Hello Dear Reader(s)
Well, if you want to be technical, it wasn’t a horse in the sense that it had fur and four legs and ate and drank water. I am of course referring to my RV and in my family you name all your vehicles. The RV’s name is Miracle named after a Horse from a Mel Brook’s Movie.
I have visited this desert location several times before but never for such a long stay. This was a test for me with dealing with my Insulin and no refrigeration and I learned a lot. The Location: Black Rock Desert outside of Gerlach, NV
We camped with Everywhen, which consists of a group of people who have gathered together on Black Rock for many Fourth of July Weekends (locally called Juplaya). Juplaya brings lots of people to Black Rock Desert to camp. You will find many people in individual or small groupings all over the vast Ancient Lake Bed. This has been a local tradition for a very long time. Even with the growth of the site due to an annual worldwide festival that has made it known to people outside of Nevada, the desert offers plenty of space to do things like wind sail or drive various vehicles around really fast and not fear hitting anyone. That being said you still have to watch for other people and LIGHT UP YOURSELF AND YOUR CAMP so that at night drivers and see you!
In previous years, my Three days at Juplaya consisted of me camping with my small group by ourselves. Occasionally people would ride by and wave. Some even stopped; but mostly they just passed by with a friendly smile and a wave. The harsh desert tends to make people friendly and helpful out there. This time, I started to camp with a small group of people that grew as the week went on.
The background on how I got to know the people of Everywhen:
Somehow, Somewhere on my social media in one of my group sites or perhaps even from a post from some friends I saw talk of people wanting to hold organized events on Black Rock Desert in the summer of 2021. I thought yes! We need more events held out there outside of the one large annual festival and all the small group gathering’s like the Rocket Club, Windsailers, Parasailers, pilots an other small around town groups that hold monthly weekend campouts in the warmer weather. So I did a google search on them and came up with the website: http://www.EverywhenProject.org. I looked at the site and found interest. There was a volunteer form and I thought. Yeah, I’d like to be a part. So I submitted the request. On Feb. 4th I got an email to set up and interview for Feb. 22. We chatted via Google Meet and decided my fit would be in the kitchen and in helping with promotions. (Since I’ve done that before for my actual career)
I was then added to the work program and started to help to create some logos for various departments. We have a general chat to kind of talk about non-work related things which helped me to get to know people’s personalities a little better. (one can only tell so much when talking about things like “what can we do to raise awareness that we exist?”)
At time went on the waiting on permits and location for the event went away and once we found our “home” we geared up. Weekly meetings started to happen and things started to pick up. Volunteers started to make connections.
Since this idea started at Juplaya, Some of the group took a pause to plan the annual campout. (As anyone who camps out anywhere for a holiday does. I mean, when do you start to plan Thanksgiving dinner? Where are out of town family staying? Who is cooking the Turkey? You get the idea here) I arrived on playa the morning of Friday, June 25th and pulled off the desert Sunday Morning, July 4th and had one of the best times of my life.
The first Friday:
We had packed the Thursday before and grabbed the suitcase filled with clothes and daily medicines and toiletries as one does. We did a last minute walk through and determined we didn’t forget anything (Spoiler: we did)
Driving to the desert we ran into a construction area where we had to wait 15 minutes for a pilot car. The flagger was super nice and came and talked with us. She was fascinated with Miracle: a 1978 Minnie Winnie. She told us that the night crew on the road construction got swarmed by scorpion spiders (“apple Sized”) and we all grossed out at that idea. It was an amazing talk with her and we left to follow the pilot car feeling uplifted that there existed friendly construction crew workers.
We followed the GPS coordinates and found a camper. I stopped and met Dustin and pulled Miracle nearby to set up our camp. We worked pretty fast to get up our three room tent and put everything inside so we could move around inside the RV. We even set up a shade Pop-up on the other side of the RV. The one with the chalkboard. Later on that day others in the group started to arrive.
We helped others set up when they needed help when they arrived and got to know one another better outside of the computer screen. The best part was the first hugs!
The First Saturday:
A communal shade structure was built as well as the Soiree (tables where big meals would be shared). Kevin put up an art piece and a plaza had formed. It was hot. over 100 degrees, but we all survived. As I was unsure of how I could help I ran around and misted hot people with water to offer a tad of relief from the harsh sun. We had planned to have a fire, but it never happened. It was hot, we didn’t have that much firewood as (remember that spoiler) most of us had forgot it and we were all pretty tired from all the building.
Since it was over 100 degrees during the day, I do not recall the days of everything but during the early week things were built. A kitchen, a temple, a lantern post, a bar, Kevin installed his art piece, we gushed over the lights and mirrors and the things we discovered it could do like show ghostly faces! Al brought his Art car and we were amazed at what it was built with! At some point during the early week we went into Gerlach to have dinner at Bruno’s (and take a break from the heat) we all sucked down the cold water like it was liquid gold. On the second time we met up with a local patron of the arts who gave us an amazing sign after having dinner with us.
After all the building we celebrated early in the morning with Bloody Mary’s. A couple of people left to run a planned errand. Our bloody Mary gathering and continued for 3 or 4 rounds. No one recalls when they left for the errand and when they came back we were all passed out in our respective sleeping areas. We went through 2 and 1/4 big bottles of Grey Goose. We had some winds and I was concerned about our pop-up so we had taken it down. I am glad we did.
We My husband came with A restock of ice and more supplies for the bar. More and more people were arriving and setting up and our little arc of campers was forming. I drove out in the car and found our friend who builds Temples for the annual festival that is held out in the same desert. We invited him over to our area and realized that our spread out gathering was visible from where he was camping. One of our campers had to leave which made everyone very sad, but commitments were made and had to be kept.
