1. Biggy

  2. First Fuel

  3. Santiago Breakdown

  4. First stop.

  5. Waiting for the crew at In and Out.

  7. Going Uppppp! Tower Erection #1. 5/31/2014


  8. Here’s a photo “story” of our participation in the Los Angeles Regional event.

    Photo by Terry Pratt



  10. 2013 Infrastructure Review

    Every major infrastructure component of OKNOTOK was upgraded in 2013. 

    Shade Structure


    The Shade Structure is the expedition’s “living room”, and the hub of our mutual experience. The structure’s original 1300 square foot layout hasn’t changed from OKNOTOK Year One in 2009, but in 2012 we replaced the structure’s original aluminum frame with wood. The wood frame consists of vermillion painted 12 foot crossbeams and eight foot columns, and the move to a wood frame was a major step towards making the structure feel like a home instead of a hippy crash pad. The original aluminum frame was certainly strong enough, but did not “feel” good, whereas wood is both strong and good-feeling. The red paint job is especially invigorating in contrast to both the white wasteland of the playa and the unpainted materials of the vast majority of shade structures on the playa.

    However, the 2012 wood frame was far too complex to build. We used off-the-shelf brackets that required over 20 screws each, and the 2x4 crossbeams required diagonal bracing at each column. Thus, the 2012 structure frame easily took four times as long to build as previous years. Unacceptable! So, for 2013 I designed steel brackets that Clay then had custom fabricated for the expedition. These brackets weigh 45 pounds each and accept 4x4s from all six directions, requiring only one hand-tightened bolt per crossbeam and column. They are awesome and I love them! 


    But love can be blinding, and it led to my biggest mistake of 2013: not pre-building the entire structure as we’ve done every year previous. This serious error resulted in considerable difficulty during Monday’s build, as we discovered on-playa that our supposedly 12-foot crossbeams varied in length, including one beam that was two full inches too long! It turns out that “12 foot” lumber can exhibit considerable variability in length, which is not compatible with utterly rigid steel brackets.

    I had no inkling of this variability, and it was hard lesson for the build crew to learn under the hot Monday sun.

    Shade Structure Interior


    The 2013 structure interior was entirely new! New carpeting, new custom-built and painted furniture, new cushions, new porch swing, and, for the first time, a dining room complete with a table big enough for the whole camp to enjoy our fabulous meals together! It is no small accomplishment to keep a playa interior space tidy, so big props to everyone for helping reset everything each day.




    With a 30-foot long counter top, 24 feet of shelving, and a new chest freezer, the 2013 kitchen enabled a new level of playa eating. We’ve gone through several iterations of kitchens over the years, but I feel 2013 kitchen layout, with some improvements (lighting!), will be with us for a while.

    Shower & Disco Tower 


    The shower has always been my biggest challenge, but 2013’s shower was roomy inside and strong enough to climb!  The Disco Tower was built using the same plan as the shower, only 12 feet high instead of eight, and served as a landmark for our entire neighborhood. We put them both into the truck assembled, which allowed us to use them as packing “frames” around our bikes, which, alongside the Great Standardization of Crates, enabled us to pack the truck faster and more efficiently than ever before.


    Standardization of Crates


    The Great Standardization of Crates made the load-unload-load-unload process smoother than ever, and I can’t thank everyone enough for going along with it. The previous years’ utterly random collection personal belonging containers was impossible to pack quickly or well.



    Though the expedition’s 2009 generator had been serviced before every Burning Man, it failed Wednesday on-playa: the rope on the pull-starter snapped! A broken rope seems like a simple, fixable thing, but it was indeed fatal, despite the noble efforts of Chief and Clay. A (very) friendly playa-neighbor loaned us a generator for Wednesday night, and early Thursday morning Clay and I took Andrew to the Reno airport as planned, after which we made an unplanned stop at a Honda store where Clay purchased the expedition a new, very excellent, very quiet generator that should last us many years.

    Solar Panels

    Our first solar system consists two 100 watt panels charging a battery array that keeps the lights on when the generator runs out of gas. No more come home to a dead camp! Eventually, as panel, battery, and lighting tech improves, we’ll be able to run the whole camp with solar.




