I got to cross #58 off my bucket list last weekend when I went to the Jean dry lakebed outside of Las Vegas for the Rise Lantern Festival (Adventure #14).
Bucket List #58 – Stargaze In The Middle Of Nowhere
Zherra & I arrived in Las Vegas in the afternoon, and in the early evening headed to the Rio to take a shuttle bus to Jean dry lakebed where the Rise Festival was taking place. We were dropped off on the side of a dirt road & had to walk for 10 minutes or so to get to the location while the sun was setting behind us.
Where it was taking place, there were torches stuck in the ground in a large circle with 3 yoga mats & 6 lanterns at each torch. We chose our spot, unrolled our mats, and opened our lanterns to write on them. I made mine simple: wrote a few words of importance and hope for the future. They played music while everyone was getting settled and writing on their lanterns. It was dark by this time, so I took the opportunity to lay down and gaze at the stars. I spotted the usual thing I look for: Orion’s belt and also saw a few creatures of the night hovering above. I couldn’t tell if they were bats or owls.
After about an hour or so, it was time to get ready to light the lanterns. They said they were going to pass out match boxes but no one ever came our way. Luckily the women next to us had a lighter we could borrow to light our torch. Once the lanterns were lit, they took about 3 minutes to fully inflate & be ready to fly. The first wave was done all together and once they were released I think everyones breath was taken away. I think it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. After the first wave, we all continued releasing them at our own pace.
Once the lanterns were all released people started heading back to where the shuttles were. Unfortunately a great night took a downward turn at this point. Shortly after witnessing such a peaceful event where everyone was helping each other, some people started showing their worst sides.
Once we got back to the road, we found people just lined up along the road hoping to catch one of the buses. Everything was fine until a bus stopped right in front of the spot we were standing at. People started rushing the bus, shoving their way through. Since some people were unable to get on, they started screaming at each other, flipping each other off, yelling at the police that were there, hitting the bus, etc. The majority of people stayed calm, but it was frustrating since there was no order to the situation. It took a really long time for the buses to get through as well, because there were cars on the side of the already too small road, and people blocking the road by walking in between the buses. At one point a girl behind me went to swing her sweater over her back to put it on and instead hit me in the face with it and didn’t acknowledge it. It took 2 hours before Zherra and I got on a bus, and there were still tons of people waiting when we did.
The releasing of the lanterns was wonderful, it’s just a shame that the night had to end the way it did.