Burning Man 2006
Best Burn Ever!

01 Articulated Flower Called Hope

{NOTE! Click on the pics to get them full size}

Theme : Hope and Fear
Favorite : Euchronia
Second : Beat Glasses at Man

For my my other Burning Man stories...

After four years at Burning Man, I've gained some confidence that I know what to expect on the playa. After living through wind storms, failed structures and stolen art, I realize there's a downside.

But having discovered the amazing positive energy, community and serendipity that pervades the experience, I knew the odds were in my favor.

What I didn't count on is that the very nature of Burning Man is unpredictable since everyone is constantly trying new things in new ways. Burning Man is a moving target which is what keeps it fresh.

You can count on fantastic art, unbelievable parties and a great vibe. It's as predictable as dust, wind and heat. What you can't count on is how it will all play out.

The best approach is to treat it like an adventure - prepare reasonable well, then adapt as you go. This year that approach worked amazingly well - the best Burn ever.

01J Welcome Home

Welcome to a NEW Home

After the struggle, pain and only half-assed success of last year's Tyvekian Radiation Shield, I wasn't discouraged at all. That's how it is with adventure - you regroup, redesign and try again. I knew what NOT to do this time around.

My failure even encouraged others. Now Kiwi wanted to try his design for a central structure to house the International Burn Hostel. In order to NOT have dueling shade structures, I decided to fine another camp to shelter.

I could have gone solo, but such a large structure would have been a waste for just me. I needed campers to shade. If you're going to experiment, you might as well make it count. Plus being part of a theme camp would allow me to get in early again. So I have my selfish reasons.

It didn't take long to find an alternative. Right after last year's event, An and I met Tim Hunter and his wife Debbie at a local Burn party. They were the ones who hosted Club Verboten which I'd enjoyed the last two years. I didn't realize they lived in Reno when I was out on the playa.

Over the next few months we got to know each other well; I got an invitation to put up my Radiation Shield at Club Verboten. It seemed like a good match. We had a new home.

Tim started Club Verboten as a "forbidden East Berlin night club" because of his interest in techno and how it challenged the status quo of the Eastern Block. OK, maybe he just liked the music.

Here's how it evolved in his own words emailed to each camp member...

History of Club Verboten

2001 - Begins life as "Boom Boom Room". High hopes and ambitions to play "good techno" lands us out in Sound Art section with 300 watt speakers up against our neighbors 5,000 watt variety. We give up the ghost on Friday. Tired and frustrated I threw on a Kraftwerk CD and just let it play over and over. Lo and behold largest crowd of the week stumbled in and Club Verboten was born.

2002 - Now known as Club Verboten we experienced a miserable year (again in Sound Art) and a miracle Verboten ever showed up again in 2003. In a trade off with 2 English DJs I offered playing time in for use of their generator on their RV. What I got was a wired, out of control, speed freak DJ whos RV generator lasted less than a day. In its place we borrowed a small very noisy generator which was a nightmare all week in terms of sound and necessity to pour in gas (in the dark no less) every 1/2 hour or so. The week ended on Friday afternoon with a gigantic dust storm which hit Verboten straight on. Cleaning it all up again was not considered. Only highlight it seems was our first Depeche Mode Night. Our only crowd of the weekend a harbinger of things to come.

02J Club Verboten Central Committee

2003 - Our luck finally turned as we were given, for some reason, nice keyhole/Esplanade location where we still reside today. Our camp was down to Action Jack and myself as 2002 saw many bailouts. We added two from Ohio later in the week but for most part this was a two man operation. Great crowds for DM, Kraftwerk, and 80's night. Our new Honda quiet generator made life much easier. Time now to replace cheap piece of crap tent we were using.

2004 - Despite our address being omitted from our events in the "Who What Where" guide Verboten experienced a break through year. A new custom tent saw some very well attended "retro avant garde" music dances and we finally felt like we belonged.

2005 - Club Verboten given another break when shifted to the 3:00 Plaza. Our retro theme proved very popular as all events well attended with many so crowded that people were unable to get in. A long way from keeping your head down playing to an empty tent and hauling bicycles out front to make it look like someone was there!

So that's who we were camping with. Here was my primary gift...

Radiation Shield - Part Two

As noted last year, the biggest problem with my design was trying to put up 3000 square feet of fabric all at one time. This year I decided to buy cheap Costco tarps (12' x 16' at $8 each) and attach them using ball bungees. By putting it up in smaller sections I'd have less trouble with the wind.

The rest of the design stayed pretty much the same. It still had 60' PVC ribs made up of three twenty foot sections with four foot internal links. These would be anchored the same way using steel fence posts and multi-layered PVC foundations.

03 Rib Design

This year I would only have five arches but now with twelve foot centers for a length of almost 50' including rib spacing. It was a bit smaller than last year's design but still significant. Moderation in all things.

Also this year I would widen the base from 38' to 40' which would lower the top of the arch a bit to make it easier to work from the top of the RV.

One last significant change was to drop all internal surface ropes and external x-ropes, turning the Radiation Sheld into a true stressed-skin structure. I would only use end ropes and some emergency drop ropes to be tied down during major storms. This would allow the tarps and bungees to distribute the stress as needed instead of trying to rig parallel ropes with the right tension. This was a bit of a gamble but I felt the approach was less likely to rip out grommets.

My original objective was to create as MUCH shade using as LITTLE material as possible. The Costco tarps were three times heavier but the design was still reasonable light, cheap and hopefully - effective.

The Belgians

Just because I shifted camps didn't mean I bailed on the Burn Hostel. About ten days before departure Fred sent out an email asking for help with a group of 40 Belgians.

They had a big art project that had gotten stopped in U.S. Customs and were without gear and supplies. They had no reason to go out to the playa without their materials, so they came to Hagy's for a few days where they were farmed out to local Burners or camped there.

I took potluck over several times that week and got a chance to talk to some of these guys. They planned to build something called the Space-Time Ship from Euchronia. It was mostly funded with a grant of $300,000 from the Belgian government to represent their country at Burning Man.

I cornered the artist in Fred's kitchen and tried to get a description. There is no end to my curiosity. He gave me not a clue, but said I would probably like it. He was right. It turned out to be my favorite piece this year.

Also at Hagy's, Kiwi showed me his new design for a shade structure. It was impressive indeed but totally different from my work.

In the back yard Irish was working on something he called Metalthusla. It was a nicely done collection of threatening steel. Here it is once he got it out to the playa...

02 Metalthusla

Prep and Packing

Prep of the tarps and PVC only took a couple of weeks. The rest of my gear came together nicely too. What else would I need? There would be ten others in our camp but I had the only motorhome with stove and refrigerator so I decided to provide some meals.

I bought about twenty pounds of chicken, pork and beef as well as some potatoes and several pounds of cheese and salad. I pre-BBQed the meat, then cut and froze it for simple and quick preparation on the playa. This would allow me to make fajita salads and baked potatoes a couple of nights.

