Burning Man – Rights of Passage

This year’s theme is Rights of Passage. The streets are named after epic events such as Graduation, Engagement, Coming Out and Divorce. The weather has been amazing, not too hot, not too cold at night and no dust storms… what we call a playa-miracle.

Blown glass sun

As always, I looked forward to my burn this year with great anticipation… and a little anxiety. This year, it was going to be the Biscuit, myself and my roommates. Just a couple days prior to departure, the Biscuit decided to back out. He just started at his new school in Napa and did not want to take off a whole week.

Of course I was very supportive of his decision… but I was also very saddened at the thought of burning without him. The Biscuit has been here with me for eight of my previous nine trips to Burning Man.

I have always been the leader of my theme camp; organizing, planning, scheduling and making the camp layout for up to 20 camp members. I’ve hosted Hot Monkey Sox, Sock Monkey Workshop for the past 5 years or so and last year I started Black Rock Scouts, a program for burner kids.

It’s a lot of work and to be honest,  I needed a break so I opted to not host Hot Monkey Sox and just focus on Scouts this year.

When we arrived to the playa Monday morning, there was the daunting task of setting up camp. At the time, my camp was an all-male brigade… except for me. The camp plan had changed several times so we actually had no plan. My natural instinct was to jump in organize it… but instead, I decided to go on a walk-about.

I went to Playa Info to post my Scout event schedule and along the way, ran into several friends. I wandered over to Earth Guardians to visit my dear friend Loki and his amazing crew. Loki has been inviting me to join Earth Guardians for years. We had camped with them for Dexter’s first burn when he was 16-months old.

The idea of being responsible for just myself was refreshing, so I took him up his offer and moved in. The boys helped me pack up my gear so I could move. It took me about an hour to set up my tiny camp, the easiest set-up I’ve ever had here.

Running away from home was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Other than my Scout events, I was responsible for nobody but myself. I did not have to cook, clean or wrangle camp mates. Earth Guardians are seasoned, organized and generous. Their camp has power, music, a bar, a shower, a private potty, a refrigerator and full-size freezer plus wifi from our neighbors. It’s like a having a room at the Hilton.

Instead of cooking, I survived on salami, cheese, granola bars and yogurt squeezers, with an occasional bacon quesadilla made in my campmates microwave.

I was able to focus on the dozen Scout events I had organized. It was exhausting but rewarding all the same. In four days the Scouts did Lamplighting, Greeting, Gate (searching vehicles), Temple Guarding and toured DMV and the medical center.

After setting up my last event, the sock monkey workshop, I headed back to Earth Guardians to work a shift at the info desk. By 6pm on Friday I was done working and free to enjoy Burning Man.

Without any early morning obligations I decided to stay out late with my dear friend William and his crew from Surly camp. Cruising on their double-decker art car, The Bird, is my favorite experience on the playa. By 3 am, it got cold and I curled up on the couch on the front of the Bird. I was ready to head home but the crew convinced me to stay out, so I did.

Sometime around 5 am we found a cluster of art cars in deep playa. Hundreds of burners were dancing and frolicking. One art car caught my eye… a playground theme with a merry-go-round-spinning-thing and a slide. After riding around the spinning thing I slid down the slide. It was fast… so fast that I hit the bottom cushion and bounded forward face first towards the playa. My face would have hit the ground if it had not been for the bike that crossed in my path at the perfect time.

I stood up shaken, but not stirred and wiped my chin to find it bloodied. Surly’s crew immediately tended my wound and drove me back home. By the time I got to the Med tent, it was about 5:30 am. The med staff were excited to get to do stitches… as it had been a slow night. I walked out at 6am to greet the sunrise with two stitches in my chin.

So back to the Rights of Passage… I’ve had several this year; my first burn on my own, my first year NOT running a theme camp and my first visit to the Med center. I am exhausted, dirty and probably rehydrated… but my soul is satisfied. As usual, I will drive my truck Dusty around without washing her for a week or so, and this year, I’ll have my playa scar to remind me of my journey.

3 Replies to “Burning Man – Rights of Passage”

  1. Thanks for all you did this year, Judi! Here’s a blog post about the Lamplighters–it was my first time and my son really loved it! (and so that explains your chin!) I’ll be putting up other blog posts about Burning Scouts too. Reed is looking forward to getting his t-shirt!

    See you next year!

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