This is number four in my armchair series on Venice where Peggy and I visited in 2013. Again, I have pulled it from my archived posts to revisit in the time of Covid 19. Enjoy.
I have always felt the best way to learn about a city is to walk its streets. Fortunately, I was traveling in Europe with companions who also loved to walk. For the most part, we skipped the tours. It isn’t that the tours are bad, you can learn a lot from them, but they are regimented and often expensive. There is no wandering off on your own, or taking longer to enjoy a particular site than the tour leader allows.
Venice is a great walking city— if you don’t mind getting lost. Streets have a tendency to take you somewhere you weren’t planning to go and come to abrupt ends. Street signs are rare. What the city does do, however, is post signs that will eventually lead to major monuments. And of course, you are on a relatively small island. How lost can you get? Besides, it isn’t like getting lost in the Alaskan wilderness. I was always very careful not to.
Common sense is important. Wandering down dark, lonely alleys can be risky at times, regardless of where you are. But in restricting your journey to major streets and walkways, you limit your opportunities to have adventures and develop a true sense of the communities you are visiting.
It is important to look around and notice the small as well as the large, the seemingly insignificant as well as what is featured in the guidebooks. Photography helps once you get beyond ‘we were there snap shots’ and allows your mind to feast on the wonderful variety that any area offers. It teaches you to see new things and to seek out what is unique. Following are various locations and objects that Peggy and I found of interest.
It’s that time of the year when chickens lay brightly colored eggs and bunny rabbits hide them for children to find. It’s an Easter tradition that is even more important this year when children (and their parents) can use a little old-fashioned fun. By rights, I should have a chicken, egg, and bunny story to tell. But I don’t. I do, however, have a cat and rooster story. It will have to do. Join me as I travel back in time to when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa and Rasputin the Cat and the Cockle Doodle Rooster hatched a plot to wake me up early every morning. (I adapted this story from my book, “The Bush Devil Ate Sam.”)
Jo Ann, my first wife, and I raised Rasputin from a kitten. He had grown into one fine cat, or sweet meat as my students said. They’d tease me by coming by and pinching him to see how fat he had become. Then they would stand around discussing whether he was ready for the stew pot.
Rasputin’s primary entertainment was stalking dogs. You knew when he was at work because the neighborhood dogs carefully avoided the tall clumps of grass where he liked to hide. He was particularly obnoxious when it was windy. He would hide up-wind and make it more difficult for the dogs to sniff him out. I felt for the poor dog that came too close.
A streak of yellow and a yip of surprise proclaimed his attack. What made his behavior particularly strange was that he came at the dogs on his two hind legs, walking upright. This allowed both front legs to be used as slashing weapons. It was the wise dog that steered clear.
His other form of entertainment was more cat like. He liked the girls. Each night he would ask to go out around 10 and we wouldn’t seen him until the next morning. I was fine with this. Who was I to get in the way of true love? I was less tolerant of his returning around 5:30 and insisting that I let him in. He did this by practicing his operatic meows under our bedroom window.
Since no amount of suggesting that he should change his behavior discouraged him, I jumped out of bed one morning and chased him across the yard. This got Jo Ann excited. Our cat was going “to run away and never come back.” She may have also been concerned about the neighbor’s reaction to my charging out of the house naked. That type of thing bothered her. I promised to repent and assured her that the cat would be back in time for dinner. He was.
There were occasions when Rasputin’s tomcatting kept him out beyond his normal 5:30 appearance. I’m convinced that he made a deal with the rooster next door to wake us in his absence. I didn’t make this correlation until the rooster crowed directly under our window one morning at 5:30. Even then I thought it was just a coincidence until the rooster repeated himself the next day.
It wasn’t just the crowing that irritated me; it was the nature of the crow. American and European roosters go cock-a-doodle-do. Even urban children know this because that’s how it is spelled out in books. Liberian roosters go cock-a-doodle— and stop. You are constantly waiting for the other ‘do’ to drop.
“This crowing under our window,” I thought to myself, “has to be nipped in the bud.”