Next I pre-fried four pounds of bacon and froze that too. No need to take all the extra grease. I also stocked up on bread, eggs and milk to make french toast as well as a few big cans of juice for breakfast.

An brought fixens for coffee. We were ready to create some unexpected meals. I ended up doing salads twice, breakfast twice and baked potatoes once. Every little bit helps. It was the best way to gift my resources.

There was one other change in packing this year. Instead of putting all that PVC on the top of the motorhome, I loaded it INSIDE. It fit in the hallway nicely but we couldn't get to the bathroom or refrigerator. Still, this approach was MUCH faster to load and unload as well as much safer to transport. Which brings up another topic.

02J Neverwas Haul

Safety Third - Evil Christine

Tim (aka Omar Suarez and President a' vie) was having a BBQ Friday night at his house for our send off. He had three others to ride out with us and I'd offered a ride out for "Evil Chris" from another camp. I had to pick her up at the bus station and do one final stop for veggies and fruit.

As Christine was helping me load the PVC, she said, "Safety Third" as I was about to smash my fingers. I laughed at the time but it stuck with me. Later that evening I heard the term again from others. Cute words get around.

At first I simply enjoyed the joke as I wondered what was one and two. Get it done? Party ON? Push the limits? Have a great time?

Then I realized, the term DOES make you think about safety, especially when climbing around on the top of a motorhome in the wind with tarps in your face and a hand full of bungees. It was just such a situation that lead to the only death at Burning Man this year.

Apparently, a guy fell from a ladder and struck his head during camp construction. He seemed fine at the time and kept working, but the next day fell unconscious and later died. Or at least that was the word around camp when we got there.

What's amazing is, there aren't more accidental deaths at Burning Man. First consider all the improvised construction techniques and marginal equipment; later add in all the partying and climbing on interactive art; finally take into account the general state of health and awareness that evolves after a few days in the desert with 40,000 half-sober people; what are the odds?

I always expect more serious injury or death. Maybe it's THAT expectation of danger that keeps us safe. Or maybe we're just a lucky group. In any case I think we beat the odds.

My take is, "Safety First" from the default world lost it meaning long ago. "Safety Third" keeps the topic in mind. It's a subtle yet excellent example of how Burning Man concepts can challenge yet be effective at the same time.

Friday, August 25th - Unexpected Delays

Like childbirth, packing always seems to require more labor than you remember from last time. And with a fixed schedule, it has to accelerate at the end. Chris and I were two hours late for the BBQ, but the party and vibe were well underway. There's a lot of excitement when the playa gets this close.

02J Swirl Fyre and Tim

It was time to meet some new Burners. Swirl (James), Fyre and Kat were all virgins from Halifax. Swirl was a certified First Responder and volunteering with the medics near our camp.

John Leon came in from Texas with Action Jack (Fred). Fred would be driving the truck out with Tim the next day. Swirl, John, Evil Chris, An and I were ready to take the RV out that night so we could take advantage of the calm winds at daybreak to put up the Radiation Shield.

But as late as we were for the BBQ, we weren't late enough. One of Tim's hitch hikers was even later. This put us two MORE hours behind in our departure. That's why it's important to treat a Burning Man schedule as more of a guideline.

Our guideline slipped even more when we stopped at In & Out for burgers - one last fast food fix. But then finally, we were on the road. And once you're on the road to Burning Man you're never late. It's a good thing I was still too buzzed to fall asleep. But everyone else did. I enjoyed the drive. Safety third.

Saturday, August 26th - Getting to Bed Before Sunrise

It was well after three in the morning before we got checked in at the gate and Chris dropped off. I just turned off the RV and got in bed. The five of us were asleep within seconds. At least I was. It would be a short night. I needed to make the most of it.

I awoke 150 minutes later just in time to see the sun come up. It was a beautiful red ball behind some dust. I felt GREAT! Time to get to work.

03 First Sunrise

Jimbo from Iowa was already there too. Though technically he was the camp next door, we all worked together. His camp was called Das Grube because of the big iron fire pit and iron mask art. Jimbo also helped out with Club Verboten and brought a lot of great food to share.

03J Jimbo and His Pit

03J Jimbo's Spirits

The shield needed to go up first. John and Swirl picked up on the design immediately. Things went up fast with no problems at all. It's great to have good help.

Swirl was like a perfect dance partner with the tape during layout. He also had the muscle to quickly set the fence posts in the playa. The four of us placed the ribs in only a few minutes.

04J Ribs Up

John got so good snapping down bungees while hanging from a rib, we started calling him Playa Spider. I still think it's a good name.

05 Adding Tarps

As you can see, I alternated the tarps so they would form a silver and blue checkerboard.

06 Radiation Shield Complete

One Hard Day's work is Better Than Five

When Tim and Fred arrived at about one in the afternoon, the Radiation Shield was up and functional. It had taken only six and a half hours.

They had brought with them Fyre and Kat as well as Maggie from Pennsylvania. Maggie was quite young and seemed a bit disoriented as far as desert survival was concerned.

06J Taron and Jeff

Taron and Jeff from Oregon also showed up about this same time. I'm not sure when or how he arrived, but I also met Lasse from Stockholm, Sweden. He didn't speak much English but he was amazing with his costumes. As it turned out, our camp was full of virgins, but they seemed determined to have a good time. And attitude's half the battle.

06J Club Tent Going Up

The club tent went up even faster as I finished rigging the lights on the Radiation Shield. By sunset everyone found a spot and had their tents set up. Last year it had taken five days to get this far. This was amazing progress - quite unexpected.

But the unexpected found another form as well. Someone stepped on the "Club Verboten" neon sign. It was now dis-functional with no way to replace it. I think all of us put the thought in the back of our mind hoping for some solution. In any case everything else was done in only one day! I was pleased and proud of the progress.

After a quick meal and a shower, An and I still had time for for a sunset walk. After being buzzed with energy for so long, it's hard to relax but the walk helped slow me down.

Including prep and packing, it had been a grueling 36 hours with only two hours of sleep. But the hard part was done. Now I could recover and enjoy the rest of the week. I was determined to take it easy and not burn out too fast.

First Art

The Man was an obvious target for a walk so we headed there. Also on the horizon was a strange nest that appeared to be made of wood. I'd been looking at it all day and assumed it was the Temple but it was VERY different from prior years. It was huge and could be seen from almost anywhere. It looked like some kind of bird's nest. As I would soon learn, that was a pretty good description.

The man was closer, so we stopped there first. It had a fun house below but was not finished yet. The fun stuff would be added later. The stairs were done so we climbed up and looked around. Early in the week is such a peaceful time. It fit my mood. I was feeling good, but mellow. Exhaustion is probably a better description.

On the way out to the nest of wood we discovered the real temple. It was a very modest affair compared to previous years but nicely done. So what was this nest? I learned it was Euchronia, the same art I had discussed in Hagy's kitchen.

