Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Brooklyn, Philly, Manhattan, Boston, Catonsville

Brooklyn, Philly, Manhattan, Boston, Catonsville: Lather, Rinse And Repeat-
Or How to Succeed in Tour Planning By Really Trying

$10,000 is a chunk of change for a possible hunk of junk.
This is the prickly reality that all used vehicle buyers face and which came crashing down on us like a ton of hot needles last week as July 1st -Day One of The Break Free Project's Tour of America-came rushing nearer.

How did we find ourselves in this predicament? The Greasebus (pictured below) that we had planned on buying from Pat Keaney in Boston Massachusetts, blew a rod in the Midwest on her trial tour, stranding Pat and the touring band, the Boston Afrobeat Society, and requiring lengthy and costly repairs. This news was obviously crushing. In response Mavi Graves and I began a heroic diesel RV/bus search on June 22nd, a short 8 days before the tour was set to embark. This Ebay and Craigslist marathon lasted for 72 hours as we blearily, blinked at every diesel heap in five states.

We knew that any vehicle we bought would be required to take us on a 10,000 mile journey from Brooklyn through the south, southwest and back to Brooklyn. It needed to be a diesel engine for the conversion to veggie oil to work, it would need to be large enough to carry the four of us, Mavi Graves, Julia Massey, Jeff Larson and myself AND our music and film gear...and it would need to be as cheap and dependable as possible. We shuddered and considered organizational suicide.

At last on June 25th, Mavi found her on the outskirts of Philadelphia; The New Ladyhawke.
She had two factory installed fuel tanks, a real plus since the conversion process requires adding another tank anyway, one with diesel to start and heat the engine and the other for the actual vegetable oil. Emails and phone calls flew back and forth between the seller, Fredrick Fagerberg, ourselves and our Green Grease Mechanic, Pat Keaney, who gave us the tentative thumbs up. A car was rented in Midtown Manhattan on June 27th (an exceptionally hot day that blacked out The Bronx-making for some "interesting" driving and subway navigation) and we were on our way to visit Fredrick and his RV.

150 miles and one Cinnabon later, Mavi and I arrived at dusk to what is surely one of the cutest cobblestone-streeted, topiaried and fairy-lighted Philadelphia outskirts, Chestnut Hill PA. Fredrick is a housing planner and developer from Sweden and is himself interested in sustainable housing and fuel systems. He had just driven the RV, a 1984 Ford Econoline, from Santa Barbara, California which we considered a hopeful sign. We liked what we saw and felt an immediate affinity with Fredrick so we slapped $2000 dollars down to hold our new home/ride, by now officially known as "The Ladyhawke", and sped back to Brooklyn, arriving just after 3:45 am.

(Fredrick, Eleanor and their children Morris and Frida at the pool)

The next day was spent packing up the house for our sublettors. Another all nighter.

Friday the 29th we shot some photos on the Brooklyn Bridge and had our kick-off concert at Balanza Bar. Another all nighter for Mavi and Jeff. You get the picture.

Saturday the 30th saw us loading into the rental car and heading back to Chestnut Hill. As Fredrick replaced the U Joint we painted the roof with a fresh coat of weather paint and before nightfall, The Ladyhawke was deemed road worthy. We were treated to a delicious steak dinner and terrific conversation and although Fredrick made us feel very welcome, June 30th had become July 1st and our tour was underway. We had to hot foot it to New York, load our things into the RV and make tracks for Boston and the green grease makeover... so off we flew at 2:00 am. Did we make it to New York and Boston on time? Where are we now? Watch this space for more updates coming soon!

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