This trip was one of the more important four-day periods in Midian Ranch’s development. With various financial negotiations having been concluded between Hero Games
and Consolidated Publishing in Berkeley, it had become time to unite all of Hero's "back catalogue" into one location out at our ranch, thus setting the stage for Tina's eventual transformation into the Hero Games shipping manager out at the Ranch. Thus, T. will have achieved the nigh impossible task of moving from one of the most
densely populated places in America to one of the least
densely populated without changing jobs
. Kudos to T.!
I arrived in Reno at around Noon on Saturday. Chris Karma and I met up at Twin City Surplus, where we purchased twenty feet of heavy industrial shelving for use inside of the Warehouse. Then we went to Lowes and got around two-dozen ten-foot lengths of 2x6 for use as the actual "shelves" in the shelving. After spending the night at Chris’ apartment we went out to the ranch, where the two of us radically cleaned and rearranged the inside of the 1000 sq. foot warehouse building to maximize space. Then we stayed up late into the winter night cutting three foot plus lengths of board to shape. When we were finally finished, we had professional quality shelving in place and ready to go.
The next day the two of us went over to Dog Ranch to help Ron with some manual labor in exchange for the use of his forklift. Somehow I managed to drop a metal and glass fire extinguisher box ten feet down onto my head while disassembling some shelving. This hurt, but not nearly as much as the idiotic stunt I would accomplish later in the day (see below). When I was finished injuring myself I attempted to drive the forklift back to Midian Ranch. Unfortunately, I only got half way down Jackson Lane before the engine conked out, stubbornly refusing to start for more than a few moments at a time. Bewildered, I spent the better part of an hour nursing it back to Ron’s place before I figured out that the petcock had been turned off, choking the engine’s diesel fuel supply down to fumes. It’s shocking that it ran at all, which only goes to show how efficient that type of engine is.
With this figured out, I drove the forklift back to Midian at the breakneck speed of about ten miles an hour. Needless to say this took some time. If high-speed thrills are your bag, I don’t recommended driving a Bobcat cross-country. Now there was nothing to do but wait for Darren, Tina, and a truckload of some 1200 (yes that’s twelve hundred) boxes of Hero books to arrive, thus creating a true Hero Games warehouse out in the Black Rock Desert. Unfortunately, patiently waiting for things to happen isn’t one of my strong points.
I have always subscribed to the view that idle hands are the Devil’s playthings. Certainly it seemed unwise to just let the forklift, you know, sit there when there was all sort of industrial level tidying up to be done. It’s like when you’re a kid and there are all of these big toys scattered around the floor, cluttering everything. You just know that you’ve got to clean them up or your room won’t
look right. So I started moving things with the forklift. Big things like A-frames, welding machines, and trailers. All of which went along swimmingly until it came time to move the old tractor over-carriage I was storing next to the Workshop. Like an idiot, I decided that it would be a good idea to move it lengthwise with one fork into position next to the A-frame in the material’s yard. Unfortunately I hit a bump and, with a jolt, the entire one-ton over-carriage swung to the left, came off of the fork, and swung backward into the cage of the Bobcat. It also came extremely close to chopping off my left leg above the knee, a fate that I have no idea how I avoided (though I am certainly happy that I did). It also dropped off the forks in just the right manner to freeze the entire rig’s hydraulic system in one place.
With the help of Chris, Ron, and Dahlia (both of whom happened bye during this embarrassing escapade), I managed to free the forklift by literally chopping through the back swing arm of the over-carriage with my sawzaws; a process that involved rivers of hydraulic fluid, cursing, and general filth. Fortunately neither the Bobcat nor myself had suffered any real damage, although the over-carriage moved from the “useful farm implement” family to the somewhat less useful category of “lawn ornament” in the process. Also, I was seriously embarrassed - which for a man with an exaggerated sense of hubris is far worse than being seriously injured.
Meanwhile, back in the Bay Area, Tina and Darren where having a particularly miserable time rustling their load of boxes out of Consolidated. The truck driver had suffered a half day delay in arriving at their warehouse, a delay which was further exacerbated by a three hour loading process. It was midnight before they got to the ranch. It was a cold, dark 1:00 a.m. before the truck arrived; which wasn't entirely a bad thing, as the ground had frozen solid by that time making the operation of the forklift considerably easier. Not that "easier" is the same thing as "easy," of course: more than a few times I could feel the entire Bobcat teeter-totter beneath me as it struggled to interpret the delicate physics dance of pallet, lift, and diesel engine block. Still, three and a half hours later we were done. The Warehouse was packed to the doorway with books, with five more massive pallets lined up along the wall in the Workshop.
The next few days were easy as well as relatively pleasurable. The five of us (Chris, Tina, Darren, the truck driver, and myself) all slept for six hours, had breakfast, then set about various minor tasks... well, the truck driver had to go get another load up in northern California, so his task wasn't particularly minor. Chris Karma went back home to Reno while Darren worked on some writing. Tina and I performed various minor repair and improvement tasks around the ranch until nightfall, when Darren and I settled in for an evening of classic horror movies: The Wolf Man, The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein, and The Killer Shrews. The later amusingly stars a youthful James Best
, better known to most Americans as Sherif Rosco P. Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazard.