Yes, It Rained Again. And This Time We’re Frikken Jealous

There was a rainbow after the rain. Somehow we know that the folks in Black Rock City were doing ok. Maybe more than ok.
There was a rainbow after the rain. Somehow we knew that the folks in Black Rock City were doing ok. Maybe more than ok.

So your Johnny-on-the-spot correspondent is feeling decidedly not on the spot.

Because it happened again – another downpour has shut the roads in and out of Black Rock City. There are pools of standing water all over the place. Meanwhile, we’re stuck in Gerlach. Again.

As D.A. put it, “I’m not sure if they’re stranded on the playa as much as we’re stranded in Gerlach.”

It’s definitely the latter.

The day got a very late start because of yesterday’s storm, but another one came rolling in this afternoon at about the same time. It poured hard rain for a half hour or so. Some folks fled the onslaught, others hunkered down in place. Still others, like us, were not on the playa at the time and thus are left to sit in town and wonder about what we’re missing out there as we nurse a drink in Bruno’s.

True, today wasn’t nearly as dramatic as yesterday, but the effects were no less severe. Deliveries to the playa stopped. Work had to be put on hold. The planned move of DPW trailers from Gerlach to the playa had to be delayed, again.

No way out. Or in. Booya tried to get word via radio to the folks inside.
No way out. Or in. Booya tried to get word via radio to the folks inside.

But when the questions come years from now about where you were and what you did when the big rains hit, we’ll first lie and say we had the wildest craziest time ever as we crashed at the commissary. But eventually the truth will come out and we’ll confess and say we had to amuse ourselves by watching Cleo, the waitress in Bruno’s,  expertly handle the unexpected crowd there with appropriate  amounts of charm and contempt.

“Get out of my way if you don’t want to get run over,” she told a group of guys lollygagging about picking a table. “We’re out of the special,” she barked at another table. “We’ve got hamburgers and hot dogs, that’s it.”

She wasn’t apologetic in the least. She was taking care of business. “I’ve been doing this for 52 years,” she said, “That’s long enough.” Cleo had told us last year that she was going to retire, and she did – for two days. “They really wanted me to come back,” she said between taking orders, delivering plates and writing up checks. “But this year I’m really going to do it.”

We’ll see.

The bar at Bruno’s was also packed. Not DPW-stacked-to-the-gills packed, but really busy with people unexpectedly stranded. Was it busy for a Friday night? “Are you kidding?” Lacey asked from behind the bar. “We’ve got 12 drinkers in this town, and four bars, so yeah, this is busy.”

Meanwhile, we listened in to overheard radio conversations (we didn’t get a radio this year, which actually may not be the worst thing that’s ever happened). There was standing water at Point One. One truck got stranded between United Services and Point One. Man base wasn’t as hard hit as yesterday, and the wind didn’t seem as fierce as the day before. Will and Crimson pulled up to 12 Mile and said that more squalls were on the way. “They’re popping up all over,” Will said.

You could see the standing water in Black Rock City from a hill overlooking the playa.
You could see the standing water in Black Rock City from a hill overlooking the playa.

 

Coyote will go out and monitor the conditions again later tonight. The Gate staff will guard the road and keep everyone out, but they’ll let pass the non-Burners who are gathering on the playa to view the Perseids meteor shower this weekend

Tomorrow we’ll we’ll try again to get out there and join the work and the fun. We’ll have to listen to one nutty outrageous story after another from the 250-plus people who could no longer come or go from the playa. We’ll laugh and be good sports. And we’ll have plenty of raucous stories of our own.

“Did you hear they ran out of the special at Bruno’s??”

Meanwhile, because the road was closed, PortaPotties were being stored in a standby lot down the road.
Meanwhile, because the road was shut, PortaPotties were stored in a standby lot down the road.

About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

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