The Sunflower recently returned from another trip to Burning Man. This was a great year full of incredible art, amazing camps and some fun neighbors who all fell in love with my teardrop trailer. Camping in Black Rock City is not like regular camping. If you have been considering going to Burning Man, there are a few things to keep in mind when bringing your trailer to one of the most inhospitable climates on Earth.
1. In Dust We Trust
The Playa of the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada is a former lake bed that is flat and dusty. There's no sand like in most deserts, but the surface is a fine talcum powder consistency that normally stays fairly packed down. However during an event of this magnitude (60,000+ people this year), the dust gets kicked up and gets everywhere.
It's impossible to keep your trailer dust-free. However, you can minimize the dust getting in by parking your teardrop under a shade shelter with walls and keeping all the doors closed. The galley will get dust in it, but when you leave camp, be sure to close it up. Random dust storms and dust devils will blow through the city.
2. Safety and Neighborhood Watch
I received a question a few weeks ago from a reader who was concerned with potential vandalism of his teardrop during the event. I've been taking all my teardrops to Burning Man since 2007 and have never had anyone vandalize my trailer or steal anything from my camp. Burners are the best people in the world who understand the work and commitment it takes to make it to this event. We never lock our car or the teardrop and leave our keys just sitting on our bed shelf. We leave our stove, food, drinks, chairs and clothes out in our shade shelter as well.
A good thing to do when you arrive at your camp (unless you are in a theme camp, the spots are unassigned) is to make friends with your neighbors. This is a polite and very Burner-like thing to do. Ask if a space is being saved or is taken and as you are setting up camp, there will most likely be people coming around to ask if you need help or to offer you juice, fresh fruit or tips on special events. Neighbors will then watch after each other and their camps.
3. Sun and Wind
Burning Man is hot and windy. Not all the time, but every event I've been to has been in the 90s during the day and the wind always picks up in the afternoon. Some of the winds are strong enough to bring in some large dust storms that block out the sun. These don't last for too long, but it's a good idea to be prepared for them with good goggles and a dust mask.
Keep your teardrop and yourself protected from the heat by creating a shade structure with walls that block the sun and the wind which mainly comes from the South/Southwest. Some shade along the East part of your camp is nice too in case you want to sleep in.
4. Cleaning Up
The dust from the Black Rock Desert is very alkaline and tends to stain anything with black plastic or rubber. The best way to get your teardrop clean after Burning Man is to let it sit outside for a while so the dust falls off or flies away in the breeze. Then take a hose to the outside of the trailer to get off the worst of it. To get your trailer even more clean, use a mixture of dish soap and vinegar to cut the alkalinity of the dust. Use the vinegar to clean the inside of your trailer as well. Most likely you will have to remove everything from your trailer to give it a thorough cleaning.