The Road to Black Rock City

Here are some photos from my fourth trip to Black Rock City, the site of Burning Man. You can see some other photos on my 2002 page, and if you don't have too much of a clue of what Burning Man is (a hard concept to explain), have a look at the official website.

With three previous trips under my belt, I have create a routine for getting to and from the event. My first year, this was particularly difficult, the logistics of travelling from New York to the Northern Nevada desert are daunting.

It is possible to camp at Burning Man, though this never struck me as an attractive option. Many of the participants are from Northern California or other places that make it possible to drive, so they load up their cars with a bunch of household supplies, a tent and a sleeping bag and delude themselves into thinking they are "camping" (the ability of Californians to delude themselves is well documented). Coming from New York, this is a non-starter; even if you had a sleeping bag and a tent -- and who would waste the valuable closet space? --  you'd have to drag them on an airplane, arrange for transportation from Reno or further away, buy and lug a week or more of supplies, manage your trash and bring it back with you until you could find someplace to dump it. All for the dubious pleasure of sleeping on the ground in the desert? No thanks.

So I rent a recreational vehicle. Guided by the Burning Man website and some other helpful postings, I haveLV View used El Monte each year, and I am very satisified with this company's service. They don't have an operation in Reno, so if you want to use them, you have a choice of renting in Oakland, Phoenix or Las Vegas.

The last two years, I opted for Vegas, which makes the trip to and from almost as much fun as Burning Man itself. I flew into Vegas on a Friday night and stayed at the Excalibur, picking up the RV on Saturday. It was basically the same model as last year, but a little larger since I took a friend this year. Here LV View is a view from the hotel room, looking south at the airport and the Luxor and Mandaly Bay hotels. For some of my female friends, I also took a shot of an ad for the hotel's entertainment.

Vegas is always fun, even if you don't spend much time at the gaming tables, and you can do some preliminary shopping there. If you begin your trip in Sin City rather than San Francisco, you get the added benefit of an easy drive through the desert, good for the mind and body as you acclimate to the desert.

We loved the Old West feel of the road as we slowly approached Black Rock Country.

This funky  sign is attached to a
 functioning motel.

A caravan of RVs heads
toward Black Rock City.

Not all who wander are lost. Some
 are at the gate of Black Rock City

Burning Man has a theme every year; 2003's was Beyond Belief. So there was a lot of religious and pseudo-religious imagery among the art exhibits on the playa, the dry (in the  summer) lakebed on which Black Rock City is built.

Crystal Cross
This cross, made of shattered glass, was simple yet elegant.
Temple The Temple of Honor, one of a series of temples at Burning Man by the artist David Best. detail Unlike his works of the past three years, this one was made of paper, not leftover parts of dinosaur kits. Here is what it looked like from the inside.
This yurt was pleasant to visit, providing a bit of shade and a space for contemplation.

The Burning Man (Bernie, to the cognoscenti) was built on a neo-Mayan  temple this year.

Besides the Beyond Belief theme, there were plenty of things to see on the playa. I worked at the newspaper, the Black Rock Gazette, most nights, so my photos this year are all daylight shots.

The Cafe at Center Camp. Always open, one of the few places you can spend money (on coffee and a few other drinks) this is the Times Square of Black Rock City.
This looked like fun, though it was just a bunch of concrete slabs hanging from bent girders in the desert. It all depends on who you hang out with.

I liked this Asian-influenced installation, which was near the northernmost boundry of Black Rock City. The Himalayans go West.


This was a large art car whose passengers distributed -- what else? -- bananas to passersby.


This also looked like fun. You could play the harp by pressing pads on the white vinyl squares. So it looked like these guys were dancing.


The gorilla float was pretty weird, but it was not the weirdest Chandelier thing I saw. I'm not sure if they ever meant to hang it on anything, but there was this huge chandelier sitting in the middle of the desert for most of the week.One of the scariest sites in Black Rock City was this six-foot baby with a lazy eye.Baby Whenever I saw it, I wanted to be somewhere else. Then there was the Green Guy. He was part of one of the artworks based on the Beyond Belief theme, but I couldn't figure out what it meant. Didn't really want to ask.

Green  Guy

There were more than 30,000 other people at Burning Man this year. Some wore costumes, some wore nothing (arguably, the Green Guy had it both ways). Here are some of the other participants:

The  Clown and the Tin Man looked like they must have been pretty hot under their collars. The guy on stilts, less so. But most of the naked guys bore closer resemblance to the ice men.
Tin Man

Last, but certainly not least, some of the ladies of Black Rock City:

Blue Dress
Sometimes, wearing a little says a lot. That's my pal WeeGee in the background, he's the photo editor of the Black Rock Gazette.
If you've got it, flaunt it for the photographers.
You don't see this too often in Black Rock City, a topless girl eating an apple. There are no garbage cans, so what's she going to do with the core? 
I thought this gal was so pretty, I took her picture twice.
That's all till 2004.


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