It was on our bucket list. We entered the lottery for tickets three years running. We bought and totally refurbished a motor home just for the event – and finally…finally… we were on our way!

Down the road we go in Homer, our beloved Odyssey motorhome. Our trip takes about 2 hours and we get to see lots of scenery that looks pretty much like this.
Getting close to Black Rock playa, the dried lake bed of ancient Lake Lahontan. More than 100,000 years of lake sediments form the white playa and surrounding basin. It only takes a 5mph wind to raise dust clouds/devils that skip across the surface of the dried bed.
Traffic lanes, eight wide, are set up from the main road into Black Rock City. At times those pesky dust devils rise up and it is like driving in a white-out. You cannot see the front of your vehicle, much less the cones marking the lanes – which have already turned from orange to dusty white.
In line to go through the checkpoints: tickets and car tags, vehicle inspection (no forbidden items or stowaways in Homer!), and the information post where we get updated maps and a book listing the hundreds of offerings we can participate in during our stay.
Map of Black Rock City (BRC from now on). Blue areas are theme camps. The brown area in the center and ranging outward is the space for art installations. The circles are blow-ups/insets explaining what you will find in the plazas within the grid. It took us a while to figure all of this out…as you can imagine.
After a drive to check out the neighborhoods we decide on a spot for our campsite: just down from the intersection of 6:30 and Kundalini. It is almost straight out from Center Camp, which makes getting around very convenient – especially since we will be doing it on foot of by bike.
View from our “front yard” down 6:30 street and onto the open playa where the art is aglow for the night. The white-lighted center structure is the Burning Man installation.
It’s Tutu Tuesday! I am off to a meditation class followed by some biking around the central playa which is home to most of the 270 pieces of art. Yes, I have on my sunscreen. And I have my camera, and a bandana in case of dust; my water bottle was still chilling when the photo was taken but was definitely on board when I headed out. In addition to what I brought with me there were plenty of offers of food and drink along my route. One of the principles of Burning Man is gifting and generosity is abundant throughout the community.
The vastness of the art and the range of patterns coming from above were amazing. I struggled with finding a way to photograph the overwhelmingness of it all.
Another perspective on playa art; dust devils add to the moment. The Temple is in the center of the photo. Off to the right is the Tree of Tenere. It is such a monumental piece – 90 people can sit in the limbs of the tree.  I was thinking this would help give a sense of the scope – but I am still not sure that is doable.
More dust is being stirred up…but that does not stop anyone from being out experiencing the sculptures – most of which are interactive: climbing, swinging, playing music, moving parts, writing messages, dancing, etc. Photo was taken from the base of The Man, looking back into the community space.
Dust storm getting serious…
The neighborhood watches as the storm approaches.
Within minutes of arriving home the dust arrives at our “front door”.
And after the whirlwind we head out for the evening.
The reward for a blustery day.
The figure to the left is a mobile art piece. She roamed the playa, dressed differently each day. She also attracted an entourage of bike riders.
Another afternoon of appreciating the art: The Temple. The figure to the left is a mobile art piece. She roamed the playa, dressed differently each day. She also attracted an entourage of bike riders.
A close up of The Temple.
People gather at The Man.
The Man – close up. Each of the art pieces are also feats of engineering. To realize that they are brought in and erected no more than 30 days prior to Burning Man is mind-boggling to me. I have been telling people that I was gobsmacked – but I think I need a new and bigger word for it all.
One of the camps that struck our fancy.
Humor on our walk back from Center Camp to Homer.
A collection of our fellow Burners.There is an international flavor to the community.
The the sun sets on another day of BRC experiences.
Once more – out to see art.
Who doesn’t love a good flamingo piece?
Art cars are a great way to get around the playa. And they are a delight to behold. These vehicles and their faithful drivers are on the move pretty much 24/7 providing both visual interest and access. They are critical modes of transport for some of BRC’s citizens but sometimes they just traverse the streets to spread good will and cheer.
The “eggs” inside the hen are beanbags for those who want to lounge and enjoy the view.
It is a good thing that lighting plays a big part in the art displays as this sculpture’s beauty is masked by dust. If you look closely you will see the blue stained glass panel on the trunk of the tree. At night the lights shine through and it is stunning. In the day the wind chimes compensate for the loss of color – what a brilliant balance.
Couldn’t resist capturing this lovely moment between Burners…
And as the dust settles – literally – we reflect on the experience.

Glad we did it? Absolutely! Do it again? Maybe. As in most things in life, it’s relative…doing Burning Man in our 60s has to be different than doing it in earlier decades of life. We also know we have been blessed with an wealth of experiences – coming of age in the 60s/70s, protests, rock’n’roll, SF with Bill Graham and Grateful Dead crowd, MN wilderness camping, overseas travel, diverse and talented friends.

For those of you who are intrigued – hop on the Burning Man train at least once. I believe there is always something to be learned through novelty.  But be warned: they are looking to raise the population of BRC to 100,000. (Nerd that I am, I went to the Earth Guardians Camp for a lecture by a National Park Ranger. The topic was the ecology of the playa and the impacts of Burning Man. I learned that Desert Research Institute is doing an impact study to figure out how to increase numbers.)

Stay hydrated. Keep an open mind. Reserve judgement.