I woke up Sunday, September 1st about 7:15. I didn't feel very rested at all. Outside, it had turned windy. Clouds were moving in from the west; not smoke or dust, real clouds. I had been in the desert for a week. I found two people crouched behind the bar. They were either stealing booze or having sex. Maybe both. They took their backpacks and left when I showed up. The band Dooki Doodle played during the night. Their banner still hung at the back of the stage. The early morning playa was quiet. I was all alone, the cool breeze blowing through the empty bar, when a guy in a blue pickup rolled by, pointed at me and yelled, “Whazzzzaaaa!”
 
The crotch puncher was broken beyond repair, the boxing glove dangling limply out of the secret door, like the dead alien's hand at the end of the original "War of the Worlds." Breakfast was a can of chicken salad on crackers (it even came with a little spoon) and a can of fruit cocktail. It was the only day of the whole trip I didn’t have anything planned, didn’t have to be anywhere. The whole Shrunken Heads Camp next door was gone, disappeared in the night. A lot of people were packing up and leaving. Molly walked through camp. A huge art car rolled down the road playing ‘80’s music.
 
I sat behind the bar and served uncomplicated drinks. I met a couple named Chelsea and Quest; for her, “it’s still last night.” Quest picked up the bar’s Jaegermeister and drank straight from the bottle. Not cool. At least he finished it. I talked to a guy named Roul about telepathy and comic books. He thought he had met the inventor of Paypal at one of the other camps. A guy called Thunder Jesus came behind the bar and started serving drinks, scooping ice out of the cooler with his hands. Also not cool. Another guy with a megaphone was telling jokes until Ollie told him to turn it down.
 
I was sitting at a table catching up on my writing when a blonde, topless girl with a purple backpack said, “That’s what I should have been doing all along.” She said she journals everything in her life, but when she comes to Burning Man she never writes anything. I pointed to her camera and said she at least had a photo journal of where she went. A very pretty brunette girl got pushed around on the purple dinosaur by her boyfriend. Steph warned that the weather service was predicting rain for the playa, starting about noon Monday and going on until midnight. People that didn’t get out early were likely to be stuck. Janey said she heard if the rain was too bad, the Gate would be closed for 24 hours. The rumor mill was running wild. Exodus was looking to be a big, sloppy mess.
 
I went by BMIR to see if they had any updates on how the Exodus was going so far. A lady there said it was currently “a clusterf*ck” because of all the people leaving early… because they were spooked at the idea of Exodus being bad. I had the feeling the city would be a ghost town by Monday afternoon. I got to meet Shelly, the very nice girl that had been camped next to me all week. I also talked to a couple named Kim and Chili. Brian Bong fried up a batch of tasty won tons. Some of them were made with taco meat: he called those “Juan tons.” Someone else cooked up a big pot of ramen noodles. That was lunch for me.
 
We started taking the bar apart. Even when we were down to one little table, people kept coming up for drinks. Ollie and I walked down the street to Swag Mart, where we scored some awesome Burning Man necklaces. I was sorry to see him and Honeybee leave mid-afternoon. 
 
I put on my hat and hurried over to HQ for the pin ceremony. The service pins were fuchsia that year. Some people got 10-year pins. I asked Duney if he could get me another Green Dot patch. He didn’t have any extra patches, but he had an extra shirt with a patch already on it he could let me have. (When I picked it up later, I dropped off a gift that seemed immediately inadequate.) Back in camp, we took down the shade structure, while Brian pulled up the rebar stakes. The stage was taken apart. 
 
I rode my bike past BMIR, but I still couldn’t get a signal on the cellphone. The radio station was urging people to hold off leaving the city until 4 AM that night, because of all the people planning to leave immediately following the Temple burn. There was a 20% chance of rain on Monday. To me, that meant an 80% chance it wouldn’t rain, but that didn’t stop people from heading out. Steph reported the new weather report had the storm starting at 3 AM Monday morning instead of noon. Maybe the rain would be over by the time I left the city.
 
As the Sun started to get low, I rode my bike out to the Temple. I rode past the big wolf sculpture that people kept climbing and falling off of all week. There was a light scattering of people around the Temple perimeter as the Sun went down. Only a couple of art cars had shown up. I parked my bike with a bunch of other bikes. Since I no longer had a bike lock, I strung a bunch of zip ties together and wrapped it around the back tire, hoping that would be enough to deter a thief. I had a green light which I left on in the basket so I could find it again.
 
Usually, I would find myself a place to sit for the whole burn. That evening, I decided to wander around, and maybe get some pictures from a variety of angles. I’m afraid I was not as emotionally invested in the Temple that year as I had been in the past. I should have found a spot to sit. My feet hurt, and I was tired from the ride out. 
 
I expected a long wait, but shortly after 8 PM fire crews walked around the base of the Temple, setting small fires. The ones at the corners spread quickly, and then a torch fired up at the top of the pyramid. Other charges went off igniting the whole structure. I could see flames from inside. 
 

The wind changed, and for the second time that weekend I had to rush away from a cloud of burning embers. “Look out look out look out!” one guy cried as a book-sized ember fell on a stack of bicycles, exploding into a splash of sparks. I could feel particulates falling on me, the larger ones bursting apart as they hit the ground. The unexpected scramble ended quickly, and a somber silence fell over the crowd. I looked back, and saw we had been joined by thousands of spectators, on foot, bike and art car.

 
The Temple was quickly consumed in flames. It collapsed in on itself, until the last line of supports slumped over in resignation. A great cry went up from thousands of voices, and people rushed forward to circle the flames. By then, the area all around me was choked with people and vehicles. The scramble put me further from the perimeter than I had realized. I was disoriented, stumbling around in the dark, until I found the art car I’d parked my bike next to. As I worked my way through the mass of humanity, I couldn’t find my bicycle. Did it get stolen? I spent about 15 minutes looking for it, until I found it in a pile of bicycles, quite by accident… because somebody turned off the light I left in the basket. The hell? Back in camp, Billy asked if I knew the Temple was going to be burned early. I didn’t-- I figured they would wait until 9 or so. It turned out a decision had been made somewhere to burn the Temple a little early, so that people could join the Exodus. I helped Rerun take down the back shade, then I went to my tent. The wind was really picking up as I headed to bed.
 
  
 
Prologue  Aug. 21  Aug. 22  Aug. 23  Aug. 24 
Sunday  Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday  Monday 
Sept. 3  Sept. 4  Sept. 5  Sept. 6 & Epilogue
 BurningClam.Com        Original material (c)opyright 2013 by Tim Frayser     tapestry01@yahoo.com 
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Last updated: September, 2013