Newbie Order of Things

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
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NikonKing
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Newbie Order of Things

Post by NikonKing » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:19 am

Radical Self-Reliance was my favorite of the 10 Principles from the moment I started getting serious about BM. It has meaning to me as a businessman, husband, and most importantly -- as a parent to my three girls who I'm trying to raise in a manner reflective of their talents, not their gender. And so I must compliment all you veterans. Radical Self-Reliance has been a challenge in my preparation for my first burn. This is a daunting process which I'm confident has weeded out many well-intended folks who thought they could manage it until the burden became too much. I know this because I feel it, too. Do you? But I'm not stopping. I'm committed.

So, I've created for myself a list of priorities which I feel have helped govern my preparation, both mentally and physically. Maybe some of this will resonate with you? Maybe I'm just writing to myself. Let me know if I'm missing anything since, like some of you, I'm learning on the fly through my own experience, and this board.

1. Make the decision:
It's one thing to say Burning Man sounds fun or meaningful. It's quite another to absolutely commit to attending. I can absolutely see how one could disappear during the preparation process since there's no real path to involvement. I'm a process guy. I enjoy a series of goals which lead to a desired outcome. Burning Man preparation is less process, and more like managing a flood. It doesn't matter. I've heard over and over from veteran burners that once you make the decision, you find a way. And no burner shall be left behind. You've decided. You're going. There is no alternative.

2. Get your ticket:
I actually believe this is the most important step since nothing drives commitment faster than cold hard cash. I know we're already past the Main Sale, so most of you reading this have already cleared this hurdle. Congrats. I believe the vast majority of you to be dedicated, and I look forward to seeing you. For the rest of you, you still have opportunities. But I'm not sure I'd invest any more time in needed event prep if you haven't committed enough to procure your ticket. Get it done. You still have time.

3. Decide how you're getting there?
This should be the first real tangible plan, and it's not as easy as it sounds since it's connected to literally every other logistic of the prep. My preference would be to fly to Reno, rent a rig with other like-minded idiots, stop at a Walmart, and have a great burn. Easy Peasy. But this is hardly the case. Frankly, HOW I'm getting there has turned out to be difficult to ascertain since I don't know yet how I'm going to live on playa. Am I tenting? Am I in an RV? (see below) Getting kinda late to be deciding these things but I better get my crap together now or my choices will become extremely limited. I know this much. I won't be driving from Michigan to BRC. I'll be flying somewhere, and finishing the drive to my de-virginification. Salt Lake City looks good for logistics. I'll figure this out shortly.

4. Am I Tenting or RV'ing?
Much to my wife's irritation, I have no problem camping in a tent. But this being my first burn, I'm thinking the RV might be the smarter move. Plus I'm 51 years old. I'm thinking the RV might be the easier path for us older dudes. Then again, the logistics for the RV are exhausting. If I pick up in SLC, there are huge costs and time commitments to get it to BRC, not to mention the likely wear/tear on the vehicle which is unsure to make it there and back without some unexpected difficulties. Plus, as I've reached out to RV purveyors, as soon as they get heads up you're heading to BM, it's either a no-go or a huge cost bump. And I kinda don't blame them. Which brings me back to tenting. As "studly" as I like to think I am, I've never tented for eight days. Let alone, gone this long without a shower or private facilities. I'm a weekend camp kinda guy. Am I really up for this level of tenting - in these extreme conditions? Like I said, it's a duanting proposition.

5. What am I bringing?
Like I said above, this connects to all the rest of the logistics, starting with where I land and rent something. I know this much. Every plan I've concocted has me doing a massive shopping spree at a Walmart-type store with a crisp list of essentials. The stuff that isn't commodity-driven I will have procured ahead of time, including playa clothing, lighting, camera gear, medicine, etc.

6. Theme Camps
This has been the one area I'm at a loss in my prep. I'm huge into community and being part of something which will help to create a fabric to the 10 Principles of Burning Man. I've scoured the list from last year's burn (more than 2000 camps?!) and, well -- it is difficult, isn't it. Where do I belong? How do I know? It's certainly challenging, at best, to believe my bond to a particular theme camp is strong enough to send several hundred dollars sight unseen. This is the one area where being a newb (and utterly on his own) has been difficult to overcome. I'm open to your suggestions on this one. If you all knew me in my professional life, you'd be sure I was the one starting the camp. Maybe next year...

So that's it for now. I'm hugely in debt to some of the folks locally who have allowed me to ask a thousand questions. Particularly Doxie Kaltz in the Detroit, Michigan region. I'm quite sure she's sick of me by now.

