Stalking the Wild Hiatus

I’ll be out of contact for the next couple of weeks. I’m going to investigate the climatic conditions on the Black Rock dry lake bed in Nevada…

… if anyone is going to be there, you can find me at the Skinny Kitty Teahouse.

(shown below in 2011)

C’mon by for a cup of tea.

Back in September …

Best to everyone,


[I hope Willis won’t mind if I ask him to ask his fellow “tea fanciers” what their prevailing opinion about climate change is. That might make a great essay in itself. – Anthony]

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August 25, 2012 9:58 am

Where is the Skinny Kitty Teahouse relative to Black Rock Point and Rabbit Hole Springs
(both located on the old Applegate covered wagon trail)?

August 25, 2012 10:01 am

Are you going to the event known as “Burning Man”?
I’m sure you’ll have a great time, enjoy!

Goode 'nuff
August 25, 2012 10:06 am

W, you should go to Bella Vista, Arkansas as well and check out the climate change. Report your finds to a certain extremely well to do family. They might love you common sense and make you part of the most powerful clan. Ya just never know.

Dodgy Geezer
August 25, 2012 10:32 am

That was where Thrust SSC went supersonic in 1997. They’re going to have a go at breaking the 1000 mph barrier soon – but I think they are doing that in South Africa – pity….

August 25, 2012 10:42 am

You know, depending on the results of Willis investigation with attendees, I might start selling carbon offsets at the gate next year, to offset the euphoric combustiveness of the event.

John Brisbin
August 25, 2012 10:55 am

The Skinny Kitty Teahouse is something of an iconic establishment outside of the central area. They do indeed serve hot tea. No scare quotes required. The main tea bar is decorated with dead and desiccated cats.
A good place to while a way some time listening to musicians or watching a performance during the day and night.
REPLY: For lunch, I hear the “dead cat salad” is something to die for. – Anthony

Kelvin Vaughan
August 25, 2012 10:59 am

I’ve got a hiatus hernia if that’s any help!

TImothy Sorenson
August 25, 2012 11:12 am

Been interested in Burning Man for a decade….I hope you do enjoy it.

August 25, 2012 11:15 am

Stay away from the Boojums. Oops, sorry to be snarky with this comment.
“It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo-”
Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
A weary and wandering sigh
Then sounded like “-jum!” but the others declare
It was only a breeze that went by.
They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
Where the Baker had met with the Snark.
In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark *was* a Boojum, you see.
— Lewis Carol

August 25, 2012 11:21 am

I know there’s a joke here somewhere, I just can’t nail it down.

Craig Moore
August 25, 2012 11:48 am

As my dad once said, “It ain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones. We’ll avert our eyes as you go full frontal hippie alchemist reliquarian.
Have fun!

August 25, 2012 12:07 pm

I’ll have to drop by and share a cup.

August 25, 2012 12:19 pm

Coming from the other side of the pond I have no idea what you are talking about.

August 25, 2012 12:46 pm

Do visitors to the teahouse have to bring our own pot?

August 25, 2012 1:21 pm

I hear wild hiatus tastes like penguin if you don’t keep the campfire just right. It comes out best if it’s well done.
Enjoy the night sky and bring us back some wild hiatus tails. I hear that’s the best part.

Tommy Roche
August 25, 2012 1:27 pm

Can’t wait to hear back from Willis about his travels. I always look forward to his contributions to WUWT. Sometimes, when he is describing a hitch-hiking trip or some such adventure, you almost feel like your traveling along with him. Great stuff 🙂

Robert Wykoff
August 25, 2012 1:49 pm

I was working in Empire when the Burning Man first started. Back then there were only a couple of hundred people. There were no rules, and there were machine guns and explosives everywhere. The last one I actually attended was 96. As it grew in size and went over 1000 people, people started getting killed, so more rules and regulations came about. Now it is a very controlled encampment despite the “weird” people, but that is to be expected when you are dealing with 60,000 people. It killed me to see my backyard being overrun by ever more thousands of people, as the event put the once lonely black rock desert on the map world wide. The BLM gleefully put out sign in sheets everywhere so they could track visitation to justify “protecting” vast parts as wilderness, which ended up being Clintons very last act in office. To the old timers who lived their entire lives in Empire/Gerlach, that single act closed off almost all of the areas that they had hunted their entire lives. Now on a Nevada map, there is a giant green splotch extending almost up to Oregon, that is a beacon to even more tourists (Black Rock/High Rock Wilderness). In the early days of Burning Man, the hotsprings in the surrounding area were literally trampled, roads which were barely discernible two tracks became like interstate highways over night, and dirt bike tracks seemed to suddenly scar up every single hillside. During the week of the event so much dust was stirred up, that visibility was almost zero even from the highest peaks. Now that it is tightly controlled, and people are no longer allowed to wander, it is much better…but I still miss my little stretch of open wilderness, that only the real adventurous would explore…there are signs everywhere now…I hate signs.
Sorry about the rant, Have fun Willis….Despite my anger at the event (and my personal dislike of the organizers), I do believe it is something everyone should experience once in their lives.

