Roadtrip Archives

In the summer of 2003, Charlotte and I decided to take a trip across the country by rental car (why a rental? Don't ask--it's complicated, dull, and annoying.), stopping at various friends along the way, seeing the sights, and culminating in our annual visit to the Burningman festival in Nevada. This is the diary we kept along the way.


email: roadtrip at sebbo dot org
phone: 781/308-4152

Rough Itinerary
July
14-20 Jamestown NY
20-21 Cleveland OH
21-24 Louisville KY
24-25 Memphis TN
25-26 Hot Springs AR
? Oklahoma City OK
? Albuquerque NM
30 Taos NM
31 Mesa Verde CO
August
? Grand Canyon AZ
6-8 Tucson
8-10 Phoenix AZ
10-11 Indio CA
11-13 Los Angeles CA
13-16 Yosemite CA
16-24 San Francisco CA
24 Tahoe CA
Reno NV
24-Sept 1 Black Rock City NV
September
2 Salt Lake City UT
3-11 ?????
12 Louisville KY

Tue, Jul 15, 2003

Charlotte writes:

On the road

Lori and I are on the road, merrily singing as we go..... Fifty, nifty united states....ah, time for walt. I made a visiting card to give to give people that I meet. This is the text from Walt Whitman..."I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is enough...to be surrounded by beautiful, curious, laughing flesh is enough...I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as a sea." After a lovely poetry reading session of Whitman, and a run through of his biography (He was an amazing guy you know, so intensely passionate yet caring of his fellow human being- such a mensch), my phone rings... Uh how do I answer this thing? OK, we just past over the Erie canal, and we will be driving though Lackawanna, which is sometimes the cause of Lackanookki. I think we need to upgrade the phone package...Sebbo, are you reading this? I am out of minutes..... Love Lotta

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Tue, Jul 22, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Sirius: the beginning

Lori and I arrived to find Hacksaw warming himself by the ritual fire at 6am (?!). He helped us pitch our tents, we put up a shade structure, and then went to breakfast in town. I felt like a small child in the presence of tribal elders. Over breakfast we read the course catalog, got information on teachers and content. This was to be the first incident of many where my expectations would be worlds apart from my experiences.

I scheduled dance workshops almost every day and only got to one of them. My daily routine would be morning yoga, a short workout, followed by a dip in the hottub/pool, and a tai chi class with E'beth's and Hacksaw's friend Ken.

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Wed, Jul 23, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Sirius- The Massage

Monday at breakfast I decided that I would get Ken to give me a massage. This is another incident of expectations and experiences being worlds apart. I really thought it would be an exquisite massage, combined with acupressure points in some way. Afterwards I would feel relaxed and slightly tingly. Yum. I had spent the last week under a great deal of stress, with a concentration of sexual energy which wouldn't dissipate, despite how diligent the attempts. The session lasted twice the amount of time I had expected. I spent the bulk of the time, feeling as if my skin were flooded with energy to the point of bursting. I kept having the feeling that it would feel really good to make incisions in each finger tip, so that the energy would explode outward. My body is arched -- I have two points of contact with the table: my head and my ankles. Meanwhile, Ken has my hand and is asking me questions. Weeping, I tell him what I want, why I am here at Sirius and keep answering the questions. By the time this session ends, my experiences prior to Sirius seem to fall into place, and I have a feeling of clarity, I am quivering but calm and centered. I drink two liters of fluids and am so wobbly that I can not stand. It takes almost two days to fully regain my gross motor skills. I would do it again.

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Charlotte writes:

Lousiville - Lynn's Paradise Cafe

In Louisville we picked up waterproofing spray, visited my beautiful and charming niece, Savannah and went to eat at Lynn's Paradise Cafe -- afeast for the tummy and the eyes. Lynn's sponsors an annual ugly lamp contest. The prize is a weekly breakfast for one year. With specials like kahlua and vodka pancakes, turkey and goat cheese on toasted nut bread, and vegetarian bisquits and gravy the clientel goes from the funky-tatooed crowd to suits and little southern old ladies. Weekends means a wait--so check out all the painted statuary in the lot out front. Located on Barret Ave, worth the wait. Great eye candy! Our table came with a plexiglass top, metal shavings on faces and a magnet to move the shavings around. Most tables have a toy. Have Fun!!! Hugs and kisses Lotta

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Sat, Jul 26, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Mammoth Cave

Today begins the trip south. Our first stop, Mammoth caves, which has 365 miles of underground caverns, was pretty neat. Nashville here we come.

sebbo interjects: seen on the way in, while running the gauntlet of amazingly garish and cheesy camp-follower attractions: "Golgotha Fun Park." Featuring! The Stations of the Cross water flume! The Third Day boulder toss! DIY stigmata kits!

Memphis:

The bird life in the Memphis area is quite exotic sounding. The cicadas are in full...um...song, and the flood of chirps, trills, and hiccups made me feel like I was in a South American jungle, instead of the continental United States.

From here it's off to Arkansas, a straight shot to scenic Oklahoma. The climate becomes noticably drier once you cross the Misissippi. However, Oklahoma is more lush and green and hilly than I had imagined it.

We camped at Fountainhead/Eufaula state park at the same time as a biker rally, and the bikers were drowned out by the cicadas. We woke in the middle of the night to chase off some raccoons wo were trying to dissect bud cans left by previous campers. There are gorgeous black butterflies, smaller than a handsbreadth, which move like swallowtails.

Slick Willie's is the name that we must add to the ignoble roster of classics such as TA and BJ's. Who says Oklahoma ain't exciting.

Amarillo by nightfall.

Love,
Lotte

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Charlotte writes:

Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump.....the left lane of forty west across TN, AR,

OK

Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump...... 16beats per measure.... The right lane. All the way to Amarillo?

Lotta Lotte

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Sun, Jul 27, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Teh-has

Tonight we are camping on a beautiful lake, Meredith, produced by the army corps of Engineers (slightly north of Amarillo). These always make me curious how the original environment was, air-moisture content, gulleys, condensation, weather patterns. The tenperature is down from the high nineties to the high seventies. We washed each other's hair before dinner--and a dry, hot wind blows our hair dry in about five minutes and simultaneously saturates our senses with burning wood and sage brush. Other places in the park smell spicier, but those were hunting areas -- and being who we are we don't trust just any yahoo with weapons. Leftover couscous with cheese and ham... Let's just say it doesn't reheat well. Well is an understatement. Porridge anyone? The only sound is the random pickup truck driving to the closed boat launch with driver waving merrily as he returns three minutes later, hhhmmm?

Wishing you cooling winds and a great view of whatever you see last thing before dozing off.

Lotta

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Charlotte writes:

Triple-x grain silos--this must be where they make penis pasta

My firsts: a mesa, a wild cactus, six large cars planted halfway into the earth, largest cross in the western hemisphere, a little gray-green lizard, and a roadrunner.