    Equals this!

  11. OKNOTOK Burning Man 2013. Shower towers, mandatory fun, disco balls and more!

    Fairly comprehensive collection of both pre-BM and BM festivities here:


  12. A tiny slice of Friday night.


  13. Burner Bikes

    Do I really need a bike?



    Because it will make your life in Black Rock City much more enjoyable.  & it will suck when all your BRC friends have bikes & you don’t.

    I have a bike; will that one work?

    IDK.  The ideal Burner Bike is a beach cruiser (fatter wheels) with coaster brakes (pedal brakes) and NO gears.  

    I also suggest a minimum wheel size of 26” - the smaller the wheel is, the harder you have to work to move.  26” is the standard adult size, but beware of the 24” (often listed as a women’s bike).  

    Lastly, it really helps if this bike is not your primary getting around town bike.

    Burning Man is not kind to bikes.  If you are in love with your bike, I’m sure it would be totally acceptable to bring it & marry it.  Otherwise, it’s best to leave it behind.

    Ok.  Where can I find a Burner Bike?

    The magical internet.

    FREE Options



    CHEAPer Options     [$50 - $100]


    NotAsCheap Options     [$100 - X]

    your local discount store [i.e. K-mart, WalMart, Target]

    I’m on a budget & can’t spend much on a bike.

    That’s cool.  It is possible to find free beach cruisers but don’t expect quality.  It is rare to find something in awesome condition for free.  Should you be lucky enough to find a free beach cruiser, check it out before claiming it.

    Does it have cable brakes?  {No.]

    Does it have gears?  {No.]

    Are the wheels aligned?  {Yes.  If not, it can be fixed but probably not for cheap.]

    Do the wheels look dry & old?  {No.  Can be replaced for around $50 for both.]

    Is the chain too loose or wonky?  {You can get a replacement for around $10 - $15.]

    Does the seat look like it will eat your butt?  {No.  Otherwise, you can get a softer one for as low as $20.]

    Is it comfortable to ride once adjusted?  {Better be a Yes.]

    If most everything looks good, you probably don’t have to do much to get it in working order.

    Ok.  I’m bike stupid but want to be more self reliant.

    That’s awesome.  If you find a decent bike now, you can take your sweet time to repair / clean it yourself.  It’s not that hard but requires patience.  & a good resource.  I’ve taken my road bike apart & it was a lot of fun but I would have trashed it if I didn’t have a good bike repair book.  O yeah, & tools.  There are usually some bike specific tools you’ll have to get.  But that just depends on how deep you go.

    Ok.  Maybe I’m not that self reliant.

    No worries.  There are great bike communities around the city.  I go to bikerowave on the west side.  They have stands, tools & guidance for a small hourly fee.  They also have some parts available for sale but don’t expect a full parts selection.


    Ok.  I have big plans but I might not have time.

    Cool.  Just take your new to you Burner Bike to one of the thousands of bike shops around town.  I believe most tune ups will cost you somewhere between $50 to $150 dollars depending on where you go & what they offer.  Keep in mind that if your bike needs a lot of work, you will likely pay a lot of money.

    Ok.  I’ll get a bike.  I’ll make sure it’s fixed up.  Now what?

    After you get your bike all set up, the last thing you need to do is light it up!!  

    I’m sure a new post for lighting up yourself & your bike is coming, but please note that glow sticks & bike headlights are not ideal.  Things like glow sticks are NOT bright enough & bike headlights kill the playa lighting, can blind people & feel out of place.  

    But do what you will.  Do what you want.  Above all, enjoy life.



  14. Five Years of Expedition OKNOTOK: 2009 - 2013

    2009 - Evolution - 3:30 & K




    2010 - Metropolis - 2:30 & J




    2011 - Rites of Passage - 3:45 & H




    2012 - Fertility 2.0 - 3:30 & J




    Not sure what that might have been. :(

    2013 - Cargo Cult - 3:30 and Intergalactic