Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I made it to Slidell. I've got extremely spoty cell phone coverage at the campsite. My buddy Gordon is orchestrating the construction of a bio diesel processing plant & solar farm that will eventually be selling at cost fuel to grass roots relief organizations.

They just tore done the house he's been staying in, so he's in an RV, we're still cooking and craping outdoors though (not in the same place). We got wifi and electric. I plan to once again catch on work and then we're going to paint the bus and rehose the fuel pump... maybe I'll get another one to keep in my pocket...

Get the Skinny on the road trip to NOLA.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Over Pass Texas

The bus has 2 brand new batteries thanks to DG & BMcG. The old batteries were testing as Bad/Weak/Replace; when fully charged. so we thought that might be the "alarm" issue. Also, since the "alarm: would not repeat it's performance for the guy who could fix it... I've been instructed to disconnect the battery if it happens again. Problem Solved?

The Skinny Chef and I headed off to New Orleans for the O27 weekend.

We broke down again on the way, in Beaumont, TX. The New fuel pump bought in Junction had cracked wide open ...

Getting AAA to tow it again only took an hour and a half of arguing instead of 4. However, at 4am, after 2 hours of trying to fix it and an hour and a half of arguing; they said they couldn't get it towed until 9am. Since we were precariously perched on an off ramp over pass with semi's whizzing past a foot away as the bus bounced and swayed a foot from the rail and 40 feet up... they also suggested that I call the cops and they could get it towed quicker and then I could petition AAA for reimbursement... we waited until 9am.

The tow guy showed up about 9am and said they had just called him 20 minutes ago. They had told me at 7:30 am that the truck would be there in 45 minutes. He also said the real reason nobody wants to tow me isn't because of the bus but because the tow companies have as much trouble getting AAA to pay them as I do getting them to agree to honor my card.

So he towed us to his "buddies" place. They found the cracked fuel pump and replaced it but we decided to bypassed the veggie system completely (for the time being) because I was running on veggie when it blew.

I'd spent almost all available funds on veggie oil and diesel when we left Austin. So she payed the repair bill 200 bucks. I scrapped enough together to diesel us into New Orleans and sent her home yesterday with a check she can cash tomorrow...

Solo, bus in New Orleans, I need to get 40 more miles down the road to Slidell to get the bus painted but I don't have enough $ or diesel to get there without risking "running low" again; UNTIL LATER TODAY.

Look for a NO27 video on MBN.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How Do You Turn Off The Alarm?

I went in to settle up with the repair shop yesterday. After the pleasant surprise of a smaller than expected bill; the guy say's .. "oh yeah, and the oil change guys couldn't figure out how to turn off your alarm and had to disconnect the batteries."

"I don't have an alarm"

"Well, when they started it up the horn started honking and all the lights came on and they couldn't get it to stop..."

"That's part of the problem..."

"oh... you sure you don't have an alarm?"

"It didn't come with one.. and I sure didn't put one in..."

... so the bus ain't done yet.

This "alarm" type behavior seemingly happens at random. It did not happen at the previous day working on it. We started it up on the lot after the discussion and.. repeatedly no alarm. They'll be looking at it Monday, seems like a short, but the mechanic said that the horn COULD NOT do that without an alarm device...

Friday, October 19, 2007

RV Classism, Shysters & Experts

I found a lovely International truck repair place to take the Bus, unfortunately their tow company didn't accept AAA. So I called the AAA # and they said they'd have someone out to get it in an hour or so. ... "this is easy" ...

Then came the tow company, questions, stalling, questions and finally they sent someone to determine what kind of truck they'd need. The first guy who came out to check if my bus was an RV; illegally entered the bus in my absence, rummaged around a bit and reported back that it was "unlivable" and that it was a "semi-truck" even though when he left he had agreed that it was an RV and they'd be back with a bigger truck. 10 minutes later, his tow company called, claiming to be AAA, denied the tow and asked if they should send someone over to tow me on MY Dime.

After the ensuing 4 hour argument with numerous REAL AAA representatives from multiple states, I was able to convince them that since the bus is TITLED as an RV; that some asshole redneck fuckwad's personal opinion of my RV was irrelevant. They signed off on the tow and said they'd send someone.

Minutes later the Shyster tow company called, again claiming to be AAA and wanted to know if they should send the driver and how would i like to pay... they got an ear full.

Eventually Jeff from Ohio showed up. Good Guy from Good Guys towing. he'd driven an hour to get to me (minutes from downtown Austin) because no one else would accept the tow. He says that's Normal, that most of his tows are RVs and/or buses because no one else wants them.

I spent today at the truck repair place. I was afraid that they would try to shuffle me outa there when they found out about the veggie oil.. but they didn't bat an eyelid. My savior Fernando took some interest in the workings of it and was satisfied that veggie was not the problem at hand.

