I wrote this blog from 2008 until 2013, and looking back, I can't believe how much I wrote. I don't remember the login information for the blog anymore, nor do I have the email address that is associate with it, but the blog hasn't disappeared from the internet yet, which is great, because I probably saved the writing on a computer that is long gone. I loved Books on Wheels, and I loved traveling with Ward. I will write it all out in a book or an article one day which will be titled "My adventures with Books on Wheels" or "Funny stuff my friend Ward said".
Today Ward and I spent the morning at the VCU Bike Round Up! giving away books to co-ed's that commute between classes via the commons, which is probably something like a quad, but with very little grass involved. Along with us was the VCU police department registering bicycles, which I guess is like giving it a license plate number, so if you do anything illegal on your bike the cops can track you down. Fixing bikes was Evan and Erin with Richmond Re-Cycles, and Chip with Pibby's Bicycle Shop. This was our second year attending the event, thanks to Martha, who lets us set up with the bus and distribute books even though we weren't needed to do bike repair at this event. They had free water and were conveniently located a short walking distance from Nate's Taco Truck which served us up delicious TVP tacos for lunch.
I arrived a little later than Ward to the event, and as I'm settling in a position behind our table, a Chinese student is trying to ask Ward a question, but she knows very little English, asking Ward for "funny" books. Ward digs through some boxes, shows her what we have, and leaves her to choosing what she wants to take with her. Her choice ended up being " Down Home Talk", a humor book about learning southern dialect. Ward and I were amused, and almost felt kind of bad, thinking about this girl reading the book and learning English with a southern drawl and trying out weird southern slang.
We arrive at an elementary school in New Orleans to deliver some books and while we were waiting in the bus for approval to enter the building a guy named Tony approached us and asked us what we were all about. We told him, and he got really excited about the fact that we fixed bikes, and said he wanted to show us his bike. We waiting in the bus, thinking that he was going to hop around the corner and come back with his ride, but instead he returns with a small photo album, proudly handing it to Joel to see his photos. As Ward asks Tony if he can pull out the video camera and interview him, Joel opens the album and sees that the photos are not of a bike, but of a dude pushing a shopping cart. Not sure what to say, Joel continues to stare at the photo, mumbling to himself, "Aww, cool man, yeah, uh..." After Tony and Ward talk for a minute or two, Tony looks over at Joel and sees him staring intensely at the shopping cart photo, and yells,
"No man, that ain't no bike! That's a shopping cart! Turn the page." To our relief, the next few pages of photos were of Tony, the self-proclaimed Candy Apple Cart Man of New Orleans, who sometimes sells ice cream as well, and managed to leave NOLA after the hurricane and return to save his bike and restore it months later. I think it is awesome that Tony still thinks Joel the intern bike mechanic thought a shopping cart was a bike.
Ward and I left Thursday night to head up to Rochester for a few days with the bus. I slept through most of the night, waking up occasionally to ask Ward if he was doing alright driving on his 10-hour first-time-in-the-snow-with-the-bus haul straight to NY. He would tell me he was fine, encourage that I not actually look outside the window to see really how bad the weather had gotten, and later refer to the entire thing as nothing more than an "experience" even after we almost rolled backwards down a steep hill in a dunkin donuts parking lot at 4 in the morning. What a trooper.
Upon arriving in Rochester, we immediately went to the George Eastman house to use the bathrooms and say hi to our friend Patti. We parked and approached the cafe where an older gentleman was already waiting for the doors to be opened. We stood in the cold together for just a moment before the man said to us, "Is that your bus?". We responded with alternatingnods and yeses, as he gazed across the parking lot at Moby. He then continued, in a very Large Marge fashion by saying,
"I like your bus. It reminds me of a bus a good friend of mine had. Actually, it was a lot like your bus. She drove all around the country in that bus. Ran it off of grease or something, going around trying to help the environment. Yeah, it was a sad story though. She died in that bus. Driving around down in New Orleans, car just ran her right off the road. Well, see you later!" and exits quickly into the cafe.
"As we were driving up North, I was thinking, our bus would not do well in a high speed chase".
Joel who came on our spring tour with us is a super awesome dude and a great friend. He was in Richmond the other day and it was way awesome to see him, and it reminded me of what a blast we had traveling together, as well as some of the finer quotes that came out of Joel's mouth during the trip. Here are a few from our favorite intern!
I found this flyer in a bathroom at a bar in New Orleans, and I take it off the wall and bring it to our booth, and ask Joel and Ward to look at it and tell me what is funny about it. Ward notices pretty quickly that the funny part is that this cat has been badly photo-shopped as a cello and the cat is upside and HUGE. Joel takes a little longer at looking at it, and then says, " Hey, there is no way that's real! The cat doesn't even have strings on it!"