That evening I filled a bucket with water and put it next to my bed. Sure enough, at 5:30 the next morning there he was: “COCK-A-DOODLE!” I jumped up, grabbed my bucket, and threw the water out the window on the unsuspecting fowl. “Squawk!” I heard as one very wet and irritated rooster headed home as fast as his little rooster legs could carry him.
“Chicken,” I yelled out after his departing body. “And that,” I said to Jo Ann, “should be the end of this particular problem.”
I was inspired though. Cats don’t think much of getting wet either. What if I kept a bucket of water next to the bed and dumped it on Rasputin the next time he woke us up at 5:30. Jo couldn’t even blame me for running outside naked. With warm thoughts of having solved two problems with one bucket, I went to bed that night loaded for cat, so to speak.
“COCK-A-DOODLE” roared the rooster outside our window promptly at 5:30.
“Damn,” I thought, “that boy is one slow learner.”
I fell out of bed, grabbed the bucket and dashed for the window. There was no rooster there. I looked up and spotted him about 20 feet away running full tilt. He had slipped up on us, crowed and taken off! My opinion of the rooster took a paradigm leap. Here was one worthy opponent. The question was how to respond.
It took me a couple of days of devious thinking to arrive at a solution. What would happen if I recorded the rooster on a tape recorder and then played it back? I had a small tape recorder that I used for exchanging letters with my dad so I set myself the task of capturing the rooster’s fowl language. Since he had an extensive harem he liked to crow about, it wasn’t long before I had a dozen or so cock-a-doodles on tape. I rewound the recorder, cranked up the volume and set it up next to our front screen door.
The results were hilarious. Within seconds the rooster was on our porch, jumping up and down and screaming ‘cock-a-doodle.’ There was a rooster inside of our house that had invaded his territory and he was going to tear him apart, feather-by-feather. Laughing I picked up the recorder, rewound it, carried to the back screen door, and hit the play button.
“Cock-a-doodle, cock-a-doodle, cock-a-doodle,” I could hear the rooster as he roared around to the back of house to get at his implacable foe. Back and forth I went, front to back, back to front. And around and around the house the rooster went, flinging out his challenges.
Finally, having laughed myself to exhaustion, I took pity on my feathered friend and shut the recorder off. This just about concludes the rooster story, but not quite.
One Friday evening, Jo and I had been celebrating the end of another week of teaching with gin and tonics until the wee hours when we decided to see how the rooster would respond to his nemesis at one o’clock in the morning. Considering our 5:30 am wakeup calls, we felt there was a certain amount of justice in the experiment. I set it up the recorder and played a “Cock-a-doodle.”
“COCK-A-DOODLE?!” was the immediate response. No challenge was to go unanswered. “Cock-a-doodle” we heard as roosters from the Superintendent’s compound checked in. “Cock-a-doodle, cock-a-doodle” we heard in the distance as town roosters rose to the challenge. Soon every rooster in Gbarnga was awake, and probably every resident.
We decided to keep our early morning rooster-arousing episode to ourselves.
Hope you enjoyed the tale. There are several more about Rasputin in the book. A very Happy Easter to each of you from Peggy and me. Be safe and stay healthy!
I’ve been playing hooky from my blog. Or you might say I was ‘derailed.’ Peggy and I climbed on Amtrak in Mid-December as part of a 5000 mile train trip across America and back. I’ll cover the adventure in my next post.
We went back east to visit with our son and his family in Florida to enjoy Christmas and then went north to visit with our daughter and her family in Virginia to celebrate the new year. All of that would have been ample distraction to pull me away from blogging. A nasty cold I picked up in Florida was the main culprit however. It was one of those bugs that keeps you awake all night coughing your lungs out. (Remember when Calvin of Calvin and Hobbs sneezed his brains out? That’s how I felt.) I had enough energy to enjoy our kids and grandkids and take the train home. That was it.
I thought it would be fun to feature some photos from today when Peggy and I woke up to several inches of gorgeous snow for my return to blogging. As always, it called for a walk in the woods.
NEXT POST: Clickety-Clack— a 5000 mile train trip across America and back.
You’re stuck if you are a raindrop falling into Mono Lake— or anywhere else in the Great Basin. There are no convenient rivers to whisk you away to the sea. Evaporation is your only escape. Water tends to become a little grouchy under these conditions, or make that salty. In fact, Mono Lake is 2.5 times as salty as the ocean, and 100 times as alkaline. The good news here is it is really hard to drown. You can float to your heart’s content. Even sea gulls have a hard time keeping their feet in the water to paddle. The bad news is a minor cut or scrape will send you screaming for the shore.
There is magic in the water, however. Springs flowing underground from the surrounding mountains are rich in dissolved calcium. When they bubble up into the lake, the calcium bonds with the carbonates in the lake and together they make rocks, or what are known as tufa towers. In the past, when the lake was full, these towers hid out under the surface and happily continued to grow. There were few or no tufa towers to see. Mark Twain camped out on the lake in the 1860s when he was searching for a lost gold mine and noted in Roughing It,“This solemn, silent, sailess sea— this lonely tenant of the loneliest spot on the earth—is little graced with the picturesque.”
Obviously, the tufa towers weren’t there to greet him. We can thank Los Angeles’s formidable Department of Power and Water for their presence. Back about 1913, DPW had the challenge of supplying more water to the ever-thirsty Los Angeles with its desert environment and burgeoning population. It decided that there was plenty of water up in Owens Valley along the eastern side of Sierras. DPW didn’t bother to ask the local residents, farmers and ranchers whether they wanted their water to go to LA. It didn’t have to. It had the power to grab what it wanted. Things got nasty. Water wars in the West aren’t pretty. “Greed of City Ruins the Owens Valley” the headlines in the Inyo Register screamed. And it wasn’t far from wrong. Every stream of consequence flowing into the valley was tapped to meet LA’s water needs. What lakes that existed started drying up, including Mono Lake. Starting in 1941, DPW began taking water from the lake’s major tributaries, dropping the lake some 40 feet.
Environmentalists mounted a major effort starting in the 70s to save the lake. Fish can’t survive in the highly saline/alkaline water, but some four trillion brine shrimp, innumerable small alkali flies, and algae find the conditions perfect. The shrimp and flies, in turn, serve as a major food source for the two million birds that stop off to dine in the lake. The lowering water levels threatened to kill off the algae, shrimp and flies. The birds were in danger of losing their handy fast food restaurant. In 1994, The California Department of Water Resources stepped in to resolve the issue by requiring DPW to reduce the amount of water it was taking from the lake’s streams and repair some of the damage it had done to the riparian habitats along the streams. While the lake won’t return to the levels that existed when Mark Twain visited, the ecosystem is now being protected. Birds will be able to continue to stuff themselves while visitors can continue to enjoy the unique beauty of the tufa towers.
It was late in the afternoon when I visited the south end of the lake where the most impressive tufa towers are found so I was able to photograph the towers at sunset. The warm tones added to the beauty. I took lots of pictures. (Grin) To get here look for the signs that direct you to the South Tufa Towers south of Lee Vining off of Highway 395.
I got the call from my brother Marshall in mid-March. He had house-sat for us while Peggy and I were off backpacking last summer. Then, as he has been doing for 17-years, he hit the road, heading for Arizona where he would winter. He’d come West the year before, ending his 15-years of migrating back and forth between North Carolina and Florida, as regularly as the birds. Oregon would be his new residence. Four years ago, he had fought tongue cancer in Florida, free-camping while he had extensive treatments. It was his way. I had flown in to spend some time with him. He had won that battle, a temporary reprieve that allowed him to continue to wander, which is what he loves to do.
The phone call was serious. His cancer was back. He wasn’t going to fight it. At 78, he was coming home to die. His wandering days were over. A couple of days ago I found him talking to his RV. “I know, big fellow, you want to be on the road as much as I do, but we can’t.”
For the past two months, Peggy and I have been caring for Marshall. He is living in our back yard in his RV. It’s where he wants to die. Marshall has hospice care now and the team is excellent, providing support for us as well as him. They are warm, caring people. None of this easy. It’s incredibly tough watching someone you care for waste away and die. It may be days, or weeks, but probably not months. Each morning when I go out to visit, I wonder.
I’ve decided to check out of my blog for now, for at least a couple of months. I need the time for Marsh, and Peggy, and me. I’ll be back. My blog and my blogging friends are part of my family. Until next time, take care my friends.
Black Rock City is laid out using a semi-circular grid system. The main roads are numbered and are oriented toward the Man, which is at the center of Burning Man. The circular roads are in alphabetical order with names based on the theme of the year. Say the theme was Wildlife, A street might be Aardvark, B street Baboon, etc.
The well laid out street system makes it easy to get around— in the beginning— during the day. The story changes at night when lack of light, stolen signs, liberal doses of free alcohol and mass chaos seems to rule, especially later in the week when the full 70,000 plus people are present. Then, it’s easy to get lost. Throw in a zero visibility dust storm and it is almost impossible not to. Common sense and Burning Man tell you to stay put.
I was lost for an hour once during such a storm. We had gone out to watch a burn, which was scheduled at dusk in the far reaches of the Playa near the apex of the map shown above. As the fire burned down, a huge dust storm hit, leaving Peggy, our friend Beth, and me— along with a few thousand other Burners and mutant vehicles to find our way home. It bordered on scary, made more so by large mutant vehicles appearing out of nowhere. When the storm cleared enough to get our bearings, we found we had walked in a huge circle out on the Playa. We returned to camp caked in dust and exhausted. Now, I carry a compass.
You don’t need a dust storm to get lost, however. Here’s a story I related earlier this week in one of my comments: A young man drove up from San Francisco to Burning Man. He was a first timer, a virgin Burner eager to get out and explore. He parked his car, quickly set up camp, and headed off to play. When he returned to his camp later that night, he discovered that someone had stolen his car, his tent, his food and all of his gear. He reported his situation to the Burning Man staff and they found the unfortunate fellow a ride back to SF. End of story.
But not quite. A few days after the event, he received a call from BMO. His car, his tent, his food, and all of his gear had been found— right where he had left them. That was how lost he had been. If this seems a bit far-fetched, consider the following photos.
After the above story and photos, it might seem that it would be impossible to get away from the crowds. Actually it’s easy, assuming you are willing to head out into the Playa. Even the area surrounding the Man is relatively unoccupied unless a major event is taking place. Very few make it to the outer boundaries. Showing up early in the week or leaving late also reduces the crowds that peak on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
NEXT POST: I’ll take you for a walk through Black Rock City.
It’s Christmas Eve here in Charlotte, North Carolina. The tree is up and loaded with goodies. The gingerbread houses have been built and the Christmas cookies are ready to eat. (Minus those that Grandpa has already eaten. I have a serious responsibility to test the cookies as they come out of the oven. Sometimes I have to eat two, or three, just to be sure they meet my high standards.) Our son-in-law Clay will soon be up and preparing tonight’s roast. He’s one heck of a cook. All’s well with the world, or at least all is well with our little corner. And that’s enough for today.
Like Santa, we are in the middle of our holiday rounds. Last week, we were in Florida visiting with our son and his family. This week we are with our daughter and her family in Charlotte. It’s her turn to have us for Christmas. Next year is Tony’s turn, as we have already been reminded several times. (grin) Santa, of course, has the advantage of being able to be in both places. That’s because he has that magical sleigh and eight reindeer plus the red-nosed fellow. We have to travel by airplane, where we are lucky to arrive at all.
Both sets of kids (and grandkids) decided it would be fun to check out the holiday decorations at major amusement parks this year: Busch Gardens in Florida and Carowinds in North Carolina. They were impressive:
Making gingerbread houses is a tradition at both houses, which isn’t surprising considering Peggy’s love of all things Christmas. The grandkids join in the effort with total dedication, except for eating half of the house decorations. They are not alone in their passion for jelly beans and M&Ms and candy canes, gumdrops etc. The doggies also have a sweet tooth. But which one ate the gingerbread house?
Chima and Lexi were actually innocent— this time. Not that they wouldn’t eat a gingerbread house if someone left it on the floor by mistake and no-one was home. But they lack Lyla’s long legs. (Clay swears his dogs would not eat the gingerbread house.) Cammie and boys had just finished their house and were briefly out of the room. Cammie returned to find Lyla on her hind legs scarfing down their house. In Lyla’s defense, she had only thoroughly licked one side— but I am pretty sure that the house’s demise was just a matter of time. Anyway, here are the Cox family gingerbread houses:
Speaking of animals, Carowinds had put together a petting zoo for Christmas. It’s where I found the camel. There was also a very, very strange looking goat that looked like it was having a really bad hair day, that it was an ancient goat from another time…
A VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY TO ALL OF OUR GREAT INTERNET FRIENDS. THANKS FOR FOLLOWING ‘WANDERING THROUGH TIME AND PLACE.’
As we passed outside of the Grand Canyon National Park boundary, the Canyon lost some of its grandeur, but just barely.
I wasn’t too surprised when Susan Gishi sported Romaine Lettuce as rabbit ears. In fact, wandering around with my camera, I may have encouraged her. Nor was I surprised when she wielded the cutting knife threateningly. Or when the kitchen crew started head loading the salad containers (not too successfully). Tom ran a tight ship in the kitchen and his mutinous crew responded with humor. After 15 days on the river, his efforts at organization were somewhat analogous to herding cats, or maybe kangaroos. It tended to make him grumpy.
Susan demonstrates how to wear Romaine Lettuce, and the proper way to cut it.
This is the rowdy kitchen crew, Susan, Peggy and Eggin.
Susan demonstrating how to head load.
A convenient ledge provided first row seats to watch the crews shenanigans.
Later, Teresa decided to become a stalker.
While Don Assumed the pose of the thinker. Hopefully, the rope stayed in place.
His shirt makes a ghost appearance.
As we passed outside of the National Park boundary on our trip down the Colorado, the Canyon lost some of its grandeur. But there was still plenty to see. Pumpkin Springs was a good example. It looked like a huge pumpkin. Beth, whose nickname is Pumpkin, was glad to climb up on top of the springs for perspective. The gourd-like structure is another example of a travertine formation created by the lime pumped out by the hot springs. An interesting note is that the spring also has a high concentration of arsenic. Health standards are set at 50 milligrams per liter. The level at Pumpkin Springs has been measured at over 1000! Don’t drink the water! Bone, of course, had to take a sip, but doing anything he does usually has an inherent risk. I once watched him dive into a pitcher of margaritas at Senior Frogs in Mazatland, Mexico and refuse to come out until a señorita gave him a kiss.
Rock formations continued to entertain us.
Volcanic rocks begin making an appearance, including this large chunk of basalt…
And columns of basalt. They reflect the way basalt may crack when it cools slowly. The Devil’s Postpile along the John Muir Trail is one of the best examples of this phenomena.
A view of Pumpkin Springs.
Beth provides perspective on the size of the springs.
While Bone gets up close and personal.
Peggy and I both took turns at the oars. Peggy’s was mainly a photo-op but I rowed for a longer period, giving Dave a break. He even encouraged me to try my luck at death-defying rapids (more like a 1 on a scale of 10.) “Point toward the V made by the water and stay in the center,” Dave had advised before going back to sleep.
Peggy takes her turn at rowing…
As do I…
Dave taking a snooze while I row.
This is an example of the small rapids I rowed through.
A final view of the Canyon for today.
WEDNESDAY’S POST: Up close and personal with the big brown bears of Kodiak Island.
FRIDAY’S POST: Living on Graveyard Alley— or not. It’s a wrap on the Mekemson Kids Did It.
I had been on Havasu Creek before. Our son, Tony, who was on a break between flying helicopters for the Marines and flying helicopters for the Coast Guard, was flying helicopters for a private company that offered tours over the Grand Canyon and into the small Indian village of Supai. The town, which is located inside the Canyon, sits next to Havasu Creek.
Tony had flown his wife Cammie, Peggy and me into Supai as a treat. He was playing the theme from Star Wars full blast as we dropped over the steep edge of the Canyon and begin our rapid descent! We were greeted by the beautiful blue-green water of Havasu Creek and its interesting travertine structures when we landed A high concentration of calcium-carbonate is responsible for both the water’s color and the formations. The process of coating objects with lime is fast. Today’s downed limb in the creek may become next month’s travertine sculpture. Peggy and I were eager to see if the creek maintained its unusual color and interesting formations at its mouth where it flowed into the Colorado. As the following photos suggest, we were not disappointed.
The mouth of Havasu Creek is a common stop for rafters in the Grand Canyon. Our rafts look small beside the large commercial tour boat.
We hiked over this from the mouth of the creek.
And were treated to views like these.
Don caught this lovely view. (Photo by Don Green.)
And Peggy took this one.
One of the things rafters do for entertainment on Havasu Creek is to damn it up using their rears…
And then, people scramble out of the way, creating a mini-flood! Beth was having a bit of trouble with the scramble part. She was holding onto Bone and didn’t have her hands free.
A pictograph, left behind by ancient Americans, caught the group’s attention. Maybe they used to grow people taller. (grin)
Lava Falls is labeled a 10 in the Grand Canyon’s system of scary, the highest rating given to any rapids along the Colorado. The river drops 37 feet over a few hundred yards and guarantees a quick, gut wrenching ride that seems to last forever and might very well throw you out of the raft. We had been worrying about it even before the trip. It is considered one of the top ten challenging rapids in the world by river runners. Our boatmen parked their rafts above the rapids and carefully scouted a route. We could see a huge, raft-sucking hole in the middle. It seemed that slipping by on the right seemed the wisest choice. But what did we know. The river was going to do what the river was going to do. Steve agreed to carry us and away we went on our bucking raft… Ride ’em cowboy!
Back on the Colorado River, we headed for our appointment with Lava Falls. Eggin would be attempting the rapids in her kayak.
It was hard to imagine that Lava Falls was just around the bend. But we could hear its roar.
Everyone wanted a good view of the rapids.
They promised a quick but rough ride! Would that hole suck us in and tip over our raft?
With Steve at the oars, Peggy and I enter the infamous Lava Falls on the Colorado River, a perfect ten… that’s 10 as in rapids don’t get any more serious. Shortly after this we disappeared under the water! (Photo by Don Green)
Peggy and I are between the camera and the oars! Luckily we came out with our messy side up. (Photo by Don Green.)
Everybody made it through with the exception of Eggin, who managed to run the rapids upside down in her kayak. One of the boatman shot out to collect her and the kayak. Other than being a bit wet, she was fine. Meanwhile, her uncle, David Stalheim, had pulled over at Tequila Beach and was demonstrating why it was so named. If you manage to survive the rapids, you are expected to celebrate with a shot of tequila. Dave apparently wanted the whole bottle! The party continued after we reached camp…
Don demonstrates how he was feeling after running Lava. It’s possible that the lid was on, but just maybe.
Peggy and I just looked happy. We needed a T-shirt that said we survived Lava Falls.
Jonas had decided to celebrate with a little quiet reading in the river…
Bone declared that the trip had scared the pee out of him…
While Beth and Susan decided it was time to Party.
While Tom was just, um, Tom.
I will note that the party continued into the night and the natives were apparently having a heck of a good time!
WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: Flying over Kodiak Island. It was green enough to be Ireland before the glaciers started.
FRIDAY’S Blog a Book POST: Another in the MisAdventure series. Bob Bray and I are chased by a hobo and my mother chases fire trucks.
Imagine, if you will, having enough port-a-potties to accommodate 70,000 people. It’s one of many issues Burning Man has to deal with in planning Black Rock City.
I always like to include a post on Black Rock City when I am blogging about Burning Man to give readers a view of how everything fits together. Obviously, you can’t throw up a city for 70,000 people in the desert without some serious planning. Think of it this way: For the one week of its existence, Black Rock City is the third largest city in Nevada— only Las Vegas and Reno are larger.
