Gymnasium schedule at Burning Man 2015

Next week,  our theme camp Gymnasium will finally come to life at the much anticipated Burning Man festival. If you read this and plan to be there, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to visit our camp. Have a look at the schedule of our events, but keep in mind that we plan to do even more than we have announced – so stop by our camp at 7:30 Portal, and almost certainly during day time you’ll find something fun to do and learn… all in the buff!

I’ll also list naturist (and naturist-ish) events from other camps below after our schedule… and what is mind-boggling is that it’s all just a tiny fraction of all the “craziness” that Burning Man is!

  • Butt-Cheeky Run Come get your burn started – with the sun’s soft caresses on your butt cheeks! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is :) We’ll do a warm-up at the camp and then run wild in the ‘hood!
    • Monday, 31 Aug 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Naked Philosophy Nudity has the power to surprise and shock, yet why, on reflection, can something as mundane as the naked body inspire simultaneously so much passion and revulsion? To be naked in 21st century western society demands intense self-examination, the questioning and reappraisal of conventional conventions and morality. In this sense, naturism, as the cultural and political movement of nudism is often known, is an inherently philosophical practice. And what better way to do philosophy than naked? We’re sure your college seminars would have been much more fun nude. Come and join us for lively discussions, debates and story-telling. We’ll be discussing naturism, body image, sharing experiences, debating body modification, if and how laws should be changed – really everything related to the human body.
    • Monday, 31 Aug 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Sunday, 6 Sep 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
  • Discus-ish Throw in the dark… and in the buff Discus (well, LED-lit frisbee) throw competition followed by ultimate frisbee game (or regular frisbee, depending on the mood). Bare your body, but wear lights! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is :) This is our only night event, but don’t worry about cold – movement will keep you warm!
    • Wednesday, 2 Sep 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Naked Oil Wrestling Wrestling is one of the most fun sports you can ever try. It’s also one of humanity’s oldest and was among the major events of the original Olympics. Long before we were kicking balls around we were rolling around in the dirt, putting each other in headlocks! It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete novice who’s never tried it in your life or an experienced fighter, come along and experience this amazing bonding experience in Gymnasium, Black Rock City’s Ancient Greek wrestling school (7:30 Portal). We will start warming up and a workshop on wrestling basics at 10:30. This will be followed by competitions starting at 11:30. Participants will be provided showers at another camp.
    • Thursday, 3 Sep 10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
    • Friday, 4 Sep 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – an additional match at another camp, location announced on the playa ;-)
  • Naked Piggy-Back and Barrel-Run Race Bare with us for this fun athletic event! Bring your friends, but choose wisely, as you’ll have to bear them on your back, bareback… or vice versa. Great bonding experience guaranteed! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is :) PS In ancient Olympics this would have been an equestrian event, but BMORG wouldn’t let us bring horses…
    • Friday, 4 Sep 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  •  (Touch) Rugby in the Buff Rugby is a rough game, but it’s not only for buff dudes – just no touchy-feely please, even though it’s a touch rugby we’ll play. Join us if you please! Why naked? For a great bonding experience, plus it’s hot on the playa… and your costume would be destroyed in the game otherwise! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is :) Come to the playa around 7:30 Portal and look out for bouncing balls!
    • Saturday, 5 Sep 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

And here is the list of other events close to our theme:

Volleyball Fun At Sin City Volleyball Rec Center; daily; doesn’t say that it’s naked, but it’s the same camp that hosts “Tiki – Party Naked” bar
Wear Only A Smile Yoga; Tue afternoon
Naked Counseling; Tue 4:30pm
Naked skate session; Sat noon-2pm

Hope to see many of you there!

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hypnotic fire spinning… that’s our “burning” man!

This blogpost is a bit unusual for this blog, as it is dedicated to just one video, and it is more of an artistic value than informative re naturist activities. Though, of course it features a naturist, and a very active one. (On the other hand, you needn’t go much further than the previous post to see that naturism and art can be a great blend.) I shot this video when I went to Sunny Bowl, yet another naked volleyball tournament, at Sunny Rest, a nudist resort in Pennsylvania that readers of this blog may know from my reports on the annual 7k trail race there. I love these events as they attract many people who are both into sports and hanging out naked – my favorite combo – but then there is always even more to them than just sports. So, this time too, our games and parties were accompanied by excellent music with DJ Ashley Crawford and a great fire show, which is what the video is about. As I watched the original videos, I had a tune in my head that was just released right after that weekend (‘Opus’ by Erick Prydz), and somehow it clicked that it would fit perfectly to the fire spinning show. I first thought I’d select just a a few short clips and combine them into a minute long video, but after playing with different speeds, I wanted to overlay the video on the whole track. I highly recommend watching this video in the dark for the best, hypnotic effect; put it in full screen mode, turn the music up, sit back and enjoy!

