Weekly Rochester Events #453: Finishing Coronado's Tour
Thursday, September 13, 2007
So let's go way back to Tuesday, August 21 and start things off. My back was acting up so I went to the chiropractor that morning. That afternoon I stopped at Freewheelers (1757 Mount Hope Ave.) to get Ali's Star Bike all set and took it for a test ride. The steering was sometimes stiff (the bottom cone in the steering was the wrong size and binding) so when I tried going no-hands I wiped out pretty bad. I went back to the shop a little later and had to buy a new chain as well as a new helmet and get the back wheel trued again. Once I got things fixed, it worked great, though. In the end my back was no worse for wear either.
Wednesday I got the car packed 90% of the way. I finally had a chance to sit and reflect and the trip started to make me nervous — I mean, what the heck are we getting into? On Thursday Ali came by and we finished packing things up. We had dinner at Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) and although we planned to leave later we decided to get on the road right after dinner. We got to see The St. Louis Gateway Arch (50 N. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd., St. Louis, MO) from the road along the way (it's friggin' huge). We also stopped at Prairie Dog Town (457 US Highway 83, Oakley, KS) and got to get up close with prairie dogs, goats, pigs, and other animals that didn't seem as healthy in that particular environment. The 5-legged cow got up and showed off its weird mutation from its shoulder but the 6-legged one just lay there. Anyway, we got to Denver on Friday at 11 p.m. Mountain time. According to Google, the trip is 25 hours and we managed it just over 30 since Ali was able to pretty much drive all night.
We had a nice time hanging out in Denver with Sondra. There were a couple places we stopped for food and drink (naturally) but we got back on the road on Sunday around 11:30 a.m. We made it to Elko, NV 12 hours later but found that Albertson's Grocery Store (2582 Idaho St., Elko, NV) closed at 11. We checked with a hotel desk and they said there was a Smith's (1740 Mountain City Hwy., Elko, NV) that might be open later — indeed, 24 hours. We got our final supplies and hit the road again, making it to Fernley, NV by about 8 a.m. By 10 a.m. we were at Burning Man (Black Rock City, NV)
We were pleased that our arrival time caused no delays — although there were a lot of people arriving, the flow was rather steady. We found a camp on 7:00 street near Freshwater. We met our neighbors and got the shade canopy and tent set up pretty quick. We spent a while working on getting things livable and headed out in the evening to explore.
We stopped at Dr. Le Tawdry's Freak Show and picked up badges for the Love Boat Game. Basically they made up 4 copies of around 250 badges with "guest stars" on the Love Boat. I was Phil Silbers who was playing a prankster and I was to find Judy Canova and "dump ice down her pants or blouse". I guess there was a Judy Canova card somewhere — and presumably somebody hunting for Phil Silbers. We got back to camp and had some snacks and met our neighbors across the way, Steve and Jeff. They offered us some shrimp tacos which were great. They were from Salt Lake City and were running the Make A Vow / Break A Vow camp where people could marry or divorce anyone or anything.
Ali and I tried staying up late but the whole travel, setup, and otherwise being awake so long was quite a drag. We did get up at the start of the lunar eclipse, though. We went out and explored the artwork around the Man. We both liked the sculpture of a woman hugging a tree made from woven branches (apparently). We also checked out the corporate-sponsored educational installations in the pavilion under the Man. We left when the eclipse was about halfway through and went back to our camp to get a better look (with less light). Just as the eclipse peaked, we heard cheering and assumed it was for the eclipse. Had we stood up and walked 2 feet, we'd have seen that someone set the Man on fire — the first time this ever happened at Burning Man (that is, before it's supposed to be burned). I guess the guy didn't like how hands-off the whole event had become ... he was caught and rumors were that he was released on bail and returned to the event.
Tuesday morning we noted that the Man was all charred and just a skeleton of what it was. We had breakfast then went to Center Camp to try and volunteer. We didn't have much interest in that, but we did get some letters to deliver from the Post Office. We met this girl Kim near where we were to deliver and she offered us use of her two turtle scooters. Ali delivered at Vamp Camp and we got back to Dr. Le Tawdry's Freak Show where we were told they were having a 1980's dance party that night. Afterward we stopped by Playa Putt Putt but they weren't set up yet. We got back and set up The Bike With 2 Brains one more time and met the guys who arrived during the eclipse: they were from Amsterdam and had flown in that night. They had little in way of provisions so we gave them Zweigel's hot dogs and wine.
