Frequently Asked Questions: Look here first.

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike

Postby diane o'thirst » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:48 pm

With that air cleared, here's a suggestion for people that want "to help" and community build.

Not every noob is going to read this and they're going to depend on tricksters to get their stuff out there and/or back. Some will have to go begging. Consider streamlining your luggage load and not overload your transport vehicle, and bail out a Burner that got lurched and abandoned out there by Playa Goblins.

I'd do that myself but I'm not going this year.

In fact, it's probably a good idea to streamline your load and leave some room anyway...

Afterthought: it is about radical self-reliance but abandoning someone in the desert with no way to get home is venturing into criminal realms. That's like raping a girl to teach her about birth control. Anyone that does that richly deserves to get hit with a pre-meditated malicious endangerment charge.
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Postby WHO » Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:48 pm

Diane-
Thanks for sharing, sorry about the diptwits.

I am torn between driving and flying in.

Driving will take 2 1/2 days each way, wasting valuable vaca time, vs. the logistics of camping gear, foodstuffs, bikes and water.

I envy Donna and others who are within a day's drive. But there's still plenty of time to work it out.
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
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Postby ricochet » Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:55 pm

mdmf007 wrote:Mountain bikes at Wally world are only like 60-80 bucks new. Ride it at BM, clean it up, and give itt o a kid when you leave.

That worked for me....my first Burn, in 2005, my friend and I met up in Vegas. Picked up a $50 bike, made it my own, and had a fine time. Except that I'm pretty tall and you can't find cheap bikes for big people. The clown bike look only goes so far when you're riding hours every day.

Don't expect to be able to buy one in Reno. Even in Vegas it was slim pickings. Dedqgirl, maybe you can order one to pick up at a store there?

The wonderful folks camped next door brought that bike back for me the next year, saved me a hassle.
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Postby Toolmaker » Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:27 am

I couldn't agree with what Diane said more. I went through the routine but not with a stranger, brother of a friend. Big plans of a co-op effort with storage in Reno for next year. Short version ends with me losing a trailer, 2 couches, 55gal drums, carpet and more from cragslist and local reno shopping having a pool table to my name with no way to move me, my shit, or the pool table off the playa. At times for some Burningman can put strain on relationships, especially if you don't know someone face to face to well. You how they say its good to have a dedicated driver when going out to the pubs.. someone in the group needs to be a dedicated burner and not going batshit on drugs and booze for multi day benders. Also consider two vehicles on hand for groups.. incase of bug out or injury etc etc. Some folks may think they can handle a week or so out there but until you have done it ya never know how you will fare. If temperatures and elevation where you live are alot different you may want to be local a few days early to acclimate. This helped me alot coming from such a humid area to super dry.

While it is nice to have a ton of shit, you have to have the ability to deal with it YOURSELF. If you are travelling from afar it might be safer to camp "small". I found after bringing lots of food and gear that I would have been better off without alot of things. I think a "moving" truck is better to haul lots of crap if you are renting. With food try to use easy prep or pre-prepped stuff.
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Postby ohmissfigurazh » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:48 am

So I'm planning to come down to Nevada from Vancouver, WA this summer with my boyfriend and a few friends. So far my list includes: [let me know if im missing anything]
WATER, WATER, WATER, ICE, FOOD, Tent, inflatable mattress, tarps for shade, coolers, flashlights, extra batteries, TP, soap, deodarent, lotion, medicine & first aid kit, comfy shoes, cash [i take it you cant really use plastic down there] baby wipes are a must, condoms!! ;], ziplock bags and tupperware, back up lenses and solution, camera, extra memory sticks because i want to take lots of photos for my porfolio [QUESTION: I READ I HAVE TO REGISTER MY EQUIPMENT IF I WANT TO USE THE PHOTOS I TAKE FOR OTHER THAN MY OWN ENJOYMENT, IS THIS FREE? IF NOT ANYONE KNOW OF THE FEE?], garden sprayer [please tell me why and how? what will i hook it up too? added it only because a lot of people mentioned it], dr. bonners soap?, lighter fluid, wood and such to start a fire, sunscreen, hat, goggles/sunglasses, warm clothes for night, backpack, bike, aloe gel, gloves for clean up, mirror, make up and personal hygiene stuff, toothpaste/brush/mouthwash. Ciggs, liquir and happy pills.

