Burning Man 1999 Cleanup, part I

Hello all!  I just got out of the bathtub!  Ahhh!  Water!  Cleanlines!  My
hair is not matted down! :)

I left friday afternoon for the playa.  I ended up picking up a couple of
hitch-hikers somewhere near Donner Pass.  It was cold and they were wrapped
in blankets, so I doubted they were anything more than a couple guys needing
a ride.  Typical Santa Cruz hippie types, talked the whole time about
getting drunk and stoned and all the girlfriends they'd had. :)  Real sweet
guys.  One of them swore he had the power to call the wind.  They helped the
ride go quicker.  I love modern hippies.  I dropped them off at a 24-hour
truck stop in Fernley -- NOTE, this is the exit just past the Wadsworth
exit, so if you were depending on the Wadsworth gas station being open and
it was closed, it's just one more exit!  [I've discovered that I need only
to fill up there, and that I can even get home on one tank of gas from
Gerlach.  Cool!]

I arrived around 10pm, hung out, got warm by the fire, ate some dinner and
chatted with the many folks who were there for the weekend.  Dave and Davis
were still there, and Dave took me to his special plastic burning fire pit.

Yeah, yeah, but this is Nevada, and as long as the fire burned hot and the
fumes went high, nobody cared.  Because the fire was so very very hot, the
plastic was pretty well burned up anyway.  The burner was a steel barrel,
not unlike the firebarrels except at least twice in diameter -- very large.
The top had pie-pieces cut and peeled up so the steel looked like flames.
It was good for throwing things on top because these "flames" kept things
from falling out.  Dave and <I forget his name> had thrown a bunch of old
springs and metal on top so there was a surface to throw the plastic on and
the lower flames would lick upward and melt the plastic.

So this is where the plastic water bottles ended up.  And burned hot it
did!!  We'd throw a half-string of bottles [probably 15-20 bottles] on and
then STAND BACK!!  We couldn't get within 15' of the thing except to rush
up, sheilding our face, and drag back any bottles that fell out.  The
burning plastic was AMAZING to see!  Streams of flaming drips!  Dave said it
was his firefall! :)  I took about 5 of my 15 pictures of this lovely
thing!  [I hope they come out!]

<The other guy I forgot his name> and I went to get strings of bottles.  We
just tied the strings to my car, or closed one end of the string of bottles
in the hatch, and dragged long strings of bottles behind my car.  We joked
that we were getting married. :)  We made three runs [three anniversaries]
then had a divorce when I left at 2am to go to sleep.  [I heard some other
woman arrived and "re-married" him, and given the hick-theme we were playing
on, we decided that was about typical. :) ]

I woke up around 10am rather tired, ate breakfast, and kinda hung around
trying to get motivated.  Bill pulled up in his truck and said, "anyone want
a ride to the playa?"  Flustered, I knew I better take that ride or never
leave...  "Uh, sure!"  So I grabbed a half-bottle of gatorade some bananas
and a yogurt and ran out...and realized half-way there that I'd forgotten a
jacket, sunglasses and better reserve of water...  But I knew I could borrow
some, and so I did.

It's was FUCKING COLD!!!  It must've been about 40, and below freezing with
the wind-chill, even with the sun up.  I seriously worried I'd get
frost-bite in my fingers.  We were picking up some red-plastic burn site,
that had somehow gotten really spread around.  Picked it up by-hand.  It was
grulling with just my wool fingerless gloves.

I had lunch with a guy who'd built a potato cannon!  George would've enjoyed
talking to him.  He'd fired it the night before but without a potato.  he
said he'd fill the combustion chamber and the barrel with propane, and then
fire it, and the propane in the barrel would ignite from the shockwave and
make a nice "noise". :)  George's design is a lot bigger, but this guy could
easily hold it on his shoulder.  His ran only on propane [and air, not pure

After lunch, I went to a '98 site near the DPW camp, where there was still a
lot of straw debris...it was depressing.  There was just no way to get the
hay out of the mud...I wish there had been some way to burn it out
somehow...  Very depressing indeed.  Thank god we banned hay this year!  I
ended up just shoveling it and tossing it up into the air to make the hay
blow away [which was acceptable to Bill and also Crimson.]  After about 15
minutes of this, however, it was clear my back couldn't do that much

