Working Baker to Vegas

This past week, I was absent on Friday in preparation to do volunteer work as a part of the Baker to Vegas race. Baker to Vegas, also known as B2V or B to V, is a law enforcement race in which many different law enforcement officials compete in a 20 stage relay race, going from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, I helped work stage 9, a stage run by ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) members, as part of the communications and announcement team.

There was a lot to do while we were preparing. On Friday, we spent 4-6 hours in the car driving up to the Tecopa Hot Springs (inside of Death Valley), where I shared a room with my dad and brother, while my sister shared a room with one of our family friends. We loaded our suitcase/duffel bags into the room, and then went outside and started to cook. Every year, the 18 or so people working Stage 9 hosts a gathering where they serve food to people from various other stages. This year, we served chicken, cole slaw, tri-tip, and baked potatoes, and generally got to meet other radio operators and hang out with friends in the freezing cold.

The next day was the day that we worked hard. We drove about half an hour to 45 minutes to our stage to set up and prepare for the race. We set up easy ups, took out camp chairs, put out tables, and recorded some of the scenery for my dad’s podcast’s visuals. Each person got set up at our stations and started prepping.

To prep, my sister and I sat at our stations and took out some paper. We’d be listening to a radio and logging the numbers we received and saving the logs for comparison from the other stations. There were two logs used- one haphazard on a plain white sheet of paper, and the other on an official piece of yellow, gridded paper. The radio set up was complicated, with a radio, a power source, a speaker, and a mic all set up in one place, making it look quite messy with cords.

An incredibly important fact: It was freezing. And I don’t mean it was cold and like 50 degrees, I mean it was literally 30 degrees most of the day, even though we were in the middle of the desert. Most of the day I was wearing like 7 layers. I was wearing a tank top, a t-shirt, a hoodie, my dad’s fuzzy jacket, a rain jacket/fleece hoodie, and a giant down jacket that made me look like a marshmallow. I was also wearing 3 pairs of pants. When I got home, I literally took off 2 layers before I went to bed before I was so tired, and it was so cold.

As soon as we were notified of the first runner that was 1 mile out, we were ecstatic. The race had finally begun, but that’s not how it felt. We wrote down the first numbers and announced them, but that was it for about 10 minutes. Then, there was another runner. Then, another ten minutes. A runner, then 10 minutes. It repeated in an annoying cycle of boredom until about the 15th runner came in. Then, we started getting about 2 or 3 runners coming in at a time, which increased the excitement. Then, there was another wait of about 3 minutes, which, at that point, felt like hours.

At about 12:45, we took our lunch break and we had sandwiches and I swear, the sandwich I had was SUPER DUPER AMAZING. It was literally just wheat sandwich bread with onion, lettuce, and turkey breast, but I swear that it was the best sandwich I had in my entire life.

That was about it for the race. We worked for a total of 12 whopping hours, 2 for setting up/clean up, and 10 for the race. It was wonderful and fun, but also incredibly tiring. After, we had a well deserved nap, and then we hopped in the car for another 4 hours home.

Overall, I really enjoyed this experience. It opened my eyes to a lot and made me a lot more aware of what I can do for my community.