Burning Man 1998: San Francisco to Reno (2)

    Burning Man 1998: San Francisco to Reno (2)

    Burning Man 1998: San Francisco to Reno (2)

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    Talk radio, then music. There’s a five-foot cooler in the back seat, stocked with food and good beer. We’re planning to use a parachute as our shade and tent, leaving a foot or two open so the desert breezes come through. (Last year Rose and I were baked out of our tent; the breezes just couldn’t find their way through the oval windows. Once again I’m keeping notes on my . This time it’s a MessagePad 2100, the last of the line. For the first time I’m using the add-on keyboard, which makes stream-of-consciousness typing go much faster. I have my

    5300c with me, in the geek bag, but I use it only for offloading images from my digital camera.

    At Suisun Valley Road before Benecia all traffic slows from about 70 mph to 10 mph.

    We’re too far away from whatever is causing the problem, if anything. We’re crawling. Two California Highway Patrol motorcycle policemen pass us, driving between the lanes of cars. Maybe they’ll be able to fix whatever ails us. Sigh. Rubbernecking idiots. This entire jam was caused by a small two-axle truck blowing a tire and moving to the right shoulder. Have none of you weak-minded drivers ever seen a vehicle pull off the road?

    I lent

    my survival guide from last year so he’d have something on which to chew. We met at lunch on Monday and Tuesday, planning out our buying and travelling strategy. Ranger Lefty, now forty, was a Vice President at J. P. Morgan in Manhattan a half-decade ago.

    The cornfields west of Sacramento fly by. It’s really hot and dry here. Not nearly as hot as Phoenix, Arizona, was last year (over 118 F) but still notably toasty. Above Sac (as the locals call it) – in the distance – we see a huge silver blimp, the Goodyear blimp I now see. I try to find the exit that’ll take us to Murder Buger in Davis, but to no avail. On the way back perhaps luck will favor us and a vanilla milkshake with fresh strawberries will be ours. We can see the buildings of Sac towering before us. Billboards for the State Fair and for the casino shows pass on by.

    Traffic slows after we go by a car fire being extinguished by firefighters. Now it’s stop and go, but we don’t know why. 122 miles to Reno. While we’re chatting it comes up that we’ve both run the New York City Marathon for ’82, ’83, and ’84. We chat our way through Chinatown, pastrami at two in the morning, games at the Garden, Sundays in Central Park.

    We drive through Emigrant Gap. We’re losing water. I can feel moisture on the inside of my wristwatch band and on my sandal straps. We’re drinking, but I fear that we’re not keeping up with what the hot dry air is sucking from us. My lips are getting dry. Time to turn around and pick something from the cooler. Boom! 1.5 liters of fizzy water is gone. Even so, we’ll have to do some replenishing at the buffets this evening.

    Whew! Road rage on steel-belted radials! A local woman in a suburban mommies car blasts by us, weaking across the lanes. A few minutes earlier a local in a pickup cut off the car in front of us – causing them to veer into our path – and then, to add insult to injury, he flips them off. Just now a thirty-something guy in a beater cream car flies by us, using all the lanes at his disposal. Sigh.

    We approach Reno, Nevada. We’re staying at the Nugget. We find a spot in the parking garage, check into our room, and head off to the Rotisserie buffet to stuff ourselves silly. The next morning we’ll hit the El Dorado buffet, with the best breakfast buffet in town, or so we’re told. (We liked it last year, as I recall.)

    We arrive at .

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