Vote Charlie!

Lazy days of building mind, body and soul

Posted at age 25.
Created . Edited .

Despite abundant options, I managed to do relatively little while the burning sun ruled the land. Not retiring till dawn was a big contributor, causing me to submit to a late start every day. Sleep past sunrise was implausible, though, so I tried to relax around camp in lieu of those lost hours in the dream state.

One of my goals for next year is to experience more of the daytime goings on. But the little I did do was still amazing, and I have my camp to thank for much of that.

There were fewer than 10 of us Monday, as most of the camp was to arrive Wednesday, so it was fairly mellow the first few nights. But the camp slowly got put together as people trickled in.


Monday morning, our camp did not have much set up aside from the truck


Brad and my tent

After Brad and I got up and ate, we went out to explore more. Burning Man in daylight was quite interesting, even though I had some idea what things looked like from photos of previous years. I was very happy to see the playa was so packed biking was not at all a problem.


My first glimpse of the open playa, with The Man in the distance


Large bike tires are preferred, but the playa was pretty packed this year from the recent rains

This is probably a good point to explain how Burning Man is laid out. It is basically a slightly more than half circle of general camps surrounding an open middle area where most of the art displays are. The circular streets are named after letters, and the spokes are named for the time they represent as if they were ticks on a clock.

This map doesn’t have street labels, but you can get the idea.

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Map of photos I took at Burning Man. I apparently have a lot more of the city of explore next year!


7:30 Street

Everyone carries water, a dust mask and goggles for protection from the elements. Single ply toilet paper, sunscreen and snacks are also a good idea. Radical self reliance is the key. The weather was hot, but not horribly so this year. Generally people wear little during the day. Just about anything goes on the playa, and people can dress as they please without fear of judgment. This is part of another Burning Man principle, radical self expression. Nudity is not as common as I expected, but there are definitely many nudists. More commonly, I saw scarves or shorts, but not much more, which was definitely practical in the heat!



Much of the population slept in tents, it appeared, but there were other options. A common alternative to a tent is the yurt, a sort of reflective foam insulation structure designed to regulate temperature better than a tent. Many people with yurts even installed solar powered air conditioners and other comforts.

Then, there are people who sleep in RVs, of course, and also some people sleeping in U-Haul trucks, like several of my camp mates! I do think my experience was greatly enhanced by sleeping in a tent, bathing under a trickling bag of water in full view of passers by and generally being exposed. Those things all helped bring me closer to true self reliance.


Mike and Joey's yurt


Yurts come in all shapes and sizes, but mostly pointy


A lovely yurt entrance


GlamCocks tent setup under canopies

For the first few days of the week, most camps appeared incomplete. The city sprouts up very quickly, though. The population seems to double daily till the weekend climax.


Many camps around us are still setting up


The GlamCocks doing some home improvement

Our de facto camp leader Danny managed to pick up a 20 foot tower through Craiglist, so we started assembling that Monday or Tuesday. There was quite a bit of debate about how high we should make it since we didn’t have a good way to secure it. We ended up borrowing some larger rebar stakes from another camp.


The meager beginnings of the Big Girtha tower

I was most excited for our supposed dance dome, but it didn’t get set up till later in the week. There was plenty to do in the mean time, though. Burning Man publishes and distributes to all upon entrance an event book that notes hundreds of scheduled happenings. That isn’t to say everything is planned. I decided not to spend any time at all perusing the book, and instead just opted to go with the flow and see what happens. This worked out just fine.

During one of our group excursions, we happened upon the Voodoo Shooting Gallery, a camp that sets up a blow dart range. They also have a free bar and give out prize cups.


Voodoo Shooting Gallery


Voodoo Shooting Gallery


Voodoo Shooting Gallery


Voodoo Shooting Gallery


Brad and I at the Voodoo Shooting Gallery

Our neighbor camp was running a DJ at all hours and also a bar. They had a trampoline, too, and we took full advantage. I forgot what it is like to jump on one! And I didn’t die!


