Rochester to Glenwood Springs

So I headed out on Wednesday night, stopping at Paola's Burrito Place (1921 South Ave., formerly Big Dog's Hots) with Ali before saying our goodbyes. I drove until I got tired around Cleveland, then got up on Thursday and made it just inside Kansas. Of course, things took a downturn when the air conditioning in the Roadmaster gradually stopped working with a warning signal on the heating controls. At least I made it through the worst of it.

On the way through otherwise-dreadful Kansas, I saw a billboard for a GM dealership in Hays, about halfway across Kansas. Crap. I guess they do work. Anyway, I went to James Motor Works, Co. (108 E. 13th St., Hays, KS). I talked with Dan and they got me right in to check out the A.C. It turned out there is a leak (which I knew, having added more coolant before I left) and the ventilation system computer shuts things down when the compressor cycles too much. I got it recharged there — they were really nice and it was "only" $100 or so. Afterward I got a recommendation for lunch, and I went to Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company (117 E. 11th St., Hays, KS) right around the corner. I had a really good Oatmeal Stout and a great Patty Melt: a "beef patty topped with mushrooms, schmeltz (caramelized onions) and provolone cheese on buttered marbled rye toast". Mmm. I met this guy who happened to be from Colorado and we chatted a bit before I got back on the road.

I made it to Colorado around 2:30 p.m. and managed to snap a self-portrait along the way:

Self-portrait (sort-of)

See the wagon? To be honest, it's larger than it appears.

Unfortunately, my timing was such that I got to Denver at almost exactly 5:00 p.m. Yeesh. It wasn't too bad, but getting up the mountain took a while. I made it to Sondra and Will's around 8 and got settled in. We'll be leaving on Sunday morning in a little convoy for Burning Man. Hopefully in air-conditioned comfort.

Disassembling the Bike With 2 Brains for the last time

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but today I cut up The Bike With 2 Brains so I could make it into something else. It was kind of sad — I even said goodbye before I put saw-to-frame. But then again, now it's all new: now it can become other things and I can finally put that chapter to rest.

Sometime in the past year or so, I realized what has been wrong with it. It's like it's been sick or something. When I brought it to Burning Man in 2005, it went out and had a life of its own: I brought it to the desert and let people take it away and do whatever they wanted. I designed the project that way and it went well. But ever other time I've brought it out, it's just a thing: a toy to play around with. As such, it's never been as good as that first time out.

Now I could redo the experiment, but it was hard on me. I had to search for it so I could recover it at the end of the event in 2005 and it was a difficult, stressful, and frustrating experience. I could do things to make it easier to finish that aspect of it, but why? All I would be doing is to try and revisit that first experience.

So now it's gone: really in pieces. It'll become some new things this year and I'm excited to get started on those things. Now I can.

Casino Royale and Bad Day at Black Rock

So Ali and I spent half a day together watching movies. A friend of mine had recommended Casino Royale — mostly because of the free-running sequence in the beginning — but we just watched the film anyway. As James Bond movies go, I guess it's fine. Maybe I just ran out of interest in such fantastic stories and we were both annoyed at the predictable and annoying plot twists. I also didn't like the impossibly evil and impossibly genius villain — obviously a staple of Bond films, but comically absurd to me now.

The other film I picked up at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) on VHS (although they had it on DVD as well from Webster, I think). It was Bad Day at Black Rock and I discovered it looking for movies made near Burning Man in Nevada — particularly Gerlach, the Black Rock Desert, and the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation — that were otherwise not about Burning Man.

The movie is really quite good: a sort of socially-conscious noir-western set shortly after World War II. A stranger appears in the tiny town of Black Rock looking for a man named Komoko. The town descends from being unwelcoming to downright hostile toward him as they try to collectively hide the secret they failed to forget from 4 years prior.

In most of the establishing shots I was trying to figure out where they were in that part of Nevada, considering seriously where 447 crosses the railroad tracks at Gerlach. I thought I'd do more research and stumbled upon the WikiPedia article [which outlines the whole plot in detail, FYI] but it made no mention of filming anywhere in Nevada — citing only California — and sets the film in the fictional town of Black Rock, Arizona.

Returning to the Internet Movie Database's page, I found that the shooting locations no longer mentioned "Black Rock, NV". Returning to the location browser, I checked the nearby Nevada locales and noted the film's sudden absence from the lists. So I think I ended up accidentally watching the movie for the wrong reasons, but in the end, it was a really good film.

Incidentally, there is a town of Black Rock: in both Arizona, and Nevada. There's even one in New York. None of them look like they're "towns", though — more like "places" … possibly with black rocks. My old DeLorme map software reports (with map data from 1996) three in Arizona along with one in Nevada — none of which are near the ones found by Google. The one in New York agrees pretty much right on the spot.

None of them are even close to The Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

Frostburn at Cooper's Lake Campground

Ali and I headed to Cooper's Lake Campground (205 Currie Rd., Slippery Rock, PA) to go to FrostBurn this weekend. It actually started yesterday but the early population was mostly from around Pittsburgh or from places farther away … or, I guess, mostly just not us and a few other stragglers. In all there were about 120 people who showed up so it was just the right size to get a chance to say hi to everyone.

The event was excellent. Although not an official Burning Man regional event, it was run by people who had gone to Burning Man and generally held the same vibe. Well, the part of the vibe that I personally liked: the part where it a group of people who got things done and worked together and wanted to have a good time. It was also winter camping (and Cooper's Lake had winterized their facilities so there weren't showers or bathrooms — just port-a-potties) so the element of "physical difficulty" was also present — something that's difficult to achieve when you can see a major highway and your cell phone has "full-bars" all the time.

We stayed until Monday and met lots of nice people. We got to see the iconic snowman-man burn, had hot chocolate at Camp Total Fucking Armageddon, had hot buttered rum in the sauna-like steam shed, participated in the Naked Mr. Rogers Sing-A-Long, and otherwise dance, dance, danced until the morning sun.

It's actually the first time I wanted something like a "decompression" — a time to recollect with friends and otherwise relax before jumping back into the daily grind. I came back and had to catch up on work but I really wanted to just chill out for a couple days — and the friction between the two ideologies wreaked havoc with my state-of-mind.