The short answer... there was still a bunch of debris in the fuel lines (from running out? from running crappy oil?) and it had blocked the fuel from reaching the engine. Being an expert INTERNATIONAL mechanic he was able to immediately point out yet another fuel filter that no one else had know about. It had large chunks of black .. stuff all over it. Then we pressurized the fuel tank opened up the fuel line and shot diesel out like a garden hose for a while. hooked it back up and ..Ta da!! it started right up. They're going to do the oil change tomorrow. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

24 Hours to Move the Bus

I vandal stuck an orange sticker on my bus, claiming to be the police, threatening to impound the bus if not moved by 9:30 am tomorrow.

I'm on a mission...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bus? What Bus?

I've been ignoring the bus completely. Working for $ to fix it, editing for Lloyd & Josh and enjoying a bit of unexpected "normalcy".

Once caught up, I will seek out a School Bus mechanic from the bus yard and get back on the road. Thanks to a few more donations I will be getting A FEW new batteries when the fixin' gets under way. I'm still looking forward to the 27th in New Orleans... hope I can make it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tried to move the Bus today

Today I tried to move the bus into my friends driveway to get it off the street so that the mailman would deliver her mail again.... It started, died, started honking and flashing even with the key off.. and won't start again.

Of course now the battery's dead again.. the interior lights and horn would not stop until the it was completely dead. ... looks like I'm stuck here for awhile, too. It's not nearly as traumatic as being stuck on the side of the road; but it is becoming far too frustrating... I just worked off the advance i got to get it fixed in Junction. I'm currently broke but fed. I don't even want to look at the damn bus... until I've made enough money to get it fixed and be broke again, again. You're lucky this isn't an audio blog. The neighbors weren't so lucky.

Anyone with a suggestion as to what the fuck happened; I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Austin, TX

Due to the hospitality of a SkinnyChef; I'm able to relax a bit and catch up on work and my backlog of editing projects. I also need to, once again, reorganize the bus. It seems that each time I get the bus lookin' good and feeling livable... disaster strikes. The running out of diesel episode was no different.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Little Mexico: Junction, Texas

Wednesday morning I awoke sitting in the back parking lot of Grand Dad's (small) Truck Stop. There was a pavilion and trees and the area was used like a community park for the 30 or so small, low income dwellings encircling the area. People passing by on their daily routines smiled & waved, some were curious and I retold the story of the day before many times. Each time when I got to the part about calling Joe.. they all said "owww, that musta cost a pretty penny". Joe had a rep. They all said he new his shit, but tended to charge out the ass and create some extra work along the way. I got off easy because he knew I didn't have any more money. Many of these people had seen me on the on ramp. They had secretly been rooting for me. (to get it running) They were thankful, as I was, that Henry had brought me over.

After I redid everything I had previously done to the bus, looking for mistakes... and cause I didn't really know what else to do. I decided it was time to try starting it. I'd been waiting because I was no longer able to recharge the batteries myself; I'd run out of gas for the generator. ...

I turned the key and ... nothing happened. nothing. no sound of any kind. the batteries were dead. The search for charged batteries found me telling yesterdays story many more times. I approached a 70's ish white farmer type with support the troops stickers all over his truck.. "united we stand".. flag hat wearin'.. I was still incognito with my freak flag tucked under the baseball hat that JEB gave me in Nawlins. I got a quick, "sorry can't help ya". The station staff suggested Gonzalo Auto across the street. I took the walk, told the story and Gonzalo helped me drag my batteries over to his shop and set them on the Professional battery charger for the afternoon and tested my battery charger's capacity... Nill, worthless, waste of gas in the generator .. the batteries were completely drained. I got to hang around with Gonzalo for awhile, waiting for the batteries to charge. He thought I might be a Military Man because of the boots & camo's and hidden hair. I assured him I wasn't and we stepped across the threshold of chit chat to real conversation. By the time the batteries were charged we had found much in common and I confessed that I had a dreadlock mohawk under my hat. He smiled acceptingly and I put the batteries back in the bus.

Now, with fresh batteries in the bus, I knew I was about to pull outa there. I quickly rechecked and filled every bus fluid I could find and turned the key. It tried. It tried a gain. It started for a second if I used the ether in the air filter (which you're not "suppose" to do) but it wouldn't run without it. ... I needed a professional opinion. I couldn't run the batteries down again trying the same thing over and over like a crazy person. Then the 70'sish patriot I'd talked to earlier pulled up and handed me 5 bucks for a cold drink and pulled away.

