Friday, May 30, 2008


I will leave out the details of why we ended up at BFI, which is the landfill located in the east end of Richmond, but we did one rainy January morning. The manager at the city dump told us that even though we were dumping our personal crap, t it sounded like a commerical amount of crap, and who the hell drives around school buses, anyway?, so our last resort was BFI.
We arrived with both buses, and we weigh in, because the way that they charge you is by how much you weigh when you come in and how much weight your vehicle lost when you come out. We have both buses with us, and I'm driving the smaller one and Ward is driving the big bus for probably the third time ever. I get out of the bus to talk to the woman at the weigh station, and she tells me to come inside the small office and asks me if I had ever done this before. I said no, and she tells me to follow the road of the weight ramp until we get to a steep, dirt (in this case mud) hill and follow it up to the top. She informs me that their is no dock for dumping in a dumpster, our crap just goes into the landfill, and then she shoves two sets of hard hats and safety vests into my arms, tells me to put it on and to give one set to Ward and don't take them off while we are up there, and then actually says "good luck" while shaking her head at me as I walk out. So we get moving and as I am leading the way up this mud hill there are huge dump trucks are barrelling down past us. I'm white-knuckled holding the steering wheel, scared to death of slipping, because there is no barrier and its just seriously a mud hill that no one has any business using for driving on and its so steep and just keeps going up and up and up. We finally get to the top and what I see is one of the most unbelievable sights I had ever seen; what seems like a mile of garbage piled a story high, and what mostly likely really was a million seagulls eating this pile of shit which was emanating most horrific smell.
We have to back up as close as we can to this garbage pile to dump, and then I realize that the back of the bus is locked and the only way to open the back to unload is to GET OUT of the bus, and Ward and I are lined up together, poking our heads out of the window cautiously, saying "there is no way I'm getting out of this bus", because its just muddy garbage that you can tell you would sink into immediately. Finally, I went for it, because I knew there was no going back without finishing the job at this point. We unloaded the buses, and slowly made our way down the hill behind Ward and I am sweating, envisioning our new bus going over the edge with Ward in it. The best part about all of it was that when you get done and you sort of feel like you may never wash off the stench and filth of the landfill, you get a bill for almost 300 bucks for the experience.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Damaged Goods

A few weeks ago, I got up to go to an event with the big bus, which I had moved from its home on the southside to my neighborhood the night before so I didn't have to deal with picking it up in the early morning. So the bus was parked near my house, with no cars around it, on the widest street in Oregon Hill. I start the bus, put it in gear, and go to pull away from the curb, without the need to even back up, and I hear this terrible noise, and think, "what?, I only moved like half a foot". Steve was with me and I let him out of the bus, and he checks it out, and comes back inside with the broken bits of a light lens that had been crushed up against a telephone poll. The polls lean quite a bit all over Richmond, and since the bus was so tall, even though at ground level it seemed like I was a fair distance from the curb, 10 feet up in the air I was parked right against the poll, and I managed to do some damage to the bus. I got really frustrated about breaking the light, and Steve ended up driving to to the event so I could calm down a bit. When we got there, I went to look at what I had done, and not only had I broken the light, I had ripped a gaping hole in the corner of the bus. I reluctantly showed Ward, who assured me it was fine, and upon returning the bus to the southside later that day, Steve and I pushed the metal back into shape as best we could, covered the hole with duct tape, and I went back and spray painted blue on top of the tape. Now it just looks like our bus has a soft spot, like an infant.
Oh, and it used to be funny that the windshield leaked, until I realized earlier this week that because of that, our radio crapped out from water damage. Brilliant of us not to fix that one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another day in paradise