I wanted to see it closer, but the temple was as far as we got that night. It was dark and we hadn't brought lights. By then I was also a walking zombie. I needed to find a bed. I think that was the earliest we got to bed the whole week. By the time we got back to camp it was 10 and I slept till sunrise.

One thing I noticed on the way in was my center string of blue lights on the guy wires had gone out leaving what appeared to be a nice blue "V" next to the club tent. Hmmmm...

Sunday, August 27th - Welcome Home, Welcome Home, Welcome Home, Welcome Home, Welcome Home

Morning always refreshes me. This is especially true on the playa. And with the camp all set up, we were free to explore. Since we came in too early to get programs, we headed for the main gate. Along the way we stopped by the airport.

Burning Man is not typically an airshow but I was impressed with one unusual airplane from eastern Europe. It had brought some Burners down from Alaska so I got a pic...

07 Lithuanian Air

At the gate everyone was in a festive mood as more people poured in. I rode my bike out past the entrance then came back through as everyone cheered my arrival. It was so much fun I did it again. And Again. And again. And again. Stupid, I know. But the point was to see who would blink first. Burners go with the flow. Or maybe it was a test of ambient drug level. They lasted longer than I did. I hadn't had a drink.

We got our books and headed back around the circle. We went clockwise outside of the camps. The outer rings were still almost empty. You could ride almost anywhere and not hit a tent.

At the sound camps (left end of Black Rock City) we continued straight out to Euchronia. It was time for a closer look.

08 Euchronia

Space-Time Ship from Euchronia

Now you might wonder why this became my favorite piece this year. Was I biased because I'd met the artist? From a distance it's all a jumble and a bit of a blob. In terms of "pretty" or visual it's only above average. But that's just the start.

09 Euchronia

Scale is the next thing to appreciate. It's big on the horizon but it keeps getting bigger as you approach. That makes it REAL big. You quickly realize it's bigger than the Man and even dwarfs the larger temples of prior years. But anyone with money can create scale so that in itself doesn't count.

The next thing you notice are patterns in construction as if this thing evolved - which it did. The most impressive thing about Euchronia for me was HOW it got built and what it says about the art of making things.

Yes, I'm a geek, and I think in terms of engineering, so I expected to find hidden structure as I got closer - something like the two by four triangle frames of the 2002 Temple hidden under it's lace; but maybe on a larger scale.

I was specifically looking for glue-lams or other trusses to hold this monster up. But they were NOT to be found. The closer I got, the more amazing the structure became.

Not only did it look like a bird's nest, it was BUILT like a bird's nest - one stick at a time! It must have been some mega species of bird that spit nails attaching ten foot two by threes at fairly random points. I say FAIRLY random because there WAS some order but not much; at least on a macro scale. If you stood back, you could see waves of boards in fanning patterns creating complex surfaces, but you had to look for it.

On the mega scale, the surface became a french cure in three dimensions forming columns rising to hold a roof. Think of string art with no frames forming fluid surfaces in a willy-nilly sort of way. It was fun to study.

The cool thing was there was no reference or typical pattern seen in virtually all human construction. This pseudo-random macro form extended to become a wondrous mega structure.

10 Euchronia

I dropped my bike in the dust and just walked around with my mouth hanging open looking for the clues to it's engineering. Then I saw it. The workers had used units of lumber to form a covered construction shack a few feet away. Inside I found the plans and bills of lading. I began laughing.

The plans were just a couple of sheets showing the mega results - that's all. There were no detail drawings because NONE had been created! The artist let the demand for strength provide the detail as it progressed.

I finally got it. It was built the way early versions of Black Rock city were built - in response to the stress of demand - in that case, people's wishes to be close to the Man... or not. The final mega-vision was the only objective. This was brilliant construction indeed.

I've never seen anything so large built in this way. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen anything of ANY scale built this way, except by birds. They have some idea of what the nest should "feel" like and just keep adding sticks and mud as needed for strength and size. It was truly an original piece and far more significant than it's elegant finished appearance might imply.

11J Euchronia Construction

A couple of days later I manage to corner (truly false pun of "corner" not intended but left for effect) one of the builders on the site.

He verified that the artist came up with the mega concept, and they just started nailing boards. If an area was too weak, they would just add more boards until it was strong enough to keep going skyward. Any engineer would tell you, this approach is audacious indeed! Burning Man is wonderful.

If you want specifications, I learned it was made up of 150 km (about 93 miles) of wood. This was assembled on a footprint of 30 by 60 meters and was 15 meters high. But that doesn't really tell you much. It's the kind of thing you have to see.

By the way, someone had taken a black marker and written all over the structure, "15,000 Trees", but they were WAY off in their estimate. My guess is there were fewer than that many boards, NOT trees. The construction guy said it was mis-cut lumber from some broker they found in Canada. The wood was going to be destroyed because it wasn't worth moving. I suspect that's why it was made of two by threes (an unusual size). The only place THAT size is used for significant construction is in Japan so the story makes sense.

Plus their website claims they are to planting more trees than they used. To me none of this mattered. Euchronia was worth FAR more than the cost of production. The value of planting this construction method in the minds of 40,000 people (plus the millions more that read about it here and other places) was easily worth the wood.

We should all "waste" wood in such expression.

I just thought of one more way nature uses this method of construction. When muscle and bones are stressed, the human body builds tissue and calcium migrates to support that stress. What if DNA is NOT an engineering drawing for a human, but a collection of internal pseudo-stress triggers reflecting the evolution process since the beginning of life, to which far more simple biological systems responds. Could a human be "lead" into existence in the womb reflecting four billion years of evolution? Talk about time warp! Just a thought. But see what I mean by the value of wood on the playa? How many other ideas will flow from this art?

12 Euchronia

Yes, I took a lot of pics but like many things on the playa, a two dimensional photo does not do justice to the concept or the effect produced. Find a video if you can. Or better yet, just visit it before it burns. After all, it IS a piece out of space and time. Visit it ANY where-when you like.

As any good Monoshawan from the "Fifth Element" knows, matter creates space; space creates time; and time doesn't matter. Only life matters. And life will find a way. The Euchronians and Mondoshawan probably studied at that same school of art.

Euchronia alone is worth the price of admission.

11 Euchronia

CV - Club Verboten

I rode back to camp. I didn't want to see any other art right now. Urconia needed to be bracketed in time, as well as space, for it to matter. At least for me.

Back at camp I did almost nothing except reading, napping, and relaxing in the heat of the day. I was still catching up on my sleep. Most of the city and art were not yet up anyway.

An started through the Burning Man program. She doesn't like to miss anything; which is an impossible task at Burning Man. But she tries. Soon she'd be zooming off on her bike to one event or another.

13 Club Verboten and Camp

Others noticed my guy lights looked like a "V" from the playa, so John and I took down a string of lights from the back and tapped them to a length of PVC we formed into a "C". Now we just needed to get it attached to the top of the rib. I had an idea.

