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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Stone Soup at Permabog

Cindy's art project grew nicely in the rain...

OK. PermaBog is a bit overstated, but at the very least Stone Soup was watered down. And before you say it, yes, I'm guilty of being an optimist. I didn't think the rain we'd had all week would continue, let alone get worse. As we drove up, the closer we got to PermanBurn, the harder it rained. But then it almost stopped when we arrived. Was that a good sign? Who knows.

As we pulled up to the gate, cowboys were herding about a hundred head of cattle up the gravel road. We stopped and talked. A guy named Shane (I'm serious - he looked like someone out of a Marlboro commercial). Anyway, he said, "You'll need four wheel drive to get up that road", so we parked at the gate to assess the situation. Shane said we could camp down at the gate as long as we cleaned up before we left. Tim thought that was a good idea. But I wasn't ready to give up just yet. I had most of Club Verboten and Center Camp in my RV's hall-way. I wanted to deliver it.

An, Kathy and I hiked up the road to take a look at the conditions. It started to rain again. Going up that first grade, it didn't look that bad. After a couple of miles, I went back for my RV while An and Kathy continued on up to PermaBurn - a five mile walk in total. My walk that day was a bit longer.

My plan was to take my RV up to the second cattle guard then hike back and get Tim's RV up too. Rita decided to go with me. I had my foot to the floor and going about 20 MPH all the way up the hill. Rita was laughing and shrieking, as I looked for gravel patches to give me traction. My 30 foot motor-home was bouncing from one side of the road to the other. It's a good thing I didn't slow down. We were spinning and grinding just as we topped out on the flats. It was a "barely made it" kind of arrival.

I parked in a nice flat spot at the second cattle guard to check for damage. My tail pipe bracket had broken lose, but that was about it. Well there was a LOT of mud everywhere. But mud washes off. Next, I needed to do some more scouting.

Rita and I hiked two miles up the next grade to check it out before I tried to drive it. It didn't take me long to figure out the weekend wouldn't turn out the way we had planned. There was no way I could get up this next section, let alone the convoy of two-wheeled drive vehicles I knew were coming behind me.

We were soaked to the bone by the time we got to PermaBurn. Rick in his Greyhound were there. He had come up Wednesday when it was dry. Greg (the founder of PermaBurn) had set up camp but was taking a nap. Mark and Marge had set up the Stone Soup Saloon and were wrapped up in blankets to stay warm. Blue and Bro were greeting at Camp Lazy Fucks with something called "Apple Pie", made from ever-clear and other good stuff. Even served cold, it warmed us up.

But Rick's bus with it's heater running helped a lot more. Everyone collected there for a meeting. After reviewing conditions, Rick sent out the 4 WD email alert to the Reno list (Sprint has good signal at PermaBurn). Maybe the rain would stop. If it did, the sun this time of year would dry it out in a few hours. But I knew the sun had to break before 2:00 PM at the latest, or most would have to stop back at the highway. Some were coming from Portland, LA and SF. It was best to let as many as possible know about the road conditions before they drove all the way out here. We hoped the email alert would get to them in time.

After an hour's break, we got a ride back to my RV and had lunch. I was tired. We nodded off, then awoke to the sound of talking. Marshal had come up and built us a camp fire. Others stopped to warm up at the fire as we stood in the rain. We had maybe a dozen at this mid-camp for a while. Some turned around and headed back to base camp. Other with 4 WD went on up to PermaBurn. We waited for the fire to die out, which didn't take long in the increasing rain. Then we went back down to base camp ourselves. The ride down was even more slippery than the ride up. At the bottom I noticed a rock had torn off my outside water valve and the tank was emptying on the ground. Oh well, there was no shortage of water.

By the time we got back, Tim (Club Verboten) had gone home, but many others had arrived. At one point we probably had 30 people at base camp and as many as 20 up at PermaBurn. Thomas had tried to follow me up the hill in his 40 foot motor-home but got stuck only 100 yards in. Blue helped pull him out with his 4 WD. Thomas and Adela then camped at the gate base camp too.

The rain continued. Everything dripped. My feet were freezing. It was about 40 degrees, but you could already see your breath. More people arrived. Marshal started building another big fire for base camp. After comparing notes with everyone and guessing at the odds the rain would stop, I started relaxing and realized we'd just have to wait and see. I was tired. I got my wet clothes off and had some dinner then fell asleep before 10 PM.

During the night, lots of others arrived. Troy put up a shelter which helped a lot. Unfortunately, he had to leave most of his gear on a trailer about a half a mile back where he had tuned off at the wrong turn and gotten stuck in a bog.

Also in the night, one of the other PermaBurn owners tried the hill in an excellent 4 WD rig but got stuck the same place as Thomas's RV. He had to cut lose his 10,000 pound loaded trailer in order to go on up.

At sunrise the cowboys (and cowgirls) were back to move the herd on up the dirt road. Shane said it was the most rain they had seen in a long time - maybe ever for June. It had rained all night. And the rain continued for breakfast as well. Thanks to Sharon for the bacon and eggs, and a dry place to eat them.

My cousin Dave had a 4WD but only with road tires. He was with us at base camp, but we figured it was good enough to pull Troy's stuck trailer out. When we got there a BLM Ranger had stopped to check on it, and was now chewing up the road trying to get out of the same mud hole himself. Even with knarly tires and bad-assed 4 WD it took several tries.

Dave couldn't drive back into that mess, so instead we used 200 feet of rope to pull the trailer to better ground. I hung on the back of the trailer to get the tongue off the ground while Troy tried to steer and Dave drove the truck. Troy and I were soaked in mud, and we broke the rope twice, but we finally got the trailer to drier ground.

