Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burning Man part 1 (prologue)

I just realized I've failed to write a report on one of my biggest adventures from last year. Beyond all the time spent on the bike, spent chasing my daughter, and just spent in general, I accepted the invite from our LA friends to attend my first Burning Man. I'd heard them go on and on about it for years and had even managed to hear a little about this wild party in the dessert before I even knew them.

They through the guantlet down towards the end of 2006 and the plan was for both my wife and I to attend. I approached the day that tickets went on sale with some aniticipatory nervousness and at the prescribed time clicked on "buy tickets". I suddenly was propelled into a queu of ticket buyers several thousand people long. Damn, I thought to myself, how popular is this thing?! An hour or so later, I was able to finalize the transaction and now with my credit card several hundred dollars heavier, the tickets would soon be on their way.

After the tickets showed up, they were carefully tucked away for later in the summer and for the most part forgotten. Every few weeks or so, Freddy would shoot me an email with some weird characteristic about Burning Man or gently prodding to make sure we were still coming. As spring turned to early summer, we (my wife) decided that Burning Man probably wasn't going to be her thing and that our daughter wasn't going to be ready to be left in the care of grandparents for that much time. Alas, it was now solely up to me to make our clan proud.

As the summer progressed and the event drew near, plans were laid of how this adventure would go. I'd fly into LA a day before our friend's departure, take a few supplies with me, and purchase the rest in a mad rush before we left. Knowing our friend's propensity for throwing things together mostly at the last minute, I pretty much expected organized chaos in getting ready to go. Alas, I was not disappointed...

The plan was for me to drive their old Toyota pickup filled to the brim with supplies behind them in the minivan all the way to the middle of nowhere. At least I was to have an attractive driving companion...

Though, even her smiling face doesn't do much for staring at the ass end of a minivan for 10 odd hours. I tell you, that picture sure brings a whole new meaning to the term "nut swinging"

A mental note to self made along the way, "Do not buy from"

So after many hours in the car, we were finally rewarded with our first sighting of what would become our wayward home for the next week.

The realization was finally setting in. I'd be in the middle of the desert for a week with no phone, no electricity, and no running water. Sure there were generators, portable showers, and port-o-potties, but EVERYTHING there had to be brought in and taken out. This is a leave no trace event, so nothing is left as a permanent structure and no trash receptacles are provided. Now we were treated to 2 hours of crawling through the check in line. I'm sure some of you are wondering just how big is this thing. "Official" attendance topped out somewhere around 43,000 at the end of the week this year, but it would be suggested that closer to 50,000 people were actually in attendance. My guess is that the event will soon top out at 50,000 "official" attendees and not be allowed to go any larger due to Bureau of Land Management regulations that change to the extreme once that number is eclipsed.

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