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|| News Item: Posted 2011-08-31

Or should it be: In The Truck? Prepping for Burning Man

By Rafael Agustin Delgado

Photo by Rafael Agustin Delgado

Photo by Rafael Agustin Delgado

Some of the gear Delgado will pack for Burning Man includes a gas mask that fits over his beard and plenty of water.
Once a year I enjoy making a trip that allows me to disconnect. The further away from cell phone reception, the better. To be without Internet, YouTube, Facebook, fast food, and the daily grind is the objective. And if it inspires me to shoot, even better.

These trips in the past were usually to my godfather’s ranch in Mexico. However for several well-known reasons that is not an option this summer. Also with no school commitment this fall semester, my timetable for this disconnect trip has expanded. Then it hit me: I can finally experience Burning Man.

Going to Burning Man is something I have always wanted to do and as of just three weeks ago I was without a ticket. I waited too long, the normal sales through their web site sold out, the first time in Burning Man history tickets sold out. I was like sh**! There goes that opportunity.

There was no way I was going to go the route of scalper tickets. Then a legit ticket without a mark up came about my way. This ticket came from my fellow hyperbaric chamber crewmember Granville Conner. At first he said he had a spare. Then he did not. And then a few days later he writes: “I hope you are still interested?” I had the cashier check made immediately and the ticket in my hand the next day.

My next obstacle now came from my daily gig at Sport Chalet. Getting time approved off from work is not an easiest task. Getting a weekend off a pain and I am requesting a week off during our annual ski blow out sale.

I really doubt I was going to get approved and was prepared to simply give my two weeks notice. Black out periods and holidays are the nature of the beast. Some how by the grace of All That Is Great, I was approved for a week’s time off during a black period.

I now have a legit ticket. I now have the time off approved from work. Now I only need to accreditation by BM to photograph. At this point it is a good week’s time passed the deadline for a photographer credential. I was not going to request a pass without securing my Burning Man ticket first. Burning Man is unique in that a photo pass does not grant a free pass to the event.

After a few clarification emails of my photo request, I was granted a pass. Not sure how I landed this one, but it came through. I am grateful for the Burning Man Powers That Be for letting me take photographs. I was going to head to Burning Man even if I was not accredited to shoot, however now I can offer the gift of portraits to fellow of my Burners.

From a cluster of variables that should have stopped me from going to Black Rock City, I some how got this trip from a hopeful wish to a reality. Thing just came together this year to make my Burning Man a reality. The last few weeks have been intense with prepping for a week in the desert
My biggest concern is water and how my body will handle the long period in the heat. I suffer from chronic nosebleeds, especially under extreme dry heat conditions. However the Vaseline and Q-tip suggest from my doctor should help curtail this issue of mine. I bought several 55 gallon drums however I will only be taking one for communal use for showers. It will be converted to a trash hauler once dried out. And for my personal water use I am packing 4 x 6 gallon containers for drinking and my cooking needs.

My retail gig definitely has its share of less than admirable days however it does come with a few perks. And the biggest perk of them of are the two words known as Pro Deals. Thanks to Back Packers Pantry I have plenty of decent food to get me through the week.

I cannot think of a time, I have been a week without a kitchen near by, or a fridge. I am not one to miss a meal, and I would prefer not to start now. I will be camping so no big comfy RV for me. My tent will be anchored with ½ inch re-bar stakes a foot and half below the dessert surface and sheltered under a “monkey hut.”

Big thanks for others help and suggestions on this form of shelter. During the day it’s pretty vital to avoid the full brunt of the sun. Its pretty simple and straight forward with the following items: high strength PVC pipe, lots of ties, duct tape, re-bar for the foundation, and then heavy duty tarps (the silver ones) as the covering held with added grommets.

I am not one that cares much for stressing about gear. However for an outing like this one I would rather be over-prepared. “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances“ is what my high school economic Professor Durfee always stress to us. These stores were utilized to help prep for this Burning Man endeavor: Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Army Surplus Store, Target, Sport Chalet, Trader Joe's, and Smart and Final.

I will never be known as a light packer and this outing will not be different. My trusty truck will be packed to the brim. I have never like the ideal of putting my well being in the hands of others. I have and will always prefer providing assistance then needing help.

Items I will be carrying for barter while on The Playa include baby wipes, water, Sailor Jerry Rum, and Whiskey, since my traditional beer will not hold out well. Alieve and Tylenol for those enjoying hangovers; sunblock and aloe for those that get burn. I will also be packing compressed air in scuba tanks to help clean my off and my photo gear through out the week.

Camera Gear
Packing for photo is going to be super light for this endeavor. Especially after going crazy on the logistical end of this outing. Every camera must be registered with Burning Man and besides, I just do not care to carry a lot in the Black Rock City environment.

My dated, but trusty Canon Mark IIn and backup body will be with me, along with 2 Holgas will account for my photo arsenal. Along with several bricks of Iford FP4 and the last of my expired slide film. I will be without a laptop for a week intentionally.

Instead I am taking every single compact flash card I own and all my batteries to avoid the need to go to the media tent. I plan to use ewa bags (flexible underwater housings) and custom plastic housings to offset the constant fine sand environment of Black Rock City. Much like when I shoot fires, I am considering my gear disposable for this event.

Black Rock City, Nevada has one item I love dearly however it is simply not conveniently available, water. I usually prefer to be submerged in the local refreshing pacific waters here off Southern California.

However Black Rock City is without any resources except for lots of sand, wind, sun, thousands of unique people and Porta-Potties. For obvious reason I will not be camping down wind of the heads. Whatever you need, you must bring. And when Labor Day comes around, every Burner must leave without a trace. No footprint of the week’s events is to be left.

I will be taking a 55-gallon barrel for communal use, and even the gray water from a shower must be placed in evaporator containers. The extended length in the dry heat will be my biggest challenge. The photos will come no doubt. I am mainly focusing on staying functional during my stay.

Rite of Passage
Is this years Burning Man theme. It quite fitting for my first outing to The Playa. The words Burning Man brings an array of reactions and it’s been blast to hear peoples take on it. From those that cannot stand the ideal to those that go every year. It’s been pretty encouraging to hear from past Burners of their experiences. I can only plan and anticipate so much. I simply know it’s going to be well worth the effort and I’m looking forward to whatever occurs.

"Adventure is never planned. It is marching through the door of opportunity into the unknown, with enthusiasm." The line is from my favorite dive instructor, Brad Hall.

If you are going to Burning Man this year hit me up. I will be camping with the group known as Orphan III. Our plan is to set up base at 5:15 and on The Playa if the land grab goes well.

Helpful Links:
Burning Man
Survival Guide from BM
The 10 Principles of Burning Man
Monkey Hut

(You can view Rafael Delgado’s work on his Sports Shooter member page: and his website )

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