The wrap-up

Trip Start Jul 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Well, today we are still cleaning and putting stuff away.  It's a big job.

Oh, and here's the problem with this blog...there is no way to describe everything that we saw and experienced.  The pictures don't begin to do the vastness and variety justice.  We have barely any pictures from any of the theme camps (I should have taken one of the "Barbie Death Camp")

As for the Burning Man experience:

We're unanimous that it was amazing.  More vast, more fire, more art, more everything than we expected.

We're split on returning to the Playa.  Vinny's a convert and wants to go next year.  Joe says he can see going again, but maybe not for the entire week.  And me....well, I'm glad I went, but I don't think I'll ever go again.  The heat and dust was too much for me.

Everyone's experience at Burning Man is different.  I saw the event completely differently than most people because I worked for the organization, saw the long-term planning, the amazing dedication and the heroic effort it takes to build the event.  And I got to plug my vehicle into the company power grid (a perq that CANNOT be undervalued and I will be eternally grateful for!)

I had the partial use of a golf cart to get around.  To compensate for this good fortune, I always made an effort to pick up someone headed the same direction I was, particularly if they looked like they needed help (a wrapped ankle, carrying a heavy load, or just looking hot and tired).  I met a lot of people and chatted about their Burning Man experience.

People in the cafe were open to chatting about a wide variety of topics...or just sitting quietly together.

On the other hand....many theme camps seemed set up to keep people out, not to welcome them in.  Some were inviting...but many lined the road with their motorhomes and kept their communal space private.

And it was almost impossible to get a ride on an art car/bus.  We never were able to get on one.  Maybe we didn't try hard enough, but they seemed pretty clubby and you seemed to need to know someone.  No one ever spontaneously offered.

Burners come in all ages, but there does seem to be a little ageism.  Some of the older folk in the cafe expressed a feeling of exclusion.  I suspect that being a part of a theme camp or group camping situation made a big difference in ones feeling of belonging vs. isolation.

It was interesting that some people seemed to treat the week at Burning Man as a trip to a nudist colony.  Some as a week long fashion show with 2-3 clothing changes per day.  Some as one long orgy.  Some as one long bender (on drugs and/or alcohol).  Some as a spiritual retreat.  Some as an art photography experience.

And that is the strength of Burning Man:  you can have whatever experience you choose to have at Burning Man if you make a little effort.  You can bond with your friends.  You can make new friends.  You can be yourself.  Or be someone else.

In a temporary town, in the middle of nowhere, between 40,000 and 50,000 people of all ages and backgrounds lived in relative harmony offering each other occasional kindness. 

And if nothing else is taken off the Playa, I hope that each and every one of them remembers that they can do the same off the Playa, too. 

And even though I don't ever plan to do it again, I'm VERY glad that I went. 

(Thank you, Kyle, for convincing I seem hipper now?)

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The author: Lauri on

OK, so in 2010, the Sunday before Burning Man opened, Joe and I joked about it not being too late to go to Burning Man.

Monday morning (hours after the gates had opened) we looked at each other and said "Let's go!"

Tuesday morning I was on looking for a bike (we only kept one from 2009...the other was trashed) and found a guy who had already put a trailer on the Playa for a friend, but the friend ended up not being able to make it, so it was for rent ...with swamp cooler and shower! I called and said I'd take it and bring cash oon Wednesday evening.

Wednesday morning while Joe was on a conference call I loaded the SUV, bought a cheap bike and by noon we were on our way to dark we'd tossed our clothes in the trailer and headed out with our bikes onto the Playa at Burning Man.

The rest of the week I kept seeing people from BMHQ who would laugh and make me admit I was wrong about never going to Burning Man again.

In 2010, the weather was cooler, the dust storms were much less frequent (possibly because there was a little rain on Monday), and we were much more mentally prepared. We had a great time. ( I enjoyed having an indoor shower.) And we stayed through the Temple Burn on Sunday night (which truly was an amazing experience and totally different from the Man burn.)

Will I go again? Never say never.

A word of warning: If you've never been to Burning Man, it probably isn't feasible to pack and go with a day and a half's notice. We had the advantage of being frequent campers (with all that stuff prepacked), having clothing in a box almost untouched from BMan the previous year, and having a good packing list that we could edit down based on our changed situation (no need for the evap system and outdoor shower, for example).

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