Mutants in the Desert… Burning Man

If you find a convertible that has morphed into a cat, the odds are you are at Burning Man.

If you wish to drive a vehicle at Burning Man, you have to obtain a permit from DMV. I am not talking about the Department of Motor Vehicles here; I am talking about the Department of MUTANT Vehicles.

Cars, golf carts, trucks, and busses have to change into something completely different and unrecognizable to cruise through Black Rock City and out on the Playa. Only bikes are allowed to roam free. And even they are known to morph into dragons, horses, camels and a multitude of other creatures. (Check out my next blog.)

The same creative energy that goes into art, costumes and performances at Burning Man goes into the production of mutant vehicles. A tractor pulls a false-front house and bar across the playa while an outhouse trails behind. An old bus changes into a riverboat, the Lady Sassafras, courtesy of Fractal-Nation. A convertible morphs into a cat. Dragons, polar bears, bugs and pirates roam the playa with impunity. There is even a vehicle for the couch potato.

A closeup of the cat car that prowls the nighttime streets of Black Rock City.

Out on the edge of Burning Man’s Playa we found a false front house and bar being pulled by a tractor.

Dragons are common themes for mutant vehicles at Burning Man. As for the dancing lady on the left, who knows?

This River Boat, the Lady Sassafras, was created by Fractal Nation, one of the major theme camps at Burning Man. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

A mutant vehicle for couch potatoes. Note the license plate.

I am not sure whether this Praying Mantis or her shadow was more frightening.

A human-powered mutant vehicle? Note the fuel in the engine’s left hand.

Like the man pulling the piano, I am not sure Mama Bear qualifies as a mutant vehicle. (Actually I am sure they don’t, but I have to put these wonderful images somewhere.)

This Conestoga Wagon seems appropriate for the desert. Pioneers once made their way through the Black Rock Desert on their way to Oregon following the Applegate Trail. The device on the side of the wagon is for shooting out flames at night.

My all time favorite mutant vehicle is the Neverwas Haul, a three-story Victorian house with the characteristics of a railroad steam engine including a cattle catcher. Horse-Bone Camp member Sailor Boy, AKA Tom Lovering, likes the Haul so much that he donated an antique ship-telegraph last year. The telegraph was designed to allow the pilot to communicate with the engine room.

The Neverwas Haul.

81 comments on “Mutants in the Desert… Burning Man

  1. Heh, I love what people are capable of in these venues! I think my favorite’s the kitty-mobile. But the Mantis-mobile is AMAZING. And I love the Teddy Bear-parade… OK, maybe I don’t have a favorite.

    • The cat car is a close second for me. It’s there every year and I have more photos of it than I do of Neverwas Haul. That means lots. (grin) I really had a hard time picking out vehicles to feature. I am hoping to take more night photos this year. The mutants take on a whole new personality after dark when Burning Man turns into a fairy tale land.

  2. These are great ..I love the Mermaid one and the Piano Man is priceless.. Burning Man is on my “must do before I’m too old to enjoy” jaunts!!!

    • Kitty is popular. As for the House, I found it as far out on the playa as you can go at Burning Man… on the edge of the fence. To add to the authenticity, they were serving moonshine.

  3. This place is awesome!! After seeing all of your photos I still think that the cat convertible is my favorite. I’m excited to see pictures from your next post!

  4. Pingback: Most People Don’t Care Until It Is Too Late « Dr. G Enigma Forever

  5. The pictures and posts get better every year! Some day we will join you in experiencing Burning Man in person…. It’ll look even better after a few more winters in Kodiak~

  6. This is really cool. I’ve always wanted to get out to Burning Man, but I haven’t made it yet. Thanks for sharing and congrats on getting Freshly Pressed.

  7. The pictures are amazing, as all of your pictures are! You and Peggy are my #1 photographers…Can’t wait to see picts from this year! I love the teddy bears and the cat car. Have a great time!

    • Thanks. And your right. It is tough keeping the sand out. I’ve used a large ziplock and cut out a hole for the lens. Now I try to take my photos when the dust isn’t blowing and keep it in a ziplock the rest of the time.

  8. Great blog, Curt! No wonder they chose you for Fresh Pressed! SO thrilled to see all of your hard work paying off. We are proud of you!

    • Thanks so much Cammie. I am really glad you and Tony like it. Seems like a long time ago when I put the first one up and you were making suggestions. Again, thanks to both of you for your continuing support.

    • Yes, it’s a ways from Tasmania. (grin) Burning Man is located in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada about a hundred miles from Reno.There are probably some folks from tasmania who have been.

  9. These vehicles are spectacular – what imagination!!! The paddle boat reminds me of the real Dixie Queen paddle boat in NO, LA. It’s another type of Mardi Gras parade & I’ve seen so many I can’t count. Living in LA is sometimes like living in a time warp or on a whole different plane – a Crazy one – but no not everyone lives in a house with a mud floor on a bayou and has alligators in the back yard…..
    I would love to attend this event at some point in the future… It looks like an an absolute blast. Maybe one of these vehicles could be a gigantic alligator with a whipping tail – watch out on the side lines for gatorlash!!

    • Loved the comment… I’ve been to the Mardi Gras but only once. As for the mud floor house with alligators roaming around in my back yard… That’s new. (grin) You should get together with FeyGirl who has a real thing for alligators and takes great photos of them. I am looking forward to your alligator mutant vehicle!

    • Thanks. They are definitely worth the trip, and Mutant Vehicles are just one part of what goes into making Burning Man the unique experience it is. I haven’t been to a kinetic sculpture race but I’ll check our your reference.

  10. I love mutants! so much creativity. My favourite last year were the flaming octopus and the magic mushroom car~~

    my write-up on BM: arebelwithacause.org/2012/08/27/green-burning-man

  11. the Lady Sassafras was built by the Crown Collective from New Orleans (who are a part of FractalNation) She is built out of a hurricane Katrina supply bus and over 50% of the steel was salvaged from the streets post katrina.

  12. Pingback: One Hundred Thousand Thank-Yous… for One Hundred Thousand Views | Wandering through Time and Place

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