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A little dust-up

Trojan Horse art piece

August 30/Day 44. The amount of incoming traffic hasn’t dwindled yet. Thousands of cars and RVs have ground the delicate crust of the playa into an ever-finer dust that billows into the air with each passing vehicle and then is carried by the wind across Black Rock City like a thick, unbreatheable fog. I’m forced again to wear my respirator and goggles. Nevertheless I ride my bike for several hours, never tiring of the kaleidoscope of sights the playa presents itself to me.

At last I turn toward camp. Gary has put the finishing touches on his campsite and he and Samuel are ready for their first sortie into the City.

Trojan Horse in dust

I retreat to the windless and relatively dustless interior of my camper as they leave. Not five minutes later their friend, Dale, whom they’ve been expecting, shows up. I go over and introduce myself; soon he decides to walk into the City where, by chance, he runs into Gary and Samuel among the tens of thousands of people milling around.

Before I realize the time has gone the sun slips behind the mountains to our west and darkness sets in. The wind has calmed and the playa is clear, so I ride off on my bike again, bringing my tripod and camera to experiment with some night photography (not very successfully, unfortunately.)

At night

I get about a mile and a half from camp when suddenly the wind begins a ferocious assault on the City. Without my goggles and respirator I can barely see or breathe. Heading against the wind, in the general direction of my camp, my eyes fill with dust, causing them to tear up. The wind is so intense that the tears blow straight back over my ears rather than down my cheeks. I can feel my throat filling with dust and can hardly breathe. Riding the bike is out of the question, so I get off and slowly push it with one hand, trying to shield my face with the other. As I reach each intersection I carefully read the street signs using the headlight on the bike for illumination, determining which direction I need to take to reach 6:30 and Liminal. When I finally reach my trailer, I drop the bike and burst into the camper, out of the cursed wind. Glancing in the mirror I see a dust-colored ghost.

I take a quick shower; the water is the color of café au lait as it swirls down the drain.

The next thing I know it’s Wednesday morning.

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