Burning man opens to vanguard of thousands
Appeal Staff Writer
BLACK ROCK CITY – If you build it, they will come. And come they did Monday morning to the Black Rock City on the playa of the desert seven miles northwest of Gerlach.
“They,” of course, were the “Burners,” those people who celebrate an “alternate life style” at the 22nd annual Burning Man event. They came in almost anything that runs – from giant RVs like ocean liners to pick-up campers festooned with everything but the kitchen sink, and perhaps even that.
No firm figures for attendance were available, but the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which issues the permit for the affair and then polices it, used opening morning figures for a guesstimate. “We had 6,000 vehicles enter by 7 a.m.,” said BLM Officer Jamie C. Thompson. “At 1.9 average persons per car, that’s almost 12,000 people. Looks like we’re on our way to as many at 45,000 people this year.”
There will be many from Carson City at the Burn this year. Debra Berry, who works for the Nevada Department of Personnel, was already here at the intersection of Arctic and 3 O’clock Plaza. This will be her fifth Burn.
“I’ll be there for the whole week, camping with women from Denmark and Montreal that I met here. My favorite thing is you can meet people from all over the world and make friends. I love the big guns (the mock tanks with propane cannons) when they shoot off.”
Jennifer De Forest won’t get here until Friday with her husband, his brother and her best friend, and they will join three cousins and an aunt. It’s her first year and she’s “going to celebrate my birthday. No cake, too much dust, but something wet for sure.”
Joel Mitchell of Carson City will be here with 30 gallons of home brew beer and a quadacycle with a blue and white top. This is his third time at the Burn and he’s “looking forward to seeing all the amazing things people build on the playa. It’s a wonderful week away from computers and cell phones,” he said. “This is my third time and I have never seen a fight or a disagreement or an argument on that very harsh land.”
And Dr. Michael J. Riley, a chiropractor in Carson City, will arrive Wednesday, bringing along his folding workout table. “Anyone who needs a tune-up, look me up.” He will be at 8:10 and Jungle streets. Black Rock City is laid out in a semicircle, with the hours indicating the radials and the names the circling streets.
The Burning Man event runs through Sunday, with the Saturday night burning of the 40-foot tall Man himself. Sunday night is the burning of the many art works scattered about the playa.
Warning: If you don’t have a ticket yet and plan to go, act now at the Burning Man Web site. Ticket sales usually close Friday morning, but that date may be advanced if the crowd swells.
To reach the Burning Man, take Highway 50 East to Silver Springs, pick up Highway 95A through Fernley. Outside Fernley watch for Highway 447 to Gerlach. Go through Gerlach and in seven miles you’ll come to the Black Rock City entrance. Be sure and take water and food, as the only things on sale are ice and coffee.
High winds from last week have died down, although there were some whiteouts Monday. Temperatures were mild for the playa, hovering around 90 degrees.