Burning Man 2007 | AspenTimes.com

Burning Man 2007

Morgan Smith

The Burning Man and a rising moon.

As we crept through the beginnings of a dust storm onto the Black Rock Desert on Thursday, Aug. 23, I wondered what had possessed us to rent a 30-foot RV and drive it all the way from Las Vegas to the Burning Man festival.

My wife, Julie, my college roommate John Cotton and I are all in our mid- to late 60s, some 30 years older than the average Burning Man attendee. We aren’t dopers, hippies, burners, nudists, radicals, heavy drinkers, all-night dancers, survivalists, exhibitionists or performance artists.

But here we were with our cameras ready, our newly bought goggles and face masks for the dust, and our RV stocked with the necessary food and water.

What followed was an extraordinary visual experience ” the staggering variety of artwork arrayed on the enormous “playa” or dry lake bed, the people themselves (there were about 45,000 in attendance), and the whimsical vehicles that were prepared specially for the event and endlessly cruised the playa.

All this takes place in a unique and desolate setting ” the Black Rock Desert and its huge playa (a silt alkaline salt pan, in technical terms), located at 3,848 feet above sea level.

Here are some images of what we saw. In addition, let me say a word about the Burning Man experience itself, beyond just the sheer physical beauty.

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Despite Burning Man’s image as a place where you’d expect lots of drugs and alcohol, I only saw one person who was visibly drunk during the three days we were there. And despite the harshness of the surroundings and the large number of people, we only saw one display of anger in those three days ” a man complaining about his coffee. Everywhere we went, we felt welcome and secure.

What’s next? Well, that was a simple decision. As soon as we got the monster RV back to the Cruise America office in Las Vegas, I reserved an RV for 2008. We’re going back!