Monday, September 3, 2012

People-Watching Jackpot

There is nothing more interesting to sit in a busy place out of the ordinary routine and watch the people go by. Tonight it was very out of the ordinary.

My presence is required (by my boss) at a hearing in federal court tomorrow morning in Reno. So, I had to cut my basement painting project short to fly out here and meet with our witness for tomorrow. I'm staying at a run-of-the-mill Marriott Courtyard. Our witness is staying at the Sierra Grand Resort. I went there to meet with him and connect up with our Assistant U.S. Attorney to prep.

As I was trying to fine a parking place in the lot crowded with Winnebagos, I noticed many of them were covered in gray dust or mud. And some were not your ordinary Winnebagos. One looked like a big fish with jaws wide open to chomp smaller cars, maybe Volkswagen Beetles. There were also a lot of bicycles - also covered in gray dust. I wondered if there had been some sort of bike rally over the holiday weekend. It couldn't have been a serious race as some of the bikes were oddly decorated with fuzzy wings or My Pretty Pony figures.

Then I headed into the casino and I saw the oddest group of people. And I finally had an explanation for the two women I had seen at the airport in counter-culture cowgirl outfits. These were Burning Man refugees! Apparently, they were checking into the only resort casino in town that had expansive parking lots for all the Winnebagos and other odd-sized vehicles - and a lot of U-Haul trucks. Not a bad move to end a few days in the desert where you could get a shower and even switch off with friends staying in the Winnebagos in the parking lot - although some were overheard to say that they were impatient for showers and just going in the pool. Good travel advice: Stay out of the pool at the Grand Sierra Resort on Labor Day Weekend!

Yes, it was one of those times I regretted not having my camera. Although I would have been too intimidated anyway to take pictures of some of what I saw. So we'll stick with word pictures. I started taking notes so I wouldn't forget the highlights when I saw a woman dressed in a fortunately fairly large Brazilian flag like a sarong. She did have "ORDEM E PROGRESSO" strategically spread across her keister. I guess the notes weren't really that necessary as that image will be forever in my brain.

There was a very buff guy dressed in leather like a gladiator - he was with a woman, though. There were young women with Christmas lights in bunny ears. Cowboy boots and bikinis did seem to be a common theme. There was one young "lady" in a fluorescent yellow bikini with furry fuzzy boots walking with a fairly normal dressed guy who seemed to be taking it in stride. There was a guy in a fur coat and shorts pushing an apparently disabled man in a wheelchair. But the guy in the chair did look a little like that Gerhardt character Paul Reubens played in a 30 Rock episode.

There were all kinds of hair. Mohawks and dreadlocks, of course. But also hair the color of blue cotton candy, fluorescent orange, red and every color of the spectrum. And the costumes - at least I think they were costumes - were wide and varied. One guy had some clothes on over a red body suit. And when he went by, yep, a red pointy tail was sticking out the top of his shorts. And of course, there was a woman with angel wings. Yes, some were rather risque but only in an "artistic" sense. Although I'm pretty glad my kids and grandkids weren't with me. My wife would have enjoyed the parade, though.

Now I can say I've seen the best of Burning Man without having to go out there in the desert and get that nasty gray dust all over everything.

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