Midian Ranch Blog

This is the web log for Midian Ranch, an isolated homestead in rural Nevada. It is owned by Jason and Tina Walters, whom are also its regular posters. This blog is exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of our friends, family, and colleagues.

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Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

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The Big Four O, Fires, and a Mongolian Living Room

Not to be outdone by California, Oregon, and Washington, northern Nevada is on fire right now. Smoke chokes her skies during the day and her hills glow devilishly during the night. Lightening hitting hilltops during storms have started most of these fires - which technically speaking makes them part of (queue music) The-Cycle-Of-Life. But when your doublewide is gone, it’s gone, and how good that is for the salt brush and field mice is a somewhat moot point.

The State gives each of these massive fires its own name. Right now the Hawkins Fire is attempting to relieve Reno of its burdensome western suburbs. That probably means something profound, but I have no idea what it might be. Don’t build houses for affluent Californians out in the brush? Go to church more often? Buy a surplus fire truck? Maintain your firebreaks? All of the above? Only the Big Guy knows, and He generally prefers us to figure these things out for ourselves.

Tina turned the big Four O this week, which made for a lot of drinking. A small group of friends and family members came out to the ranch to join us, including Tina’s sister Keri, her husband Gary, his brother Chris, fellow author Thomas Rafalski, and his charming wife Yo-Mi. (I probably didn’t spell that right.) It was hot – maybe a bit too hot – but we had a good time setting up Gary’s yurt. I was fascinated by the damn thing. I want one now! It was the size of a living room! Back in San Francisco I lived in apartments way, way smaller (not to mention less comfortable) than the inside of this crazy Mongolian tent. It had a 20-foot diameter, enabling us to set up a hammock, two chairs, a table, and a bar inside. It was also quite comfortable inside in the 90 plus degree weather.

I’ve taken it down now, but I find the yurt to be such a wonderful structure that I’ve been inspired to create a semi-permanent version for our ranch in the spot where we put it up. I believe that I’ll pour an actual foundation and make permanent walls that bolt onto it, but leave the rest of the arrangement temporary so that it can be taken up and down at will. Or something like that – I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’ll take pictures as I create it.

In any case, I would like to thank not only all of you who traveled all the way out here to help celebrate Tina’s birthday, but also those of you who called or wrote to wish her well. Your thoughts are appreciated and your absences are always acutely felt.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ranch House In Summer: Hey, Where Do I Sleep?

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Desert Sunrise

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Desert Flower In July

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Dress For Succes

Hawaiian Shirt? Check. Dust Encrusted Sandals? Check. Kilt? Check. Five-Dollar Mexican Fishing Hat? Check.

What can I say? I dress a little eccentrically around the ranch. What the Hell: odds are good that if you’re kicking around the Black Rock Desert, you’re not exactly dressed like a GQ model either. There are several schools of dress out here in the summer. The first and most popular is Traditional Cowboy: boots, tight jeans, open necked cotton shirt, hat, and scarf or bandana around the neck. It has the advantages of being rugged, practical, and it protects you from the sun. It also has the disadvantage of being a bit on the hot side…. not that you want to be wearing Bermuda shorts when herding cattle.

The next school of dress could be called Classic Desert Rat: Hawaiian or baseball shirts, stained jeans or camouflage pants, flip-flops, faded tattoos, and a baseball cap. All covered in a comforting layer of Playa dust. I tend toward this look myself; only I like to wear shorts (or my UtiliKilt, but only on the ranch) in the summer. It has the advantage of extreme comfort, but the disadvantage of looking like Hell – not that anyone gives a damn.

The final school of dress (excluding the Mennonites over in Smoke Creek) could only be described as Burning Man: kind of a cross between Cowboy, Desert Rat, and San Francisco Alternative Freak. Leopardskin cowboy hat, boots, tooled leather vest, green hair, strange goatee, and a glazed over look to the eyes. I kind of like it, but I don’t want to be it, if you know what I mean. It has the advantage of being strange, but the disadvantage of getting you hit on by even stranger people in Gerlach’s bars.

Completely unrelated to the world of low fashion, I’ve been spreading gravel around the buildings lately. Since I lack the proper equipment to do the job, I’ve hit on what I think might be a novel method. I strap four buckets to my quad. Then I drive down to the dry riverbed, rake the rocks into piles, and shovel them into the buckets. I drive the quad to the location I want to gravel, dump the bucket out, and rake them out evenly. This method has the advantage of being extremely inexpensive and simple, but the disadvantage of being a whole lot of work! Oddly, the quality of gravel I rake out of the old riverbed is way higher than the stuff that “fell off of the back” of a Washoe County Road Department truck (God bless them). I can’t recommend harvesting gravel as a hobby, though.

Other than that, I just keep on working away at things as I wait for the house in Richmond to sell. I have BIG plans for things I’m going to do out here once that happens, but until then there’s really not much I want to buy anyhow. Which is fortunate, as there’s no place to get anything in the Black Rock Desert!