Last Monday, Burning Man 2014 came to a close for me. I was sad to leave this new home of mine, but glad to get back to greener pastures (literally, it was a white desert out there and getting back to green Oregon was so great!). My experience of the event was very positive and left me wanting more. I’m not going to go into details about all of my experiences at Burning Man, however I will give some highlights and incites (plus some pretty pictures).
I left Portland Saturday morning with Jeffrey. We started our journey venturing to Government Camp of Mt. Hood for breakfast (biscuits and gravy with a donut). From Hood, we got onto Highway 97 which took us through Bend for a beer stop at 10 Barrel, on to Klamath Falls to get the rest of supplies and meet with Ellie and Shawn, and finally to Alturas where we slept for the night.
The following day we gassed up, filled out water tanks, and traveled to Black Rock City!
The journey from Gerlach to BRC was slow as this was the only road into BRC. It was a long line of cars as we made our way down the long road, however, the AC worked in Jeffrey’s car, so no complaints. Erin and Minh waited for us on the side of the road before driving onto the playa (the desert land). Our three cars then ventured forth through the lanes to the gates of Burning Man. Since nobody in Shawn’s car needed a ticket from will-call, they went to camp while Erin, Minh, Jeffrey, and I went to the will-call line.
The line took a couple hours to get through and it was very hot outside, though thankfully, I was able to move up a number of places in line due to some really sweet peeps. Once our tickets were in hand, we drove to the entrance of Burning Man itself where there were greeters welcoming us to finally being ‘home’!
A tradition for new comers is to get covered in the playa, so I got on the ground and rolled around. What a great way to arrive!
Jeffrey and I then drove through the growing BRC (still being setup) to our camp at 7:00 and Cinnamon, Time Ninja Syndicate!
First Experience On The Playa
After setting up camp at TNS, I went out with Jeffrey and a number of others to check out this place. We went straight from our camp to Esplanade (the last street before the center of the playa). Once arriving here, I was blown away by how large this place already had become. So much construction still going on, with so much already completed. We made our way past a number of art installations to the man itself. The area under the man wasn’t open yet, so we left the area to explore this vast place. There were art installations as far as the eye could see and some which drew us to them.
The largest of the staples (The Man and the Temple) was the piece known as ‘Embrace’. This was a four story (78 feet tall) figure of two people in an embrace. They were said to not have genders, but people put the taller, the Alpha, as the male and the smaller, the Omega, as the woman. This was one of my favorite art pieces, as I was able to walk through the entire structure going up four stories into the Alpha, and three of the Omega. I loved that they were connected through a tunnel which I was able to get through. Within each of the different figures was a large heart. The Alpha heart was made in Vancouver, Canada, where as the Omega was built in Portland, Oregon. Pretty awesome to know that my city had a hand in this beautiful creation. Each heart was different. The Alpha heart moved in an out using gears, where as the Omega heart became brighter the more people were touching it’s outside. Incredibly moving. The night I went in with my camp mates, we were able to meet one of the people who created it and see how happy she was seeing everyone admire her creation.
Once the day turned into night, I was even more blown away as the place shined with lights coming from every direction and of every color. There was also music and sounds coming from every other camp and “art car” as they made their way around.
To keep things short, I was absolutely blown away.
My days consisted of trying to sleep in (the sun on my tent made things very hot inside), making breakfast or roaming the streets of the city for handouts, venturing with my camp mates or other people I ran into on the way, relaxing, napping, laying on my hammock, going to workshops, playing games, bowling, skating, biking everywhere, and more. This place has so much going on. The hardest realization I had was that I didn’t have to do everything.
Some of the most memorable day trips I had was going to the Faux Mirage camp for their “foam wash”. This was something my bud Patrick told me about and was so glad I was able to experience. I went over with him and a number of other friends to this dome which was covered. After waiting quite a while in line, we got into the dome entrance where we stripped down, and danced to music before going through “the wash”. We went up stairs to a glass cage that fit around forty people. Once inside, we were sprayed down with foam (Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Wash). We helped wash each other down as we only had a little bit of time before getting our rinsing. About thirty seconds after being foamed up, we were hosed down with cold water. It was amazing. After spending a number of days only using wet naps to clean with, this was breathtaking. We finished up, got back into the main area, danced until we were mostly dry, and did it all over again. Sooooooooo fantastic!
