“Madams and monsieurs,” said the blonde woman in a clearly fake French accent, “unfortunately we do not have any more reservations for tonight. Please come back again tomorrow night to try to reserve a space at ze restaurant.”
We had just a few people in front of us, but we’d still missed out. Even getting there twenty minutes beforehand, we weren’t far enough up in the line to get reservations. I felt slightly disappointed — I’m not really a French food fan anyway, but it certainly would have been nice to get served a delicious, freshly made meal with wine at Burning Man. This particular camp started accepting reservations for dinner the day of only, and the lucky 100 who got a seat were served a full meal complete with a “French-speaking” wait staff.
“Well, what should we do now?” I turned to my boyfriend. We both agreed that waiting around for our camp dinner would easily shave a couple more hours off of our evening together. Since this was the first time I was able to have an official Playa date at Burning Man and his first time ever at the Burn, neither of us wanted to wait around. We biked back to camp and cooked up a quick something for just us, trying to convince ourselves that rice and beans, canned green beans, and super sugary margarita was definitely far more delicious than whatever the French restaurant was serving that night.
Our next big plan for the evening was to try to ride El Pulpo Mecanico, a pretty well-known octopus art car, which I was about 99% sure would also be a failed attempt just like the French restaurant. “It’s probably not going to happen,” I told my guy for the tenth time that day. “They don’t have many extra seats, most of them go to the crew. Everybody wants a ride on that thing, so I don’t think we’ll get seats.” It was still worth a shot, he said, and since they were only a few blocks away from our camp it was an easy walk.
We got there well before the sun was going down, but the crew was already getting ready to head out. I walked up to one of the crew members and asked if there might be room for two more for the ride. “Oooh, I don’t know,” he said as he scratched his head. “Most of our seats go to the crew, and we’re getting ready to go and pick up Susan Sarandon to take Timothy Leary’s ashes to the Totem of Confessions, so…”
He trailed off. I totally understood that while felt bad at having to say no, it was just not the right night. We took a few steps back and watched them as they prepared to leave, starting the engine, getting propane ready, and testing everything out before taking off. They were about ready to leave when a man at the front of the car shouted back to one of his fellow crew members and pointed in our direction. “Hey, do we have room for these two?”
I wish that I could say I played it cool, but alas, I turned into a bit of a fangirl and squealed, “Really?!” when they offered us both a spot up front. I’m pretty sure I was grinning foolishly the whole ride, whether I meant to or not. El Pulpo Mecanico is recognizable, and I noticed everyone turn to see us, some would wave, and people would just genuinely light up when they see the car. It was really wonderful to get to see other people’s reactions to something spectacular.
After following Susan Sarandon out to the Totem of Confessions with the ashes of Timothy Leary, El Pulpo helped drive her back to her camp. At that point it was already dark, and my guy and I both decided it was time to give some other lucky folks the chance to ride El Pulpo. “You know, if we’d gotten reservations at that restaurant, there’s no way this would have happened,” my boyfriend said to me as we walked away from the mutant vehicle. It really was perfect timing.
And that is one of those beautiful things about life that Burning Man makes so evident — that if you spend too much time mourning a moment that didn’t happen, you’ll completely miss out on something else. <3
Below are more photos from my romp in the desert, nighttime edition. I hope these give you a taste of the insanity out there!
Just a man with a flaming tuba…nothin’ to see here, folks.
You could only enter the diner above if you had the password to get in — which you could only get if you picked up a phone out on the Playa that would connect you to the camp. The food here was amazing, complete with a fresh salad bar that was a little piece of heaven.
The Charnival had a lot of fiery interactive stuff to do, including fire skeeball, fire Tetris, and this cool chandelier that was incredibly satisfying for the inner pyro in us all.
I wish I could have taken a picture of every single art car out there at night — it is so amazing that people can make stuff like this. And it really is trippy to be standing around and then see an enormous sand shark drive by.
There were also some nice gems out on the Playa, but I definitely visited the one below the most. It seemed that every night the lights did something different, and even in the daytime it was just so gigantic and impressive.
The picture above doesn’t really give you an idea of how huge this structure was. It was ENORMOUS. Like, impossible to miss, daytime or night. I’m pretty sure I overheard a few people refer to it as “Death Star-sized.” You can see the ball in the sunrise picture below. Look just a little bit to the right from center on the horizon, and you’ll see it partially lit.
Also, let’s just all admit that sunrise is so gorgeous. None of the pictures I took do it any justice, but the sun lit those clouds on fire with beautiful pinks and purples.
Saturday night was my last night at the Burn, and we managed to snag some pretty good seats to watch the Man go down. The picture above shows the pre-burn fire performance, which oddly enough makes the Man look like he’s maybe 10 feet tall — not the case. Below are the fireworks and the Man on fire, which is a much more accurate representation of his height of 60 feet.
After the Man burned, I wandered off for my last few hours at Burning Man to snap some more photos before packing up to leave around 2am. I think the one I took below is one of my favorites — a perfect word to describe my whole week.
Have you ever had travel plans fall through, only to have something better transpire?