24 July, 2008

Burning Man Travel Plan (Getting There)

Burning Man is becoming like the end-of-semester project that I keep putting off again and again, until the last minute, at which point I put it off a little bit longer... I guess the best way to make me disappear would be to give me something that needs doing.

Burning Man Travel Plan

(Open to revisions, questions, comments, suggestions, and the general whims of the open road.)

This is the first time I've gone on a road trip (meaning multiple consecutive days on the road), so it should be quite an experience. Especially because I am the captain by default, and there's noone I can really foist the duties of command on to.

It all starts on Wednesday, August 20. Pick up the rental minivan. This gives me a little time to get to know the car, and gives us some time to pack up stuff before the last minute, so as to avoid inevitable start-time delays.

Thursday, August 21 - Get up in the morning. Early, but not insanely early. Have breakfast, do last minute prep, and then the journey begins. It should take (according to Google Maps) about 7.5 hours to drive to Chicago, our first stop. If we get on the road by, say, 8am, then that gives us enough time to get to Chicago before or right around dinner time, including time for a few stops along the way. I propose finding some [hopefully] cheap hotel near the highway to get a room for the night. Then we can drive into the city and seek out Uno's. I'm assuming that Chicago is comparable to NYC, since that's the only real "big city" experience I've had. Anyway, I should like to think that we'd find some parking nearby Uno's, where we can then have a delicious dinner. Hopefully the restaurant isn't booked solid - I dunno how that works - but if it's a matter of waiting, it's not like we have anything else to do for the rest of the night but head back to the hotel and get some rest before day 2 of the journey.

Friday, August 22 - The journey continues. From Chicago, it's under 4 hours to Iowa City, and another 2 hours to Des Moines. Then another 2 hours to Omaha, Nebraska, and another hour to Lincoln. That's 9 hours from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. I'm thinking that's pretty good progress for one day. As far as getting out into the midwest, I don't know what the hotel/motel situation is going to be like, but I'm counting on there being at least options near the bigger towns we'll be passing through. So I suggest looking for someplace to stay the night in Lincoln, if all goes as planned. (Wow, I just Googled "Lincoln, Nebraska", and the first thing I noticed in the link description for the wiki page is that it's the hometown of Zager and Evans, who you might know as the artists behind the song In The Year 2525...).

Saturday, August 23 - The journey continues. From Lincoln, it's 4 hours to the point where I-80 splits with I-76, just outside the convex corner of Colorado (which doesn't mean a whole lot now, but will become more important on the return voyage), and another 2 hours to Cheyenne, Wyoming. From there, it's another 3.5 hours to Rock Springs. That's almost ten hours there, so I figure that's another good place to stop.

Sunday, August 24 - From Rock Springs, it's about another tenish hours to Reno (through Salt Lake City, across the Great Salt Lake Desert and on the other side of the wasteland of Nevada). You're not allowed to enter Burning Man until Monday (any time on Monday, I believe), but I also hear it's a long drive into the desert from there, and arriving at the festival during the day, with daylight to set up camp, seems like a good idea to me. So finding a place to stay not far from the Reno area (if not in it) would probably be the way to go.

Monday, August 25 - The festival begins! Maybe make some stops in Reno/Sparks for last minute items, or food items that won't last very long - I hear there's a Wal-Mart in the area - and then make that trip to the playa! Then it's madness (more or less) from there on out...

Monday, September 1 - If I'm not mistaken, the Man burns on Saturday night, and the Temple burns the following night (Sunday). So Monday will likely be the day to hit the road. Crowds are probably going to be a problem no matter what we do, so I guess it's just something we'll have to push through. It would probably be a good idea to get moving early in the day, though. Could take hours to get out of the middle of the desert. The plan is to stay at the Little A'Le'Inn the first night after the festival, which is a good 6 hour drive from Reno - factoring in the festival exodus, it'll likely take all day to get there, if we get there.

Unfortunately, the return voyage is turning out to be somewhat more complicated, so I'm gonna need some more time to think about it.


  1. One thing you may want to do is add an hour to each guesstimate -- foreign traffic, possibility of wrong turns, construction, etc. Better to be a bit on the high side than the low when it comes to driving times, I think. Don't forget time for rest stops, refueling, and perhaps time to walk/stretch if the driving starts to get to you.

    You may also want to look for hotels in each city; make reservations ahead of time and have a concrete destination to find a path to/from, instead of driving around the city trying to find the ambiguous google maps start point. Wikitravel may offer some better advice in terms of cheap housing.

    As you get closer to Burning Man, it may be safe to assume that there will be more and more Burning Man-related traffic on the road, so you may want to add a bit more time to your estimates due to congestion, etc.

    One possible problem at the beginning... my flight to NYC (and then Japan) leaves at 5:30 in the morning on the 20th, and I should probably be there a few hours early...

  2. I left a sentence half-written in the last one.

    Wow you have all these great new blogs and somehow I haven't read them.

    Sounds like a nice adventure. I gave up youth, but this sounds like the most righteousest purging of power and a farewell to hearts that one could embark upon, the kind of thing that everybody should do once in their life. Well, everybody who fancies themselves in league with The Joker.

  3. As for making reservations with hotels ahead of time. Not. Gonna. Happen. The only exception being the Little A'Le'Inn, and I still haven't committed to that just yet.

    I'm not necessarily planning to go /into/ each city anyway. Just find whatever hotel I see first after I get off the exit. (Or a motel between cities - whatever, this is a road trip). And just follow signs to get back onto the Interstate. One exception being Chicago, since I'm gonna want to know where to find Uno's.

    I have no idea what to do about the airport thing. The only thing I can think is, that's gonna be a lo-o-o-ong drive to Chicago that first day...