Later on we went to Dr. Le Tawdry's Freak Show for the dance party. I had made EL-wire coats for Ali and I — my neon-green lab-coat looking woman's trenchcoat with the "?" design worked well. Ali's was a burgundy pullover with a blue star on the front (to match her bike) and a purple-and-white spiral on the back although she opted for her more appropriate Smiths T-shirt at the time. At least it was very easy to recognize one another at night. We also stopped at Automatic Subconscious on the Esplanade. We met the bartender, Jeff Q. who was from Cambridge, MA and had a drink with him. Next door they had a violinist, a DJ, and dancers on carosel horses which made for an excellent, evocative show. We found a guy with a Tilt-a-Whirl chair on RC remote so we went for a spin before he took off.
I didn't take such good notes for the rest of the week. However, we did get to check out the Homouroboros which gets activated when a bunch of riders generate enough electricity on specially equipped stationary bikes to begin to spin the top of the sculpture. As it picks up speed, strobe lights light it up and eventually synchronize the figures in the sculpture to give the illusion of a gorilla grabbing an apple from a snake and eating it (I think).
I know that on Thursday I had a good time. It was my birthday and Steve and Jeff made me a cake and homemade ice cream. Well, for me and the other guy whose birthday it was. Ali and I went with Steve and Jeff and their friends Doug and Mateo to explore that night. First we stopped at my friends' camp who give out sake. They had a friend who had made a psychedelic mushroom tea. Mateo and I tried it — myself for the first time on mushrooms. After a while the colors got really saturated and I was having a ball. Ali took care that I didn't blunder too far away, but everything was amusingly disorienting. It was really weird but fun.
Friday we got hit with a big dust storm in the afternoon — which in itself isn't unusual for the Black Rock Desert. Once it cleared, though, a cold wind blew in, sparking another storm worse than the first. A friend of mine said the gusts were over 60 miles per hour. I was pleased that everything I set up stayed in place. Unfortunately, I let things flex so the inside of the tent was a wildly undulating blob. Ali said she didn't want to come back again. After the storm abated, we got some rain (which is sparse, heavy droplets in the desert) which just made the ground mottled with hard spots. As it moved away, a full double-rainbow appeared centered over the Man (resurrected on Easter Thursday) visible from where we stood. Ali said she did want to come back.
Saturday was the burn of the Man ... er the second, this-time-official burn of the Man. We were closer than I had been in the past but the vibe was very different. Once it burned, everyone moved on to see Crude Awakening burn which was moved from Friday to Saturday because the pyrotechnics got wet. We got there early and lost track of our friends and then waited. We waited for around an hour or so and finally decided to get away from the established perimeter as we had lost the buzz of excitement (and alcohol) from earlier. We couldn't find our favorite roving bar, Dogfish but the fireworks finally started around it so we headed back and got close to the perimeter once again. The highlight of the burn was the 10-story mushroom cloud of ignited fuel, but otherwise I thought the artwork of the piece was lost in the pageant. Was it to mock the worship of oil? If so, then why go so far to actually worship oil ... sort-of, halfway, but in a big way? Was it to highlight dependence on oil? If so then why burn so much stuff to show it? I guess maybe it was just to blow stuff up really big, and if so, it was quite successful.
Sunday I convinced Ali to come with me to see the Temple of Forgiveness. I guess I didn't explain it right because she wasn't prepared from the emotion of it all. There was a photo-series of a man's father dying of cancer over the course of 2 months — from vibrant to corpse-like. There was a woman petting the embalmed pelt of a dog as well. Many many wishes to people lost were written everywhere. I'm glad she got to experience it because it made the burn of it that night all that much more special.
We found a spot away from the fire-spewing cars and met some nice people who gave us wine. The temple stays reverent with a simple ceremony and then it's lit on fire by hand — no fireworks or explosions as distractions. As the burn continued, people on one side saw something that made them cheer. For some reason the cheer started roving in one direction. It looped through the crowd 6 or 7 times and you could hear it moving around — like a dark version of "The Wave". I don't know how it worked, but it made the evening magical.
We had packed up a lot of stuff on Sunday so on Monday morning it only took a few hours to get the tent and shade taken down and packed away as well. We fortunately maintained the bed in the back seat, allowing us to take turns driving or sleeping. We said goodbye to our neighbors Pickle and Rich, Eric, and William. William gave us some costume stuff he thought we'd like. We got on the road around 9 a.m.