On another note, watching this naked man spinning fire poi, it’s hard not to think of Burning Man – he’s a perfect personification of the festival! By the way, preparations are in full swing for our theme camp, Gymnasium. If you have a ticket and would like to join, contact us, we have place for a couple more people! Too bad that this guy won’t be there, but I’ll see him and many other naturist volleyball friends at the Naked Volleyball SuperBowl, which is right after Burning Man.

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recap of the BodyPainting Day in NYC

NYC BodyPainting Day It’s no surprise that body painting works best with naked people, and Andy Golub brings this art form to the next level by arranging massive body painting sessions in public spaces. While I thoroughly enjoyed those body painting parties that used to be quite common in New York a couple of years ago, it is a totally different experience when you get painted by a professional artist while being watched by dozens if not hundreds of passers-by somewhere like Times Square – you do feel like you become a piece of art! And that was the theme of the 2nd annual BodyPainting Day – ‘All Bodies Are Works of Art’ – Andy Golub’s  biggest event so far which he organized together with Young Naturists America. In case you missed my report from the first one last year, here it is; and you can still participate in the European gig in two weeks – BodyPainting Day in Amsterdam on the 15th of August. Don’t miss it if you’re around! Here is my recap of the event in New York just a little over a week ago, with 100 models and 70 artists! We first got painted at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.  It took 2-4 hours for some models to be finished, so it’s a pretty serious commitment for both models and artists. It turned out that my artist, Naty, and I had a friend in common, but we surely became friends too during the painting process :-)

I was covered in bright sunset colors and strings of DNA, symbolizing our deeply embedded connection with nature. Our neighbors were a mother and her son painting her. It was really amazing to see how understanding and natural they were with each other – a level of comfort that not many people reach with their parents. And here are some more of my favorite photos:

from the painting process

and a bit of posing

– luckily it didn’t rain!

– reference to last year’s theme – faces?

– my friend from FreeForm Festival; he was supposed to join my theme camp for Burning Man too but had to cancel his trip – well, at least he’s on fire here!

– just chilling on the bench :-) – Eve and the evil Serpent in one – probably my favorite work from this year!

After all that painting and posing, we were really hungry, but luckily lunch was included in the program. I bet this was the most amusing workday for that food truck! Lunch break wasn’t too long though, as we marched out towards the UN building. Some posing with police :-) Even though it’s legal in New York to be naked for art performances, police gave Andy Golub hard time during his first public body art gigs, so he eventually got a special permit. Good to see police actually being supportive of an event like this! Maybe they won’t arrest us anymore during the World Naked Bike Ride either? As we got to the UN, we were surrounded by a pretty big crowd – maybe some UN workers among them? Hopefully one day the freedom to be naked will be acknowledged as a fundamental human right – the right to be just the way you were born, and the way you are, uncovered. naturist 0000 BodyPainting Day, New York City, NY, USA Well, for now, we need events like this to be able to take a nude photo by the UN building :-) naturist 0001 BodyPainting Day, New York City, NY, USA I tried to replicate DNA double helix shape with my body; naturist 0003 BodyPainting Day, New York City, NY, USA handstands weren’t as meaningful, but when else would I get a chance to act like that by the UN? Too bad there probably was nobody to appreciate the view from those offices, as it was Sunday… I actually ride my bicycle on this bike lane a few times a week – this place will never be the same for me! :D Then we all (models, artists and photographers) got on two double-decker buses and rode around Manhattan cheering and amusing passers-by – and also being cheered back. The first stop for a group shot was at Rockefeller Center (see the first photo in this post) followed by the NYC Public Library. Then we went down to Washington Square Park, where we started dancing to the music of street musicians, so our appearance was more like a fun flashmob. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fbe1cbo5DiE During those stops we also had an opportunity to talk to people, as many were wondering about the cause. I don’t recall any negative reaction, which once again shows that by far majority of people, once confronted with nudity, don’t actually see it in a way that you might expect judging by our legislation – our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and on contrary are works of art!