All in 24 hours! Woo-hoo!

Amarillo in the rearview,
--lotte

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Charlotte writes:

A rest area with a what?

Well, a snake warning... And a corral Horses need to stretch their legs, too.

Lotta

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Mon, Jul 28, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Giggly at 5010 feet

Sebastian and I visited petroglyphs today, like madmen out in the mid-day sun. Despite 30 SPF sunscreen, my skin was doing a fine imitation of sizzling bacon. More water, more water! I was outclimbed by elementary school children (I supect they're local). The petroglyphs are etchings in volcanic rock which have become glazed over the last 700 years.

Albuquerque has an altitude of 5000 feet. Somewhere between 5010 and 5030, I got very giddy. I'm guesing the altitude. Yee haw! Let me give blood, have a beer, and a cigarette.

Oops, the camera's out of memory! Time to put in a new compact flash card. Camera in one hand, water bottle in the other hand, new flash card in the other hand, take out the old flash card with the other hand....."mff mzflf uffluffm."

"Lotte, if you're gonna suck on the flash card, at least do it on the end that doesn't have the prong holes," says Sebastian, removing the used flashcard from my mouth while I juggle the contents of my four hands.

Heading to Santa Fe.
Deine Lotte

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Charlotte writes:

Whew, finally went through extra images from the digital camera. 120

precious moments statues running from an African statue. Argh, run away!! it is the mad foto-fiend!!!!

Lotta

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Thu, Jul 31, 2003

Charlotte writes:

A tasty morsel

Camping with Sebastian has proven to have extra benefits. Sebastian is a tasty morsel to all sorts of little creatures... i.e. Mosquitos. Thus proving to the world what we already know, um was that overshare....? No deet for me -- Yee ha!

Lotta

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Mon, Aug 04, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Animal and bird sightings

We have seen lots of animals and birds. A wild turkey in Kentucky (appropriately enough) Hummingbirds: blue throated, black chinned, broad billed, broad tailed ands rufous. Mostly in New Mexico, although I was buzzed by a black-chinned on McFee Resevoir, in Colorado.

A lone Road runner in Northern Texas.

Stellers Jays near Hyde Park, Sante Fe & AZ A magpie, Pinyon Jays, Turkey buzzards, and canyon swifts, western scrub jay, and mexican jay, and several ravens (Mesa Verde).

We got buzzed by some type of hawk trying to commit Hari-kari on our windshield, while we were on the highway. It was reddish brown, but we couldn't really identify it clearly. Our guide book is not really made for amateurs (Audubon Society field guide to the Southwestern States). I like the guides that are organized by colors. They are much easier to navigate.

Animals:

Lizards:

Hoping all your beasties are exciting,
Love
Lotta

PS. Today we think we saw two kangaroo rats in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, but they were small and fast-moving, so we're not certain.

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Charlotte writes:

Mm-mm good!

There's a process of oxidation that occurs on the facess of the sandstone cliffs which creates a layer of black over the surface. The ancient peoples carved petroglyphs into this layer of "desert varnish," which is not to be confused with "desert garnish," which is the sand in your sand-wich.

Love,
The Mad Punster

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Charlotte writes:

Water, water....

It was sunny and 97 degrees today. We have seen more lizards today, than I think I have seen in my entire life. They skitter from shady spot to shady spot. I do the same, less skittering. The heat doesn't let me move that fast.

In Moab there are signs everywhere; they are similar to 11x14 band posters, except in color and laminated. They hang on store fronts and in bathrooms and in the visitor's center. " Got H2O?" drink a gallon a day.

Water in this part of the country is not taken for granted. $2 for a shower in Mesa Verde. You must take water, a gallon per person, on this hike warns signs. We filled up our bottles this morning-- four gallons for the day. We will refill them tomorrow after a short hike. Tonight I washed my face with a handful, rinsed it with another. It was pure luxury. The locals said the heat wave ended last week. On the Mesa Verde hikes

Many of the possible paths for hikes at Mesa Verde were closed-- extreme fire risk. They can't evacuate everyone quickly enough if a brush fire breaks out. At Mesa Verde there was lightening. As Easterners we didn't understand why this herald of rain was not welcome. Even in pouring rain, if a pinyon pine is struck, the roots can smoulder for days before igniting and destroying hundreds or thousands of acres of trees and vegetation. It finally started to pour, lightening struck, a ranger said that three "smokers" were already being extinquished or being brought under control. I drive 11 mile down hair-pin turns, with sheer drops off the sides (on of the highest points is 7000 feet up) in this downpour that doesn't quench the earth is falls upon. After the hot day of hiking, during the drizzly aftermeth we head to a damp, outdoor lecture on geology and how it determines the fragile balance of moisture that kept the Anasazi alive. Somethings don't change.

Thirstily yours, Philip R Whatabotls

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Charlotte writes:

Evening on a mesa top...

The sun set, bathing the nearby several thousand foot high rock faces in rich, red light. The puffy clouds were lit from behind giving them a golden halo, and filtering the sun into dappled spots on the canyon floor along the Green river. The wind rushes up across the canyon and caresses your arms and neck. Slowly the sky darkens and the contrast with the already-risen crescent moon is heightened. A faint star appears in the heavens hanging several inches down from the moon. Slowly a cricket starts to sing in the background and the only sounds for mile is the gentle rush of the wind. My shadow is crisp on the gravelly ground. Today I saw places so perfect in their beauty that I would have never believed they existed. So beautiful, that I could hardly breathe and when I did catch my breath, tears started to run down my cheeks. I can not bring that beauty back to share. May the wind caress your cheeks and may you find perfect beauty somewhere in the world and a soft goodnight kiss before you dream.....

Lotta

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Charlotte writes:

I'm on top of the world. Here I am driving around on the top of the

canyon lands park --5800 feet above all the rest of the people. I amgetting the rush of being in a hard-to-reach tree house fort. Maybe it is the same giddy experience that toddlers have-- they cover their eyes and say "Can you see me? I'm invisible." Then they giggle. Here I am invisible to the rest of the world, driving around on top of it. Giggle.

Love and giggles in Moab,
Lotta

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Wed, Aug 06, 2003

Charlotte writes:

The Colorado River

Prior to moving to Boston in the summer of '97 I came close to drowning three times. This made me a little bit nervous where water's concerned. And then I start dating a former whitewater guide. He talked about whitewater, and he talked about whitewater, and he talked about whitewater. Each mention brought up vivid pictures of being caught underwater and not being able to breathe. It also raised my adrenaline level and started my heart racing. The first time he got me into a canoe on the Charles my heart raced at every two-inch wave that rolled gently under us. Eventually, we managed a several-day canoe trip with Meg & Scott.

When we arrived in Moab, I thought it would be cool to try a rafting trip. AAAARRRRGH! I called and reserved two spots, gave my charge number, and felt okay. Then Sebastian starts asking me questions: "What kind of trip is it? How are the guides trained? Did they say how high the water's running? What class rapids?"

