Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Furthur - the Lot

I'll cover the experiences from the parking lot over the 3 days of the shows in Eugene.  In the greater scheme, this makes more sense.  Besides, the days kind of run together, so going chronologically isn't really possible.

Shakedown Street
typical owner disposition
The Saturday morning print of the Eugene newspaper declared a successful "bust" of the vending along Shakedown Street.  Now, if you've been to a Grateful Dead-like event, you know what this area is.  For those who have not been so exposed, Shakedown Street is a zone somewhere in the parking lot where a large percentage of the vending takes place.  This zone is usually close to the arena, and is where the highest foot-traffic would naturally happen.  This is not a space designated by anyone.  In fact, it springs up on its own where the first-arrivers think it makes the most sense.  This "bust" had a little effect on the vending scene, though, and actually created multiple mini-Shakedown's as well as walk-about vending.  I liked the walk-abouts.  But even in my touring days, that was how I sold things before dark.  Laying out a sheet or a cooler on Shakedown Street was too high-risk for me back then.  One GDP (Grateful Dead Productions) violation cop, and you could be out hundreds of dollars.  Staff-Pro's usually targetted illegal liquor or drug sales, but from the article in the paper, they were busting everybody for selling anything... except tickets.  Funny how that's turned.

Wares without Art

One of the great contributions the "illegal" vending brought to the event used to be the iconic artistry placed onto T-shirts through 2-4 color silk screens.  This artistry would take a modern icon and "Deadify" it.  For example, one of my favorite shirts from years ago was a Bart Simpson T-shirt where Bart was wearing a tie-die and cut-off shorts.  Under the cartoon drawing was the phrase "Bart it on Down the Line" - playing on the song title "Beat it on Down the Line".  These types of shirts no longer appear at Dead-related shows, and I find that very disappointing.  Disappointing to the point, in fact, that Mike, Ed, Boo and I talked about different creative ideas taking modern cultural references and making T-shirts out of them.  We may just get into the T-shirt business, if we can isolate some time for it.  In the end, I did buy a couple of wood coasters.  These coasters have a Steal-Your-Face in the center or a Tour poster-looking image inside.  I like the creativity in creating a coaster, and they are totally functional!
Belle and Hapy wait for us to return from the show

As you may imagine, rolling into the lot as part of a microbus caravan, Ed and I attracted a little attention.  Belle was festooned with a big flag in her luggage rack on the way in on Sunday, and Hapy remained his usual sleeper-looking self the 2 days I drove him in (Fri & Sat).  The looks on the faces of those in-the-know when I passed, though, was pretty funny.  ACVW (Air Cooled VolksWagen) fans know what an ACVW sounds like.  So, when my city-bus sounding microbus passed, a look of confusion followed.  Funny stuff.  By the time we parked, there was usually at least one person wanting to check out our sleds.  As I may have mentioned in the previous post, Ed would park nose in and I'd back in next to him so our sliders faced each other.  This made for a nice little sitting area as we enjoyed our beverages... (yes, staff-pro official, these are coffee's in our coffee cups)...

We met a number of VW folks, over the course of the 3 days.  From the TDI-transplant curious, to BioDieselers, to purists.  The purists wanted to talk to Ed.  I popped the rear hatch a few times, and talked at great length with a guy from Corvallis who is working on a production-able nose-mount radiator for water-cooled engine conversions.  Cool!  I hope to hear more from him about his project.  I may not ave the stomach for moving the rad, but having these kinds of conversations is a great way to learn about improvement ideas.

It was a beautiful 3 days, weather-wise, crowd-wise and music-wise.  The lot wasn't over-burdened with booming stereos, had good Microbus, Vanagon and Eurovan representation and had a good positive energy.  More next time about the ride home....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Furthur - To Eugene

So many things to cover, I'm just going to have to start writing more often.  My last post was before the trip to Eugene, so I owe a trip report, a summary of the shows, the trip home, and inevitable work-that-followed-the-trip stuff.  I'll hit the trip report today.