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trail running race at Sunny Rest, PA

naturist 0006 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a trail race that has now become a yearly tradition for me – 4th time at the  ‘Bouncing Buns’ race at Sunny Rest, PA, with the 5th result overall out of about 130 participants. Most of my naked runner fellows couldn’t join me this time, including Casey, who came first last year but had an injury this June. My result  (30:51) has improved by a lot compared to the previous, but it wasn’t as good as in 2013 (even though I was 7th) and 2012 (when I was 3rd). But it doesn’t really make sense to compare the results here rigorously, as the track and length of the race varies from year to year. This time the trail was a bit easier in terms of lack of very steep uphills/downhills and extended parts where you had to run over wet rocks and roots, like last year, but there was more running through the tunnels of rhododendron bush and a pretty long uphill part towards the end of the race (where some of the frontrunners almost stopped). In other words, it was still lots of fun ;-)

Here is a recap video for you that we made with Peter, so you get an idea of what it was like. It was the first time I used my GoPro camera in this way, so next time it’ll be better (I have some ideas for free-running/chasing vids, stay tuned!)

Maybe you also remember that “floating bed” in the woods at Sunny Rest 2 years ago. Well, now it’s gone (pretty much entirely rotten), and the only thing left are the ropes hanging on the trees. We thought it was fun to climb walk up the trees using those :-)

naturist 0005 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

We weren’t the only ones around to climb trees

toad 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

or hang from them either…

caterpillar 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Some trees were actually full of these caterpillars – what’s happening this year? Not enough birds to eat them?)

As we went on a hike, we saw a very old rusty car in the middle of the woods,

naturist 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

which by now is impossible to guess how it got there, being completely surrounded by trees. It reminded me of the abandoned settlement of several houses, also in the woods of Pennsylvania, that we discovered 3 years ago, and where a car with bullet holes also rusted… But here, it was just this one car with nothing else around…

If you go to the edge of the forest, you may get some picturesque views of the fields.

naturist 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

But I don’t think you’re allowed to venture out [naked] onto those fields. The forest itself is quite picturesque too; here is a “field” of ferns.

naturist 0004 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Seemingly even bigger than the ‘sea of ferns’ at Lake Como resort in Florida.)

This time we witnessed the beginning of rhododendron blooming season,

rhododendron 0003 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

as this majestic bush was adorned with flowers of

rhododendron 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

fifty (???)

rhododendron 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

shades of pink.

rhododendron 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

I hope to get back to ‘Bouncing Buns’ race next year with a bigger team again, but I’ll be back to Sunny Rest Resort even sooner – the weekend of 25-26 July is SunnyBowl, a pretty big volleyball tournament there that promises to be fun! See you there?

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Gymnasium theme camp will be at a prime location at Burning Man!

I’ve got two very nice (to say the least) emails from Burning Man: my ticket has been shipped, and, even more excitingly for all of us – our camp, Gymnasium, has been placed! – and placed in the best location we asked for: 7:30 Portal & Arcade, i.e. right by the esplanade and at a very busy entrance point, not far from the Center Camp (you can see Black Rock City map here). This is truly a fantastic news, as this prime location will provide us with good traffic and attendance of our events for bigger impact; and overall we should see this news as a sign of trust in our idea.

So, if you go to Burning Man, make sure to stop by – now you know where to find us! It’s not too late to join our camp either – just send an e-mail or leave a comment here, and we’ll get in touch with you. Hopefully, you’ve got your tickets already, as we don’t have any extra, and actually a few of our crew need tickets too. (So if anyone has a spare one, please let us know!) Once again, you can read about our camp’s philosophy on its webpage.

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FreeForm Festival – first experience as a theme camp

naturist 0000 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

FreeForm Festival really lives up to its name, and after I had so much fun there last year, I was determined to come back, and even more excitingly, together with our theme camp Gymnasium. FreeForm brings together a very diverse crowd, and although you wouldn’t see many naked participants, it is officially a clothing-optional event. Our camp was the only one where nudity was at its core, but there were some occasional fellow nudies here and there, e.g. two naked fire-spinners at the effigy burn (to which I unfortunately forgot to bring my camera).  So, we saw it as our opportunity to reach out to many people who don’t have experience in naturism (or simply said, those who are not used to hang out naked) and show them the great fun that comes with nude recreation. This was also a good test for us before launching our project of Gymnasium on a much larger scale at Burning Man later this summer. We got lots of encouragement and ideas for collaboration, and here are just some highlights.

