I was woken up by heat again Thursday morning. I think it first woke me up around seven and I tried to keep sleeping but by eight, even with the doors and such unzipped, I was done! Our morning routine was that I'd wake Connor up by the time we needed to leave for breakfast, so I got him awake and we headed off.
We came back and sat with one of our awesome neighbours for a bit. Connor and I each came up with a nickname for him, but they weren't quite Playa name worthy...yet. He had a great plan for his outfit for the day and I was really proud of them for being such great first time neighbours. Yes, they'd come to party, but they'd also really thought through how they would participate and they really tried to liven up wherever they went.
At one point, a rough looking guy, wearing a bra and short shorts with a hairy chest and long, blonde dreads walked by and I gave him/her a whistle. I was expecting a happy wave back, but instead, he/she turned around and in the deepest, roughest voice yelled back to us "Do you have any Ketamine?"
These are the kind of random moments you encounter at Burning Man and after I shouted back that "no, sorry sweetheart, we don't" we all had a good laugh about the weirdness of what had just happened.
We sat and talked some more while the other (good) neighbour boys put on their crazy fun outfits and then they all headed out for their day of adventures.
It...was hot. At noon, I read the thermometer at 110 F (43 C my fellow Canadians) and kind of went.. wow... it's hot, and I'm "ok"! I mean, I was hot, but doing so much better with it than last year. It was once again too hot in our "shade" structure. (I say "shade" with quotations because it's really not the best for this kind of heat and sun, but it's all we have at the moment) I put down the sun blocking side thing and realized it was oven-like in our little area. So, I decided we should go out.
You can either sit in a too hot shade structure and roast on a hot day, or you can decide to head out and hopefully get some breeze and maybe some cooler shade. Just make sure you're covered from the sun and have lots of water. (At this point in the week, sunscreen isn't really doing as much as the dust is, because the sunscreen you put on gets so much dust stuck to it you have this extra strong SPF for free!)
We stopped off at the "Artery" (the main camp for finding out about the art and art placement) and when I turned around, there was the glorious art car I'd sat and watched from our camp last year. I started to cry.
I hadn't been sure I'd be able to find or see it again this year and there it had just shown up. (Playa provides) I went up to it, still crying and went and spoke to the main artist and driver. I told him what it had meant to me (through my tears) last year and thanked him so much. He said he was really touched to hear that and we exchanged a big hug. I gave him one of my necklace gifts and Connor and I stood in the shade of it for a while while I cried it all out. It was some sort of magical circle that I hadn't even really realized needed to be completed. It was perfect. To me... those guys and that art car ARE Burning Man. Perfect.
We went to Center Camp next... it was hot... but I sat myself down next to a funny art piece for a while and giggled along with people as they sat and realized that if they "yelled" into the mouthpiece of the thing it would vibrate along into the seating area of the piece and, well, heh.
And then? The icy hands guy came by.
And I started to cry again. But a happy cry as I told him just how much I loved him and his icy hands that saved the day and I told him he'd saved me last year and man oh man did it ever feel good to have him put those freezing cold hands on my face again. (If you don't remember from last year, he's a fellow who goes around holding a giant block of ice and then if you want, puts his freezing cold hands on your face, head, back of the neck... it's amazing. A perfect gift.)
We left center camp eventually and saw that there was a short ice line! Connor... ran! Which made me giggle, and I followed behind after locking up our bikes.
There was a nice French girl in the lineup who gave us heart stickers and placed them on our faces for us. I took polaroid (Fuji instamax, to be technical) shots of people in line (which always results in smiles) and we biked home with our ice.
Where... it was hot. H. O. T. Hot.
I wrote down that I still dislike the frat boys on the other side of us and their janky shelter but that I also had to remember that Everyone Burns Differently.
It translates into a life lesson (as so many Burning Man things do) but... it just felt important to me that I remember that doing it "my" way works for me and doesn't mean it's the right way for anyone else to do it. Everyone burns differently and that's ok. Or, I need to be ok and accepting of that. (I'm not sure it means I have to like everyone but...maybe just not judge if I feel they're doing it "wrong".) I don't know... it's hard. But... everyone burns differently.
