Saturday was my only day with nothing pre-planned and nothing I had committed to do. The burn was almost over and I was starting to feel nibbles of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so I was determined to go see some more art (especially the Temple of Gravity, which was wayyyyy out in deep playa), and cajoled Josh into going with me to ride over there before it got too hot. We eventually got dressed and geared up with water and chill neckcloths and scarves and hats and made it out by around 10am, and headed out the 9:00 side towards the deep playa (which is everything that is past the Temple and the circle of the inner playa). We started going from art piece to art piece, following the time-honored adventure ritual of “hey what’s that? Let’s go look.”
We did see some amazing art, including the incredibly impressive Temple of Gravity, which was a giant curved metal frame from which were suspended five huge multi-ton slabs of granite on metal chains—they were so perfectly balanced that you could push on one of the suspended slabs and it would move and sway. It was a trippy feeling of contrast to be a puny little soft monkey yet able to make a giant heavy slab of rock dance.
Another favorite of mine was the Flower Tower, a humongous central rocket-shaped tower with multiple smaller rocket towers around it, each made of steel and covered with hundreds of individually shaped and colorfully painted metal flowers. This was made by Reared in Steel, who are local artists just up the highway from us in Petaluma. When I was at the Rivertown Revival festival back in July they’d set up one of the small rocket towers and next to it a booth where you could make a flower or two for the towers—I had a lot of fun making one and of course I looked for the one I made when I saw the whole thing in the desert, but there were far too many so I didn’t find it. It was super impressive and possibly my favorite piece of art at the burn. Did I mention it also shot fire out from the top, and lit up in beautiful rainbow colors at night? Amazing.
It was a beautiful morning to be touring the deep playa, clear and hot with very little wind (and therefore very little dust), which made for great visibility so that you could really see the vast distances involved. I tried to take pictures that captured the immensity of the open playa and the towering mountains that surround it, but I really couldn’t do that vista justice at all. You could see little teeny bumps of things on the horizon, which as you got closer would resolve into enormous art installations (or sometimes smaller ones, because distance out there is tricky).
We had a great time flitting from piece to piece, and eventually we made it all the way out to the fabled trash fence (the fence that the Burning Man org puts up to mark the boundary of the event, and which provides a kind of loose containment device for the windborne MOOP that inevitably happens). I’d been telling myself that I wanted to make it all the way out to the trash fence for the last 5 burns, and I finally did it. (On my tricycle no less! I was impressed with both of us.) I had had a somewhat romanticized, fuzzy idea in my head of what deep playa and the trash fence actually looked like, and now I have a real idea of what it looks like and what it means to adventure out there. I would definitely go do that again. It is far and it takes some effort and some preparation to go out there (you would NOT want to be caught unprepared in a huge dust storm, for example), but it’s fun and totally worth it, especially because it is so relatively uncrowded.
Eventually it started getting really seriously hot, and we headed back to camp, taking breaks in the shade of whatever art project we came upon. I especially remember one grateful break inside the small shaded dome of the Black Rock Observatory (another place I’d been wanting to visit for years, but unfortunately it really is something you need to go to at night, so this didn’t really count). We made it back around noon or so and had to chill out for a while in our yurt (which wasn’t as easy as it had been previously, because our A/C had stopped working, boo).
So after a while I went to go chill out in frontage, both because it wasn’t as comfortable in the yurt as I wanted, and because our new friend Marie (a super talented illustrator from Paris) was drawing something on our yurt and didn’t want us to see it until she was done. (We had invited people to come write and draw on our yurt walls, almost like a yearbook signing, although not too many people did so...mostly because we were too lazy, I mean distracted, to bug people to come do it.) Once she was done and showed us what she had drawn on the inner doorway, we were totally blown away. She’d made a portrait of me and Josh as a Viking bard and warrior (“I knew you guys liked role playing games so I thought you’d like this”) and it was fantastic! One of the things that happened at the very end of the burn is that we scored a new free yurt from an imploded plug-and-play camp so we may not be using our old yurt anymore, but we will certainly save that door panel as art.
So there was more hanging around frontage and I spent a couple more hours giving out wooden heart necklaces and explaining the radical love ritual associated with them, and I took down the two big wooden hearts from the Gifting Wall and gave them to Karpo, who was kind enough to take them to the Temple to be burned. Eventually there was some sort of dinner, and then it was time to get dressed up for burn night (aka the night when the Man burns, the big celebratory culmination to the week). Josh and I decided to spend burn night at Pink Heart, partly because we were tired and feeling homebodyish, partly because we didn’t have friends to go meet up with (our traditional burn night buddies Mary and Evan didn’t come to Burning Man this year, having just given birth to a beautiful baby girl in August), and partly because Mom, who we also have spent the burn with the last few years, had had a bike accident earlier that day and had a tweaked ankle so she couldn’t walk very far. Plus it seemed like a lot of Pinkies were planning on hanging around and watching the burn from frontage anyway (this being one of the advantages of being an Esplanade camp...yes the Man was far out there but you could still see it pretty clearly from our frontage....and if you sat in the right spot you could even see the burn framed in the Heart Arch, which was pretty).
I spent some time taking pictures with Kathy and some other Pinkies in the heart light and then I settled down to watch the burn, which was spectacular even from a distance, with sprays of fireworks and big roiling balls of fire. We not only shared the evening with a bunch of Pink Hearters, but also a cute couple (alas I have forgotten their names already) who had just met at Pink Heart earlier that day and were clearly having a lovely romantic burn night together. (Awww, Pink Heart romances are the best!) One of them was a guy who had been one of my best “salespeople” for the wooden heart necklace radical love ritual earlier that evening—it was really cool to see the ritual “catch on” with other people and the resonance they felt with the ritual.
It was a lovely, loving pink evening. We stayed up til probably 1 or so in the morning, and then grudgingly went to bed because we knew we would have to get up at “stupid o’clock” (7am!) to start striking camp before it got too hot.