One Dusty Disaster

We really struggled last year with our RV at Burning Man.  Among the problems was a hole in the long gas intake pipe, which caused any gas being put in the tank to leak.  You’re not supposed to put anything other than pure, clean water on the Playa surface, so we couldn’t add fuel the whole time we were at the burn.

An even bigger problem was the generator, which died on us mid-Burn.  The generator permits us to use the air conditioner, a creature-comfort that we find critically important so we can rest during the hot part of the day.  The RV becomes stifling without the air conditioner.

We were fortunate that TPP (The Playa Provides) once again proved more than just a legend.  Shortly after our problem occurred, two generators magically showed up and we were back in business for the remainder of the Burn.

White out conditions on the Playa

White out conditions on the Playa

What failed on our generator was the starter motor.  The shop that made the repairs suggested that Playa dust was a major contributor, and we agree with that assessment.  The question is, what can we do about it?  At this point, I’m not sure.  Air has to come into the generator for it to work properly, so we can’t simply cover the air vents provided for that purpose.  The filtration system that is part of the generator was never intended to cope with a week or more in the desert (we spent 10 days there last year).  So I’m trying to come up with an air permeable dust filter that can be attached to the outside of the generator compartment.  Maybe a furnace filter would work.  We could attach it with duct tape and change it when it got too full of dust.

I’d certainly welcome any suggestions; meawhile, those of you bringing an RV to the Playa should take this as a cautionary tale.  The desert environment is harsh and puts stress on our bodies and the equipment we bring with us.  Come as well prepared as possible for a dusty week.

The Best Preparation for the Playa: Involve Yourself

The single best way I can think of to prepare yourself for Burning Man is to get involved in some local or regional Burn activities.  These can be Regional Burns, Decompressions, after-burns, pre-burns, Burnal Equinox parties or other activities organized by Burners near your location.  At these events, you’ll get to know fellow Burners, get your questions answered, and learn the ins and outs of the Burning Man experience.

One of the most exciting of these opportunities to meet other Burners is participating in one of the CORE (Circle of Regional Effigies) projects, which will create art to be placed around the Man and burned on Thursday of the week of Burning Man.

Last year’s CORE projects were highly successful and added substantial new art to the Playa.  For 2013, the CORE projects have expanded to 24, and are far more international in scope.  If one of these projects is taking place in your vicinity, find out what you can about participating.  The skilled and the unskilled are needed to put these art installations together and get them to the Playa.

Playa art at its finest -- or at least its whimsy-est.

Playa art at its finest — or at least its whimsy-est.

Here’s the list of this year’s CORE projects:

  • Altar of the Wetlands: Recreating Nature in a Post-Industrial Society from New Orleans
  • Anti-Monument to DC Art Culture and Former President John Frum aka The DC Pyramid Scheme, from Washington DC
  • Artifactuary from Vancouver
  • The Cargo Mother from Houston
  • The Czech Oasis from the Czech Republic
  • Dutch Windmill from the Netherlands (Dutch Burners)
  • First House Project from the East Bay
  • Flor de Muerto – Flower of the Dead from Victoria
  • The Good, the Bad and the Naughty from Reno
  • Hand of Inspiration from Israel (“MidBurn”)
  • Inchanted Forest from Indiana
  • Lituanica birds from Lithuania
  • Ludum Et Refugium from Portland
  • Marvin from Idaho
  • Meditation from China / Taiwan
  • Playa Queen from Sacramento
  • PyscheDelicate Arch from Salt Lake City
  • Source Maui “Kavai Ahi” from Maui
  • South Bay CORE from the South Bay
  • Stairway to Heaven from France
  • Star of the City from New York
  • Starfish from San Diego
  • Temple of Times from Austin
  • The Year the Playa Stood Still from Minnesota

Last summer, my wife and I were involved in the creation of the 2012 Sacramento CORE project, Arboreum, which was part of the original group of regional art installations.  We didn’t do the heavy lifting – just some painting, cutting, hammering and toting – but it made us feel like part of the effort and helped us create some new Burner relationships.

If one of the CORE projects listed above is taking place nearbt, you can do the same as we did, and join in the fun.  Meanwhile, check the Jack Rabbit Speaks for regional parties or find some local Burners and get in the loop about local Burning Man activities.