I woke Sunday morning at first light. I think I got a pretty good night's sleep. That was when I turned my watch back two hours to Pacific Time. Outside, it was very quiet, a cool breeze gently blowing through the van’s window. I opened up the van, stepped outside, and the first thing I saw was a hot air balloon rising right in front of me. Amazing.
A few people were already up. I got out, set up my folding table and stove, and cooked up some bacon. I used the grease to cook a big plate of Egg Beaters. My first morning at Burning Man I had bacon and eggs—so good. While I was eating, Steph showed up and gave me a big hug. Kathy Kat came by and hugged me, too. Mark walked by on his way to the potties. Alex appeared, and after a hug showed me the shaded chill space that was already set up around back. That was where I moved my chair.
Alex cooked up some breakfast. After consulting with Mark, I moved the van to the back of the camp’s property and set up my tent. I was up against a big truck parked by the next camp over. When D-Mo arrived, we all chipped in to put together the big shade structures. We needed to get as much done as possible before it got too hot. There were not enough bungee balls available, so we secured the tarps with zipties. We got the shade covers up, and I helped pound rebar into the hard ground. 
I started to go for a bike ride, but it was too dusty. Center Camp wasn’t even officially open yet. There was a huge, Stargate-ish art piece facing the Esplanade. I helped Susanne and Steph put together the pieces of “playatech” to assemble the bar. Everybody chipped in. It turned out Susanne liked West Texas, where I was born, particularly Marfa. I met a lovely girl named Julie. Brian Bong was back for the first time in years. His brothers came with him. “There are three Bongs on the playa… at least,” he said. Brian assembled the shower station, and once again it somehow ended up facing the main stage of the bar. Go figure.
The camp next door was called Art Car Camp. That's also where the Great Lakes burner group was camped. They all seemed like a great bunch of folks. A beautiful girl called Migh stopped by and rubbed my neck; that was very much appreciated.
We got the beer on ice and got the tap working. Cold beer on tap in the desert-- what a concept! The bar was open! I met a nice guy called Otis. He worked in the commissary, and shared some fried chicken and cups of ice cream with everybody. J.C. stopped by with some ice. I changed into my Utilikilt, and it was so comfortable.
A bunch of us went on a ride out to the trash fence. We stopped at various places along the way to look at the art installations. We found a couple of lonely art pieces, complicated arrangments that must have taken a long time to set up. One was an "oasis," with trees and comfy chairs and couches where you could sit in the shade. Blank books let visitors record their thoughts. Way out on the playa, amazingly, we found life—a tiny bush, poking up out of the crusty earth, struggling to live in the harsh, alkali soil. It was so impressive, several people got out to take pictures.
We stopped at the Temple of Transition, which was still under construction. An orange fence still surrounded it. They were also looking for volunteers to help finish the last details. On a short tower, the Earth Harp was being put together. It was a gigantic musical instrument, strung over the courtyard of the Temple, with "strings" dozens of feet long.
We stopped at some of the CORE art projects. CORE stood for Circle of Regional Effigies. It was a collection of smaller effigies built by various Burning Man groups from all over the country. The effigies were then placed in a big circle, 600 feet in diameter, all around the Man. That Thursday night, they would all be set on fire. I especially liked Austin’s entry, which was a huge serpent biting its own tail. It was fun climbing around inside it, though I probably shouldn't have been wearing a kilt at the time. It was twilight when we went by the Man. For the first time, the Man was built to look like a man in motion, as if he was walking. Striding Man. It was all lit up in various colors of neon lights, like a Big Rock Candy Man.
I went by Ranger HQ, which turned out to be only a hundred yards or so from HOTD. I saw Rangers Marker and Sir Bill. An art car built to look like the exposed conning tower of a submarine rumbled by. It was huge, and barely fit down the narrow road in front of the bar. It was clever how they had it underlit with blue lights, to simulate it going through water. There were a couple more submarine conning tower art cars on the playa, but that one was the biggest. After the Sun went down, I called it a day. I had to be up early Monday morning.
Prologue Aug. 24  Aug. 25 Aug. 26 Aug. 27 Aug. 28 
 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Sept.6 Sept. 7 Sept. 8  Sept. 9 & Epilogue
Original content (c)opyright 2011 by Tim Frayser
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Links: CORE Project  Burning Man Chicago  The Temple of Transition