After that, all of us went to scour the DPW site.  It was highly ironic
that the DPW site was in need of the most work, but you also have to
remember that the DPW was there the longest of ANY camp.  We really
scoured that site too!  We walked arms-length in a big sweep, with magnets
pulling whatever we could find, and all of us picking up every little bit of
wood, charcoal, nails and whatever we could find!  I found a nice star and a
moon from the place where they must have been making fire barrels.  Nice
alter pieces!

I crashed out around 3 or 4.  Just too exhausted.  [I really don't think I'm
totally recovered from Burning Man yet still...I just don't have the energy
I used to have...]  So I ended up napping in my friend Trey's ["Tres
Gouche"] van while everyone else worked. :(  Then I remembered that I'd
already worked all night on the bottles, plus all day, so I'd put in a lot
of good work.  I stopped feeling guilty. :)

>From there, we went to Trego hot springs -- my first time!  Nice springs!
It's like a low trench, with hot spots and cool spots.  not very deep, and
nice nice mud!  [I mudded just my face this time.]  We met some burners
there, who fed and boozed us up well!

We get back just as it was getting dark -- much nicer going back with
someone who actually knew how to cross the playa!  We didn't get lost this
time! :)  I ate one HELL of a great dinner!  Crimson makes the world's best
potato salad, and, of course, no one can beat Will Roger's ribs!  He promied
to make them until 2am! :)  I ate more food than I've ever eaten in my
life that evening!  Work makes one hungry!

Davis [who'd hurt his back, so wasn't doing much work] played on his
hammered dulcimer, and a new fried Manuel played his didgeridoo.  he's quite
amazing on that didg!  I'd commented on his playing outside the
Decompression Party a week before [Will, Dan and Scott might remember me
dancing to him some.]  It was good seeing him again and actually meeting

I spilled my guts to a nice woman, Edith, and we generally had a spill-guts
session together. :)  The next morning I found out she lives in Point
Richmond!  She's awesome and I can't wait to hang with her!  [I told her she
must pester me to get the Firefall up and running!  She said she'd do her
best. :) ]  There were probably 30 people by now on the 80.  And lots of
rangers helping out too.

I crashed early, like 10pm or so.  Just wore myself out.

I woke to the sound of cayotes again.  Such an awesome sound!

Made oatmeal for myself, then ate again when someone cooked up potatoes,
eggs and fruit salad!  Then ate some crepes after that too!  Both work and
the playa gives one a big appetite!

I packed up my camp since I wouldn't be coming back to the 80 [ :..(
boohoo!] and headed out finally at around 12:30 with Edith and Enigma.  But
we couldn't find anyone out there to tell us what to do.  So I drove around
to each place with someone and talked to them, and picked up random debris
as I went.  By 2, we'd given up and went into town.  By then, I just decided
to leave early.  Besides, Crimson and others were talking like everything
was pretty well done anyway.  The mood was a LOT better this time.  Looks
like we're gonna make it, maybe!

One thing, however, the night before, Crimson was telling us that the BLM
charged us $67,000 for "recovery costs" -- whatever that means!  But this
year some law has changed or some such, and they want to charge us that
PLUS a $4/person/day fee!!!  If we were charged that this year, it would
be in the neighborhood of $500,000!!!!!!  I said, it seemed like we should
make them give us some kind of written description of just what that money
is going for...  She said they'd been trying to get that anyway.  The
whole thing pisses me off.  It's like people see Burning Man as some source
of money...  If it were a concert, then maybe, but it isn't.  They make no
money.  And everyone is charging them fees out the wazoo.  Really sucks...

I'm going to talk to Crimson again.  I'd like to know if writing a letter
asking for a breakdown of the uses of this fee would be useful...I'll keep
you posted on if letter-writing would be useful.

Well, anyway, all in all it was another awesome weekend on the playa!

-- Official Tic Toc Town Clean-Up Representative! :)