We go where angels and marines fear to tread.
The Large Marge has returned to Region 5 after 8 months on the road. What started as a two week stint with Team Rubicon turned into a month with another two months with New York Cares and Friends of Rockaway helping people get back into their homes.
We then went to Hudson New York to convert the bus to run on used cooking oil. This took a couple of weeks to design and three days to install. Thanks to Team Rubicon National Leadership for believing in our mission and their confidence in our ability to deliver a working model for sustainable disaster response.
After testing the bus with a run from Hudson New York back to Rockaway we headed for Roanoke, VA to attend a concert to raise donations of musical instruments for the Irish music students in Rockaway and Breezy Point. That event was very successful collecting 30 instruments including guitars, flutes, a piano and violin.
The return trip to Rockaway was interrupted by an engine fire that set us back 2 months to raise the money for the repairs. Once completed we realized the bus need to have some serious work done to her. Our goal is to make her as reliable as she is sustainable. The only diesel shops that know hoe to work on these buses are on the West Coast.
So, with 400 gallons of WVO and Biodiesel on board we drove from Roanoke Virginia to Dillon, Montana without stopping for fuel, a distance of over 2800 miles. Once there, we picked up Jake Kimmel and Will Williams. They help collect the first donations of restaurant grease and we headed to Seattle, WA.
We arrived at the Growing Veterans farm the next morning in Lynden, WA and helped them weed their fields for a day. and left for Portland Oregon. We stopped at a local burger joint where we again had engine trouble.
That took two days to make a temporary fix. We dropped Jake and Will off a the Air Force Base in Tacoma. WA where Will's brother is stationed. Jake got on a plane for Alaska and a job working in the fishing industry and Will stayed to spend time with his brother.
I drove on to Portland to find a permanent solution to our starting problems.and receive our fuel donation from Sequential Biofuels.
I found Kent's Custom Diesel in Kelso, WA was a very well recommend service center who was not afraid of working on our hybrid bus and had experience with Crowns. He quickly diagnosed the issues and there were many. He said we were lucky to get it across the country and that he would make it so we would be able to rely on her for several hundred thousand more miles.
We gave him a deposit on $1000 to get started on the list of needs he came up with. It took several weeks to find the parts and tune up the bus. I took that time to fly to San Jose to attend the Netroots Nation 13 conference of progressive bloggers. There I was donated a booth to talk to media and other organizations about the bus and the projects we have done and plan to do once were retuned to Detroit.
I made allot of contacts and created a buzz about the Bus for Netroots Nation 14. It will be held next August here in Detroit and we were asked to help them set up their community volunteer service project.
I returned to the bus and found that Kent's Custom Diesel had done far more work than the $1000 we had given him. He told me what he had done and showed me every repair he had made and then told me that we owned them nothing more because they loved our mission and want to support it by donating the work.
I left Kelso for Northern California where I was reunited with lots of old friends from as far back as high school.
We produced graphics and lettered and did a little more work on the engine and headed to Hopland California to give a demonstration of the bus at the Solar Living Institute.
From there we drove to Visalia CA. to help prepare the Visalia Veterans Service Home for the fall semester. I set tile and grouted for a couple of days and replaced several doors and windows.
While i was working on the house Glenn SuperDoc Miller called saying he was in trouble lost his belongings to a very means girl friend who was trashing everything he owned. He wanted to get back on the bus to help me get it back to Detroit and assist in making improvements to her capability. We raised the money online for his plane ticket and I drove to San Jose airport to pick him up.
We drove back up to Hopland CA and the Solar Living Institute to give another demonstration of the bus. We collected another 50 gallons of fuel and headed back to Visalia in time to help Lowes Foundation install the fixtures and cabinets.
Before leaving Visalia a local Indian Spiritual Leader and Vietnam veteran gave the bus and crew a traditional blessing.
We drove to Cottonwood AZ to give our next demonstration and the local elementary school with Biodiesel US. Inc. a small non profit that makes fuel for the school buses. They gave us another 200 gallons of used cooking oil to make it to our next stop in Chicago.
We stopped in Utah's monument valley to sleep and wake up to the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen on land. Tend drove over 800 miles to Colby Kansas for our next overnight rest stop. Leaving Colby Glen got several messages from his friends back home saying that his ex was still destroying his personal effects. So, he got off the bus and headed back to retrieve what was left and I headed for Chicago.
I arrived and few hours before the Warrior Summit was to start at Soldier Field and got some needed rest. The event was well attended and we made several contacts and took some great pictures of the bus and gave tours of the bus to city official veterans organizations and individual veterans who were seeking assistance from the summit.
I drove to Detroit the next day after handing out with Adam Flyn one of the first region 5 Team Rubicon / Green Bus Crew Members.
In total we drove Large Marge over 8000 miles and it cost us about $200 in diesel. The rest was used cooking oil donated by restaurants and biodiesel companies that wanted to support our mission.
That mission now continues.
We now back in Detroit making more improvement to the bus and getting some needed rest from the road so, we are ready for the next adventure.
Before the next Hurricane we would like to extend and invitation out to any region 5 members who want to check out the bus or maybe take her out for some local volunteer service projects.
If you would like to visit Large Marge in her natural habitat AKA (a semi destroyed city called Detroit) or have her visit you, contact me.
Gordon Soderberg, (985) 640-1801.