We went to Burning Man for our Honeymoon and it was magical!
When Jason asked me to marry him in 2014 I had one prerequisite:
That we could go to Burning Man for our honeymoon.
That however, was easier said than done, but he kept his promise and with all the trials and tribulations that went along with that promise, I would do it all over again in a HEARTBEAT! The planning that went into our honeymoon was INSANE and the money that we spent could have funded a trip around the globe. If you are planning a visit to Burning Man, you might want to read this post. We learned a lot (the hard way) and someday hope to be back on the Playa again. Next time though we will do things a little different. Let me explain.
Luckily for us, we didn't put too much planning into our actual wedding because 3 weeks before it was supposed to take place the owner of the venue died and our wedding was cancelled. That is another story, for another day, but the planning we focused on mainly was our honeymoon to Burning Man and Black Rock City in Northern Nevada. It was a good thing too, because it took way more time planning that, than we initially thought. We didn't have a place to stay. We didn't have a way to get there. Hell, we didn't even have a ticket to get in. What we did have was time, and it's a good thing because we NEEDED it.
As we researched the whole process of going to Burning Man, we knew we needed to be completely self reliant and self contained. The ONLY thing they sell at Burning Man is coffee and ice and that definitely was not enough to survive on for an entire week. We needed somewhere to stay, and since we are definitely not "tenters" we knew we needed an RV or Camper for the week. We did have a truck, but it was over 10 years old and the wear and tear of the 20 hour drive and playa dust was NOT appealing to Jason at all. I knew I had to figure out a solution that would make both of us happy. After all, it was his honeymoon too, and I did want him to enjoy himself.
The first thing I looked into was renting an RV for the week. I discovered that option would be unsuccessful for a number of reasons. First, there were no RVs available to rent that week within a 500 mile radius of us. Second, if I did find an RV available, it was close to $3500 for the rental PLUS a cleaning fee because of the fine playa dust that would encompass the inside as well as the outside of the rig. Third, certain companies would not rent to anyone going to Burning Man due to the harsh conditions the playa (and renters) caused the camper. My dreams were quickly being squashed and I hadn't even had a chance to apply for the tickets to go. UGH!!!
Now for those of you that know me well, you know I'm not going down without a fight. I could have rented an RV for $3500 but to me that is pure insanity. If I'm going to spend money like that, I might as well buy an RV right? Well guess what? That's exactly what I did and to this day we still use that camper and LOVE the memories we make in it.
Problem #1 solved.
Now onto the next hurdle and this one was a dosey!
Since Jason was uneasy about driving his existing truck almost 600 miles to Lovelock, Nevada where Black Rock City and the Burning Man Festival was, I had to find another way to pull it. It wasn't a big camper, at only 25 feet and weighing in under 5000 pounds, but we still needed a strong truck to pull it and unbeknownst to me you cannot just call a rental company and rent a truck with a trailer hitch attached. WHAT?!?!?! How did I not know that? I was floored when I found out I now had a place to stay and no way to get it there. I was devastated and really feeling defeated because I spent so much money buying the dang trailer and I knew we couldn't pull it with our own truck. Like the crazy person I am, I continued to search for a solution and eventually, something came to my attention. I found that Enterprise had a commercial division that if you had a company, you could rent commercial vehicles for use. And guess what...they had 3/4 ton trucks that were equipped to haul a trailer. The best part was that these trucks were new, heavy duty, and meant to get dirty because contractors use them on the job sites. PERFECT! We were able to use our own company profile to secure the rental and for the second time in my planning process I was a happy girl!
Problem #2 solved!
Now to get the tickets, yay!!!
