The Great Handcar Regatta
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
I have to say, what a lovely way to spend a summer Sunday. That day was exactly what folks would do if I ran the world.
Dr. Kitty seems to have gotten in good with the city, who would be fools to do anything but roll out the red carpet for this highly successful, low-risk event. It's in a little antique district called Railroad Square, there are vintage railcars parked there, and for one afternoon you could get away from the McDonalds and the Payday Loan joints and pretend the world was as it should be.
Racing rail-velocipedes is a fine, hearty pasttime for the young and the insane elderly, as it is approachable as a task (get something to run on train rails) and yet endlessly varied in its possibilities. Personally I was cheering on the team of teenagers. Most teenagers do nothing but mope.
Meanwhile there was plenty to do in the side-show and the overall spirit was one of doing and living steampunk (steampunks usually seem so dressed up with no place to go). Everyone was in their finest (even the toddlers), the muggles took the effort to toss on a top hat and goggles (all it takes to make you a steampunk, dontcha know)... even the yahoos looked nice! The police on the scene looked bemused... compared to a foot-ball game it must have been a cake-walk. While there are many of us who would defend ourselves quite fiercely from a mugger, steampunks do not fight each other, it's just so rude. Take it to the rails I say!
And take it to the rails they did. I did not notice or care who won. In fact, speed is the last thing I want from a railbike, seeing as they can be quite leisurely to ride. I was more interested in the bizarre modes of locomotion, and the artfully crafted vehicles. The guy with the rail-skis: Now here's a fellow who stuck to an awful idea all the way to its cumbersome conclusion. Three cheers!
Here's a lil' tip from uncle Payphone for the young fellows out there dressing steampunk: You can't give 98%. Just doesn't work. You've got your top hat, goggles, vest, white shirt, slacks, interesting pin or accessory... you can't wear Crocs. Or Tevas. No matter how hot it is. In fact, my sweetie asked, "Aren't all these people hot?" and I had to explain (being from the Antebellum myself) "Sweltering is a sign of good breeding."
See endless pictures at the flickr photo search.
View The Living Steampunk World in a larger map