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T O P I C     R E V I E W
Member # 955
 - posted July 16, 2008 12:28
Note: I started typing this already, but after I got 5 pages in (and still in the backstory), I realized it was too long, so this is attempt #2.

I had a very frustrating time getting to Blissfest (up in Harbor Springs, MI, 7 miles southwest of Bliss, MI). It's a good 5 or 6 hour drive, and I was planning on leaving at 10AM on Friday morning. Around Noon I said to myself "shit, at the rate I'm going, I won't get there until 8!" I need to learn to stop saying things like that.

To cut this backstory significantly, I'll just say that due to many setbacks, traffic, and a car show in downtown Ann Arbor, I didn't get on the road until after 2PM, and then I got stopped in a traffic jam just 5 miles down the road until about 2:45! After all that, I was not a happy hippie. [Frown] Kind of a rough start to what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend. [cry baby]

Northern Lower Michigan is truly beautiful. Lots of lush green trees and it is very sparsely populated. The farther north I got, the better I felt, the more unwound I became, and my gritted teeth slowly and gradually turned to a smile. There's just something magical about Northern Michigan.

So I got up to Blissfest at about 8:00 (isn't it ironic?). My brother, James, had called me and described his camping location as "at the corner of Family Camp, near the Back 40, look for our camper and a pumpkin orange VW bus." I drove around the camping area for about a half hour before I finally found him.

So, I don't know a much better way to describe the weekend other than "awesome." I didn't go to bed until about 4:30AM on Saturday morning. James and I went wandering around the Back 40 (which is where the partiers hang out) after it got dark out. There was a big tent set up out there with some guys just jamming together. Somebody had a standup bass, there were about 5 or 6 guitars, a couple harmonica players, a few mandolin players came and went, and there was this kid with a banjo. He couldn't have been older than 13, but he was AMAZING! Seriously, this kid sounded like a professional banjo player. Fscking awesome!

So I'm sitting around listening to these guys and I noticed that there were plenty of guitars there already, so I went back to camp, put on some long pants and mosquito spray, and got my ukulele. I walked back and joined in with them and played until about 3:30. We played the whole gamut from Norwegian Wood to Blue on Black to Take Me Home Country Roads to Foggy Mountain Breakdown.... Just awesome! [Big Grin]

Saturday I hung around a bit and caught a handful of concerts. I got to see Gandolph Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. That show was awesome! I got to see Daisy May and Seth Bernard three times!!! First time was on the 2nd stage, pretty large venue. Second time was on 3rd stage, a much smaller, more intimate, and very very crowded venue. Third time was Sunday morning at the Song Tree, which is a VERY intimate venue. I actually got to tell Seth Bernard what time it was!!!!! [Geek]

Here's a pic of my brother and me on Sunday afternoon, not too long before I had to leave.
It was cool, and not particularly sunny on Sunday... wonder why I was squinting.... [Razz]

And just when you thought this was the end of the story, there's more....

I head off on the long drive home at about 3PM, three hours later than I had planned on, but that's the way it goes. After such an awesome weekend, I was unable to stress about it very much. [Smile] To avoid the heavy traffic I experienced on Friday, I went down US-127 instead of taking I-75 to US-23. The wind was insanely strong Sunday, and I was only able to go about 55MPH, any faster and my bus was dancing all over the road. Let me also digress just a moment to explain that US-127 is an expressway (that is, a "limited access" highway with onramps and exits) except for a 20 mile stretch between Ithica and St. Johns where it turns into a 4-lane divided highway with crossroads and a 55MPH speed limit instead of 70.

The previous explanation of the 20 mile stretch is important to our story, because I was about 2 miles into this 20 mile stretch when the bus died. Cruising along, and then just.. nothing. I flipped on the hazard flashers and coasted off the right side of the road. It took me about 15 minutes to put all the clues together and figure out that the points weren't opening because the little rubber/nylon rider on them broke off.

