Apparently not enough folks are getting the word so I have reformatted this page and added some new Information about gate road as well.
First I must say a bit about the drive in. Drive cautiously! The highway is one lane in each direction. Way too many burners get injured or killed on this road each year.
- The shoulder is soft in most places and if you hit it at speed you will probably roll your vehicle.
- Passing is extremely dangerous and having a head on with a massive mine truck will ruin your day forever. If this does occur they won't need an ambulance for you - a mop will suffice for removing your remains.
- Much of Route 447 is open range and cows wander onto the road. At night they like to sleep on the pavement as it radiates the heat it absorbed all day and most of the cows in the area are black so do not show up well. If you manage to survive hitting a cow, you will be required to pay for its replacement cost before continuing your journey.
- The small towns you pass through will ticket you for even 1 mph over the speed limit. Obey the speed limit!
- The jackrabbits are suicidal - just hit them because if you try to avoid them you may wreck your vehicle (this sounds cruel, but it is very dangerous to swerve and avoid them).
After months of preparation and a long drive you have finally turned off the pavement. Pick a lane - they all move at about the same speed because the crew tries to regulate the lanes as they funnel into the gates.
Important Points For The Entry Line:
- The speed limit on gate road is 10 MPH. If you do 11 MPH they can and will write you a ticket.
- In 2014 the LEO's began stopping cars for obstructed license plates and / or license plate lights being out. This is bad news for many who are using bike racks. If your bikes obstruct the view of your tag, it has been suggested that you zip tie it securely to a visible area and if it is at night zip tie a flashlight to illuminate it.
- No open containers in the vehicle. Again this will bring down heat on you that you may not want to deal with. The LEOs are watching and have night vision gear as well. Don't even crack a beer in the vehicle until you are in camp and parked.
- If law enforcement does stop you they will likely find a reason to search your vehicle.
- Start hydrating on the drive there.
- Radical self reliance begins here - make sure you have all your basic survival needs accessible. Goggles, dust mask, sunscreen, water, some food, at the minimum.
- Depending on when you arrive you may have a wait of minutes (very rare) up to many hours. Even on early entry I usually sit in line for hours, and it is worse once the gate officially opens. Extreme weather could make things even worse (I've heard stories of over 24 hours due to mud after the rain in 2014). In addition to the normal volume, problems with will call can cause even worse delays for those who need to pick up their tickets at the gate.
- Try to relax and enjoy the wait - it is as much a part of the Burning Man experience as anything else.
- Get out and stretch your legs. Socialize with others, but don't wander far from your vehicle - they don't allow anyone to walk in at all, so if you lose your ride you are screwed. Make sure everyone knows to meet in the will call lot if anyone does get lost (this will delay you so avoid it if possible).
- There will be porta potties spaced along the entry road every half mile if needed.
- Make sure everyone has their ticket. You cannot leave anyone at the gate and the entire vehicle will be sent back to Reno if any occupant doesn't have a valid ticket.
- If you are caught with a stowaway the entire vehicle is refused entry and all tickets in the vehicle may be voided (I'm not 100% sure of the actual process for stowaways).
- Always keep in mind that most of the people working hard to get you into the city are volunteers, and as such are doing their best under always difficult circumstances (often beyond human control like the gate shut down of 2014 due to heavy rain).
Everyone will need to exit the vehicle, with their ticket in hand. The vehicle will be searched for prohibited items and stowaways. The easier your vehicle is to search the quicker you will pass through so bear that in mind when packing.
Gate is a grueling, difficult, and sometimes dangerous job so don't expect these folks to be real friendly - they are just trying to get everyone into the city as fast as possible and usually don't have much time to chat.
Many experienced burners like to gift some cold beer or other beverages to the gate crew that processes their vehicle.
The Greeters have a saying "The Party Starts At Greeters". Up to this point since turning off the pavement you have dealt with people with difficult jobs to do, who are more concerned with safety and efficiency than with your personal feelings. But Greeters is where Black Rock City really starts. You will notice a distinct change in vibe once you reach this point.
Here you will be welcomed and given your welcome package consisting of the WWW (what, when, where book), with map, and usually some stickers.
They will ask for any Birgins (some say first timers or virgins) to get out of the vehicle. Birgins are then treated to a brief but fun and dusty rite of passage. Please don't refuse it - 99.9% of all burners have done it and you will regret not rolling if you don't. If you get a dud of a greeter - tell them you want to roll.
Next you get to ring the bell, and after that you are officially a burner.
The greeter will offer directions to where you are heading, a warning about open containers and speeding, plus anything else that needs to be said, then give you a welcome home hug and send you on your way.
As a greeter I can tell you that offers of cold beer are always highly appreciated. Between sucking in all the dust kicked up by vehicles and talking non stop for hours I often lose my voice during my shift.
You Can't Unring The Bell
Every greeter has their own shtick, and most try to make it a memorable experience for all who pass through their station. For me its about the bell, and how your life is about to change forever because you can't unring it.
If you come in on Tuesday between 8 and 12 PM hopefully I will hopefully be your greeter.
Obstructed Tags Addendum
Don't be victimized! If your bicycle / bike rack obscures your license plate carry tools for removing it as well as some zip ties for attaching it to a bike wheel and a cheap flashlight for illuminating it at night.