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handcar regatta

September 29, 2009

At the Handcar Regatta with my little guy

At the Handcar Regatta with my little guy

With great anticipation, we pack the whole family off to the Handcar Regatta, where incredible artist-built handcars race along the tracks and compete not just in speed but in how beautiful they perform or look. The feeling of the gathering of thousands is a version of old-timey meets the future, and many costumed attendees and artworks are fresh from the Black Rock Desert playa—one can clearly see white dust still engrained into the wood of the Front Porch Crew bandstand.

Since I wasn’t able to go to Burning Man this year, I feel entitled to have fun at the Regatta. Perusing my costume stash, I discover I have a million things to wear. Things that haven’t been worn in a while…

First, I have to plan ahead to wear a costume, no night-before trying on these days. I work it out during an hour of babysitting, then make a hat at night after Lukas is asleep. The dressing the morning of the Regatta is not easy. Scott plays with Lukas and inevitably the little guy wants to nurse in the middle of hat application. So nurse we do and there is not just a little stress over the whole morning. When we finally arrive at the tracks, Lukas is sleeping, so Scott stays in the car while I am able to walk a solo loop around and see all the handcars, walking over terrain the stroller is going to have a hard time with. I see a bunch of friends, including Tammara, Edwin and their new baby Anna bumping along in her stroller over the dusty railroad tracks.

one of my favorites!

one of my favorites!

It really helped to orient myself to the event like this, so when I return to the car and Lukas wakes up a few minutes later, we are off with the stroller and I know just where to take us. First we head right for the double railroad tracks where the handcars are racing so Lukas can see the “cool bikes”. It is getting crowded and the terrain is dusty and rugged for our stroller—hmm it feels like Victorian times when the roads weren’t paved yet. Lukas is a good sport through it all. My favorite handcar entry is the hamster wheel, as I call it, with the guys inside rolling it along, there are many others–all  on the Handcar Regatta website.

The best thing by far is the complete lack of corporate sponsorship. Obviously thousands of other people think so too. The food is delicious, for lunch we order an apple pizza and glasses of lemonade that are obviously homemade packed with lemon balm leaves and flowers and lemon slices. All the vendors are local and small.

Amazing art pieces are installed around the railroad tracks, some straight from Burning Man, like Bryan Tedrick’s Portal of Evolution, and I think people don’t realize that you can climb on it, unlike most sculpture made these days.

Cyclecide—bike-powered kids' ride

Cyclecide—bike-powered kids' ride

There are some really cool kids’ rides, not from some kids’ ride company but from people who make them for fun and bring them out for other people to have fun with. One is simply a circle of bikes welded together under a round canopy like a bike merry-go-round. That has to be the coolest little kid ride since all kids want to do is ride bikes! Then there is the Cyclecide, a bike powered swing-go-round handcrafted by bike enthusiasts. Four people ride the bikes and make the swings go around higher and higher until they are seriously almost horizontal.

The music is local and not sponsored by any beer companies. Old time music floats out from the Front Porch crew off their portable front porch music stage—a front porch from an appalachian home recreated on a trailer. On the kids’ Snake Oil stage, we enjoy the sweet sounds of Gabby Lala, who babysat Lukas over the summer and she says hello to the little guy from the stage!

The entire thing feels like a community festival celebrating creativity and fun and each other and I feel as if I are experiencing something real and inclusive, sort of like maybe we are hanging out with a few thousand of our closest friends.

At this point, it is getting really hot, like 102 degrees type hot, and Lukas is dragging a bit, so we head back home, knowing that in a couple of years, he’ll actually be able to remember it and it is really going to be amazing for him to be able to attend every year! And, I am hoping that getting dressed up becomes easier too!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. artie's friend permalink
    September 29, 2009 4:01 pm

    this is so much better then a baby book …ahh modern moms
    great hat …

  2. jordanrosenfeld permalink
    September 29, 2009 5:16 pm

    Wow this sounds like fun. I love your hat, and your boy is so damn cute!! What a big guy he is.

    Where was this Handcar Regatta? I’d love to go next year.

  3. JES permalink
    September 29, 2009 8:48 pm

    “Do you like my hat?”

  4. karenhess permalink
    September 29, 2009 10:07 pm

    haha J, you are really hilarious–one of our favorite books around here…

  5. October 1, 2009 8:10 pm

    Dear K. Hess,

    “The entire thing feels like a community festival celebrating creativity and fun and each other and I feel as if I are experiencing something real and inclusive, sort of like maybe we are hanging out with a few thousand of our closest friends.”

    You cannot imagine how much your comments mean to us! Thank you indeed for venturing out with your family to have a grand old time with us.

    Your humble servant,
    Dr. Erasmus P. Kitty

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