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Burning Man
I'm probably going to Burning Man this summer. Anyone want to come, or is anyone going already?

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I (assume I can find the money somewhere and my car does not die on me and other transportation cannot be arranged) will be going this year. I went last year with a few friends from Seattle, and seem to be stuck (because nobody else was doing it) organizing the trip for the group this year.

I saw your pictures of setting up the tent and dome; pretty cool. How did you find it last year? If I do go it would fall on me to organize my group, too, so it'd be good to have a bit to go on from someone I actually know and who's been there, rather than websurfing up third-party answers.

Did you go for the full week, and would you recommend it for that long? There's mention of pervasive sandstorms/thunderstorms; were those a nuisance, a bit hazardous, or simply not present? I suppose I envision being unable to avoid a dust devil or some such. How was security/anal retentiveness of organizers (as I've heard a few negative things in this regard, though by and large it seems low)? How crowded/excited (and resultantly hazardous, for me) is it? And finally the last in my tide of was it from a roughing-it standpoint: sleeping, outhouses, bathing, etc?

I had an ambivalent experience - mostly strongly positive, but some fairly strong negative. But I think the negative was mostly of just 'enh, that is not for me' or just my interpretation of attitudes. I am not sure I can really elaborate more than that, even though I have tried. But it was mostly good.

I seem to have fallen into the place of being the main organizer for our group this year, so have some insight into that sort of stuff (as I start doing it). Would you (and other people come with you - anyone I know?) have any interest in possibly joining in our camp?

I would recommend going for the whole week. It costs you nothing more in terms of admission, there is lots to do, and the atmosphere at the beginning and very end (the day after the main burn) are very different from the atmosphere at the peak (and in my opinion, better - the people there are less the party sort and more those invested in the idea of Burning Man).

Sandstorms are, in my experience, mostly just a nuisance. Basically, you need to make sure stuff will not get blown away and have goggles with you (although I managed to get by without them - the lens fell out of mine a day or two in without me realizing it; but then I am a big one for just toughing through things like that and it was quite annoying when it was blowing hard). It only got to really stormy conditions about twice last year. It rained briefly once last year, but no storms. But from what people tell me, actual storms are a possibility, so be prepared I guess. I do not think there is any actual physical danger from sand except if maybe you got so drunk/stoned/otherwise-out-of-it that you wandered off onto the open playa and fell unconscious. So, no. Dust devils are more of "Ooh, look there! Neat!" sort of thing than an actual hazard.

The overall organizers of the event were very low-key. Our group never had any problems with any official people. I never heard any negative remarks either.

Overall, it is not very crowded. Some areas get quite crowded at certain times - the Man on the night of the burn, most of the Esplanade on the night of the Burn (when the burn the name-sake statue of 'the Man'), some other high traffic places. But crowds are easy to avoid if you do not want to deal with them, except for maybe on the night of the Burn. If you want crowds and excitement, you can find it. If you do not, you can avoid it. That pretty much is a general rule for the whole of Burning Man - if you want it you can get it, but you don't have to have it (beyond, say, sand and lack of water and the sun which are all obligatory).

The roughing it stuff can be something of a trouble. Mostly thought, one just needs to be prepared. Bring more than you will need and you should be fine. Even if you do not have what you need, you can find what you need - people are very generous and helpful. But then I am used to do lots of backpacking and roughing it in the wilderness, so I might be underestimating it.

You will want a tent to sleep in (and possibly siesta in). They provide port-a-potties, which are fairly gross, but useable. The toilets (and the general infastructure) are essentially the only service provided, though - one must bring one's own water, food, shelter, etc. other than that. Bathing is dealt with in various ways, but mostly just either periodic sponge-baths or just foregoing it for a week. It is dry enough and the terrain monotonous enough (essentially, it is a solid plain of dust - so you get dusty, but you cannot really get dirty beyond that) that people do not really stink much if they do not bath. And most of your time is spent out of doors, so it does not matter as much.

I would love to join your camp! There may indeed be people you know; right now I have only posted this on LJ and mentioned it to a friend from Synergy and Melissa F. I'll send out a larger email in a week or so.

Thanks for all the information; it all seems quite promising. I am not used to hiking/camping, but I am fairly nomadic, so that should be okay. The one issue that remains large in my mind is that I've got a bad back (the entire thing is metal, almost), and sleeping on the desert floor would kill it. I saw in your pictures that you brought mattresses, so I just need to find a friend down here that has a truck or van that can carry one, or get one that inflates by pump. Actually, both of those ideas would work, just thinking aloud...:)

So yes, sounds quite good. I'll keep you informed about who might be coming from my group. Can you put up a few more pictures from your trip? I'd love to see them!

Thanks for all the help!

Ooh, ooh, Melissa!

Hmm... yes, I am sure something involving more comfortable sleeping arrangements could be determined. I suspect an inflatable air mattress would be the most practical fix. We brought a few mattresses that were found in/around dumpsters in here in Seattle and that was just 'appropriated'. We might or might not still have those, and/or be able to find more.

I am planning on putting up a lot more pictures. I took something like 300+ pictures, and am planning on posting probably at least 200 of them. So eventually I will probably do three or four more posts. It just is a question of the 'eventually'.

Definitely keep me informed. We are going to apply for a theme camp, and will probably submit our questionnaire in a day or two. However, if you end up bring some people along and joining up with us, it is a fairly simple matter to contact the Burning Man people and essentially say, "Plan's changed, mates. We have X more people and Y more cars and need Z more space now. Can you accommodate us?" When I send in the questionnaire, I will email you with our general idea so you can get an idea of the camp. We are essentially going for a 'story-telling' theme - holding several get-togethers to just tell stories, either reading them, telling them from memory, composing them, whatever.

The storytelling theme camp sounds wonderful. As far as setup/cars go, are the cars able to drive out of the camp, if needs be? Or, once we set up, would the cars essentially be stuck there by the campgrounds of other groups? I'm wondering primarily because I may not be able to take the full week off, and may come late or leave early.

As I understand it, cars are immobile (unless they are a register Mutant Vehicle, which they will not be) once they get into camp. They just sit there, not moving, for the duration of your stay. However, I think if you are leaving early, it is okay to drive your vehicle off when you leave - I do not think there are specific 'You cannot drive before this time' limitations, just the limitation that you cannot drive your vehicles beyond bringing them to the campsite and leaving the campsite. But you should probably check the Burning Man website for that specific information.

I received a relatively mild response from everyone, owing partly to other engagements (mainly jobs) and the cost, so I guess I won't be joining you this year. It does seem that there are many people that want to plan for it and do it next year, but I think with it needing a full week off, I let everyone know a little short-notice for 2005. Anywho, have a wonderful time there, and I'll see you in the fall!

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