Thats all i have so far.
Any other suggestions?
I figure waxing before going to the playa will allow me to save a lot of water than shaving and i am freaking out about showers because i take my daily half hour showers and i very much enjoy them. i will be taking my honda accord to the even and was wondering if there is anything i need to buy for my car specifically to protect it from the conditions.

oh and ALSO BIG QUESTION:
HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL LEAVING YOUR CAMPSITE AND WALKING AROUND [SINCE I READ ITS A 27 MILE STRETCH?] WHAT IF SOMEONE BREAKS INTO YOUR CAR OR YOUR TENT AND STEALS THINGS? IM VERY MUCH WORRIED ABOUT THIS it might turn out it will just be my boyfriend and i and i would want him with me at all times, but who would watch the campsite???

Also what type of food should I bring? I have never been camping in my life, so I'm rather new to this.

thanks for reading and hopefully you'll be able to answer some of my questions :]

see u at the playa o8!
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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:50 am

Cash--the only things you can buy are coffee and ice
Theft--it happens, but it isn't a huge problem. Do plan not to bring anything that you can lose, have trashed or have stolen
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:11 am

The garden sprayers are the self-contained pump up pressure kind, no need to hook it to anything.

Half hour showers huh? That's what the garden sprayer is for, and the baby wipes. You can't dump water on the ground, so every bit of water you use must be evaporated off or carried out. That makes long showers problematic. Shaving will be the least of your concerns by the end of the week.

You don't need anything special for your car, we use those windshield shade thingys inside, and some people tape foil inside. Basically be sure you're tuned up with good tires and fluid checks and whatnot BEFORE you leave. Once you get there and get camped, leave the car closed as much as possible. when you get home, clean it up, and have the air filter replaced or checked.

Oh-oh. I see wood to start a fire? Um, you can't have campfires or bonfires on the ground, they must be contained in a fireplace or burn barrel. If you're driving a little car, I don't think you'll have the room to bring a firepit.

GO camping! Go camping before you get out there and learn how that works and how to use your gear, set up your tent, sleep with earplugs in ... I don't care if you camp in someone's backyard, start camping! burning Man is strange enough without the added newness of living on the ground.

Food? Matter of taste and the ability to dispose of your greywater. We do a dry kitchen with the ability to boil water, but don't actually cook. Some people do full kitchens. Again, go camping and that will help you figure it out. I can live on granola bars and tuna, but many people cannot.
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Postby fromMA » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:30 am

Just go to the Walmart Superstore in Gerlach before you enter the Playa. If you run out of food theres always the Playa Mall with Applebys and Pizza Hut.
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Postby BitterDan » Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:42 pm

Hi Ohmissfig,

Ok, you've most definitely got some reading to do. Go directly to the Survival Guide, do not pass go, do not collect $200. After you have read that gem of information at LEAST 10 times, then you need to go read the First Timers' Guide a few times. I am serious. No number of questions you ask here will be answered as well as those guides.

I am not going to go over your packing list for you. There are literally HUNDREDS of websites out there that have packing lists for BM. That is your responsibility.

No you cannot use plastic down there. You can't even use cash except for coffee and ice. There is nothing to buy, there is no Swedish massage spa (well, not in the classical sense of the term) and the only facials you are going to get you will want to clean off immediately (eww).

Regarding your camera: I think this past year they wanted everyone with a camera to register. In the past it's been video cameras only that needed to be registered. I infer from your statement that you want to use these photos/video for something more than personal use. That is NOT acceptable. In fact, you are not legally allowed to sell ANY photograph or video taken at burning man per the rules of admission. Do not come here and think that you are going to somehow make money off of us....

