BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev. — This year’s Burning Man is off to an awed, remarkably comfortable and mellow start. There have been Susan Sarandon sightings, so says the word on the playa. But Susan hasn’t stopped by my camp, and I haven’t spotted hers. However, Jeannie Schulz is definitely here, cruising Black Rock City in the Pig Pen art car made by friend Paul Chausee.

So far, the temperatures have been mild. It feels like the 80s in the daytime, and the 50s at night. Today, there’s been very little blowing dust.

More than one Burning Man veteran is saying the artwork scattered around the Man — much of it interactive, wildly illuminated or flame-spewing — may be the best they’ve ever seen.

Gabe Kearney of Petaluma thinks it is.

“This year, the artwork is blowing me away,” said Kearney, the Event Safety Officer for Burning Man. At his 10th burn, he’s wowed “by the level of creativity and, for lack of a better word, the one upmanship” among the artists.

And beyond the artwork, there’s something else turning heads and attracting cheers and howls out here: the nearly full moon.

Stay tuned for more news from the Playa.