Back at base camp, the kids were playing in the mud, and the rain continued. There was no way things would dry out before Monday or Tuesday. After lunch, I wired up my tail pipe with a clothes hanger, and we packed up the RV and headed home about noon. That was the end of Stone Soup for us.

This is the worst Burner experience I've ever had, but even so, nobody freaked out. Nobody had a bad attitude. Marshal did and amazing job with the fire and campfire cheese sandwiches for lunch. The kids of course enjoyed the mud more than we did. Burners are wonderful people. And that fact becomes more apparent as the conditions get worse.

Sorry about the weather guys. I guess that's how it is with adventure.

Just before we left, Greg and others came off the hill to say hi and suggested we do a Stone Soup Reheat at some point. PermaBurn really IS a beautiful piece of ground. And with a dry road like last year, it's an easy drive.

Maybe when my feet get warm.

The Man ready to be burned...

Dave, expressing himself...

And Paula taking a dare...

Cindy and her art...


  1. Rod, what a great narrative as always. I came right when you left as Kathy and I passed on the last leg of the road.

    It sucks you had so much trouble and I hate to do this to you.. but after you left it didn't rain at all except for about 35 seconds well after the potluck.

    We even got bouts of sunshine here and there during the day.

    I made it up to the upper camp (and back down) with my toyota Rav 4 without any problem at all and it didn't even go into 4wd.

    There was about 20 or so of us who stuck it out through Saturday (my friend and I left around 9pm saturday).

    There were about 10-15 on average at upper camp who sat around the fire all day and just shared stories and laughs and some of us wandered up to where we camped last time just to check it out.

    We all went down to the lower camp (by the gate) for the potluck around 6:30 and ate like royalty... with great meat and pasta dishes, ribs cooked over the open fire and even passed around a jiffy pop.

    A couple of guys (sorry, forget their names) constructed a make-shift man which was pretty neat lookin' and there was even a tad bit of fire spinn' in front of a beautiful sunset before we left.

    We all talked throughout the day how much work you, Rod, put into this event but alas Mother Nature had other plans for the weekend.

    We threw around the idea of a 're-do' for another weekend this summer because it is such a cool place!

    Despite the foggy, chilly, and misty weather Saturday, everyone who stayed was truly content being there and cherished the community and solitude of the property.

    We even brainstormed up some really cool ideas and slogans (I will let the owner do the announcements) haha.. I don't want to give anything away.. but we almost 'died laughing' at how clever we all were. haha.

    So Rod, I know I speak for many when I say that even though the weather didn't play nice, those who went still had a very memorable experience and appreciate all your efforts... in my opinion, I honestly had a better time than I did last year.. as it felt more 'community' oriented.

    BTW.. I even pulled off a bit of a poly meeting before I left. I had an audience of 3-5 but it was still interesting! I will post more about that on the poly yahoo group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NNPS/)
    Till next time...

    Teresa 'Button'

  2. I'm posting this email from Adela because it was so generous. Thank you...

    We enjoyed Permaburn soooooooo much. The rain was refreshing and the hardcore people were great. We love Greg and Keith (WOW) and will probably put our tombstone up there the next time we go. Don't think we can wait until next years 3rd annual event though. I want to put my kayak in the pond soooooon. Margie's cemetery idea was awesome. Thanks to Sharon and David (Rod's handsome cousin) for sharing their quad with all of us and know they will be good neighbors on the hill. Marshall, you and your woman really rock. Your Man Burn was so creative and filled with the good Burner love we all felt. As usual your sexy staff spinning was the bomb. Theresa definitely has your smooth moves too. As for my Magic Man, in spite of the mud on our playa colored carpet he pulled it off and did his job well. His objective to share his talent and to entertain the King and his court was a success. It was a FUN GROUP, new Tahoe photographer, Michael, his wife and newly graduated sister- in- law. He was the only one to ride a mountain bike all the way up and down the hard and slippery hill. Sacramento's, Jana and her fine Ken doll put on a fabulous burner fashion show.(Watch out Sex Filth Avenue, there is a new designer in town) Montessa gets the furthest distance award from east of Portland. He brought really nice sounds in a bright red machine. Of course we had the famous BJ from Klamath Falls, no not Blow Job, Bleu and Jeremiah the most handsome and toughest railroad men in Oregon. The lowland camp also had a great energy of about 20 people in the coolest painted hippy bus. There dancing & hoola hooping and great hats really made me feel like I was on the wet playa. There were so many more newbies, I hope they all become the new CITIZENS of PERMABURN. We love the cute French Boy, Grin, he was the leader of our Earth Guardian Clean-Up. Even the dogs, kids, Sweet spinning Sage, Captain Morgan and his hotel, Safety Man Dave were sooooo happppy. Of course Rod Man and Ann, even though we didn't get to party enough we appreciated all your coordinating, directions, up-dating, answering e-mails, on and on. . . . . . . . Thanks so much everyone from TomKat, Lucy aka Stacy and I (La Cyclone) for sharing all your positive energy and love.

  3. Another one from Dave Krul...

    Started out as permabrrrrr...then morphed to permabog......but ended up truly a permaburn. Both the "hill people" and the?"lowlanders" had a great time - despite the weather. Greg is a great host, the setting is pure magic, and I can not imagine a better group to hang with. Great food and drink (extra thanks to Marge &?Mark), great camaraderie, and spontaneous art (thanks to Camp Lazy Fuckers and the Magnificent Marshall). What a great time in a great place. I highly recommend anyone who hasn't shared in this experience move it to the top of their "to do" list. It's awesome in many ways. Talk about radical self reliance and inclusion. I can only imagine this is what Burning Man felt like on Baker Beach back in the day. Don't miss your chance - this undertaking is in its' embryonic stage and we all have something to contribute. If you can imagine it - you can create it!?