Good luck with a shower. We never bring one. If you can't take being out in the desert for a week without a shower, then maybe BM isn't the place for you. I can tell you that if I see you dumping hundreds of gallons of grey water on the playa I will be stringing you up! Do NOT dump your grey water on the playa! If you somehow feel the need to take long showers then you need to plan accordingly and either evaporate your water (easier said than done) or haul it out. If you think about it, hauling it out is not so bad considering that you hauled it in.

Regarding theft, basically don't bring anything that you can't afford to lose. Theft happens at BM just like everywhere else. There will always be assclowns who will take advantage of any opportunity they can to steal from you. This is true whether you are at burning man or in your hometown. It's a fact of life.

Regarding food, bring whatever you like. Word of advice though, try not to bring many perishables unless you have the means for keeping them fresh (this typically means at least one daily trip to Artica to get ice). Melted ice IS grey water, do not dump it on the playa!

And like AntiM said, you NEED to go camping. Burning Man is NOT the place to come and decide if you actually like the great outdoors. It is VERY uncomfortable out there at times and you need to acclimate yourself to outdoor life. I am already worried about you because of the whole 30-minute shower statement so I'd suggest you get out and go camping and don't shower for three days. If you can't handle 3 days without a shower, you are fucked at BM.
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Postby ohmissfigurazh » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:28 pm

Regarding photos - No I did not mean selling them, I mean putting them into a portolio, physical and an internet one, strickly for display.

Theft - Many of you say don't bring anything thats valuable/that you dont want to lose. Well preparing for this trip, which I want to go on really bad since I am not just going to Burning Man, I am also going to NoCal and SoCal after or prior to the event, so all the supplies I will be needing, such as tent, coolers, air mattresses, etc etc etc is going to be brought brand new since I dont know anyone I can borrow those things from.

Camping - Sounds like a terffic idea, I've always wanted to go, I love the outdoors but never have had the chance to go camping, mainly because of my overprotective mother. When she found out about Burning Man, she volunteered herself to come along, when I advised her of no running water, she shut up. Heh.

Anyways I still have 8 months to revise, plan and prepare. But I shall be there!
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Postby diane o'thirst » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:35 pm

Forget the half-hour showers. Five minutes is your best bet, otherwise the water load gets problematic. I usually shower 5 minutes every other day, with the alternating day using an oil bath.

Take a bottle of olive oil, mix a tablespoon of orange oil (to cut the dust), a quarter-cup of melted cocoa butter and coconut oil and mix 'em up. In the evening before you hit the sack, pour out a silver dollar-sized drop into your hand and slather it all over yourself; wait a minute or two and scrape it off with a blunt knife, like a table knife.

I could go into it more, but since you're in Vancouver WA, you should know the Portland Burners are getting together a Burning Man 101 event in July. Basically it's a day-long event where you can ask questions, get hints, tips 'n tricks, scale the learning curve and get your Burn on. Stay tuned, more info as things develop.
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Postby ohmissfigurazh » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:48 pm

diane o'thirst wrote:Forget the half-hour showers. Five minutes is your best bet, otherwise the water load gets problematic. I usually shower 5 minutes every other day, with the alternating day using an oil bath.

Take a bottle of olive oil, mix a tablespoon of orange oil (to cut the dust), a quarter-cup of melted cocoa butter and coconut oil and mix 'em up. In the evening before you hit the sack, pour out a silver dollar-sized drop into your hand and slather it all over yourself; wait a minute or two and scrape it off with a blunt knife, like a table knife.

I could go into it more, but since you're in Vancouver WA, you should know the Portland Burners are getting together a Burning Man 101 event in July. Basically it's a day-long event where you can ask questions, get hints, tips 'n tricks, scale the learning curve and get your Burn on. Stay tuned, more info as things develop.