It was roast beef for dinner again and I stayed away from the extra killer spicy flakes this time (and crossed my fingers) and I had the most delicious green beans I've ever ever had in my life. After dinner, I wanted to go home, but instead we went looking for the phone booth we'd heard about instead (you could make a five minute phone call to anywhere in the world for free. Gifting. It's amazing.) We got distracted by some big Playa art (I seem to remember a giant planet model thing... [I looked and apparently they're called Orreries]) and art cars and a burn (some pieces burn Thursday) and never did manage to find the phone booth. (We only had a vague idea as to where it was anyway)
We headed home eventually and on our way, passed by this giant set of stairs that was down the "road" from us. I'd told myself I would never climb them (what with heights not being my thing) but they were blasting Led Zeppelin and there was no way I could ignore that much of a sign!
I only made it about half way up the 42 giant stairs before I had to sit down. The stairs, when open, had one of the builders on them at all times and so this guy came down to talk to me. He told me he was from Seattle (yay PacNorWest!) and that he knew how safe the stairs were because he'd help build them. (It was his first burn... awesome)
I told him I wasn't worried about the safety, just that heights made me feel like I was going to fall off of them. He asked me to take his hand. Which I did, and he held my hand nice and tight.
"Now do you feel like you're going to fall off?" he asked. And the funny thing was, I didn't anymore.
So.... I got up, turned around, grabbed hold of the railing again and made my way up alllll the way to the top of the Stairway to Heaven (which they'd wanted to call it that but thought it was to cheesy... I solemnly disagree.) and for the first time, I got to see Burning Man from the top.
It was.. spectacular.
Sure, I'd seen the night time photos taken from high vantage points, so I knew what the city looked like all spread out and lit up and just incredible but there I was, listening to Zep, at Burning Man, looking down on this incredible, temporary city in the middle of a Nevada desert, just teeming with life and fun and joy and art and engineering and humanity and it was breathtaking. Spectacular and amazing and I'm so glad I did it. So glad I went to Burning Man, ever... and again, and so glad I got myself to the top of those stairs, despite it being frightening and not my favourite thing to do.
I got down, a little shaky kneed, and wanted to talk to Jason. I guess I wanted to share this awesome moment with him. So when I got home I turned on my phone (it was beyond weird to me to see I had cell reception) and I got a few texts from people which made me smile.
We were invited by one of our Vancouver neighbours to come to a "block party" at one of the camps in the 9:00 area called Crossroads. I didn't want to go, and Connor was feeling about the same, but I figured it was probably better than just going to sleep (I told myself I could sleep when I got home!) so we decided to give it a go.
We went to the 9:00 plaza and found a camp that had video game arcade type things that they'd altered to make awesome to play (ie, play Street Fighter by using the controllers for Rock Band. Sweet.) Connor kicked my butt in two separate games and then we headed out. We found the Flaming Lotus art piece and watched as they started up the propane in the ... I don't know... awesome fire cauldrons? I talked to someone there about how it all worked and how and why it looked so cool (you could stir the fire like a zen garden) and how she got involved.
We were going to head out into open Playa but I saw the place where the neighbours all were and I sort of figured we should at least half-heartedly try to find them so we could at least not lie and say we'd tried.
But then, I saw our fun neighbours in their awesome, unmissable costumes and it was great to see them and they, and our other neighbours were so happy to see us, I'm really glad we went. They all said how awesome we were and I sat there wondering why I couldn't just accept it rather then coming up with all the reasons they probably didn't mean it. (I guess I don't see myself as that awesome so it's hard for me to believe other people who don't know me that well would?)
The music was fantastic.
They were having electrical problems (the playa dust wreaks havoc on electronics) but they just kept giving it a go until they found a "clean" line and then they kicked serious ass.
Crossroads is this amazing collection of I don't know how many... 30? 40? musicians from all over who get together at Burning Man and put on live music! With actual sound systems and lighting and a stage! So there you are... in the middle of a desert, listening to a live, great band with full light and sound that they're doing JUST FOR US and just for fun! It's incredible. Blow your mind incredible.
They were playing songs from the 90s and they did some fantastic mashups in the middle of the set including a mashup of "Give it Away" and "Come Together" of all things.
So much fun.
I don't know how long we were there, it was so much fun being surrounded by so many people from Vancouver/Victoria/BC/Canada! Our own little Canadian party, woo hooo!
I started to get tired (and a little sore... I'd brought my backpack as I always do and it was annoying) (I'm wondering if next year I don't always need my water and gear with me and could maybe have a lighter bag with me... or just goggles and dust mask and lights... something to consider, anyway) and Connor said he didn't mind heading home.
We said our goodbyes and as we were heading for our bikes Connor ran into the friends he'd gone to his first ever burn with. Awesome. And, kind of how Burning Man works.