My husband left and as he left a storm decided to take hold. Rain and wind throwing mud around. I was in the RV closing the windows and I got a text from him to come over something was happening as it was whiteout conditions. I rushed over to the communal area and noticed one of our campers (with some help) holding on to dear life. Tim and I rushed over and helped. The rain hit my back and felt like someone was shooting ice out of a paintball gun at me! The wind was intense and the cold rain was a little painful. We secured The area and decided to do an assessment in the morning. Later on I was told that my husband hit a whirlwind and spun the car 180 degrees. The storm brought some excitement and appreciation of each other for helping.
Here is a video: https://youtu.be/dbVcSHnn5xA
The poor shade structure. We had to rebuild. Several Bamboo pieces were shredded. As the rebuilding started to happen, a film crew came and interrupted. They were very interested in the building process. The delay made the finishing of the building happen in the heat of the day. It got done and secured better than before. Another storm happened that night. We were all dancing at one of our outer camps when we decided we needed to refill some drinks and the camp did not have a bar. At main camp… planning on getting our needed things to return to the music, another storm hit. This time Rain. A lot of rain! So much rain that it formed a lake and flip flops became 12 pound flip flops. I decided to ditch the shoes and go barefoot as it was easier to walk. The mud seeping through my toes reminded me of my childhood and walking into the wet clay garden barefoot (as to not lose your shoes…. that is another blog) and coming out of it with a mud shoe enclosing your foot. We sheltered in the kitchen/bar (since the bar died in the previous storm) and drank some sake. We marveled at the amount of mud on our feet and tried to remove it. The playa dried quick after the rain with the wind still blowing.
The next two days more people showed up. “The Weekend Warriors” so to speak. Friday night provided a lot of art cars (cars decked out with lights and/or propane effects with sound systems installed) driving around the camp. More people stopped by asking where other camps like “spanky’s” or “Techno Gecko” were and asked about what the Everywhen was. Many people came to our firepit and our temple and awed over Kevin’s art piece (which truly is amazing) Saturday Morning I was delighted to take part in “Frank with a K”‘s (at sound garden) waffles. I do believe that man has a culinary degree and when I told him that he got the biggest smile and thanked me for liking his waffles so much. Saturday Night we had a potluck and another wind storm. The storm delayed the fire and the potluck. When it did happen amazing foods were shared. Food I did not expect like Lobster stuffed salmon and even fresh Pizza! Two guys came over to the fire and asked if they could cook upon it. I enutiasitcally said yes. It is an honor when someone cooks upon your fire. They made veggie kabobs and shared some of the best tasting mushrooms roasted to perfection with me. Perhaps it was the fact that I was only eating dehydrated food like Stove top stuffing and instant mash potatoes at that point.
My friend Uncle Buck came buy with a oar wrapped in lights and tied to a bird cage on one end. It was a balancing game and we had a blast trying to beat each other’s record! The mood was joyous and many people were gathering and talking and getting to know each other. Talk about the storms that we had been through were shared, about other fond times spent in that desert and of course about Everywhen’s upcoming event in October in the Mohave Desert. Friendships were made and old ones were strengthened. The magic of human connection was powerful those two nights.
On Sunday Morning right after sunrise I got up and prepared to break down camp. I wanted to leave before the heat of the day started. I awoke to a wind storm. Tim and I managed to take down the tent and pack the car. Our lovely host for the week was also up and was taking pictures of the dust storm. As a person with a sense of humor I took my google clad self over to where he was shooting holding the broom I has intended on using to sweep out my tent (a feat that was not happening that day). My idea was “look! I made a dust storm by sweeping!’ He laughed and snapped a few photos! Hugs were exchanged and Graditutes of friendship given. Hopefulness filled both Tim and I that we could be at the October event.
We took our dehydrated selves to Bruno’s for Breakfast. I drove the RV off playa for a little bit as Tim was dead tired and struggling to keep his eyes open. I had put the lights on for visibility in the dust storm and had to get a jump from the waitress at Bruno’s because I forgot to turn them off. She has worked there for years and is such a helpful person! I gave her a generous tip for taking care of us all week and for the jump. We briefly stopped at the gas station to wash the windshield and then in Empire for some cold beverages for the drive home. I drove until after the construction zone (which was suspended for the weekend) until I could not drive anymore. Tim had napped so He took over. We stopped at the Nixon store to get some energy drinks and found them (along with some surprised Tribal members wanting to buy fireworks) closed. We drove past the packed beaches of Pyramid lake toward home. We stopped at the first gas station we found. (Golden Eagle 7-11) After getting the energy drinks We were stopped by a couple asking to buy stones. Evidently my “Jadestone welcomes you” and “Find me at Everywhen and the Electric Universe October 2021 http://www.everywhenproject.org” sign made her think I was selling stones. I explained to her that “jadestone” is my name and I am an artist. We got home dusty and exhausted and both collapsed on the couch. When we awoke and took showers. Tim said. “I miss them already. I wish we had a teleporter so we could go back!” Those are strong words from Tim as he has HUGE Social anxiety and generally doesn’t like people. I agreed and we talked about our new friendships and looked forward to seeing them again.
We are hoping to make it to the Mohave in October. My biggest hurdle is when I get re-hired back to my job and getting time off. Also, funding to rent and RV with a generator as I found out that Ice only lasts 2 and a half days before it heats up and dry ice can last 3 days before the coolant is gone. My blood sugars were well controlled with very little hypo or hyperglycemic events and I proved to myself that Diabetes really cannot hold me back… Mostly.
This 9 days has reignited a fire in me. The fire to gather and connect with people. The fire to create art. The fire to test myself and my abilities. I remembered that I can contribute and that people do like me.
Now, if you excuse me, I must go wash out another application of coconut oil in my hair to try to resurrect some kind of softness.