14J Black Rock Bookmobile

I rode over to the Black Rock Bookmobile where Roland and Shy have this art car which was actually a scissor lift. Tom drove it over to put up our "C". Thanks guys. Now we had a "CV" for Club Verboten, which was better than nothing I guess.

13J CV for Club Verboten

Sometime that day Swirl managed to somewhat fix the neon sign with light wire. We looked a bit like a Road Warrior camp, but were back in business.

14J Sign Repair

Later that afternoon An and I made fajita salads for the camp along with a big bowl of guacamole. Kat liked the guac so much she took the bowl out and licked it dry (as you might expect a Kat to do). Forget imitation. Licking the bowl is the sincerest form of flattery. And I don't even think she had noticed my "Lick Your Plate" sign in the RV from last year. But maybe.

15 Kat Licking Guac Bowl

Sitting in the shade, I started flirted with Fyre while she tried on different costumes. We played this game about how she needed to bend over to test her range of motion. She always faced away for some reason. I would suggest things for her to pick up off the ground. Fyre flirted well. She's a natural party animal. Here are some pics of other camp members.

16 Tim - President a 'vie

17 Maggie and Fyre

18 Tim Maggie John Fred

Later An and I rode around the playa some more. Sunset and sunrise are my favorite times because that's usually when the wind dies down, as does the heat. But the light is great.

18J Maggie Kat Lasse

Monday, August 28th - Burning Stupid

Another good nights sleep in the bank. Tim reminded me this was the time to pre-charge your sleep for later in the week. And it's SO true. If you aren't fresh on Wednesday, you'll crash before the weekend's over. So far, I was ahead of the game.

At sunrise we headed counter-clockwise on the outer streets to compliment the day before. It was beginning to fill in more with campers, but not much art so far.

We continued on around the end of the city finding ourselves once again at Euchronia. OK, I went there on purpose. I can't help it. I liked it. What we found was a surprise.

There was a bit of a party still going on. Well, more like yelling and challenges with some music thrown in. The difference between alcohol and pot was being vividly demonstrated.

There were only about ten people which is typical at sunrise this far out. But two of them were getting out of hand. It was the result of too much alcohol. Pot heads never get this stupid.

With one drunk, you get obnoxious. With two, you get a contest for stupidity. In this case they were climbing up the side of Euchronia. Their friends below were yelling at them to get down - which of course just made them climb even higher.

Those two by threes were not likely to hold their weight once they made it to the horizontal part of the structure. This would put them about 50 feet in the air with only the playa below.

I suggested to the friends they were getting way too much attention and everyone should simply leave. If they lost their audience, they'd likely give up the contest. No one listened. They were drunk as well. They kept on yelling. If you look for the edge, drunk or not, sooner or later you'll find it. Safety third.

I followed my own advice and we took off. In a few of minutes I found a couple of BLM cops driving around. I sent them out. I'm a narc, I know. Everyone has their lines.

We didn't stay to see if they lived. But I didn't find a hole in the roof of Euchronia later on either. So I guess they survived. That's what counts.

19 Drunken Euchronians

The Cathedral

Coming back we stopped at the Conexus Cathedral. From a distance, it appears to be made of wood but is surprisingly made of steel wrapped in white plastic. Again, what you find at Burning Man is often NOT what you expect.

It's a beautiful piece representing the structure of a European cathedral without the walls or roof.

Once again, the scale was impressive; probably the second biggest piece I've ever seen on the playa. It was all held up with guy wires. It also had a mellow vibe. Later in the week we saw yoga and a wedding performed here. Definitely a Hippie piece.

20 Conexus Cathedral Going Up

Ice Lines

One of the objections I get from people when I tell them about Burning Man is, "I don't like crowds". Surprisingly enough, Burning Man doesn't have many.

OK, the Burning of the Man, Temple Burn and Critical Tits Parade all raise a pretty good crowd. And the rave camps sometimes get over a thousand dancing at one time, but mostly these 40,000 people are scattered over several square miles in small groups of fewer than a hundred; much of the time even less.

21 Mobil Rave Crowd

Even center camp usually only has a few hundred and they are spread out over an area the size of the Colosseum.

One final exception is the line for ice at center camp. When they open, you can see the line wrapped all the way out to the playa but most of the time it's shorter and fits in the cattle shoots they've created for the purpose of crowd control. You know what I mean; they have guard rails wrapped back and forth in a long "S" shape like they do at Disneyland. The only difference is the characters are IN line instead of outside entertaining.

Seriously, if you stand in line waiting for ice, you can't help laughing at how diverse these characters are. It feels like a Fellini movie. It's built-in entertainment. And the line goes fast.

So don't worry if you hate lines and crowds. Mostly they can be avoided. There's always something else to do. And you can't do it all anyway. Crowds are rarely a problem.

Deflowering Maggie

When I got back to camp everyone was sitting around trying to figure out how to get Maggie a bike. She had neglected to bring one; and now had regrets.

Tim took her in the club tent. In a few minutes she came out with a sign strapped to her ass saying, "Deflower me for a bike".

At the time she had on an apron and garter belt. She flipped up the apron and showed she was naked underneath... except for a small flower in the garter belt.

Everyone was laughing as her and Tim set off to solve the problem. It took them about an hour but they came back with a bike. And we learned she didn't even have to do anything sexual in return. She's found a "nice guy" with an extra bike. It's just one more thing I like about Burning Man - everyone pitches in and finds a way. The gift economy works!

22 Maggie Getting a Bike

This night Jimbo made chili in his fire pit. I added cheese and chips. Others added their potluck.

As the sun went down, the wind came up so we donned masks and goggles. Then An and I went swing dancing in a wind storm. I should say An went swing dancing. I sat and watched.

It's bizarre to see such dramatic dance in white dust backed by blinking lights. She got lots of dance partners and had a great time. Sweat formed tiny brown rivulets on her neck as the dust got wet.

When we got back to the club, Tim had a full house for Disco Night with lots of people even dancing outside. And this was only Monday! The week had started well. We got to bed by twelve for another good night's sleep.

Tuesday, August 29th

Another Morning; up at sunrise; another ride around to check the state of the art. It changes from day to day as it's completed. The process is often as educational as the art itself.

Again, we went out and to the right but E street this time. Using this approach we cover most of the city at least once by the end of the week.

We didn't ride very far before we were stopped by a football flying over us. An dropped her bike and we started playing catch. These breaks often happen without a word being spoken. It was three way catch. Then four way. In a few minutes we said thanks and rode on.

The streets were filling in with campers and the playa was filling in with art. Here are examples...

23 Mantis

24 Birth and Death on Wheels

25 Camp Touch This

25J Lionfish

26 Snuggle Muffins

These Snuggle Muffins are a great example of artistic chill spaces placed out on the playa. They are almost always full in the morning. And sometimes at night.

