In some of my posts I mentioned being very overwhelmed and looking forward to the hopeful feeling of accomplishment for not joining a camp. Well I can say that we for sure feel accomplished, we survived. We were prepared enough that despite the worst dust and wind in 5 years our camp remained standing and we had enough supplies, food and water to give some away toward the end of the week. I am glad that we did it the hard way once, but let me emphasize once. When we go back we will go in an RV and with a larger camp. Save yourself the stress – these options are expensive, but getting everything you need to try to hack it the hard way was not exactly cheap. Besides, the money we saved we paid for in stress. Take the easier way, it would have saved us so many tears and would not have taken anything away from the experience. You will hardly ever be at your camp (unless you have schedules at a theme camp) but not dealing with the wind, dust and being comfortable when you do want to rest is worth it’s weight in gold.
Our humble little camp had a tent (off to the right) that was strictly for all of our supplies. Food, Water, Clothing, Camp supplies, toys, ect. It was nice to keep everything in one place and relatively organized. We did forget to tape some of the screen at the top of the tent and so EVERYTHING was covered in so much dust. When the dust came, having each individual item sealed in a bin with a lid, or in a gallon zip lock bag was a life saver. I can not stress enough how much you need to use lids and zip lock bags.
We used an ottoman for our seat (it has storage for the things we needed all the time, and will not blow away) Behind our camp was the van that we rented and slept in. We had a sheet over the door but dust still got EVERYWHERE. We had issues that kept us from closing the door, but if we could have done so that would have been really, really great.
To the left the orange bin was our impromptu shower space on the last day. We had some misters left over from a concert we went to, and they worked pretty well.
The main area of our camp was an Easy Up that we reinforced with PVC pipe and duct tape.
We used really heavy duty tree stakes that we found at Home Depot. Rebar is highly recommended, but we found so much information on the dangers of rebar that we chose to try a different way. The day we were setting up, we saw several other people using these same stakes. Maybe this will catch on. These stakes are plastic, 15-16” and they worked really well. They have spots on the top to tie your lines, and are wide enough that they can be hammered into the ground without too much struggle. (I mean it sure looked like Max wasn’t struggling too much, I was not the hammer-er)
To get these out on the last day, we dug a hole around them, hammered the sides so that they would loosen a bit and then with a mini crowbar we just yanked them out.
On Friday (about 3 days to go) I saw some of our neighbors with Yard Sale signs, and so we decided to put out all of the extra stuff that we had. People were really grateful that we were giving away tape, snacks and all sorts of other supplies. It was a really nice experience in gifting, and a great way to not have as much to haul home.
Beyond the camp the first thing you need is a bike. Get a cheap bike, the dust will destroy it. The last few days everywhere we went we heard squeaky, rattling bikes that sounded as if they may not survive much longer.
I had a basket and a little back carrier on my bike, and I was often wishing for even more storage. I had my cup on a carabiner attached to my bike (or my bag) and my water pack was strapped to the back.
We were definitely the only bikers I saw with helmets, but I (Erica) have anxiety, so it made me feel a lot better, The roads are very bumpy and there were more than a few times that someone almost crashed into me trying to cut across to a potty or an event.
The next most important survival item is your survival bag. This can be any sort of bag you want, I went for an over the shoulder hiking bag with a lot of storage. Organization seemed impossible (although I tried). Make sure whichever bag you choose is comfortable since you take your bag EVERYWHERE, Don’t leave home without it. We kept snacks, water, gifts, a light (for your self if you end up out at night), zip lock bags (for trash), 1 ply toilet paper, hand sanitizer, our cup, an eating utensil, our dust mask, goggles, a compass, wet wipes, condoms, a notebook, a marker / pen, walkie talkies, first aid kit, emergency poncho, gloves, and spare batteries. All of these items are important. Make sure for goggles that you get a really good dust proof pair. I used a bandanna for my mouth, and that seemed just fine.
That shawl on my shoulder was white, Swear.
You will not regret the goggles, (or wet wipes for a quick clean off) as you will be biking, walking, and standing in dust storms.
Yep, those are Max’s legs covered in dust. COVERED. We are still wiping dust off of things that we brought home. Will we ever get rid of it all?!
Oh and as for the pre-arrival freak out over the bugs. Well there were no bugs, but apparently almost every year there is a big buzz about something and yet the show must go on. Burners persevere, they survive. Wind, dust, rain, floods, heat, cold, or even bugs (had they stayed around).
This was pretty much it for bugs. Oh No!!!
Lastly, not a survival note but Burning Man builds a city. Complete with streets, street signs and destinations. So we had a flag, and some solar lights to keep out camp identifiable. You do not get an assigned spot unless you are with a group, you just drive around and find a free looking patch of sand. You will learn your address (4:15 and I for us) and you could even get mail sent to you! But now we have a really neat flag, so keep an eye out for us in the future!!