Water Tower Barbecue

How to spend a weekend in Gerlach

Spacebag says have a goddamn burger.

It’s a serious gig, this DPW thing. We number over 80 now, and my little room has four girls sleeping in it. The trains pass directly behind the trailer, which shakes as they go by. Breakfast is at 6 am (which, for most of us, means waking up at 5:55 and jumping straight into our boots). And if you miss breakfast, then you miss lunch: everybody fixes their sandwich in the morning, before they go out for the day’s work. The work itself ranges from helping out in the office, to gardening and cleaning, to welding and construction. Because there’s a short timeline and a lot of work to be done, everyone has a schedule to keep, and they do what they have to do to get the job finished in time. With a few exceptions, that means working right through the weekend. Today, I was lucky enough to have the day off, but let’s just assume that won’t last, okay?

Yesterday was my last day with the Survey team: their job isn’t finished yet, but tomorrow I start working in the metal shop. In honor of it being Saturday and all, and because the survey is going smoothly and ahead of schedule, we had a short day out there. We laid out all of the Promenades leading out from the Man; then Coyote called it a day and we all drove out to Squaw Reservoir to swim in some nice cool water for a change. In this heat, a natural mountain lake is, in Coyote’s words, “a little slice of Paradise.”

We rolled back into Gerlach at about 5:30, just in time to arrive fashionably late for the town barbecue at the water tower.

The Gerlach Water Tower is almost one hundred years old, and made of redwood. It’s also right next to the Burning Man office, and sits in a little green park with big shady trees. For the past week or so, there’s been a big cherry picker sitting out next to the tower every day: Super Dave and Andy Luna have been fixing up the roof.

They got it done just in time for the barbecue, which is an annual party for Burners and locals to eat good hamburgers (thanks to Spacebag) and drink beer in the shade. When we got there, the crowd was mostly DPW, but more and more locals showed up to hang out. I think we even managed to get a few people coming over from the bar to check out the scene – especially once the music started. With Quinn on drums, Coyote on sax, Flanders on bass and Stoopid (aka Kevin) on guitar, the band kept our party crowded and happy through the evening.

Late in the evening, a storm rolled in, and Degenerate started calling out Rainbow Alerts (“Hey, there’s a rainbow over there, for all you rainbow-watching hippies.”) The willow tree started to undulate and whip its branches in the hot wind. Soon the Doctor, DPW’s Minister of Silliness, joined in along with Mama Wolf and some of the kids.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew headed to the Club to kick off their Saturday night, DPW-style… a different story altogether, that. Maybe I’ll tell you another time.

So listen, you probably read this in the latest JRS, but it’s still kinda cool: go watch life unfold in real time, at the Gerlach Webcam! mrfang got a nice shot of the barbecue in full swing last night (scroll down, it’s at the bottom of the page).

About the author: The Hun

The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.