<i>An Illustrated Story in Ten Chapters</i>
<i>with photos courtesy of <a href="http://www.burningman.com">Burning Man</a> & <a href="http://www.fireninja.com">Fire Ninja</a></i>
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<lj-cut text="Read Chapter I"></center>
I flew from Santa Monica to Black Rock City in a four-seater Cessna. The pilot was Bertram Balch of the <a href="http://www.vaporbrothers.com/home.htm">VaporBrothers</a>, Starchild provided the connection. I'd never been in a plane that small, and the word 'turbulence' took on a whole new meaning for me as we pitched and dodged through forest fire smoke over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was night time and the moon was rising.
The next day was much smoother. We buzzed over lakes and sailed through mountain passes. Bert showed us his fluency with zero gravity, shooting the plane straight up into the air, and then letting it free fall, slowly, back to the earth. Water bottles and cameras floated gently through the small cabin.
The flight took about six hours total. We touched down in the dust Monday afternoon at the Black Rock Airport. The city looked magnificent and unreal from the air. It was circular and about two miles across, surrounded by a pentagonal set of roads, or tire tracks in this case, as there are no roads this far out. I was reminded of cropcircles and alien landing fields.
<i>Photo by Alex Leigh</i>
The Black Rock Desert is a vast expanse of dried lakebed about an hour or so Northeast of Reno, NV. There is no life out there, no plants, no water, no animals. Only sun-bleached, dried out earth stretching to the horizon, flat as a parking lot.
We were greeted at the airport by a woman with green hair in a golf cart. She confirmed our tickets via walkie talkie and welcomed us into the city. All of our gear was set to arrive later that day in an RV that was trailing us on the ground, so we had a few hours to kill before setting up camp. We headed off towards the Woonami Village.
Pirate ships floated past. Some twenty, thirty feet tall with sails full and sound systems booming. A shark swam by, gnashing it's teeth. It's body was built from a train of vehicle chassis. Sea horses and jelly fish rolled and swam through the playa dust.
The Man loomed on a pedestal built like a light house. He glowed, neon blue, and seemed to claim our current illusion for us. <i>"We are all underwater, and this desolate playa is our Sea, full of life."</i>
We hopped on passing vehicles and greeted the new guests. We made some sexy new friends from Vancouver BC who we set up camp with once our gear arrived. I was seduced that very first night by a sailor in hot pants who helped me pitch my tent. She wore a hip sack full of fragrant lotions and prophylactics.
<a href="http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=kingneptune&itemid=37016">Continue on to Chapter II</a>