There were so many memories that I had on top of this that were great, but this was so refreshing that it stands out the most.
Nights at Burning Man were loud, bright, and full of exciting things to do. So many DJs playing at every other camp, fire being blasted above every other contraption, and things to climb on everywhere. As someone with ADHD, this place was both the most amazing place ever at night, and my living hell. Every where you turned there was something going on. It was one of those places where you just start going in a direction that looks fun, and you’ll find something exciting.
Some of my favorite things here were the “art cars” being lit up, blaring tunes, and going all over the city. Outside of a bike, they’re the best way to get around this place. They have a max speed of 5 miles an hour , so hopping on one and off the other is a breeze. These things ranged from disco fishes, to moving stripper poles, space ships, pac-man, Converse shoes, telephones, flame-throwing scorpions and octopuses, to three story yachts! They were all so incredible. The octopus, El Pulpo Mecanico, and the yacht, the Christina, were my favorites.
The nights were long and to be honest, continued until the party ended, which if you really wanted to, could have been all day and all night long.
Some of the best times I had at Burning Man were the burns. Three of them stood out the most for me. Embrace, The Man, and The Temple.
Embrace burned on Friday morning. I was so happy to see this structure burn as it was absolutely incredible to watch it go down, however, it was so sad to see such a beautiful piece of art be removed from this planet. The number of hours that went into building this were plenty and to know that it is no longer around is pretty wild and somewhat hard to comprehend. Thankfully, the hearts were removed and returned to their cities.
The Man burned Saturday night. Our camp all went over together to a friend’s art installation where we admired from afar the burning of the man. Though while it was about to start, I moved forward with MFD closer in so that we could see it more up close. The burn started with fireworks which were lit off throughout the burn. After it was caught on fire, we all sat around in amazement as it burned. It took quite a while, however I stayed until it fell. The burning of the man was the start to one of the biggest party nights we had.
Our camp, though small, had quite the drawing of the crowd with our awesome tunes put on by James, Patrick, and Kitte. They rocked this place. The night for me didn’t end until the following day when I saw the sunrise, rode out to the airport, and was flown around Black Rock City.
The final burn that stood out to me was The Temple of Grace. This place was finished being built in the middle of the week, and it was simply beautiful. It’s such a moving place also as so many use it as a way to say goodbye to lost ones. I saw so many pictures of friends, pets, family, and iconic celebrities (Robin Williams). To see this place of beauty burn was quite moving. It makes me think of all that I’ve lost in my life, but reminds me of what I have to look forward to come.
Leaving Burning Man was exhausting and quite sad. In the beginning of the week, Patrick and others kept saying things like “and it’s only Tuesday”, but as the days went on and closer to Sunday, it stopped being said and instead became “it’s already Friday” said with grief. The party still carried on through the days until Monday morning where we began packing up and moving out.
Our camp took until just before sundown to take apart, pack up, and clean. Jeffrey and I were one of the last cars out, and even though we were all expecting a long exodus, it went very smooth. In fact, Jeffrey and I didn’t have to stop once during the departure. Overall, leaving took around thirty minutes (traffic).
Once gone, we made our journey back home. We stopped for the night in Klamath Falls where we camped a night, then ended up in the beautiful Umpqua River area where we spent a couple nights relaxing in the hot springs with a number of others from our camp. It was excellent. We finally arrived home Thursday evening.
I’m not sure what impact Burning Man will have on this year, though I’m pretty sure it’ll be positive. To see so much happen and what can be built in one week is incredible, and will forever be a flame under me reminding me that I too can do great things if I make the effort.
The biggest influence I received from Burning Man, would be to cherish the friends I have and keep working towards the goals I want to accomplish.
If all works out, I’ll be back to the sand once again next year!
Some Other Pictures and Videos
A fly over using a quadracopter (small helicopter)