Burning Man

More mud, more fun: San Diego couple says bad weather led to more enjoyable Burning Man

Heavy rains delayed counterculture event in Nevada desert.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The rain came and left a muddy swamp. Yet, the spirit of Burning Man held strong for thousands who made it through the storm and waited for the sun to dry the earth enough for them to finally drive home Monday.

“As former military from San Diego, I’ve seen a lot worse mud in a lot worse places. So, this is actually a joy,” smiled John Waldheim while standing outside his RV Monday morning. “As soon as it started to rain, people were rolling around in the mud and just embracing what was happening.”

Thousands of people are rationing water and food at Burning Man until it dries up enough for them to leave. NBC 7's Kelvin Henry spoke to one attendee from San Diego about his experience.

A heavy rain delayed or canceled dozens of performances and forced “Burners” to stay inside after a heavy Friday storm forced the closure of roads in and out of the Black Rock Desert site.

“Welcome to Burning Man 2023. It just started raining,” said San Diego State University alumna Crystal Fambrini in a smartphone video just as the storm reached the desert.

Fambrini sent NBC San Diego dozens of videos showing the rain and its aftermath.

“Some people were panicking that were probably not prepared,” Waldheim offered. “When it started to come down it was pretty bad, and it got pretty gnarly.”

Hundreds of people left the Nevada desert ahead of the storm. Hundreds more tried to escape the mud afterwards. Waldheim and his wife, Jessica, said most people stuck it out and made the best of it.

“I think we just embraced it, and we had a great time,” said Jessica. “We were connecting with our friends. We had musicians playing private concerts in our RV.”

“We hunkered down and got a little bit closer, got a bit more intimate,” added John. “Even though it’s a little muddy, it’s been an amazing experience.”

A tour around the couple’s RV revealed a deep layer of mud that was slowly hardening.

“Sun’s back out. Mud’s drying!” John declared. “It’s just been an amazing experience. As a first time Burner, I will never miss this party ever again.”

Roads from the festival were finally reopened Monday although organizers encouraged people to wait until Tuesday.

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