Exodus was as slow as possible and it took us until noon to get to the highway and another hour and a half to go the 30 miles to Gerlach. From there on, though, it was smooth sailing. We decided to get a hotel in Reno so we checked in at The Eldorado Hotel and Casino (345 N. Virginia St., Reno, NV) It was a nice hotel but all we really wanted was to shower. For 30 minutes each. It was so nice. Afterward we got some dinner and played in the casino a little. We got to bed early.
I got up early on Tuesday to get to Firestone — we got a flat tire in Denver and had it patched for cheap but it wasn't balanced. Unfortunately they couldn't get the lug nuts off because they were tightened too much and were afraid they'd break something. I was hoping to get it all fixed but I put it off until we got back to Denver. Fortunately the hotel had a great breakfast buffet and even had mimosa's on special for $2 each — it'd be hard to find orange juice alone for $2. We checked out and got on the road by 11 a.m.
We were planning to visit Steve and Jeff but we had lost the paper with their information. I thought we left it at the hotel. I did have their address in the computer, but we were heading through rain, and there were power outages in Salt Lake City so I thought it might be best to not just drop in unless they called us. They didn't and we went to an area chain restaurant Mimi's Cafe (10470 State St., Sandy, UT) which was actually quite good. Ali continued driving through the night.
I took over on Wednesday and we got to Sondra's around 9 a.m. My brother Adam was in town as well and we met with him for lunch at Wynkoop Brewing Company (1634 18th St., Denver, CO) We dropped the car off at the Firestone place there — at least we had a place to stay in case it took a day — if anything broke. We went with Sondra and Will to dinner at Sonoda's Sushi Seafood (1620 Market St., Denver, CO) which was a really nice place.
Thursday we got up early. I mentioned that we could tour The United States Mint (320 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO) but it turned out you need to reserve tickets or pick up standby tickets at 7:30 a.m. So, we got up early and I dropped Ali off. I got back home so Will could take Sondra to work, and then I took Will to work and got back to Ali an hour later. We had a tour scheduled for 10 a.m. We got breakfast at Snooze A.M. Eatery (2262 Larimer St., Denver, CO) and they were very accommodating when we said we had to rush out for the tour. The tour itself isn't all that exciting ... the history of coins and the architecture of the building were the highlights. We thought it funny that they were so security conscious: to steal a million dollars would require moving a 3,500-pound sack of coins.
We got the car at Firestone afterward. It turned out the tires were probably old when we got the car and the sidewalls had damage preventing them from being balanced properly so we had to get new tires. Adam met up with us and we went to The Pearl Street Grill (1477 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO) for lunch. We got dessert at Nosh Gelatto (1439 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO) — it turned out the owner was from Rome, NY. Afterward, Ali stayed at Sondra's for the afternoon while Adam and I toured Denver a bit. We got back around 8 and Ali and I got the car packed up. Will and Sondra had gone out but they came back and we chatted for a little before hitting the road around 9:30.
I was expecting to get to Ali's friend Hollie's place early on Friday but we didn't arrive until 6. We went to dinner at Bombay Brazier (102 W. High St., Lexington, KY) which was quite good and then stayed overnight. We barely had 800 miles to go. The next morning we hit the road early around 8:30 and stopped at Hamburger Inn (16 N. Sandusky St., Delaware, OH) for lunch. It was odd that their hamburgers weren't all that great, but at least the coffee, fries, eggs, and oatmeal were good. Around 7 we made it to New York and were starving so we went to Lena's Pizza and Sub Shop (18 Canadaway St., Fredonia) which was quite good. It was "Red, White, and Blue Weekend" in Fredonia so open containers were allowed in the streets and the place was a zoo. We got back on the road and were at my house by 9. In the end, the wagon averaged 18.2 MPG.
Sunday we met at Ali's new house and did the final walk-through. Most everything was in order and we got a great lunch buffet at India House Restaurant (998 South Clinton Ave.) Later we got "dinner" at The Corn Hill Creamery (290 Exchange Blvd.) On Tuesday Ali closed on the house and we headed over to move a few things in.
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About the title ... Francisco Vásquez de Coronado died 453 years ago in 1554 after exploring the areas now known as Arizona and New Mexico.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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