26J Mobile Muffins

Later we stopped by center camp but it was still pretty quiet. They had moved my favorite piece from last year right out front.

27 From Last Year

27J Detail

Standing in the ice line I realized one of the things that makes Burning Man so different from any other event is it's lack of focus.

It's not just about party till Lent; it's not just about music; it's not just about art; it's not just about community; it's not just about creative engineering. It's not just about anything at all. It's about almost everything. If "Art is that which everything else isn't", Burning Man is more so.

Later that afternoon An went to a pole dancing class. Again, I'm not much of a dancer but I stopped by later to watched. It was entertaining. And once again I discovered there's significant skill behind most human activity - certainly this one.

It was Rolling Stones night at the club so we spent a fair amount of time there between walks. I was still being mellow. We still got to bed early again.

Wednesday, August 30th - Deception

Up at sunrise, out and to the left. There's lots of new stuff every morning. Here are more examples...

28 Seven Foot Rebar

29 As Fast As They Could Spin

Some picture are NOT worth a thousand words. This one for example. And for some art, words just won't do. This piece made of empty Pepsi bottles is a great example. I had seen it last year but it wasn't working very well. This year it was hitting on all cylinders. Make that jugs. OK. I'll give it a try with only words.

The effect is of wind chimes that sounds like a bee's nest. The artist had suspended these bottles (which had vanes cut in them) on small hubs at the top. The wind made them spin VERY fast and caused them to make a sound somewhat like a bee but more dull. When they were all going at once it's quite impressive. Like I say, sometimes you just have to be there.

30 Not What it Seems

Here's another example of deception. It's an art car! This is actually a Ford truck (under the dome and black tarp) with structures from two different worlds attached. I guess it just happened to be what the artist had in his back yard. Later in the week we visited this beast and rode it's dome on the playa.

Later as I waited in the ice line, I noticed a huge crowd near the playa. In a few minutes An showed up with ice cream. They were scooping it out as fast as they could; An got me one. Ice cream is a rare treat out here; especially when you're standing in the sun.

Back at camp, Kat said the Golden Shower camp was handing out lemonade. Just another example of creative giving. Or is it deception? In either case, it happens a lot.

31J The Devil is in the Dust

Getting Tested

Dan, who is a friend of ours from Reno, came by and we went to the Hookadome next door. I'd seen this place for years but had never given it a try. It's a beautiful tent with big Hookas inside where people are trying different tobaccos. Around that are people relaxing after their smoke. A guy was spraying everyone with rose water. It was a VERY nice chill space. And it smelled good.

While we were in there, the tent began to move dramatically and they sealed down the doors. This was a sure sign of a big blow. When it didn't end after a few minutes we headed back to check on the Radiation Shield.

31 Wind Storm

It didn't look good. The north end had collapsed with the ribs forced into an "S" curve from the wind. The rain gutter on the truck caught the tarps and tore a hole. The whole thing was forced down on the other other trucks and tents. Oh well. It had held up for a few days at least.

I tied down some of the storm ropes. There wasn't much else we could do at that point so we got in the RV and fixed dinner. Other camp members stopped by from time to time to get out of the wind. THIS is where a motor-home pays off. You have room to move around without being blown away.

31J Surviving the Storm

Everyone else found a safe spot and waited out the storm. The three of us went back to the Hookadome. You might was well have good time.

And the storm continued. A couple of hours later we went to bed since there wasn't much else to do. Most places were closed up against the storm.

We woke up about midnight and the storm had backed off a bit. The ribs had popped back up and things seemed pretty normal. I got out and look around but the winds started again. Once again the structure collapsed. I went back to bed.

Thursday, August 31h - Not a Problem

The next morning I awoke to the sound of cheering. I looked out the window and the Radiation Shield seemed back to normal. I went outside. Our camp-mates were celebrating the Shield's rise from the dead. They were sure I had planned it that way.

32 Not a Problem

The only damage was the one hole and a few grommets pulled out. OK, the tarps had moved around a bit so there was more slack in everything; but it was still standing, and still functional!

I'd like to take credit for the result, but it was just luck. I did work a lot on the rib design two years ago. I made it just strong enough to hold up the fabric and no more. I was trying to get as much "bang for the buck" as possible. The PVC did the rest. I DID know the ribs would form an "S" shape under too much stress. I just didn't know things would recover as nicely as they did without breaking.

Later I learned we had SUSTAINED winds of over 40 miles per hour. And I have to agree. The wind had to be pretty steady to hold the ribs in that shape for all those hours. If they had been more gusting, it might have done more damage.

This was unexpected good luck.

State of the Storm

Since there was not much to do in the way of repair, it was time to check out how everyone else had stood up to the storm.

There were lots of examples of structures down and fabrics pulled away but most were simply being repaired. You do what you can and add more ropes and rebar.

33 Storm Damage

Tim mentioned he had gone out to Euchronia after the storm broke and was out there till three in the morning. Apparently they had set up a DJ booth in the structure and had a rave most of the night. By the time we got there, the rave had moved to the temple with the mobile rave buses.

34 The Temple

As we watched the party die with the morning sun we saw a couple of people running around with big cardboard "scissors" demonstrating their lack of care. Strange things like this are always happening at Burning Man.

There was one couple sitting in the temple together. They both were wearing beautiful white fur. I wasn't sure if they were left over from the rave or come to morn with the morning. They were very still at this point, and to me reflected the calm of the morning after the storm. Such is subjective reality.

35 A Long Night

Even More Art

After we got back to camp I went for an ice run. The line was shorter but center camp was busier. From Thursday on you can feel the tension grow as construction is now completed, and more performance art comes out. We were now in the final build up to the Burn.

36 Giraffes Getting Coffee

37 Handstand at Center Camp

Back at camp someone brought out bratwurst for lunch and Jimbo cook them in his fire pit. Dave Orel came by from the Burn Hostel and we had lunch. He mentioned several things I just HAD to see. His list became my ambition for the afternoon.

On our way out to the Man we encountered the longest art of the week. It was a dragon about a mile long made up of participants holding fabric sections connected to each other. I never did get the back story or name, but it was impressive none the less. I later heard they went for and won a place in Guinness. That's one long chorus line.

40 Dragon Head

41 Dragon Body

42 Dragon Tail

Next were these glasses in the base of the man. I had seen them on a walk through but they were too busy to try. This time I waited my turn. It was worth the wait.

38 Optical Illusion

These glasses had each lens painted over and a red LED mounted at the corner for each eye. With your eye open it just looked like a bright LED, but when you closed your eyes, you began to see pulsating illusions much like you might see if you looked toward the sun with your eyes closed - EXCEPT they were far more regular, yet changing in shape.

This is one of those Burning Man pieces that's hard to describe, and can't be photographed. The only way is to live it. I quickly discovered how the patterns were changing. When I took the glasses off I saw one seat had a dial. Again, I waited my turn for THAT seat.