Our first event attracted about a dozen people, but only our camp members were naked. Well, we thought it was still a success, as to bring across the idea of social nudity, people should get comfortable with others being naked, and then maybe it will not be too long until they feel comfortable in their own skin too.

naturist 0001 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And our event required quite a bit of collaboration, often between ‘skins and shirts’, as it was a race that combined a piggy-back ride

naturist 0002 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and a barrel run.

naturist 0003 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

It was pure fun,

naturist 0004 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but to add a bit of competitive spirit and even more fun, we arranged a final race for the first 4 pairs from the initial run;

naturist 0005 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

for the final, the leading person had to wear a horse (or pig, in one case) mask, which partially obscured vision.

naturist 0006 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Thus, besides making it more fun for the spectators, these masks were supposed to encourage communication between riders and horses.

naturist 0007 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

At the turn from piggy-back ride to barrel-run, riders and horses had to swap, so the participants in each pair experienced both roles, though in different versions.

naturist 0008 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Just seeing these photos, it looks like barrel run in the mask was a bit more difficult to control,

naturist 0009 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but everybody made it till the end :-)

naturist 0010 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

My pair won, and is it was the only one where both participants were naked, let me conclude (admittedly, in an anecdotal manner) that  communication and collaboration work best between naked people :-)

maskot program 0000 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And the horse sort of became our camp’s mascot (we hung our program with historical references at the entrance to the camp).

Later in the day, we went to the temple area, played wind gongs

naturist 0011 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and climbed trees (because why not? This won’t be an option at Burning Man :-))

naturist 0014 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Then it was time for our nude dance workshop aka NuDance, for which we collaborated with our neighbors, ‘Priority 5’ camp – they provided the soundtrack. Thanks again, guys, in case you read this! We were really lucky to have them as our neighbors, as they had some of the best music around (probably among my 2 favorite music camps along with ‘Echo’).

naturist 000000 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

But here is a sad side note about music at FreeForm: apparently, some outdoors after-hours music sessions that were not supposed to take place kept some locals in the neighboring village awake to the extent that they filed a complaint and now FreeForm has to find a new home :-( Hopefully, it won’t be difficult for the organizers.

Then there was another event that triggered some joyful nudity – a crossover from Holi festival, where participants splash each other with brightly-colored powders. I missed it, as I was getting massage at that time, but luckily other campmates brought some extra powders, so we had our own naked celebration of colors.

naturist 0012 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And our colorful rabbit with a powerful jump deserves an extra credit :-)

naturist 0013 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We continued with Indian-inspired activities by doing yoga that turned into a symposium (as you may know from our theme camp description, this idea of drinking wine in different poses was also inspired by depictions of symposiums from Ancient Greek vases).

naturist 0015 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We discussed a bit how to increase attendance of our events next year, and one solution was obvious – we should apply for workshops at the lawn by the main stage to increase visibility and traffic.

But then our last event was very successful indeed. Perhaps because people started packing and bringing down their tents, so our camp became more visible, or simply because many liked the idea, we had a very good attendance at our oil wrestling match. Even the founder of FreeForm Festival stopped by; he liked the idea of our camp, being both very interactive and educational, and advised to get some Greek-themed decorations such as columns (which we’re already planning for Burning Man).

oiling

oiling

Quite a few people showed for our wrestling match, and then more were joining from passers by. It was a good idea to use oil for participants (and we used a good quality Greek olive oil), as this encouraged them to get naked (and all did except for one who kept his underwear, because his girlfriend was strict about that allegedly :-))

naturist wrestling 0073 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Here are just a few highlights,

naturist wrestling 0075 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

so you get an impression of how our matches went.naturist wrestling 0076 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We used sumo wrestling rules, which are the simplest of all wrestling styles, i.e. only the soles of the feet are allowed to touch the ground and you have to stay within the ring.

naturist wrestling 0077 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

The most common winning strategy was pushing the opponent outside the ring, sometimes quite vigorously,

naturist wrestling 0079 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but even then all matches ended in a peaceful manner

naturist wrestling 0080 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and the whole atmosphere was very friendly.

naturist wrestling 0081 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Another strategy was lifting the opponent and bringing him, or her as in this case, down… Though it didn’t work for me, as my opponent clung to me, and I had to extend my arm to the ground not to fall.

naturist wrestling 0006 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Lifting the opponent and carrying him outside the ring worked well too.

