(August 26, 2012) On the road…
I’m writing this blog from the dining table seat of a 1984 Winnebago RV, moving 65 miles per hour along interstate 80. We hit the road to Burning Man bright and early this morning, 7am to be exact, and are now 2 hours shy of Salt Lake City. It’s been an eventful day, with nerve-wracking engine issues that turned out to be a busted alternator belt, now fixed courtesy of my stalwart travel companions, friends Lawrence and Patric. We’re cruising America’s highways once again with the sun low on the horizon in front of us. This is always a grueling drive, but thanks to the great attitudes of my co-pilots it’s been more than bearable. Getting a little road weary now, and looking forward to a dinner stop in Salt Lake. We’ll stop for the night somewhere around Elko, Nevada, then on to the Black Rock Desert tomorrow, putting in about 12 hours on the road each day. I don’t know how all these truckers do it, drive like this day after day. I couldn’t. Once a year is more than enough for me. Feeling a little odd on this trip, as my boyfriend elected to stay home this year. Feeling a mix of anxiety at moving farther and farther away from home and man (we haven’t been apart more than a day in 4 years), and excitement and anticipation of where were heading. This will be an interesting adventure to be sure. When you have a companion with you, there’s a buffer, someone to turn to and be with as you venture out into the great adventure that is Burning Man. no buffer this year, just me, exposed to it all, with no cushion. I plan to force myself out into it, on my own, as much as possible. We’ll see how I do.
(August 28, 2012) Oh so tired, and a bit frustrated…
Well we made it. Arrived at Burning Man at 4am last night. Tired as hell, only got about 3 hours sleep last night. Long day today, unpacking, setting up the rv , registering the cameras with Media Mecca (something all photographers must do). Frustrated, as I have yet to be able to get online. I expected to be able to post blogs daily, as I was able to last year, but so far no luck. Such is the nature of things out here in the desert. Tonight was our big camp party, a must-attend event. So I did. Broke the rental camera out and got some good shots, though the light was fading fast. The weather was great today, much better than expected, and hoping for it to continue. Heading out to see art in the morning, will take pictures for sure. Back at the RV now, exhausted and going to bed. Nighty night.
(August 28, 2012) Beautiful morning…
Got a good night sleep last night for the first time in 4 days. Feeling better this morning, though still tired and a bit out of sorts, waiting for the coffee to kick in. It’s a beautiful, cool, bright morning here in Black Rock City, and I’m looking forward to getting some practice in with the camera. I admit it feels very strange to be here alone. Well not “alone”, as I am surrounded by people, and have many friends here at the camp, but alone as in without a mate. (My boyfriend is home in Denver with the pugs.) You get so used to the presence of another, and even just sitting here in the rv having my coffee by myself feels odd. It always seems to take a few days for me to get acclimated to life here, and it seems once I am fully entrenched, it’s time to go home. I’m honestly not a very good traveler, being prone to a motion sickness that affects me for days after the motion stops, leaving me woozy and head-achy. Hopefully I’ll get in the swing of things and feel back to myself sooner than later.
(August 29, 2012)
1:30am. Turning in early compared to most here. It’s been a long day. Got out early before the heat set in this morning to see some of the incredible art installations out on the Playa. Got some nice pictures and am getting used to the camera. Only saw a fraction of the art of course, there are over 300 art installations and sculptures this year. Planning to get out early again tomorrow. The weather turned nasty this afternoon, and my mood with it. Happens at least once every time I come here. The bad mood I mean, not the weather. Feeling better now after a fun night out on the playa with friends from camp. There’s nothing on earth that compares with the playa at night. Everything here, the art, the people, the art cars is lit up, blinking, moving, pulsing. It’s really incredible, and reminds why I’m out here. Time to sleep now, I can barely keep my eyes open.
(August 30, 2012)
Almost 2am. Thought I would blog but so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. Tomorrow.
(August 30, 2012 Part Deux)
A lovely morning. Soft breeze, still cool out. Sitting here typing this in the rv having my breakfast, listening to Black Rock City come alive around me. Had a successful test taking portrait shots with the camera yesterday, ready to get at it seriously later today. I love this camera, and do wish I owned it instead of just renting. Hopefully soon I can have one of my own. The weather was great yesterday, hoping for a repeat today. It has thankfully been much better than expected.
Went out on the Playa on my own last night, saw some amazing things. Took my video camera and got some great footage. Unfortunately the cable to download is not compatible with my macbook so I’ll have to download the videos when I get home. No big deal. Every time I’m here it gets bigger and bigger, more art, more theme camps, with so many camps and artists one-upping themselves every year. Just amazing. Hoping to get out to deep playa tonight. There’s always interesting art out there, far away from the main event. It’s wonderful how you can just stumble upon something incredible in the dark. Well time to get on with my day, more later.
(August 31, 2012)
Oi. 104 yesterday. Got out and did my first official shoot yesterday. My helper didn’t show up (this happens out here, a lot. There’s very little sense of time) It was very difficult trying to deal with it all myself. I sure hope today’s person shows up, I really need her. Shot some great people, but need to make some adjustments today to really get what I need. Running on 3 hours sleep, exhausted. Neighbors had a raging party last night and couldn’t sleep. Going to go rinse off now and then try and take a good nap.
