ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

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ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by AxelHeyst »

Where: Southern Sierra Nevadas, California. From LA, go mostly north by car for 3-4 hours. Hang a left at the Joshua Tree grove next to a pile of rocks that looks like an abstract sigmoid function and you're there.

When: Early-Mid September. Probably centered on weekend of September 9th, but To Be Confirmed. Main event to be something like 2-3 nights, I think, but people arriving early and leaving late is fine. There's plenty of room.

Who: Forumites and family. It doesn't matter what your WL is. Just c'mon out and let's hang.

It's a meetup, music fest, skill share, repair cafe, workshop retreat weekend, unconference, and hangout.

Vibe: You know those music fests where you camp in the woods and hippies set up composting toilets? It'll be like that. Bring your camping / dirtbag game.

The idea is we sort out The Plan here beforehand, organizing activities and things we all want to participate in, but for the vibe to be flexible for people to adjust their participation to their own intro/extroversion level. If you want to show up, participate in meals, and otherwise meditate on a rock on the mountain to the north, that's totally fine.

  • Serenity
  • The studio
  • A 12'dia canvas tent
  • A 2 person tent
  • Your tent
  • Your rig
  • It's 70acres (23 hectares). You can pitch your tent/rig right next to Serenity, or over the hill yonder, and still be on our property.
    We basically don't have neighbors.
[*]There's also a forest campground a couple miles up the way with long drops, if you prefer to be off site.

I have a compost bucket toilet, and depending on how many we expect, I'll make more. (We'll make more together?)

There's the bathroom in the main house for dire and specific emergencies, but otherwise we should stay out of the house.

I'll have buckets of staples (legumes, rice, wheat berries), bags of root vegetables, jars of cooking oils, cans of tomatoes, and the like: enough basics we'll all be well fed even if we have to hole up together for a month.

We'll organize a roster of cook teams to prepare evening shared meals and / or midday meals.

Default menu will be vegan with vegetarian adds: meat adds are fine, Ft Dirtbag is not militant vegan by any means, but if you're planning a meal for a whole group of people, don't plan 'meatloaf', y'know? This is California.

  • Skill shares
  • Tours of off grid infrastructure
  • Walks in the wilderness (there's great walking in any direction, and the PCT is 4miles away).
  • A workshop to play in with power tools
  • Stories and meals around the campfire at dusk
  • Tractor driving lessons?
  • Stargazing (new moon is September 15... bring headlamps!).
  • Music, if people bring instruments! Also dancing! I dance like a homeschooled metalhead who DGAF, fair warning...
  • Yoga
Wild Animals
Technically we have rattlesnakes, bears, black widow spiders, and cougars. They won't bother you unless you sleep outside covered in honey or pick up pieces of wood without kicking it a bit first. The only real danger here is if you wander out into the desert midday without water or a hat. Don't do that.

It will almost certainly be sunny the entire time. It will definitely be warm during the day (90'sF 32C). It might be quite warm 100-105F 37-40C). Nights will be very pleasant, possibly as low as 50F 10C but more likely low 60s F 16C.

If you're planning to travel around California, or on your way to the Southwest, Ft Dirtbag is well located. Everything SoCal is 4hrs away. It's at the base of the Eastern Sierras. You can be in Yosemite in 4 or 5 hours, or San Luis Obispo / Big Sur in 3hrs.


All right, those are my ideas so far. I've never hosted an ERE event before. I'd love people's ideas, contributions, questions, etc.

DM or email me for details about location or if you have private questions.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by ertyu »

sounds fun, have a blast, guys

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by ffj »

Good on you for taking the initiative and organizing this event.

That would be a hell of a road trip for me but it sounds like a good time.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by jacob »

Interesting! The rumors were true :)

As far as I understand, the location is very remote? Are there any transport options other than car or private helicopter? How far is it to the nearest bus stop, air port, etc.? The furthest I've ever been from civilization was Stevens Camp in NV. This was also 3-4 hours away ... but from everything! The night sky was mind-blowing. The Milky Way was in immediate view ... a band stretching from horizon to horizon. As was the optical double star (Mizar) in the Big Dipper; didn't even have to anti-squint/look out the corner of the eye. The night sky had structure. If you have young eyes under these conditions, you can even see the Andromeda galaxy with the naked eye if you know where to look. If it's anything like that, bringing a map to identify constellations might be fun.

Other than that, my main recommendation is usually to bring a list of questions/talking points. Usually people get so absorbed in meeting their fellow EREmites that they forgot what to ask.

