My first trip out to Burning Man was 6 years ago in 2012.
Somehow I had the dumb luck and good fortune to camp with Charlie Smith. A Burning Man regular, to say the least, more like an icon. He's been going for many, many years; long before it became what it's morphed into today.
I barely knew him at the time; we've since become good friends and have shared several adventures and experiences.
Charlie and his gang were one of the things I knew I would miss about moving back to California. So when he told me that he was going to be in a parade in Washington DC with his Black Cat "art car" to celebrate Burning Man and the Burning Man exhibit that is currently showing at the Smithsonian and asked me to come along, how could I say no?
It was a whirlwind journey to say the least.
The Lovely Family- Will Alvarez, Charlie "Black Cat" Smith
Run Like a Roman
I often plan vacations and trips around stair climbs, obstacle course racing and running events. I've run up the stairs at Sears Towers and the World Trade Center, swam from Alcatraz and earned the Sparta Trifecta the first year it was available.
When it comes to running events, I try to stick with marathons. It tends to thin out the herd as it were. But none of these were an option. I would have to settle for a 10K, which worked out just fine because I hadn't been running in a couple of years and really didn't have the time to prepare. Plus I was around 30 lbs heavier than I'd ever been.
It was super crowded like 10K's tend to be which is another reason I avoid them. Marathons might start out crowded but after the first 6 or 7 miles it has thinned out and the next 20 miles are pleasant.
Veni, vidi, vici
I Came I Saw I Conquered
OK, conquered is a bit much, but I did finish.
After I collected my medal and did my photo-op, Cindy and I went on to start exploring Rome.
We usually spend weeks and sometimes months exploring a country, but we only had a few days. So we did what we also rarely do.
We booked a couple of guided tours.
And what a great thing that was.
For starters we didn't have to wait in the lines of the other bazillion tourists who wanted to see the Vatican or the Colosseum.
We could have spent 5 weeks in that city and just scratched the surface of the city's history.
I took a bunch of pictures, but again it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.
We will return to Rome to continue the discovery, exploration and education that one can only do by being there in person.
Tooley to Pages to Danniells
My birth certificate says I'm Jon Danniell Tooley. I never met the man who's name ended in Tooley, aka my birth father. I was raised and took on the name of my step-father Ruben Pages. But we had a strained relationship to say the least and as soon as I could, I ditched that surname as well and just added an "s" to my middle name and was suddenly Jon Danniells and have been that person for the last 30 years or so.
My wife never gave up her family name. She says it was because of her career, but I think it was more than that. Familiarity, proud of her dad and family, and that my last name wasn't the one I was born with or grew up with.
Why am I bringing it up now?
I suppose, in part, because I am up in the mountains, in the shadow of where I was lost overnight in Yosemite National Park when I was 6 years old and I recall the newspaper article referring to me as Johnny Pages. I've never been a Johnny and I haven't been a Pages in a couple of decades. But I was certainly that lost little boy and it has effected me ever since, regardless of which name the newspapers used.
I'm also starting to write a very premature auto-biography that will be tied into my blog or at least that's the plan
I don't have an ending yet; but I do have a title;
Lost Not Found
Catching Up with the Past
I am realizing that there are huge gaps in my blog.
Somehow there is no mention of our amazing road trip through Iceland, where I almost drowned which would have made the trip and my blog much shorter. And our New Year's Eve celebrations in Reykjavik.
Retrieving and Leaving Las Vegas
I was born in Las Vegas 50 years ago; with 3 Lucky 7's in my birthdate--7-7-1967.
It was a much different place then as one can imagine. But we left when I was around 2 years old, so my memories of the city are old photos and then the many trips we made back there to visit relatives.
I do remember the old classic hotels; Caesars Palace, the Landmark, the Tropicana, the Aladdin, the MGM Grand, the Hacienda, my favorite visually was the Stardust and then there was Circus Circus, which was where my brother and I got dropped of with a roll of quarters to play the mid-way games while my grandma played the slots.
The last time I was in Las Vegas was Saturday, September 30, 2017. I was supposed to be there for a couple more days but decided to head towards the Grand Canyon instead.
So I just barely missed being in town the day of the horrific shooting.
When my time limit was up at the campground I was staying at in LA, I decided to visit one of my favorite "Burner" friends, Ayako, who happens to live in Las Vegas and who invited me to a Las Vegas "Burner" event.
I had a great time. It's always a lot of fun to meet other "Burners" away from Black Rock City.
And yes, I ended up staying at the Mandalay Bay; it's always been one of my favorite and they had great rates. No idea why....
Jon Danniells is an adventurer and traveler, a teacher and student, a husband and a father, a cook and a farmer, a "week-end warrior" (very amateur athlete) and has not earned any money on these labors of love.When I googled myself what showed up first was my IMDB listing, which is basically a resume for my 20 and then some year career in film, for which I fortunately do get paid.