The final piece of the puzzle was securing tickets and they don't make that easy either. I actually consider us very lucky because it was our first year trying to go to Burning Man and we did get tickets. From what I found out later many people try year after year and never get tickets. The process starts after the first of the year and like an obsessive girlfriend I had to watch daily postings for information when the burning man registration would open up. At the time you had to register on a certain day, at a certain time, and hope to get accepted into the lottery. I do not go to a lot of concerts but I think it's similiar to getting a numbered wristband to hold your place in line to buy your ticket. Once we were accepted into the lottery, we had to wait about a week until they opened up ticket sales. The lottery did not guarantee us a ticket because there were approximately 120,000 people in the lottery and only 70,000 tickets available. I was able to purchase these tickets of gold at the cost of only $980 (if I remember correctly) for the whole week. Not bad considering it WAS our honeymoon!
Problem #3 solved!
By March 2015 we had everything secured. We had a new trailer, a rental agreement with Enterprise, and our tickets purchased. We would receive a whole packet of Burning Man info along with our actual tickets around June since the festival wasn't until the end of August. So, me being a crafter, I kept myself busy doing more research and making burner costumes. I think this was my favorite part of the planning process. We watched videos on you tube, made countless lists of things we needed to bring, and mapped out our drive up north. We meticulously planned where we would stop to fuel the truck, take breaks, and our final shopping trip before the last stretch out to no man's land. It was an exciting time and although I was very excited for our wedding day in July, I was eagerly waiting for our honeymoon that was over a month after our wedding. It would be the longest month of my life!
The drive up to Black Rock City was long and we decided to leave in the middle of the night on a Friday to get to our destination early and have time to grocery shop and fill our water tanks, shower, and just get in one last day of full hook-ups before our week long boon docking trip. We drove straight through (only stopping for gas) to Reno, NV where we bought all our food, beer, and ice we thought would be enough. We would soon learn that we didn't have enough beer and leaving the Playa to get more was not only a bad idea, but it would be a very expensive one! We made it to Pyramid Lake by Saturday night where we had reservations for one night and that is where we did our final preparations for our Burning Man stay. It was a beautiful lake, on Indian Reservation, and it only cost $25 for the night for full hook-ups. We both enjoyed one last hot shower and knew it would be missed dearly in the upcoming week.
Sunday was a long day.
The Burning Man gate would open at noon and we wanted to be there at a reasonable time. We woke up excited to venture the last 45 minutes on our journey through two towns: Nixon and Gerlach. These were small towns and the people there welcomed Burners for the most part by selling items and costumes geared towards the festival. It was a busy time for them and I'm sure they made a good chunk of change, because our 45 minute drive turned into an 8 hour line. We sat in our cars ALL DAY moving a mile at a time every 30 minutes or so. Getting through the gate was time consuming and by the time we got to our camping spot on the playa we were both exhausted. We set up, ate some food, drank a few beers, and went to bed hoping to wake refreshed and able to enjoy the Playa on its first full day.
Monday was a great day and we got to see a lot of the art displayed on the Playa. The weather was amazing so we took our bikes and headed out to every one we could ride to. They are not close together by any means. Picture yourself trying to ride a bike to every hotel in Vegas. That is how vast Black Rock City feels and with 70,000 visitors parts can be crowded. We took our time and stopped to take photos of every one. I was in costume so Jason took lots of me too. I loved every minute of it. This is what I had been waiting for, for months, and now I was experiencing something few actually get to do. I was in Heaven, and it was BEAUTIFUL!
After dinner Monday night we ventured out again to experience Burning Man after dark. No joke, it is DARKER THAN DARK out there on the Playa and unless you and your bike is well lit, it can be very dangerous. We took some photos but that was even challenging because of the 750 art cars that you have to be aware of driving around everywhere. You have to be careful out there. You have to be lit well, and you have to keep your head on a swivel at all times. It was an experience to say the least, but not my favorite part of Burning Man at all. Here are a few of the images we got but since we were not out too long, we really didn't take many.
Morning number three brought us a beautiful sunrise that we made sure not to miss. The weather was once again perfect, and although our butts were sore from all the riding we did the prior day, we once again got on our bikes and headed straight for the Temple. It was a beautifully structured temple and I think the best one Burning Man has ever seen. Every year the design of the temple changes and this one was simply breathtaking.