BTW Kudos for staying true to form. Camp Mustache is something like $500. Chautauqua is north of $2,000, and FinCON is ~$200 (used to be twice as much IIRC). I always wondered why these supposedly frugal meetups needed to cost more than a bus ticket.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by AxelHeyst »

Oh, duh, should have included all of the transportation options.

First - there is a population x0,000 town 25 miles away, with a Grocery Outlet, WalMart, Home Depot, and Tesla Supercharger for all of your resupply needs. I can't comment on the quality of the dumpstering (yet). In between town and Ft Dirtbag it's just desert.

Realistically the nearest airports are LAX or SFO/OAK. Las Vegas might work, but you'd have to rent a car from there to get here, it's 4-5hrs away.

Public Transportation exists but is lean. Europeans will be horrified.

Via Public Transportation from Chicago: Amtrak to either Barstow or LA. If anyone Amtraks to Barstow, I'll come pick you up. If multiple people Amtrak to Barstow, try to coordinate so it's just one trip!

If you Amtrak or fly into LA, I'm aware of a bus route to the town but I think it's quite long. It might be easier to Amtrak up to Bakersfield station, where you can then get the Shuttle or I can pick you up.

There is a shuttle bus between town and Bakersfield MWF, that drops off within 4 miles of Ft. Dirtbag. I can pick you up from that dropoff point, or, it's a beautiful and mildly adventurous walk.

If you get to the Bay Area, catch the Amtrak down to Bakersfield, and then either the shuttle or coordinate a pickup.

Definitely confirm all the train and bus schedules ahead of time. These are NOT services that run every fifteen minutes!

Recap: Locations I can pick you up from:
Bakersfield Amtrak
Barstow Amtrak
Nearby shuttle dropoff point

Amtrak to Bakersfield
Amtrak to Barstow
Shuttle between Bakersfield and town.

DM or email me for specific locations and links.

Also, if you get anywhere close to Ft Dirtbag and have a backpack, everyone will assume you're a PCT SOBO hiker and hitching a ride won't be difficult.

The area is quite safe wrt other humans.
jacob wrote:
Sat Feb 04, 2023 11:35 am
kudos for staying true to form. Camp Mustache is something like $500. Chautauqua is north of $2,000, and FinCON is ~$200 (used to be twice as much IIRC). I always wondered why these supposedly frugal meetups needed to cost more than a bus ticket.
I will accept payments denominated in ten-kilo sacks of lentils or pallets of microeconomics textbooks. :D :lol:

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Seppia »

Fantastic idea!

1/ is there running water so that one can wash himself? doesn't need to be a full fledged shower - but with the hot weather I need to be able to stay clean.
2/ what is the cooking equipment like? gas stove? or should we do open fire? In any case I'd volunteer to cook

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by AxelHeyst »

1. Yes, there is running water! Plenty of it, and it's delicious. There is one 'real' bathroom on the property with a shower, that people can use, but obviously not everyone all at once. I'll have at minimum a 10L shower bag. I miiiiight have a more legit outdoor solar shower setup by then... but no promises.

2. I was hoping you'd volunteer to cook. :D For the big group meals, the cooks will have access to the main house kitchen. Full 4-burner gas stove and oven, instapot, anything you'd want we likely have. Serenity has a 2-burner stove. I also have a single-burner propane stove that is meant to be outdoors we can set up somewhere.

There is a fire ring outdoors on the patio and it has a grille. We can use that as long as it isn't very windy, in which case it would be a fire danger. There is also a propane BBQ.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Seppia »

This is what I need, anything over it is a luxury, so I think we'll be ok :)

I used to be fiercer but I am now old and fat and make too much money which has made me weak

For the cooking, depending on the utensils and the size of the pots I can cook for 20 people no problem with a 4 burner gas stove. I just need time which we should have plenty

I will gladly be a part of it assuming no last minute crazy work stuff. Will probably land in LA and rent a (shitty) car so if other ERErs want to tag along lmk

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Quadalupe »

Great initiative AxelHeyst, I'll be there! Do you need any help setting up beforehand?

Other ideas:

- burpee competition to settle it once and for all who the Burpee King is
- WoG workshops
- Rock climbing (dunno if it's near Ft Dirtbag?)
- Land sailing in the desert
- ...

Looking forward to it!

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by guitarplayer »

@AH do you know if it is at all possible to (multiday, possibly in conjunction with trains etc) cycle from an airport to your place?

