Thanks to TT120 for all the helpful information. This has been covered on ePlaya before: http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=38593
The information includes local repeaters. I have a little Alinco 0.3W radio that I used in Reno to talk to a guy in Gerlach on the repeater. Normally, handheld radios are 5W, so the range in the Reno area is gigantic. The link I've posted gives information on how to get on the local repeaters.
Please, please, please, use the repeaters with proper callsigns and courtesy. I've been on local threads, and we cause a great deal of aggravation with our 'playa fox' and such slang without callsigns. The people in the Black Rock area _need_ the repeaters to be available because many times there's no phone coverage.
Get on the Burning Hams email list and you'll get to meet lots of people you'll never see. There's a noon time net on simplex on the playa (you'll get to understand simplex and repeater usage when you get your license and start learning about ham radio -- ask on Burning Hams.)
Here's a link to study guides: http://kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/2006techstudyguide.pdf
I recommend giving it a quick read even if you don't understand what all's going on --it's a nice overview.
The test questions and answers are available online: http://www.ncvec.org/downloads/Revised%20Element%202.Pdf
Louise and I downloaded the questions and answers, memorized the right answers, took the test in 5 or 10 minutes on a Saturday, and had our licenses and callsigns on Monday. As TT says, no Morse code is required for any license level.
Study the test, go here: http://www.eham.net/exams/
and take the technician practice test until you pass. Go here: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session
and enter your ZIP code in the box and find an exam given in your area. Here's what you bring to the exam: http://www.arrl.org/what-to-bring-to-an-exam-session
. There's a modest fee (I can't remember what we were charged; twenty bucks? Twelve?)
I recommend joining a local club: http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club
and ask for advice on handheld radios and for help setting up your first one. You'll get all sorts of conflicting advice, including from me. I recommend a cheap or used one as your first HT because you'll get one you find you won't need all the features of or that you really really need a feature it doesn't have -- but nobody knows what that feature is till you find out what you'll use it for. Alinco used to be the cheapest, but Wouxun is now the cheapest radio I recommend. BaoFeng has a $45 radio, but some models don't meet FCC requirements and are thus illegal to use in the US even though they're sold here; don't buy one unless you can confirm that particular radio meets US specs. Models by Yaesu, Icom, and Kenwood are more expensive but excellent choices. I'd suggest a Wouxun for the playa and as a first radio, although many will disagree. shrug -- they're expendable and you can learn from them (the radios, not the people who disagree). I've got a pair, and people are surprised to find out I'm using them -- they can't tell by listening.
Sorry this is so long. Let's plan a meet up on the playa via radio.