(September 1st, 2012) The Agony and the Ecstasy
Holy crap. It hit at 5pm today, just as I was heading out to do the Golden Hour shoot. Heavy winds and white-out conditions. Didn’t get a single shot off. The winds and white-out dust storms have continued through the night. At the moment the winds are so strong they are shaking the RV. No sane person would be out in this, and yet thousands are, and until an hour ago so was I. I was able to hitch a ride on an art car camped with us tonight (it’s called the Mushroom Patch, you can Google it to see pictures). This is something not to be missed. The perfect way to see the city, day or night. Despite the crazy dust and wind, it was great fun. I’ve returned now to the rv, covered in dust, to try and turn in early, hoping to get an early day shoot in tomorrow. (though the light in the morning is not ideal, I’ve got to try and salvage this trip and get some pictures) Praying this craziness clears up by morning. This place is full of agony and ecstasy. Brutal weather, intense heat, harsh conditions. And then there’s the incredible creative feats of this humanity that astound you at every turn, the loving kindness of the people here, all for the sake of itself, just to share. So joyous. So worth it.
(September 2nd, 2012) Oh Hells Yes
The insane wind was gone by morning. I’m guessing it was a cold front moving in, because Saturday was perfect. Cooler, just enough breeze, some dust devils here and there, and that’s about it. I was able to get out in the morning and again at 5pm to shoot people. Feeling like I’m just now really getting the hang of the camera. As always it seems, I had issues today. Went out to the Temple to shoot this morning, had memory card problems and was only able to shoot a few people. Thanks to a very helpful and kind photographer who knew right away what my problem was (a mac issue) I was able to reformat the card and will head out again at 5pm to get one last shoot in before we leave tonight. Sunday is always a strange day here. The Man, the center of everything and our chief navigation tool for this temporary city, is now gone, (having been burned the night before) leaving you with a feeling of disorientation. People are tearing down their theme camps and packing up to go. Many have already left or are leaving now. It’s rather bittersweet. There’s an emotional mixture of being ready to go home and not wanting to leave. This is such a remarkable place. No matter what I go through here, and I’ve been through experiences both great and terrible, I still want to come back. And there’s always the idea that “I can do it better next time”, and I want to. Again. As I should have expected, knowing the nature of the Playa, what I thought was going to be a 1 year project, is now a 2 year project, and looks like it will turn into 3.
This place is always inspiring. My long-time idea of creating an art car is now turning into an obsession. It really is the best way to get around (in my opinion) There’s just so much to see, and having a playa vehicle allows you to see so much more. Besides, it would be fun as hell. Well, we’ll see. The ideas are endless.
The burning of the Man was absolutely beautiful last night, best yet I think. Perfect weather for it, and as always they did a spectacular job. Best fireworks show yet, great fire and fantastic fire ball explosion in the middle of it all. Yea I know I sound like a dork here, but damn, hells yes, it was friggin’ awesome.
It’s about 2pm now, and going to try and get a little nap in before my final shoot and finishing the packing up to go home. Looking forward with great relish to the first real shower in over a week. Can’t wait.
(September 3rd, 2012) Homeward bound
9am Monday, on the road back home. Back in the dining area seat of the old 1984 RV, whom we’ve dubbed “Big Bertha” heading home on I-80 at 65 mph. This is always the most brutal part of the trip. Everyone is tired and beat and just wants to get home. Feeling very thankful that my traveling companions are veterans and good troopers, no bs or drama. (this is a first for me). Nearly 1000 miles to go. Getting out the gate was rough last night. We headed out about 8:30pm, when it is usually smooth sailing and a great time to leave, but not this year. It took us 3 hours to get out the gate, and another 2.5 (usually 1.5) to get to the main highway. Three hours is actually not that bad. People leaving today will face a 6-10 hour wait. Now that’s brutal. We landed in Fernley at I-80 about 2 am and got about 3 hours sleep in the Walmart parking lot. Thank god Fernley has a Starbucks. A little more awake now, though still feeling very weary and fried. Getting excited to get home, to see my man, and play with my pugs.
Got a few more good shots in yesterday late afternoon, including a gorgeous woman from Haiti, a rather sexy man from Germany, a darling couple from Russia, and three rather drunk but lovely young ladies from San Francisco. All in all good, though I still wish I could have taken more. Looking forward to editing the photos and really seeing what I’ve got.
We’ll be stopping in the little town of Winnemucca, Nevada in about an hour, and are planning to stop and take advantage of some WiFi, (there’s been no access at all for 8 days) so I will finally be able to post these blogs. I’m sure I’ll have about 1000 emails to go through by this time. Sigh.
I do want to thank my traveling companions, Patric, Lawrence, and Kharis, for making the drive as pleasant as it possibly could be. Thank you Weasel, the leader of our theme camp Whiskey and Dust, and all 65 of my wonderful camp mates, for all your help and support. And of course, a big thank you to my man, Jiva, for his loving support. I miss you baby, see you soon.