Monday morning I woke up early and decided that I wanted to do one more personal ritual before we had to break down and pack up our yurt and load the truck and leave. So I took my handpan and one of our little chairs and walked out to the open playa, and played a sunrise set. A few people came out from both Pink Heart and Red Lightning and joined me, and watched the sun rise over what was left of the playa art. I’m so glad I did that—it was good personal closure to able to say goodbye to the playa and my experiences that week through making music.
After the sun was mostly up I went back and Josh and I began the unpleasant process of packing and disassembling and loading our personal stuff. I was tired and cranky and had to keep saying goodbye to people who were leaving, plus there got to be a bunch of things that other people had apparently abandoned that we had to help figure out how to take care of that made me even more irritable. (And as it would later turn out, apparently I was also in the throes of PMS, which I certainly had not been expecting...I got my period for the first time in 19 months the next day.) But Josh tetris-ed (yes that’s a verb) both the truck and the van like a boss, and we eventually got everything loaded and finally left the truck with Anji and drove the van out to leave Black Rock City by around 1pm. Amazingly enough there was virtually no wait or line at the Gate until the very last part where everyone had to merge down into two lanes (we made it completely off playa in about two hours, which is probably the best Exodus ever).
It was a fairly slow slog once we hit blacktop, with some spectacular clouds and rain squalls along the way between Gerlach and Empire (we were soooo grateful not to have been trapped in the line to get out by that rain, though I’m not sure if it ever even made it to playa). We got ahead of the rain and wind and stopped off in Nixon to get rid of our trash bags, where the weather caught up to us just as we were leaving. We did see some beautiful rainbows though. We made it to Reno by around 6pm if I recall correctly, and checked in to the Silver Legacy. It was really great to be able to take a break there and not have to drive all the way home. We called our kids and took that blissful first shower and dressed in clean soft clothes and went down to the lobby to meet up with a bunch of other Pinkies (including Doug and Elena, who hadn’t been to the burn but who came to Reno just to hang out with other Pinkies) who were also staying at the Silver Legacy. We hung out in one of the casino bars for a while and then there was a big group dinner at P.F. Chang’s, which I enjoyed the heck out of, especially since we really hadn’t eaten much that day.
After dinner we were hanging around the front of P.F. Chang’s waiting for our various Uber rides and taxis to get there when Ryan decided he wanted to climb one of the big stone horse statues that every P.F. Chang’s has outside it. I really tried to discourage him but of course other people were encouraging him and he’s a daredevil anyway so he didn’t listen to me. He climbed up just fine and was triumphant for about one minute. Then he started to climb down and slipped and fell and nearly whacked his head on the bottom of the statue but by some miracle missed and merely crashed onto the big cobblestones set around the base. He bounced right back up and was okay (though probably pretty spectacularly bruised) but he certainly scared the shit out of many of us. It could have ended so differently, and I am very grateful that it turned out okay. Whew.
Once we finally got back from dinner it was pretty late and I was very glad to just be able to crash out in clean sheets on a comfy bed. We got up early the next morning and checked out so that we could have breakfast with Kathy and Anthony and another set of Pinkies over at the GSR before we got on the road. There were so many hugs and sad goodbyes with people we had gotten really close to, but we eventually got on the road around 11am or so and made it home with no issues by late afternoon.