KennyReff2012-1..to my Burning Man memoir site.

I went to Burning Man for the first time in 2012. From the moment I decided to go through my return to the “default world”, I felt compelled to photograph and write about the experience.

My First Burn came at a perfect time in my life and I was so called to go that I went out to the playa not knowing one other person.  My Next Burn was quite the opposite, this time living and playing with 50 other Burners from Washington, D.C.

For me, Burning Man has been transformative.   I hope one day soon it will do the same for you.


Use the menu above to select the year to read, or go to
My First Burn (2012: doing it solo)
My Next Burn (2013: big-ass camp)

All text and most images copyright 2012-2013, Kenny Reff

13 Responses to Welcome

  1. JC says:

    Kenny, just stumbled upon this great blog even though I have been scouring the internet for months on how I could also survive a solo trip. I already have my logistics booked: flying into Reno, taking in the bus to BRC, have a bike ready for pick up playa side, and planning on camping solo without any theme camps. As for gear, I’ve also gone through tons of product reviews and comparisons, just need to officially hit the check out button. Almost exercising 100% self-reliance, I hope at most I will just be borrowing someone else’s hammer, possibly bending an ear if my trial and error attempts start driving me crazy…

    What was the most difficult part about ‘roughing it’ and if you had to solo again, what would you change? I am concerned about transporting my water and I can’t tell if the wagon you brought was a curse or a blessing; I plan to camp at the burner express camp spot which is just outside the depot at drop off and avoid the trek over to the walk-in camping area. Any suggestions? If you could be so kind for some guidance, let’s get in touch.

    • Kenny says:

      Hi JC. Congrats on deciding to do it solo! I really loved doing it this way my first year.

      The wagon is great in theory, but it turns out that with two 5-gallon boxes of water on it, plus all your other stuff, it’s too heavy to pull. As you read, I ended up getting a tow, both to my camping area, and then back to the bus at the end of the week. I gifted the wagon to the dude towing me out.

      If you’re really going to camp near where the bus drops you off, forget the wagon. Just lug the stuff, even if you have to make a few trips. I assume you’ve booked the bus that makes the grocery stop along the way. This is imperative, so that you can buy water, propane (which you can’t ship on the airline), etc.

      Camping stores sell plastic maillots for driving tent stakes. They’re very light and cheap so no need to go find a hammer. BTW, this thing about rebar is overkill in my opinion. You need rebar for large tents and other structures, but it you have a 2-6 person nylon tent, rebar is not required. However, the little aluminum stakes that come with tents are not enough. The solution are 12″ steel stakes that are sold separately.

      Have a great burn and post something here upon your return!

  2. Debra Garrett says:

    Where is bm held? It sounds interesting!

  3. Debra Garrett says:

    This is the first I’ve heard about bm. Where is it?

  4. ibdave says:

    Sweet. I to went solo my 1st year. That was 1998(13,000) and now 14 burns. I got adopted by a gay mens camp. Back then I was more redneck than anything else. Life long friends now and I was forever changed. My wife and I are/were the “token straights” Glad you had a life changing experience. BTW tickets were $65 and even sold at the gate.

    • Kenny Reff says:

      I only wish I had discovered it that long ago. Must be strange to see it evolve the way it has, but I’m sure each incarnation has its benefits. I know I’ll be going for a good, long time. Thanks for reading. :)

      • ibdave says:

        I guess you could say that I’m now in the jaded camp. We are now talking about selling/giving away the “camp in a box”. The art has gotten better as the years gone by but the traffic much worse. See, Jaded… So much to see in America that we want to see. Our son and a few Nieces and nephew went with us. Now time for our Daughter? Hope you get to return for many years. Dave )'(

        • KennyReff says:

          I’m sure it must be hard to see it change like this. And even as a newbie, I see things I wish were different. But in the end, when I adjust my attitude to radical inclusion, I’m at peace. There’s so much there, I just concentrate on those portions that inspire me, or juice me, or calm me… and avoid those things that don’t.

          But you’re right about the country, and for that matter, the rest of the planet! If Burning Man is hindering your ability to further explore the real world, it could be time to move on. Happy travels, buddy..

  5. Simone says:


    Loved hearing about your virgin burn. Very interested in hearing about this year’s experience with your big camp rather than tenting it in the walk-in area. How did it go?

    • Kenny says:

      Hi Simone. This year, being part of a large camp, was also wonderful. But in a totally different way. This time it was more about experiencing the whole thing with great friends, which is what they quickly became. It was SO much fun. And my concerns about noise and being able to sleep were a non-issue. We were having so much fun, most nights I didn’t go to sleep until after sunrise, and when I did, there was nothing that could keep me from sleeping! At least for a few hours. :)

  6. Heavy D says:

    Enjoyed your tale from the playa. I am 67, Hartford based, was originally dragged to BM by my son, now go nearly every year. Too bad more older burners don’t write more about it. Hope you are returning this year. Best. HD

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