BM 101 in ptown? SWEET!
Yeah, I know about the 30 min showers, i just enjoy them when I can it's not like i havent gone a day or two without showering, because I have under several circumstances. such as flying to europe and being laid over at every god damn airport. But nevertheless, I am not the type of picky person really, I wont care much for not being able to straighten my hair the whole time im there, I'll just put it up... unlike my friend who found out there there isnt running water or electricity and freaked so she will no longer be going with me. i think no matter what the conditions may be on the playa this year, it will be well worth the months of planning, preparing and a week staying there under those conditions, It seems like an amazing event and I would not miss it for the world.

I actually just recently found out about Burning Man, I never thought it was real, I mean I heard about it such as Malcolm in the middle (episode was on about BM yesterday too} and like my sims 2 on ps2 the MESA gallery is a desert location with a wooden burning statue. I've seen the signs! lol.
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Postby diane o'thirst » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:57 pm

There's electricity, but you gotta bring it yourself.
Buy about 5 solar thingies each month until you pack up to leave, then buy another box and charge it up in the roofrack on the drive down.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:37 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:...Theft--it happens, but it isn't a huge problem. Do plan not to bring anything that you can lose, have trashed or have stolen


I believe that the most likely day for theft is the final day, burn night. Keep an eye on your goodies, lads and lassies.
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Postby BitterDan » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:17 pm

Regarding photos - No I did not mean selling them, I mean putting them into a portolio, physical and an internet one, strickly for display.


You should be alright doing that. I do the same thing with my photos of BM. Word to the wise though, you should ALWAYS ask someone for permission BEFORE taking their picture. Don't worry about it so much when you are shooting a crowd but if you start taking pictures of naked people without permission you might get yelled at (at best) or have your camera stomped (at worst). Just be courteous about your pics and you shouldn't have a problem. I've never had a problem with anyone other than the occasional person calling me a tourist.

Ugly D is correct that most thefts happen on burn night. The reason being that no one is hanging around camp. What do you really need out there (besides your camera) that you couldn't afford to have stolen? I wouldn't worry so much about your camping gear. Thieves are typically after more expensive stuff like cameras, laptops, DJ equipment, etc. As long as you don't bring a lot of that stuff, there is nothing to worry about. Additionally, I usually leave my car unlocked. You might cringe at that but the way I see it, it is usually cheaper for me to replace whatever junk they got from my car than to replace the windows (lessoned learned the hard way when someone stole my $50 satellite radio and broke the $300 window to get to it.. not at BM btw).

Oh and just one last thing about showering and I will stop rambling. In my opinion, five minutes is too long to shower at BM unless you have an RV. If you must take actual showers (as opposed to the garden sprayer/wetnap methods) then you should practice the "Navy" shower. Basically what that means is you get in the shower, wet your whole body, turn off the water, lather up, turn on water, rinse, turn off water, dry off. Saves thousands of gallons per day on a Navy ship hence the term, Navy shower. I think you'll find that you can get by with the garden sprayer (using a half gallon of water a day) and wet naps and not really "need" to shower.

Wow, I talk too much. Me shuts up now. :D
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Postby AntiM » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:46 pm

I wont care much for not being able to straighten my hair the whole time im there,


Oh, this cracks me up everytime I read it! I'm not laughing at you sweetie, I'm laughing at straightening hair in the desert. By the end of the week, you'll be so happy just to be able to wash your hair you won't care one way or the other about texture or frizzies! heee!

I have longish hair, I braid it or put it up because it is freakin' hot other wise, and it gets tangled in the windy conditions.

You're going to have so much fun!
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Postby ohmissfigurazh » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:34 pm

BitterDan wrote:
...You should be alright doing that. I do the same thing with my photos of BM. ...I've never had a problem with anyone other than the occasional person calling me a tourist.


Heh, well good at first I was worried no pictures were allowed at the event other than media/press. But I don't even know if theyre allowed at the event? I guess the actual main concern is not to document "bad behaviour" that might incriminate someone. But knowing that I shouldnt have a problem with just using the photos for my portfolio puts me at ease because my camera is always on me, can't go anywhere without it.