GDTRFB (well, good, actually)
The first show in Eugene was on a Friday night.  Without a place to stay Thursday, I planned for an early departure Friday morning.  That plan was delayed when my brother (co-pilot for the southbound trip) needed to work until noon.  Still, leaving downtown Portland by 1:PM was pretty good.  We were also supposed to meet-up with Ed and Mike in Belle, but we were unable to connect on that either.  If Ed hasn't posted his trip report yet, he had to run out to the coast to collect Mike the night before.
Anyway, I topped the tank at the local fueling station and calculated my milage: 31mpg.  Yes, that's right, 31mpg... in a bus... without the new (better suited) transaxle.  I still don't know how much capacity the tank has, but if I assume 12 gallons, that's a 372 mile single-fill travel capacity.  By that estimate, I wouldn't need to fuel-up until after returning from Eugene.  This was an important bit of data later.
With the tank full, and the fuel gauge still not operating correctly (showing "E"), I hit US26 into Portland.  I hit cruising speed at 51mph (3100 rpm), stayed in the right lane and enjoyed sitting behind the wheel again.  The bus handled great, traffic was light and the day was starting to get warm.  Perfect.  My brother was ready to go within minutes of my arriving at his office, so we greabbed some Quizno's and headed south.  The bus doesn't have a radio, so we reverted to old-skool travel time-passing: talking and laughing.

Wheels Broke Down, the Leader Won't Draw
About the time we reached Aurora, I noticed we didn't have the power I'd expected on hills.  I know we had some hills during the drive to Champoeg, so there was something amiss.  Also, the cooling fans were not acting as effectively.  The temp was staying under control, but the base temperature was floating between 195* and 200*, not around 185* where I expected it to be.  These 2 indicators were distracting me, so we pulled into the Charbonneau rest area.  After letting things cool off (and eating our Quizno's), I discovered that the pipe leaving the turbo headed for the intercooler had separated from one of the couplings.  As a result, the air headed for the engine was (a) unfiltered and (b) naturally aspirated or non-turbo charged.  I re-connected the pipe, tightened it down and called Ed to see what was going on with his end of the trip.  He was working his way through the Coast Range, so we would'nt be seeing him until Salem at the earliest.  Back onto the road we go.

Bound to Cover Just a Little More Ground
The pipe connection I described above separated again within 30 minutes of leaving the Charbonneau rest area.  This time, I could feel it.  The power loss followed by the slightly raised temperature.  I figured "no problem, now I know what I'll be doing on Saturday".  We stopped again to verify, and re-repair, but I could tell no damage was being done.  I took the opportunity this time to verify the oil level and coolant too.  All good.  So, my brother and I just did the drive, and when we hit hills, just stayed as far to the right as we could go, singing "just a little bit harder just a little bit more, a little bit furthur than you've gone before"... to keep the bus motivated :)

The Music Never Stopped
We didn't need to stop again, and blew through Salem, Albany, etc. at our top speed (51mph).  The campground we chose was just north of Eugene, so we took the exit before (Coburg) and actually got to the campground before Ed, Mike & Belle.  All told, we had 2 stops and made the trip in under 3 hours.  We set up the shed (tiny tent for holding belongings so the bus isn't cluttered with crap), cleared the bus of non-show-critical items, and waited for Ed, Mike and Belle.  I re-attached the pipe again.  They arrived before 6, and we prepared the rest of the site (EZ-up over the table, enjoyed some barley-pops, talked to some fellow show-attending campers, etc.).  There was some interest in the busses, but ours weren't the only ones in the campground, so it wasn't one of those "wow I had one of those" kinds of conversations, it was more along the lines of "oh, so that's a '73 Riviera, I have a '69 campmobile over there (pointing)".

Inspiration... move me brightly
Feeling fresh, we carabused from the campground to the ampitheater parking lot: 1 mile of rural Lane country followed by 4 miles of suburbia.  Being Eugene, we were not the only busses driving around, so the impact of 2 in a row was virtually 0.  Still, it was a great sensation for me to be finally carabusing to a Dead show in my bus.  Another milepost, if you will.  We parked the busses, Belle nose in, me backed in so the sliders faced each other, and we settled into our evening.

I paused a minute to consider the last time I sat in a parking lot waiting for the Dead.  2 years earlier, my bus was a collection of parts, lacking direction, plans for some sub-systems and, mostly, my attention.  I stood outside Belle in that lot and stated "I won't see the Dead again until I can get there in my own bus".  Kennedy had his mission to the moon speech, and I guess that was mine.  In that moment of pause, I had reached that goal.  It's hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction, but to be there with the friends who witnessed my statement was truly special.

More next time--