August 25, 2012 1:54 pm

REPLY: For lunch, I hear the “dead cat salad” is something to die for. – Anthony
* Road Kill Gore-met Cooking (Quade International, 1991), by Richard Marcou: Finally, a guide for cooking what you run over, such as Chili Con Carnage.
* To Grill a Mockingbird (and Other Tasty Titles), by Ruth Young and Mitchell Rose (Penguin paperback, 1985): A tiny, fun paperback for English majors filled with punny recipe names such as Moby Duck, Lady Chatterley’s Liver, and Lord of the Onion Rings.

Theo Goodwin
August 25, 2012 1:59 pm

Have a good time. It is well deserved.

G. Karst
August 25, 2012 2:01 pm

Seeing how the affair is basically a love fest to gaia… it might be best to take a short vacation from climate talk. After all, you don’t want, to actually be, THE burning man. GK

Larry Geiger
August 25, 2012 2:45 pm

Oh good grief. Estimate of WE sanity/competence just dropped 5 points.
REPLY: How do you know he’s going as a “participant” and not as an observer. If I had the opportunity to go once, for a day as an observer/reporter, I’d probably go too. – Anthony

August 25, 2012 2:51 pm

Hey, Willis! I *LOVED* Skinny Kitty in 2007, I think, when we camped in the deep “keyhole” right next door to them. I’m not going out this year (daughter’s first day of high school, son’s first day of middle school). We loved camping next to those guys (were you camping with them then?). My camp is at 7:30 and B on the corner. Look for the big red shade structure. Nicest group of folks you would ever want to meet, I miss them so much this year.
Have fun, Willis! And remember, the event starts the moment you close the door behind you.

August 25, 2012 3:03 pm

How do you know he’s going as a “participant” and not as an observer.

There is no such thing as an “observer” at Burning Man. Most people have the entire wrong idea about the place. First of all, it is an engineering wonderland. To get the right idea, think of the Black Rock playa as a blank canvas. On that canvas is built a city but it is more than that. The entire event is one big piece of meta-art made up of a cacophony of smaller pieces of art and the people themselves who are there. The moment you come into the gate, you have changed the event by your presence there. You have now become a part of the larger piece of art.
Black Rock City has its own airport, its own post office (with zip code) and is the 4th largest city in Nevada during the event. Sure, it has some drug-addled hippies, but so does Reno. BRC also has a US Marine Corps camp and even Math Camp and a village for parents with kids. Everyone there is a “participant” in the overall piece of art whether they wish to be or not.
It is an interesting experience in radical self-reliance. You can’t buy anything there except coffee and ice. That’s it. If you want to shower while you are there, you had better bring a shower, and the water, and you have to collect your water and dispose of it because you can’t just dump it on the ground.
One of our favorite activities in years gone by when the center camp cafe was furnished with old couches was to go “hippy tipping” at 3am. These are people who did not come prepared, didn’t have a tent and are sleeping in the common spaces so others can’t use them. Tipping the couch at 3am while yelling “EARTHQUAKE!!!” at the top of our lungs was always a good time. They have since gone to hard, uncomfortable, wooden benches that has ended that sort of activity. These days they tend to crash at Media Mecca ( 🙂 )

Bill Jamison
August 25, 2012 3:13 pm

It’s looking like it’s going to be DUSTY – really really DUSTY – this year! The pics I’ve seen show mini sand dunes on the playa. Add some wind and you have white out conditions that have to be experienced to be believed.
Fun times!

August 25, 2012 3:13 pm

“Skinny Kitty” by the way, gets its name from some dessicated cats that were found in an old RV that was being restored after having been stored in the desert for many years. The camp has an interesting carousel display (or used to) of the “skinny kitties” along with stuffed mouse angels. They are sort of a piano bar (or were) that provided coffee and tea to anyone who drops by to say hello.
Oh, look! Here’s a photo. Note the little mouse angels!