BitterDan wrote:
Additionally, I usually leave my car unlocked. You might cringe at that but the way I see it, it is usually cheaper for me to replace whatever junk they got from my car than to replace the windows (lessoned learned the hard way when someone stole my $50 satellite radio and broke the $300 window to get to it.. not at BM btw).


Wow, I could never leave my car unlocked, someone too broke my window with a rock, but did not steal anyting.. Kind of pointless but I Guess it could have turned out way worse. People are so dumb sometimes, I could never damage someone elses property, if its not mine i dont touch it. Period.

BitterDan wrote:
If you must take actual showers (as opposed to the garden sprayer/wetnap methods) then you should practice the "Navy" shower. Basically what that means is you get in the shower, wet your whole body, turn off the water, lather up, turn on water, rinse, turn off water, dry off.


Thats a good idea. I'm just a very organized person and I need to plan for this and I am glad I have 7 months to think of a way how to effectively wash without big awkward things that take up way too much room in my car. I have a honda accord, 4 door and it will only be two to three people in my car, which leaves the rest for supplies and thats not even enough room in my opinion.

Any suggestions on coolers? Size and such, where I can get good ones for cheap also same for tents? I mean I dont want to buy super nice stuff since if i actually manage to take it home and it wont get stolen, it will probably be damaged or something.
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1/2 hour showers?!?

Postby swampdog » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:59 pm

MissFig - I suppose you've already been properly spanked over the environmental unconsciousness of taking 1/2 hour showers anywhere? No? Alright, come here, sweetie, bend over. *SMACK*. There ya go.

Seriously, having to deal with your water source and destination for a week goes a long way to making one much more water conscious. It sure did for me. Ask me sometime about how panicked I got when I unexpectedly had to dispose of a trash can full of really foul kitchen waste water from our camp while packing out.

It's good that you're planning so far in advance. Burning Man is a study in opposites, the better you plan, the fewer crises you're likely to have. At the same time, once you get there you have to realize that absolutely nothing will go as you planned it and you just gotta roll with it. Control freaks are great for preparation and much less great at enjoying the insanity.

Good luck, it sounds like you'll have a great time.
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Postby skeetsh00ter » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:41 am

For those of you flying in from long distances you should check out the Reno Kiwanis club. They take old bikes and re-condition them to be given to lower class children. For the past several years they've been doing it for burners to raise money as well. A friend and I both got working mtn bikes for less than $50 each, then on the way home we dropped them back off to be reconditioned again.

This way you: 1. save a little money over the wal-mart bike, 2. you don't end up throwing away a perfectly good bike at the end of the week, 3. finally you are contributing to a good cause.

seriously, don't go to walmart to get a bike for just a week. the used ones all probably have less of a chance of breaking on you than those p.o.s. bikes you find at wally world anyways.

http://www.kiwanisbikes.org/
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Postby Bounce530 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:21 pm

I think you might have trouble fitting enough water alone for 2-3 people in an Accord for the whole week. 5 gallons a day x 3 people x 7 days = 105 gallons. Plus gear and your art? You might want to re-think the bringing your car alone. Maybe rent a pick-up, or have somebody else that is coming with you bring another car.
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Postby skeetsh00ter » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:42 pm

nah, 5 gallons is way to much unless you'll be taking long long showers every day. 2 gallons/per person/per day should be plenty.
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Postby BitterDan » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:36 pm

I bring 1.5 gallons a day and have some leftover by end of week. Of course, I also bring a couple gallons of gatorade and I always find non-alcoholic beverages at bars too. Then again, i don't use my water for showering either. Wetnaps do the trick just fine for a week.
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Postby ohmissfigurazh » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:37 pm

Bounce530 wrote:I think you might have trouble fitting enough water alone for 2-3 people in an Accord for the whole week. 5 gallons a day x 3 people x 7 days = 105 gallons. Plus gear and your art? You might want to re-think the bringing your car alone. Maybe rent a pick-up, or have somebody else that is coming with you bring another car.