naturist wrestling 0058 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And some more selected moments for you:

naturist wrestling 0010 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

I really like these pictures,

naturist wrestling 0013 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

as they show interaction between people,

naturist wrestling 0017 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

many of whom are complete strangers to each other,

naturist wrestling 0024 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

while some are close friends,

naturist wrestling 0026 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but in either case, it is both very physical and social.

naturist wrestling 0046 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

At times it looked almost like a fist fight,

naturist wrestling 0050 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and then more like a dance,

naturist wrestling 0061 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but keeping it balanced was the key to maintain the fun,

naturist wrestling 0031 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

even when the opponents were of quite different size.

naturist wrestling 0143 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Which by the way wasn’t often a good predictor of who would win:

naturist wrestling 0147 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

our match showed that size doesn’t matter, but skillfulness does! ;-)

naturist wrestling 0101 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Admittedly, the matches between more similarly skilled and sized opponents

naturist wrestling 0110 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

were the most exciting to watch

naturist wrestling 0117 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and lasted longest.

naturist wrestling 0134 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And I guess you’ve been wondering – yes, we did have an all female match too!

naturist wrestling 0139 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And I’ll just finish here quoting a comment from one of them, which makes me think that our mission was accomplished: “thanks for making me feel so comfortable naked and learning how much I love how it feels!”

PS I actually love these photos so much, and I think they quite grasp the essence of the whole idea of Active Naturists and our theme camp, so here is a gallery with an extended selection for your enjoyment.

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Harriman State Park? Anytime!

naturist 0028 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ve written about Harriman State Park near New York City on multiple occasions, but I guess you won’t be surprised that I’m at it again, given that it is the most accessible location for me where I can enjoy and explore nature “as nature intended”. So as Sandy Hook has become my default beach and the latest post about it proved it’s good anytime of the day, Harriman is my default outdoors location, which I find to be great anytime of the day – and I’d like to say anytime of the year, but I’ll have to limit this statement to spring, summer and autumn, as I haven’t been there in winter.

autumn view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Last October wasn’t so warm, but we did snatch a nice hike with some skinny dipping. I have some pictures of autumnal skinny dipping in another post, but here are just great views all the way up to Manhattan (Didn’t I say it was close? The photo is pretty zoomed in though.)

autumn view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It was nice to see all those bright colors, though frankly I prefer summer green (compare to this photo of Pine Meadow Lake view from a previous post). (Not to mention that I like swimming in those lakes when it’s warm, but we’ll get there.)

autumn view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Still, the autumn colors were spectacular, especially in contrast to the dark sky on that day.

autumn view 0004 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But it’s not like summer doesn’t offer more colors than “50 shades” of green. Here is the photo of the same islet on the Pine Meadow Lake with mountain laurels’ white-pink bloom a week ago.

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And here is a close-up of one of those:

mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

these bushes provide a fabulous backdrop for naked hiking :-) (And again, you can see more of such photos in an earlier blogpost.)

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Pink and purple tones seem to be particularly fashionable in Harriman:

flowers 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ll be happy if my more botany-inclined readers will identify these plants for me,

bush bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but anyone can surely appreciate their beauty.

These wild roses also smelled sweet,

rose bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and probably to preserve that smell they close for the night, when insects wouldn’t visit them anyways.

rose bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And even young oak leaves in the beginning of May were of purple tones too.

oak bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But some berberis shrubs bring the intensity of the color to the next level!

plants 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And you can see an occasional red-leaved branch in the end of the summer, standing out among the greenery of the rest of the forest.

leaves or flowers? 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The leaves of the plant below are usual green, but the shape is quite interesting, as if the tips were cut by someone.

plants 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And some more flowers from this spring-beginning of summer:

flowers 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

viola,

bush and trees bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

berberis (green this time),

bush and trees bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and multiple white-blooming trees;

bush and trees bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

blueberry bushes also bloomed intensely this year, so we can expect a nice blueberry season later in summer.

blueberry bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Plants aren’t the only ones to please your eyes with bright colors in Harriman State Park:

eastern newt (eft) 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

orange juvenile newts (efts) are a common sight in the beginning of summer,

eastern newt (eft) 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and we also saw an orange frog!

frog 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

This frog from last summer was not conspicuous at all though,

frog 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but I wanted to take a picture of it, as it still had not finished its metamorphosis and featured a long tail.

frog 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But then there was also a lizard with an orange head, a broad-headed skink:

I waited quite a bit for it to come out from the whole between the rocks,

broad-headed skink 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and it was worth it.

broad-headed skink 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And again, for contrast, here is a less conspicuous reptile, but at the same time a lot larger and dangerous.

hidden rattlesnake 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Can you see it? If you don’t, check out another blogpost of mine, where I have much better pictures of it.