August 25, 2012 3:33 pm

Robert Wykoff says:
August 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

If it is of any consolation, they have made a lot of changes that address your concerns. The city is now very close to the road, it is not out deep in the playa as it used to be. The hot springs are off limits and patrolled by BLM Rangers, Pershing County, and Washoe County police. The event is surrounded by a fence and there is no longer any driving out across the open playa. One can leave during the event but there is a $20 in and out charge to discourage people going out and coming back in.
After the event, the area is cleaned continuously until about November and then starts again in the spring. The notion is to make sure the area is returned to its plain blank state for the following year’s event. One thing that amazes first time participants is the lack of trash. There isn’t any. 50,000 people leave and there isn’t hardly a speck of anything on the ground that you can see. And there isn’t a trashcan anywhere in the event. There are no trash barrels, no dumpsters, etc. People pack out their own trash.
Oh, and about Empire. If you haven’t heard, that town is now gone. US Gypsum closed up the mill there and they owned the land on which the town sits. All the employees were let go and evicted from the property. The Empire Store was there last time I was through, but just barely making a go of it. Burning Man was the only thing keeping them alive. But the town of Empire is now a ghost town.

August 25, 2012 4:04 pm

Actually, last year we discovered a gaggle of “squatters” living at “frog pond” (Robert Wykoff would know where that is) and they had killed all the fish and amphibians living in the pond using commercial soaps for their bathing and clothes washing in the ponds there. They weren’t associated with Burning Man (didn’t even know what it was) but were just desert gypsies who took up camp in the trees around the ponds for the summer.
One of my favorite BM stories: I was working there before the event helping get things set up and was doing a shift for the “gate” department. I was working one of the access gates and an older couple in a Lincoln Continental pulled down off the highway at “12 mile” and drove up to the logistics gate where I was. They pulled up and rolled down their window and asked what was going on (orange fencing, lots of trailers, construction cranes, etc.). I said “You’ve heard of Guantanamo Bay prison?”, they said “yeah”, I said “It’s full”. They turned around and left. Good times.

Hector Pascal
August 25, 2012 4:13 pm

Do they really know how to make tea? Loose leaves in a warmed pot, then add boiling water? Or is it a tea bag with a jug of tepid water at the side to make some insipid infusion?

August 25, 2012 4:33 pm

Great picture! In the background, to the right of the tents (houses?), just to the right of a tree is what looks to be a hangman construction of some sort. Is that where they hang the climate fails?
Can we suggest effigies?
Have a great time in your sojourn! Don’t think about bad science!

Craig Moore
August 25, 2012 4:49 pm

Will this be similar to your Alaska bear experience:

Gary Hladik
August 25, 2012 5:50 pm

Willis, will you be hitchhiking there?

Robert Wykoff
August 25, 2012 6:39 pm

Aye, I know of the plant closure (I still work for US Gypsum). It was a sad day.
I know BM has done a lot to keep people from wandering around during the event. But the damage is done. People who never would have come to the area now come in the 10’s of thousands during the rest of the year I too have seen a continuous encampment of BM people for years at frog ponds, even though it is privately owned (I know the owner). He isn’t a fan of hippies, but is tolerant as long as they don’t wreck the place or mess with his cattle.

Brian H
August 25, 2012 8:56 pm

Is this a red light I see before me?

Mike McMillan
August 25, 2012 10:46 pm

Don’t forget your swim trunks and sun tan lotion.

August 25, 2012 11:02 pm

If Burners were really concerned about their carbon footprint they would put him through the chipper and call him Compost Man.

August 26, 2012 3:20 pm

Burning Man is not a hippie environmental event, though there are a lot of hippie environmentalists there. There is one village there where several camps operate without any generators for the week (Alternative Energy Zone or AEZ) but many of the people there are hobbyists and experimenters, many of them with home built equipment. “Don’t forget your swim trunks and sun tan lotion.” swim fins, mask and snorkel are a common performance art gag.

August 27, 2012 7:46 pm

Ten year burner here…have not been in about 5 years though.
I did not know about Empire… that saddens me, it was such a great little place. Back in the day we would be on the playa for 2 weeks building, before the gates closed we would head back into Empire every couple of days to run through sprinklers and roll on the wet grass!! What a relief!
I am sure Willis is having fun out there….

August 28, 2012 6:33 pm

WUWT @ Burning Man. Heck yeah! Burners one and all! LOLOL!

September 8, 2012 11:55 pm

Hey, Willis, how was your burn?

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