The adrenaline level goes up, the heart rate increases. It's four AM and I'm imagining being stuck under a giant raft. I resolve to ask the outfitters questions about licensing requirements for guides, and finally go back to sleep.

6;15 AM I'm up and doing yoga, packing the car prior to a hike and an afternoon of rafting. (what was I thinking?) sebbo comments: yeah, getting up at 6:15 is pretty crazy I lost the brochure not once but twice. Is my subconcious trying to tell me something? We find the place without the brochure. Register. Sign a waiver (!!!???). I'm okay, I'm okay. Get on the bus and head out. I think: "big raft--it doesn't flip. I can handle this." The river looks flat and calm and muddy. A father in the back of the bus explains about classes of rapids to his son, who replies: "They aren't whitewater--they should be called brownwater." I blissfully listen because the river is so flat--I can handle this. Sebastian starts talking about two person ... duckies??

At the site, they offer us the option of the two-person kayak. I think: smooth waters, I can handle this! And say, "Okay, Sebastian--lets do it."

We happily jump into a two person "duckie" and set out. The water's pretty flat--I'm okay, Sebastian's bored. We go through some bubbly frothy bits that I consider terrifying. My heart is racing. I think they mught be classified as Class 0 rapids. The water flattens out, my heartrate returns to normal, and I think to myself, "Okay--I can do that again." Sebastian chats up the girl guides and compares notes with them on rivers and something called a Class Five (eek!) rapid.

The guide stops the whole group in the middle of the river to give us warnings about the rapids we're about to go through. I'm okay, I can handle this...I think. That is, until I hear the rushing water. "Can I get out now?"

My heart starts racing. We are pulled by the current. It is a good thing that Sebastian used to be a whitewater guide. I can't believe they would let people into these little, tiny boats without checking to see if they have any experience on white water. The water roars. As we head into the mess, Sebastian says "look left." It is a ploy to distract me from my terror. The tiny little duck dips into the well of a big swell and it fills the boat. "Aaaugh!" The Colorado seems to rush at me without a break. Another swell, another swell. Slap, slap, slap, waves hit the underside of our boat. Breathe. Slower! Breathe, slow it down. I focus on breathing so that I don't hyperventilate. My heart is about to jump out of my chest. We emerge from the short, run of rapids--a class one. I am alive. YAY! Relieved, I collapse backwards against the boat. Someone yells, "Did you lose somebody?" I sit up, a tired smile on my face. "Oh," the voice says.

There is a lot of rowing to be done. The river is running slow. My hands are sore by the end of the day. My shoulders have had three workouts in the past 24 hours. The day that I almost drowned in the Mediterranean runs through my head: undertow, no natives in the water at all, being sucked under by the waves, emerging from the water shaking and terrified and the gorgeous, buff life guard looking at me and saying "You ! Water! No more, today!" Did that need clarification, I wonder to myself?

It was a good thing. It's OK. I can handle it. Am I not scared of white water anymore? No. Will I still be slightly terrified when I get into moving water? Only if it is moving really fast. Class one rapids--the main point is pushing my boundaries and moving in spite of them.

Becoming an adult under the zodiac sign of the water chicken,

Lotte

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Charlotte writes:

Desert eating

We set up our tent and after a bit of hiking, while the sun was setting we had a wonderful fresh salad: local-grown tomatoes, fresh basil, onion, olive oil, cucumber and lemon. Most items we already had in the cooler. Our philosophy on eating while camping is "dehydrated what?"

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Charlotte writes:

Grand Canyon?

Um, yeah sure, whatever. Bad Grammar, most certainly! (Call out the Grammar police for the National Park Service placards--is there a grammar weasel in the house?) Upon viewing the Grand Canyon I realized that I like things that stick up more than things that go down (well, except for belly buttons).

Starting at the top and looking into an almost infinitely deep chasm, whose chief charm is size, doesn't give me the rush that starting at the bottom does. Normally I am a bit of a size queen--Gimme a BMW or Harley, 1000cc's -- skip the cute scooter and its wimpy 40mph. Super-size that please! However the Mandelbrot-like patterns of several hundred million years of geologic, river-cut formations of the Grand Canyon just don't do it for me. It is very tourist-friendly, but the part I like is the lack of fencing around the rim. Careful, that first step is a doozy.

Travelling along the base of magnificent hills, upward-reaching cliffs, heavenwards-soaring mesas, and volcano peaks is awe-inspiring. Climbing up for the view, ascending with perspiration dripping down my forehead, neck and sternum. Breath-taking in every sense of the word.

In the canyon lands outside of Moab, it was glorious. Climbing up and down winding paths, trying not to step on the lizards at every turn, trying to follow cairns and dead wood that mark the trail along what everyone calls 'slickrock.' The views were varied and glorious. Strange formations, arches, dips, hollows and curves, pillars of sandstone glowing red in the twilight, caves created by eroding stone, canyons, and cliffs -- everything heading in two directions at once--positive and negative spaces, created or filled.

The trip to the Grand Canyon no less amazing: through the painted desert, passing stone sentinels, gray-blue in the dusky-mist of the evening--mesas and cliffs stretching up and canyons and crevices reaching downwards. The gray-blue of layer upon layer of mesa, outcropping, and uplifts of stone, one upon another against the distant horizon shimmer in the evening mist. We camp in a primitive campground, Gooseneck State Park, at an almost intersection of a half-dozen meanders, several thousand feet down to the San Juan River. 'Gooseneck' describes the canyon cut aptly. Bats are dipping and swerving at insects like drunken madmen. A hot breeze blows across the plain, most of the night.

Upon leaving the Grand Canyon, we head south along 64. It is beautiful in the early morning light. Passing the not -yet -open stands advertising 'Got Turquoise?' we head down through Kaibab National Forest, and opt for a scenic detour through the San Francisco Peaks. Black sand, uh make that, very gravelly pumice, lines the slopes of dead volcanoes, 1000 years gone. Scrubby, scruffy pinyon pines and junipers turn to ponderosa pines. Pumice formations that rise upward from the fissures long since hardened to stone stand, watching over the long crack where the earth split in two. Small plants are just starting to take hold in what from a distance appears to be massive sheets of asphalt-but it is the valley of black pumice they are trying to fill with greenness.

We pick another scenic route through an outlying bit of Coconino National Park and end up with Sebastian driving though switchbacks (omygod, my first Suguaros we are nearing Phoenix as I write) in a mountainous area north of Phoenix. Ponderosa pines stretching upward, red and beige, and white layers of sandstone reaching up and lush green canyons and valleys heading downwards. The switchbacks are slow and not without the tailgater. I get the pleasure of watching the rocks, and the folds of the layers of earth's history pass by. Sedona's red rocks impress with their rich, deep color.