This time it made more sense. I had read in Scientific American a couple of years ago how it had been discovered that neural impulses cross the visual cortex about 70 times per second. This apparently is the temporal resolution of visual perception.

This artist had tapped into this fact to create a visual illusion driven by the beat frequency between the typical brain and these LEDs - that's why the adjustment was needed. I'm almost sure it controlled frequency. The experience was a lot like being on acid, but is simply the brain trying to find a pattern in this light and pulse plus some effect from blood flow in the eye-lids.

I know I'm probably rambling on too long here, but there IS a point. Most of the images are pretty random, but there was one special point on the dial which produced PERFECTLY aligned squares and rectangles. You could dial away and then come back to it.

I believe this effect was a reflection of the mind's preference for finding change on the horizon and it's vertical displacement. It certainly couldn't come from two simple LEDs. I know this may sound strange but the human mind DOES have a preference for the horizon which has been demonstrated in many optical illusions. The horizon is where movement and danger come from. This modest art project demonstrates it nicely.

This was my second favorite piece on the playa. If you want to understand why, you'll just have to come and see it for yourself. Use Euchronia to get here.

Star Wars on the Playa

When we climbed up under the Man we noticed lots of people with light sabers in many directions. They were fighting in little groups. Someone said there were 3000 toy light sabers passed out and this fight had been staged. For the rest of the week we saw lots of light sabers.

39 Star Wars

Back at camp Jimbo was cooking ribs in his fire pit. Everyone was getting ready for the evening's parties. The energy was building. We had dinner then headed out again.

That's when we saw the wedding at the Cathedral. It seemed more serious than you might imagine. Many of the "weddings" here are just for the week. Others are legal and longer. Some of each type last a lifetime.

43 Conexus Cathedral Wedding

After dark the wind picked up a bit, but this late in the week nothing stops the party. People were out in force. I can't recall all we discovered. And if I could, this log would never end. But I CAN tell you we had trouble finding potties in the dust storm. Such is the illusion dust will cause.

43J Conexus Cathedral at Night

When we got back to camp, Club Verboten was going full bast as usual. Tim got a crowd every night with different types of music. One afternoon he played the song "Cars" over and over and over and over and over. It was sort of like me coming in the gate again and again and again and again and again and again. It had much the same effect.

43J CV Ready for Action

43J Typical Dance Nights

From 80 dance, to The Rolling Stones, to Depeche Mode, I lost track of the nightly program. But Tim didn't. His art, and his gift to the playa was definitely music. And a place to enjoy it. Thanks to Tim and Fred.

Friday, September 1st - Lots of New Art

By Friday, virtually everything's in place for the weekend. Here are some examples from our morning ride...

44 Morning Heat

An liked these fires in the morning chill. Can you feel the heat?

45 Playa Vent

And a heating vent in the playa. Just one of those details...

47 Serpent Mother at Dawn

46J Serpent Mother and Egg

47J Serpent Mother at Night

This snake was most impressive at night with all it's fires going but was also beautiful at sunrise. Here's a ride An took and enjoyed...

48 An's Ferris Wheel Ride

49 Backrest

50 Playa Plaything

51 Quick Art

52 From Playa Mud

Notice the puddle of water maintained to spawn this evolution. Is this simply another aspect of Euchronia?

53 Hope at Sunrise

Hope and Fear

Next we headed across the playa to the other side. On the way I found a light saber in the dust. I picked it up and spent much of the rest of the day challenging people. I even got a few fights.

The theme for Burning Man this year was "Hope and Fear". These two articulated plants represented the respective elements.

54 Hope and Fear

55 French Toast with Hope and Fear

As we approached the large articulated flower a guy was on a megaphone calling out, "French Toast". We hadn't eaten so we got in line. It was a great breakfast with fruit toppings and a smile. You give french toast; you get french toast. Karma works on the playa. And it works damn fast!

From there we discovered more art...

56 Sleeping Spider

57 Solar Wind Art

58 What Was His Zen Tent?

59 Happy Van

60 Super Rave Bus From Last Year


Just about the time we got all the way on the other side of the city, An noticed her tire was going flat. We headed back. I stopped for these pics of "IT" which I'd watched under construction for several days. For me IT brought back memories of the original movie from when I was a kid. IT was VERY nicely done and near the top of my list for the week.

61 IT from War of the Worlds

62 Cathedral Attack

62J The Man Conquers IT

71J From the Sky

62J One Mean Art Car

Playa Failures

In camp, Kat told us about Dance, Dance, Immolation. She said they put her in a fire suit and she had to dance on an electronic pad.

When she missed a move, they hit her with a flame thrower. She said it was the most dramatic thing she had ever experienced. Swirl said he did it too and it was a blast. I never did find the place. That's how it is with adventure.

I also heard Dr. Megavolt was on the playa again this year. But I never found him. While I'm on the topic, I want to mention this big jet engine on a trailer I had seen in action at the decompression in San Francisco two years ago.

This Jet engine was parked not far from our camp out on the playa. I kept waiting to catch it running, but again, never did. I HEARD it a few times; but every time I got close, the show was over. That's how it is with Burning Man. You can't do everything no matter how hard you try.

Once An got her bike fixed we headed for naked yoga. It was a bit disorganized and everyone still had their clothes on, but we found a spot under the big tent and began to relax in preparation.

It seemed like way past time for the event to start when I looked over at the other tent and saw about a hundred people moon me all at once. It was quite a sight! You'll have to take my word for it. No, use your imagination. I didn't think a pic was a good idea.

We were in the wrong tent! Not only were we now late for yoga, it looked a bit crowded. We moved on. Close but no cigar.

This may seem like a lot of failures, but there are always at least three other alternatives to make up for each such missed event. I forget where we went from here, but there's always something more to do.

Otter Pops

I had brought from Reno two cases of Otter Pops. The RV's freezer would freeze about half a case a day. It was a hot day so I began passing out the first batch. I just found people who looked hot and handed them a pop. It didn't take long to get rid of the batch.

This was about when Debbie (Tim's wife) and Ellen (Fred's wife) showed up. They quickly picked up the vibe. You can't help it.

72J Fire Pendulum

73J Mantis at Night

62J The Man at Night

This was also my night to work the bar in the club. I had brought five cases of beer (the only camp fee). This along with the drinks from the other campers were passed out all week during the dance sets. As it turns out, John was having too much fun running the bar and kept at it. So I didn't have to do much.

After a while An and I bailed and went back to Bad Idea Theater - it was near-by. They were playing a mash-up of Star Wars and a home movie where the hero kept jumping into a fight and defeating everyone he encountered. Cute sound track too.

Later we headed out to Euchronia which had now been popularly re-christened "The Belgian Waffle". We never made it that far, but I don't remember why. I just know there were other clubs and some pole dancing in there somewhere. I forget the order. It was getting late. I remember getting back to the RV and falling asleep.

