Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Break 2009 Stories: Part 1

DISCLAIMER: not a lot written is actually about our events. We gave out tons of books and fix a bunch of bikes that was awesome, but the better part of the stories existed outside of our planned schedule. In an attempt to keep things interesting, this is what we have to offer.

With the economic crisis at hand, we felt the need to cut tour short this year to just six days. But, with diesel gas prices so cheap, we decided to drive as far away as we possibly could. Along with our youth connections supervisor Kate Duffy, our professional photographer and hangover specialist, Steve Crandall, our designated bus rider and event volunteer, Mo Karn, and of course, Ward and I, loyal bus drivers, we hit the road for our third Spring Tour.

We left Richmond on Friday afternoon highly prepared for traveling with two new lofts in the back of the bus as well as a renovated bathroom that consists of a five gallon bucket full of sawdust that appropriately used to house turtle-brown paint. This was the first time we were doing a straight drive to New Orleans from Richmond, and we were anticipating twenty hours with stops only for gas and switching drivers every once in a while. Ward powered through the night, stopping at one point for an indoor bathroom break at a gas station. As he arrives to the entrance to the men’s room, Ward was stopped by yellow caution tape covering all the bathroom doors. On the wall was a handwritten sharpie a sign said “Crime Scene”. Due to this, Ward was forced to create his own crime scene behind the gas station.

The weather was awesome when we arrived in New Orleans the next morning around 11 a.m. We had intentionally not booked any events for the afternoon so we could relax and decompress from the trip. Since they had never been to the city before, we took this opportunity to break Steve and Kate into New Orleans properly with Hand Grenades on Bourbon St. and fried oyster po boys from Verti Marte.

As we roam around, we realize to our great surprise and luck, we were in town at the same time a Pirate Festival had invaded New Orleans! There were pirates everywhere, drinking Hurricanes to prevent scurvy, playing lutes, and looking strikingly similar to the three-part documentary “Pirates of the Caribbean”. While I envisioned pirates in Somalia wearing puffy velour pants, I wondering why they would stage an attack at the same time as this wonderfully entertaining festival was taking place.

After narrowly escaping the Pirates, we return to the bus for a little relaxing only to find an unsettling note had been left on our windshield. For the past two years we have parked in the same stop of town right outside of the quarter in an isolated area that allowed for plenty of space and a decent amount of quiet considering the party life in NOLA. The typed note stated that it respected our right to be homeless, but requested that we leave. While Ward and I are contemplating what to do about the unsigned note, a man sitting in his car directly across the street from us tell Steve that the guy who left the note was the gray haired man standing at the end of the block, hula-hooping.
Kate, Ward, and I walk over to the man, and I approached him first, attempting to introduce myself with a handshake that was rejected. We laid into explaining what we do and trying to find out why we are specifically being asked to move our bus. The man tells us that we are paying for all the other buses that have rolled through town, staying for months on end, bothering the neighbors and causing trouble. Just as we were about to give in and accept moving the bus from public parking, the man references our “other friends” roaming the streets;

“So what, are there like, 40 of you?”

We tell him there is no one else with us. Kate again tries to explain what we do, where we are from, of which the man surrenders to the fact that we are not just traveling kids, by stating that we are “Upper Crusties” and then continues, as a grown-ass man, hula-hooping and smiling to himself.
-Written by Shelley and Ward

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