the man who sailed around his soul (tcb) wrote in burning_man,
the man who sailed around his soul

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for the newbies

I've only been the once last year, so in some ways, who am I to talk.. but I just sent this write-up to some friends of mine who are going for the first time this year, and I figured that maybe it would help some of the newbies here, too.

there's nothing new, but it's a bunch of data collected together.

hey you two! it's less than a full lunar cycle until the event starts!
I thought I'd give you guys some useful info. use it or not ;)

first of all, read through the survival guide cover to cover.. at least
twice. if you got your tickets early enough, you should be getting a
printed copy around now, otherwise, it's online:

it's well-written, and there is lots of really useful information.
also, read most of the sections under "Recommended Reading":

(there's also a side-bar with more links)

become familiar with the BRC map:

it will be a lot easier to remember this year, since the loops are named
after planets, all of which we know by heart. last year they had these
"concepts" which were much harder to remember. there isn't a scale on
the map, but here are some guidelines:

- The first road (Esplanade) is 2100' from the Man
- The City is 8200 ft in diameter.
- Man to the center of Center Camp: 2400'
- There are approximately 35 miles of roads within the City
- Man to outer fence pentagon points: approx. 6500', 7600' between points
- (pentagon contains over one hundred million sq.ft., or 2,300 acres)

if I recall correctly, you guys aren't with a particular camp, which
will make things a little harder for you your first time. I don't know
where they will direct you to park your RV, but I expect it will be
somewhere on the outer edge of things. a camp provides a place to hang
out with people during the heat of the day, as well as shared resources
like food, and people who can make sure that you're not ill. that said,
I'm sure you two will be fine, especially since you'll have an RV.

here are some of my personal tips, which are also in the various
documentation, but I think are most important;

1) make sure to have enough water with you at all times. when they
suggest drinking a gallon and a half or two of water a day, they mean
it. I brought a 3 litre camelback, and filled it twice a day, and
never felt any dehydration. in addition, picking up packets of
Emergen-C (an alka-seltzer like vitamin powder that can be added to
water or juice) really helped.

2) you'll want bicycles. either pick some up at WalMart, or there are
about 3 or 4 places that are burner-operated that essentially rent
and repair bikes for burners from year to year. the most recent JRS
email has a list.

3) for that matter, if you aren't on JRS (the BMan mailing list), get on
it. there is tons of useful information in it.. it's pretty

4) buy less food than you think you'll need, and keep it simple. one
thing that worked *really* well for this camp I was in last year was
to bring a rice cooker, buy a huge bag of rice, and buy a couple of
boxes of Tasty Bites (indian food packets). keep the rice cooker on
24/7, and just squeeze a Tasty Bite packet onto it. the rice stays
warm in the cooker, and warms the indian food. it was the perfect
thing to have when coming back to camp at 4a after wandering around
the playa. assuming you can keep things cold in a fridge, cereal is
good, tuna fish, etc.. produce is good, but be selective; choose
hearty produce like celery, carrots, green beans.. avoid the more
perishable items like tomatoes and melons.

5) bring less clothing than you think you'll need, too. after the first
day or two, I pretty much went around in just a sarong. (wasn't even
a proper sarong, just big rectangles of fabric I bought at a fabric
store). it can get cold at night, although last year didn't seem
particularly bad. that said, bring a pair of sweat pants and a

6) sandals. definitely sandals. walking barefoot is ok to do
sometimes, like walking to the loo and back, but the alkali eats
through your skin. I even bought tan socks to wear that matched the
playa :)

7) foot lotion. put it on every night before you go to bed. I'd
generally slather it on, and put a pair of socks over my feet.

8) ear plugs. I expect where you'll be camping that it may very well be
less noisy, but it is a city of 30k people, and they are up all

9) dust masks and goggles. carry them with you at all times. you may
not need them much, but when a dust storm comes up on you suddenly,
you'll be glad for them. I used a pair of clear plastic wood shop
goggles and the simple cloth dust masks that you can get at a
hardware store.

10) wear a hat. I didn't wear one all the time during the day, but I
kept one with me. I got a cheap compressible cloth hat at WalMart
that worked great.

11) sunscreen and lip balm. you're in the desert for a week in summer.
'nuff said.

I think that's about it that I can think of :)

I hope these points of wisdom help, and I'm looking forward to seeing
you both out there! I'm camping with SublimiNation, which is located at
Esplanade and 8:00. feel free to come by and visit!


ps. don't forget to ring the bell ;) you'll find out what that means..

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