Usually insects are a part of my nature report, but this time they’ll be represented only by this vaguely seen dragonfly which photobombed a photo of a turkey vulture taken at the Turkey Pond.

turkey vulture + fly 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here is a better picture of a gliding turkey vulture. I’ve also seen wild turkeys there but have never been fast enough to snap a photo of them.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/423/18688531185_f9068c5495_z_d.jpg

A lot more exciting though was a sighting of a bald eagle! It was soaring higher than turkey vultures, but its profile was unmistakable. It is even more exciting that I’ve seen this iconic American animal so close to New York City (so as a black bear 3 years ago).

bald eagle 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Even if you don’t see a bald eagle in the sky, the sky itself may present quite a spectacle.

sunset view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We witnessed a very colorful sunset last September at Pine Meadow Lake. Just scroll down,

sunset view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and see

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how

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colors change

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and eventually

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disappear!

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The sunrise (on another occasion, in July) wasn’t as nearly as colorful,

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but the fog made it mystical.

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Well, and I’m not even nearly done with nature photos for this blogpost! Besides purely esthetically pleasing sightings, Harriman State Park provides a few possibilities for encounters that may be pleasing for the stomach too ;-)

I’ve already mentioned blueberries (and have some yummy photos of those in another post),

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but you can also find raspberries and blackberries of different varieties – look for those in the openings in the woods.

This kind of blackberry is my favorite. They usually ripen in August, after blueberries.

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Didn’t I say pink and purple were trendy in Harriman?

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Here is a pink raspberry with purple flowers!

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And even young grape leaves (early May) have a purple rim!

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You can see flower buds on this photo too, so hopefully they will develop into grapes by September, like last year. They aren’t as sweet as cultivated grapes, but you can’t be too picky while hiking in the woods – it’s great to have a snack courtesy of wild nature!

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These bright mushrooms below should probably have stayed in the esthetically pleasing category,

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as I am not sure if they are edible, but I want to think they are… I’d like to join the local mycological society to learn about mushrooms in the area on their foraging outings.

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The idea of foraging while backpacking is very appealing on many levels, but one has to be careful, especially with mushrooms.

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But I guess you can’t go wrong with the fish here! Although my father and grandfather are avid amateur fishermen, I haven’t learned much about it.

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Luckily, my new naturist fisher friends were willing to share their catch! I’m yet to buy fishing gear, but meanwhile I’ll enjoy fish as a naturalist.

Most of the fish that you see in the video are sunfish species, and what I like about them is that they are quite tame and even curios about people – they often come close and stare at you, and sometimes nibble (not painfully, don’t worry). Snorkeling at the Pine Meadow Lake may not be as colorful and diverse as at the coral reefs of the Red Sea or in Hawaii, but those friendly sunfish spawning among water lilies make it really interesting.

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I certainly like swimming in the lakes of Harriman park a lot more than in swimming pools, which are easily accessible in New York (including my workplace). Besides having more space, beautiful surrounding and fish to observe, possibility to swim naked is of course another strong factor ;-)

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If dogs can do it, why can’t we?

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These lakes are good size if you want to exercise swimming by crossing them forth and back,

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and some of them, e.g. Turkey Pond, have small islands

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providing nice resting spots…

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or nude posing opportunities :-)

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If you will to carry a kayak with you,

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paddling around is another fun way to explore and experience these lakes,

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and a great exercise for the upper body too.

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And if you want some extreme (well, admittedly, just a hint thereof), there are cliffs at Pine Meadow Lake from which you can dive in the lake.

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Nudity will make it a little more extreme and fun ;-)

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But besides exercising and observing nature, such naked outings by the lake provide nice opportunities for social bonding, and we kicked off this season with a good group of 8 butt-naked people.

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We had nice summer weather already in the beginning of May, and the water was warm enough for swimming.

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We were lucky to have one of the nicest spots at Pine Meadow Lake all to ourselves, with perfect flat rocks to sit on just above the water and in the water.

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Splashing

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and talking proved to be a great mix :-)

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And if you can’t find such nice flat rocks for your rest spot, perhaps a tree will do ;-)

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This one turned out to be good as a lounge chair and an observation deck alike!

