Sunday, August 31, 2008

Burning Man!

After months of preparation and anticipation, we finally arrived at the Burning Man festival on Tuesday. It sounded like we very smart to stay in Winnemucca two extra days because the Monday dust storm was one of the worst people had seen and the entrance was closed down as winds hit 40+ mph gusts. We arrived, set up camp, and started getting dusty!

Contraptionists Camp
Our camp is Contraptionists Camp, which Paul started with his friends Daniel and Karl. We had some 20 people in camp this year which was a great size for creating community this year.

Daniel's tower got pretty dusty. People came by to write notes in the dust.

Leo in the BT (big tent) at our camp. He was happy as a clam. He was so overstimulated and excited he didnt' sleep or eat much for a week.


Leo loved the community. I do too! That's one of the big attractions of Burning Man for me. Here he is with Brian the Elder on the top of the shower. The colorful contraption in the foreground is Ann and Mike's water evaporator gizmo.

Dueling with the light sabres!

On Dust Day, otherwise known as Burn Day, with his goggles (I use those in the winter when I ski).

We went to visit the Man at night, at Leo's request. While waiting in line to ascend the tower, Leo spontaneously broke out into dance. A group of people stood around him cheering him on and dancing with him. He was the hit of the party. The lady watching the tower entrance insisted on getting her picture taken with him.

The camp across the street from us had an awesome trampoline. Diane taught Leo a bunch of fun trampoline tricks and games. He went nuts on trampolines all over town.

It was my best friend Root's first Burning Man. I promised his wife I'd get lots of pictures of him and then promptly lost my camera for a few days. Here's Root and Paul when Root arrived on Tuesday.

Pol painted a nice orange bindi on Leo's forehead. Leo loved climbing into Paul's sleeping quarters, which was essentially a Mack truck with a ramp up the back.

Daniel, aka the King, aka Rouse Mouse, aka Santa Mouse in costume:

Leo showing off his Burning Man swag from Daniel:

Leo wearing a MOOP (matter out of place) hat that Mike picked up off the playa.

The Zander Lander rides the dust moguls! Of course, the best part of Burning Man is our ride, the Zander Lander. The playa was real dusty this year so we had to avoid the sand dunes. We ended up finding a great wormhole that would get us from one end of the city to the other, but it was hard to see at night. I took the Zander Lander out one night with Root and Leo and promptly broke the steering cable getting caught in a sand dune. Luckily, Brian the Elder had an even stronger cable that got us operational the next day.

The ART! Another best part of Burning Man is the art. Few places have the variety of interactive and climbable and playable and ringable and rideable art that Burning Man does. We rode a giant teeter-totter, scaled up tall jungle gyms with single seats up at the top, climbed a 10 story tower in the desert, blew huge flames out of mutant flowers, teetered a giant flaming snowman along with 5 other teeterers, watched the flamethrower gallery, saw flaming parachuters landing on the playa at night...

Here's Leo on one of the mutant flowers. The Flaming Lotus Girls loved him.

This giant barracuda could move gently.

but the best part of him was his eyeballs:

This robotic hand could pick up and crush cars. You stick your hand inside this glove like contraption and it mimics the movement of your hand.

Here's the climbing tower. A single chair sits on top.

At Mutopia, there were a pack of swarm robots. They interacted with people on the outskirts of the spontaneous dance party there. They had artificial intelligence but had backup people with toggle sticks to help out if too many people gathered around them. Root tried to get one to follow him around.

We had a blast on this jungle gym, made of baseballs and baseball bats:

Hanging upside down -

Paul at the top:

The wheel of fire was simple and really cool. A giant wheel is filled with a bit of wood and other burnable stuff and then lit. Two guys crank the wheel back and forth until they get it spinning. When it gets burning and spinning real good, huge streams of sparks fly off. The fluid dynamicists out there would love this. You can see the counterflow, the turbulence - it will hypnotize you for a long time.

Leo riding a horse art car:

This 12,000 pound robotic spider crawls through the playa slowly using his 8 feet. It broke down in front of our camp and was sitting there for several hours:

They finally got a gigantic forklift over to move it back to camp. It crawled by the next day, fixed, and carrying people.

My old roomie Caroline Kert got a grant and made her first work of art, which was just splendid. Here I am looking at the female side of the mirror.

These giant people are made of scrap metal. This guy's made of rebar, among other stuff. The woman next to him was made of chains and bike rings, etc.

Snail art car

Butterfly art car

We were camped out near the Mal-Mart.

The 10 story tower of Babylon

and of course, the Man

These are among my favorite costumes - the stickmen. Simple and hilarious to see walking around the playa.

This woman was probably photographed by a few hundred people in the time we sat we sat at center camp. She had up to 3 artists painting her at once. She's not wearing any clothes - it's all paint.

Root at night, wearing his goggles and EL-wire:

I'd show you pictures of this, but you could just stare at the white part of this page and see exactly what we were seeing. We left before the Man burned. The dust storm that started lightly Sat morning got more and more intense. At about 4pm, holed up in the camper for 4 hours, we decided to leave. We didn't get completely packed until the storm got really really bad. You couldn't go outside without having your shoes and pockets fill with dust. You couldn't see or breathe well out there either.

After a 45 minute exodus in white-out conditions (worse than any snowstorm I've driven in) just before it was rumored that the gates closed down, we managed to hit pavement. A few more hours and we made it to a gas station, dusty and tired.

Who said you could share my popsicle?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A long stopover in Winnemucca, NV

We looked at the weather forecast for Burning Man and saw that Monday was going to be a bad wind day. We already heard that the playa is so dusty that it's near impossible to ride a bike - this bodes badly for the Zander Lander. So it looks like we'll be staying in Winnemucca for a few days until the wind calms down to a mere 10-15 mph instead of the 20+ on Monday.

But we have some time to see a few movies, get real clean and charge all our batteries. And upload videos and pictures! And find a pool - it's 95+ here with blazing sun.

These are a few pictures from the travels so far...

Leo at Sinks Canyon.

Family picture at Grand Tetons

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yellowstone pictures

Of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, Leo decided he wanted to see buffalo most of all. We were pretty happy that we could satisfy that desire. There's more buffalo there than there are Japanese tourists. There were quite a few buffalo traffic jams from the buffaloes crossing the road.

We had a great visit to the Grand Prismatic Pool. Lots of cool colors, thermophiles, elk prints, and some dead dragonflies in the water.

Leo, getting into major trouble at Yellowstone Lake, after being repeatedly told NOT to walk into the lake. Note the wet shorts and soaking wet shoes.

We were more successful in this visit to Yellowstone Lake. No wet feet, just a lot of jumping on the "tree trampolines".

By this time, it was hard to keep Leo's attention by showing him 'yet another' geyser.

Paul's favorite - Morning Glory. It's a lot less beautiful now than it was when he saw it 20 years ago. Trash has clogged it up and changed the colors.

Paul pushed Leo up some scary steep, slippery slopes on the Yellowstone Falls hike. A lot of funny looks from the other hikers. But we wanted to do something besides sit around during naptime. Here Leo naps in style, in the cool shade of his stroller with mom's jacket to shade the sun.