Saturday, September 2nd

We didn't wake up till well after 8:00 AM. As I opened the door of the RV, I found Jeff asleep on the ground at the side of the RV. He was about fifteen feet short of his tent. He didn't quite make it home last night. At least he had on enough c lothes to stay warm. I let him sleep. He was gone when we got back from our bike ride. I guess he found his tent.

Every Toilet Tells a Story, Don't It?

Speaking of not quite making it, the porta-potty I opened Saturday Morning had the evidence of those coming up short from the night before. I just HAD to take a picture. Maybe it's worth at least a hundred words...

63 A Toilet's Story - (click for closeup)

On the left is an empty roll of toilet paper. But no problem. There's a fresh roll on the floor. Too bad it's in a puddle of piss were at least a few didn't quite make it to the urinal. One more step forward please, gentlemen.

On the right is a beer bottle that probably help create that puddle. MOOP that didn't quite make it to the trash. Leave No Trace.

And if you look closely to the left of the toilet lid, you'll recognize chunks where someone didn't quite aim their cookies well enough. But they too were close. A little more to the right next time.

Anyway, to me this picture spoke volumes about the night before. So many near misses. Or maybe some just express themselves differently than others. What? You've never painted with puke? Anyway, the potty tells the story. This too is part of Burning Man. What would SATURDAY night bring?

I don't remember what direction we took our bike ride but we ended up near Center Camp. I got these pics...

65 Golden Party Animal

66 Ninja Lennon

67 Only Pic of Rod

68 Fucking Signs - click to read

Later back at camp Dave came over again. He wanted to see this airplane from eastern Europe I'd told him about, so we all rode out to the airport where we got some REALLY good snow cones and saw the Pope (as well as the airplane).

69 Pope on the Playa

70 Wild Cat

71 Electric Shade

After lunch friends started coming by the RV. There was Ken, Paula, (another) Dave, Cindy, Jana and a whole lot of others I was introduced to, but can't remember their names. I have a problem with names.

The energy was building. It was a streaming reunion all afternoon. We talked and compared notes of the prior night and the week in general as people came and went. There was lots of movement outside. Everyone was getting ready to Burn the Man. The party and vibe were in full swing. It wouldn't slow down until the next sunrise.

That afternoon Tim, John and Jimbo converted the club from a dance venue to a chill space. The entire floor was taken up with mattresses and couches. They were getting ready for the special "couples only" party which would start right after the Burn.

Just before sunset everyone headed back to their camps to get ready. We did a quick ride out to Euchronia...

72 Euchronian Sunset

73 Party Nest

It was time to get back and cleaned up before the Man Burned. Then we went out and sat with Tim and Debbie at the front of the club.

Soon the migration began. Hundreds of people began moving out the streets onto the playa all headed for the man. In prior years I went with the crowds. This year I just watched them go. This would be a Zen Burn for me, seeing things from a more distant view. It was an amazing amount of movement, light and humanity.

It was also a beautiful night - very little wind. The week had gone well. I was relaxed and feeling great. We just watched the parade, listened to the explosions and were distracted by the lights. There was a huge cheer when the man went up in flames. There were lots of fireworks this year.

We wandered to other camps after we did our time at the door of the club. It all becomes a blur of people, lights music, dust and art. It really is one damn thing after another - all night long.

I remember stopping back by and talking to Debbie. She asked how my Burn was going. Before I could think, I said, "Best Burn Ever". So it must be true. We had a great time.

Sunday, September 3rd - Bike Jump

We slept in again the next morning. I woke up feeling great. We took our ride up the Esplanade this morning. Near Center Camp was a big crowd. We stopped to see what the entertainment was.

Some younger guys had built a bike ramp out of a pallet and were trying to jump a small mud puddle. Only a few made it. The problem was, the ramp was pretty steep and most wiped out when they hit it without getting any vertical lift at all.

But the game was dynamically evolving as we watched. New riders were hitting the ramp as others were trying to improve and make adjustments. It was typical Road-Warrior interaction. In other words - chaos.

Then another couple of guys started fighting over who got to lay down behind the ramp to be jumped over. Finally, they both did.

Just then the next bike guy hit the ramp. His bike stopped dead at the ramp but he didn't. He flew over and landed on top of the guys behind the ramp where he started humping them like a dog in heat. Then someone threw a full and opened beer can, hitting him in the back as another rider tried to jump the whole mess and crashed.

Like I say, typical Road Warrior stuff. But certainly entertaining and VERY expressive. Here's what it looked like...

74 Good Jump

75 Ready to Go

76 Rough Landing

We moved on to the next event...

Packing Up

When we got back, the camp was waking up. It was french toast time again! The mood was mellow. Everyone was comparing notes. But the vibe was changing. We were getting back into work mode. You could feel it.

After breakfast, the rest of the camp started taking the club down. I did a final ice run since Sunday was the last day they sold it. We planned to stay till late Monday.

It's hard to help with someone else's project when you're not sure of the order of execution. Tim, Fred and John took the lead. The rest of us hauled stuff to the truck. By noon Club Verboten was loaded up.

Most of the camp also left by noon. There were hugs all around as they departed. We had apple sandwiches for lunch. It was a more quiet afternoon but still some friends came by.

Things looked different. Things WERE different - more solemn, more relaxed. Tonight would be less partying, more memories. I went out for some more pictures...

77 Getting High

78 Liberty Silted In

79 Flames from the Sun

This photo is more about how the sun was hitting ONLY the brass wings of this work than the work itself. It produced the effect of flame, but then maybe that's what the artist was after.

80 Pickle Camp

81 Drumming His Heart Out

82 One With The Wind

I really enjoy fabric art and this one was especially well tuned for the wind.

83 Sand Crawler

84 Amazing Wheels

The wheels on this vehicle were hand made from other objects. It's a detail that might get lost in the rush but is amazing once you notice it. The playa looks flat. But it has SUCH depth.

85 Snake Head

86 Why Are You Here

Again, there's nothing like being here to read why people think there's nothing like being here, which is why there's nothing like being here.

87 Zen Perfection

This one captures the essence of the week. The idea is a VERY powerful tool on the playa.

88 Dan After a Hard Week

Dan came by after dinner. We rode out and watched the temple burn; but again, from a distance. Then we went to Euchronia. Well, as close as we could get. They were preparing to burn it too, but not until 11:00.

They had used the extra units of lumber as a perimeter. We sat on the lumber and watched the parade of art cars. There were still lots of people, lights and interaction but it was more subdued. Still, it was a constantly moving feast for our eyes. After a while we joined it's flow and moved on.

88R Hope in Action

88J Euchronia Burns

We were back closer to camp when Euchronia finally burned. I think it was the largest fire I've ever seem on the playa. The "Belgian Waffle" cooked to a crisp!

We got to bed early that final night. The party was finally over. I slept well.