I am really enjoying what some people might consider having too much free time, but having nothing to do right now after two years of being in school and working and doing Books on Wheels, slowing my roll has its perks. I'm drinking my coffee a little slower, getting a chance to visit Ward at work more often, and fixing bikes other than when we are at an event.
But this free time couldn't come at a better time, because we are looking at a really really crazy busy summer, working with READ ALOUD VIRGINIA to distribute some 13,000 books to kids in Richmond over the course of 8 weeks in July and August. There are a really cool organization that really likes books and kids, especially when adults are reading those books to those kids:
Ward and I googled our IRS agent this afternoon to see what he looks like. We figured that based on his voice there was a big possibility that he looked a lot like Wilford Brimley. We didn't actually find a photo of him, but other dudes with the same name came up with some interesting photos.
Check out the free book holder! Take a book, leave a book! Its so causal, exactly what I'm looking for in the upcoming leisureliness of the summer, its like hey man, do what you like, we don't care. AWESOME! Really stoked on the dudes that made this and put it up outside of Chop Suey Books.
We received a thank you card from our friend Penny at the NRC today that said
"The kids were thrilled with your mobook mobike action. I even saw someone let the air out of their tires so they could get some time with you!". So cute.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

William Byrd Community House Market. The heat is on!

William Byrd Community House holds weekly markets that are filled with vendors selling produce and such, serving coffee and smoothies, and even snow cones to a large crowd every Tuesday. I had the most amazing strawberries from a local grower a couple weeks ago. Anyway, I am finally done with school and have NOTHING but free time so thanks to the librarian, Patti, Books on Wheels has been invited to attend the market from now on. Today was the first day that I realized, wow, it is seriously hot, and I really need to get used to working on bikes and moving books around in this heat. And its not even June yet and i feel sunburn and i can not stop sweating. We had a really good number of kids come by and get stoked on the books and I got like three hugs, which I always enjoy. Catch us at WBCC for the rest of the summer on Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m.

Summer Tour is Booked

Yeah, so instead of trying to go to as many east coast cities as we possibly can in 10 days, Ward and I have decided to go to just a few spots for more time, and keep the out-of-town traveling to a minimum this summer. Not only because we are planning on taking the big bus, which makes hitting up big cities with small streets really difficult, diesel gas prices at 5 bucks a gallon are not easy on our wallets. We are stoked to spend time in these places that we will be visiting, so please come check us out! We plan on having as much fun as possible, and this trip involves the new edition of a grill to our bus.

June 24th: Philadephia, PA

41st and Ogden

June 25th: Philadephia, PA

Haddington Bicycle Shop

60th and Vine

June 26th: Philadephia, PA

51st and Kingsessing

June 27th: Baltimore, MD


1400 Federal St.

12-3 pm

Free and open to the public

June 28th: Harrisonburg, VA

Our Community Place Summer Lawn Jam
Free and open to the public

This is us in Philly last year, courtesy of Andy with Neighborhood Bike Works:

or our tour video, which is in three parts, even though its only like 10 minutes long:


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I knew someone took a photo of this happening, but it took me a while to find see it, and I can't remember exactly whose flickr page I pulled it off of. We were at a local water park last summer and I locked my keys in the bus, so I decided, with the help of a few other people, to climb in through the a very small window of the bus that was open. Of course, I got stuck in the process and lay half in and half out, with my stomach resting on the metal window pane, causing excruciating pain that was not helped by the fact that I was laughing hysterically. I finally got in the bus, feeling very accomplished in saving the situation, just as my friend Tony opens the back door from outside.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Neighborhood Resource Center

The Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) is this really awesome community space located in Fulton Hill, where a bunch of really rad kids hang out and do activities and arts and they have computers and a recording studio. We arrived around 10 to a huge yard sale in the parking lot, where Ward and I found the finger photo, which is totally weird but hilarious. A whole lot of people came out, there was a fish fry, and we were able to sell a bunch of bikes for super cheap to help us drive around more.
A guy came up to us at one point who lived in the neighborhood while I was in the middle of trying to fix this kids bike that was in rough shape. The bike had a wacky 18 inch wheel, which we didn't have a replacement for, and I was starting to get punchy because the situation was beginning to get frustrating. The guy says to me that he saw a bike in the alley and was going to go get it for us. Sure enough, he returns like 3 minutes later with this abandoned kids bike-with an 18 inch coaster wheel in good condition on it, and I was able to use it to send this kid off with a working bicycle. We are truly blessed with heartwarming, bloggable stories.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Jonny Z!