I have my head buried in the engine compartment, and I'd just figured out what was wrong when, suddenly, I hear this male voice, with a friendly Mid-Michigan accent say "d'you need some help?" When I pulled my head out of the engine compartment and squinted upward (this time because of the sunlight) I saw standing there, in full blue uniform, a State of Michigan officer.

I was so engrossed in "fixing the bus" mode that I didn't stop to realize that this guy was a cop, not a mechanic. The first words out of my mouth were, "uhm.. I have a spare set of points, so I think I'll be okay." He replied with "uhm... okaaay. It sounds like you know what you're doing. Are you sure you'll be fine?" I told him that I would be fine. As he was walking back to his car, though, I stopped him and he came walking back. I told him: "out of all the times I've broken down in this thing... and believe me, there have been many... you're the first officer *ever* to stop and ask if I needed help; thank you." He just kind of shrugged and left. [Smile]

So I swapped out the points, gapped them, put the cap and rotor back on and the bus fired right up. It was running a little rough, so I got out my 10mm end wrench and tweaked the timing a little bit until it sounded smooth. Then I had a little talk with the bus; I told it that if it got me home, I'd totally buy it new points before driving it on another trip. I guess I owe it some new points now, need to remember to order those tonight.

I finally got home at about 9:30, hauled my stuff upstairs, called Mom to let her know I was safe (it's cute that she still worries about me.. but annoying) and then I crashed into bed.

And that's all I have to say about that...
Member # 955
 - posted July 17, 2008 06:10
Many read, none reply. [cry baby]
Member # 5114
 - posted July 17, 2008 07:31
Originally posted by MacManKrisK:
Many read, none reply. [cry baby]

FINE! sounds like you had an awesome weekend, I have no idea though who the hell those bands are.

My weekend consisted of me going up to try and find an apartment with my roomate within walking distance of my university. So far I have found nothing. [Frown]
Member # 5493
 - posted July 17, 2008 08:34

Sounds like a great time. Is the ownership of a VW bus a family gene, or just a family obsession? I should really try to get to something like that in this area.
Member # 955
 - posted July 17, 2008 08:45
sb7: thank you for your reply. I'm sorry you haven't been able to find an apartment... might I suggest looking in some classified ads... and I mean /real/ classifieds, not just craigslist (though CL is a good resource too).

seetomtype: The pumpkin orange bus isn't my brother's. It belongs to some friends they were camping with. Personally, I think everyone should own one. The simple process of owning and maintaining one teaches many valuable lessons, and you can learn about auto mechanics too. [Razz]
Member # 2814
 - posted July 17, 2008 09:06
Originally posted by MacManKrisK:
seetomtype: The pumpkin orange bus isn't my brother's. It belongs to some friends they were camping with. Personally, I think everyone should own one. The simple process of owning and maintaining one teaches many valuable lessons, and you can learn about auto mechanics too. [Razz]

Yea, since they're never in working order. [Wink]

Although the auto mechanics bit is mostly rudimentary since it's very different from cars today.
Member # 955
 - posted July 17, 2008 09:43
Originally posted by drunkennewfiemidget:
Yea, since they're never in working order. [Wink]

Although the auto mechanics bit is mostly rudimentary since it's very different from cars today.

If I was 30 years old and had been ridden as hard as my bus has, I wouldn't be in working order either.

/me ducks

As far as the learning of auto mechanics.. it teaches you good fundamentals. You learn the skills required to diagnose: how to break the engine down into broad basic functions (fuel, air, spark, compression, timing) and figure out *which* broad function isn't working correctly; then you look at the parts responsible for that function and figure out which is broken or needs adjustment... and THEN.. and only then do you set about the process of actually fixing it, or perhaps making a quick kludge to limp you home. It's not unlike fixing a computer, just that it happens in the real, physical world, instead of the imaginary world of code.

Wait... what was I talking about again?
Member # 2814
 - posted July 17, 2008 11:25
...mmm.. tacos.

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