Monday, September 12, 2011

Honeymoon in Paradise

"Can you imagine a world without men?  No crime and lots of happy fat women." 
~Attributed to both Marion Smith and Nicole Hollander

I like guys.  If there were no men I wouldn't be fat or happy.  Men do interesting stuff like this --- my working theory is that girls/women just don't get horny enough to produce love songs using old appliances for instruments.  We need guys for such flights of delightful abandon.

...but can you imagine a world without cars? 

Yes.  Here's a hint:

It's full of (fairly athletic) happy bicyclists. 

The only cars (excepting ambulances and fire engines and other emergency vehicles) allowed would be visually interesting and their top speed would be five mph.  Seriously.

Who would live in such a place?  I mean, no cars?

Every year about 50,000 people spend a week in this place, and they pay money to do so because it is so gigantically awesome. 

I'll take Q&A now.

Q:  Wow, with all those bicyclists, there must be a lot of bad accidents. 
A:  Actually no.  It's so safe to bicycle without cars that no one bothers with a helmet.  Turns out the only reason for most bicyclists to wear a helmet is to give their head a little protection if they get creamed by an Escalade.

Q:  Bicyclists are such assholes.  I bet they're even worse about running stop signs.
A:  There are no stop signs.

Q:  They run red lights then.
A:  No red lights either.

Q:  What?  That's so damn dangerous!  You make it sound as if there are no road rules.
A:  There are no road rules.  No traffic lights and no stop signs and no problems.  Turns out that we only need all of that stuff because cars are gigantic disgusting hurtling death machines.  But thanks for playing.

Q:  So where is this supposed place?
A:  Black Rock City in Nevada. 

Yes.  I'm one of those people.  One of those miscreants who goes to Burning Man every year.  This is the post in which I out myself and in which I show why my Contraption Captain (now the Contraption Captain Husband, yay!) is one of the Contraption-est Captains out there. 

You see, some people go to Burning Man for the drugs, some for the parties, and some for the nudity and some go to extract their own DNA and put it into a cute necklace.  But plenty of us go for the bicycling.  You can ride anywhere in BRC and you don't need a helmet (unless you decorated it with Viking horns or rabbit ears and want to feel pretty) and you don't need to worry about being turned to paste by an over-zealous teenager in a Ford Explorer.

Q:  But isn't that thing in the desert? 
A:  Yes.  I'm sorry to say that cars have taken over most of the inhabited world and so this small ugly-car-free area is all that is left.  It's desert. 

Q:  What good is a bicycle in the desert?
A:  It's great!  Not so much road bikes but anything with fat tires is pretty solid.  Of course I'm a conscientious mom and the Contraption Captain loves a challenge so we take things to a new level.  Literally.  Our general around the playa vehicle is two stories of pedal-powered splendor.  The dirt track tires (free at any dirt track in case you're curious) are perfect for all playa conditions, soft wet or hard.  The top tier affords children an unparalleled view of all the best burns and all riders and passengers enjoy several layers of shade protection from the sun.  We got cup holders and a glove compartment and a portal first aid kit.  And of course every giant family tricycle needs tons of beautiful programmable LED lights to make it visible when we go out dancing.

Q:  What's it like to return from Burning Man?
A:  Not so great.  You can't see how cars are fucking up your life until you get a little distance from them.  On the playa the kids can just get on their bikes and ride around.  You don't need to worry when you cross the street.  You don't need to put gas in your car and you don't need to inhale fumes from all the cars around you.  It's one week of not worrying that a distracted person holding a cell phone will kill you.  It's one week of beauty. 

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