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by AxelHeyst »

@quadalupe - yes, we could organize some climbing expeditions! There is local stuff that is suitable for beginners and intermediates, Alabama Hills are an hour away, Bishop is two hours away.

@guitarplayer I suspect the best way to fly>bike would be LAX > bus into the desert somewhere and pedal from there. Getting into the Central Valley (aka Bakersfield) is not the direction you want to approach from, I think.

Flying into Las Vegas and riding might be the most attractive from a route and roads perspective, because you get out of the city quickly, but early September might be the very, very wrong season for it unless it's unseasonably cold or you plan on riding mostly at night.

I plan on learning a lot more about long distance bicycle routes in the area over the coming months as the weather warms up and I finish projects, so I'll be updating on that as I go.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by mathiverse »

I'm looking forward to the festival!

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Bicycle7 »

I'm super excited about this! I'm definitely planning to come :)

@Axel, as others have said, thanks for putting initiative and generosity into this.

I would love to help cook group meals as well, my favorite chore is cooking dinner for roommates. Also, all of these activities sound awesome, I'd love to help organize these when I'm there.

Looking forward to it.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Colibri »

Ah ! very interesting.

We have been talking about doing a bicycle touring trip in Utah in September 2023 my BF and I. What an unique chance to combine the ERE Fest with our plans.
We looked at a map last night, looks like we could drive from Canada to Ft Dirtbag and then drive across Nevada and plan a cycle tour in southern Utah later in September. I will follow this discussions about potential bike routes. Thanks guitarplayer for bringing this up

P.S. I would encourage other female forumites to attend. We could put together workshops and talks about best ERE contraception options, how to date for ERE female, asset management, etc...

Looking forward to this as well ! Thanks a bunch AH !

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by AxelHeyst »

I am absolutely psyched at the positive interest in this. This is going to be awesome.

For people thinking about working this into travel plans - don't feel any need to only be here during whatever Official Dates we decide to organize group events around. If it works well for you to show up early or stay late as part of your trip logistics, that's totally fine. The nonCore dates can be more informal and autonomous - i.e. plan on doing your own thing and cooking your own meals more, but have free access to the property and base here to explore around.

One second order yield of ERE Fest, for me, is a sort of test run/experiment of what it'd look like to have an open-door policy to having more people here on a longer term informal basis. Like Boyle's Happy Pig free hostel.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by Crusader »

This sounds like a great idea, and thank you for organizing, AH! I am 99% going to be there, and will be happy to help with anything you need (cooking, getting supplies, chopping wood, organization...). For logistics, once we see who is coming, I think we should settle on a few core days that should be "mandatory" so that we can plan accordingly.

I will bring my own tent, and will probably fly to LAX and then take a bus, unless I join forces with other attendees (which would be great).

In terms of activities, I'll just be happy to meet everyone, but I would love to hike/explore the area, and I would love to learn how to drive a tractor! (I can already drive a stick shift so I won't ruin your clutch... if it has a clutch).

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by mountainFrugal »

Partner and I are stoked!

We can organize a clean-up crew for meals or help prep/cook.

We will bring materials and lead mini-workshops based on interest in:
Watercolor and gouache paint, inks, paper, brushes - landscapes, nature, observational
Mini-zine making materials
Nature and climbing guidebooks (for broader area)
Fly-tying materials
Star photography (partner) - Sept 9 is going to be waning crescent moon so should be dark enough

Trail-running every day. :).

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by mooretrees »

We’re definitely coming! Will be bringing our kiddo. He will be six by then. And he would love other kids.
Happy to be on the cleaning crew and to lead/guide workshops on:
- candle making
- fermenting (if the temperature permits).

I’m in for nature journaling! Also excited to talk with other ERE ladies!

Also would love to sit on a stool and watch/learn @seppia cook!

We’ll roast some fresh coffee and bring whatever mounds of veggies we can scrounge up to throw in the mix.

If we get there early we can help with picking up folks from wherever is needed.

Would also love to help with any projects you have going on AH.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by rube »

I'll probably not join but will follow this discussion with interest.
Looking in hindsight, I might have been very, very nearby @AH place last September! And yes it is beautiful but can be pretty warm (hot) during the day.

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Re: ERE Fest 2023: Ft Dirtbag

Post by UrbanHomesteader »

This sounds like a great time! Thank you AH for your willingness to host!

I'm going to put it on my calendar. It's a ways in the future, but there is a high probability that I can make it out there from New Mexico.

I enjoy being on the cooking crew for group events.

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