Not that so many of us don't think about him everyday of our lives, but today we especially remember Jonny Z and how important and amazing he was to all of us. Anyone that ever was lucky enough to know him, congrats. I am constantly grateful to have known such a caring, wonderful, inspiring, energetic, and hopeful person. Not to mention incredibly hilarious and tons of fun. He had a perma-smile, and brighten any day.

A had to go to summer school after my freshman year of college because I failed a math class, and it was a super bummer to have to get up everyday for like 6 weeks and go sit inside and miss out of staying up late or going to the river or whatever because I slept through the class the first time. At this point, Jon and I had been hanging out for months, and had become close friends. He knew my bicycle, and he also knew the combination to my bike lock, so almost everyday I would come out this crappy class and their would be an "anonymous" note from someone about how much they liked the way I did math, or my bike would be hanging in a tree, locked up 8 feet in the air. I still don't know how he managed to do it by himself, but it made me smile every time.

I remember sitting with Jonny at a bar in New Orleans about 4 years ago, sharing a warm pitcher of beer, listen to an open mic night session at Checkpoint Charlie's. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I do remember him telling me at some point that I could do whatever I want. I always thought of that, even before he passed away, and how much people need to here that and know it is true, and in so many ways I have always credited him for the things that I do. So, again, thanks to Jonny for being an inspiration and a dear friend.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sacred Heart Community Fair

I was looking forward to this event, because until the week prior to it, I didn't realize that it was at the same community center that I pass EVERYTIME I take the bus back to the Bike Lot where it lives, driving down Perry St. to get over to Commerce. I would always look over and think, that place looks cool and I bet they do pretty neat stuff. And they do! The Community Day was also a health fair, there was a great big raffle of all kinds of good stuff, free hot dogs and popcorn, and games for the kids. Everything was free and the southside has a great group of people that came out to enjoy the sunny afternoon. Tons of fun!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Old stories never get old...

This story has nothing to do with anything, but its too funny not to tell, and I think about it regularly and laugh to myself. It sorta epitomizes Ward and his personality.

We were in Nashville a year ago at the end of our very first tour in Moby. We had already been down to New Orleans, and headed through Tennessee for one last event at a local park and to get some chill time with our friend Elise. On the way into town, its raining and getting dark, and suddenly we realize that none of our lights work, except the headlights. So we are barreling down the highway with the dome lights on and the hazards hoping we don't get plowed into until we get to Elise's house and park for the night. We arrive safely, let Ward's dog Cooter in the house to chill, and head out for the evening to see some sites. These sites included 60 oz. margaritas at a Mexican restaurant and then a visit to a real "local" bar. This bar consisted of a pool table, a wacky juke box, and like 3 dudes hanging out not talking, who may or may not have been wearing shirts, I can't exactly remember. It reminded me of something out of maybe "ROADHOUSE", but before Swayze came in and really cleaned up. Anyway, we sit down at the bar and order a few beers, and are chatting with the bartender and just hanging out a bit, when Ward notices this rounded cotton cloth thing laying on the bar. He picks it up and examines it for just a second before he pulls it tightly over his head, making a sort of cap, but awkward and not fitted, and starts making this stupid face. As he is laughing at what he can't see that he looks like, and I am laughing at what I do know he looks like, the bartender comes over and says, "Oh, damn, that's Edna's. She's an amputee that comes in here; she musta left her nub sock."

We left the bar not long after that, figuring nothing more ridiculous could happen than what Ward managed to unknowingly do, and we head back to Elise's house for the night. When we arrived, Elise opens the house and Cooter comes running out, so stoked to see Ward, hopping all over the yard, barking his little tail off, and then suddenly takes a triumphant leap back into the house-not realizing that the glass door is closed. Luckily, he is resilient, and bounced back (literally) from the shocking dive pretty quickly, but I think he was embarrassed about how hard Ward and I laughed at him.

The next morning we go and take the bus to get the electrical problem fixed. The dude realized that the reason their was a problem in the first place is that all of our wiring had been done with speaker wire.