Lastly, as of right now, I'm still looking for answers on the RV and Theme Camp, so if you have any interest in making things happen with me, please feel free to reach out. I suspect I will have this all solved shortly, and would love to meet some of you as I start making my commitments. Regardless, I'm absolutely thrilled to be with you in a few months, and cannot fully describe how pleased I am to be part of this year's burn.

-Ron

p.s. I recent was given the Playa name "Bolton" by a local. Why Bolton? She said I may be older, but it doesn't matter -- since it's Better Late than Never (BLtN) -- Bolton

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Jackass
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Jackass » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:00 am

You don't need an RV or a theme camp. Rent a spacious cargo van, make it your home. Set up your own camp area and do whatever you want!!

And don't forget no matter how you do it, don't forget the shade!
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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NikonKing
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by NikonKing » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am

Jackass wrote:You don't need an RV or a theme camp. Rent a spacious cargo van, make it your home. Set up your own camp area and do whatever you want!!

And don't forget no matter how you do it, don't forget the shade!
I think what I enjoy most about this reply, Jackass, is that it simplifies everything. I should make my virgin burn as simple as possible, shouldn't I ?

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Jackass » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:21 am

The less moving parts the better, if it can get f-ed up, it probably will. Try flying into Boise, it's even closer than SLC, and less likely to be cost inflated and overrun with so many other burners...

With the kind of coin that you'll spend renting an RV that you'll be worried about ruining the whole time, you can easily buy a whole camp @wally world and just throw it all away when you're done.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Pow Pow » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:57 am

I am in about the same boat. I committed last year to go this year so I have had a lot of time to think about the logistics. I contacted several theme camps but after diving into ePlaya I have decided to go solo. I did not want to commit the time required for my first burn.

I searched and read all of the threads I could find on ePlaya and Redit regarding solo camping. I choose a 2 pole 12 X 12 shade structure and a 4 person tent. I can easily transport this and the needed anchors on the plane.

I am flying into Reno a couple of days early and staying at a hotel by the airport. A Walmart and many other stores of interest are within walking distance of the hotel. I plan to take the 1st Burner Express bus on Saturday and buy a luggage upgrade. That way I can have my 2 pieces of luggage from home with tent, shade etc, and pick up a large rollable tub from Walmart and load it with food and beverages, small cooler, etc.

I am planning to camp in the area for Burner Express riders. It appears to be a central and convenient location.

Sometimes I think the planning is as much fun as the actual event you are preparing for!
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Jackass » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:16 am

Don't forget the bikes either... A super avid speed walker couldn't walk enough to be able to see anything in the week, not to mention the feet will kill you.

Priority order as follows:
1- Food/Beer/Water
2- Clothing
3- Shelter/Shade
4- Bike
5- Shower = Power
After that it's all trimmings, luxuries, and add-ons...
Last edited by Jackass on Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Pow Pow
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Pow Pow » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:21 am

Forgot to mention bike. Already procured a bike to be picked up on the playa.

Yeah, the shower is a problem. No good answer for that. Plan on picking up a dish tub and using melted ice water and wash cloth for bath and then bath towel to evaporate water. And plenty of wet wipes.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Leo » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:40 am

I agree with Jackass. Renting a cargo van or a small box truck would be easier than renting an RV. Since a lot of the truck rentals are for construction and dump runs, you probably wouldn't get nailed with a big deposit if you return the truck vacuumed and washed. The bike is essential as there is a lot of ground to cover.
One thing to consider is what will happen with your bike and camping gear when you leave Burning Man: Ship it home? Donate to Goodwill? Gift the gear to fellow burners on the way out? Either way, everything you bring with you needs to leave with you.

You are asking some good questions. Don't worry about the snark. That's one of our extra services we offer at no extra cost.
Best Regards,
Leo

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Jackass » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:43 am

Pow Pow wrote:
Yeah, the shower is a problem. No good answer for that. Plan on picking up a dish tub and using melted ice water and wash cloth for bath and then bath towel to evaporate water. And plenty of wet wipes.
Shower bag, garden sprayer, watering can, on-demand water heater with small pump... Stand in a plastic tote box. 1 gallon of water makes quite a luxurious shower out there.

BTW, if you forego the soaps, you don't even have to catch the water. You can skip that step...just do it where you won't mess up your's or your neighbor's camp in the process. That mud will be there all week, haunting you.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Traveller in Time » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:49 pm

Some will not agree with that last procedure.