89 Time to Pack Up

Monday, September 4th

I was feeling more back to normal and woke up just before sunrise. It was time to pack up the Radiation Shield and maybe make an early departure. If we didn't get out by ten we might as well wait until evening because of the exit traffic.

Last year I left Tuesday morning and had no problems. This time some of our camp had early flights on Tuesday. We'd have to get back by then at the latest.

90 Jimbo's Exit

Jimbo offered to stay and help me take things down, but he had a lot farther to drive than we did. He didn't need to lose a day in the exit line. I convinced him to leave at sunrise.

91 Drop the Tarps

Swirl was still on duty at the medical camp so I started dropping the tarps by myself. The work went fast. An came out and started catching the bungees. I had all the tarps down within 40 minutes. This new design worked even better for tear down than it did for construction. I took a break for breakfast.

92 Drop the Ribs

Swirl showed up just in time to take the ribs down. That was completed in another 20 minutes. This was going much quicker than I had thought. But a surprise was in store.

Last year the ribs came apart easily and the process was done in only a few minutes. This year it didn't work. It didn't work at all. I hammered until I broke my adapter tool, yet NONE of the ribs came apart. I had another tool, but this was the wrong approach. The storm had apparently jammed the segments together so hard I couldn't bang them apart with normal hammer forces.

We were thinking about cutting them with a hacksaw when Swirl suggested pulling them apart with the motor-home. It was worth a try.

Swirl used something he called a timber knot which he tied to one end of a rib and the other end to the base of one of a fence post. He tied another to the other end of the rib to the hitch of the RV and I drove slowly away. I didn't think we'd get traction on PVC. I figured the rope would just slip. But I was wrong. With the right knot the rope held. The ribs popped apart!

The method worked well, but it took quite a while to rig and pop all fifteen pieces. Still, it was a great example of adapting to the conditions and discovering new techniques. It's part of what makes Burning Man fun. We make it up as we go along. Swirl gets a gold star.

Unfortunately, by the time we packed up all the gear it was well after ten. The line out was already backed up almost to our camp and we were three miles from the highway. Rangers were reporting four hours to move those three miles. It made more sense to relax in the shade of the RV than sitting in a dusty hot line all day. So we got the chairs back out and watched Black Rock City disappear. An and I went for another bike ride...

93 The Reaper

This was the most dramatic costume I saw all week. I was also impressed with the dedication to be out showing it off Monday morning.

94 Face Time

95 Art of Art

96 Yet One More Dragon

97 Dust Art

98 Drop The Ladder

This was the first time I saw IT with it's ladder down. We climbed up to look around. A couple were already up there playing guitar and chanting. The artist started deconstruction just as we climbed down. IT too, was going home.

Cooling Our Heels

Back at camp, An fixed sandwiches for everyone. We had lunch in the shade of the RV. Fyre, Swirl and Kat all took a nap. An went riding around. I watched the Burners get in line to exit.

The Perfect Couple

As I'm enjoying the shade of the RV, an attractive young couple with matching red umbrellas caught my eye. They were both topless and seem to not have a care in the world as they walk along the Esplanade.

All of a sudden she stops; but the contents of her stomach does not. I've never seen such a vivid eruption from a human mouth. The torrent flies almost straight out before she could turn her head down. It was as if she weren't expecting it. Either was he. He almost walked into it, jumping back just in time.

In a second she's bent over completing her mess on the playa. He's rubbing her neck in sympathy. I don't know about you, but this is not what I expected from this perfect couple strolling on the Esplanade. Maybe Saturday night but NOT Monday afternoon.

Being topless, she has no extra clothing so she wipes her mouth on her bare arm. As she stands up, he leans in and gives her a kiss. OK, I don't think it was on the lips, but it was very close and she seemed a bit shy to accept it.

Such devotion was also a surprise. Burning Man is full of the unexpected. It makes you smile all week. And then some. They were gone when I came out of the RV with a paper towel.

Not Quite Done Partying

About this time I realized I had one last batch of Otter Pops to get rid of, so I did another walk about. It wouldn't take long. It was getting hot.

The first ones to notice was a guy sitting backwards on the handle-bar of his bike pedaling forward - strange I know; but not here.

His girlfriend sat on the seat in the normal way. There are a lot of ways to ride a bike and many of them are creative at Burning Man. I almost felt bad when he had to hop down to get their Otter Pops. They thanked me and then kept going in this strange configuration.

Just when I thought Burning Man was over, I saw a fairly bizarre sight. I'm not sure if they had already packed their tent or what, but a woman had a naked guy tied to a rack right out on the street.

99 Sweet Torture

Someone had dumped a lot of water and there was a big mud hole next to the rack. She was taking the mud and rubbing all over this guy. And I DO mean ALL over. Another guy was watching the process. Or was he waiting his turn?

I offered them all Otter Pops. She took one and began teasing the tied up guy. I guess not everyone was ready to get back to the default world. Some just party on. And on. And on.


Near sunset I rode out toward the gate and found more than half the line was gone. It was time for us to go too. We packed up and left at 7:05.

It was still slow going. We stopped every few minutes. But even the exit line was entertaining. There were three lines going out. We were on the left. Some people in the middle were pushing a small sports car up the line. Someone got a rope and the car in front began towing it. The gift economy at work one more time. I'm not sure what they did when they got to the highway.

Other people were running around with squirt guns up and down the line. About an hour later Kat had to go pee. Since we had the PVC in the hallway, the bathroom door was blocked. I suggested the playa. It was almost dark.

She hopped out and ran ahead. Everyone in line watched. And I do mean EVERYONE. What else was there to do? Entertainment's where you find it. And when you gotta go, you gotta go.

We finally got to the highway at 8:37 and Empire by nine. After that the traffic wasn't bad. We got back to Reno just after midnight.

Best Burn Ever

It had been a great Burn. No, it had been the Best Burn Ever!

OK. It wasn't as exciting as my first year. And I didn't have as much interaction with my art as the second year.

But I also didn't have the loss of my art or the nasty wind conditions of my third year, nor the structure frustration of my forth year.

And True. I didn't watch The Man, The Temple or even Euchronia burn. At least not up close. I certainly didn't see ANY Critical Tits bounce.

But I DID have time to explore a wealth of interesting art in a relaxed fashion. I've become a veteran of the playa. I'm getting good at Burning Man.

I took over 300 pictures most of which were unique. You only get to see 99. And I did so many things I don't have time to write about. But this is a start. It'll have to do for now. If you want more, you'll just have to be there.

My structure worked well, I stayed healthy and I had a fantastic time with a great bunch of people.

THAT makes it the Best Burn Ever!

Thanks to everyone that made it so.

It's been more than two weeks since I got home and I'm still literally dreaming about the playa each night. There's a local decompression party tonight. Tim and I are already making plans for an art car. I hope to see you at Burning Man next year.

If you've read this far, please take time to comment below or send me an email. I would REALLY like to know what you think.

sudden.net (at) gmail.com

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