Soon we are travelling through rounded hills, stubbled with bushes like a two day-beard, they roll around the country-side. 104 Degrees. Seguaro greet us, with upstretched arms.

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Fri, Aug 08, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Amazing Andre is what you see in Tucson. Tucson is a great town. There

were cool things to see and do. Tucson made our list, because we wanted to visit Andre, however now I have other reasons to visit Tucson, too.
It was great being able to speak a bit of German with Andre--an opportunity I don't often get.

Andre took Sebastian and me on a sunset/moonlit walk through the Sonoran Desert last night. The suguaros stood black against the orange and rosy colors of the setting sun. The cactus wrens made their last calls. Bats started appearing as the moon peeked out from the light cloud cover. A moonlight walk in the desert is a beautiful thing. During the outing we saw a jackrabbit, a cottontail rabbit and some small lizards. In the time just past twilight every root, and twisted twig looked like a snake. After the walk we ended up in a great restaurant, called Feast. The delicious food (beignet with chocolate, Coq au Vin, chicken with plum sauce) was a perfect finish to a beautiful evening. We can now identify a handful of desert plants. And after several days of delicious local cuisine, we are pulling harder on our clothing.

We went through the The Desert Museum today and learned really cool things, and saw a great animals (javalinas, coyotes, prarie dogs, and coatis). We also saw black bears-- they are huge. The birds from the desert were awesome- I am reincarnated from a inca dove, whose call is 'whirlpool, whirlpool.' We saw Gambel quails. There are woodpeckers, who live in the suguaro cacti. And we saw more lizards than you can shake a stick at. The variety in the desert ecosystem is astounding. Suguaro cactus grow about 100 years before they can start to grow their first arm. Some of the cactus we saw were 500 years old.

Tuscon's thriftstores are nifty. Sebastian got four shirts and a smoking jacket in blacket and orange swirls (what else do you buy for Burning man?). I got a carry bag and a cotton shirt for four dollars.

Andre has a magic futon. If you plop down on it, it will give you enough time to read about two pages of text and then you are out solid. A wonderful thing that futon.

It has been over one hundred degrees, Stay cool boys and girls! Hugs Charlotta

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Sat, Aug 09, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Dear Ruth,

Our little phonebook has Ruth Alfasso as a first entry--the alphabet being alphabetical and all. As a result not quite each time we search for a number it goes straight to you and somehow decides to call you up-- you being a nice person and all. We are not sure if these are connecting, but if they are...we are sorry. It is not out of a deliberate attempt to harass you. Nor are we canceling the calls out of a lack of interest in hearing your voice--you being Ruth and all that.

Hugs

Lotte

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Charlotte writes:

Water use in California--all I can say is 'pthbb' and I haven't been

here long.

Palm springs?! Palm Springs?! What about the sharks? What about the sharks?

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Charlotte writes:

Carne Secca

Now that I have been to Arizona, I have learned all the secrets of Carne Secca--a regional meat specialty. Years ago when Shani and I lived together in Malden she told me tales of drying meat in the Arizona sun. Sebastian compared this to the production of a particular Belgian beer, fermented outdoors and then drained of bugs. This led us to the question, how do they keep/get the bugs off of the beef that is air-dried outside? This, of course, led to the composition of an irritating little song -- O you can't strain meat,
no you can't strain meat
You can stomp it with your feet
But you can't strain meat. > This has several verses-- see the wikki. What rhymes with venison?

Love Charlotta

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Charlotte writes:

What do you mean we're not there yet?

The road is straight, and we've been driving fast...and this is all urban!

Oh, well -- at least it's 80 degrees instead of 110.

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Charlotte writes:

This is our list of names. Enjoy.

Hugs
Lotte

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Mon, Aug 11, 2003

Charlotte writes:

LA

LA wasn't really what I expected. I really thought I would see more fake boobs. Sebastian's brother, Lukas suggested that I wasn't really paying much attention.

Our superficial expectation that everyone would be shallow was fortunately not met. A little lesson for us. You don't always find what you expect to find, even if you are looking for it. We did see many people with some very unhealthy, overly-tanned skin.

We stayed with Sebastian's brother Lukas. Lukas is a very hard-working, talented musician and song writer. I have two of his previous albums from his band Daeva. Now he is working with a group putting together a metal band. I was quite nervous when he offered to play some of his music for me. I really didn't think I would like it, and I am a pretty lousy liar. It was great. He has offered to send me a copy of some of his recent work. YAY!

Lukas has a pretty cool apartment in Marina Del Rey. Until staying there I had been against apartment complexes, but it makes better environmental sense in terms of impact to have people concentrated in one area and sharing resources and using the hottub and the swimmingpool, and the lounge with a pool table and the big screen movie room and be a stones throw to the boardwalk for about the same aa the rent of an apartment in Somerville.

When we arrived Lukas suggested we rent bikes and ride along the board walk from Marina Del Rey, through Venice beach. We ended up riding past the Santa Monica pier. It was glorious. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, thre salt smell caressed our noses. There were all sorts of funky people from different social strata out and about. After a yummy lunch ('mmm, warm duck salad' says Sebastian and 'Rigatoni with vodka tomato sauce' says I) We walked knee-deep in the crashing waves of the Pacific ozean, enjoying the view of the sailboats, quietly making their way along the horizon. We declined doing the hollywood thing--as it really isn't our cup of tea.

The landscaping through the area is a bit disturbing, as it doesn't seem like the rainfall supports the lush vegetation. The big clue is that empty lots are dried and brown--more desrt-like than tropical. The landscaping at the apartment complex was so lush, that it seemed like we were in an amusement park... Sebastion said, 'where are the monkeys and pirates?' Don't forget the animatronic hippos?' There were giant Koi in the circuitous network of ponds and fountains surrounding the apartment complex. This hopefully made up for the lack for monkeys and pirates. My friend Ginger said the place smelled like Disneyworld.

Heading north up route one, With the ocean on my left--- Argh, who put that thing there? Lotta

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Charlotte writes:

Mountains

We have passed through the Los Padres mountains and... How tall does a hill have to be to become a mountain? Vineyards, rolling hills, and spiky pine trees, big mountains with bits of green and dramatic stone outcroppings....where are we now? O, somewhere near Morro Bay.

Your Navigatrix, Lotte

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Charlotte writes:

Just passed thr town of Harmony, population 18.

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Tue, Aug 12, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Garlic Monster

G is for Gilroy, that's good enough for me,
G is for Garlic, that's good enough for me,
Oh, Garlic, Garlic, Garlic starts with g!

Did you know the air actually smells like garlic around here? It's so cool!

Gilroy is surrounded by these beautiful pale yellow rounded rolling hills, which are dotted with trees that cast lacy black shadows. It is glorious.

