4th of Juplaya 2014
In a Wheelchair and Every-thang
So I made it. Tough going. First night my navigation skills proved pathetic. I do blame the driver. It wasn’t me. While a search party was scouting for us remember the playa is 300,000 acres of mostly barren desert -we were hopelessly stuck miles away from our camp by 2:00 a.m.
Black Rock Desert is the site of many land speed records and more importantly the opening scene to Buckaroo Banzai. Remember the Jetcar?
The morning dawned with our truck mired in mud.
At one point I found myself rolling across the sharp-edged desert floor in only a thin, yet delightfully colorful, sarong. No shoes, no sunscreen. The wheelchair was trapped a good quarter of a mile from the truck by this time. Being a genius I had gone to look for human beings. Fergus, my trusty driving companion, had taken off hours before to do the same. Obviously no help was forthcoming and the trees in the distance appeared SO close.
Pro-tip: Objects are Farther Away Than They Appear.
So I was literally rolling my body back to the truck. Not in a good way if you get my trails. oops I meant drift. Body covered with cuts and scrapes I resigned myself to death in the scorching desert heat. A pair of La Perla panties on my head to block the sun, I would leave a tasteful and fabulous corpse. Who else would wear a pair of $75.00 underwear on a camping trip?
Show of hands please. No one? No one? Bueller? Bueller?
While Burning Man is held on the playa, the entire space of Black Rock City (The actual city and area of Burning Man) is only fraction of Black Rock Desert. The 4th of Juplaya celebration, unsanctioned by Burning Man or anyone else, is open camping encompassing the entire 300,000 acres. You don’t bring your bicycle to this event. Oh, obviously we were eventually found. Turns out my daughter had also been ‘lost’ the previous evening.
Swear to goddess this is the first time in four years the voyage to our 4th of Juplaya camp has resulted in missing campers . Gimme back my driver’s license you bastards!
I missed driving the old ’91 Ranger 4×4 this year. Being the passenger -insert rockin’ Iggy Pop tune here- is a completely different experience. Turns out flooring your vehicle to make mile-high rooster tails just isn’t possible in a wheelchair.
The kids, aka The Demon seed and her roomie, set up half the tent before running off to the bar. The Children of the Corn also completed installation of my brand new self-inflating
sex doll 17″ tall mattress. Hey, looking good! Except for the whole missing rainflap thing which allowed a full view inside the tent. Decided to sit down on this new mattress. Two seams immediately ripped so that was special. 100 miles from Reno meant an uncomfortable two nights of sleeping. Eh, I’ve been through worse. Two nights? Hell, I slept on two husbands for hundreds of nights.
Really weird part? The mattress remained completely inflated. Totally lopsided and unusable, but inflated.
4th of Juplaya brings the joy of using the shaded hot springs and cold pools. Days spent dipping, swimming, meeting people from all points of the planet, PBR or a toke may be your pleasure. Night is for camp parties and travel via a few mutant vehicle buses and your own car.
Firearms are encouraged icon-crosshairs and there’s nothing like blowing shit up in the desert. Unfortunately there was no FrogBat this year. Not sure what happened to our mascot, but hours of waiting with firearms at the ready, proved unsuccessful. It was all fun no matter the lack of giant FrogBat and the traditional Shooting Till it Blows Up Real Good.
Plenty more targets were available through the kindness of strangers. Ah, ‘Murica. No police, no Burning Man dust storms, the stark beauty of the Nevada desert and meeting up with friends. Many people have eschewed the Burn altogether, choosing the 4th instead. This is how Burning Man was originally done. A lot more low-key, a lot more freedom.
Spanky’s Wine Bar made our appearance, and my daughter and her roomie drove up from San Francisco. Didn’t see much of her this year. A 20-year-old hottie college student has her advantages when hitching a ride to desert parties, hitting flaming golf balls, and staying out all night.
Being 52 and in a heavy-ass wheelchair? Not so much. On the positive side, the party comes to YOU.
Hanging out at our bar with Admiral Painjoy spinning the tunes was fun in itself, so no worries there. Lucky Bastard, Sassy, and all the crew dancing up a storm. Visitors stopping by all night to have a cocktail and shoot the breeze. Verbally… weapons stored at their camps for the night. The Demon Seed made my 4th by helping me up (and holding me up) to dance the traditional Start of the Spanky’s Day to ‘Morning Train.’ Ha! George Michael thought I was never gonna dance again.
Luckily, all Spankers came to the rescue and hauled the wheelchair beast in and out of The Admiral’s pick-up as we trekked for parties one night. Seems that all of the other camps and their bars and art installations chose the same evening to attempt carousing. At one point it looked like a wagon train with headlights.
Much fun was had, a LOT was learned about my potential survival at the Burn this year. I’ll need a helper. There’s no way the radical self-preservation of Burning Man will be completely mine again.
The friends remain. The happy offers of help and kindness are abundant. A minion? Bring one forth. Second? Make it so!
Best of all… I’m still an amusing smart-ass and the perfect bar manager. Being the only booze-free person behind a bar is helpful at times. On Black Rock Desert or any other surface of our amazing planet. This goes for the 8th Dimension as well
Happy Trails my friends. Let the summer sun take you on a journey