Not last year, so not sure if it counts but 2011. In what was possibly one of the biggest bonehead moves ever, we forgot our tickets. Its such a ridiculous story I'm gonna share it anyways. It is kind of long though...
Were an hour away from Gerlach about 10:30 pm on Sunday night when it hit us.
Half a hour on the side of the road and 30 cigarettes later we had the plan: I had called everyone I knew back home (home was about 7 hours away) who might know any Burners who hadn't left yet, and there was a hit. Josh knew a dude who was leaving in 30 minutes. Call Charlie the house sitter, instruct him to grab tickets from bedside table and meet Josh outside local pub to get tickets. Josh arrives at local pub, sees some guy milling about outside and says "hey, you the guy with the tickets?", Guy says "yeah", so apparently they shoot the shit for a couple minutes when Charlie then shows up with the tickets.. things get awkward and quickly it becomes apparent that on this particular night, in front of this particular small town pub there were in fact two ticket exchanges happening simultaneously.
Josh then takes tickets, hands them over to dudes just in time as they blow out of town heading east on the 299 towards Redding. Sweet salvation! Our tickets are on the way! However dudes are planning on sleeping once they get to Redding, so the decision is made to turn around, meet dudes in Redding, grab tickets and drive through the night to arrive at the gates shortly after dawn. If in fact these dudes are for real actually gonna hand them over to us. This was 2011 when tickets were supposedly a very hot commodity, the year of uncertainty, when it seemed certain the moral fabric of Burning Man was collapsing. All we had was the trust. We went with it.
3:00 am in Redding. We've arrived at the "meeting spot" about half hour before the dudes. Apprehensive as all hell, totally unsure what the hell we were doing with our lives, if these guys would even show and what the hell we would do if they didn't... Oh yeah, we also had all the food for like a dozen people in the back of the truck...
Just when we were about to lose all faith in ourselves and our fellow man, the overloaded 35 foot Winnebago bounces into the parking lot, doors swing open and the sound of a strangers voice yelling "guess who's going to Burning Man!!" Hoorah! Tickets are handed over, hugs and laughter are exchanged, broken promises to meet on playa are forged and we're on our way!
Our spirits bolstered by the feeling of tickets to the burn in our possession, our faith in humanity restored we start heading down the hill from Redding into the valley. It's just after 4 am at this point, and the fuel gauge is getting low. "We'll just stop for gas at the next gas station", it's closed. "Thats ok, we'll use our debit card, surely they have 24 hour pumps."
Surely. Or not.
The good spirits from earlier give way to the fear and doubt, "will we make it?". Tensions are high and the conversation in the truck takes a bitter turn..
Now it's certain we wont make it another 20 miles. Things get downright nasty, the things that were said that early morning in that truck wont ever be repeated. We barely limp in to a rest area parking lot in the middle of one of the ugliest spats in our 12 year history. Once parked I jump from the truck, storm off into the restroom and spend five minutes convincing the stall door that I am extremely, excruciatingly pissed off. One of the maybe 4 times in my adult life I've resorted to punching inanimate objects to express an emotion.
Unable to face the situation, or my dearest, I lay down for some much needed rest on top of a picnic table.
9:30 am, I am awoken by my darling and in her lovely hands in a full 5 gallon jerry can of liquid salvation. Gasoline! And this is the reason (among many others) I'm going to marry this woman. She will fix things. Even if that means hitchhiking to the nearest gas station and hitchhiking back while her useless lover snores on a picnic table.
Truck is gassed and we depart the rest area. Its a new day, the sun is shining and all we can do is smile at this point. Coffee drinks are soon acquired and we're on our way to Burning Man! Again!
About 4 pm we cross through the final gates and into the City of Black Rock, only 16 hours later than planned and after only 45 minutes in line on Monday afternoon and much to the delight of our famished camp mates there were many sandwiches to be distributed.
A good time was had by all in the end, and what seemed like an unnecessarily long and trying journey to Black Rock served as a perfect and humbling Rite of Passage for my future wife and I. If we could make it through that hell of a ride we could do anything.... although it would take four times as long and we'd have explosive quarrels the whole way.
Anyways, that's my story.