Random Writings and Photos

Random thoughts and/or photos

Bride of Burning Man in Pennsylvania

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 9, 2015

Sat down to write but there was a cat sitting on the desk. I was unwilling to chase him off since I’m only a day back from having been gone for a week, but I ended up picking him up and relocating him to another part of the desk. For a cat that used to live on a golf course, and only saw familiar faces once a week, he seemed to take my absence hard. I had thought, if he hadn’t disappeared, that he’d be happy to see me, but he remained sitting in my chair after I had first entered and closed the front door. A very talkative cat, he remained quiet as I petted him. His eye seemed to have been unusually leaky, with a large dark spot of something in the white fur underneath the eye. He sat so quiet and unmoving I thought he must be sick. Perhaps the eye was infected? I gave him a few treats. He had been fed treats at the golf course, and expected them daily. However, he would not eat them. That’s when I decided he must be sick, and I resolved to get him to a veterinarian, first thing in the morning.

In the morning, he was different, much like his regular self. He sought me out, and I gave him treats. He ate them. His eye looked better. He is active again, well, as much as he usually is. For a young cat, he sits and sleeps a lot. So, anyway, I sat down today to write about my trip to Pennsylvania.

It was very wet there. Joaquin Joaquin was a hurricane threatening the U.S. East Coast when I arrived on October 1. It is now a dissipating tropical rainstorm, aka a post-tropical cyclone. It rained all of the day I arrived, although I meant to run when I arrived. It rained all of the next day too, and it was still raining early Saturday morning. Not only did I need to run, as I have been training to run my first full marathon, but my sister and her family were planning their annual burning man party for that evening. All of the wooden pallets for the giant figure were soaking wet. Artists showed up and were working diligently in the garage to create a face for the burning man, although this year it would be a woman, with the face of the bride of Frankenstein’s monster. 100315 (2) The Bride of Burning Man. Those are firecrackers in her hair. There was a body too, to be attached to the wet pallets already stacked, and two huge balloon boobs to be tucked into her cloth blouse. 100315 (18)

I had left with my brother-in-law to do some shopping, and he asked me to help with the final assembly when we returned. The rain finally slowed, and had mostly stopped. I said I would help, but it was then 11 am, and I waited until 3:30 pm, without any action on the pallet creature, so I took off on a run. As I passed the field with the Bride of Burning Man, it was finally being worked on from a huge metal scaffolding. I, however, needed desperately to run, and run hard. I ran a mile up the country road in front of their house and found, past the turnoff for that road, that the road continued. After I’d run that mile I found a small track in a park built by a tiny elementary school. It measured less than one-third of a mile, so I’d have to run around it 3 1/2 times for each mile. Given that the roads around that remote countryside were all two-laned, without runable shoulders, I opted to run that little track instead. To top it off, there were portable outhouses on site, an essential part of running for an almost 65-year old. My birthday was days away, and this marathon ten days after that was to be my birthday present to myself: Take that old age!

After 32 times around that little track, I’d had enough. I had run steadily, relentlessly, and I was tired, with one more mile to go to return to my sister’s house. I had been charged by my running coach to run 18 miles, but it was late, lightly raining, and it had turned cold enough that I’d had to wear a jacket for the last couple miles, and it would soon be dark. I resolved to run the next day and the next. However, my back was very sore, and my body ached all over the next day, and the next, so I put off running for two days, and only ran another 6 1/2 miles. It would have to do.

The party was awesome. There was plenty of food and drink. My sister makes her own beer, and there were two small kegs of her beer on tap, 100315 (47) as well as bottles of her reserves, and other beer that people brought, as well as wine. There were some fine dishes to sample, spicy fried chicken, and some nicely spiced home-cooked shrimp. My sister had also prepared a Hungarian goulash in a huge kettle on a fire outside.  100315 (46)

The face was dropped on the way to attach it, but it looked only slightly changed for that. Due to the high winds and problems with one arm, it was not attached. However, even with one arm, she looked good. The burning was preceded by women with flaming hoops, a man with a flaming bucket, and even one woman with a flaming whip. There was a soundtrack for the whole thing, and the music built to a nice crescendo to coincide with the burn. Before the burn, people had assembled some gunpowder “bombs” to go off during the burning. Some were constructed to simply add smoke and fire, while others, as had been done for the 4th of July, were made for noise. It took some doing to get the burning going. A lot of accelerant was used, but even so, it looked doubtful the Bride would completely burn. One man even used a commercially available personal flamethrower to help things along. The booms from the noise bombs were not only loud and startling, but I felt the shock wave from 80 feet away, including the heat of each explosion. Powerful little suckers. The next day, there was a story in the local paper that people had heard two or four explosions in the area, and one woman, on a street some distance away, claimed one of her windows was broken by a shockwave. Police are said to be investigating. The police, however, where about 7/10 of a mile away from the burning of the Bride of Burning Man, and they did not drive over to see if the explosions had come from that.

My step-brother, however, is prepared to reimburse the woman with the broken window. As well, it was decided not to use the loud booms for any future burning man parties, as local dogs were spooked, and even though they did not appear to have been affected, there are also horses in the area. Perhaps the booms will return for the next 4th of July party.

It was a spectacular event, all the more notable for its huge flames after days of cold rain and high winds in the area. One woman came to the small track while I had been running; she said she simply had to get out of the house. Photos follow:

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Bush inside.

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A quick peek.

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Father and son working together

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Well, all went well. I had a nice visit with family. My mother, soon to be 85, did not attend the party due to a recent operation, but sent German potato salad, that I helped her make, so now I know how to make that. It was damn good.

The flight home was indeed eventful. I had two stopovers, one in Oklahoma City and another in Denver. While waiting in my seat during boarding at the OK airport, a woman stopped by the empty aisle seat, and, instead of sitting down, asked me if I was wearing cologne. Me: “What?” Her: Are you wearing cologne? I’m allergic.”  Weird. And, she had a pet carrier with her – cat, or small dog. I couldn’t see into it, and she put it under the seat for takeoff. It never made a sound. I decided I wasn’t going to talk with her at all. What if I had been allergic to her pet’s dander?

There was a lot of turbulence coming into Denver, and then the flight from Denver to Albuquerque was crazy bumpy. This was the first time I’d ever seen the flight attendants ordered to their seats for the duration of the flight. Never have I seen drinks not served on a flight. The flight attendants had just time to take drink orders and pass out snacks, but no drink charges were completed. I tried to read, but the shaking was just too violent for that. It was odd to have everyone on the plane sitting quietly. No one moved, not even to go pee, for the entire time until we landed. I was damn glad I didn’t need to pee. A strange ending to a trip, but it was worth it to have finally gone to my sister and brother-in-law’s annual party of fire.

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