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Friday, September 5, 2014

Playa-ble: An Unexpected Trip to Black Rock Desert and Burning Man

          An unexpected trip to the ending of the Burning Man festival, held on a gigantic gray/white playa called Black Rock Playa near Reno, Nevada

 resulted in a late Partial Ellipsis Of The Sun... but also in these wonderful images of the playa and the journey there. [Take the Fernley exit off I-80 in far northwestern Nevada and head north on a one-lane-each-way road.]

          The playa varies in elevation only .02 inches across the up to 12-mile wide, 40-mile long, desert feature:

     Being "on playa" is quite an experience. . .Keep your white/limestone-colored dogs close at all times out on the evaporative gypsum and selenite salts:

      Salt Lake and environs:

View from the Salt Palace:

      People at Burning Man are quite flexible; one might even say they are playa-ble.

    These words from John Mcphee's Basin and Range say it all:

     "This Nevada terrain is not corrugated, like the folded Appalachians, like a tubal air mattress, like a rippled potato chip.

       This is not--in that compressive manner--a ridge and valley situation.

        Each range here is like a WARSHIP standing on its own, and the Great Basin is an ocean of loose sediment with these mountain ranges standing in it as if they were members of a fleet without precedent, assembled at Guam to assault Guam. . .

     Animals tend to be content with their home ranges and not to venture out across the big dry valleys.The fauna in the high ranges are quite distinct from one another. Animals are isolated like Darwin's finches in the Galapagoes.


     Ahh, such extensive, pulling apart, stretching, expansive writing, Mr. McPhee! 

       Those last words in capital letters resonated with me while at Burning Man. We were at this old, old beach, in a now-waterless expanse of alkaline salts, trying to find a way to "swim" to shore and out of isolation. . .

     Until next week and the fossil limestone "forests" near Kunming City, China, and in Denver, Colorado.

     Play-a-long, would you please?

     Here are three more images from the journey:

        Best night's sleep on this little cot on the playa!

Word Woman

Some of the art at Burning Man:


     And my art installation upon returning to Colorado:


  1. Lots of white rock in that Black Rock Desert. No birds in your pix, so I guess you let your white dog smile up at the -- how to describe the event? -- Candles in the (Lack of) Rain. (Come to think of it, isn't Melanie a white person with a black name?)

    1. Black and white, yin and yang, north and south. . .

  2. Playas? Ya, Alps they ain't!

    It looks to me as if PEOTS has embarked on the ultimate science field trip. Safe travels, Steph.

    Regarding: "Keep your white dogs close at all time."
    Newest craze: "Where's Maizie?"

    1. LegoCamu, what a great new game--Where's Maizie? I shall endeavour to take some photos of her enroute to Denver so you all may playa along.

      My son is driving on our trip back to Denver so I have a bit of 4-G time. We are driving now across the w i d e horst covered by evaporative salts now.

      The speed limit and route number are both 80. The semiotics crew could have created half the number of signs for this part of Utah. . .

    2. Wide grabens...the horsts are the mountains...Well, I did just drive 19 hours to get there. . .

  3. Karst. Horst. Not a u,b,d, or v in sight. Glad you're having fun.

    I half recall some old joke about a polar bear in a blizzard.

    And WHY am I getting Burberry perfume ads here?

    1. Paul, thou art the penultimate synthesizer!

      Not sure about the perfume ads, though the burgers we had in Provo, UT, at Acorn Bread right next to the wind farm smelled divine. Thought of AbqGuerrilaBoy. Wonder if he got playafied somewhere in UTAH.

  4. Flew into Jackson Hole this afternoon, did a little hiking among some rather Grand Tetons, and a nice little stream, and a beaver dam, I think. Now nursing a wife with what seems to be an unfortunate case of altitude sickness.

    1. Beautiful, jan!

      Now you know the fly in (at least) a day before you exert at altitude rule. Acclimating from sea level to a mile or more above sea level takes at least that long. . .

      I hope your wife is feeling better. Copious amounts of water will help also.

  5. Time lapse (time laps?) of Burning Man from an adjoining mountain range. Well worth the 3 minutes and 52 seconds. Cool music too:

  6. The very fine-grained sediment left after making coffee in my French Press is just like the sediment on the playa, but black. When the grounds dry, they become a hard block just like the gypsum/selenite after a rain. . .

  7. Mendo Jim: Sliding rock (?) at Burning Man playa (see end of post).

  8. Update: of course, my son's wallet and, cell phone, keys, and passport showed up at the Burning Man Lost and Found the day his expedited passport arrived.

    He is now in London. He reports there are no bridges falling down, however.