Monday, May 29, 2017

Black Rock Rendezvous
Memorial Day Weekend

First of all, I'd like to remember all of our veterans who have sacrificed so much and have given us the ability to enjoy this long weekend in their honor.  

This is what it's really all about.

The Black Rock Rendezvous is an annual event sponsored by Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock Canyon and the Nevada Outdoor School.  It's a three day camp outing that's held on the Black Rock playa, a couple of hours northeast of Reno, NV.

Most people start arriving on Friday afternoon and get their camp set up and the event officially begins the following morning.

Presentations were given on Saturday morning and included:
  • Welcome & Camp Housekeeping – Michael Myers, Friends of Black Rock-High Rock
  • Introductions from organizations – Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Nevada Outdoor School, BLM
  • Invasive Weed Control – BLM
  • Outdoor Ethics Presentation – Jessie Snaman, Nevada Outdoor School
  • Pika Conservation – Jane Van Gunst, NDOW – 15 min.
  • Artist-in-Residence, Artist Introductions – Michael Myers
  • Rocketeers – Peter Clay, AeroPac
  • Trego Management Plan – Chelsea McKinney, BLM
  • Emigrant Trails – Ken Johnston, Oregon California Trails Association/Trails West
  • Public Lands - Richie Bednarski, Nora Kaufman and Friends of Nevada Wilderness staff
  • Burning Man Update – Will Roger Peterson, Burning Man
  • Invasive Weed Control-Dwayne Coleman – 15 min.
  • Helping Nevada Pollinators – Kathy Cadigan – 15 min.
  • Safety/Fire - BLM Fire
  • Stewardship Project Overview - Project Leads - BLM, NOS, FBRHR, FNW
After the presentations, you could chose from a number of different activities or just go out on your own and explore this beautiful area of Nevada.

Some of the tours offered this year were:
  • Petroglyphs
  • Plant ID Hike
  • Planet X Pottery and Art Studio: (Self-guided)
  • Guru Road Walk: (Self-guided)
  • Petrified Canyon Rockhounding Hike: Tour Leader: Jean Black, BLM
  • Mormon Dan Hike: Tour Leader: Brian Beffort
  • Lund Petrified Forest: Tour Leader: Jean Black, BLM
  • Nobles Trail: Tour Leader: Ken Johnston

My trusty dog "Dexter" and I arrived Friday afternoon, just in time to find one of the few level spots....just kidding, the whole place is flat as a board.  

We got settled in and had our traditional first night's meal of steak bites, fried potatoes and a salad.  After dinner we took a long circuitous walk around the whole camp area and enjoyed the perfect weather of the playa.

That evening, an amateur astronomer who comes to the event every year, set up this beautiful telescope.  He invited everyone to stop by after the night sky was completely dark and catch a glimpse of Jupiter.

We went over after dark and saw Jupiter and three of her moons and it was amazing.  It just looked so "celestial."  We were all invited to hang around and see Saturn, but she wasn't going to make her appearance until after midnight, so we passed on the offer.

The next day, we attended all of the morning presentations, which ended just in time for lunch.  After lunch, Dex and I just lazed about, walked a bit, read, napped and just took it easy for the afternoon.

The playa has a beauty all of its own and it reminds me of what I think the moon's surface would be like.

Saturday evening is always the Dutch oven cook-off and pot luck dinner and it's a great time to mingle and meet everyone.  I saw a lot of familiar faces from rendezvous past.

Two years ago, I took first place in the Dutch oven cook-off's main dish category, with my New Mexican Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, so I entered the same dish last year and didn't even place.

This year, I decided to enter a side dish and in keeping with my New Mexico roots, I entered my Hatch Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese.

Entrees must all be turned in no later than 7:00 pm, so timing and logistics are part of the planning and the fun.  This is about halfway into the cook.

Over at the main camp, teams were getting their Dutch ovens fired up and the area had a kind of chaotic buzz about the place.  

Everyone always has fun, but some cooks are seriously focused on this event.

Dutch ovens lined up and even stacked on one another.

These tables will soon be filled from end to end with Dutch ovens and other playa fixins.

And the long line starts forming...

Trust me, you don't want to be at the back of this line because the food goes fast and those who straggle along late will be scraping the sides of the ovens for a morsel or two.

And the food hits the table...

And about 15 minutes later, only the food than can't be pried of the sides of the pans remains.

Everyone is settled in and enjoying the food, the camaraderie and the beautiful setting of the Black Rock.

Shortly after dinner, Will Roger (one of the founders of Burning Man) makes about five gallons of his very powerful and very good margaritas to share with the camp.  What a great way to end a wonderful dinner.

While everyone's sipping on their margaritas, they announce the winners of the 

2017 Dutch Oven Cook-Off
and what do you know...

I took first place in the Side Dish category!

Now, I could let this go to my head and say that I'm a force to be reckoned with, but being that I only know how to make three dishes in my Dutch oven, I'll just stay quiet for now.

That evening the camp is all a buzz with fire demonstrations, fireworks, musical instruments, campfires and telescopes pointed at the little sliver of the moon that's visible.

It's been a great day with a lot of great people in a magical place.

The next day, we made the short drive over to Planet X Pottery and Art Studio.

At the main barn, they had Great Basin beer on tap as well as some of the best roasted jalapeƱos, freshly fried chips and salsa.

It was a hot day and this was the perfect oasis at which to hunker down out of the heat.

Memorial and Labor Day weekends at Planet X are busy and that's also when
they have their biggest sales of the year.

Last year I had over half of my Christmas shopping done by Memorial Day
by stopping by here.

Planet X now has a beautiful oil painting gallery and studio and most of the art is 

After we left Planet X, we made our way over to Trego Hot Springs.

Since most of the playa has standing water on it and is a large shallow lake, we weren't able to drive across it to Trego, so we had to go back to Gerlach and take Jungo Road to the springs.

The water was the perfect soaking temperature, but it was such a hot day that a soak was out of the question.  Still, it's always nice to see a spot like this in the middle of the desert.

After spending a good chunk of the afternoon exploring the area, we headed back to camp for one last night on the Black Rock.

By the time we got camp set back up, the full fury of the afternoon heat was upon us.  There wasn't much to do but take shelter in the camper and wait for the sun to go down.  Luckily, there was a bit of a breeze and that kept things somewhat bearable.

Our last night in the desert and you can't tell by the picture, but Dexter had a nice layer of playa dust all over him.  It was especially evident when someone would walk up and pet him and the dust would really fly.

The Black Rock Rendezvous is always a fun time with a lot of great people.  Everyone at the event has a deep love for this place as well as the environment in general.

I can't thank all of the people from Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Friends of the Black Rock enough for their tireless efforts in pulling off this event every year.  

Their next even on the playa will be the Perseid Meteor Shower camp out and there aren't many places on the planet with better views of that space dust streaking across the sky.

This will be my parting shot for this trip.  I don't think it needs an explanation...


  1. Shane, thanks for sharing. Looks like a great event!

  2. Maybe we can get those two recipes from you? My goodness they sound so delicious! Your narrative and photos really show how much fun this event is for the attendees and how all share their love for the outdoors and especially Black Rock. Thanks for sharing this event and your weekend with us!