched as soon as they pass the Greeters’ stations. And almost any infraction will be cited, so make sure your tail lights are working, and that your bicycle racks do not block your license plate. And of course obey the Black Rock City speed limit. Also, reacquaint yourself with your rights regarding searches, because in almost all cases officers will try to search search your car. And they have dogs to help them. A word to the wise.
Beyond all that, things proceed apace. The city feels positively crammed with high-quality art, maybe more than ever before. The 35 pieces associated with the CORE project enhance that impression, but in general, there is art everywhere. And there are art cars everywhere, as well. There are old favorites like the Neverwas Haul, and new favorites like Christina, the giant yacht. Really, it’s never been easier to hitch a ride around the playa on something fun, cool or loud – or all three.
Even though the population of the city is ahead of last year’s pace – there were 40,000 people here yesterday, and today we’re at 47,249 – the city seems quieter than in recent years. The public spaces like the Esplanade and Center Camp seem almost eerily quiet. It’s hard to figure out why, but one theory goes that because there is so much art out in the playa, and so many ways to get out to it, that more people are out exploring than gathering in the more public meeting places.
Here’s a look at some of what’s been going on: