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Black Rock City 2008 - Theme: The American Dream

The playa was VERY soft. The top 3-4 inches were almost pure dust. The result of this was any wind resulted in a full blown white-out sand storm. Monday coming in and Saturday going out was just that - nearly continuous white-out. From all reports it had been like that for several days before gates opened and stayed that way after. That gave four good weather days but other trouble gave Diana and I only two good days of stalking about Black Rock City. We were used to biking the playa after dark, too, but that was dangerous as large, nearly impassable sandbars popped up unexpectedly and the roads became littered with packed moguls of sand. Bike transport was difficult everywhere so we had to walk and that lessened our range.

Pre-trip Preparations - We change our desert camping to a trailer that we didn't get until early August. It's an enclosed trailer marketed to carry ATVs or tools, not to use for camping. But it is very light and we could pull it with our Toyota Camry - or so we hoped. It worked but going was slower than expected. Still, all in all, we saved about $500 in gas over using the van we had the previous two years. It was much more comfortable, too. However, getting it ready for this event while in the middle of moving caused much work and most of it last minute. In the end, though, it all worked out . . .

Friday 8/22/08 - Diana sick on the day we are to leave! She tried to go to work but ends up spending time in bed recovering. She helped, as she could, to get us packed. We ended up leaving an hour later than planned but drove almost to Rock Springs, WY - Diana stuffed comfortably in the the front seat - and slept that night in our new trailer in a Rest Area. The Camry couldn't go over about 65mph without overheating so our progress was slowed more than hoped. We slept well . . .

Saturday 8/23/08 - We started as the sun rose, so to have a cooler trip over the Utah mountains into Salt Lake City. It helped but sometimes couldn't go over 45mph. We stopped a lot and took it casual. We made it to our Sparks, NV Motel 6 just about sunset - a full day.

Our new trailer getting decorated in a Utah Rest Area

another angle . . .

Diana putting on the finishing touches


Sunday 8/24/08 - Squished Pennys and last minute food shopping day. We found several machines and visited at least four different stores to get all the last minute waters and drugs and fresh fruits we needed or wanted for our week in the desert. We had ice cream at Mel's and did last minute laundry . . .

On the street to downtown Reno

Entrance to the American Automotive Museum in Reno (and a Squished Penny machine :)

A found maching downtown Reno that was OOO :(

However we found this machine that wasn't even listed on the website :)

Sign at the Sands Motel that houses Mel's Dinner - now infamous to PP Burners . . .

Monday 8/25/08 - We left Sparks about 8a, heading for BRC. We tried to arrive earlier than in previous years, trying to avoid the long entry lines. We may have succeeded but had other issues. More on that later . . . First stop is Love's Truck stop on our exit north from I-80 to top off gasoline and fill our 15gal. water tank used for our TurboCool swamp cooler. Love's is great for us. Free water, cheapest gas around and they provide a dumpster for trash upon leaving the playa.

It's over one hundred miles to BRC from I-80 and rather hilly so the Camry/trailer combo will take about 2 1/2 hrs to arrive. However, as forecast, there are high winds in the area. This lengthens our drive and causes about an extra hours delay on the Gate road to our camp. We had to come to complete stops for many minutes, many times, along this road as we couldn't see more than about 10ft in the heavy sandstorm. Hot, dirty and hungry we finally arrive at our camp. It's clear that it's been tough going for the set up crew that's been here for several days. Scotto, our ever diligent and positive camp daddy and benevolent dictator, wasn't in quite the jovial mood we've come to expect from him as demonstrated in previous years. All very understandable but did continue a tone we've already felt and that would continue for a couple more days. After an hour or so we were given a spot to park and we climbed into our trailer to weather the storm for a bit. After getting our bearings we tried to help others with their setup and we had a dinner prep responsibility that we put together for 6p. Didn't seem like much being offered that evening as everyone was clearly dragged down by the storm. Sunset, fortunately, calmed the winds and we were able to take the short walk to Center Camp and joined hundreds of others listening and watching the performers that had setup for this evening's fun and frolic. Tired and ready for a new (and calm) day, we went to bed early.

THE storm as seen from afar

An art project on it's way in


Tuesday 8/26/08 - The beginning of two of our good weather/bad experiences days of the trip. Our trailer was packed to the gills. We had planned to set up a shade structure and shade material over the trailer - to help keep our "tin can" from frying - right away. Because of many factors (days and days of sandstorms, a reduction of allowed space for camp, an increase in average camper structure size, an increase in number of campers and factors we haven't yet heard about) we couldn't get our structure up today so had a very hard time getting to our food, cooking utensils, clothing and all the other boxes of things packed in the trailer that was planned to be moved into our shade pagoda. We believed, most of the day, that we'd have room to put up the shade pagoda but it didn't pan out. We should have moved but stuck it out and wasted most of the day waiting. We did make a long trek onto the playa, in the morning, and napped in the heat of the afternoon (love that TurboCool) while waiting to find room for our pagoda but the day closed without it going up.


Playa dusted EVERYTHING

Scattered "stuff"

Ice counter

Art Project

Looking toward the Man

Art Project

Working on the temple. Storms, we assumed, delayed construction

A very loud art car as seen from about two floors up Babylon

The steel structure called Babylon

A wider view

From the top looking at our (& others) bikes

Looking accross to "town" from the top

Diana and Noel on the top

Another view "from the top"

Wednesday 8/27/08 - Yeah! We are able to raise our pagoda and actually move stuff to a place that we don't have to act like it's a huge Rubics cube - each move hinging on the previous. This however comes on a day we needed to stay around camp. We can, now, get to the items we need to do this. The fear that we might have to move after all weighed heavy on our mood. Now all is better and we can look to fun times for the remaining three days.

A wonderful, new part of our BRC experience came with a "Swap" table we sat up now that we have the pagoda up. Diana has made, for gifting, almost 100 pieces of jewelry that we displayed with a sign encouraging people to take and, if they wish, to leave us something from them. This proves to be a very rewarding experience do to the people we talked with while they examine the treasures and do to the surprise gifts we find in our box after having been out of camp.

Diana hanging out some of her treasures

A sun set closing out our Wednesday . . .

Thursday 8/28/08 - The beginning of the two good weather/good experiences days of the trip. Still cooler (relatively - high about 90*F) as when it was storming and not of the near 100*F of tomorrow. We spent the morning exploring the playa art and the afternoon napping in the trailer with TurboCool on full and the evening walking the area around us. In between we meet many fun and interesting folks, from our camp and elsewhere.  We did walk to Center Camp again this evening and saw two very interesting performances. 1st was a guy that did "mouth tracks", sometimes several tracks, recorded live and replayed and the sung to, both impromptu and previously composed, yet original works and the 2nd; another wonderful performance of a Fire Opera just outside of the main Center Camp tent. Fire spinners and their ilk set to a story and appropriate music. This is the third year we caught this production. Cool! On the walk back to camp we found some overstuffed chairs and watch a movie about last years burn. A fun reminiscence.

Large solar array available for general use to recharge batteries, etc.

Row of Port-O-Lets

Line-up for ice . . .

Passerbys with Center Camp tent in the background

Art Project

Artist's plaque

Art Project - aligned with the Man

Art Project

Art Project

Kid under the crane

A fiddler stopped by and played "Civil War" ditty while the other guy recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - all improptu, btw.

The Man on his 80ft tower of international flags.

Look up to the Man and his heartbeat. A rod in an adjacent tent can be grasped and the Man's heart reflects his/her heartbeat.

"Implied" map of the world

Six o'clock road . . .

Characters of American History

Art Car

The Temple

Another angle

Looking up the Temple

From under a Temple walkway near the place where we placed 3 handmade origami hearts with the names written on the of those close friends or family who died in the past year.. Jim - Maida's husband, Uncle James, Diana's mom's brother, and Uncle Dan, Noel's dad's brother.

Oasis in the desert

Art Car

Diana and Noel

Ski memorial to a friend that died in the past year

The plaque

Camp across from our camp

Another camp across the street

Friday 8/29/08 - Let's strike out another way today! Still onto the playa we went to the opposite side of the "clock" from our camp to find other offerings of BRC - many, many to be seen. A very hot day and we pushed it too much but rested well during our afternoon nap and was ready for a wonderful evening. Many stops along the route I'll forget to detail but highlights include Zsu, Zsu the French Drama Queen, the Hydrogen Bubble Machine, fireworks and dancing to a 30's Big Band and excellent Torch singer.

An area Theme Camp

Art Car


Art Car

Diana's offering. I love it!

Art Car

Art Project

Art Car

Art Car

Art Project

Diana and Noel in front of Art Project

Art Car

Art Car

Art Car

Zsu Zsu's trailer

Theme Camp

Giant See-Saw

Diana placing more offerings out

A sign to the open playa

Flaming Lotus Girl's fire project

Fireworks starting with robot fireworks balls

More fireworks

. . . and more

more . .

more . . .

Saturday 8/30/08 - A sad day . . . we'd planned to leave after the burns. Another morning out and about, a nap and then raise camp and park out of way and leave from there. About the time we started to leave for the morning the wind came up, we found that Diana's bike was missing and decide to pack up our site now. Good we did. We said our good-byes, looked for the bike (never found) and left about 1p. It took 2 hours to go 9 miles - white out conditions. Got into Fernly, NV (along I-80) about 530p, after a stop at Love's for gas and to drop off trash, and looked for a motel. Noel, stupidly, went under a too low bridge and knocked off the TurboCool and roof vent. They weren't hurt as much as might be but the trailer is now open to rain. Plenty of that to come. Cover the opening with some wood pieces. A long, dirty, hungry day . . . sad to leave always, sadder to decide to miss the Man burn but the right decision give how we felt.

Camp nearly down . . .

One of the two wonderful stobes in camp to help find ourway.

View inside camp shade structure


. . . and back again - Sunday in Salt Lake City Motel 6 was a rain storm. The boards on the top of the trailer helped a lot but still wet inside. Very cool day and that helped us keep up the speed without overheating. Yeah! Back in Johnstown about sundown. Spent the next day cleaning the car and trailer and doing 12 loads of laundry and preparing to return to the default world. A good, not great burn, all-in-all. Hope next year is better . . . not all change is good :(