RENO, Nev. — The Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert is one some Mainers will never forget. While rain turned the desert into a muddy mess, officials shut down the road into and out of the pop-up city forcing festivalgoers to shelter in place.
"You bring the gear that you need. Water was not scarce. Food was not scarce," Portland resident Brigid Rankowski said. "Like when people think of stranded, that's not the accurate experience of everything."
Rankowski said the closures caused people to tap into one of the festival's main principles: radical self-reliance.
"In no way, shape, or form was I alone, and I had to remind myself of that," she said. "It seems like it's in a remote environment where like, 'Good luck, you're on you're on your own,' but everyone wants each other to survive and by sharing the resources, sharing the sense of community."
This year was Hampden resident Elisabeth Dean's second year making the trip into the desert. She said the rain wasn't quite what she prepared for.
"It's just the experience. I guess you come with no expectations and just enjoy," she said. "It was yeah, a feeling like it was your private island out here. No one could come in. No one could leave. You were here."
Dean, who talked via Zoom with NEWS CENTER Maine from the festival, said the mud reminded her of spring mud season in Maine. It was a bit unnerving, she said, while the roads were closed, but she never once felt scared.
"All of our phones blew up. You know, everybody's like 'Why are they asking us if we're OK? We're way OK. Are you guys OK?'" Dean said.
While the festival isn't what either of them had expected, both women said they want to make it to more Burning Man festivals in the future. Dean will leave the desert late Wednesday night, while Rankowski is catching a flight back to the East Coast on Wednesday.