Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Philadelphia Trip . .. . .Postponed

Due to scheduling, Books on Wheels is postponing our trip to Philly for a little while but we will be plenty busy around Richmond this summer, so that is exciting. We will be in touch with details about our future plans.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thanks to Bellmeade!

Thanks to the kids at Bellmeade that made these awesome cards for Books on Wheels after we dropped off books with them yesterday. It was really fun and such a pretty day to visit the school! Hopefully we will be returning soon!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bike Raffle! Get your ticket!

When we raffled off the bright green Diamondback cruiser out of our window last month, the response was so great that we decided to do it again. Also, we wanted to give all of you who had your heart set on 2 wheel travel another chance to live the dream. So now through May 6th we are selling $1 raffle tickets for an all but brand new Trek 4300 Alpha mountain bike!

The frame measures at 44.5 cm, and this bike looks like it was ridden from the store to the house. Maybe. In any case, it is clean and cool and ready to hit the trails. You could pay a couple hundred for a used one, or get lucky with us and ride away for only $1.

The drawing will take place at 4 pm on May 6th. Of course, all the money raised will be donated to Books On Wheels.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

I spent the weekend in Dollywood, which was weird, but I never knew that Dolly Parton had a reading program, which is cool. Here is some info:

Spring Break 2009 Stories: Part 3

Due to our eviction from the previous evening, we moved the bus to our friend Becka’s house in the Garden District, where we are able to enjoy the pleasures of indoor plumbing and the World Wide Interweb. On Monday morning we woke up early again, and walked around a nearby cemetery looking for zombies and discussing serious issues like “Do you think vampires ever get tricked by an eclipse?”.

Our first event of the day, we dropped off about 15 bicycles at R.U.B.A.R.B. (Rusting Up Beyond All Recognition Bicycles) for their bicycle program as well as donating some helmets that were given to us by Erin Briggs, another Books on Wheels volunteer. Afterwards, we went to Sylvanie Elementary School in Center City where we gave out books to the students who also got to see the bus. In the afternoon, we returned to Israelite Baptist Church where the most honorable Rev. Larry Campbell invited us back for the third year. The beginning of the afternoon was quiet, and then Rev. Larry arrived. True to his profession, he was a shepherd for us, bringing groups of people from the neighborhood, and we remained busy for the rest of the day.

Monday evening consisted of a really great dinner at Deanie’s (not Denny’s) where everyone got to experience New Orleans food at its finest. Ward served as the entertainment for the evening, using de-tailed crawfish as finger puppets. Later, Ward and I provided music to a bar that had a broken juke box, and in our minds, we were greatly appreciated by fellow patrons. In our minds.
Tuesday was our last day in New Orleans before driving home. We returned to Slyvanie Elementary School again and then to our last event at Alvar Branch Library. Again, the crowd was good, and people seemed excited about receiving books, book bags, PowerAde, and getting their bikes fixed. A group of kids hung out almost all afternoon, and we were donated brownies to help us with the drive home. As the grand finale, an hour before we are to leave, a kid came over to us to ask if we could fix his bike if he went home and got it and I said sure. He shows up with a bike frame; no wheels, no seat, nothing. We plugged away at it and with the help of Ward, Steve, Mickey and his buddies, as Kate took care of distributing books, we built this kid a monster bike. And he was stoked.

As the kid road off on his new bike around 6 o’clock that evening, the bus also headed home. Hopefully, his ride home was shorter than 20 hours.
Books on Wheels would like to thank our Spring Tour 2009:
Joe’s Inn
Video Fan
Six Burner
River City Roller Girls

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Break 2009 Stories: Part 2

The next morning we wake up early to breakfast and coffee and a really long bike ride to warm up our bones for the day. Steve opts out of the bike ride, deciding to work on his hangover specializing by sleeping one off. Our first event was at Annunciation Mission which was set up by our friend Tracy, who moved to New Orleans almost a year ago to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker. It was Palm Sunday and the church had a donkey ride special that morning which we unfortunately missed due to poor scheduling. But, it worked to our great satisfaction that we avoiding being asked to reshoe a horse as a repair.

A lot of people from the neighborhood came by for books and brought their bikes; particularly noteworthy, PowerAde dropped off cases of energy juice and a little boy named Justin spent a good part of the afternoon hanging out with us. Justin was a 60 year old man living in a 4 year-old body and rode his bike up and down the parking lot and in between us working for hours until Kate pissed him off over a slice of pizza, understandably. We packed up after a little over 3 hours, and heading to Nowe Miasto to make a donation to Louisiana Books to Prisoners.

I used to live at the warehouse, Nowe Miasto, where Books to Prisoners has their office so I was familiar the neighborhood and the lawlessness as far as parking was concerned. I decided to park on the side of the street a block away from the warehouse next to a chain link fence, knowing we wouldn’t be here for more than 20 minutes or so. Before evening getting off the bus, we are greeted by “Peppy” (this is not his name-we never found out his name so we made it up). Peppy excitedly told us to park in his Dad’s driveway. I tell him we would only be there for a few moments but he insists, even immediately offering the space for us to stay overnight. I agreed in order to please Peppy, and reluctantly moved the bus into the lot. We open the back of the bus and being to unload hundreds of adult books as Mo goes to retrieve the folks in the warehouse to come fish through our books for what they might be able to use for their program. Peppy was overlooking the whole time, grapping books and pointing at titles he recognizes, talking quickly and excitedly about authors he knows and books he’s read. As we finish up and lock up the bus to carry books to the warehouse, Steve and I notice Peppy running out of his house holding a huge tortoise that he sets down on the concrete and promptly beings to spray wash with a garden house. I felt so bad for him, walking away and giving no attention to Peppy and his pet that he so obviously wanted to show off for us.

