First time burner… The lifetime of a journey

Intro & Background

This is a very humble attempt to describe my experience after visiting Burning Man for the first time. I also decided to title my very first post as “The lifetime of a journey”. There’s a good reason about it, but will explain later.

Let me start with a little bit of a background: For years, I was telling myself -“One of these days, I should go to Burning Man. One of these days”. It became some sort of a random, vague mantra, repeated over and over again, just like the “visiting the Great Wall of China, or the Pyramids in Egypt” ones. Pretty much an undefined goal. So, a few years later I realized that ‘one of these days‘ would only happen if I really put some effort into it. Then went on-line and created my ‘burner profile’ and tried to buy tickets… without any luck. Oh well, such is life. I tried. The pyramids are next I guess.

The opportunity

Living in the Bay Area, I’m really blessed having so many friends who attend Burning Man on a regular basis. Honestly, the concept of Burning Man always seemed to me like an absurd idea. You have to go into so much effort, trouble and suffering to survive in those harsh conditions, only to attend a post-modern, overly-hyped hippy festival. – “There must be something that draws so many people there. It must be the drugs, yeah… Burning man is famous for drugs and anarchy and crazy people doing all this crazy shit. That’s gotta be it“. But, I don’t do drugs. I’m kinda boring that way. How am I going to fit there, or have fun?  Or, what if I randomly get spiked with PCP or a horrible hallucinating drug? I was very anxious about all those possibilities.

Nevertheless, when I least expected, out of the blue, we got an invitation by a close friend of mine who happens to be a veteran Burner and invited me and my partner Mira to attend a well established camp. -“Whoa! I don’t think we’re ready… Do we really want to go? This is a weird year, the timing is wrong, the planets are not aligned correctly, etc… etc… etc…”. Long story short: all sorts of awesome scenarios and catastrophic ideas went through our minds. But, after thinking about it, we accepted. Here’s finally our chance. We are really attending Burning Man. It is no longer a vague impossible bucket list thing like feeding a Dragon or riding a Unicorn. Shit just got real!.

Preparing for BM

We got the invitation in March 2016. We have no experience and no vehicle suitable to go to the playa. Although we are avid campers with our trustworthy VW Vanagon, the poor thing is tired and the engine will need an overhaul to go to the playa, especially having to climb the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada. We need something beefier. We did a lot of research about hexayurts, RVs and other ways to survive the playa. Pages and pages of information posted by experienced burners were very useful. So it was decided that the best thing was to buy a medium self-contained RV trailer (preferably with air conditioner, shorter than 20ft) and a truck capable of pulling 6,000 lbs.

I got an opportunity to get the truck on a Sunday morning, while checking craigslist, found a pretty good deal in Santa Cruz. A 1989 Chevy, long bed, extended cab, in need for transmission. Price was very very low, so I go to SC and to my surprise, found a very solid truck with a blown 3rd gear but everything else in one piece. So, I bought it. -“We gotta truck!” Just need to rebuild the transmission… That’s going to be another first for me.

Long story short, after watching over 50 hours of videos about how to rebuild the 700r4, getting all the factory manuals and buying the rebuild kit, I tackled the transmission rebuild and the result was spectacular: the thing not only worked, but it was really solid and robust! An extra oil cooler was installed as a precaution and to extend the life of the transmission.

Having now a running truck, then it is time to get a trailer. It is already June, craigslist is full of ads with “specials for burners” which are mostly overpriced old crappy trailers and RVs, all decorated and painted in crazy colors (or blatantly just falling apart), hoping that you’re high or tripping balls and in panic to buy a piece of junk for $4,000. No can do, we might have a low budget but we have much better expectations.

It is time to go to bed now. I will keep updating my story,

 

 

 

 

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