It all starts with locating where the Man will be placed out in the Black Rock Desert a few miles east of the small, northern Nevada town of Gerlach. A ceremonial spike is driven into the ground to mark the placement. Everything else including the Temple, Center Camp, the surrounding fence and Black Rock City evolve from there. Official Burning Man structures and major camps are built before the event. Sort of. It is not unusual to arrive on Sunday with work still being done on the Man, the Temple, Center Camp, etc.
Black Rock City is laid out in a semi-circle as shown on the 2016 map below. The circular roads are given names based on the annual theme and are in alphabetical order. For example, the 2016 theme was Da Vinci’s Workshop. The road names were Arno, Botticelli, Cosimo, Donatello, Effigiare (Italian: to portray), Florin, Guild, High Renaissance, Italic, Justice, Knowledge, and Lorenzo. The main road that separates Black Rock City from the Playa is always the Esplanade. Roads that cut across the circular roads are numbered clockwise and lead out to the Man.
The large circle on the bottom is Center Camp, the middle circle the Man, and the upper circle the Temple. Both the Man and the Temple are located on the Playa, which continues out to the fence. Shaded areas are for assigned, organized camps; non-shaded areas for everyone else. Space in the non-shaded areas is on a first come, first serve basis and you can have as much as you need for your camp, assuming you come in early— there seems like a lot of space in the beginning. By the end of the week, everything is packed! The total area encompassed within the fence including Black Rock City and the Playa is approximately seven square miles.
The official Burning Man map of Black Rock City for 2016.
The following photos provide a glimpse into what it is like to live in Black Rock City.
If you come in early on Sunday, you feel like you have a lot of space. We always mark out our site with rope and reflectors.
Things fill up rapidly as the week progresses. Quivera, our van, marks one end of our camp. Our goal is to be somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 on H or I.
By Friday, there is no room left. If you haven’t clearly marked your area, you will have guests!
If things feel too crowded, you can always bike out onto the Playa where the Man, the Temple and many of the major art pieces are located.
If things are still too crowded, you can head out farther…
And farther. By now you are out in what is known as the Deep Playa.
This is where you come to the fence that limits further exploration of the desert. Actually, during a dust storm when visibility is close to zero, it is good to have the fence available to keep you from wandering off. There is a vast amount of space to get lost in.
Burning Man is serious about Burners staying inside the fence. Part of this is for safety and part of it is to keep people from sneaking in for free. When I crossed the fence for a photo-op, a BM truck came speeding over to where I was.
A substantial infrastructure is required to operate the event. These lifts are located in the Public Works Department lot.
Safety is always a concern. Burning Man has its own safety officers know as the Black Rock Rangers. Of course there are also numerous local, state, and federal law officers present. There is also an extensive emergency medical operation.
Lamps are lit at night to help Burners find their way. The lamp lighters are volunteers who have their own camp.
Providing ice for Burners to keep their food (and beer) cold is also a major operation run by volunteers. A recruitment poster urges Burners to sign up. Ice is one of the very few things you can purchase in Black Rock City.
The tongue in cheek sign at the top of the post refers to the numerous banks of port-a-potties found throughout Black Rock City and out on the Playa. An army of trucks is constantly servicing the outhouses. (Photo by Don Green.)
I found this in one of the toilets. I imagine that this sign had some city folks checking. (grin)
Sand spiders are more dangerous.
Heat, wind, and dust storms are a part of life at Burning Man. It can also rain.
This photo was taken a few minutes after the above photo. The storm has arrived!
While it is important to be prepared for the heat and dust storms, there is also great beauty and good weather at Burning Man.
Looking out from our camp at the sunset.
And a rainbow.
If things get too rough out in the desert, you can always stop and have a beer.
Next Blog: Some really cute seals and the beautiful Pt. Lobos nature reserve near Carmel.
The Bush Devil Ate Sam is an important record and a serious story, yet told easily, and with delightful humor. This is one of the most satisfying books I have ever read, because it entertained me thoroughly AND made me feel better informed. —Hilary Custance Green: British Author... Click on the image to learn more about my book, the Bush Devil Ate Sam, and find out where it can be ordered.
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