This was not, overall, a particularly good trip. On my way out to meet my father at Incline Village, a stray bit of malicious gravel cracked my windscreen. Infuriated, I proceeded to curse, fume, and generally ponder dark and wicked thoughts with such an intensity that an hour later I didn’t notice that I’d run out of gas. Fortunately, I was on the eastern side of I-80 heading downhill and managed to coast in neutral for ten miles at a speed of about 50mph, gliding into the gas station at Donner Summit with an asthmatic gasp of vapor still haunting my tank. Donner Summit. How I hate that little pimple of a town. When I die I expect to be forced to spend a thousand years there in a sort of Californian purgatory before being judged and sent to my final reward. This marks my sixth misadventure associated with that misbegotten place. I know it well: the rundown, Swiss chalet-theme hotel run by obvious amphetamine addicts, the overpriced restaurant staffed by desperate young women, the service station mechanic with a lazy eye.
Anyhow, I met my father for dinner at the Incline Hilton, which was actually quite nice. That was definitely the high point of the weekend. From there I drove out to the ranch. Which was a mess. The mother-of-all-windstorms had come through a week before, ripping the lower property’s generator shed completely off of its mounting bolts and flinging it across the materials yard. It bent my shiny new flagpole. It had also lifted the office off of its piers - an effort that required pulling several five-foot mooring stakes out of the ground - and flung it three feet downhill. All of my carefully built skirting, assembled over two separate three-day visits, was shattered into so much kindling. Everything that wasn’t tied down at Midian had been hurled twenty feet in a random direction. Simply put, I found myself in rancher hell.
So, as best I could, I fixed things. I fastened the generator shed back to its slap with six news redhead bolts. I cleaned up what was left of my carefully (dare I say lovingly) assembled skirting, or what I shall now think of as firewood. With as much cleanup as I could manage completed, I set about the ten-hour task of rewiring the entire battery bank. This was exhausting in that it involved moving roughly 2800 pounds of batteries around. If was frustrating in that it required me to spend six hours organizing hundreds of feet of wiring. It was rewarding in that the entire bank is now ordered, expandable, and considerably easier to understand. It also doesn’t look like a bomb went off in the battery shed anymore, which has an esthetic value that transcends mere functionality.
Chris Karma was out at Dog Ranch working for Ron when I got over there the next morning. He seemed in good spirits, having recently expanded his personal armory to include a Marlin lever-action .357 Magnum rifle, a Springfield M1A .308 sniper rifle, and a custom AR-15 chambered for .556 with a TOS Predator Upper receiver. The later is the most interesting of the bunch, a frightening looking firearm that puts the “black” in black rifle. It’s festooned with handles, flashlights, and holographic sights of every conceivable description like some kind of assault weapon Swiss pocketknife. Barbara Boxer would probably keel over from apoplexy at the mere sight of the thing.
I also managed to get hold of Tom, the modular home moving guy. He was transporting an office unit similar to mine (only a lot nicer) to Dog Ranch…. practically the only place in the entire Black Rock Desert harder to find than Midian Ranch. Tom wasn’t in a very good mood when I found him, lost and fixing a flat tire on State Route 34. He’s agreed to come back out to Midian and fix the damage the storm wrought. For a price, naturally.