The good news is it’s nice and cool. The bad news is everyone is mostly in hurry-up-and-wait mode.
Hurricanes and near-hurricanes in the far Pacific are sucking all the wet air from East to West over the U.S., and the result is that Gerlach and Black Rock city have been under cloud cover for two days now, and there’s been enough rain to bring work to a halt for the time being.
The situation is similar to what happened last year, when storm cells blasted the playa a few days in, turning the 10,000-year-old lakebed into a sea of muck. Water immediately turns the fine playa dust to something like cement, and you can’t drive through it or walk through, much less work in it.
Lessons were learned last year, so when the threatening weather was approaching Black Rock City, managers told their crews to batten the hatches and put the tools away and be ready to rocket back to Gerlach on a moment’s notice. That notice came in the early afternoon, and the build crews got a snow day off.
Skeleton crews toughed it out on the playa. About 40 well-provisioned people were manning stations at HEAT, Oculus and Power, and from what we hear, they handled things quite well. Patches even made chili for the troops, and there was a burn barrel going at the Heavy Equipment yard.
The Man Base crew took delivery of three giant pieces of the Man’s giant skeleton in the morning, and when we rolled up to get a look at the proceedings, we were asked how many folks could pile in the car to get off playa, if necessary. Three. “My hero!” Mig said. We are not used to hearing words like that aimed in our direction.
The Man, by the way, will stand on two legs that are each about 75 feet tall. They are 24×24-inch laminate boards, and they are giant. His spine is about 45 feet long. Everyone in Gerlach took a minute to look at the trailer rig that was taking the lumber out to the playa.
“You lose all sense of size and distance out here,” Goatt was saying at Man Base, “but these things are huge.” Yes indeed. The Man will be huge. We wondered last year how they could ever top the giant spaceship that the Man stood on, but this is going to be pretty spectacular. Giant. Gargantuan. And relatively simple in design: A giant Man standing ten stories tall.
The joke going around is that Joe the Builder has giant nuts. And that’s true – each of them weighs about five pounds and cost about $50. And the bolts those nuts will go on are also giant. But that’s what will be needed to keep the Man standing.
Speaking of standing, it was standing-room-only at Bruno’s this morning. Most of the work crews are still bunking in Gerlach, but as soon as the Commissary tent goes up, everyone will move to the playa. But the rain pushed everything back, so everyone is still jam-packed in town. It was so crowded they set up picnic tables outside so you could have a place to sit down while you ate.
“Are they going to live-stream the meeting out here?” Effin Andy asked.
But it’s still the weather on everyone’s mind. No one really knows how hard we’ll get hit, if we get hit at all. Folks were crowded around Playground’s laptop, looking at the radar weather maps she had called up.
“I don’t think we’re gonna get it,” she said. “I think it’s going to curve around us. … But I only took one meteorology class in college.”
“I think we should work till we can’t,” Coyote said.
So that was the order for the day – get out there and get done what you can get done, and be ready to hightail it back to town if necessary.
Morning notes: Haul Road, the main in-and-out route to get to Black Rock City now, is in as bad shape as we’ve ever seen it. There is talcum-like powder half a foot deep in places, and when you hit it in your vehicle, things go a little sideways. The plan was to water and roll it today. … Crews were told to keep radio communication short and to the point, because the chatter is quite thick. And they were also told to keep things polite and professional, too. “There’s a lot of people out there listening,” Logan said. … On the social calendar is the dress-up Manhattan party at the Saloon tonight, plus karaoke at Joe’s Club next door. One person who really knows how to plan ahead has brought bourbon-soaked peaches for the Manhattan party. We’ll do our best to get a first-hand report.