Business hours had come an gone so there was no "help" to get until Thursday morning. I started to relax a bit. I had food and water in the bus so I used the 5 bucks bucks for the cheapest cigs they had and a fountain drink. Puffin' on the stoop of the bus while informing my friend in Austin that I would be at least another day late and waiting for my advance money to appear in my account, a neighborhood lady began walking toward the bus holding a plastic bag in 2 hands.

"Would you like a plate of food? It's not much; just some mac an cheese and some stew." I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by the communities kindness.

As the sun went down the local kids came out (no place else to "hang out"). Everyone knew everyone and by the end of evening I knew them too. I'd already heard of many of these people from those I'd spoken to earlier in the day.

As I laid down to sleep grinning at the kindness I had been shown that day... the woman who had brought me the plate of food earlier began a multi hour screaming fest that involved kicking her kids out of the house...

Thursday morning I replaced all the fuel filters and met a couple more Little Mexico diesel mechanics. I worked with Juan for about 3 hours in the afternoon heat; joking and laughing, finding our common ground... and fixing my pinche engine. It was really nice. I paid him 10 bucks over his asking price ($160), filled up with diesel, sent word to Austin and pulled away. As I approached the on ramp, the bus died. ... I screamed NO at the top of my lungs and when the shock wore off... turned the key; it started, I revved it for several minutes... and then drove off AWAY from the sunset.

Little Mexico proved a few much needed things to me. That there were good people in Bumfuck Texas, the country might still have some redeeming qualities worth "saving" and that my plans for the bus will really work. I must return to Little Mexico some day; after the "media" part of the bus is up an running. This community is a perfect place to pull out a screen and a projector and show movies in the park. These people don't have internet. They are the missing demographic in much of our organizing efforts and are thirsty, receptive and ambitious. A few days of mobile documentary screenings, internet lessons, fun and expanding their horizons would be a very rewarding way to bring people together. I'm sure there are thousands of similar communities out there and can't wait to find them.
Thanks Henry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On Ramp, Texas

DO NOT, ever, run low on diesel fuel.

8:30 pm Monday, I made it into a gas station in a remote section of Texas, put enough in to get me to Austin and drove about 200 yards onto the on ramp to the 10 east... and the bus died.

I decided it would be best to replace my over throw the governmenet t-shirt with the more rugged appearing "Hike or Die" t-shirt, tuck the dreadlock mohawk under a baseball hat and replace my sandals with combat boots.

I must have been running on the fuel IN the lines; which allowed an air pocket to form between the Old fuel and the New fuel. In the process of trying to start it again I fried my fuel pump. So said the mobile diesel mechanic that the VERY republican looking Police Officer who stopped the next morning, referred me to said.

So, after giving Joe the Mechanic $120 for driving 9 miles and looking at it for a 1/2 hour. I walked the 2 miles to the parts store and got another fuel pump ($100) and replaced it myself... it still didn't start. I tried bleeding the fuel lines of air to no avail. All the while charging my batteries with my new gas generator and my battery charger while parked about 2 feet off the road.

About midnight Tuesday after spending a 1/2 hour or more standing up over the engine on my front tire, screaming and cussing everything and everybody at the top of my lungs; I was about to give up for the night when a tow truck arrived. I donned my hat and prepared to be force towed by the cops.. BUT .. It was Henry an older Hispanic man who offered to tow me to a friendly gas station with lots of room the next exit east. He repeatedly said I'd be safer there... which made me think that maybe I wouldn't be. When I informed him that I didn't have any money left... he didn't care. Said it was on his way home and that if he didn't tow me NOW, the cops would be calling him in the morning to Force Tow me since I been there so long. I was a little worried (he could take me anywhere) but recognized that he was most likely right about my fate if he didn't... and so I agreed and let Henry take me for a ride.

In 27 hours on the on ramp 2 people stopped. the cop and Henry... I was passed by other "hippie school buses" which really pissed me off. I was reminded of my road trip across Canada a couple years ago when I broke down 3 times before the van died. Each time I was immediately assisted by other travelers... broke, ripped off, with no idea what to do to fix it... I cursed my country many times this day and felt a fool for wanting to "save" it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rest Area, Texas

I left T or C running on a 75% veggie 25% meat oil blend.... that's all there was... it worked. However I couldn't trickle enough of it into my tank IN 3 HOURS to make it to Austin.

I've ran out of veggie oil and am now waiting for money to come through so I can buy some diesel. Should be out of here by 7 tonight. I'm trying to use the day in the rest area to catch up on some internet work and maybe some editing. Conspiracy Theorists will say that I "let it happen", that I wanted to get stuck here... they might be right, I have a lot of work to do and it's hard to get these things done when you're on a visit, fix the pump, get oil, fix the bus, visit, fix the pump, get oil.... kinda schedule. I should be in Austin this late evening.