Right before we leave for the trip Ward is explaining to Joel the bathroom situation in the bus. Erin and I have these big plastic bins that we would be using, since stopping for a pee breaks would take way too much time. But, I guess the explanation wasn't totally clear, because upon seeing these pee bins, Joel figured that were we would be doing ALL of our bathroom business on the bus, and didn't comment on it, but kept it to himself, feeling weird about thinking that we would be pooping on the bus in front of one another.
The last day of our tour before heading home, we were in Austin, TX and Joel, Ward, and I had woken up in the bus super early and decided to drive over to the park where we were meeting up with some people before heading out on the road in the afternoon. Since the weekend had consisted of getting free stuff almost everywhere, like vitamin water and ice cream and gum, we figured we might be able to score some free stuff at this event as well. We get to the park way before anyone else, and only a few people are setting up tables and wandering around. We are searching to see if there are any goods we can snag with out being charged, but it seems pretty dry so early in the morning. Joel and I decide to sit down in this one shaded spot, and Joel notices someone close by rolling out this banner across the front of a table and the first word on the banner is "FREE", and he's reading very excitedly as its being unveiled, saying "Free!? Free!? Free Burma!? Aw, man!"
I went to the bank the other day to withdrawl some money to take care of a little pre-tour business, and upon recieving my reciept noticed we only had 50 bucks in our account. Knowing this was kind of weird, I called Ward and asked him to call the bank and find out what is going on. Turns out a gas station attendant in Pennsylvania cleared us out, running Ward's bank card number for some 600 bucks after he had filled up last weekend. Nice one.
"I'm over it. Let's start keeping our money in our socks---left is checking and right is savings".
Ward and I put out these boxes along broad street a few months back which we fill up with free books every couple days or so. A kid did this in Chicago and its a really great way to distribute books, especially adult literature we don't get rid of as easily as children's books (not like porn adult, like grown-up no pictures books).
I went to go fill up one of the boxes this morning at a the bus stop on 9th and main, and as I'm loading in books, a city bus stops next to me and the driver opens the door. I figured she was going to make a comment about how I had stopped in the bus lane and I should move my car so she could pick up her passengers, but instead she says, "You're top half is hanging out", and she's laughing at me. Confused and distracted by my task at hand, I keep shoveling books in while asking her, "What? What?".
The bus driver repeats herself and tells me I need to fix my shit before I cause an accident. It finally registered--shes' talking about my butt crack. I stood up and adjusted my pants, laughing my top half off as she drives away.
"That's weird. I'm always worried about my bottom half hanging out".
It's hot. And the metal boxes we drive around do not have air conditioning. What they do have are those tiny little fans that are attached to the front of the bus that are directed at the bus driver, which is pretty cute, except that it doesn't really do much good when its a hundred degrees and the only thing your getting is hot air blown at you and your legs are sticking bad to the vinyl seats from all the sweat. Last summer it was rough on the road, but Ward and I figured something out to help keep us cool that ended up being quite a prop for entertainment as well...
We were in Philly staying with our friend Chance last summer, and he lived on the same block as this little store that sold all sorts of stuff for super cheap, like novelty ashtrays or slippers like the ones Chance wore all the time, even while bike riding. Chance talked about how much he liked the place, so Ward and I popped in to check it out. We poke around for a bit, and end of finding these squirt bottles for like a buck, and figure it would a good way to cool each other down. So we bought two, filled them with water, and immediately became refreshed as spraying each other with a fine cold mist.
So, a little while later, Chance decides to take us to South Street to visit our friend Scott at work and just hang out a bit since we had the afternoon off. We hop on our bikes and cruise through the city, taking turns leading the way, while shooting the water bottle behind our backs so the riders behind get hit with water. We get to our destination and decide to head to the Whole Foods for smoothies, and at some point on the way there, Ward sneaks up behind me, makes a fake sneezing sound, and squirts me on the back of the neck. Although I knew it wasn't real, it still has this disgusting feeling to it that made me cringe a little bit while laughing really hard at the new joke. Ward seeing that I thought this was way funny, he decides that it is a good idea to do this to complete strangers. A whole lot.
My favorite incident was when Ward gets this dude in the check-out line at Whole Foods, who gets super grossed out and sorta pissed about it, while I'm trying not to laugh and blow it all. Ward is standing there apologizing to this guy for "sneezing" all over the back of his head, and I think the guy said something along the lines of "your luck I don't' hit you", and then for some reason he changes subjects and asks Ward "Where the headies at?", of which Ward responded, "What?" about three times, before the guy just got frustrated and walked away. Ward and I looking at one another in complete confusion, not really understanding what had just happened. We find Chance and tell him about the situation, and he explains that headies is good weed. I couldn't comprehend why the guy figured that the dude that sneezed on him also new where he could get some marijuana.
Oh, Ward and I actually had this conversation at one point:
Ward: "They call me coach".
Me: "No one calls you coach."
Ward: "I do. I also call myself 'They'".