Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I hate earthquakes/I love Burning Man

Yes, we are all ok out here in ShakeyTown. But I absolutely HATE earthquakes. Today's (5.8 or 5.4?) was the worse we've felt in this area since the 6.8 (or whatever) biggee in January 1994. Very scary (although about 1000 times less strong than the '94 quake). The '94 quake sent me directly to the store for smokes and Entenmanns (I had quit smoking about 4 months before). While I lost my smoking quit, that quake is the reason I started my BIG weight loss journey. Ahhh, memories... ;-)

Vickie asked about Burning Man in her comment yesterday. It's a very difficult thing to explain -- for me, it's an art festival, an experiment in community, an extreme camping trip and an adventure! For other people it can be (and is) a lot of other things. Imagine 45,000 people converging out in an enormous dry lake bed about 2 1/2 hours northeast of Reno, Nevada for one week a year full of "radical self-expression and radical self-reliance". There is no running water. There are virtually no "city" services in this huge city (provided are port-potties and city infrastructure like roads and emergency medical services). Virtually everything is done by volunteers. There is no commerce (the only things you can buy are ice and coffee). If you need something, you rely on yourself to bring it or on your community to "gift" it to you.

Like any huge city, Black Rock City (name of Burning Man's one-week-a-year city) has neighborhoods. Our "home" village is the Alternative Energy Zone -- full of people from all over with the common interest of alternative energy -- both the kind that physically runs things (we don't allow generators in our camp unlike many camps at BM and everyone has cool solar or wind power) and the kind that runs the universe (spirit). AEZ is the largest village in BRC (500 people)...we don't know all of them, but we know many.

It's amazing to be out in the middle of nowhere -- the nearest (TEENY) town is 10 miles or so away -- in the middle of the night and see all this LIGHT. Crazy "art cars" drive around with lights and art all over them (some as big as large buses, some the size of a small golf cart). Most people walk or bike. At night you have to have lights on you so others see you -- it is very dark away from the main area where you'd think you were in Times Square by the light alone.

People are encouraged to express themselves however they wish -- you see nudies, people in glowing fur, people (like me) in boxers and bras the whole week and people in "regular" street clothes -- as long as you don't hurt another person or property. Amazingly this works. We have a tiny fraction of the crime that other large cities have. There is art and there are activities and there is wandering the streets looking for what cool stuff other participants have brought to share.

There is so much to do to prep because we have to take literally EVERYTHING: food, water, shelter, amusement, toilet paper! ;-) And we have to lug it 1200 miles round trip. Doesn't this sound FUN? Well, it is!! I have never seen or experienced anything like it. There is art out there in the desert that is so huge that you could never see it anywhere else. The canvas is inspiring.

I could go on and on, but I will never be able to describe it...it's one of those things you just have to experience. And, if you're interested, there's a lot more information at burningman.com. :-) Y'all should come with us!!!!! We could have an AFG camp!!!


Vickie said...

I love when you write about this - and always love the pictures. It has NO appeal to me - but doesn't Lori want to go???

Laura N said...

I'm so glad you finally wrote about BM. And, I thought of you when I heard of the quake but knew you were OK as there weren't reports of much damage. We have quakes here, too, which you know, but they are infrequent and fairly small. I do live in fear that we'll have a big one eventually and it will be a complete disaster. Our buildings don't live on rollers like they do in LA. They'll just be rubble.

Anywhoo, BM sounds amazing. I, like Vickie, can't imagine living in that situation, even for a week. I've never even been camping! Not a roughing it kind of girl. I was nicknamed panty waist and pansy by my aunt (only 5 years older than me) when I was a kid. A city mouse growing up in the country, that was me.

Can't wait to see pictures when you get back.

Cindy154 said...

WOW sounds like my kind of place. I wanna go and wear my "me" clothes. I wanna go and express myself. WOW. Maybe next year......

L.G. said...

I'm really glad to hear that you all were okay with the shocks. BM sounds like another world -- a world where it would be fun to visit. I know it's a lot of work.

And yes, Vickie, I would love to go but I have this nasty thing in my mailbox called BILLS. :-( Very very sad face.

Grumpy Chair said...

I read this yesterday Helen and your writing is so descriptive and interesting. Sounds so fun and I remember enjoying all your photos you posted after last year's trip.