AND SUCK I DID
The rest of the seven days is best told in small anecdotes and random photos, as it all kind of a blur. Here's some of the things that made it awesome, in no particular order.
A WEEK ON THE MOON
I keep describing it to friends that it was like being on the Moon for a week. The physical environment is nothing like anywhere on earth I've ever been.
It's incredibly dry. So dry that you barely even sweat when it's 100 degrees out. Blazing hot during the day, scorching your skin, and way too cold at night. The first night we arrived it was 36 degrees. I was not really prepared for that shit. I had just enough layers to get through the weather swings, but they kinda wreaked havoc on my late night costume ideas.
In addition to being dry, the Playa dust has such a high alkali content, that exposure to it can give you a mild form of chemical burn. This can get especially bad on your feet and fingertips. They warn you to always wear socks and boots, and clean your feet every night. I didn't really take that seriously, and I wore my trusty Keen hiking sandals for the first few days. After the 4th day, the heels of my feet started showing cracks. These got worse and worse. My feet eventually recovered, but I swear my fingers still aren't back to normal.
Oh an I almost forgot: the dust storms. Holy shit.
They call them "white-outs". Imagine the worst snowstorm you've ever seen in your entire life. 10-foot visibility. Stuff blowing over left and right. 60mph winds whirling around in all directions. OK. Now imagine that snow is sand. And instead of hiding inside like a sane person, everybody simply goes outside, right in to the heart of the storm, and they PARTY like it's 1999 B.C. This is what they do at Burning Man. It's insane. The most surreal night of all was the night of the worst white out. We walked around from party to party. Everybody was in full gas mask mode. You couldn't breathe otherwise. But nobody cared. The DJ is good. LET'S DANCE! Amazing.
That said, these harsh physical conditions do take their toll. The heat. The cold. The dirt. The alkali burns. I definitely had my moments where I had to stop and wonder if it was worth it. WTF and I doing out here? Do I really need to endure all this just to have a little fun? It seemed ridiculous. It WAS ridiculous. But then I would venture out in to the wonderland again, quickly come to my senses, and realize: YES. Yes, it was completely fucking worth it.
PANCAKES , XANAX, AND FREE LOVE
On our very first morning, Ben, Andreas and I went searching for coffee. We found an old west brothel looking facade with a tent outside serving coffee and muffins. A guy in old timey clothes was playing mandolin on the balcony, surrounded by women dressed as strumpets from the Old West. This camp also appeared to be the home of that moving front porch art car I saw on the first night.
A large friendly man in a wedding dress emerged through two saloon doors and gave me some pancakes.
I sat down and had a chat with a very nice young lady who had yet to go to sleep from the previous night. After a brief conversation she mentioned that she had a ton of Xanax back in her tent and asked me if I'd like to accompany her there for a day of Xanax and relaxation. Having just woken up, I politely declined. In truth, I was simply flattered to get such a generous offer, as this pretty much never happens to me.
WE ARE THE GOON SQUAD AND WE'RE COMING TO TOWN
Burning Man, at its core, is a non-stop seven-day Halloween Party. Everyone is either dressed up in the most outrageous shit you've ever seen, or they're completely naked. Either approach works. If you show up simply dressed as a camper or hiker, you might as well be invisible. The style is pretty narrow: Road Warrior meets 90s Raver. It's certainly not my own personal tastes, but it does look sexy as hell on the women. The men-in-Barney-Rubble-fur-coats thing got old pretty quick, but everyone's having fun, so who cares?
This dude was in our camp and dressed like this every damn day LOL.
I broke out my Silver Surrender costume on the second day. It had many different variations. With cape. Without cape. Silver bamboo hat. Silver kufi. Cowboy hat. Tiny silver shorts. Longer silver basketball shorts. Silver jacket #1. Silver jacket #2. Silver vest. Shirtless. Etc. Finally, I was getting the hang of this place.
I even had an evil alter ego with a chrome-like face mask (pictured below). This was by far the bigger hit. People stopped me to take my picture wherever I went.
This would be me bugging out at a daytime club called Distrikt. To my right is Welly. He's originally from Hong Kong and now lives in LA in the most pimped out crib I have ever seen.
The Distrikt parties were off the hook. DJs like Matt Kramer. Scumfrog. Marques Wyatt. Worthy. Etc.
I had a Chinese red monk robe that I wore the night the man burned. It was most effective for night wear since I could layer up underneath. Brrrrr.
All I know is, if I do go again, I am going ALL IN on the costume thing. There's no other way to do it.