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What’s the condition of Burning Man’s Playa? check out Playa Cam & BRC Video

May 28, 2009
Gary Snyder's book in the Black Rock Desert

Gary Snyder's book in the Black Rock Desert

Just in case you didn’t know, Burning Man takes place on a “playa,” which is Spanish for beach, which is an apt enough name considering that the playa is a lake much of the year, with plenty of beach!

I first heard about the Black Rock Desert from friends trying to convince me to go to Burning Man with them in 1992.  A few days later I was talking with Gary Snyder at the Squaw Valley Writers Conference about Great Basin National Park and he suggested to me I go see Black Rock, one of his favorite places on the planet, he said. That’s high praise coming from someone like Gary Snyder, author of so many wonderful books of poetry and prose about wild places, including one about Black Rock, not to mention the man featured in Kerouac’s Dharma Bums.motherkid-120

The Black Rock Desert’s playa where Burning Man takes place is in the north eastern part of Nevada. I’ve heard it said that the Black Rock Desert is so large that you can see the curvature of the earth; I’ve also heard that’s an optical illusion. It is one of the largest, flattest areas of land on earth. For miles and miles you see nothing but flat dry alkali former lake bed; most winters it is covered in a shallow slick of snow and water. The amount of water and snow determines the quality of the playa we play on come Burning Man time in Labor Day.

Hint: if there’s not enough water, the playa gets really really dusty, and it can be hard to ride your bike to get around. And if it rains during Burning Man, which it does with a vengence every few years, that dust turns into mudslicks. Walking you get moon boots raising you several inches high as the muck cakes on. The alkali composition means that water just makes every thing slippery; the best way to wash it off is with vinegar.

Have I made you curious? Learn more about the Black Rock desert here: While you’re there check out the new PLAYACAM which gives you a straight shot onto the playa towards BRC (Black Rock City, the temporary installation of a community which houses 50,000 inhabitants during the Black Rock Arts Festival aka Burning Man. Remember,  how it looks now will impact how it will be when we get there!

For more video Burning Man fun, check out LENNY JONES & CLAUDIA’S BURNING MAN VIDEOS  which run about 58
minutes in 6 clips, all shot in HD.


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