Last year I went to Burning Man for the first time and had a great experience partaking in this different world that gets constructed from nothing, but I also felt really disconnected from it. I realized that I wanted to be a much bigger part of the process this year. Since I am in Washington I wasn’t able to work with my Bay Area based camp directly on prep before the event, but I had free time and wanted to go early to help build it. George was in the same boat with his camp so we decided to road trip down through Central Washington, Oregon and Northern California en route to Nevada.
We headed south on US-97 through Yakima and going through Klickitat Valley before crossing the Columbia River.
Central Washington (at least along 97) is much more of a desert that I thought it would be. I always pictured all of Washington State being lush and perpetually green but have realized that I am thinking mostly of Seattle and Washington west of the Cascades.
On the other side of the Columbia, Oregon wasn’t that much different visually. Lots of irrigated farms but otherwise pretty dry with occasional creeks or rivers. Just before passing through Bend OR, we crossed over Peter Skene Ogden State Park, which was a tiny park with a great view of the canyon below.
Just before Deschutes National Forest, we headed east on US-31 to connect to US-395 heading south to Cedarville CA. We did this part of the drive at night so unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see some of the lakes in this area. We stayed at Surprise Valley Hot Springs for the night. I’m becoming a big fan of staying at budget hot springs since discovering that (at least in Northern CA and Southern OR) they are generally cheaper than motels and come with the added benefit of hot springs pools.
After a total of around 12 hours in the car we made it to the playa on Friday evening and had a ~1hr wait in the car line to will call, and then a 2 hour wait on foot in the will call line which was pretty brutal and came complete with the first dust storms of many to come!