PS. Gilroy doesn't have variety packs of garlic.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

Word of the day or embittered driver

It seems that it doesn't take many years of driving in Boston to become an embittered driver, like me. The trip west has managed to give Sebastian a whole new set of vocabulary words--ass munchkin for tailgater. Ass munchkin is the word of the day.

Lotte

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Fri, Aug 15, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Wow! Amazing! Look!

That was the conversation for most of the trip north along Route 1. Route 1 hugs the California coastline. It has precipitous drops, straight down into the jagged rocks and crashing surf. It also has sloping, curving, hills and small mountains rising up, punctuated by crevices and ravines, tucking themselves in layers to the east, to be unfolded with each right handed curve into the road, another switchback, another amazing crevice, canyon or drop off.

After Sebastian driving a bit of this route, my stomach started to object--rare for me because I don't usually get motion sickness and Sebastian is a pretty good driver. We pull over to swap positions a little short of the Gorda town line sign. The wind rustles beautifully in the trees. The scent of salt sits heavily in the air. There was a canyon with a trailhead just to our right. Sebastian squealsexclaims [thanks. --S], 'Hey, a waterfall! Let's go.' I look up in the direction Sebastian is pointing-- a narrow rivulet of water about an inch high. Hmmph, I think I am not sure about this expedition. Deperately needing the stretch we start up the trail. We sprint, dash and walk in fits and bursts. The shade and coolness of the woods is a relief. Suddenly, the smell changes from salty ocean to rich, leafy, herby dampness. Pausing, we breathe in deeply and revel in the richness of the scent and the moisture in the air. In the distance we hear the splashing of water on rocks. I am envisioning a narrow stream.

The path has an opening to the left. We take it, turning toward the direction of ther sound and scent of water. In front of us, rise up large boulders, two and a half to three times our height, but very climbable. Adrenalin-filled we excitedly start clambering, sliding through the nooks and crannies, going over soft grey-green domes of rock. The sound of the water gets closer. Finally the streambed. Crystal-clear water pouring over large beachball size boulders. We can see the fall from here. It is slightly larger. Clambering over and around huge boulders laid down by giants, smoothed by the stream, we head further upstream.

Finally we can see the head of the falls, fifty feet-up, the small stream was one of several that converge and diverge as they tumble over rocks and moss, algae and lichen. Spring green and grey-green stone intertwined and sparkling with rivulets of water. We start climbing to get closer, finding small footholds, amazingly smooth handholds, we cross the stream, leaping from boulder to boulder, cold water running over our Tevas. Our final obstacle, an immense boulder and we split, taking different paths but ending up on the other side facing the rock wall at the base of the cliff, and an idyllic, crystal-clear rock-lined pool of water calling our names. We gasp. I have only seen such views on postcards.

Hesitating only a second as we debate thr level of clothing required, since we passed a woman fishing and two sunbathers, who hurriedly dressed as we approached. We settle on damn little and shed to our skins. Sebastian dives in with no hesistation--the shy and timid me goes in slowly, as it is ice cold. A quick dip and a short swim. We scurry out of the water and towards our clothing, as we hear voices from a distance. Just as we come over the boulder, which blocks the view to the pool the photographer couple who had taken the left trail from the turnout lot, appear. Where we scampered fearlessly over rock and stream, they are carefully picking their way up the trail

Adrenalin flowing, refreshed and somewhat damp, we spend the ret of the day enjoying the vague, outdoorsy afterscent of our afternoon swim.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

It's a wild, wild Li-fe

An short update on life in the hood, uh wood. We arrived in the area of the Sierra Nevadas, magnificent redwoods, gigantic Sequoias and tons of bear warnings.

Being the saavy, conscientious campers that we are, we had all our food packed in plastic, and in the trunk of the car. We are not going to attract any bears by not being good campers.

We got a sheet of warnings about the bears. We got a sheet of warnings about cougars. The park rangers were being overly-cautious we thought. Bears really aren't that friendly. They don't reeally eat all those wierd items in the list. Bears can smell things 3 miles away. Dutifully, we ravaged the car; removing an air freshener, deet, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid kit, deodorant, candles, all almost microscopic crumbs, and anything that remotely smelled like it was vaguely perfumed, as well as all of our food.

Parents with babies are advised to remove car seats and leave them outside the car for the bears to get a sniff and go on their way, without destroying any car frames.

OK, the warnings start to sink in and I am a bit sceptical, but when we sign out of our camp grounds and go to the other end of the park, I get nervous just having food in the trunk. Thank goodness we don't eat in the tent, I think and breathe a sigh of relief.

Sebastian and I head down to the visitor center and on the way, he spots a momma bear and cub in a tree on the side of the road. We get to our new camp site, and immediately load everything (perfumed, lip balm, and dirty dishes) into the bear lockers: stainless steel, animal-proof latch, and anchored to the ground with cement. Closed! Whew! Off we go on our adventures. I remain doubtful, I still haven't seen a bear. A glorious cave tour, a wonderful hike alongside a waterfall, a trip to see more sequioas and an event-free night -- despite warnings that we are camping in an active bear site.

As we head back to camp to start dinner, we pass a traffic jam -- 20 people with cameras, one ranger with a stick yelling at a bear, and several people leaping out of their cars to snap pictures. We are about 10 feet from him, as he rounds a large chunk of granite and the car in front of us parks. I have seen my bear, medium brown, medium size (they can grow up to 600 pounds). I add that to my list for the day: Gambrel Quail, Stellars jays, and a handful of lizards and a bear.

We start dinner. I spot two large bucks foraging in the fire grate of the campsite next door (camp sites are about as far apart as houses). The bucks are gorgeous and they quietly wander off. Then I hear a loud crash!! Probably a squirrel. They climb to the tops of trees, wait for people to pass by, gnaw off the exceptionally large pine cones (some almost 12 inches longs, and almost baseball size in diameter)and send them crashing down. They can crash pretty darn hard, take off dead limbs, and scare you out of your socks. Damn squirrels.

I see the guy across the street take out his camera. I stand still and watch and listen. Crackle, snap, pop, crunch. The two stags, again or some pretty noisy squirrel, nope.

It lurches through the camp, sniffing at the fire grate, sniffing at the big, brown, bear-proof metal box, licking the gas canister from their grill, and sniffing their tent. Finally he gets further away from my car, I get the keys from Sebastian and head down to the ranger station. All good campers are supposed to alert the rangers, when they spot a bear. Sebastian follows it down the road.

I leave a note at the ranger station. 20 minutes later the ranger comes by, as he approaches at a nearby camp everyone (adulta and children) start yelling 'bear', blowing whistles and an airhorn. This is what you are supposed to do, when approached by a bear. Yell and scream, make a bunch of racket while standing together in a group to make you look bigger and fiercer --bear hazing. Don't run...don't give him the bag of chips in your hand, don't chase him too far, don't throw rocks at his face, do throw sticks in his general direction. YELL!

I slept ok last night. In the last two hours we have heard at least three or four bear hazings by different, well-populated groups of people. These bears are shy? Crunch, what was that sound? You should see the list of tactics for cougars! Were these claw marks on the bear-box there when we arrived?

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

Sooooo

Sebastian quotes Will Cuppy, something along the lines of, there are times when I think that everything can be explained in terms of Bandicoot ear length, other times I am not so certain. Then Sebastian says I am wierd.
During our recent hike, 'On your right a field of laundrybaskets,' Sebastian continues, 'I bet that is the first time that sentence has ever been said.' Uh, it was a field of laundrybaskets, with mesh clipped over them near Clover Creek Bridge in Sequoia National Park. Some sort of test. Anyone know why.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Sat, Aug 16, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Tailgaters (sing to Moonshadow)

I'm being followed by a tailgater, tailgater,tailgater
He can fall into a deep crater, deep crater, deep crater.
He is more than close enough
To trash my car and all my stuff......

Heyyyy, whaddya mean I can't have any more espresso?

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

B-E-A-R-S

bears eat anything remotely smelly.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Wed, Aug 20, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Subject: Language

Randon thoughts I had while watching some Native Americans dance, while at the Grand Canyon. The dances looked very much like they would induce a trance. The man who accompanied the dancers did make some commentary.

He said... Dance is about movements which create energy to be shared with the clouds, dancing is also about remembering our connection to the clouds and the earth.

Stirring sticks -- were made by older women in the village for the younger women's puberty ceremonies. After every use, they stand over the fire and wave the sticks in a circular motion to the sky and offer their prayers.

When one is dancing the sound vibrates within you. Your body becomes one instrument among others, a part of the whole. Through this do we become joined to creation, to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to be.
Please insert many little periods between words, phrases and ideas. I can't offer much commentary, except sound can break down those boundaries, too. I have been considering how different forms of energy move through the universe--some people call the energy magic...I don't know any better vocabulary.

Inarticulately yours and wondering, Lotte

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Thu, Aug 21, 2003

Charlotte writes:

San Francisco

Well, San Francisco is a lovely city and we have been eating our way through it, Zazies (delicious French food in the Haight Ashbury area), the stinking Rose (yum, wonderful garlicky goodness-try the garlic cheese fondue and the garlic ice cream), and Plouf (more yummie French food, possibly the best French frie I have ever had. The Indian pub food experience -- chips with curry or Poori or stuffed Jalapenos with that Guiness? Thomas and I survived a Sushi restaurant with Karen and Sebastian. It was preceeded by a lovely soak in Palo Alto at a hot tub/steambath place called Watercourse way. There were these wonderful, private rooms. Ours had a jacuzzi, a cold bath and a steam bath. The whole room was done in a vaguely Morrocan style, inlaid terra cotta tiles and jade tiles on the walls surrounding the jacuzzi and covering the dome over the tub, iridescent turquoise tile in the jacuzzi. It was beautiful and very relaxing. My favorite part were the shrieks whenever someone would dunk down into the cold bath-- ahhh, invigorating.

Then we made the rounds of standard sights: Golden gate bridge and park, walk along the coast, the wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Good Vibrations, Arboretum, and the Cartoon art Museum. We also saw the exploratorium- a great place with tons of great hands-on science-related activities. The neatest things were one of the magnet ones using black sand, and one really long tube that distorted sound and playing with a chromograph, which registered duration and pitch of sound. I found it much more interesting than the Children's Science museum.

The hills are really quite amazing. Some are so steep that it looks as if once you get to the top that you will fall over the edge. I keep worrying about the contents of the trunk. Is it so full that we will topple over backwards going up this hill? It feels like 45 degree angles--arghh. Sometimes it feels like 90 degree angles!

Heading into San Francisco we passed through several miles of windmills. It was amazing watching them spin--big, and white with three large blades and evenly spaced along the pale yellow-amber colored rolling hills. Random winds would set them sequentially into motion or pick out a few and send thre blades spinning. It was magnificent and hypnotic.

Fogs here roll in in layers. It is fascinating to watch it happen. The water is impossibly cold and the vegetation is nifty. My favorite is a low-growing succulent, which produces a stubbley little colored flower, tulip-like in form. It grows in large patches along dunes and the shoreline.

We have seen some really cool birds: egrets, pelicans. Today we do our last bit of sightseeing and we start prepping for Burning Man.

Now we have to get ready for Burning Man. Much of our trip has been punctuated by small windows of email/phone access due to the remoteness of the sites. T-mobile coverage is spotty at best. Burning Man will be over a week that we will be off the grid. For years it has been debated whether having net access/phone access would be good for the event. The answer has been no. At Burning Man we break out the walkie talkies, yeah!! Now it is time to prep our gear, check out the batteries, plan for food and look through some of the camps and their offerings. Sunday will pull onto the Playa. It has been a long, exciting journey.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

More on food or eating our way through SF

Our mission today was the mission-style burrito, to be found (yup, you got it) down near Mission Street. We ended up at Ponch Villas on Chris Maden's advice. It is a busy joint serving the standard selection of burritos, tortillas, rellenos, and quesadillas. The line is fast moving. The food is cooked up while you wait/watch in line. I managed to eat half of my burrito (in all fairness I started lunch with an upset tummy and then forgot to ask for no cilantro) and a small dish of chips. Sebastian ate 7/8 of his. The horchato, a combo drink of sweetened rice milk, cinnamon, and ice, was not as good as the ones we had in Tucson with Andre. Sebastian gives the burrito a thumbs up. We had marriachi music during a bit of the meal. Sebaastian was a bit scared of the Poncho Villa bust watching over the patrons and the large collection of ribbons from the California State Fair Salsa competition.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Sun, Aug 24, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Divine Guilt

So we climb up through miles of conifers, and the Sierra Nevadas stretch out in every direction beyond the blueness of Lake Tahoe. We turn a corner and dozens of shiny SUVs line both sides of the street. What are all these people doing here? Then I see a sign: Catholic mass.

I don't understand why so many people go to Catholic church when the whole thing makes you feel guilty and inferior.

Sebastian says, "Name a successful religion that tells people good stuff about themselves."

"Uhhhhhh....damn!"

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Wed, Sep 03, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Heading East and keeping the faith

we just passed Deeth Starr Valley...

Burning Man was great as usual. Afterwards we stayed overnight in the Peppermill Casino Hotel, which is almost as over the top as Burning Man: lights, constant music, and animatronic beasts around the swimming pool.

The theme of Burning Man this year was "Beyond Belief." The streets were related: certainty, dogma, creed, revealed, karmic circle, doubt, real, imagined, absurd plaza, and vision. My favorite was the intersection of dubious and dogma. Some camps had religious themes. There were temples and prayer wheels, and sculptures. One sculpture was the 'get a cleu'. It was circles within circles. The get a cleu folks were on the perimeter, on vision. They gave out beautiful necklaces which came attached to a card encouraging ecumeniscism. The folks at Get a Cleu camp also passed out cards, reading things like "The clearest way to the universe is through a forest wilderness" (John Muir) or "Live joyfully without desire" (Buddha).

On Sunday at Burning Man we went to the Church of Wow. We sang some lovely songs about wow, everyone walked around saying "wow" to each other. James Wanless, famous for the Voyager tarot deck, gave a sermonette on wow. He said, some people go through life saying "woe", and others say "waah!", still other say "woo-woo" not being impressed with anything. Another category of folks just say "why, why, why?" He encouraged everyone to see "wow" in life and try to be good wowists and attain the state of wow. Then everyone said "wow-a-lleuia" and we sang a gospel song about wow. There was much singing and clapping and shouting of wow. It was almost as good as the service I went to in LA, at the Agape Church.

The Agape church is a transdenominational church. There were waiting lines to get into the meditation preceeding the service. The meditation begins with soft, quiet music and a woman encouraged everyone to enter into this sacred space. Shortly before the meditation ended the acoustic guitar began again and people were encouraged to slowly bring their focus back to this space to engage in the service. The doors to the sanctuary opened and others joined us for the service.

The church is clearly welcoming. It has a niche for almost anyone, any race, and sexual orientation. It felt really good to be in a sacred space, where the teachings of love and not just tolerance but acceptance were being obviously practiced. I saw no lip service to the idea of "love thy brother." I loved the diversity of the church members.

One aspect of the service really impressed me and that was the prayer vigils. During the service there are people keeping the space sacred and safe by engaging in prayer. I thought this was quite beautiful and made the word "sanctuary" seem more appropriate for this space.

Agape continued... At Agape they referred to God as 'it' not he or she and repeatedly called it the energy that moves through the universe. Some of the activities involve directing energy at people: they would ask everyone to send their love to some people, and everyone would face both palms at the person and repeat a chant. It was really amazing. The chi in that place was out of this world. They also did an energy thing with a new born baby. They held the baby up and introduced it to the congregants, and repeated a chant about love, and positive energy. Everyone held up their hands and 'sent the baby some love' Sending people love is what they call it--but it made the skin on my hands feel taught and completely electrified. The church is called Agape--unconditional love. They talked a bit about getting out of God's way so that the energy can work for you in a positive, beautiful, loving way. They talked about being immersed in the energy of the divine, which is the energy of the universe--no guilt, no sin, no finger pointing. It was about the energy of the universe being a gift so great, that you couldn't receive it--but let it kind of wash over you. The educational programs offered sacred dance, tai chi, and drumming and various workshops. The service is preceeded by meditation, in which people were led into with the idea of getting grounded and centered in this energy, and then followed by a very positive message about about prosperity, joy and pleasure basking in the energy, which is the universe. I think in some ways, it was very LA. In some ways very ecumenical and diverse--The congregation was truly open, and there was no overwhelming majority-- a real cross-section of society. Instead of teaching fear or loathing of the other, perhaps joy, love, delight in creation, and acceptance is something every church-goer could strive towards and every church could/should promote. I walked out of Agape feeling unconditonally loved, and on top of the world. If life is a magnificent gift, isn't that how worship and sanctuary should make a person feel?

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Thu, Sep 04, 2003

Charlotte writes:

You light up my life

Our camp is a group of folks who work for the greater good of Supersnail. We greet folks coming to have their pictures taken by Julian. These go up on the website. There is six years of beautiful portraiture of Burners at Supersnail.com. We camp at center camp, most parades go by our front door: Fuzzy nation, the Billion Bunny march, critical tits, critical stilts, drunk and belligerent santas, klowns and save the man protesters. Most art cars go by our camp. Many people paint themselves in our body painting garden. The lamplighters also go by our camp.

The lamplighters wear tunics covered in flame. They have poles across their shoulders, which are laden with oil lanterns. Everyday at dusk a couple hundred lamplighters process through the city to the beat of a drum and hang the lanterns which light our town.

Every evening as the lamplighters pass, a campmate of ours—Patrick—has been the catalyst for an evening serenade. We sing "You light up our lives" each evening. We sang to them last year, too. After we finish singing, we cheer them on. This year they gave us lamplighter pendants. I wear mine with pride.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Sat, Sep 13, 2003

Charlotte writes:

Straight on

Heading East from Reno we pass the usual sagebrush covered hills. Hills and Pignon pines, and then the landscape slowly becomes silvery white flat areas and marshes. Through the Humboldt ranges and ahead of us is the straightest road we have ever seen. Eighty leads ruler-straight directly to the horizon. Utah and the salt flats--an amazing view puntuated by the msot unlikely sculpture ever.

For miles in every direction everything is flat, but here is a slick, forty or fifty feet high sculpture. From the distance it looks like a giant oak tree. Up close it resembles a tree with giant croquet balls as if in imitation of leaf clusters. Later we discover that it is an art work, Metaphor--mascot of Utah?

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

Music, earplugs and ouch.

Burning Man was very loud this year. My first mistake was arriving fully rested, which meant that exhaustion didn't take over. Ahhh, the joys of techno. After trying several sets of earplugs, I became very sad because they let through the neighboring camp's MC Hawking physicist rap at around 3 am. Uh...hmmmm. The despair of not being able to sleep and knowing that it is virtually impossible to get new earplugs was dreadful--no vending to speak of at Burning Man.

Wandering around Burning Man you can strike up conversations with random people more easily than in the world at large. Also, at Burning Man people will give you stuff: stickers, necklaces, bracelets, hugs, scarves, anklets, alcohol, footrubs, and literature (Stuff We All Get or SWAG). A woman started talking with me and then out of the blue offered a set of earplugs. I figured this was a sign from the universe and despite the fact that I had tried several pairs, I accepted another set. These turned out to be much better than the several other sets I had tried...yeah, sleep.

Friday evening the nearby music was loud enough and the speakers strong enough that the ground beneath mny sleeping bag was thumping to the beat. Nope, earplugs wouldn't work for this. Saturday morning we move the tent and sleeping bags to an area of walk-in camping--no generators, no music, no speakers, no circulating artcars with loud music and no randomly wandering guys with BULL-horns (-I have not seen a female at Burning Man spewing nonsense through a BULL-horn...ever....hmmm?!). Sleep is good.

The walk-in camping area is cordoned off with a fairly taut cord to keep vehicles out, prevent folks from driving over tents and the like. Monday morning I am riding my bike like a bat out of hell, in the direction of walk-in camping. My brain realizes the cord is there and in about 4 seconds I have full impact. The cord snaps. One end whips the side and front of my upper right arm and on its way across my body whips nastily around the nice soft inner skin on mu left upper arm. OUUUCCHHHHH! My arms look as if some one snapped them with a whip. I could have come away much worse....6 inches higher and it would have been my neck. Had I fallen off the bike, it could have been a head wound. Simple water is painful on contact, so no swim in the great salt lake for me. Owwww. I decide I have been pretty lucky. Sebastian deserves a reward for sympathy.

[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Wed, Oct 01, 2003

Charlotte writes:

My Burning Man W(h)ine

At a vineyard in Sonoma, I got into a conversation with the friendly hostess, who told me how Burning Man was all commercial now. "Um, you mean since there is no one selling/marketing anything there?" I asked. No, she goes on to tell me that it is because people create documentaries about it. Hmmm, a definition of commercialism with which I am not familiar. Budweiser and Coca cola cans are still not hosting it (nor leaving thrie empties everywhere) And no one expects anyone else to entertain them (No spectators! One of several guidelines that govern our fair but temporary city) Honestly, coffee, ice and water ARE sold and the profits go to the schools and charities in Gerlach. Gerlach is a small town, with a fairly small financial base and very small school system. Sebastian has come to the conclusion that, there are several probable issues behind the commercialism comment by former burners. It could be that Burning Man is not free anymore; tickets start arround $165.00 in early Spring. Or it is a misdirected complaint. Sebastian explains there are maybe two sets of former burners. These former Burners want to be part of some sort of elite, that doesn't believe Burning Man should expand or include others-- a hip, secret society. Or those others who believe it should transcend the desert and the one week--and expand and change the world. As a non -former Burner, who is OK with the ticket price, and actually having port-a-johns and medical evacuation services for those that need it. I don't see why you could say that it is more commercial. Yes, pictures of Burning man were in National Geographic, and Wired and appear regularly in the press. Hmmm, yes, it is the publicity that makes it more commercial. There are two books about Burning Man: one coffee-table version by Wired with mostly sensationalistic, large-format, compositionally-weak photographs of Burners in strange costumes, and the book Drama in the Desert: sights and sounds of Burning Man, which gives a more thorough and thoughtful representation of the event and its culture. The latter created and self-published by burners. The pasts of burning man which pull me back every year are the bits that I try to bring to my life outside of Burning Man. I would like to see a world a little more creative, a little more tolerant, a little more committed to taking others as they come, and see people a little more interested in giving others a lift in spirits just for the sake of play, and see people be responsible for their own health and safety, and not so concerned with protecting people from themselves physically or morally (judge not, lest you be judged), and a bit more commitment to the environment (leave no trace). Now you know what category I fall into--the category which has all of us poor, delusional souls, being repressed by the current commercialism of the event.
Ah, end of rant.


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[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

Charlotte writes:

Straight on til morning

Heading East from Reno we pass the usual sagebrush covered hills. Hills and Pignon pines, and then the landscape slowly become silvery white flat areas and marshes. Through the Humboldt ranges and ahead of us is the straightest road we have ever seen. Eighty leads ruler-straight directly to the horizon. Utah and the salt flats--an amazing view punctuated by the most unlikely sculpture ever. For miles, everything is flat, but here is a slick, 40 or fifty feet high sculpture. From the distance it looks like a gigant oak tree. Up close it resembles a tree with giant croquet balls as if in imitation of leaf clusters. Later we find out that it is called Metaphor: Tree of Utah.

We camp about half an hour from Salt Lake city. It is possibly the cleanest city I have ever seen. It also has a surprisingly large number of coffee shops. We decide to make time! A quick lunch and some caffeine and we're off. The mountains east of Salt Lake City are beautiful. I see houses which look as if they are lincoln log knock-offs: green rooves and reddish timbered sides. We head through an area which resembles bad lands and then through an area with a lot of green in the soil...copper we speculate. We will check it later.

Along most of route 80 (Eastern Utah and most of Wyoming) are curious fences, six by eight foot, angled at almost 45 degrees, set randomly across fields in short rows of three to about twenty units each and serving no apparent purpose. You can walk around them, they are set on top of hills, in valleys, around washes, and near nothing. Some are of metal and some of wood.

We pass magnificent outcroppings of rocks. The highway leads straight to the horizon and then turns and bends around immense, layers of rocks in reds, browns, gray and beige. The landscape is gorgeous, speckled with black shadows from regularly spaced cumulus clouds. We are accompanied alternatively by Byrne, Hendriix, classical on tuba (some of sebbo's favorites) and a selection of vaguely middle Eastern world music. I practice belly dance chest moves while the wind whips around the car.

We pass bunches of signal towers while not getting any signal for our cell phone. Damn. I start peculating about missile silos, signal towers and how they hide them. When I was in the army, a friend had told me of his time spent guarding them. Now I wish I had asked more questions. It would be neat to be able to spot them. How can you hide the comings and goings of an entire staff? Is it easier to build some sort of cover/fake thing over them (a house or mining operation) or is a manhole in an empty field easier? Perhaps it is easier to have them on BLM land where access is pretty much limited to cows and sheep and the perenially non-curious? Maybe without the Russians it is less of an issue. The conjecture makes for entertainment during an otherwise longish drive.

Continental divide. Hills. More mysterious fencing units. Golden green fields, cows and sheep--no sagebrush here. Distant purply-gray mountains. Rain and a rainbow in the direction of Cheyenne. Horses outlined by the late afternoon sun.

We rant about Covenant trucking's offensive sticker about abortion politics. Sebastian says he should start a trucking company in order to put relativist, anything goes, libertine stickers emphasizing personal freedom on them. "Love is the law, love under will" We say, "If it feels good, do it...as long as it doesn't frighten the horses".

Big Conifers near Laramie. And a really awesome roadcut. Sebastian has been reading McPhee's book Annals of the Former World. Jonathan Gelbord told Sebastian about it. There is a section about the geology of this part of the country (Utah, Nevada) called, basin and range. It is very interesting stuff. McPhee is... like,... you know, uh, articulate.

We reread the section on Wyoming from "Eat your way across the USA" It is great food porn. Lavish descriptions of diners and eateries across the country. Nothing in Cheyenne. Only one major mistake so far, Louis Basque food in Reno is almost 20.00 per person, therefore two dollar signs, not one. We have eaten at almost a dozen of their listed restaurants. Most have been spot- on. Yummm, Meg Lent us the book. Thank you, Meg!!

Wyoming's section of 80 is in good condition. Between Laramie and Cheyenne are rolling hills covered in a pale yellow green stubble, which from a distance resembles slightly worn velvet. Argh, no t-mobile signal near Cheyenne.

A week at Burning man in the mid to high nineties-mild by Burner's standards; the dust storms compensated for the temperatures. This morning we awoke to a dew-covered tent and a brisk 60 degrees. Currently it is 70 degrees. We saw trees turning red and it feels strange to know that summer has passed and we will be returning to ever shorter periods of daylight. Colorado border and twilight. Sweet Dreams.


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[/diaries/roadtrip/lotte] ###

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