A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Burning Man

Normally at this time of the year I would be making final preparations for departure to Burning Man. This year I am not going. After 15 years I feel I need a break. Well, really the truth of the matter is I feel as I am done with it. When I find myself sitting there at camp in Black Rock City thinking “What am I doing here?” that is a pretty clear sign it is time to pull the plug on the event.

I discovered Burning Man in 1995. That is a story in itself. Back then around 3000 people were in attendance. The last couple of years the population pushed 50,000. For me it isn’t so much the numbers as it is the logistics of getting into and out of the event that have deterred me the most. Now I liken it to going to the airport. You need to arrive 3 to 4 hours ahead of time before you past through the gate which officially opens at midnight the Sunday before the Burn. It really doesn’t matter when you arrive, daytime, nighttime, the next day or after, count on crawling along in line for hours before you’re in. Picture scenes of the border crossing at Tijuana coming back into the U.S. and you have a good idea what it is like. Eight or so lanes backed up for a couple of miles. Once at the gate you’re subjected to searches just like at the airport or border, minus the metal detectors. The object of the search is for illegals – your friends you are trying to smuggle in who have no ticket.

As the night of the Burn approaches these last few years I have found myself dreading the Exodus, what leaving Black Rock City is referred to. Thousands of cars, buses, Rv’s all trying to leave the Playa on four lanes that narrow down to three, then two and finally the one single lane for access onto the two lane desert highway that heads south towards I-80, 80 miles away. It doesn’t matter if you leave before the Man burns or two days after, you will be in the thick of it. I’ve tried every means possible to avoid the messy mass exodus. Last year I thought I would be real smart and leave the afternoon of the Burn, camp up on the ridge overlooking the Playa and watch all the madness high up from a distance. I would then get up early in the morning and head for home missing the insanity. Ha! I got caught in the traffic jam backed up for ten miles on Hwy 447 leading into the little town of Gerlach.

The event itself is like no other and I will truly miss the friends I’ve made over the years, the people, the costumes, the music, the carnival-like atmosphere and most of all the art which is over the top. I will miss the sunrises when the city slowly comes to life, the sunsets when everyone is gearing up for a night of fun and silliness. I’ll miss the wind, the dust, the heat and the cold, whatever the Black Rock Desert will throw at you. I have a lot great memories of the past Burns and am thankful for that. I will continue to visit the Black Rock Desert Playa every year, just not during Burning Man week.

Looking through pictures to place here I found I have so many that I will add some to the blog thoughout the next few days. Stay tuned...

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