This is the earliest video we took of the MoBus in action, and its a beautiful sight. As the video was being shot, I stood and watched DJ put the ol’ girl through her paces in a truck shop parking lot. I’d just retrieved our first two passengers, Simon and Karen, soon to be known affectionately as the Swissassins, and it was starting to sink in that we might actually succeed. Our quest to take the largest interstate bus ever built, on a 6,000 mile journey to Burning Man and back was madness, pure madness, but it was happening. After all the planning, fundraising, organizing, the frustration and the setbacks, I hardly believed that I was actually seeing our work come to fruition. The doubt that I’d been poorly concealing since we left Austin was finally starting to fade.
About a week before, I’d just returned home from a trip to El Salvador. The first call I got was from DJ, letting me know that our man in the Midwest had failed to pick up the bus as planned. It had felt like a long trip, because exciting as it was to be in another country, I still couldn’t fully insulate myself from the torrent of bad news that had begun to pour out of the MoBus project since I’d left. Fundraising commitments fell through, riders had begun dropping out, others were loosing faith, and all I could do was send a reassuring email once or twice a day, even as my own confidence began to wane. When I got off the plane and walked out of the Austin airport, I didn’t want to hear anymore. I was desperate to go home and do nothing for a few days, clear my head before game time. But that wasn’t to be.
When I first got the call, I balked at the prospect of dropping everything to drive a thousand miles for a bus that might not even make the return trip to Austin. I was tired, and if truth be told, a bit depressed that everything seemed to be falling to pieces mere days before our Grand Departure. So when DJ asked if I’d come with him to pick up the bus, I told him “no.” He’d seemed a bit injured at the idea that I wouldn’t be coming, but he assured me that he and our mechanic, Randy, could get it done on their own. I was off the hook.
Over the next five hours though, I stewed. I’d made no pretense of an excuse that might have kept me from going, and as I sat there I realized that it just wasn’t good enough. Aside from DJ, I’d invested myself in the project more than anyone. Actually, I was obsessed. The outrageous idea that began as a conversation on DJ’s patio had grown to encompass most every aspect of my life. I wanted to set it aside, get my bearings, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let it go, and I couldn’t let DJ go to Madison without me. I think in the back of my mind, I feared that if I didn’t go and see the bus myself, it wouldn’t be there for us when we needed it.
So I phoned DJ and told him to pick me up. It took us three days, a thousand miles, several dozen false starts and a broken barn door, but the damn thing came to life! Randy had resurrected her, and there she was, happily rolling around the parking lot. More challenges were definitely coming, of course. We knew that even then, but now we’d seen it. We glimpsed a hint of our vision fulfilled. That’s when the MoRoadtrip really began in earnest.