Updated: Aug 3, 2021
There is something about heavy equipment that has a distinct allure. It may be because it gives us this superhuman power, or that it’s faster than by hand, or maybe it just simply feeds our childish wants to play in the dirt. Whatever it is, it’s amazing.
Some call it liquid steel, but what I’m talking about is the hydraulics, the real meat and potatoes of where that unearthly power comes from. Essentially you’re smashing fluid that can’t be smashed anymore, it's already in its most compressible form. You’re squishing that metal juice and it in turn is pushing whatever is holding it back.
Picture a raw marshmallow in between your two Graham crackers, one of the Grahams will break with enough pressure before that raw marshmallow does.
I actually think that was a terrible analogy, but my mind wanders toward food by default.
Hydraulics is the sexy technology that allows machines to show off and defy what we know to be possible on normal occasions. What would take us longer than an elephant pregnancy, only takes fractions of time with mechanical advantage.
Constructing a rock wall is an art of sorts. It can be clean lines with classy geometry, or it can be abstract like a Vasyli Kandinsky painting, but without the Soviet Union supervision part.
Establishing a level grade is important like clean underwear on the first day of school, you want to be sure to make a good impression. The initial line that you cut into the acclivity will be your point of reference for the job. If you’re aware, you’ll check back in with the earth laceration like you would a quiet toddler, making sure all is well.
Now it’s time to set your first rock. I feel like I’m overusing the term rock.
These aren’t normal rocks that you’d paint and then hide in a state park for grandma Marg to find after her 3pm bingo tournament down at the clubhouse.
These are mountain turds.
Massive boulders that your uncle Rick and 5 of his drunk buddies after poker would dare each other to push over, only to succumb to the massive weight of the obese stone.
Those 6 pickled boneheads won’t budge these voluptuous rocks. You need robot blood. You need hydraulics.
Once the first Mt. Baker kidney stone is set, you can begin lining his buddies up next to him. Every rock has a face to it, it’s just deciding what mood you’re in when building the wall.
You can do the “teenage girl” look with the jagged frown face, or go with a flat blocky look, like a JuCo football transfer who is juicing because they don’t have a drug test policy in the smaller leagues.
Whatever look you’re going for, you still have to find it. It’s not as simple as picking it up and choosing it like you would with your favorite morning coffee cup.
It needs to be tossed around like an angry bull in a car dealership with only red VW Bugs. You have to find that face and god forbid that you drop it in the mud.
Have you ever seen the movie “Predator” when Arnold covers himself in mud to hide from the infrared technology of the alien hunter?
Yeah, neither have I.
Anyway, it’s like that scene in the movie, if you can picture it. They need to be placed with care otherwise you’ll lose that perfectly
Once you get a good rhythm, you just need to run with it or you’ll start to second guess yourself. It's equal to talking yourself out of asking that special someone to prom. Once you make a decision then you need to go with that gut feeling.
If you take a step back it may look like the ruins of Pompei instead of the Roman Colosseum that you were shooting for.
You have to trust your instincts and keep pushing forward on construction. Otherwise, you’ll self-sabotage like a 3-year-old counting to 10.
“What’s next?? I’m pretty sure it was 7, but it might be 6??"
Just go with it. You’ll get to 10 either way. Who really cares what’s first?
Stay tuned for another post when we get into stacking the second row, things could get dicey.