As I walked through it, the Temple reminded me of a massive cornucopia that had such a beautiful collection of curves, it drew you into its center. It seemed to stretch on and on, its slats beaming with the morning sun as it rose up over the horizon and the morning air getting warmer by the minute. And the amazing thing was, it was eerily quiet because of its sacred state. People came here to honor loved ones that passed, pray, meditate, and think. It was something to see and inspirational at the same time. A week ago this didn't exist here one the Playa, and a week from now it would be all gone. Burnt to the ground like the man, lost forever.
After we got sunrise images we decided to go back to our camper to eat some breakfast and take a nap. We had big plans later that day to go visit the "Man" and another costume to model. We didn't know it at the time, but today would be the last day we got good weather and clear photos. We had a great time and really enjoyed visiting the Center of Black Rock City where "The Man" resided.
By the end of day three we were exhausted! We got a great night sleep that night but woke up to lots of wind and ZERO visibility. It was awful. We decided to venture out anyway because there were still some art installations that were being built and we really wanted to see them completed. We had scarves to mask our faces and bags to shield our cameras so we figured "why not". We were here and we were determined to get the most out of our stay. If I had this day to do over again there would be SO MANY things I would change. This was one of the hardest days in my opinion because I'm not a fan of wind so I was miserable to say the least. We did get some cool photos though:
It didn't take long for the wind to get to both of us and soon we were back in our camper trying to get the Playa dust out of places that it just doesn't belong. We noticed that we were getting low on beer so we decided to go into town to get more. Burning Man strongly frowns on people leaving the Playa and so they charge $20 PER PERSON to leave the gate. Next time we go to Burning Man you bet your damn ass we will have enough beer for a MONTH because wasting $40 is not my cup of tea! To add insult to injury an 18 pack of beer was $58 and since I HAD to have a 2015 Burning Man Poster, we were well over $100 for our little trip to town for beer. Lesson learned. Never again.
The rest of our stay ay Burning Man is unfortunately a blur for me. When we returned to the Playa we decided to have a few drinks with our Playa neighbor who earlier in the day invited us for Bloody Marys. Since Jason doesn't like them I was the only one who drank them and got completely HAMMERED, passed out around 5pm, and slept until 6pm the next day. I still to this day am convinced I got roofied. Long story short, we left the Playa Thursday evening after I had a small breakdown about being so vulnerable to this harsh atmosphere that my 40 something body could not handle. I thought Burning Man would be easy, fun, inviting, inspirational, spiritual, life changing, and Bucket List worthy. I'm here to tell you it was all that PLUS difficult, intimidating, sleep depriving, hot, dusty, and definitely not something to take for granted. Only ONE person warned me about the difficulty Burning Man would present and I wish I would have listened to him more, asked more questions, and just BELIEVED him.
We spent the duration of our Honeymoon back at Pyramid Lake in the very spot we started our journey. We washed all our laundry, took hot showers, dumped our tanks, and cleaned our new trailer inside and out. We had an amazing weekend on the lake with no wind, dust, or Bloody Marys. We ate Indian Tacos made by a local Indian woman that were so insanely delicious I had never tasted anything like them! We had the most peace and quiet I think I have ever experienced and I discovered a part of me I didn't realize was there. We didn't get a chance to see the man burn, or the sacred temple for that matter, but I got so much more out of my experiences that weekend. My incredible new husband gave me the honeymoon of a lifetime even though all the odds were against us to get there. He took care of me when I was so drunk and unable to take care of myself. And when I couldn't take The Playa anymore he got me away from the very thing I would have given anything to go to because he knew I did my best and it was just too much for me at the time. I realized that weekend I didn't need a Honeymoon to Burning Man to make my life complete. I needed the man that made my life complete and although it took me 44 years to find him, I am determined to get 44 more with him. He is my saint and savior and that man, that incredible man, keeps me grounded. Keeps things real. Keeps me alive. To him, I say "Thank YOU" for believing in ME. I love you, Jason xox.