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And if all those lakes are great destination points, journey to those (hiking) is just as good in its own merit. There are lots of well-maintained and marked trails in Harriman State Park, but bushwalking is fun too.

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Most of the time though we take known trails and consult with the map.

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The terrain and surroundings are quite diverse,

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from soft soil of the woods to rocks and cliffs.

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It’s hard to predict how many people you’ll encounter on the trails,

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but once we were lucky to have even this well-known rock formation all to ourselves.

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And just as a reminder of the “other world” (and proximity to it), once in a while you may get to a viewpoint where you can see Manhattan skyline.

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Such points are great for taking pictures (such as the first one in this post) and rest/stretching alike.

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The greenery of the forest provided a nice background, and while it appeared massive,

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we were quickly reminded about fragility of the ecosystem,

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as we saw traces of the recent wildfire.

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Luckily, it wasn’t that big (though it’s not the only instance, as you’ll see below), and we could continue our hike safely.

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But even the most active naturists need some rest after all this hiking and swimming :-)

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Sometimes a cup of tea is the only thing needed,

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and sometimes nothing at all – you just feel blessed with what mother nature provided, especially when it is a thick soft layer of moss just at the time when you want to lie down…

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Though not for too long… and if we’re not moving forward in some way, we find another activity;

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trees, dead or alive, serve well as apparatuses for exercises :-)

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When the evenings get cooler in the end of summer, it’s nice to get the last sun rays before sunset.

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Note the “obelisk”, an erect dry tree trunk in the background… This picture was taken mid-September last year, and this is what it looked like this May:

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Unfortunately, that little peninsula that we liked so much has burned out quite badly, though large trees have survived.

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We discovered traces of exploded camper stove, burnt batteries and parts of a tent, so we speculated that could be how the fire started, though we of course couldn’t tell if all this wasn’t actually the result of wildfire, simply having caught the flame. However, most likely it was a man-made disaster-ish. Regardless, hopefully nobody suffered seriously.

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Not all human activity is devastating of course, and here is an example of some rock painting art.

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Doubtfully it’s older than a century though; I couldn’t find any information online about it, so maybe for a moment we can think we uncovered art from the neolithic era… or maybe someone craftily imitated it last year :-)

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Well, the ruins of what apparently used to be a pump house by the Pine Meadow Lake are certainly not that ancient, but I couldn’t find much information on that either.

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Regardless, the ruin inspired us for more exercising and posing :-)

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I think there hardly can be any better combination for photography than decaying constructions being slowly overtaken by nature and nudes!

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I am happy to have captured all this and share it with you, and surely there’ll be more material from this summer!

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WNBR in Northern Hemisphere is coming!

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, including my current hometown NYC, the ride will be held on Saturday the 13th. You can see the list of participating cities here, though it’s not entirely updated – look up if you have a local World Naked Bike Ride near you!

You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC 2013 and 2012, Boston WNBR 2014, as well as from Madrid in 2009Philly Naked Bike Ride was in is the biggest one I’ve participated so far. As long, as NYPD doesn’t disturb us like last year, we should have a fun ride all along – come and join WNBR NYC if you’re around:
Bodies assembly at 4:00pm, ride departs by 5:00 pm sharp. Arrive early for body painting, trainings, teach-ins, and socializing! Volunteers plan on coming early!
Grand Ferry Park; final route will be communicated to riders who show up only. More details on WNBR NYC wiki page!

wnbrNYC2015

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NuDance

Active Naturists present  NuDance, a nude dance movement, at FreeForm Festival this weekend! It may sound new to you, but we see it as urban movement going back to its roots ;-)

We are about to start regular weekly classes in New York City, so if you are interested, get on our  e-mail list for updates and find out the location and timing of classes. We are launching this project at FreeForm Festival as a part of our theme camp Gymnasium. We plan to have more workshops at other festivals, including Burning Man, and outdoor locations (e.g. Sandy Hook beach), as we see nature as a source of inspiration too.

We see dance as a celebration of human body in movement, and what a better way to celebrate and appreciate it than in the nude? We also think that by removing clothes, we’ll get rid of preconceived notions of how we are supposed to move according to the social status and social group associated with clothes; also, different dance styles are usually associated with different attire, whereas we want to give your body full freedom in motion and let you move the way you want  irrespective of style. In other words, free your ass, and your mind will follow!

