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Burning Man 2003

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Art, survival, and love

You know you are on the way to Burning Man when you see a couch in the back of a pick up truck, and the couch has a rearview mirror.

This year's event was pleasantly mild right from the beginning, we are happy to report. We arrived Monday morning about 11:00, and our official REI keychain thermometer said it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It never strayed much above 95 degrees during the whole event. Mornings ranged from 40s to 50s at 6:30 AM or so.

We had dust storms off and on during the entire week, but we had prepared ourselves with HeaterMeals, so that when a storm arrived when we needed to eat, we just opened one up, followed the directions, and had a warm meal without having to use the camp stove in a blowing wind. Although some of the storms were intense, none was as blinding as the one storm we had in 2002. All the Burners seemed to cope quite well with the storms. We have pictures of some of the dust kicked up in our images section on the Table of Contents page; see the views at the playa.

We saw "No Hovering" posters in every porta-potty, and that seemed to have the desired effect: we never saw a potty that some knucklehead had sprayed with her urine in an attempt not to sit on the seat. Thank you one and all. We also saw only one piece of trash in a potty during the week. Thanks, again. There seemed to be fewer potties in the camp, with lots of them in outlying areas where they received little use. Who knows what the thinking was.

We also found the playa the cleanest we had seen on the day after the burn. We usually pick up stuff as we go around during the week, and then use a big garbage bag on Sunday as we police the playa, but this year, we didn't fill up a small gallon-sized bag.

Senior van

We were amazed to see a Washoe Valley Senior Services van roll by our campsite one day -- as you may see, several other Burners were amazed (and amused) as well. We did not have the opportunity to do more than this snapshot before the van rolled on, to our disappointment. It was filled with seniors on a tour of the festival, which they viewed from their seats on the airconditioned bus.

The sunsets after dust storms were the best sunsets of all -- there probably is something profound to be said about that. And the burn itself was wonderful. The Man had a major ischemic event, but since he was doomed from the outset, it was all part of the chaos.

A high seat on the playa.Sunset 2003An ischemic burn

Overheard at another camp:

"Don't you remember being at the medical tent?"
"Well, they remember you."

We are sorry to report there were several accidents this year, including one fatality at the event when a person hopped off a moving artcar and was rolled over before the driver could stop. There were a couple of plane crashes, as well, one of which resulted in eventually fatal injuries to the pilot. After the event, a person was killed in a traffic accident on the way home.

Plane crash

This plane seems to have stalled on take-off and crashed at the end of the runway with wheels up. We understand that there were no fatalities in this accident, and we are not aware of how serious the injuries are to any of the passengers on this plane or the other.

We regret the deaths and the injuries to Burners. The population of Black Rock City exceeded 30,000 souls this year, and it is difficult to have a week in a city that size without something untoward happening. Please take care of yourselves on the playa and drive carefully going and coming back.

[2004 Addendum: Please see the Afterburn Report 2003 for an update on DMV procedures regarding motor vehicles on the playa and on changes at the airport. The gray menu on the right of these pages has a section on Playa Safety which readers may find interesting.]

This is not the official Burning Man site. That Web site is located at Welcome to Burning Man.

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