Sunday, December 24, 2006

The bus is on her way to England!

Mike, Ed and Scott drove up to Dundalk port in Baltimore Friday morning to drop the bus off at the shipping company.

We drove up at 7:30AM and did some filming of the bus in action along the BW parkway. Outside of a few wrong turns in Baltimore and a few close calls while trying to pass the bus in Ed's Landrover/camera platform, we arrived at the port in a light drizzle with everyone in tact and the bus running smoothly. A weird rattle developed halfway through the trip, but it was quickly diagnosed as a loose air filter screw. She's a solid far.

We jumped in head first. Ed took the lead in navigating the bureaucracy of shipping a two-ton 1987 GMC shortbus painted with zebra stripes and the word "peace" in six languages (thanks to Mike's last minute efforts Thursday night!). First stop - a group of jaded desk jockeys where payment and processing began. Mike and I waited outside until Ed arrived back with a smile on his face. So far so good. This is going to be easy!

I decided to film some shots of the bus pulling in through the gate, driving past rows and rows of Nissan Sentras and John Deere tractors. I can only assume the Nissans were inbound, and the tractors were heading out, but who knows where anything is made in these days of globalization. Second stop, an office with a bunch of salty looking dockworkers hanging out under the stairs to keep their cigarettes dry on a union break. Again, we wait....Ed returns again, still smiling. While he was in the office awaiting our next directive, a fight broke out amongst the workers inside. One old weathered dockworker said it was pretty normal for this time of year, they all get very punchy around the holidays. Punchy indeed!

While Mike and I waited, I rolled film on dock b-roll - ships, cranes, big machines moving even bigger machines. At some point a guy came over and told me that this is a Homeland Security protected area and that if any of the authorities saw me, they would take the tape. End of filming....

We embarked on the last part of the process - actually parking the bus in the spot where it will sit in until someone loads her onto the freighter next week. This was the part of the process we worried about - measuring, and more importantly, inspecting the bus. We were lead around a corner and lo and behold, there was an armada of school buses all waiting to be shipped out! Did we just run across a treasure trove of unknown PDC team vehicles all going to England for the start of the challenge? Was our idea of doing this trip in a school bus not as original as we thought? Nope. Apparently school buses are bought from all over the country and shipped out for service across the globe. The interesting part was that these buses were all labeled and heading out to "The Bin Laden Group, Saudi Arabia". Hmmm...well on one hand, it definitely piqued our interest as to what the story with that was. On the other, it allayed our fears about the chances of a freaky looking shortbus making it through customs!

This scene was too much to resist. Ed and I "decided" that we should get his car and drive over to pick Mike up. The inspector lady took a break from measuring and puffing on her Marlboro ultra light to give us a lift back to Ed's car. We got in the car and I immediately got the camera out and cracked the tinted passenger side window. How could I not film? A ton of buses all going to the Bin Laden family business along with our girl? Too interesting. We did a little covert filming - just enough to tell the story and pulled up next to our bus. Our inspector was all done! No interest in what was inside. It could've been loaded from top to bottom with C-4 or cocaine, but I guess that is England's problem. Just measurements of the exterior dimensions and it was over! She made it through the process with everything on board!

We left the port feeling good. A large chunk of the work involved in our adventure was over. Weekends of working on the bus came to this moment where we had to let her go. Whatever preparations that we should've/could've done are irrelevent now. And we felt a little wistful as well. Working on the bus was a fun, team-building experience. We all became master carpenters (not), got to know each other a little better, and the Penitent Yanks team dynamics started to fall into place.

The next time we see the bus we will be embarking on the real part of our adventure. This is going to fun! A trip-tych with 4,000 miles to check off...

Happy Holidays to everyone that has supported the team thus far, family, friends, and fellow PDC'ers! Thank you all so much for your love and support!

Team Penitent Yanks


Jay said...

Thanks for putting that together. I'm glad someone's documented the bus shipping experience. I hope everyone has a great new years, and I'll see everyone when we get back from the islands!

Anonymous said...

You are a bunch of crazy guys, ship and drive this bus almost half around the globe :)
I will follow your Journey...

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