The class is based on various street/urban dance styles, such as hip-hop, breaking, krump, house, etc.  Electronic music and various mixes will serve as the musical accompaniment for the class, to get your energy flowing and your heart pumping while you have fun, learn and get a great workout in the process! And while these styles may appear utterly modern, many moves and rhythms are traced back to tribal and folk origins. Thus nudity will only add that authentic, raw feel, as in many tropical cultures, as well as the cradle of European civilization, Ancient Greece, dance was often performed naked.

And as a pleasant side effect, you’ll probably learn the moves better than at any other (clothed) class, because you can’t cheat your moves naked ;-)

Enjoy this preview with our brilliant instructor damoN, and stay tuned for updates! Join the NuDance Movement!

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celestial bodies at Sandy Hook

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Now that the beach season is open in NYC, here is a recap of last year’s fun times at Sandy Hook, and to complete the full circle (and start the new one!) – a couple of photos from the first beach day this year. (Well, first beach day here – as you know, I was in Miami in March :-))

Before I forget, here are useful links for the Seastreak Ferry that goes to Sandy Hook: two $25 dollar offers – Groupon 1 and Groupon 2; and $30 coupon from  website (regular price for return ticket is hefty $45).

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I’ve written on Gunnison Beach of Sandy Hook on multiple occasions (just do a search for “sandy hook” on this website for more); so if you’ve read my blog for a while, you know it’s a kind of beach where you go with with a group of friends, and even if you go alone, you end up with with a few friends anyways :-)

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… just sometimes you need to dig them up from the sand!

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With my friends, our beach day is rarely a passive pastime, as we literally jump around, and frolic in all ways possible.

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While I did some acro-yoga with one David, I was happy to see another David to be almost fully recovered after his surgery and back to do his gymnastics tricks, including a backflip.

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Looking forward to doing more gymnastics and capoeira with him this year, just like we did it two years ago! If you’re there, feel free to join us :-)

I did report about our ball games at Sandy Hook last year, and I hope to do only more of these year. It’d be awesome if we could manage to play foot-volley,

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though unfortunately one of my best friends who was good at football juggling has moved to Hawaii.

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As the evening approaches, the beach is emptying out and calms down.

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If you stay till sunset, you may be a witness of a grand show provided by our two brightest celestial bodies.

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Last year, I discovered that there is a campground on Sandy Hook. Unfortunately, if you want to stay on the weekend, you have to reserve it well in advance (most Fri and Sat nights for this summer have been booked out already)! The campground itself is not nude-friendly, but you can go back to the beach and experience it like never before.

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These are pictures from Christian and Giorgio –

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they were inspired by the full moon.

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But if you are not lucky enough to capture the full moon,

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you can enjoy the lights of a different kind:

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New York City at night provides quite a spectacle too.

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However, I was looking forward to seeing sunrise at Sandy Hook, as the beach faces eastwards.

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Arriving to the beach just before sunrise, to our surprise we were not the first ones, but it was still very different from a day scene there.

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Well, and even the ‘city that never sleeps’ looked kind of sleepy in those pale morning colors. But the sun was about to come out,

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and we looked away from the city skyline. I don’t see sunrise very often, and there is always something inherently exciting about seeing the rise of our parent star.

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It was even more exciting to experience that naked; not to mention that even in August, dawn time is a bit chilly, so the first rays of the sun were very much welcome on my skin!

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The  beach was still pretty empty,

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and shorebirds such as plovers certainly took advantage of that.

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It is always funny to see how they follow retreating water in search of newly revealed food

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and then hastily run away from approaching waves. They literally live on the edge… of the ocean.

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And here is a couple of photos from my first day at Sandy Hook this year – this past Monday. That was apparently the last week until the end of summer when Gunnison Beach was open in its entire length, as already this weekend part of it was closed for an endangered plover species to build nests in the dunes.

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No, this is not how plovers’ nests look like. Somebody had built parts of this construction, but then I found it destroyed by the strong wind later in the day. I repaired this “shrine”,

shrine 0001 Sandy Hook, NJ, USA adding an animalistic twist to it. Well, to me it was just an artistic expression, but I can bet that if it ever gets fossilized and then later discovered by future archaeologists, they will get some twisted story to explain it :D

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By the way, I have a strong suspicion of who might have initiated this construction, as someone I got to know last year built something of this kind but even more impressive. This summer has just begun though, so surely we’ll have more stories to share from this amazing place!

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