Down On The Playa

The Mutated Vehicles of Burning Man '08 (and some other pictures as well) 

If you have been living in a hole for the past 20 years and have never heard of Burning Man, I'm not going to waste precious megabytes regurgitating what has already been presented.   Go here, read, and then come back for my (mostly) original content.

I would also strongly suggest that if you have preconceived notions of what Burning Man is about, and have never actually attended said event, that you click on the above link.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll see you out there one of these years...

In 2008, the theme of the event was "The American Dream".  As you might well imagine, this appealed to me - as a fan of history, specifically American History, this year's theme encapsulated much of what America is about- from Independence to Nation building to Manifest Destiny up through the Industrial Revolution and rampant consumerism, culminating in the current questioning of what the American Dream truly means.  Also, as an unrepentant gearhead, it meant something much more tangible and material and basic, yet just as elemental of the American Dream: an unbridled cornucopia of possibilities relating to wheeled contrivances.

Now, I'm of course getting ahead of myself here.  For you see, Burning Man, being in Nevada, is approximately 2600 miles from where I live on the East Coast.  Yet, the simple solution to the problem of how to get there (i.e. FLY) is not as elegant a solution as it would first appear.  Burning Man involves survival in the harsh Nevada high desert terrain, but somehow merely surviving seems to do disservice to the Principles behind the Man.  And so I decided that I, intrepid cross country adventurer (and possessor of a stout pickup and a cool vintage trailer) would once again embrace the Eisenhower Interstate System and drive out to the desert.  Luckily, I was able to find some traveling companions as dedicated as I along my route, to share driving duties and fuel costs with, and thus we completed the journey in about 2 and a half days.

After the first day on the road, we stopped for a brief nap at a rest stop in the northwest corner on Missouri.  We'd covered over a thousand miles in the first day, yet still had around 1500 to go.  Still, the sunrise the next morning was encouraging:


As we drove our great gray spike straight through the heart of America, (eschewing my much-beloved byways for the expediency of the superslab), already, America's great automotive culture unfolded in front of us.  As impossible as it was to snap photos of every curiosity that came barreling out of the horizon at a combined rate of 140 mph, I was able to catch a few fine specimens at rest stops, or in passing en route:


An Oldsmobile, somewhere near Grand Island, NE.  Hopefully on its way to the restorer.  I'd never seen this body style before.  It appears to be an early 60's vintage, But I couldn't for the life of me tell the model.  (Incidentally, as with all pictures presented here, click on the image for a full-sized rendering.  I'm sticking to smaller images on the site for ease of loading and a cleaner page layout.)


Here's a 1968 Chevrolet (I believe an Impala) spotted in Laramie, WY.  The owner of this land yacht was simultaneously attempting to find a new owner for said car as well as, apparently, drain its battery.  I attempted to open the door and shut off the headlights, but all four portholes were locked. We had stopped in Laramie for dinner, and the car was there both when we arrived as well as post- cheeseburgers and beer.  In the top middle picture, you can see my truck and trailer in the background.  Laramie also sports a pedestrian walkway over the railroad tracks at the end of town where we stopped for dinner, which allowed the cool aerial photo above as well as this shot of my rig (as well as some other pictures):


In Laramie, we met God.  And in Wyoming, we found some of the most beautiful countryside of the entire journey.


Now, I'd originally planned on making this one page, but it has become readily apparent that I have too damn many pictures for that.  So now, you get to choose your adventure!  Below are two links.  One link will bring you to the continuation of Down on the Playa, with pictures and some words (basically, whatever I can remember) about the vehicles of Burning Man.  The second link, equally enticing, goes to a separate but fully equal page of the other stuff I saw and did and had done there.  But, you must chose wisely, for once you select a path, there shall be no going back (unless you know how to use the 'Back' button on your browser window...)

Down on the Playa, Part II

Burning Man 2008, the non-car bit