If you're not familiar with Burning Man it isn't just any festival, it's actually the largest temporary city in the world. Every year approximately 60,000 people come together building up and tearing down a community in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
The most amazing part of this journey was actually everything it took to get there. It took a lot of resilience and a little help. It started when I got a ticket on my own and being a 30 hour drive from Winnipeg (where I was living at the time) I thought it would be better and cheaper to find other people to come along on the trip as well. Not knowing anyone who was going I put out the word and created some advertisements looking for anyone else who was going and might want to plan together. My efforts worked and I found two other girls who had single tickets looking for the same solution so we met up and planned to go together. That was taken care of and it put a lot of stress out of my mind. The next task was going to be figuring out the vehicle situation.. I drove an old car and hoped we would have another option, but sadly when it came down to it my old car was all we had between us so that is what we decided to take.
Two days before our departure is where things start to get interesting… I wake up in the morning and the first thing I find is that one of my windows has been smashed. So quickly I start texting some of the people I know and make a plan to get this figured out asap. The same day I head over to a scrap yard and through a good friend meet a new stranger there who not only helps me find the correct window but also helps me install it. Success! I’ve gotten past one hurtle. The next is making sure my vehicle is ready to go and get the oil changed… and I come to find out not only is it not ready to go but unless I fix or replace a piece I am at risk of have my axle fall right off if I get any dust inside. Which isn’t a good sign when you are driving into the desert.
One day before departure I call up my dad and beg for a little help.. a lot of help. So late into the evening I meet with him and he does a patch job for me as we haven’t been able to find a shop with a new part on hand. At the end of the night it is ready to go.
Travel Day One
Nothing too eventful on day one, a long day of driving and we end up sleeping at a gas station in our vehicle for a few hours.
Travel Day Two
After spending several hours on the road with little to no breaks it is getting pretty late and I see a sign for Pocatello, Idaho. Thinking we might not see a city or town for a while I ask the girls if they want to stop and find something to do on this lovely Saturday night. We drive into town, head to the one street with any bars and then we head to the gay bar. It is packed with people celebrating their yearly Pride event. So we party with the gays and the queens most of the night, sleep for a while before heading out again on the last leg of our trip.
Travel Day Three
We arrive late at night at the last stop before the event itself. We see the shops and make sure we have everything we need, fill up our water jugs and before the sun rises join the other cars queuing up to get in. In the darkness just before the sunrise you can see an endless line of tail lights in front of your and headlights behind you. You can really begin to feel the excitement!
Arriving at Burning Man for the first time
Burning Man is a very special event. Anyone who goes must abide by the platforms set by the event which include leaving no trace that you are there (leaving no impact on the land), there is no money it is only trading and gifting, etc. For most people who attend this is a euphoric place, somewhere that feels like your ideals are alive and somewhere that feels like home. So everyone uses the traditional greeting of "welcome home" when you cross paths. When you go to Burning Man for the first time at the gate the tradition is to make a sand angel, so we all hopped out of our car and made our mark! You also receive a booklet with lots of helpful information about events happening, where they happen and when. There are lots of unique camps to visit, there are camps that are setup as bars where you can get drinks and some setup to serve food. I specifically remember one camp was all about spaghetti and had dedicated times when they gave away spaghetti, all you had to do was bring a plate or bowl to collect. There were huge music camps where there was music at all hours of the night and everything you needed to know to enjoy your week was in your guide book. If you're not part of a dedicated camp or group like us we had to drive around until we found a spot available to park and setup our tent. Once you're parked you are not supposed to use your vehicle again until you leave. There are permits available for what they call "art cars" or "mutant vehicles" and these are decorated, often with a theme and are solar powered. If you want to take a look at some of the best from a more recent year (2019) you can check them out HERE.
Spending a week in the desert
Burning Man is a week like you've never experienced before. It is part festival, part desert survival and part radical community experiment and part living art exhibit. There are some fun traditions like tutu Tuesday where everyone throws on a tutu and enjoys life. There are popular bar spots to visit like the Duck Pond camp. There was a camp called Shadyville that provided shade, grass and a spot to lounge and escape the heat. Speaking of heat it's important to know that it gets very very hot during the day and very cold at night. You can get around by mutant vehicle, on foot or on a bicycle. If you bring a bike with you you'll want to make sure you have proper tires on it to get around on the sand. You'll need to have eye and mouth coverings on you in case of sand storms, they can make it really difficult to see and impossible to breathe without a mouth full of sand. Costumes and fun attire are encouraged and there is no real daytime vs nighttime hours, you basically just do whatever you want, anytime you want. If you do plan to go to a Burning Man event I recommend doing lots of research and prepare to visit. This is the type of event that requires an open mind, positivity, openness and inclusion. This is place of love, joy, harmony and togetherness.
The fun is just getting started when the sun goes down. Then you'll see the art really come alive with mutant cars lighting up with a new life, art and games that feature fire as well as music shows. At a glance you would never guess it's all solar powered and located in the middle of the desert.
And when you stay up all night you get to witness the most amazing sunrises.
Saturday Night + Burning the Man
On the Saturday evening is when the man burns! All of the artwork on the Playa gets burned with the highlight being the burning of the man. Burning of the art represents releasing it back into the universe, giving the creativity back into the world to be captured by someone new.
The temple is a sacred place at Burning Man. It is a place you can go to reflect, remember those who you've lost, connect with your spirituality and give art to be burned on Sunday with the temple. I brought with me a piece of art that symbolizes my eyes and heart opening to my creativity and allowing it a large roll in my life. The year we went the temple was an incredible design with intricate patterns and designs. Unfortunately we didn't stay for the burning of the temple and instead got out ahead of traffic to start the long journey home. But I know that my offering released my creativity back into the universe and truly believe that it helped me manifest even more creativity in my life.