I stared at the chain link hoping for inspiration.

None came.The day before I cooled my heels in front of a North Temple apartment complex waiting for a Soviet official to come and utter something - anything - about his first few days in Utah.

Such is the life these days of a reporter assigned to cover the arrival of Soviet arms-control inspectors in Utah.

The story itself is drawing sizable national attention.

Reporters from heavyweights like Time, Newsweek, the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle and ABC and CBS TV are here alongside the local media to chronical the events leading up to the historic arrival - probably Saturday - of 22 Soviet inspectors who will live in the Salt Lake Valley and monitor American compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty for the next 13 years.

Another team of up to 10 Soviet inspectors is also expected to fly in from San Francisco Sunday to make a spot-check of the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah's West Desert as part of the treaty's activities. Weapons banned by the treaty were tested at Dugway between 1980 and 1985.

Most reporters, however, have been hard pressed to find a new daily slant on a story that is beginning to wear thin already.

Which is what brought us to Magna Thursday.

The promised media event: a briefing and one-time-only tour of Hercules, where the Soviets will operate a portal inspection station.

Few wanted to listen to company officials or members of the On-Site Inspection Agency rehash facts and figures about the treaty and its parameters - most of which we'd heard three or four times already.

We did anyway.

We were anxious for a chance to pile into one of several vans Hercules was providing us and other VIPs to take a tour of the portal area where the Soviet inspectors will actually set up shop.

It seemed a natural angle: The Hercules the Soviets will see. . . .

An opportunity arose earlier in the week to take a similar tour of the Dugway Proving Ground, where the Soviets will be permitted spot-checks under the treaty.

I passed it up, thinking it would be hot and ugly.

But with the respite from the heat wave, I figured Hercules would only be ugly.

I forgot about boring.

We drove the well-publicized perimeter road, which is surrounded by double 8-foot-high chain link fencing topped with barbed wire - the Magna Wall. It's easily the most visible of $2 million in security improvements made by Hercules in anticipation of the Soviets' arrival.

Traveling along the 2-mile-long dirt road, which the Soviets will also have access to, we saw the outside of buildings and little activity, other than a young doe bounding across the sagebrush landscape.

This is the Hercules the Soviets will see.

When we stopped at the portal site itself there was little of note except for a pair of temporary trailers where the Soviets and their U.S. escorts will stay until a permanent portal inspection structure can be built. A panoramic view of the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island, downtown Salt Lake City and the Oquirrh Mountains is afforded from the site, however.

The question on everyone's mind was: "Can you imagine spending the next 13 years here?"

Reporters mingled with company and government personnel, looking to pry loose even the smallest kernel of new information.

During a moment of candor, David E. Thompson, Hercules Bacchus Works manager, openly admitted he'd rather the Soviets weren't coming.

"Hercules isn't going to win on anything here," Thompson said. "We're not going to make a profit.

"I don't want to sound grubby - like I'm not for peace - but the best Hercules can do on this is break even. And you hate to play in a game where the best you can ever do is break even," he said.

One man's poison may be another man's meat.

Like the driver of our van, Lon Halterman, who realizes he has the Soviets to thank for his new job.

Halterman, who formerly worked for Gold Cross Ambulance and more recently for the University of Utah Police Department, is one of about 30 additional personnel hired by Hercules to beef up security.

Halterman said he likes the job security afforded by the 13-year treaty. He said most of the new hires are certified police officers, most of whom were surprised by the intense amount of preparation they've undergone during the past three weeks - more intense than that accompanying most other law-enforcement jobs.

When we returned from the tour, I noticed notebooks were filled, despite a seeming void of new in-formation.

Stories still had to be written. And the endless search for a new way to tell an old story would renew again tomorrow.