Using towels to evap your rinse water (above the tub) also cools the air a tiny bit
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Sham » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:05 pm

It's hard to believe my first trip to Black Rock City would be considered "decades ago".
This place is a full working city. One of the major things I leave behind is my life back home.
On my first adventure, I packed everything I needed in two large suitcases---tent, sleeping bag, survival supplies etc. I had my shopping lists all made out and just hit the stores and worked down the punch list. My rental car was pack to the gills.
Don't expect to use the toilet in your RV, as it will fill up within a day or two and really stink. The shower holding tank will fill as well. Plan on outside showers and using the well maintained portos all around the city. Bring a pee bottle to save yourself trips in the middle of the night.
My favorite thing to do in the mornings is to head out by myself and spend the day exploring the art installations and the theme camps. You will meet great people all around you.
As far as being 51, you will not be the oldest there by any means.
Keep reading and keep planning. It's just 4 months away! 8)

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Sham » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:36 pm

A quick check shows that a drive from Michigan is about 32 hours on the road.
Have you considered loading up the family minivan with shade, a tent and all your supplies? You would have ample room to go shopping along the way, and if you're adventurous enough, you could even sleep in the vehicle along the way.
Think of all the great things you could now bring. A camping shower, a large shade structure as well as lots of great comforts that would usually seem out of place on the playa.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:56 pm

I’m a million percent with Sham on this. ROAD TRIP!!!
Burning Man really isn’t a good fly-in kind of thing.
You are correct, tenting for 8 days really sucks. I mean really sucks. Especially in a hot desert (sometimes cold too) with blowing dirt that gets everywhere.
If I wasn’t gonna bring my truck and trailer, there’s no way in hell I’d go.

I know people who road trip from further than you.

If your wife doesn’t like roughing it, have your divorce lawyer on speed dial after subjecting her to a week out there in a tent.
It’s possible to do Burning Man flying in, but it’s not possible to do it comfortably.
You just can’t bring what it takes in a suitcase.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by NikonKing » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:24 am

Jackass wrote:
Pow Pow wrote:
Yeah, the shower is a problem. No good answer for that. Plan on picking up a dish tub and using melted ice water and wash cloth for bath and then bath towel to evaporate water. And plenty of wet wipes.
Shower bag, garden sprayer, watering can, on-demand water heater with small pump... Stand in a plastic tote box. 1 gallon of water makes quite a luxurious shower out there.

BTW, if you forego the soaps, you don't even have to catch the water. You can skip that step...just do it where you won't mess up your's or your neighbor's camp in the process. That mud will be there all week, haunting you.
I've seen many posters who indicate that showers are certainly obtainable through friendly camps and neighbors. I'm not a mooch -- so maybe the "barter" system of some kind where I can gift them something in exchange for a shower? Thoughts?

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Jackass » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:23 am

It's entirely possible, but I would never count on it. Having to go around looking for a shower when you want to get clean must suck, how about just take one when you need/feel like it? Save that goodwill for something that's harder to get than a shower...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by AntiM » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:43 am

I've had friends make offers of showers, but one rarely appears when and where you need it. The well meaning offer falls through.

We use body wipes and a garden sprayer to clean ourselves very successfully. I just bundle up my hair most of the time, or have MyLarry wash it using a low water/low suds soap technique, capturing the water and hauling it out. We have a small evap pan, but avoid using it unless we must.

Body wipes are so much better than baby wipes, although both are useful. Go with unscented, the heat and dust makes anything scented extra weird.

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Papa Bear » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:05 pm

NikonKing wrote:I'm not a mooch -- so maybe the "barter" system of some kind where I can gift them something in exchange for a shower? Thoughts?
Barter is a form of commerce, and is therefore officially frowned upon. Additionally, camps are quite literally prohibited from offering showers to the general public as their gift.

There only two I know of that come anywhere close - the Human Carcass Wash at Poly Paradise (in which you stand in a tote, have others spray you down with a spray bottle, and then "squeegee" you dry with their hands) and the variously-named foam experience (you get a foam "shower" as part of a large group of naked people).

So that pretty much leaves you to the kindness of your neighbors. And honestly, not very many are going to make that offer, and often not when you want one. The problem with showers is that dealing with the graywater (catching it all and evaporating it or packing it out) in any quantity is decidedly non-trivial. Even RVs have limited graywater capacity, and if someone has to flag down a truck for servicing it's going to be expensive and take precious time away from their burn.

"Radical Self Reliance" isn't just about survival needs - it's also about what you feel is important. If there is anything you consider critical to enjoying your burn, whether that's the ability to shower, top-shelf liquor, a way to recharge electronics, or whatever else, it's best to figure out how to provide that for yourself.

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Eric » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:15 pm

I haven't showered out there since 2007 - within a few minutes of getting out, you're covered in dust again. I use No Rinse Body Wash & a washcloth for my hands, face, pits & bits; No Rinse Shampoo/ Conditioner for my beard. You smell like a nursing home for about 30 minutes, but the stuff works really well. Body wipes for hands & face through the day if they're feeling extra-gungie, or I'm about to eat. Everybody is covered in dust - as long as you don't reek nobody will care that you're dusty as well.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Leo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:52 pm

If having a camp shower is a priority for you, this would tip the scale to driving in to Burning Man rather than flying. Driving to the playa, you can bring all of the stuff you want/need. For my shower setup I have a black plastic concrete mixing tub to serve as the shower pan and evaporation device. Cedar duckboards sit at the bottom of this tub so I'm not standing in a puddle. For heating the water, I use a solar shower bag. Once the water is warm enough, it goes into a garden sprayer. If modesty is an issue, Cabelas sells camping shower enclosures which are basically a pop-up tent with a 30" x 30" footprint.

It's a dry heat, so you will bake, rather than sweat.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by torrey.smith » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:50 pm

NikonKing wrote: 6. Theme Camps
This has been the one area I'm at a loss in my prep. I'm huge into community and being part of something which will help to create a fabric to the 10 Principles of Burning Man. I've scoured the list from last year's burn (more than 2000 camps?!) and, well -- it is difficult, isn't it. Where do I belong? How do I know? It's certainly challenging, at best, to believe my bond to a particular theme camp is strong enough to send several hundred dollars sight unseen. This is the one area where being a newb (and utterly on his own) has been difficult to overcome. I'm open to your suggestions on this one. If you all knew me in my professional life, you'd be sure I was the one starting the camp. Maybe next year...
The struggle is real :mrgreen:

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Leo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:23 pm

Here is some more advice that you didn't ask for. I would skip joining a camp for your first year on the playa. During the week, get on your bike and cover as much ground as you can to see what is out there. The natives are friendly. During your wanderings in Black Rock City, you might come across a camp that resonates with you. This would give you an opportunity to preview camps then you can decide if joining a camp makes sense should you attend Burning Man in a following year. If you have a local or regional burner group in your neck of the woods, get involved and you might learn of a great camp from your local burners. You don't need to be in a camp to exercise the 10 principles.
Best Regards,
Leo

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Savannah » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Leo wrote:Here is some more advice that you didn't ask for. I would skip joining a camp for your first year on the playa. During the week, get on your bike and cover as much ground as you can to see what is out there. The natives are friendly. During your wanderings in Black Rock City, you might come across a camp that resonates with you. This would give you an opportunity to preview camps then you can decide if joining a camp makes sense should you attend Burning Man in a following year. If you have a local or regional burner group in your neck of the woods, get involved and you might learn of a great camp from your local burners. You don't need to be in a camp to exercise the 10 principles.
Agreed!

Both in this regard, and your shower advice. I use a concrete mixing tub too, but with spray bottles and wipes (kept in plastic bags, not the boxes . . . they dry out).
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by BBadger » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:56 pm

Even with access to a shower in our camp area I've not bothered, or forgotten. As mentioned above, you're always covered in dust anyway, and it's dry so you don't feel nearly as shitty as you would if you were in a place with humidity. You're mostly interested in cleaning your neither regions, which can be done without being immersed in a full spray of water. If there's a small evap pool I might spray some parts off with the garden sprayer I bring to clean stuff off, or maybe rinse some hair after a particularly dusty storm.

The foam shower is fun though, if you're willing to wait in line for it.
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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by Sham » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:46 pm

BBadger wrote:The foam shower is fun though, if you're willing to wait in line for it.
I wonder if he's comfortable getting nekkid in front of 100 (or so) people of all races, creeds and sexes? 8) (note to self, Google what creed actually means)

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Re: Newbie Order of Things

Post by BBadger » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:13 pm

Sham wrote:I wonder if he's comfortable getting nekkid in front of 100 (or so) people of all races, creeds and sexes? 8) (note to self, Google what creed actually means)
I certainly wasn't sure if I was, but did it anyway.

Good experience though, and felt great!
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