On the Bus

tie die a wearing

music a blarin’

Pranksters a dancin’

bus a rollin”

So after the Test and a bit of mechanical work, ’tis a 1947 bus, Furthur hit the road for the next destination. We all settled in for the long roll down the highway, i found a comfy spot with some padding over the wood benches that would be my home for the next three days. As we go a bit slow, cars passed us all in bewilderment of the bus. Most waved, many took pictures, and even some dropped both hands of the wheel in their excitement.

my crew laminate

I had another of the many, “how did i get here?” moments as the reality of my blessing took hold. I am riding down the highway on the Furthur Bus as a Merry Prankster!! my coveted laminate stated i was Crew and that “Let it be known to all persons, Capt Brian is now and forever a Merry Prankster and was and is ON THE BUS.” The music started and the crew began to dance, we sang and swayed to the music, sang the songs of freedom waved at passing cars as we bounced through middle America.

The epithical moment came to me as the song Tiny Dancer played. The epic scene from Almost Famous was replayed as Bandaide, young Brian and the others sang along, “hold me close tiny dancer”. Hands trembling and tears flowing i cherished this moment and will for the rest of my life.

We passed by Chicago, through a corner of several states and after the sun had set we found our first destination, a wooden dirt road in rural Michigan leading to a field full of tents and the awaiting party. As we approached we all scurried to the roof for the first of many grand entrances. The wooded path opened to the field full of highly charged people as the Who’s “Magic Bus” blared from the exterior speakers. the overwhelming thrill of seeing the exuberant crowd all awaiting our arrival was breathtaking.

a dazzled fan

on the top of the bus

crowd greeting us

We climbed off the bus and were immediately consumed by the crowd. The warmth of their greeting and electrifying amazement brought the reality of who we were and where right up front, we were history, the history every young hipster was raised with, the history of my youth and theirs. We were the heritage they all yearned for. The long told myth was at their feet. The hippy gospel had come to Michigan.

new friend

the warmth of their hospitality was moving, i met so many young people all eager to hear of life on the bus. We danced yet another Dead tribute band playing under a makeshift tent. Fire dancers lit up the night sky, and bursts of flames exploded from a fire making contraption operated by a careful albeit bizarre team. All in a wooded secluded field somewhere in Michigan and now a place that will stay in my heart

body painting of course

We slept in our tents and bags as the party roared on all night and arose to the calling of the Bus’s bell. Packed up and on the road again more states flew by and middle America unrolled for us. Our next stop was in Ohio at an old rock quarry now a park. Again we made the grand entrance on the roof dancing and singing to the theme song, Magic Bus. This crowd was larger and even more welcoming, their excitement was contagious.

We partied to the local and very talented band, walked by the lake and enjoyed the best food in days. I even got a face painting done. After some calculations Zane determined he had short sided the next leg and we had best leave early, so at midnight we packed up and rolled out, leaving another place to remember.
Heading east through Pennsylvania and closer to the Big Apple, the topography changed dramatically. We were headed to Port Chester New York and the Capital Theater, hallowed ground for Dead Heads for decades. We rolled into the town and circumvented the low bridge then assumed our top of the bus stance as we cruised the town to arrive at the theater for a grand reception and huge party.

The miles, bumps and grab and dash diet was catching up to me so i relished the next day off and got a hotel room with young Brian. i savored my first meal in days that required a fork and ordered a huge steak. Well rested i await the finale, the Gathering of the Vibe Festival which takes place on the New Jersey shore and completes my Sea to Shiny Sea epic adventure..

Photo credit: Colby Rex O’Neill and Matt Pidutti Puds