The camp across the street from us set up a trampoline right away, so we had to play

After Brad and I had our fill of nude jumping with Bryan, our new friend from a nearby camp, we biked back out to the playa to relax. We went all the way to the trash fence and lay down in the dirt, and even made dirt angels.


Deep playa

Eventually we headed back to camp, Bryan disappeared, and I climbed the tower to take some photos at dusk.


GDP Street


Lots of camps set up chill spaces along the street for anyone to come hang out


Our first sunset


Looking toward Center Camp from Big Girtha tower


The end of the playa


You can see the line of cars waiting to get in near the base of the mountain


An art car

Wednesday was an interesting day, as it was the much anticipated nude bar crawl, featuring hundreds of guys and gals with bikes but not much more. I had thought a bunch of people from my camp were going to participate, but come 11 a.m. when it was time to go, everyone was too lazy. Except Johnny.


My camp being lazy


Darragh and Brad

I probably would have skipped the event as well if Johnny weren’t willing to go with me, and I am glad he did. It was a blast! Being around so many nude people and in much closer proximity than at the nude beaches I have been to was interesting.


The nude biker bar crawl

Naturally, many bar crawlers were gay men, so that, added to an atmosphere with few social constraints and alcohol to lower inhibitions, meant there were quite a few people looking to play. Nobody was rude to me or made me feel uncomfortable, though, as sometimes happens at the bars in San Francisco. Somehow people seemed content to be social without necessarily scoring a payoff, even with so much more temptation. It was actually very refreshing to have normal conversations with older men, and even women, without anything to hide.


Several camps set up bike repair centers, and they were always packed


Shots attached to a ski make for interesting group drinking

Then, there was the Duck Pond. There aren’t really words, so just have a look at the pictures.


Bryan trying the human powered duck


I tried, but got turned upside down immediately. I still hung on a bit!


But not for long

I’ve never been on a mechanical bull or anything like it before. What a wonderful place to learn!


Johnny and the bar tender fighting

I got to spend a decent amount of time with Mike and Joey, though we all did our own things at various points.


The GlamCocks chill space


The GlamCocks chill space

We all checked out the TEDx conference that was going on in Black Rock City one day, which was sort of interesting, but I didn’t feel I could stay very long because tons of people were waiting to get in.


I even got to see a TEDx conference!


Brad and JJ working the Sno-Kone stand at Paradise Motel


Dragonflies or fairies or something


Another random bar

One of the more memorable days was when I went exploring with my new friend and campmate Matt, who Mike calls “Airstrip.” We went to deep playa and returned to the magical cock box Brad, Bryan and I found a couple of days prior.


Matt and I took a nap on this chair, in the desert.




Somehow I can’t imagine this being in a public park in the real world… everything spins, including the entire structure if you can get enough people to help push.

Burning Man 2013 random videos: spinning rock art during windy day from Charlie Gorichanaz on Vimeo.


She got up, but she is not sure how to get down.


We have reached the end of deep playa, the trash fence.


And near the end of the playa we stumbled on a bar. Did I mention the alcohol is always free?


The feds checking us out via heli?


She needed to make an important call, in the desert


Matt and Duke, the massage gifter we met in the desert


Matt and I met this beautiful woman from Estonia at the cock box

I think we then returned to camp, found Brad, and dragged him out as well.


Sudden white out


Brad and Matt




We found a camp that glitterized people… it was amazing!

There was a ton more to do, and next year I shall take part in more of the daytime activities. If you’re still wondering what things are like at Burning Man, check out this cool flyover video I found online:

Then this video of my bike trip back to camp from deep playa is slightly interesting, but if I had more time I would cut it down a bit. ;-)

Entries in this series:

  1. The journey to Burning Man
  2. Lazy days of building mind, body and soul
  3. Radical self expression takes hold
  4. Burning the Man
  5. The ultimate burn