We return to the bus just moments later and thank Peppy for his hospitality. As we drive off, Peppy franticly waves us goodbye, smiling ecstatically at the bus. Ward and I thought it was interesting that we had only earlier that day met Justin, the little old man, and then only a few hours later meet Peppy, the old little man, who was probably about 45.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

RVA Magazine "Books on Wheels Spring Tour 2008"

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

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Twin Hickory Library Donation Drive: Year Two

Wow! Again we have an amazingly succcessful and fun day at Twin Hickory Library. Our buddy Phil with the Henrico County Book Mobile was there hanging out for a few hours. The library did a great job again of promoting the event with tons of posters. We took in 16 wonderful bicylces and hundreds and hundreds of books that will definitely get us through our spring and summer events. The rain didnt keep people from coming by as well! Thanks so much to John and Andrienne again for everything. We always have a great time at the library. Thanks again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

SNAFU BMX posting

Thanks to McGoo for posting about Books on Wheels Spring Tour 2009 to New Orleans on the SNAFU BMX website.

"Books On Wheels Hits New Orleans

Last winter we donated a bunch of SNAFU repair parts (tires, cables, grips, seats, tubes) to Steve Crandall and his friend Shelly's awesome Books On Wheels is a free bike repair and book mobile that visits underprivileged neighborhoods around the country. These photos are from Shelly's recent trip to New Orleans. I'll let Crandall describe the impact this program made on the kids in Crescent City"(McGoo):

"I just got home from New Orleans, where we went with the Books on Wheels/Free Bike Repair. We hit up bike projects, community centers, and schools, donating books, Bikes, Helmets, and free bike repair. Local New Orleans BMXers even came out to lend a helping hand. Even 4 years after Katrina, New Orleans is still pretty messy, and the poorer areas are generally neglected. You should see how stoked kids get when they drag these rusty broken down bikes through the neighborhood, to wherever we were set up, and they ride out, smiling, popping wheelies, and the like. Thanks for the donation. We all know what a cruise down the street on 2 wheels can do for all of us, especially these kids who have limited resource".
Steve Crandall

Awesome photos from tour...

by Steve Crandall. And seriously, stories coming soon...

In Harmony: Reflections, Thoughts, and Hopes of Central City

Please take the time to watch this awesome documentary available in parts on You Tube made by a group of people through The New Orleans VideoVoices Project. The project gives people the oppurtunity to learn the use of video equipment and then tell the story of their neighborhood in Central City who felt that "despite the swarming of the mass media after Katrina and the efforts by filmmakers from around the world, the real story of their neighborhood has never been told".

We were told about the project last year by our dear friend Rev. Larry Campbell, minster at the Israelite Baptist Church in Center City, and this year he gaves us copies of the completed documentary.
For more information check out these webistes:

Video Links:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

GRTC Ride Finders Bicycle Commuting info


Bicycling is good for your wallet and your health. It also can help ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. Join RideFinders, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the City of Richmond, Richmond Area Bicycling Association (RABA), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and BikeWalk Virginia as we host two bike safety education ice cream events. Come and learn about bike safety and routes to bike to work. Enjoy free ice cream and giveaways. Join us on Wednesday, April 29 from 11 am to 1 pm in the Bank of America Pavilion or Friday, May 8 from 11 am to 1 pm at The James Center Plaza.

Use your pedal power to get to work or combine your bike trip with a ride on the bus. All GRTC busses are equipped with bike racks. In partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the City of Richmond, Richmond Area Bicycling Association (RABA), and BikeWalk Virginia, RideFinders challenge you to bike to work. Take the pledge to Bike to Work on May 15. Visit on April 16, 2009 to register. The goals of Bike to Work Day are to use biking as a form of transportation to work, decrease traffic congestion, improve air quality, and promote safe bike commuting.

Cherika Ruffin

We are home!

Tour was a blast! Stories to come soon along with more photos... Here are a few now while we recuperate from 2 twenty hour drives in 6 days and 6 events in 4 days and some other wackiness...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thanks to Ellwood Thompsons!

For their sponsorship to Books on Wheels!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We are rurling New Orleans with Free Books and Bikes

Stories to come soon! Blogging is hard on the road! A few photos for now..,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Helmets are good for your head and safety! And these are awesome!!

donated to us to take to New Orleans from Erin Briggs. They have spiders and skulls on them. What kid is going to refuse that? Thanks Erin!
Erin is not only the coolest twin sister in the world and a Books on Wheels volunteer bicycle mechanic, she is racing in New Orleans on Sunday on her bicycle and then will be helping us through the rest of our trip. She looks really cool in spandex. Good luck Erin!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Richmond to New Orleans, Round Three: 1001 miles

Mapquest estimates:

Total Estimated Time: 15 hours 57 minutes

Total Estimated Distance: 1000.99 miles
I wish. Its gonna take us 20 hours but totally worth the trip. Leaving tomorrow afternoon! Can't wait!