Been there, done that

Redmond, Oregon
The best Goodwill in the whole damn country is in Redomd, Oregon, right across the street from the Walmart. We make it into Redmond just five minutes before the Goodwill closes. It is time to gear up for Burning Man, which means buying an inordinate amount of crap for an allegedly anti-materialistic festival with a gift economy. So instead of buying things from your fellow Burners, you buy shit at Walmart and give it away to your fellow Burners. Really, though, the Burning Man creed is reduce, reuse, recycle, so the best way to experience the burn would be to buy everything from second-hand or thrift stores, stuff in circulation anyway, and then when you leave the festival, re-donate it to another thrift store. We'll remember this creed when we finally settle down, in Havana, FL, and look for all used furniture, second-hand clothes. Not just because we're so silly-broke, either...

Instead of going backwards on the highway twenty miles to camp in a lovely, cliff-and-river-view rest area, one we camped at last year on the way to Mount St. Helens (this adventure has definitely taken on a full-circle feel), we stay in the Wal Mart parking lot. Ugh. We've only done this once before, in absolute exhausted desperation when we were rousted by the pork in Anchorage. It sucked then.

It sucks now.

There are train tracks next to the Walmart. We didn't notice them when decided to stay here, which is why two am is like a movie for us. We have ear-plugs in, sleeping the exhausted sleep of those who have been driving their 25-year old VW van up to 400 miles a day in order to get back to the states in time for the Burn. Is it the noise or the light that wakes us up first? Or the psychotic rattling of the van? The train passes about fifty feet from the van, shaking it so badly that we both sit up, tearing ineffectively at the earplugs in our ears, wide eyes trying to meet in the absolute dark. And then the light hits us, somehow managing to penetrate our deep blue curtains, the light rattling with the motion of the van, flickering enough to drive an epileptic to seizure. Our mouths are both wide open but we can't talk. Later we realize that each of us was thinking the exact same thing: where the hell are we, and how do we get off the tracks before all four of us are crushed by the train? We were in such a sound sleep that we forgot where we were. There have been so many places, so many nights, we are so rarely in the same spot for more than a day or two or sometimes three, we are so far from home. Or maybe we have located home in the van, with each other, with our dogs, so we know that home moves with us, and we never know we're in foreign lands.

Wal-mart is pretty fucking foreign. Once again I find myself hoping never to have to camp out there again.


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