its 2 cars that are going dont know how many people for sure but if its 4 its going to be 2 per car.
actually i just finished my list of all everything i need for the trip (of course it going to change a thousand more times prior or burning man itself] but looks like so far i have some room left over after the tent, the coolers, three 24 boxes of drinking water and 12 galloons of tap water in milk jugs in the trunk, then of course stuff like a suitcase for all my clothing, accesorries and first aid kit and hygiene stuff in the suitcase. also when placing the enflatble mattless on top of the suitcases, i have room for both pumps for mattress and car, then all of the food and such will be IN the coolers or in bags Inside the car on the back seat and more water, other than that and small things here and there such as shoes and walkie talkies and foil and tape and such i have PLenty of room. as for the bike, im worried, i think i might strap it on my roof or something.


but yeah im actually getting all my gear together because i want to go camping with all my new gear prior to burning man and see how it works out :]
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Postby Bounce530 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:03 pm

sounds good! I'm the type that over prepares for everything. I may have been out of line stating how much to bring, since I myself am a "Burning-Virgin" I read in one of the many guides that 5 gallons/day/person is how much you should bring without fear of running out.
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Postby Toolmaker » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:26 pm

ohmiss:

Seriously reconsider renting a vehicle, you may not dig the playa dust in your car for the rest of the time you own it. Moving truck kinda thing gives ya tons of room. There is NOT enough room in a car for the needs of 2 people unless you go minimalist. I do NOT recommend minimalist for someone with no camping exp. Many folks enjoy bringin lots of stuff for comfort on the playa, you'll see mention of couches and large shade structures etc etc. A tent without additional shade is an oven, trust me. From what I see in your posts so far you may even want to consider the RV route, it is not really the type of environ for 30 minute shower folks that havent ever been camping.
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Postby BitterDan » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:38 pm

Bounce530 wrote:sounds good! I'm the type that over prepares for everything. I may have been out of line stating how much to bring, since I myself am a "Burning-Virgin" I read in one of the many guides that 5 gallons/day/person is how much you should bring without fear of running out.


Those guides are wrong then. There is no way in hell you will need 5 gallons a day per person (unless you are ohmiss and need a 30 minute shower *sorry ohmiss, couldn't resist).
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Damn

Postby swampdog » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:17 pm

Am I setting myself up for a reputation as environmental noodge? You said 3 cases of 24 for water? I think you mean individual water bottles? Much better to get a camelbak and 2.5 gal "suitcase" size water jugs. Easier to use, easier to carry, better all around, and less trash to deal haul out.

Bike rack is the easiest way to carry bikes on a car, you can get 'em new around $50-$75 I think.

My first year I carried my stuff plus a bunch of extra for a friend in my 98 accord. Could have squeezed in another body, not two.

Don't forget to think about all the fun stuff you want to bring - fun clothes, blinky lights, etc.

You can go pretty simple on food - you really aren't as motivated to eat out there. Canned soup - cheap, easy, limited cleanup. Snack bars (like Clif bars). (These are not necessarily environmentally friendly. So sue me).

Phil (eplaya regular) has a good prep website here http://www.cieux.com/bm/
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one-nother

Postby swampdog » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:22 pm

another thing, think bins not suitcases. Any big chain hardware or dept store will have 'em for a few bucks a piece. Easier to subdivide stuff - get a little bin for hygiene items, another for electronics (walkie talkies, etc), a big one for clothes, one for cooking gear, etc.

You might want to hook up with a big camp. I'm sure there are plenty out of Portland you could find. That way you don't have to worry so much about the basics - shelter, cooking, etc.
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Postby plowman » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:37 pm

take off a peddle, turn your handlebars, put a rag or towel on top of your car, tie your bike to the roof and save some money. It will ride well. I do it every year
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Postby Dork » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:52 pm

Bounce530 wrote:I read in one of the many guides that 5 gallons/day/person is how much you should bring without fear of running out.

Unless you're taking really long showers every day that's way more than enough. 1.5 gallons is more than enough for me including miserly showers every day or two. Some of that shower water comes from my cooler runoff, though. Maybe bring 2.0 your first year, and be prepared to haul some of that home.
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