Keeping It Between the Lines

uploaded in the middle of Nevada via a Verizon modem

1:50 AM and the engines finally start, in preparation to put the pedal to the metal. Mo and I made a great travel itinerary… for a 5 PM departure! So our planning has been thrown out the window for the first leg to Denver. That first leg might be a non-stop leg, with rotating drivers, all the way through to Wyoming. I’m riding shotgun on Julia while bus-master David Satore, who had driven veggie and bio-deisel buses since 2003. We just hit the Richmond Bridge at around 2:15 AM, and David didn’t get close enough to the toll booth. I had to hop out and pay the person $6, and get my receipt. Waved to Jonathan while I did it, thinking “look at me! I’ve joined the freak show.”

Today started around 8:30 AM for me. No one woke me up, and the foggy morning weather kept me in my cubby later than I thought. Soon after a breakfast of cereal and fruit (woo hoo!), and some strong mate that Marty made, I got to work trying to road manage this monster. Moe said she’d help tag team the road mgr duties, so off we went, getting things moving and trying to keep communication flowing. My favorite moment of the morning was watching the graff kids paint up the signs for Pricilla at the same time the professionals installed wrapped sinage on Julia.

We had a meeting/check in around 1 PM to see where all the projects were along the progress meter. Shopping had been chaotic during the day so Geoff took that on for the afternoon. Zach got the “not going at all” piles moving into Jonathan’s Wonder Truck. Things got checked off the To Do list. Items like: “install generator,” “buy motor oil,” “make cushions,” and “cover ceiling.” Once the trailer loading began, the carnival piles began go disappear. The “no go” piles began to go away, and for a brief moment, Moe and I thought that we’d get out of here around 6 PM.

I even slipped away to take a shower at David’s house. Someone told me that I had a photograph of his wife, a belly dancer named Zoe, in Stencil Nation. Maya World of Stencils had snapped a photo of a stencil of Zoe. I asked David about this, and he asked “is it for sale at MOMA?” “It is, actually,” I answered. Zoe showed up a bit later to get a pick up for David. His bike tire had gone flat. I asked Zoe about the stencil and she said that the artist had made a series of stencils based upon some photographs of her. She bought a book without a second thought.

Things began to lead to another, and our departure kept getting delayed. I started calling them “Steve Jobs” moments. Whenever he gives his keynote speeches, he always says, “oh, and another thing….” So “another thing” kept happening. Zach had to drive his car to the Marina in Berkeley. We had to move a pile of merchandise into the office, after people had put them in neat, palate-sized stacks. The signs got finished late. Jonathan wanted signage for the trailer and it took forever for the file to upload off of Veronica’s laptop.Then Jonathan remembered that he needed to find a place to store the unused step vans for two months. He started Plan A with Skot Keiper, while I got things moving for a Plan B or C.

Finally, when it felt like we had done everything, we’d hit about 9:30 PM. The final “Steve Jobs” moment landed when David Satore announced an hour delay due to our waiting for a mechanic from Antioch. Julia needed an intake valve clamp replacement and David had tried to do it himself. After another attempt at fixing it, the task was forgotten for the rest of the day. Until David remembered and worked out the mechanic drop-in.

So we waited. Waited some more. The mechanic showed up, so we waited while he did his magic on Julia’s intake valve. Kept waiting. I killed time going through out two atlases and tabbing pages with the states that we’re driving through. I highlighted the route along the Interstates, and Moe had printed up Google maps of our Salt Lake City errands. We have a hard deadline in SLC: we must pick up the truck by 6 PM. Can’t miss that! So my guess is that we’ll drive all the way through to SLC since the margin of error is so slim now.

I had an optimistic feeling that we’d get out of Oakland around 8 PM, giving us wiggle room down the road towards Denver. Now, with a 1:50 start, I’m afraid the worst has happened and we’ve blown all our breathing room breaks all the way to Denver! But I’m trying to be optimistic! After hour 14 of running around in an almost futile effort to get on the road, I glazed over and called it a day. Fixing up the atlases and doing two final head counts with the engines on were my last duties.

We’re in an actual caravan at the moment. Not the English pull-trailer caravan, but two buses and a biodiesel pick up all in a row. David has seen sparks flying off the trailer. Earlier today, Skeets installed two break lights for the trailer. He did an excellent install job, but they didn’t work when we tested them. Turn signals just made both of them blink. So Skeets pulls the carnival games in the middle.

I can report that the Orange Bus, the piece of crap step van that the former child star gave to SLR, is now stowed away in a location where the solar install can be safely kept. It cost about $1,000 to put the panels on, so I guess that’ll all get worked out at a later point.

3 AM and outside of Davis. Most of the To-Do list is done and what we packed will ride with us. Yesterday, during our check in dinner/meeting, a friend stopped by to wish us luck. He handed David a button/badge that he’d had for about 20 years. “Ken Kesey gave me that button,” he told us. The diamond-shaped button asks “Are you on the bus or off the bus?”

Looking out the window of Julia the Prevost bio-diesel bus (with the destination sign reading “AARP convention”), I can say without a doubt, “Yes, I’m ON THE BUS.”