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Thursday, August 28
Day 8 - night
4:00 and Jeep
Black Rock City

Another night falls on Black Rock City, and as the city lights up, I think to myself, "if I was a partying man, this would be paradise." And then I wonder, why did I come to Burning Man? Why, of all people, did I decide that Burning Man was for me?

Now that's not to say that there's nothing here for me. It's still been an amazing trip, and it's only about halfway over at this point (although I'm quite looking forward to a shower...). The desert is an amazing environment, and the surrounding mountains on the horizon are beautiful. As for the Black Rock community, as much as I involve myself in it, it's an amazing social experiment - and that's one of the reasons I wanted to come, one of the things I wanted to experience, one of the things I wanted to be a part of.

Thousands of people gathering in the desert to survive on themselves and by helping each other - and having a hell of a time in a very harsh and unforgiving environment. It is some form of magic after all. But it's still not perfect. Not for one like me.

This morning was similar to yesterday morning, but with less of a rush, since I didn't waste a lot of time futilely trying to resurrect my hair. I pedaled to the Man for the annual World Naked Bike Ride, which I was excited about participating in. I thought that, for some reason, this event would attract more people my age (and more girls), but it turned out to be the typical nudist demographic of older males. The other thing that bugged me is that it wasn't just the World Naked Bike Ride, but the World Naked Bike Ride & Pub Crawl...

If yesterday I made a poor decision (walking instead of biking for that lemonade), today I made a good decision. Instead of hanging out with a bunch of buzzed and bare naked older men (gee, when I put it that way...), when the group headed out, I biked in the opposite direction, into the deep playa, for some solitude (and to take some pictures). It was a much more effective (and interesting) use of my time. I did want to meet back up with the group at the lemonade stop (same place I went to alone yesterday - and the only non-alcoholic stop on the WNBR), but, even after finding them at the previous stop, I managed to completely lose track of them (we're talking vanishing into thin air here), and then I couldn't even find the lemonade place for some reason! So I just bought a lemonade at the Center Camp Cafe again and sat down and marveled at all the interesting people passing through. There was a guy drawing patterns (Henna tattoos) on fully naked women right beside where I had a snack.

After resting, I bought a bag of ice at Arctica, just like yesterday, though this time I had a bag to put it in, and a bike to take it back on. Back at camp I spent the pre-sunset hours again lying in the shade and gulping down refreshing ice water.

And I learned that sunset is a fascinating time. The period from when the sun drops behind the mountains to when it gets fully dark is great for exploring the city - though the twilight doesn't last long. The sun is down, so you don't have to worry about heat or sunburns, but it's still early enough that it's not too cool. People are already in costume for the night's festivities, but it's still light enough to actually see them! So it's a great time to cruise the streets and see all the people.

Did I mention that the playa is like a large beach without any ocean? Or that walking (or biking, or whatever) the deep playa feels a lot like walking on the moon?

Anyway, I read in the book about a camp that serves S'mores every day at sunset, so I put on the cape I got at the Kostume Dome, and biked on over as soon as the sun had dropped behind the mountains. It was a friendly, family affair. You got to roast your own marshmallow over a real campfire! Afterward, I biked around a bit before it got dark, and picked up a glowing lightsaber toy from some Jedi-looking dude (he was handing them out to random passers-by). I encountered another bike-riding lightsaber-wielder, who playfully challenged me to a duel as we passed each other on the road. I had a hard time balancing the bike while swinging the lightsaber, so I took a dive and lost the joust...

Tomorrow's Friday already - the last day before the Burn. I can't tell if the time is going by quickly or slowly because though the days seem to be zooming by, everytime I think about taking a shower, the days can't go by fast enough... Good news is, I think we'll have enough food, and we have plenty of water. I have a photo idea that involves the sunrise, and I wanna do it before things get hectic with the burning of the Man and all, so I guess I'll be getting up early tomorrow. It's okay, I think it'll be worth it. Shame about not really being able to enjoy the parties, though...