Acavallo 2012
Budget and Build

2007 STORY

photos by Heather White

We had some crazy days before we left Brooklyn - construction was still being completed as the stuff was loaded in the truck.  The truck pack went beautifully, and there was enough room for all the machine parts AND all the camp crap - tents and bags and more junk than you can imagine.  It all fit.  Of course, we loaded the truck in the rain.  That should have been a sign- the weather was not going to cooperate with us.

The trip from Brooklyn to the playa was adventure enough.  One crew left Brooklyn in the box truck, towing the trailer, followed by the van.  The trailer threatened to break in half in Ohio, and had to be loaded onto a second trailer, for hot trailer on trailer action.  Which cost a day.  But they perservered, and arrived out on playa Friday morning- slept for a bit, and then off to the races.

The second crew (myself and Daniel) flew out to Las Vegas to pick up the RV (for mama and the baby), drove it up to Reno, got on another flight to Seattle, to Spokane.  We picked up the Diamond T in Moscow Idaho, and towed it on down 95 on a borrowed trailer behind my brother's pickup truck.  The trip was smooth, and we met some interesting folks, and all was good until we got to Winemucca.  And then decided on the dirt road to Gerlach, rather than the big circuituitous freeway route.  It was 50 miles of dirt road before the second tire blew on the pickup truck- no more spares.  So let's drive the Diamond T- it's only another 30 miles.  Good idea.  About 10 miles down the road, the fuel delivery system went south.  Two competing problems- vapor lock, and a clogged intake tube from all the rust shaken loose in the tank.  Oh boy.  We would suck and blow gasoline through the lines until the truck would run, go another mile, repeat, all afternoon.  No water to rinse the gas out of our mouths, just the beating sun, rocks, dirt, sticker bushes.  We got to the playa with Daniel laying on the running board, blowing in the gas tank whenever it would stall, some 7 hours later.  Got to the perimeter fence, where the burning man agent gave us an inch of water in the bottom of a cup.  thank you.  A full cup would have been too much.  Limped along, repeating the suck/blow/swear procedure on past the airport until we reached the gate, where it totally stalled.  An hour later, we were through the gate, where it stalled again.  Finally got some gas flowing and made it to camp. Had a beer to dilute the gasoline in our blood, and then we were off to Gerlach in Slater's rental van to try and find some tires for the pickup.  Jose at the station found us a pair of tires that would work, and we crawled back out the dirt road in the rental van to rescue the truck.  Which we did- and good thing we got both tires fixed, because we popped another tire on the truck. Our mad tire changing skills came through- by the time we reached the playa, we'd changed every tire on the truck.  Oh baby.  What a relief it was to have all the rigs at camp.

Dust storms, sun, and work

The NY crew arrived early the next morning (Friday).  Right off, it was backbreaking work under a burning sun, with dirt blowing every which way - pure misery.  We unloaded the truck into piles, and set about bolting the machine together.  It all went smoothly, considering that the had never been fully assembled before.  You couldn't ask for a more inhospitable environment for a trial setup!  But everything fit together, the parts made sense, the assembly was regular and reasonable.  There were a few holes to drill, and things to figure out, but it all came together.  By Saturday we had the base frame assembled, by Sunday we had the masts and catwalk up and stabilized, by Monday we had a mostly assembled ship, missing the fire effects, but with the horses and sound system installed and working enough for a test ride. 

A big thank you to the Saturday night 'feed the artists' dinner at the Ashram Galactica- what a fabulous dinner, what a fabulous crew.  Thank you all so much, we really appreciated it, and really needed the break. 

Tuesday was our first event, which was Colonel Angus' all snob art tour.  We'd had the vehicle out once for a short cruise, and now it was showtime.  90 people got on, and we rolled the load.  Couldn't turn that good (turns out the air compressor tripped its breaker, and the airbags were slowly sinking, and the wheels started to jam on the frames... live and learn).  We cruised around a bit, until the truck started to overheat and the subs started to drag on the ground and we pulled the plug and took it back to camp.  It was a brief tour, but exceedingly glamorous, and next year will really be something.

By Wednesday the ship was really getting together, by Thursday night she was spitting fire.  Thursday night was our first real night out- Whiskey and Whores played a show, and we took off with our Raffle winners Filthy and Snatch McNasty and their wedding party for a midnight cruise.   Congratulations, Mcnasties!

Friday was Critical Tits, and we rocked a party that will never be equalled.  Albino!, a 12-piece Afrobeat ensemble, played their hearts out, right through a 60 MPH dust storm, followed by driving rain, on through to the double rainbow finish.  And the crowd just kept rocking, the horses kept rolling, the generators and the sound system stayed up, and we partied on through an incredible afternoon.

Of course, later, the the sound system failed, and both generators died, but they did their job.  Right on! 



Saturday we got out for the Burn, and post burn festivities- we rocked it all night long, and saw the sun rise at the perimeter.  It was all working then- interactive fire, etc.  So long as the generators stayed up.  We lost another one, a borrowed one at that.  Thank you, and sorry... we were down to one generator, which would run for 15 or 20 minutes, or maybe longer, or maybe less- depending on what it felt like- and then need to be restarted.  So we partied in fits and starts through Sunday- our ever present Chicken at hand to run up and restart the generator whenever it conked- all good fun, really.

How was the machine?

The machine was magnificent- handsome, sturdy, elegant even.  And rough and tumble, scrappy, and sexy as hell.  We had people all over it- dancing, shaking the rigging, this thing was built to boogie.  Every where we went, we made the party.  Our sound system was dominant, we had it going on.  Too loud, as the complaints roll in - sorry y'all, I'll turn it down next year, and leave the big bass for deep playa. 

The horses made people crazy- at night, when DJ Douggie Style was kicking it, there would be 3 people dancing on each horse- one on the head, one on the pole, one on the back- rocking it on out.  The poles were whipping, but everything held together.  Except for the welded differentials, which all came apart by the end.  So we'll rehash that.  But for sheer sex appeal, we couldn't be beat, even with some of the horses stationary.

The Diamond T pulled the load- even with 90 people on board- so long as the sun was down, she ran cool, and had no problems.  When the sun was up, it'd get hot, so we stayed at camp during the day.  But at night - look out, we were rocking.

All in all, considering the difficulties, the trip was a total success.